Thinking Out Loud

November 8, 2012

The Canadian Election System is Simpler In Comparison

Filed under: current events, election — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:43 am

Now that I can finally get a word in edgewise, here’s how we choose the government north of the 49th:

Election Day  is a day celebrated on February 2nd with activities based in Wiarton, Ontario. If it is cloudy when a groundhog — Wiarton Willy — emerges from its burrow on this day, then the Conservative Party of Canada will form the government; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, whichever party is considered the second place party (it was the Liberal Party of Canada, but now it is the New Democratic Party) will form the government.

If the day is partly cloudy, which it often is in Canada, then there will be a minority government.  If Wiarton Willy makes a sound — any sound — the Green Party of Canada is awarded a single seat in the House of Commons.

Modern customs of the day involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow. In Wiarton people celebrate the holiday with social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more plays or skits are performed for entertainment.

~With files from Wikipedia

February 17, 2012

C. S. Lewis, not C. S. Lewis C.B.E.

Across the pond, Tim Chester reported this a few weeks ago:

A freedom of information request has led to the disclosure of people who declined official honours from the Queen as part of the British honour system. I was interested to notice that among them was CS Lewis. Lewis turned down a CBE in 1952…

A reader quickly noted that the story had been shared previously by Lewis’ brother; as relayed by Timothy Keller:

C. S. Lewis' death the same day as John F. Kennedy was so under-reported, some Mere Christianity and Narnia readers believe he is still living.

In his unpublished biography of his brother C. S. Lewis, W. H. “Warnie” Lewis related how in late 1951 his brother received a letter from Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In it, Churchill offered to recommend him for a C.B.E. (Commander of the British Empire). 

The C.B.E. is one class in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a chivalric order established to recognize gallantry and service to the Empire, and Lewis was nominated to appear on the last list of honours of King George VI, in December, 1951. It was an extremely coveted honor, and evidently it was offered to Lewis for his public service for writing and broadcasting during the war. 

In a letter to the Prime Minister’s secretary Lewis turned down the offer, which was very unusual. “I feel greatly obliged to the Prime Minister, and so far as my personal feelings are concerned this honour would be highly agreeable,” he wrote. However, he added that many people said or believed that Christianity is basically, “covert anti-Leftist propaganda, and my appearance in the Honours List would of course strengthen their hands. It is therefore better that I should not appear there.” (W. Hooper, ed. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, volume III, p. 147.) 

Over the years some other notable figures have turned down membership in the Order of the British Empire, but usually it was as a political protest against some aspect of British government or policy. In Lewis’ case the reasoning was completely different. He knew that if Churchill, a Conservative politician, recommended him for the order it would only lend credence to what people believed about the Christian faith, namely, that it was not really about truth, but was rather a tool for non-progressive political interests. Lewis refused to let a political entity reward him for Christian service, fearing it would identify Christianity too closely with one political system. 

Keller goes on to say that similar suspicions about Christianity continue to this day. Especially in an election year — Keller was writing in March of 2011 — people want to equate religion and politics, and he notes that there will be times when the “truth claims” of Christianity will intersect with political ideology.  But then they take it a step too far when they believe that upholding a particular position is “doing the will of God.”

C. S.Lewis refused to be a part of that. He was far-sighted.In our country over the last 60 years, alliances between churches and politics have resulted in many people dismissing Christianity as only “the Conservative (or) Liberal party at prayer.” The results have been destructive (as we discussed in last month’s newsletter article on ‘Civility.’)

That doesn’t mean Christ-following is completely apolitical — though it is in its purest form — or that we don’t have an interest in what’s going on in government.  Keller adds,

[W]e believe that the gospel shapes all areas of life. Christians can and should be involved in government, and their Christian faith will be the driving force behind how they engage in politics as well as how they evaluate many policy issues. Also, Redeemer teaches God’s word and often what the Bible says will have public policy implications that are direct and/or indirect. But Christians must not implicitly or explicitly identify their Christianity with political figures and parties.That has always been the balance we have tried to strike in our ministryin the city. It is tempting of course, when the honours of earthly kings are offered to us for doing Christian ministry. C. S. Lewis allowed the honor of the King of Kings to be enough for him.

Got a friend who is an avid Lewis fan?  Send her or him this link to Keller’s article.

January 5, 2012

God Told Me To Write This. Or Did He?

The above graphic from CNN Belief really says it all, though it may be a little premature to count Perry as officially out just yet. 

There’s a tendency among Evangelicals to over-use, “Thus saith the Lord;” when the really mean, “Thus saith me;” unless of course, in their view, ‘the Lord’ = ‘me.’  There’s an equal tendency to over-use “God told me;” when in fact it merely seemed like a good idea at that time. 

Or maybe it was a desire of the heart.  There is a (conditional) promise that God will give us the desires of our heart, but it would appear that those desires begin within us. To claim external direction to run for President would make sense if it were a heavenly vision given to a man installing mufflers or a woman asking people, “Would you like fries with that?” But for many of these politicians, the aspiration to run for the (U.S.) nation’s top office has been part of a longer, lifelong process. Eventually, after all is said and done, there will only be one nominee.

Someone will want to argue that there are God-given desires; that there is no audible voice, but a want-to that is divinely implanted.  I might concede that one. In that case though, whether speaking to secularists or other believers, I would still avoid the use of ‘God told…”

You can click to join the conversation at CNN Belief. The forum needs people who will focus on the theological implications and not get hung up on the political.

November 12, 2008

An Optimistic Cartoon

Filed under: election, Humor, politics — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:58 pm


Couldn’t resist stealing this from ASBO Jesus, just as he couldn’t resist stealing the punchline from elsewhere.   This blog is always linked here, this post appeared on November 5th.   Start reading here.

November 6, 2008

My Election Prediction Accurate as Promised

Filed under: election, politics — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:39 pm

candidatesThis is the part where you go back to my earlier post on October 27th, which said “This election prediction will be accurate within 1%,” and read what I wrote and go, “Wow!  How did he do that?”   What can I say, It’s a gift.  See, I told you so.

October 30, 2008

If the World Could Vote

Filed under: election, politics — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:27 pm

Thanks to our friend Amy for telling us about this website. Here’s the WHO and the WHY…

Who is behind the site?

Just three guys from Iceland. The site is independent from all political parties, companies or hidden agendas. It’s just an idea a 22 year old guy in Iceland came up with and executed with a little help from a couple of friends.

Why are you doing this?

Just out of curiosity. The president of the United States is a powerful man, probably the most powerful person on the planet. So everyone seems to have an opinion on who should be the next president of the United States. We thought it would be interesting to see who would be the next president if the whole world could vote. It’s also a challenge to try to beat the number of voters in the last US elections. So spread the news.

…So now that you’ve got the concept, you can click here.

October 27, 2008

This U.S. Presidential Election Prediction Will Be Accurate Within 1%

Filed under: blogging, election, politics — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:10 pm

So here goes.   I’m predicting an Obama win.   The popular vote will be really close, something like 52% Obama, 48% McCain.  Maybe even tighter than that.  But the all important electoral college votes will be much more decisive, something like 348 Obama to 164 McCain.   Give or take one or two.  I’m also predicting that the night of the election will be seen as a great victory for civil rights.

And when it’s all over, I am predicting that I will say, See, I told you so.

October 21, 2008

Michael Moore — Comedian, Artist or Prophet?

Filed under: books, election, Humor, issues, politics — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:25 pm

So what’s a Canadian doing spending $13.95 to read Michael Moore’s take on the U.S. election?   A few times, I wasn’t sure.   Basically a pocket book without any picture plates, and with a larger print that I could read without my glasses, I thought about it a few times before taking the plunge.   Having finished this morning, here’s a few quick observations.

First of all, the minute someone posts a comment on this, I am going to be in way over my head because I don’t understand all the nuances of what’s going on south of the 49th Parallel.    So trust me, I’m not taking sides.  I know Moore is very biased.   I’m not trying to wade in on the vote itself.  We had our election here last Tuesday, I voted, and that’s about all I can say.

Secondly, while I may or may not agree with the man’s politics, I really like his style.   Or lack of style.   The book is written with a sharp wit.   Or by a half wit.   Hey, I’m just trying to preemptively anticipate what some of y’all are thinking; which is what Moore himself does in an appendix where he takes chunks of his own book out of context to save his critics time misquoting him.

Thirdly, this guy is a producer of several investigative and documentary films.   He sees the upcoming through the lens; the eyes of a filmmaker.  He’s a journalist.   He’s an artist.    He’s two Mikes in one.  The filmmaker in him starts with a wide shot and then slowly zooms in on particular features.   The journalist does the necessary research and is prepared to back up his criticisms with hard data on how life plays out in places outside the U.S.A.   (And lets be honest here, for some of his readers, it will come as a major surprise that there are places outside the U.S.A.)

Fourthly, more importantly, and truer to the reason why I bought the book; Moore is a visionary.   He clearly sees the world differently, yes.  But mostly, he sees another set of possibilities.   An entirely different world that might have been, or could yet be.   Or at least an entirely different United States of America.   He marches to the beat of his own drummer.   He makes no bones about the fact that for him, the issue is not whether or not he loves his country per se, but whether he loves its people.   Which he does.

Finally, and most importantly, I bought a copy because Moore makes Canada look very, very good.   And also, France; which I have to admit came as a bit of a surprise.  But I only spent a week there.  On a high school trip.   So for me, this was a feel good read.   The last 25% of the book was lost on me, since it concerned itself with individual state races for congress.

And while I hate to rub it in, I want to remind you all that up here, from the time the election was proclaimed, to the time we finished counting the last ballot was all of 36 days.   We just got the whole thing over with very quickly.   As Moore points out, with a vast land mass, spread out over six time zones, and voting using only #2 pencils, we had final results within a few hours of the polls closing.  And now we’ve moved on.

(Did you like the use of “y’all” in the 3rd paragraph?   Just trying to fit in.)

Graph, not entirely related to this post,  from

October 1, 2008

Don’t Show Me A Transcript, Send Me a Video Link

Filed under: Christianity, election, issues — Tags: , , , , — searchlightevents @ 5:19 pm

Christianity Today’s election blog features a transcript of a media interview with Sarah Palin that discussed her views on topics most likely to be informed by her Christian beliefs.   Frankly, the transcript doesn’t read all that well.   One person posted a comment which described it as “a blizzard of words that make not sense whatsoever … the individual words appear to be English, but strung together they are giberish.”

I thought that deserved a response:

Sometimes transcripts are the worst. You don’t think when you’re THE SPEAKER that your words are going to be transcribed and what that’s going to look like. But READING transcripts is also the worst. You miss the inflection, the gestures, the whole timing and tenor of what the speaker really said. You can have a transcript that reads one way, when in fact those who heard and saw the speech would say that the meaning went the other way.

You’ve got interviewers who are trying to keep things concise, respecting the economy of airtime; while at the same time the speaker is trying to flesh out and qualify their remarks with a series of subordinate clauses. You’ve got interviewers who want to see a good headline; who want to see the story in black and white terms; and a speaker who is still thinking on their feet trying to formulate their answer even as they’re talking.

Instead, the whole process should be done on blogs! Seriously! Or some other written format. Spoken English is so terribly deficient, as Sarah Palin so capably demonstrates.

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