Social Experiment Videos; am I right?

Ben Healey

As an enthusiast of the empirical, I only ever state facts. So I’m not wrong (fact) when I say that social experiment videos are the worst (according to independent research). If you live under a rock with no Wi-Fi, social experiment videos aren’t — as the name would suggest — videos of social experiments. Instead, we get something really close to a social experiment but is ultimately for entertainment purposes only — much like this article.  

Social experiments have existed since the 1960’s; you know what else started in the 60’s and is crap now? GAP. Famous social experiments such as the Stanford prison experiment or the Milgram experiment are not what I’m criticizing here. Those experiments followed a stricter method, and they set out to prove a hypothesis. SEVs (Social experiment videos) don’t follow a hierarchy.

Real science asks “Does this experiment display x? Now that we are aware of x, how does it impact our daily lives? Should we put a social policy in place to work against x? Ah good ole x!” SEVs ask “Like this video? Like and Share”. There is also the issue of skewed results. Almost every SEV shows one thing (ex. People are evil, people are good) that are the same, implying conclusive results. My point here is that SEVs are entertaining but they are not compelling. If you were watching a parkour video and it was trying to convince you that it was the most efficient way to get around, you’re still going to watch, but you won’t agree — and if you do agree, like & share!

Now that I have shown conclusively that SEVs are the worst (fact), the question remains: why are they so popular? I’m glad you asked! Most SEVs are not genuine social experiments because their motives are to be popular and entertain.

There exist 3 types of people in this world (fact): Pessimists optimists, and Handsome Geniuses. One example of that last category is Benjamin Healey (All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental).

When any clickbait comes up with a title like “Left in hot car: Baby vs. Dog” (real video); all of the pessimists will think “Nobody is going to help the baby,” and they click. All of the optimists will think “Everybody is going to help no matter what,” and they click. All of the handsome genii will think “There’s a video of babies and dogs fighting inside a hot car?!” and they click. After they click, they are either proven right — in which case they continue being pessimistic/optimistic, and probably share — or they are proven wrong, in which case the video still isn’t compelling enough to make people think anything. The handsome genius is always disappointed.

Let’s look at more clickbait: “His son wanted to go as Elsa for Halloween, his reaction... wow!” This implies that the dad’s reaction was either conservative (he told the son “no”) or liberal (he was supportive). Everyone is unique, but you will have one of two reactions, and then do the same thing as everyone else. The person clicks with an assumption of what the video will be.  

If the person’s assumption is proven correct; hooray, never change! If proven wrong, the pessimists will watch a video that validates their thinking anyway, and the optimists will be surprised with something they completely disagree with. However, nobody will switch their politics. Because the title is ambiguous, people assume they know what it’s about. They want to be offended or validated by it, but never challenged.

Now — as always — I know what you might be thinking: “Ben, while this article was entertaining, your points aren’t great. Can’t you leave well enough alone? All social experiment videos are trying to do is claim that human beings are ultimately good or ultimately evil; harmless enough. I say we let the social experiment videos ride out until they conclusively display if people are bad or good. Could someone take free money they don’t need but still be good enough to help someone less fortunate? No. Why don’t you stick to jokes about giraffes and almonds and leave the real thinking to the real thinkers.”

 If you’re the 1% who don’t think that, share.

 

Livestock Misconceptions within Food Production

The Udder Truth 

Joel Voth | Editor-In-Chief

There are many misconceptions when it comes to agriculture, specifically with food production in the dairy industry. Over time, individuals have started making videos and posts that are discussing the negative effects of the livestock industry and the cruel widespread animal abuse on farms. But before uneducated statements about this topic can be made, one must do their research and talk to individuals who know what is going on within these industrial outlets. Let’s break down a few of the common misconceptions and give educated and experience-based knowledge on these ideas.  

One of the most common accusations is that “farmers ‘dump’ antibiotics into livestock’s feed.”  For those of you who do not know, antibiotics cost money; there would be no financial benefit of giving an animal more of something they don’t need. All livestock that are exposed to antibiotics are given a drug withdrawal period — an amount of time after the last dosage before the animal can go to market. This regulation is in all the different industries. If a cow is given antibiotics her milk is dumped, due to the fact that all the milk is tested for antibiotics on the farm before it can be unloaded at a plant. If antibiotics get into a farm milk tank, the entire tank has to be dumped and the farmer would be subjected to severe fines.

Yet another discussion commonly arises that livestock are raised in dark and filthy barns, in stalls that are barely bigger than their bodies. However, large fans keep the barns cool in the summer and doors or curtains can be rolled up or down to monitor the barns temperature. Depending on the layout of the barn, they have individual beds and areas to move around in, having the free choice of fresh running water to drink and nutritious food to consume. Animals thrive and enjoy calm environments, and as you can see, farmers try and create that as accurately as possible.  

“A lot of research has been done to see how cows could produce more milk and better quality of milk,” says Lars Zeldenrijk, whose family own and milk 160-head of dairy in Mount Elgin. “The answer being management every time.” In an industry where the quality of the product is based on the comfort and the well being of the animal, there is a rising standard of the health of livestock on farms.

 Another common discussion is that farmers are cruel to calves for taking them away from their mothers at such an early age. However, if we left the calves with the cows, there are risks that the calf will not nurse soon enough to get important antibodies at the right time. “The calf is where it all begins; for the cow to produce milk, they need to give birth to a calf,” says Mandy de Boer, whose family own and milk 50–head of dairy in Arthur.The better we treat our calves, the better the cow it grows up to be. The lives of the calves are the first and foremost.”

In today’s world, individuals are so unaware of how industries operate that they are easily fooled into fearing that the foods they consume are not safe and the industry is corrupt. But most of the time, the information that they are receiving is speculation, or has motives to make money in another industry. If we stop drinking milk and start drinking things like almond or soy milk-products, how can we say that we are making the correct decision? We don’t know where these almonds were grown or who employed the harvest of the almonds, if the labor was legal, or if a fair wage was paid to employees.

In respect to livestock welfare, we invest our lives into creating a healthier and better environment for our animals. Yes, we do see some situations where animals are abused and those individuals should face consequences for their immoral behavior. Though uncommon, this behavior is not acceptable in the industry and is not glorified whatsoever.  

If you have questions about how farming is done in Canada, talk to a farmer. Don’t go online to listen to someone who has never set foot on a farm offer his or her opinion on the evils of the different agricultural industries. Explore this industry for yourself, and hopefully you’ll see that the farmer only wants what is best for their livestock so that they, in turn, can do their best for their farmer.

Continuing the Conversation

Elise Arsenault | Reporter 

As a songwriter who digs the “creative potential” concept, I can’t help but see Macklemore’s degrading lyrics as a cop-out. Crafting the song’s music, rhythm and video with innovation proves he can raise the bar in several areas of hip hop, but resorting to an archetypal verse about a woman’s rear before the first hook says to me that he’s not as daring as he could be. He’s still catering to a culture that deems this a correct mentality.

 My second thought is best put by Shad K., a Canadian hip hop artist, in his song “Keep Shining.” Please listen to it and read the lyrics. Therein he admits that though he speaks respectfully of women in his tracks, he’ll never be able to speak for them. “We need women for that, more women in rap,” he urges. And I agree wholeheartedly. 

While misogynistic lyrics are hurtful, I don’t think they have the power to “limit” our creative potential, per se. Personally, I want to use my gifts more purposefully and deliberately in response. This doesn’t justify disrespect in music, of course, but rude wordplay should never stunt the growth and fruition of our gifts, musical or otherwise. Jesus wants to free us from the fear of man in every sphere of life, and pop culture is no exception.

Creatively Lived and Limited

Micah Van Dijk

Early in November 2015, I spoke at a youth group exploring the topic of how Christians should listen to popular music. My main goal was to introduce these youth to a few tools that I have found helpful in my journey of discerning popular music. I asked the youth to suggest songs that we could listen to as a group and “Downtown” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was one of the songs we explored that night. This song started a learning journey for me around creativity and the harm of misogyny.

“Downtown” is a hip hop song released in 2015 that builds its foundation upon decades of previous songs. Fifty years earlier, Petula Clark released a track called “Downtown” that also included a soaring chorus repeating the word downtown. The bass and rhythms reference Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s big hit called The Message from 1982.  “Downtown” even connects itself to the Canadian band Men Without Hats and the extended mix of their hit The Safety Dance through a nearly identical keyboard hook found in both songs. Along with these thoughtful interpretations of snippets of popular music history, Macklemore and Lewis add their own musical ideas to make  “Downtown” into a song that has the depth of history along with new sounds that invite us to dream of popular music’s potential.

To understand that creativity of Macklemore and Lewis better, we need to go back to the first story of creativity found in Genesis 1 where we learn the origin of our creative nature as humans:

So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Then God blessed them and said,
“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.
Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky,
and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
(Genesis 1:27 – 28, NLT)

Men and women are created in the image of God, the ultimate creator, and have been tasked to govern the rest of creation. Since we are image-bearers of God, we also inherit his creative nature. In his book Culture Making, Andy Crouch helps us understand what this image-bearing creativity looks like when he explains: “Human creativity, then, images God’s creativity... when it participates in unlocking the full potential of what has gone before and creating possibilities for what will come later (Crouch, 2008, p. 105).” Macklemore and Lewis reference the goodness of past popular music while pushing the boundaries of modern hip hop, inviting other artists to build upon the ideas found in “Downtown”. They are living out their image-bearing creativity.

However, Macklemore and Lewis also prevent other image-bearing creators from flourishing by glorifying a world that sees women as sexual objects. As objects, women are no longer fellow humans, but must obey the limiting rules set out by the creators of this song. Macklemore and Lewis chose to have men complete most of the action in their song and video including buying mopeds, riding motorcycles, confronting each other, singing and dancing. The few women that do appear in the video are limited to roles of smiling, looking beautiful, and surround Macklemore when he feels it necessary. Perhaps the most revealing moment of sexual objectification is when Macklemore raps:

“Got gas in the tank, cash in the bank
And a bad little mama with her ass in my face
I'm a lick that, stick that, break her off (Kit-Kat)
Snuck her in backstage, you don't need a wristband.”

Wikipedia helps us link objectification to broader misogyny in its definition of the word: “Misogyny is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.”

One way that misogyny is harmful is how it limits the creative potential and image-bearing nature of an entire gender. Andy Crouch notes that dangers of prideful creativity. “When human creativity is defective and falls short of God’s intention… it neither honors what has come before nor creates fruitful space for the creatures, human or otherwise, who will come later” (Crouch, 2008, p. 105). In order to find space for their own image-bearing creativity, women have to ignore the limiting messages of this song and look elsewhere to find artistic inspiration.

Listeners are presented with a problem. On one hand, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are practicing image-bearing creativity that is unleashing past potential and future possibility. On the other hand, Macklemore and Lewis are limiting who has the opportunity to use their work. This problem is not just found among working popular music artists. As we seek to practice our image-bearing creativity in business, law, architecture, education, art, manufacturing, sales, parenting and more, we will be tempted to limit the image-bearing capacity of other human beings. And this problem has no easy answer.

I believe my response must be love, difficult as it might be to navigate. I do not want to rob Macklemore and Ryan Lewis of their image-bearing creativity by condemning their music, because then I am doing an injustice to them. And I also do not want songs like “Downtown”, along with male attitudes of misogyny, to prevent women from seeing that they are more than objects. They are image-bearers that can easily be the next humans to create art as good as Macklemore and Lewis — or better.

Let’s continue the conversation. How have you seen misogyny discourage or prevent women from exercising their image-bearing creativity? 

I Hope You're Offended

Michael Emmanuel 

Our Culture's War on Free Speech

The canons from the war on free speech are rumbling louder these days, and if we’re not careful they will be blasting away intellectual exchange in our classrooms. Christian liberal arts universities tend to be better at allowing open intellectual debate, but as the barbarians on the Left get more and more aggressive, even as conservatives graciously give up more and more ground, soon they’ll be in the gates.

Recently, the University of Missouri took one more step into making Orwellian thoughtcrime a reality in what was formerly known as the Free World. The university sent out an email to students asking them to report “incidents of hateful and/or hurtful speech” to campus police. What’s wrong with trying to stop hateful speech? Nothing, if that were what the email was really about. But first, there’s another principle at stake here.

Once upon a time, when somebody said something that offended you, you fought back — with words of course. Bad ideas — racism, intolerance, fanaticism, etc. — would ultimately defeat themselves. So we should allow people to say outrageous things in order for the market place of free ideas to triumph. Otherwise, we would have a tyrannical bureaucracy determining what we could and could not say based of the whims of the majority. Free speech was one of the best protections against tyranny. This meant some people might say mean or hurtful things. But it was the price that had to be paid so that everyone, including the least popular groups, could have the right to say what they believed. The only restrictions on this were for slander and, rightly so, blasphemy.

The decision taken by the U of Missouri marks another attack on those ideas. It is a reminder that the Left is winning the war on free speech. What it says is that if someone says something that somebody else regards as offensive, that person should be silenced for the crime of being offensive. Anyone who loves the truth should be terrified at this thought, for the truth is offensive.

Saying, “I’m offended” has become a trump card across the board in both public and private discourse. Our society has put feelings above rationality. It is now a sin to say something that causes another person distress, and Christians are buying into this.

Newsflash: the gospel is offensive! Warning lights should be flashing, sirens blaring, when we hear of attempts to silence people on the basis of offence because we should know that it could be us next — it will be us next — if the Left has its way. What the person who says, “I’m offended” really means is that it causes them emotional pain to hear those ideas. But rather than address them rationally and explain why they disagree, they demand your silence. In other words, people who have different ideas should not be allowed to say them. (Of course, if I got offended because of homosexuality, it wouldn’t count. But hypocrisy is the Left’s game.)

This is exactly what the email at U of Missouri was all about. How do I know? Because laws already exist against slander and harassment. Meanwhile, the email mentioned that “while cases of hateful and hurtful speech are not crimes, if the individuals identified are students,” the campus police can discipline them. If the forbidden speech is not against the law, what is U of Missouri trying to stop?

They are trying to stop what the Leftist intellectual Herbert Marcuse once labelled “repressive tolerance.” He said that most people think about tolerance in reference to people and groups but that we should think of tolerance in terms of non-tolerance to ideas deemed intolerant. In other words, ideas the Left finds disagreeable — the biblical family, “hetero-normativity”, biologically determined sex/gender — are by definition hateful ideas, therefore they must be repressed. Anyone who has been following developments in the world of political correctness has seen this at work. It’s newest form: micro-aggressions.

The 20th century conservative journalist William F. Buckley once said:  “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

The example of U of Missouri is just a small manifestation of a growing cultural cancer. More and more people are afraid of intellectual disagreement, instead demanding their irrational, ephemeral feelings decide the limits of acceptable discourse. With this our culture is becoming more and more intolerant as Leftists forbid deviance from orthodoxy. The right not to be offended is trumping truth and sanity. Those of us who love liberty must be on our guard.

Now to put principles to practice, a quote from the ever-misbehaving Douglas Wilson should ruffle some feathers. “The political correctness police are out in force, calling everyone on every expression of what they consider to be [hateful]. Unfortunately they, wind up policing a good deal more… To go along with any level of this PC foolishness is like going on a bender in Bangkok, and getting a tattoo from a guy whose English is not that strong.” I hope you’re offended.

What's Wrong with Your Profile Picture

Scott Bandy

Geopolitical Hipsterism and the Paris Attacks

 “Where’s the Lebanese flag filter for my profile picture?” This question was posed to me, tongue in cheek, during a conversation in the wake of the attacks on Paris this past week. This question raises a very interesting discussion concerning the focus of Western media outlets as they cover world events, as well as drawing attention to how the news is perceived by the general public.

  The series of coordinated attacks on France’s capital occurred on November 13, killed 129 people, and left many injured and even more gripped with fear for their country. The government of France quickly put the state on lockdown, declaring a state of emergency. Other Western nations responded quickly to the attacks, pledging solidarity with France and continuing to offer their support for the grieving country. Similarly, many people took to social media in order to express their disbelief at this tragedy and offer their love and support for the people of France.

However, in retaliation to people changing their Facebook profile pictures to depict the French flag, certain individuals expressed frustration at the notion that specific tragedies elsewhere in the world might be overlooked due to the scale and shock of the attacks in France. Specifically, many people expressed dismay that the media seemed to be selectively presenting their news stories, slighting events occurring in other areas of the world in order to present news updates on Paris.

In addition to the attacks on Paris, suicide bombings by ISIS in Beirut killed 43 people in one of the city’s popular shopping centers. ISIS declared that this was an attack on the Shiite group Hezbollah, who have been engaged in the fight against ISIS and support the current Syrian government. The attack ended the relative peace of recent months in Lebanon’s capital city, which has been a site of violence for much of its modern history. Similarly, continued violence in Baghdad also claimed causalities this past week; there have been several attacks in Iraq’s capital, leaving the country increasingly torn and unstable.

Scots photo.jpg

In light of these attacks, — not to mention the other humanitarian crises that have arisen due to natural disasters in Japan and Mexico — the issue raised by many was the question of whether or not news sources were too selective in their presentation of specific stories.

Contrary to these complaints, what is important to realize, is the fact that the media actually has been covering these stories. Most major newspapers and online forums continue to offer coverage of the violence and other tragic events occurring in many different regions of the world. A 20 second Google search will reveal a huge wealth of articles, commentaries and details concerning these events.

So what is the criticism really about? At its core, the protest that the media isn’t doing a good enough job is actually a criticism of the “attention deficit” that Westerners tend to have concerning world events. Instead of demonstrating the inefficiency of news sources, this convergence of tragedies instead displays the difficulty that the media faces in changing the focus of a population that is barraged with news stories concerning everything from Justin Bieber’s change of heart and Trudeau’s hair to ISIS, Anonymous and the G20.  Selective sympathy to tragedies in the world cannot simply be changed by the amount of news that is taken in on a daily basis.

So what can we do about the issue? Well, short of changing the filter of your profile picture (nice work everyone), it seems that the best solution to the issue of selective sympathy and a general failure to engage with ideas in the world is to actually seek out information. Stop condemning news sources for failing to adequately inform you. Take initiative yourself by looking deeper than hashtags on your favorite social media site. Pick up a newspaper and — here’s the important part — actually read it. Engage in conversations with people. In essence, do more than post a #prayforparis tweet with a picture of the Eiffel Tower and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

I’m not saying that social media is necessarily a bad way to engage with world issues. In many cases, sites like Facebook and Twitter can be excellent gateways to accessing information on specific events. If you follow the right people on Twitter, you’ll only have to click one link and you’ll get more than you wanted on the status of certain world concerns. My point is that when activism starts and ends with a status, tweet or post, the disconnection between a person and adequate engagement with world events actually grows wider.

This can be an important message for those of us living in the West to hear. Learning to tune our ears to the pain that is occurring all over the world instead of only focusing on the places that are the most relatable is essential. However, there are certain pitfalls that need to be avoided. Journalist Jamiles Lartey recently drew attention to one such danger, referring to it as “attention hijacking”. This can by stylized as a certain kind of geopolitical hipsterism, in which basic knowledge of events happening in the world becomes a matter of pride for oneself. Of course, engaging with political ideas and spreading awareness among one’s friends can be beneficial and informative. However, when it becomes a contest of who is the most informed on tragedies occurring in the world, a definite value reappraisal is in order.

There are many issues in the world that warrant our attention and prayers, and it is easy to be burdened by the weight of tragedies. Let us be continually engaged in conversation concerning world events, drawing strength and support from others, and end the passivity that has precluded much of our responses to tragedies in the world. 

50 Shades of Double Standards: Consuming the Film with One Hand, Condemning Ghomeshi with the Other

Brittany Knapper | Alumni

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19

It’s an uneasy and provocative thought to have: Jian Ghomeshi is Christian Grey. Bill Cosby is Christian Grey.

Just like that, we’re faced with an interesting cultural crux: one where the collective pop-culture’s erotic fantasies find themselves aligned and condemned by legal truth. And yet, here we are, a people thirsty for a good story, flocking to theatres and bookstores, permitting ourselves to witness a grotesque and abusive relationship in the name of entertainment.

And then, in the same breath, we condemn men such as Ghomeshi, or comedian Bill Cosby, for alleged sexual acts. Further than hypocrisy, though, the success of this book and film signifies self-indulgence and hedonism. It is filled with pride and fear. And it teaches us that these acts of fear, punishment, and control should be part of true love. 

For those unfamiliar with “Fifty Shades of Grey”, a quick synopsis for you: Christian Grey is the suave, rich, and masochistic love interest of the innocent and unexacting Anastasia Steele. Grey decides that he desires Anastasia, who, in turn, falls for him. Grey uses sex as a weapon and prompts Anastasia into an agreement wherein she will submit to his predatory and controlling sexual behaviours. She is to be his at anytime, anywhere, and by any means. Her life and emotions are manipulated by Grey, and she is persuaded into sexual acts she would not have agreed to otherwise – simply because Grey threatens to punish (beat, humiliate, assault; choose your own verb) Anastasia if she does not comply with his wishes. In Grey’s own words: “I love to control." 

In the past few weeks, the Christian community, women’s rights communities, and those who continually fight against rape and pornography have been diligently writing a treatise to encourage the just of heart to boycott “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I’m not sure their efforts helped. The movie grossed $85 million in its first weekend. To put that into perspective, the Oscar-winning “Birdman grossed less than half a million in its first weekend.

I’ve read a lot of articles on “Fifty Shades.” I then proceeded to read the book so that I could understand what these articles were touching on. Yet, in all my reading, I found that the root of the problem with this novel and with the conversations surrounding it was completely missed.

You see, the root conflict is not violence against women, or masochism, or hedonism. It’s not even hypocrisy. The root is the distorted representation of a loving relationship this novel presents. What should unnerve us all is that this pop-culture phenomenon teaches our young men that they must control, and our young women that they must be the controlled, the manipulated, and the disrespected in order to call their relationship love; if they aren’t, something is clearly wrong.

In the novel, Anastasia is the Submissive and Grey is the dominant. She is required to heed his every sexual, physical, and controlling whim. He is required to control her. She is required to enjoy it.

Yet, for Christians, this relationship is debunked by rite of Paul’s message to Ephesus. In chapter 5, he relates the roles of men and women in marriage to the roles of Christ and the Church. We all know the texts: “Wives submit yourselves to your husbands” and “Husbands love your wives.” We also are all familiar with the church community’s struggle with this passage in the context of feminism. Yet, this passage uses the same language of submission as Grey’s contract with Anastasia. But instead of it relating to sexual acts (all of which the earlier half of Ephesians 5 forbids), the passage refers to marriage as metaphor for the Church’s relationship with Christ.

See, submission in the context of Paul’s message is not what Anastasia is required to do. It is also not the housewife version of womanhood played out in the 1950s. Submission is equated with respect, with adoration. It’s a fierce sort of love, offered out of loyalty and trust and returned with gentle care, kindness, and compassion. It’s based upon choice, not manipulation. The cycle of adoration and love is fundamental to a relationship which truly mirrors Christ.  

We must hold the Ghomeshis, the Cosbys and the Greys accountable for their actions, and we must not paint them as heroes in the art of love. 

Thus, submission is not fear – not fear of a person, and not fear of consequence. Love is not immoral. It is not controlling. It is not jealous. It is not Christian Grey. 

A Defence Monarchy in a Modern World

Ethan Winterburn

The Queen

The Queen

“The Queen is just a figurehead. It’s a meaningless title.” “She doesn’t even do anything for us.” “What a waste of tax dollars!” “She didn’t even do anything to earn that position!” These are the most common comments I hear whenever the Canadian Monarchy is discussed. They transcend religion; I hear these things from Christians and non-Christians alike. The cynicism of the former concerns me most of all.

Canadians’ rampant dismissal of the Monarchy has always baffled me. There are solid reasons for supporting the monarchy from a Christian worldview as well as from a purely pragmatic perspective.

First of all, as human beings, we are made in the image of God. In the Bible we see the heavenly model of government as monarchy. God rules as King with absolute sovereignty. In our governments, how are we mirroring this? Of course, I am not suggesting that kings and queens should have absolute authority, as God does. The image of God is broken in us, so to account for this we need a large dose of democracy, which is why I value a constitutional monarchy rather than an absolute one.

When a government overcorrects for human brokenness and becomes obsessively democratic, however, for example in the aftermath of the American and French revolutions, the result is a people that attempts to submit to the individual will. There is no “Queen and country”; there is “me, myself, and I”. An example of this is the so-called “American dream” of self-made success.

Now, I am not saying that all people in republics are self-interested. I am simply saying that republics tend to encourage self-interest more than monarchies. The rejection of monarchy in republican states fails somewhat when they attempt to create an artificial royal family out of the elected president’s family (e.g. the “first lady”).

 Particularly in reference to our Canadian monarchy, we as Christians have much to respect and admire. Our monarchy has developed over hundreds of years within a Christian (although flawed) context. The symbols and rituals of the monarchy are deeply Christian in nature, which is something we ought to appreciate. Compare this with our neighbours to the south, who can trace their state’s origins to the will of a group of men, some of whom were not Christian, but deist.

 Queen Elizabeth II has shown a deeply Christian character in her life as a servant-monarch. If Peter called the church of his time to honour a pagan emperor (1 Peter 2:17), how much more should we honour a Christian queen. 

Now, more pragmatically speaking, it is not true that the Queen is merely a figurehead. She is the head of state, and does have certain emergency powers. However, it is true that her role is largely symbolic. But isn’t the symbolic an important aspect of life? Why do we think that “symbolic” means “useless”? Following that line of reasoning, why go to your graduation? Isn’t it just a symbolic receiving of a degree? It isn’t like you are getting any special powers out of it. You will still get your degree in the mail if you don’t attend the ceremony. But most of you will still go to your graduation. Why? Symbols have meaning to us, and meaning matters.

Taking the mainly symbolic role of the head of state, Her Majesty is symbolically the person who holds sovereignty over all her realms. She does not represent any party, and thus can unite all her subjects under her symbolic headship. This is superior in my opinion to the system found in republics, where the head of state is an elected president who represents a particular political party, who rules by the will of a certain group of people.

 To those who say the Monarchy costs too much, I would point out that the majority of the cost is for the British taxpayer, who does not even pay that much. For Canadians, the Monarchy costs very little for each taxpayer (around $1.63 per year).

 I will end with the words of C.S. Lewis, which I believe were prophetic of our current age: “Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.”

Buckingham Palace - the Queen's Residence

Buckingham Palace - the Queen's Residence

Experience Fuels Education: How to Transform Theories into Practice in a Liberal Arts University

Aaron DeVos

If John Dewey, the great 20th century philosopher of education, were alive today, his curiosity would be piqued upon hearing about experiential education.  Much of Dewey’s life work centered on this very theme through books such as “Experience and Nature”, “Art and Experience” and “Experience and Education.” 

Dewey once said: “education is of, by, and for experience.”  Experience initiates learning.  Experience fuels learning.  And lastly, learning transforms experiences.

Experience is foundational to ensuring that ideas, thoughts, and theories stick. Experience has the power to either validate or discard the course material that is being taught. The concern is when students do not have the experience necessary to test the validity of the concepts taught. 

Dewey believed that all too often the classroom assumes that students have had an experience which can ground their conceptual learning, when far too often this is not the case.

Dewey then suggests that what can breathe life into learning is not thinking deeper or reading more.  What is insisted upon is as a richer personal experience imbued with the capacity to breathe life into the subject matter.

These comments from Dewey are contrary to practices of experiential education within most universities, including Redeemer.  Experiential education often values experience as the final goal of education, not the starting place.  Often experiential education emerges at the conclusion of the learning process, usually at the end of a course, or worse yet, at the end of undergraduate studies.

In my fourth year at Redeemer, I enrolled in a course centred on social justice.  There was an experiential learning component to the course whereby every student was to take part in Deedz and write a journal. Meanwhile, back in class, we explored the thoughts of great minds on the topic of social justice.  We met twice a week for 15 weeks, building on the ideas of great thinkers who have gone before us. 

But for the second last class, we switched gears almost completely. Rather than ideas being the framework for class discussion, it would be Deedz. According to the sheer number of students engaging with Deedz campus-wide, one might think that there would have been a lively discussion on the matter. Sadly, the classroom discussion was both shallow and short.

Why did we finish the course with a conversation about our experiences rather than start with students’ experiences?  Is that not the starting place for determining the topics that are worth delving deeper into?

Through bypassing students’ experiences we neglected the role of education to take students’ experiences, transform them, and in turn, transform our societies.  Had we started the course with such a discussion, students could have had come to an understanding of the complexity involved in seeking justice and therefore the need to return to the classroom.

So here is my challenge to you as students, faculty, and staff: seek out experiences, earlier rather than later, that can help enliven students’ learning. 

To help students along, consider thinking of the city as a microcosm of the world. Whatever it is that students hope to learn about the world can be learned right here in the city. Stories, skills, and ideas the world over are found in this city – in the very places that students live, and move, and have their being.

So I ask you students, “what is it that your heart desires to know?” Who, where, or how within this city can you find a face-to-face encounter with it?  Talk about it as you gather for dorm dinners.  Seek out opportunities within the community.  Reach out to your teachers and ask them to point you in the right direction. 

Lastly, dare to insist that your experiences belong in the classroom.  They are not finished products. They leave us with questions, opportunities and emotions that are worth discussing in depth. The classroom is a community that should provide the space for such an exploration. 

Confronting Pluralism in Canada

Michael Emmanuel

We live in a pluralist society where supposedly many beliefs and religions are all tolerated and, to some degree, considered equal with each other. Consequently, anyone who claims to have the certain absolute truth is viewed with suspicion and even contempt. Absolute claims are arrogant and inevitably lead to intolerance.  Sadly, Christians no longer challenge this. We no longer rebut: Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn. 14:6). Instead we say the civil sphere is neutral ground for all beliefs. We Christians may believe this world is the Lord’s, but others don’t, and therefore we can’t expect them to live according to God’s law or admit Christ, not man, is King.

How manifestly absurd! Sometimes I wonder, like C.S. Lewis, “Why don’t they teach logic in these schools?” (Or in the church for that matter.) In no other realm of life would that kind of reasoning be acceptable. “What’s that? You don’t believe 2 and 2 are 4? Well you just put down what you believe and we’ll call it even.” Simply because you don’t believe in reality doesn’t mean it goes away. Nonetheless, more and more I see people in the church bending over to take what the culture has to give them because we can’t expect, let alone demand, culture adhere to the law of the Almighty 

This is because, in breathing the air of our apostate culture, we have bought the lie of pluralism – that since no one can be absolutely right, all belief systems are valid in society and none can claim preeminence. Thus, the default mode of many Christians today is agnosticism. They believe, ultimately, no one can know for certain that God is real or that He has become incarnate and died and was resurrected, let alone any assurance of salvation. At the end of the day, every position is a “faith” position.  Whether it is due to a leap of faith or a conclusion based on the best evidence, the results are the same. Every position begins with someone’s choice to believe it.

I hope to show that such a position is (1) anti-biblical, (2) illogical, and (3) impossible. Christians should unashamedly profess to have the absolute truth which Canada must obey. This is our great commission from the High King Himself.

So first, agnosticism, both epistemologically and culturally, is anti-biblical. Often people ask if God will damn those who have never heard of him. Don’t worry, God won’t. On the other hand, there is no one who hasn’t heard of God. The Apostle Paul says the wrath of God is revealed against ungodly man because he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). What is this truth? “What may be known of God,” which is manifest in them, “for God has shown it to them… so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:19-20). In other words, every single person knows God exists because God has gone out of His way to make Himself fully known. God actively tells every single person. So much so that every man is without excuse for denying Him. There is no such thing as an agnostic, only liars. Furthermore, no one has to prove God or take a leap of faith because everyone already knows He exists. This is why the Psalmist calls the atheist a fool. A fool is someone who denies what he knows, who acts against what he knows, or who lives with illusionary ideas about reality. On the other hand, Proverbs tells us that we know, with certainty, “the words of truth” (Prov. 22:20). Add to this that the Dominion of Canada claims, “He shall have dominion from sea to sea,” (Psalm 72:8) in its motto, and suddenly atheists, agnostics, and secularists of all kinds have no right to decide anything about marriage, abortion, Sabbath days, or any other civil legislation. Moreover, when we Christians act otherwise, we disobey our Lord, breaking His third commandment by acting as if His name didn’t mean Sovereign.

Second, agnosticism is illogical. If no one can know for certain the ultimate truths of the universe, then how can we know particular truths?  If we don’t know where reason, experience, or truths come from, how can we trust anything they give us? Let me first rule out that reason is neutral. The notion that everyone has reason by which they can come to the truth is in the first place a Christian belief; elsewise, there is no reason to believe it. Moreover, reason cannot justify itself because you cannot prove reason without resorting to reason, and this is begging the question. Experience, meanwhile, is all judged through worldviews and therefore hardly unbiased. People who understand these philosophical problems often resort to saying all we have left is to take a leap of faith. We must simply choose to believe in the world around us. I don’t see how this is anything more than nonsense. We don’t have any logical reasons for using logic and experience so therefore we will turn to an illogical one. God certainly doesn’t demand a leap of faith – blind faith of this sort is not the biblical virtue. For example, Abraham believed against hope, that is, against what his own experience told him because he believed in hope that God doesn’t lie (Rom. 4:18). Whatever the Kierkegaardians or the New Atheists may say, there is no conflict between faith and reason; they are one and the same axiom. But for those outside Christ, who have no reason to trust reason, and no faith to leap to, how can anything be known? Well logically, it can’t. Meanwhile, Dostoyevsky pointed out that without God, everything is permissible. Cultural agnosticism, such as pluralism, means power wins the day. And power corrupts.

Finally, agnosticism is impossible. All agnostics ultimately believe we can’t know absolutely. But their claim to intellectual humility is simply disguised arrogance. Like the relativist who claims there absolutely are no absolutes, the agnostic claims they know with total certainty that nothing can be totally certain. The agnostic also claims they know for certain that that there isn’t enough evidence out there to give themselves or others certainty. They have absolute trust in their own reasoning capacities to judge that the current evidence is either insufficient or non-existent. The agnostic really claims to know a lot. So what happens when a culture is taken over by this sort of intellectual schizophrenia? Well a new absolute is set up, one which says man, not Christ, is lord. Ancient Rome, for example, was pluralist; as long as each religion bowed the knee to the real ultimate, Caesar, it was tolerated. Likewise, all religions and beliefs are valid in Canada, as long as they subject their speech, proselytizing, and moral codes to the government of Canada. In other words, you can’t escape sovereignty, you can’t escape certainty, you can only “worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25).

Christians need to stop being wimps. Enough acting like we don’t actually have good news. We do! Christ has absolutely come! He has absolutely defeated Satan, hell, and death (1 Cor. 15)! He is absolutely victorious, and has absolutely ascended to Heaven where he sits as the absolute King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the entire cosmos, from whence He shall come to judge absolutely the living and the dead. Until then, our mission is to proclaim His Lordship among all the nations, teaching them to obey all thing He has commanded us (Matt. 28:18-20) until every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Rom. 14:11). These things were written down for us that we might know their truth (Jn. 21:24) and know it certainly (Lk. 1:4).

If I may tweak him, the Psalmists’ instructions are clear: “Be wise, O Canada; be instructed you Christians of the West. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish” (Ps. 2:10-12). I hope we’ll take this seriously. I wouldn’t want to toy with the wrath of God.

Changing the Share of Your Foundation: Why I stopped Wearing Make-up at Redeemer

Helena Shuurman

I have trouble knowing how to discuss this with peers, because I don't want to come across as judgmental. I'm not discussing moral blacks and whites here. I simply love to tell the story of how I became free from a burden I didn't even know I was carrying. I long to see us all freed from our unknown burdens and have them placed at the feet of the empty cross.

I remember in grade nine I felt inferior because I didn't own pretty clothes or wear make-up. I remember coming to school every day and watching girls walk by that were prettier than me, and I saw all the attention they got. I looked at them with awe and a little jealousy, and I began to want other people to look at me with awe and jealousy. I wanted to fit in and I wanted to be extraordinary. I wanted to be confident, and I figured the only way to be confident was to have people affirm me. I would feel more comfortable in my skin if other people liked it, right?

I remember buying make-up for the first time and practicing applying it in my room. I remember, too, the first time I bought skinny jeans and the kind of tops that flowed off the curves of my body. I liked myself more after that because I saw that other people liked me more. I was happy.

I noticed more of the details in girls' appearances after that. I saw that some girls had coloured shadows on their eyelids and curled lashes. I saw that lots of girls had hair too blonde to be real and too straight to be natural. I saw them getting affirmed and I wanted that, too. I wanted to be liked so that I could like myself.

And I went out and bought a straightener and hair dye and an eye lash curler (who even knew those existed?!). Then I bought more skinny jeans and flow-y tops and necklaces and high heels and those glasses frames that all the hipsters wear.

I was happy when I came to Redeemer. But also sad because there are so many pretty girls here. I wanted to be pretty and so I bought more pretty clothes, got the expensive kind of make-up this time, and I practiced applying it my dorm room. There are so many girls here that wear clothing that is interesting and intriguing, and, especially in my first year here, I wanted to have that same attention they got. So many girls place their identity in their appearance, and I am that girl, too.

Some things take you suddenly, dramatically altering your thoughts, feelings, and relationships in an instant. Other things begin to hold you captive gradually over time, without any conscious knowledge of the influence that they hold over you.

Addiction is all encompassing – it maliciously slips its way into every aspect of a person's life as soon as it has taken root. It leaves its mark on every sphere of life without consent or notification. Idols are habits you can't stop, even if God called you to quit.

I'm learning that it's a burden. Trying to fill my void with attention from outward appearance is so suffocating, because you never get filled. Alas, I came to realize: Christ fills that void.

And what freedom I experienced when I let my burden go. I threw out my make-up. All of it, no looking back. And I rid myself of nearly half my wardrobe. Oh, it was bliss. I'm beginning the long journey of placing all my identity in Him and Him alone, and I've never been so filled. Finally, my identity is in something greater than myself, and I feel that this is how I was made to live.

I say this not to place myself any higher than anyone else, because I can't tell you how many times I've stumbled. My wardrobe grows like a weed: a clear sign to me that I have a habit I can't stop. It's a continuing struggle to let my idol go.

But believe me when I tell you what a joy it is every time I lift my idol up to God. He takes it. He takes my burden and puts it on Himself.

I learned in my Introduction to Theology class last week that we can get to know God in a few different ways, and one of them is through our practices.

What does our practice of applying make-up teach us about God? Are we sending ourselves false messages? That He didn't quite make us good? That His image in us needs to be supplemented? How do we apply make-up all for Jesus anyway?

The biggest difference I noticed in myself when I stopped wearing make-up was not just that my self-confidence increased and my self-hatred decreased. It was simply that I began thinking about myself less. I never thought I'd quite reach this point, but I can honestly say I hardly even consider my appearance throughout the day. I still have so much to learn, but slowly my attention is shifting away from my own self. And it is so glorious that I long for everyone to experience this divine liberation, too.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town... Way Too Soon!

Rachel Debruyn | Crown Staff

There are two kinds of Christmas-lovers: those who let Christmas gently float in with the December snow . . . and those whose yards explode with inflatable reindeer and twinkling lights the moment they throw out their pumpkins.

When is too soon to start celebrating Christmas? 

When November comes around, we hear people muttering about how Christmas comes sooner and sooner every year. Other people confess under their breath that they already brought out their Mariah Carey Christmas album. We complain that stores must have evil agendas to market more Christmas swag to us by bringing it out sooner.

But what’s wrong with starting sooner than the month of December? My personal preference is to contain Christmas to one month, to avoid drawing it out too much. Besides, I can only listen to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” so many times per year before I snap.

Here at Redeemer my dorm is celebrating already because we’ll be spending most of the Christmas season apart, back home. And although we all agreed to not listen to any Christmas music before the second week of November, I did catch a couple girls (and visitors; you still have your demerit point, Michael!) listening to the new Pentatonix Christmas album before the ordained time. (But I forgave them, because discouraging Pentatonix would be an outrage.)

But here’s why I think starting the festivities should begin mid-November at the absolute earliest. It’s disrespectful to launch into Christmas before we mark Remembrance Day. It’s crucial that we allow for time to honour the dead before we rejoice along with the living. We give a minute of silence on November 11, but we can also keep our Christmas carols silent until the day has passed. There are many people who disagree with me – they argue that celebrating Christmas doesn’t outright interfere with honouring fallen soldiers. I don’t disagree that Christmas trees in the living room before Remembrance Day don’t hinder our respect for the fallen and our veterans. I simply see waiting as a gesture of respect.  I maintain that we ought to wait before we celebrate.

 

The Day Canada Remembered It Had An Army

Caleb Blackwell

In my 4 years of reserve service, I have never witnessed so much outright support for the Canadian military as I have since the Ottawa shooting. Before this, most conversations I had with anybody outside the military involved their personal opinion on Afghanistan, which was largely negative. The immediate reaction to the death of Cpl. Cirillo actually shocked me in light of past sentiments. The people of Hamilton built a monument made of flowers to this fallen soldier right in front of the Hamilton Armouries. There was overwhelming involvement from Canada in general when they brought Cirillo home along the highway of heroes. Everyone all of a sudden had sympathy and condolences to offer active members of the Forces, from classmates to intoxicated gentlemen on James Street at odd hours of the morning.

It all seemed a little sensationalist. And that concerns me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply pleased with the public’s reaction. Every bit of support for Cirillo’s family and his unit was fantastic. That being said, I am worried that everyone’s staunch patriotism and appreciation that they displayed on the 24th of October, when people lined the streets to see Cirillo’s motorcade, will fade into either complacency or the typical shade of disdain.

In my experience, part of the reason that people become unappreciative of military personnel is that they fail to understand the difference between decision makers and regular workers. Asking me to bring home the troops from Afghanistan while I’m waiting for my bus to go home after work is likely not the best forum for your comments on foreign policy changes. Why? I’m a corporal in the army reserve. My area of influence within the Canadian Forces is limited. Talking to me is like demanding that a cashier at Wal-Mart fix their company’s policy on foreign labour because you disagree with the idea of sweatshops. 

In my opinion, the key to this great outbreak of patriotism is the treatment of soldiers as individuals rather than part of the corporate structure. The people of Canada were exposed to an individual versus an establishment, and they beamed with pride at the service of the individual. People forgot about their personal stances on Afghanistan and F-35s, and they took the time to celebrate the service and life of an individual.

Reservists are people who give up their time to train for contingencies that scare them. Here in Hamilton, there is no contingent of regular force military members, which means that most of the soldiers you see have regular day jobs, or they go to school full time. I’m not saying that you should go up to them and thank them for their great sacrifice, but when you see a soldier, try to see their individual willingness to step into a conflict so that the citizens of Canada can continue a free and unharassed existence. You don’t have to agree with the government’s decisions to appreciate the sacrifice of an individual.

The False Fairy Tale

Written By: Amelia Bowes

Boys and girls alike, our twenties is a typically a time of midterms, papers, money, stress, eating Kraft Dinner out of a pot, and also:

Love.

Or, at least, we would like to have some love – of the romantic sort that is.

The thing about us, though, is that our ideas of love are less about watching a sunset from a hammock and more about crossing off a checklist. Whether it’s a potential CEO or someone who will just get up and make pancakes on Saturday morning, the whole idea of meeting and getting to know someone becomes contradictory when we already have that “person” mapped out in our minds. For example, more often than not when I discuss far-off mystery spouses with my single friends, I typically hear the following phrases:

“He/she will have to be as tall/short as me or taller/shorter, otherwise it would just be awkward.”

“I don’t think I’d be able to marry a picky eater. I’d have no patience for that.”

“It would help if we majored the same thing, then I’d know we have things in common.”

“I just know what I like.”

 Now, most of these are meant to be harmless, and I have probably said a few of them myself. But underlying such statements is a mindset that can, to be frank, become toxic.

As Christians, we know it to be true that we “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are all less than whole, prone to ignoring our credit card bills and avoiding eye contact with the homeless man sitting by the crosswalk. We watch ourselves fail in small (and sometimes slightly less small) ways every day, and never once dispute that we are without a doubt imperfect and logically require a Saviour. And if we acknowledge this to be true for ourselves, why does it not apply to our future spouses, who will also be (gasp) imperfect humans?

Since we are currently in the process of living life, we know that it is never linear but full of bending roads and back alleys. We face situations we never thought we would have to, and we will inevitably react to these situations. However, we do not always know how to react. More often than not, what life slams down in front of us leaves us knowing how to do nothing else but cry, scream and sometimes completely and utterly break.

During those times it won’t matter whether you and your significant other read the same textbooks and are eye level when you stand in front of each other. They will probably not kiss you every time they get home from work, and in fact you will probably fight and not even like each other for a bit (even if you don’t always like, you always love).

What will matter, though, is knowing when to say something and when it is best to just listen. It will be crucial to remember that she still sleeps with one hand under her cheek and he still shaves right in the middle of the week. Think really hard right now, and decide whether you’d rather look into eyes that are a perfect blue or be held perfectly while you cry.

When you fall in love, you fall in love with a human being. A human being with a past, dreams, flaws and fears. A human being who will inevitably hurt you and whom you will inevitably hurt. A human being who will equally fail you as much as fulfill you. A human being who, just like you, is in desperate need of a Saviour.

Now I am not saying to stop being selective at all or date the very next person that talks to you, I’m just telling the truth. People are not black and white and were not designed to fit any one specific set of qualifications. When love comes, make sure you’re swooning over a heart and soul, not a resume. 

Green Is The New Black

Written By: Selena Doner

What is trending in the Canadian culture today is usually some form of slipper-boot hybrid, an obsessive craze for some British boy band or maybe another television series based on a family of hillbillies. Certain kinds of fashion movements and music discoveries typically take the stage in our Western society, and that is the way it has been for generations. However, the past couple years have added a new “trend” to the public conversation: environmentalism.

                  “Going green,” as many call it, has exploded onto the scene and captured the attention of the adolescent world. The environmental movement was awakened in the 1970s when certain people, usually referred to as “hippies,” began to take a deep interest in the natural world. Of course this was sparked by the growing destruction of forests, discovering what a powerful pesticide called DDT truly did and leading green-thinker Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Earth Day was founded, as well as numerous organizations that are still making a difference to this day, such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace. For a while, though, saving the planet became a task for the “treehuggers” and was put on the backburner of the society who would much rather learn how to dress like Kurt Cobain or spend two months’ worth of allowance on Michael Jordan sneakers.

                  However, in 2006 when the former United States Vice President Al Gore burst onto the scene with a shocking slideshow, heads were indeed turned. The film An Inconvenient Truth, in which Gore shares information about the planet to educate viewers about climate change and global warming, is the documentary that is said to have sparked the environmental movement back into public concern. These concerns became more real with the release of the fictional apocalyptic film, The Day After Tomorrow. The fight for the ozone returned with a huge following, from kids toting plastic bags filled with garbage to thousands protesting against factory emissions.

                  Sadly, the flame that was relit began to dim again as more current issues took over, such as Britney Spears’s shaved head and Paris Hilton’s sex tape. The environmental movement was still happening, but it had been deflated from the urgent and passionate movement it once was and flattened into a faded concept of environmentalism that involved “Save the Earth” buttons and “I Love Recycling” t-shirts. Certain things like separating your recycling and carpooling that were considered only the first steps to changing things became the only efforts some made. Many would say doing one small thing to help the Earth makes a difference. It would be more accurate to suggest that doing small things repeatedly is where real change lies. This means a real commitment to environmentalism from everyone, and the movement needs a good push from those claiming to be “green.”

                  “Going green” has become more of a fad than a movement in Western society today. People would say being “into environmentalism” would entail buying organic groceries, only drinking fair trade coffee and owning a Hybrid vehicle. These of course are all things considered positive and would be supported by many environmentalists, as long as one commits and understands what they are doing. For example, one could purchase chicken or milk that is labelled organic with the romantic idea of chickens roaming free of cages and cows being gently hand-milked when in fact organic can mean only a difference in price (usually higher) and additives. Why would you spend more money on something you probably know next to nothing about? The same reason people pay more for “better quality clothing” made by enslaved children: it’s fashionable.

                  These buzzwords, “fair trade,” “organic,” “vegan,” are heard throughout many young peoples’ social circles today, and one place they float around is Redeemer University College. As a student at Redeemer, you would hear all about creation care in your classes and spot the massive solar panels on the roof. You would enjoy a fair trade coffee from William’s and listen to people discuss how they made vegan cookies on the weekend. All of these things have the makings of an environmentally conscious school, but what difference is being made in the long run? Redeemer has yet to help plant an urban garden, participate in pipe watch or actively clean up a littered area. These may be all big steps toward a “greener” school, but even promoting awareness of current environmental issues would be more than what is being done. As Christians, it is our obligation to care for creation, and what is being done at Redeemer and all over the country is more of a care for how it looks to have an environmental lifestyle rather than a desire to actually participate. 

Top 10 Ways You Know Spring is Actually Coming

After a seemingly eternal winter, we are all resting with the hope that spring might actually show its colours in the coming weeks. We are already in the middle of March! It’s time for the snow to go and spring to, well, get here ASAP! Here are some ways you know for sure that spring is coming and that winter will actually end...

 

10. You start to see shorts come back in style on the racks at the mall.

 

Now, it’s true that shorts and t-shirts start to sprout up in the stores basically immediately after Christmas but there is no doubt that these trends are in full bloom as you wander through the mall. Even just picking up something that reminds you of warm weather can help you actually believe that the snow will go someday.

 

9. Your syllabus tells you that exams are almost here.

 

For students, exams bring with them the promise of a break and warmth. Those awful tests are coming up quick! Hopefully the sun will begin to warm us up so that we can actually sit out on our porches to get some study time in.

 

8. Redeemer students put the jackets away.

 

Although this may simply be in protest, as you walk to school each day you can see many students without coats headed to the school. Coats are being put away and the pure defiance of short sleeves is coming out. If you are still bundled up on the way to school, take heart, these brave few are a reminder that spring really is around the corner.

 

7. You are looking for a summer job.

 

Although this hunt is really not fun in itself, the simple title “summer job” brings with it the sound of warm weather. This job is going to start in the spring and take you into the heat of July and August. Having a tough time finding a job? Check out all of the resources Redeemer has on their websites for available positions!

 

6. Snow fall is starting to turn into rainfall.

 

Bring out the rubber boots; with spring comes rain! With all of the snow beginning to melt around campus, there is a huge influx of puddles everywhere. Pull out the proper footwear and take a leap into puddle jumping. Make sure you grab your spring coat and umbrella since these showers are promising to bring flowers!

 

5. Easter decorations are everywhere.

 

Although we have a bit of a late Easter this year, there is no shortage of pastel colours, bunnies, and mini eggs in the stores. For Redeemer students (and Christians everywhere) Easter brings with it the promise of redemption and new life. As you look forward to Easter in this season of lent, take notice of all of the changes and promises of new life around you.

 

4. Your nose and eyes are unbelievably itchy (and they won’t stop running!)

 

That’s right, spring equals allergy season! For some who really struggle with allergies, this is the first definite sign that spring is around the corner. From the itchy, watery eyes to the runny nose, you know the true times of spring with the signs that occur in your sinuses. Go ahead and get yourself some Claritin so you can enjoy the nice weather with the rest of us.

 

3. The weatherman actually has good news.

 

You may have noticed if you ever catch the weather report that even those reporting it looked depressed when they announced more snow. Lately, with the promise of rising temperatures, these news announcers seem much happier and more hopeful. We may even hit three degrees this week! Woohoo!

 

2. People come out of hibernation.

 

Notice more people out for jogs lately? More people posting on healthy food options they are choosing? More people in the gym? That’s right, it’s time to lose the comfort food (and the extra 10 pounds) and get ready for summer. With the weather warming up, people are beginning to get antsy, and with this there seems to be more activity across campus and in the neighbourhood. Go ahead, take a walk, barbeque a burger, and sit out on your porch with your friends. Time to get out of your room (and your sweats) and enjoy the last few weeks of this school year.

 

1. The birds are chirping and the sun is shining.

 

The clocks “springing ahead” are more than helpful in knowing spring is on its way. Being able to keep the blinds pulled open until almost 8pm is so refreshing! Along with the extra sunshine it seems like the birds have made it back from down south. There is a lot of chirping going on in the early mornings. All of this is a sure sign that, despite the white stuff that still sits on the ground, spring is actually on its way!

 

 

Bizarre Names that Parents Tried to Call their Kids

I’ve come to the age where many of my friends are becoming engaged or married and are starting little families of their own.  Due to this, I’ve been subject to a lot of “name chatter” and, being female, I have evidently been sucked into looking at names that I myself like (not like I have been doing that for years already or anything...). That being said, I always felt a little sorry for celebrity babies who have to deal with names like Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow), Kal-El (Nicholas Cage), Audio Science (Shannyn Sossamon), Moon Unit (Frank Zappa), and Peaches Honeyblossom (Bob Geldof). Though, after looking at some of the cases below, I’m starting to think these celebrity names aren’t so bad after all!     

Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116

No, my cat did not just walk across my keyboard. Swedish parents Elisabeth Hallin and Lasse Diding decided to name their son “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116” (pronounced Albin, because you know that makes total sense!) as a form of protest against Sweden’s naming law, which was enacted in 1982. Failing to register the child with a legally approved name, the couple was fined with 5000 kronor (approximately $867.53 CAD). In response to the fine, the parents claimed that the name was a form of “artistic creation” and countered by saying they would change the name to “A.” However, the government still refused to approve the name.

@

A Chinese couple wanted to name their child “@” because of the likeness to the Chinese symbol for “love him.”  The Chinese government declined this request and publicized the name as a warning to China’s citizens about the consequences of bringing bizarre names into the Chinese language. Nonetheless, this isn’t the first time someone has used a symbol as a first name. Back in 1993, American singer-songwriter Prince changed his name to the unpronounceable symbol after disagreeing with his record label, Warner Bros.  However, he went back to Prince after his Warner Bros contract expired back in 2000.

Akuma

In 1993, a Japanese parent decided that “Akuma” would be the appropriate name for his son. The term literally translates to “Devil.” I mean, I know kids can be a handful at times but this is a bit extreme don’t you think? The Japanese government agreed, stating that the name was an abuse of the parent’s right to name their child. An extensive legal battle followed until the father finally backed down, giving his son a less demonic name.

Chow Tow

The Cantonese phrase literally translates to “Smelly Head.” Poor kid, as if people aren’t already self-conscious enough! Apparently this must have been quite common because, back in 2006, the Malaysian government published a list of undesirable names that were seen as unfit. Names that referenced animals, insects, fruits, vegetables, colours, royal titles (such as Duke and Duchess), Japanese cars, and even numbers (sorry, no more little “007”s allowed) are also banned from the country.

4Real &Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii

Yes, you read that correctly.  You just can’t make this stuff up! These are just a couple of the 77+ names banned in New Zealand. The government issued a list back in 1995 that outlined appropriate names that parents could use for their children. The list banned names that included things such as royal titles, punctuation characters, symbols, and numbers/digits.   In 2007, Pat and Sheena Wheaton tried to name their child “4Real.” The government declined because the name contained a digit. So naturally, the parents officially settled on “Superman” instead (while still calling the boy “4Real”).  How “Superman” is seen as acceptable I have no idea! Similarly, in 2008, parents of “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii” were ordered by the New Zealand court to change the nine-year-old’s name for fear of bullying and harassment. The parents refused and the child was taken and put under court custody due to poor parental judgment. 

Disney Characters That Can Be Diagnosed With Mental Disorders

We have been conditioned from the start to think of Disney tales as good moral examples for children and adults alike. They always end with a “happily ever after” and no one ever really considers the mental stability of these lovable characters. Instead, we pass off their behaviour as little quirks or idiosyncrasies that add to the characters’ charm. But after closer inspection, it’s hard to deny that some of these characters may not be “all there” as we initially thought.

Pinocchio: Pathological Liar & Conduct Disorder

                  A cautionary tale for children about the consequences of lying, the original version of Pinocchio was actually completely different than Walt Disney’s 1940 film. Originally written by Italian writer Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio was portrayed as a wretched, ill-behaved boy who liked to cause mischief and mayhem. (Being a boy, I’m not all that surprised, aren’t all little boys mischievous?) However, Disney thought that people could not sympathize with Pinocchio’s cocky and inhuman personality and decided to revamp the entire story by focusing on the consequences of lying and the importance of being truthful. To make his point come across, Disney turned Pinocchio into an innocent, passive character who is quite naive about the world around him. In fact, the character of Jiminy Cricket (who in Collodi’s version had a minimal part & was killed almost instantly by Pinocchio), was created specifically as a “conscience” to steer Pinocchio away from trouble. Despite the theory of “letting your conscience be your guide,” Pinocchio ignores Jiminy in many instances and shows many signs of being a pathological liar as well as having a Conduct Disorder (CD). 

 

Winnie the Pooh: Binge Eating Disorder

                  The original tales of Winnie the Pooh were written by British writer A.A Milne. The characters were first introduced in the book Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926. In 1930, Stephen Slesinger bought the merchandising rights from Milne and, not long after his death, Walt Disney acquired the rights, resulting in the lovable Pooh we all know today. Now, I’m going to state the obvious here, but Winnie the Pooh has a clear honey addiction. His constant need for honey is, in fact, a key trait of a binge eating disorder. Symptoms like rapidly eating large amounts of food, stockpiling food in secret, and never feeling fully satisfied are all characteristics of the disorder. Instances of hallucinations and anxiety/stress can also be caused by Pooh’s need for a “fix” of honey.

 

Alice: Chemical/Drug Dependency

                  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was originally written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, in 1865. Throughout the years, many have questioned the story of Alice and the underlying theme of drug use. Although there has been skepticism about Lewis actually being a drug user himself, it’s evident that drug use was seen as commonplace during the 60s and 70s. In fact, a syndrome called Todd’s Syndrome is also commonly referred to as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.  The syndrome is triggered by muscimol, a psychoactive alkaloid found in mushrooms (a reoccurring symbol in Alice). It can be characterized by the distortion of human perception and is usually associated with migraines, brain tumors, and the use of psychoactive drugs.

 

Peter Pan: Gerascophobia & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Oh, Peter Pan, the boy who never wants to grow up. Don’t we all wish that?  Originally written by J.M Barrie in the early 1900s, the character of Peter Pan was first introduced in Barrie’s book The Little White Bird and then re-introduced in Peter Pan the play, in 1904. Although the story has gone through many adaptations over the years, the character of Peter Pan has stayed pretty much the same: a rude, fearless, cocky and careless boy who holds the belief that the world revolves around him. These attributes are quite similar to those of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder. According to Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary, a narcissistic personality disorder is “characterized especially by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, persistent need for admiration, lack of empathy for others, excessive pride in achievements, and snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes.” In addition, Pan also suffers from gerascophobia, an abnormal and persistent fear of growing old.

 

Prince Charming (Snow White): Necrophilia 

                  Now bear with me on this one cause there is a reason to my madness (though I may be stretching this one a bit)! Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Walt Disney’s first full-length feature film. Released in 1937, the film was based off of the Grimm Brothers’ version of the fairytale. In typical Disney fashion, the gruesome fairytale was “childrenized” to some degree while keeping the main plotline intact. But no matter which way you try to twist it, kissing a dead body is just downright creepy! Necrophilia is defined as an “obsession with and usually erotic interest in or stimulation by corpses,” and it’s hard to deny that Prince Charming fits the bill. Looking at the Grimm version, it’s hard to believe that it could get any worse—but it does. Unlike the Disney version of the tale, Prince Charming never meets Snow White before her impending doom; he doesn’t even know who she is. In fact, not only are they complete strangers, when Prince Charming sees Snow in her glass coffin he practically begs the dwarfs to let him have her because he is so enchanted by her beauty that he can’t live without her. 

 

Princess Aurora: Hypersomnia

                  The story of Sleeping Beauty is also originally a Grimm Brothers tale. Disney took a stab at an adaptation and released his version back in 1959. The basic plot of the story stayed the same; a princess is cursed to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep. However, there are some big differences between the versions, one of them being the amount of beauty rest the little princess got.  This is where signs of a disorder come into play. Hypersomnia is defined as “the condition of sleeping for [deep] excessive periods at intervals with intervening periods of normal duration of sleeping and waking.” Now in the Disney version, Aurora sleeps for a short period of time while the fairies rush to the Forbidden Mountain to rescue Prince Philip to bring him back to the castle. However, in the Grimm tale, Princess Aurora (who is actually referred to as Briar-Rose) falls asleep for a total of 100 years! Talk about over-sleeping! 

 

A Thief Named Comparison

If you have ever been to the gym or logged onto Facebook or scrolled through Pinterest or walked down the hall past that one person who seems to have been given every single human characteristic you wish you had, then you know the reality of comparison. Comparison can range from mild appreciation to raging jealousy, and it can push you to better yourself or it can completely derail your happiness. And although you may be very aware of the fact that you wish you could change your face, your body shape, your height, your public speaking skills, your social skills, and anything else you could think of, you may not be aware of what your constant self-derision is doing to you—and to others.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Although comparison can be healthy (seeing the progress of others and pushing yourself in a way you would otherwise not do,) it can also mean incessant dissatisfaction. Because the truth of it is this: everyone you have ever met and will ever meet will, without doubt, be better than you at something. Every day you are bombarded with other people who seem to be doing life so much better than you, but you have to remember that you too excel in certain areas—even areas in which you don’t appreciate excelling. As the quote by Steve Furtick goes, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” You are most likely hyper-aware of every single one of your flaws. However, when you see people (especially people you don’t know that well), you don’t see those behind-the-scenes idiosyncrasies and imperfections; you see the image that they are putting forward. We are all a unique set of wonder and oddity. So when you spend your time wishing you had something you see in someone else, you allow comparison to snatch away satisfaction in the set of gifts you have already been given.

Comparison can also be considered the thief of love. When you are comparing yourself to others, you are hindering your capacity to love them. When jealousy gnaws at you, you stop looking at a person and appreciating his or her gifts, and instead view that person as a mirror of yourself; he or she becomes the reflection you wish you had. How well can you celebrate a friend’s accomplishments when envy is simmering under the surface of your words? Do you see that person as a child of God, or as that-guy-who-can-lift-more-than-me, or that-girl-who-sings-way-better-than-me?

You are wonderfully created, and blessed with gifts and quirks. God knit you in your mother’s womb; he meticulously placed every mole and freckle. He counted out your hairs. He made you different from every other person that has ever and will ever live. His design for you is his alone, and the way he shaped you is not shaped by the mold of society; it is conducive to his plan. Don’t let comparison distract you from that reality. 

To Lament is to Reconcile

Reconciliation requires lamentation. An expression of sorrow at the ways we allow oppression to persist is an important step before true reconciliation can take place. Accordingly, this is my reconciliation lamentation…

 

I lament because I look out the window

and see a world crumbling

as crooked corporations steal sacred land.

 

I lament because I see people

running from their hurts and pains

every single day, refusing to heal

and opposed to finding peace.

 

 I lament because reconciliation sometimes seems like a foreign concept.

 

            The strange thing is that I like to talk about reconciliation; I often find myself talking as if I am an expert at restoring broken relationships and making peace throughout the world. Don’t get me wrong, reconciliation and peacemaking are core values of my gospel and I often find myself surrounded by followers of Christ who seem to have these values coursing in their blood. Yet, somehow reconciliation seems foreign to my experience. It’s a word I have heard from a young age and it’s a word that usually gets me excited, but I struggle to fully comprehend what reconciliation really looks like.

 

            Reconciliation is so foreign to me because I live in a world that seems to be spinning faster and faster each day. This culture that raised me makes slowing down and shutting off for the night a difficult thing to do. I am attached by the hip, literally and figuratively, to a (de)vice, and I am a device to an economy that never seems to stop taking, even when it seems I have nothing left to give. Our world spins faster and faster, and I know I ought to slow down, but that is not the way of the world.

 

            How can reconciliation be possible in a world like this? We’ve been taught to keep going and to never slow down, but reconciliation and restoration require slowing down. We need to listen, and, in this context, to listen means simply to be present with the misery and sorrow of another person’s hurt, and to recognise how we (or our ancestors) are already implicit in it. This is an uncomfortable state that goes against the spinning of the world. We are comfortable taking action—offering advice, giving consolation, trying to somehow make the hurt we hear disappear. However, the kind of listening that reconciliation requires is a humble, quiet type, a type of listening that demands we shut up and slow down.

 

      And so I lament…

 

I lament because I like to talk and talk and talk.

I lament because I don’t know how to slow down.

I lament because I can’t keep my own pride at bay.

I lament because I live too comfortably to understand suffering.

I lament because my privilege invisibly pushes others down.

I lament because [corporate] colonialism persists and prospers.

I lament because my money is stamped with the image of Caesar.

I lament because I live, love, and breathe on stolen land.

 

I lament because all of these things can prevent me and many other Christians from being agents of reconciliation in our country, let alone the world. For that reason, Indigenous peoples across this land (and many other lands) continue to suffer the burden of colonialism, sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression.

 

I have hope that the Lord is whittling away at the logs in my eyes, slowly but surely, and that soon my lament will turn into songs of joy and celebrations of dance; but while I wait, I will choose to lament, repent, and let grace refine and reshape me into the quiet, patient and humble man I was made to be.