Singing the psalms

From First Thoughts

Nearly 25 years ago I made a discovery that would change my life profoundly, especially as it relates to the worship of God. While visiting Prague in 1976 I had purchased a copy of a Czech hymnal published in 1900 that contains the 150 Psalms in metre and some 350 hymns. But it was not until the . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptist brothers?

From First Thoughts

I have recently noticed the uncanny physical (though by no means ideological) resemblance between these two Baptist preachers, John Piper, of Desiring God Ministries, and the late Tommy Douglas, the father of Canadian medicare and the first leader of Canada’s socialist New Democratic Party. . . . . Continue Reading »

Confessions of a Progressive Christian

From First Thoughts

My recent reading of the Progressive Revival blog provides a good opportunity to explain my own identity as a progressive Christian. Of course I must immediately point out that what the larger society deems progress may not necessarily be genuinely progressive, which raises the central issue of what . . . . Continue Reading »

Abandoning faith for credulousness

From First Thoughts

In my personal library are two privately-printed, soft-bound volumes (booklets, really) devoted to Hancock, Michigan, Remembered, written by Clarence J. Monette. Hancock is located in the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior as the northern-most contiguous point of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Reductionism and the narrowing of minds

From First Thoughts

In 1932 a 26-year-old Philip E. Wentworth published an article in the Atlantic Monthly titled: “What College Did to My Religion,” which the magazine has seen fit to post in its web archives. The author tells the tragic tale of how, as a young man, he was moved by an undergraduate Harvard . . . . Continue Reading »

Building our vocabulary

From First Thoughts

The following definitions are not from Webster’s or the OED:vegetarian, n. a person who avoids meat and eats only vegetables.seminarian, n. a person who eats only seeds.Schwarzeneggerländer, n. An inhabitant of California.Leningrad, prop. n. former name of St. Petersburg, Russia, from . . . . Continue Reading »

The fall of the wall, plus 20

From First Thoughts

The autumn of 1989 was an exciting time to be teaching political science, due to the extraordinary events occurring in the former east European Soviet bloc. The culmination was, of course, the dramatic opening of the Berlin Wall on 9 November. A political illusion that had seemed so immovable for . . . . Continue Reading »

Mercersburg

From First Thoughts

While in graduate school many years ago I subscribed briefly to the journal of the Mercersburg Society, which claims to carry on the legacy of the 19th-century Mercersburg movement. This movement was named for the city in Pennsylvania where the German Reformed Church in the United States had its . . . . Continue Reading »

Higher education: Canada versus the US

From First Thoughts

The differences between the United States and Canada are not always easy to discern on the surface, but they’re there. One of these concerns post-secondary education. Here in Ontario this field is dominated by a very few provincial universities, some of which may have had Christian origins but . . . . Continue Reading »

Is the end near?

From First Thoughts

Christians have been engaging sporadically in eschatological speculation for most of the last two millennia, but a lot of people these days seem to be focussing on 21 May 2011 as the predicted Day of Judgement. Could this be part of an effort to preempt the Mayan . . . . Continue Reading »