Thinking Out Loud

February 6, 2017

What it Means to be a “Christian Country”

Canadian and U.S. dollar coins

Greg Boyd’s book The Myth of a Christian Nation notwithstanding, many people believe that the nation whose currency proclaims ‘In God We Trust’ is indeed “a Christian Nation.”

Canada has no such illusions. Religious pluralism is normative across most provinces. We refer to ourselves as “a cultural mosaic.”

However this past week we saw an interesting inversion of national stereotypes. In a front page article Saturday in Canada’s largest circulation newspaper, The Star, Robert Benzie writes:

Ontario is flinging open its operating-room doors to provide health care for foreign children whose life-saving surgeries stateside have been cancelled due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

In the wake of Trump’s temporary immigration ban against citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, which has affected thousands of families, Health Minister Eric Hoskins offered a prescription to help.

“This is a particular subset of children who require life-saving surgery, so, absent that surgery, they will certainly die,” Hoskins told reporters Friday afternoon at Queen’s Park…

…“What we’re saying is that Canada is a country that has always looked to ways that it could reach out and support vulnerable people around the world.”

Hoskins, a former aid worker in the Middle East and Africa and co-founder of War Child Canada, a non-governmental organization that helps kids from war zones, said Toronto’s world-renowned Hospital for Sick Children is on the case.

“SickKids has been approached by a number of hospitals in the United States with regard to a number of cases,” he said, noting most are for “highly specialized cardiac care” for infants as young as 4 months old…

…continue reading the full article at TheStar.com

Obviously this is a developing story and the United States is making concessions in many cases, but in the meantime, the Canadian province is acting consistent with the federal government’s posture of an open door as indicated in the Prime Minister’s tweets:

This at the same time as a prominent Christian author, familiar to readers here, Ann Voskamp shows up in Washington, DC:

Back to the children needing charity, it does appear that the not-so-Christian nation is espousing Jesus-like charity, while the Christian nation is simply sending a confusing message to the rest of the world as to its commitment to compassion.

January 15, 2011

Winning the Life Lottery

The very fact you’re reading this on a computer places you among the wealthiest of the seven billion or so people who inhabit the planet.  While the evening news brings reports of devastation in Haiti or political uprising in Tunisia, most of you are enjoyed a much less stressful week.

I frequently visit The Ad Collector, a blog which features the best of advertising campaigns from around the world, with a special focus on adverts for non-profits and public service organizations.  A month ago they featured a Swedish series of billboard-type display ads  under the caption, The Lottery of Life which juxtaposed life in Sierra Leone, Darfur, Palestine and The Phillipines with life in Sweden, with the aim of getting people to visit a website sponsored by Save The Children. (If you have high-speed internet, enter your name and spin the wheel to see how things might have worked out differently.)

But is it just a spin of the wheel that you ended up in the UK, or the US, or Canada, or New Zealand, or some other less troubled place? I’m not a huge fan of this poem by Roy Lesson, founder of Dayspring cards — I can’t believe I’m actually posting it —  because they tend to plaster it all over so many pieces of merchandise they create, including seasonal variants, but if you believe in the sovereignty of God, your geographic placement has to be more than just the random spinning of a giant wheel…

Just think,
you’re here not by chance,
but by God’s choosing.
His hand formed you
and made you the person you are.
He compares you to no one else.
You are one of a kind.
You lack nothing
that His grace can’t give you.
He has allowed you to be here
at this time in history
to fulfill His special purpose
for this generation.

-Roy Lessin

Notice I did not say, “if you had been born somewhere else;” because some would argue that then you would not be you. Nonetheless, you are a product of your environment generally, and its geography in particular. This ought to fill you with much gratitude to God, especially in light of these pictures which remind you of the conditions in all the other places around the world.   Conditions that exist right here, right now, even as you sip your beverage in a comfortable chair reading these lines…

So what is our response?

Photo captions: Hold your mouse over each picture for the caption; or, respectively the pictures are Sierra Leone, Darfur, Palestine and The Philippines.

September 10, 2010

Lucado: Your Legacy Will Outlast You

Venturing into new territory — the theme of social concern and social justice — Max Lucado shows how through generosity and compassion we ensure that we “live on” well past the normal limits of life.    Along the way he also makes a strong case for micro-financing, supported by personal contact with people in the third world.

In so many respects, Outlive Your Life seems a thousand miles away from his previous release, Fearless. Anxiety, worry and fear is the result of thoughts turned inward.   Loving and caring for the needs of those less fortunate — both near and far — is the byproduct of thoughts turned outward.   The two titles together bookend the spectrum of the things that can preoccupy our priorities.

Lucado is an easy-to-read and easy-going writer who is at his best in the middle of a story.   Whether he made the story up himself, or is retelling a story from the book of Acts, he knows how to assemble a narrative.   His version of Ananias and Sapphira brings new life to a familiar story and makes me wish he’d stop releasing annotated study Bibles and just do his own New Testament.

Outlive Your Life is a commentary on the first half of the book of Acts.   Yes, a commentary.   Perhaps not in the academic sense, but with every bit as much right to use the term.    As I read it I kept thinking about the difference between the NIV Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible.   Both earn the term “study,” yet the latter is much more devotional and connected to everyday life.     This is a book-of-the-Bible commentary that may be used by small groups — there’s a ton of support material available for that — but may also be used for personal study.

With Christmas not too far off, many people looking for a gift will simply default to, “Give me the latest Max Lucado title.”   The quality of this book shows why that reputation exists, and why they ought to pick up a copy for themselves as well.

Booksellers:  For a complete list of related products available check out this trade review.

This review was published in Canada where to this point, additional disclaimers are not legally required; but thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy!

May 9, 2009

Our Hierarchy of Concerns

Filed under: ethics — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:11 pm

This post is from Canadian Mike Todd’s blog, Waving or Drowning.

I think I’ve figure this out:

AIDS = The poor. Therefore, who cares?
Malaria = The poor. Therefore, who cares?
Swine Flu = Could be us. Better get on this one!

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