Author: smcintos

Abu Dhabi Credit: Stephane PERES/Flickr/Creative Commons

That Expensive Jesus in Abu Dhabi

Hey, would you like to see Jesus, the savior of the world? It’s gonna cost you. When viewing becomes possible, you will have to travel to the heart of the Middle East, and buy a ticket, if you can get one, and line up. Here’s the story. Leonardo Da Vinci is credited with painting the most expensive work of art in the world, although possibly some of his students contributed. The painting is a picture of Jesus and it’s named “Salvator Mundi” or “Savior of the World.” This painting recently went up for auction in New York and there was a fierce bidding war for it. The final price was $450 million US. The first reports were that a wealthy prince in Saudi Arabia named Mohammed won the bid; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. That was corrected by records that showed the bidder was actually Saudi Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, a relative of the first prince. So, some wealthy Saudi princes just paid too much for a picture of Jesus, Savior of …

San Antonio, Texas Credit: Brandon Watts/Flickr/Creative Commons

Religious Wars in Texas

Recently, a man took his stepdaughter to a Christian school in San Antonio Texas, to register her as a student. The interview went well until someone asked if the girl was a Christian. The answer was “no” because the whole family was Muslim. I think they are from Lebanon. The school administrator rejected the girl’s application because the private school was only for Christians, or at least one parent had to be a professing Christian. The stepfather was outraged and made a video about the experience, which went viral. This has produced much debate, and someone has pointed out that the local Jewish school only accepts Jewish students. As long as the school is funded with private money, they can reject anyone who does not believe what they believe. RELATED: Muslim family upset after daughter rejected from Texas Christian School I understand the debate and I’m not surprised. I hope the community can find a solution because they will still live together in the same space, after this argument is forgotten. There is one thing …

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (L to R): Death, Famine, War and Conquest. by Victor Mikhailovich Vasnetsox (1848-1926) Credit: Wikipedia/Creative Commons/{{PD-US}}

Yemen and the First Horseman of the Apocalypse

Did you know that the world has a huge war right now, involving millions of people? The best estimate is that twenty-two million people are directly affected by the war, and two million children are at risk from severe malnutrition. There is a real danger that the war could expand in the region, and there are reports of long-range missiles landing in wealthy countries in the Persian Gulf. RELATED: Yemeni Civil War I live far away from this civil war in Yemen, and the both sides are Arab Muslims, so I can’t criticize one faction or take sides. I know that the suffering is terrible and the UN sees no end in sight. Apparently no one is winning this “Vietnam War” of the Middle East. Did you know this war was happening? Many people in the world know nothing about it. The fighting started in March of 2015 and soon after that foreign powers intervened, or invaded. Saudi Arabia and Iran are powerful nations in the region and they are on opposite sides, with the …

Storm near Parana, Argentina Credit: Emilio Kuffer/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is the end really nigh?

On Sunday I went to a picnic-barbecue for a place where I work. The afternoon was beautiful, and we sat around talking about things, like old friends. We agreed that we would not talk about work, and the made the time almost perfect. One friend spoiled the happy mood by saying “I think the apocalypse is going to happen soon.” I don’t think he’s a Christian, but he drives long distances with a truck, and he visits a lot of places. His summary is simple, we can’t continue like this. He was just saying what he feels, and he spoke sincerely. My friend was watching people and nature, and sometimes I think the whole world is one big argument. People are divided. Nations like Turkey, India, Brazil, and Argentina are struggling with debt and economic collapse. Apparently, the Yellowstone Caldera, a super volcano, is larger and more ready to erupt than we thought, and there are other super volcanoes. We had so much smoke last week from forest fires in the west, that we called …

Camel caravan in Saudi Arabia Credit: Linda Polik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Defending Saudi Arabia

Recently, a huge fight erupted between Canada and Saudi Arabia. If you have not heard about this, you are probably saying “What? Who? Why?” I worked in a large university in Canada, and I taught students from Saudi. Thousands of them go to universities in Canada. The female students removed their veils in my classroom and one of them forgot hers on a table one day. That was the only veil in lost-and-found, when I dropped it off. Canada probably trains most Saudi medical doctors in its medical schools. The two countries have a history, but it’s mostly friendly. Until the blow-up happened, most of us could never imagine those two countries disagreeing about anything. RELATED: Gunter: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince is just using the Liberals to look tough Conservative Islam is the religion of Saudi Arabia; there is no doubt. If you ask the what they believe, they will tell you, … and tell you, … and tell you; and they will try to convert you. That was my experience in the classroom. I’m …

Protests in Iran Credit: Javad Saharban/Flickr/Creative Commons

The New Islamic Revolution

Did you know there is a revolution among us? I don’t know if it will succeed, but it is starting, and it is huge. Check out this video to see the brave leaders of the revolution: In Bangladesh, high school students are protesting in large numbers, for bus safety. RELATED: Bangladesh teenagers demanding road safety paralyse Dhaka: BBC In Iran, mass protests are demanding a prosperous western-styled economy, without the restrictions from the Islamic revolution. RELATED: Iran protests spread to 10 cities in widest unrest since January: VOANews And in Sweden, a young woman stood up on a plane to prevent it from taking off because one of the passengers was being deported to Afghanistan. The plane did not leave and the man was removed, to be deported later. The young woman said “It’s not right to send people to hell.” Note that “hell” is a Muslim majority country, Afghanistan. That is strong language from a 21-year-old woman. RELATED: Swedish student stops deportation of Afghan man with protest streamed on Facebook: CNN Bangladesh, Iran, and …

City of Toronto Credit: Duncan Rawlinson/Duncan.co/@thelastminute/Creative Commons

What’s going on in Toronto?

You might have heard the news, a man with a gun walked down a quiet street in Toronto and shot people who were enjoying a warm summer evening. Many people were injured and at this time, two have died, a girl and a young woman. The alleged killer, Faisal Hussain, was a Muslim from a Pakistani immigrant family. Faisal’s brother is in a coma from a drug overdose, and his father has Parkinson’s disease and there is a history, in their community, of dangerous drug gangs. That’s where the guns and bullets allegedly came from. Also, ISIS has now claimed Faisal was one of their soldiers. RELATED: ISIS claims of responsibility for Toronto shooting raise questions of credibility: CBC If we ever learn the truth, we will probably find a toxic mix of immigrant desperation, with all the sources of stress we can imagine. All the bad things seemed to pile on that young man. If there is a good life, he could see it but he couldn’t live it. The authorities, including police and …

Credit: Amout Wurst/Flickr/Creative Commons

Migrants, Border Jumpers, Refugees, and Us

I saw something the other day, and it shocked me. This is not new for me, but I don’t like to be reminded that I am correct. We think we are good people, but reality can tell a different story. I have a volunteer contract with a famous Christian charity. I won’t name them and I won’t report what happened inside their building, to keep confidentiality, but they are famous everywhere for helping the poorest and most desperate. My job is to teach their staff how to write administrative reports, which fits some of my skill set. Two days ago, I reported for a tutorial session at a location in the inner city, and I was shocked. Outside, in the alley I saw several African people. Later, when I drove home, I saw more of them wandering the streets in our poorest neighborhood. My impression was that they were desperate and unhappy and they were begging for help from organized charities. The inner city is also called skid row, or the slums, and it is …

Credit: Sydney Daoust/Flickr/Creative Commons

Oh, you are such a loser!

A new buzz word in pop psychology is “vulnerable.” There is some good advice out there, and this idea can be good for us. If I looked at you and said “loser!” I would be rude, and you would take that as an insult. We learned that in elementary school. So, “loser!” I just called you a loser, and you can say the same to me. If we are not losers, we are failures. Every Christian should know the words in the Bible “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) That is the bedrock of our Christian faith. Jesus made it right, after we made it wrong. A few days ago, I had a meeting with an old friend. We talked about business and we also had time to catch up on our personal stories, like old friends. This man is a Christian, my brother in Christ, and he described himself as …

Woman wearing a niqab in Egypt. Credit: MezzoMezzo/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Burkas, Niqabs, Hijabs, Chadors, Dupattas, and Christians

One of the biggest political arguments in the world today is about Muslim women and what they wear. Some countries, mainly in Europe and Africa, have banned or restricted Islamic female clothing. In Canada, the province of Quebec has introduced a law with some restrictions. There are many variations, but in general, women in conservative Muslim societies cover up, and I don’t think this is voluntary. It’s part of a religious lifestyle. RELATED: Explainer: Why do Muslim women wear a burka, niqab or hijab?: ABC RELATED: Hijab by country: Wikipedia This is not a big issue where I live, I think because we have cold winters and everyone covers up. Also, we have large numbers of Hutterites, German Christians who live on farming colonies, and Hutterite women wear long dresses and cover their heads. Now, large numbers of conservative Mennonites, similar to the Hutterites and with similar clothing styles, are moving into our country districts. Also, I live near an Ethiopian church and the older women often walk in my neighborhood in traditional clothes, and …

Credit: Rennett Stowe/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Fermi Paradox and the Dark Forest Conspiracy

So where are all the aliens? And did you know that science fiction is not really fiction? The Fermi Paradox, a scientific puzzle, was made famous by the Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi. The theory is that the universe must be filled with alien species, extra-terrestrials, and the paradox is that we haven’t made contact yet. Enrico Fermi is considered one of the great minds of the twentieth century, from the era of Einstein, and he is credited with the invention of the nuclear reactor. He also gave us the Fermi Paradox. RELATED: Fermi Paradox Imagine that Darwin’s theory of evolution is true, as it is commonly taught. Many millions of years ago, the universe exploded into being through the Big Bang and stars, planets, and galaxies were spewed across the empty universe. On one planet, among millions or billions, a reaction happened in some primordial ooze, and life emerged; living cells formed and began to reproduce from their own genetic material. Over vast spans of time, multi-celled plants and animals emerged, and then vertebrate animals, …

Credit: Jeff Wallace/Flickr/Creative Commons

Sanctuary Cities and Free Stuff

We went for a walk the other day, and I was amazed. I live in the city that still has American Elm trees, the Dutch Elm Disease hasn’t reached here, and many trees are almost a hundred years old. As a result, a walk in an older neighborhood is like a walk in a park. So, we went for a walk, close to where I grew up, and I was shocked to see that most of the houses were gone. I saw many construction sites and large new “infill” mansions, and some expensive cars. People with money want a piece of the older generation, before it’s all gone. The next day, I read a front-page newspaper article demanding that we become a “sanctuary city.” The details are, we must give free services to people who here illegally, and possibly hiding from the immigration police who want to deport them. This is a huge argument and I don’t want to argue right now, so let’s call them “undocumented migrants.” These people now want driver’s licenses, cheap …

Credit: jon watts/Flickr/Creative Commons

Jobs for Christians

Are you a Christian? Do you believe that God will provide? Do you know any Christian who is struggling to find a job? I know someone who is struggling right now and I have been there myself. I have worked in places where I never mentioned that I was a Christian and that I didn’t tell people that I went to church on Sunday. That information could have cost me my job, or I would have missed some promotions. A comedian in England, Tracey Ullman, has published a video comedy skit about a Christian in a job interview. The joke isn’t very funny, but sometimes comedians make serious statements behind the laughter. Getting and keeping a job can be a problem for a Christian. Most of my career work has been training people so they can qualify for employment, or getting them into schools where they could train for a job. At the same time, I had to get and keep my own job, and maybe get promoted. I also have good friends who work …

Credit: arbyreed/Flickr/Creative Commons

Just Don’t Drink the Poison

“We teach people how to treat us.” (Dr Phil) Toxic people are everywhere, and one of them will find you if you give them a chance. They range from overbearing parents or others in the family who know how we should live our lives, to addicts and alcoholics, and sometimes to violent abusers. You might have heard words like this “You make me like this, it’s your fault.” or “I drink because of you.” or “I only lose my temper when you …” RELATED: Cut toxic people out of your life says Christian psychiatrist: Christian Today In my extended family, I have a cousin who came under the control of an abusive man. She tells this story in churches, and this is my summary. As a young woman, I think a teenager, she met an older man and then moved in with him. They never did marry and she was a Christian. After some time, she realized that the man was controlling and abusive, and she needed to get out. One day they had a …

Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Mehmet Aktugan/Flickr/Creative Commons

What’s happening in Turkey?

My family church, when I was a boy, was famous for talks about Bible prophecy. The pastor had giant charts the size of curtains, to explain what the Bible said about the future of the world. I remember that he could fill the church with his Sunday evening talks, and I vaguely remember pictures of animals with several heads, on those enormous sheets. This was before computers and projectors, and those wall-sized pictures were famous. Years later, as an adult, I met strangers in far away places who wanted to talk about those huge pictures. Our pastor was a good man, and his ideas were conservative. He just wanted us to know what the Bible said about the future of the world, and he made a sincere effort to teach us. I may have been the only kid in my school who knew about Gog and Magog in the land of the north. One thing I remember clearly from those talks was the advice to look north. From the Bible’s perspective, that means north from …

Canada and US Friendship Center in Havre, Montana Credit: James. G. Howes/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

The Truth and Havre, Montana

Recently, an US border patrol agent stopped two women at a convenience store in Havre, Montana and asked for their IDs. The women were not happy about this and made a video of their conversation with a cell phone. The officer was polite and explained that he stopped the women because they were speaking Spanish, and the Spanish language was almost never spoken in the region. This story went viral for a few days, and the women are still angry and they are talking about legal action. RELATED: They Spoke Spanish in a Montana Store. Then a Border Agent Asked for Their IDs: New York Times In the articles by journalists, there have been many comments about the lack of ethnic diversity in Montana and that everyone speaks English, as if that is offensive. There are also hints that Havre is a small backwater where police stop people, in an offensive way, because they are “different” from the natives. The word “redneck” fits that narrative. The story is popular because it fits a popular narrative …

Credit: EBCanon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 3

Here is one of the best secrets for managing your generosity and giving of money: Don’t. If you spend any time among religious people, you will be asked for money. When I go to church on Sunday, there is always an offering, a time when all other business stops and the ushers collect money from us. I have lived with this all my life and I have an acquired immunity, but some people who come with me are offended and disoriented. What will God think about them if they don’t give enough? So, don’t give. The exercise will be good for you. Yesterday I was walking in the mall. It’s not really my place but I had a meeting with someone. At an intersection in the walkways, I saw a display booth with two young women looking hopeful. They represented one of those Christian charities that sponsor children and they were looking for sponsors. I won’t name the organization, but there are several and they do very good work. What bothered me was all the …

Credit: Bernard Forand/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 2

Did you know that you are lazy? And me too, I can be included in that number. The basic nature of the human race is to always look for the easy way out, the softest cushion. We all have that affliction from childhood, and if you have learned to work hard, congratulations for resisting. Have you noticed how words like ‘luxury’ go with words like ‘ease’ and ‘relax?’ We don’t earn, we don’t learn, and we don’t manage, if we can find the couch first. That monster lives in all of us somewhere. The popular picture of success is doing nothing like some ancient European aristocrat supported by an army of serfs, and not a brave person climbing mount Everest with a gritty expression on their face. Did you also know that your life is a project, your family is a business and your church is a consortium? Everything requires diligent management. According to the Bible: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6) If ants could speak to …

Church in rural England Credit: Peter Smithson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 1

No one likes their first job, or at least we can complain about it later, when we learn how the world really works. I have my own horror story. Just when I turned 18, almost on my birthday, I started my first real job. I left high school early and started working in January, in a cold winter, with short days and not much sunlight. I was hired to drive a small truck for a parts department in a shop that repaired construction equipment. Every morning I got up early, ate something in a bowl, and hurried to a bus stop. The bus took me to a remote suburb, and then I walked several blocks and crossed a busy road into an industrial area, and after more walking, I hurried into my workplace to punch the time clock. Then I did janitorial work and drove the truck when ordered, and I hardly knew how to drive. Travel to and from work, on the bus, was in darkness for weeks, and the weather was severely cold. …

The Black Church of Buoakirkja in Iceland Credit: David Soldano/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to argue with a “New Atheist”

A few years ago, a man I knew was diagnosed with cancer. He was older than me, and I think his health was not good. The cancer doctors used very aggressive treatments and his tumour began to shrink. His friends, including me, were happy about this because it seemed like he was going to beat the cancer. Then the bad news came. The treatment for cancer was so severe, it was killing him. The doctors were forced to stop the treatment to save his life, and the tumor started growing again. He knew he would die from the cancer, and he went to a hospice for palliative care, which means he went to a specialized hospital, and waited to die. And the end of his story is; he did die, after a few weeks. The palliative care unit was close to where I worked and I made a few lunch-time visits. He had visits from family members in the evenings. On my lunchtime work schedule, I had to walk several blocks and I could only …

Credit: Cindee Snider Re/Flickr/Creative Commons

Yes GQ, the Bible is Boring

Gentlemen’s Quarterly Magazine, now GQ, has decided that the Bible is a boring old book and they do not recommend it for reading. This has stirred up many Christians who are trying to defend the holy book. RELATED: GQ magazine puts Bible on list of classic books not worth reading, incurs the wrath of Christians: USA Today If you are a Christian and GQ’s criticism of the Bible offends you, note that you are being had. This is not news, this is a provocative statement invented to bother us and eventually to increase sales of the magazine. You could call it fake news. I don’t know the circulation numbers for GQ, but in general the print media is in big trouble, as we all switch to the Internet. When I go to the check-out in a supermarket I see large displays of glossy magazines, probably including GQ. What I don’t see is anyone buying a magazine. Someone must be buying those things, just not when I’m looking; that unicorn is invisible to me. We could …

Sandy, second from the left, on his Nairobi adventure

I saw God in Nairobi

Many years ago, when I was a careless young man, I traveled to Nairobi, in Kenya, East Africa. I had relatives who worked as missionaries in the tea country, in the west of the country. If you know Kenya, they lived just west of Kericho, on the road to Kisumu. The drive from Nairobi, the big city, to Kericho is almost one day, with a few breaks. My relatives invited me to visit them in Kenya, and I jumped at the chance because it sounded like a great adventure. I stopped my university studies, which were starting to bore me, and a good friend agreed to travel with me. He was also bored with life. On the way to Africa, we had to change planes in London, so we took several weeks and bought railway passes and travelled anywhere that seemed interesting in Europe, with backpacks. This was all fun, including the time we got arrested for crossing the border into a communist country. They handcuffed us and then let us go after about an …

Credit: Minnesota DOT/Flickr/Creative Commons

Death on the Bus

Recently, a truck collided with a bus filled with passengers, mostly young hockey players, in Saskatchewan. The most recent count is 16 dead, and many crippled for life. I don’t want to comment on a case that is being investigated by the police, but I have strong opinions about this. Many of the victims were young men from my area, and also, I train professional drivers. It is possible that I have met and worked with at least one of the drivers, with the bus or the truck. RELATED: Humboldt bus crash cause unknown as new details on truck and bus driving companies emerge To be clear, I am not a part of this tragedy, and I am not trying to take any of the glory for myself. There are a few degrees of separation for me. Many families are truly grieving because they have lost promising young men. Some of those families live near me and they deserve our sympathy. The funerals started Friday. I know what may have happened, but I will let …

Beijing, China on a smoggy day Credit: Jesse Varnier/Flickr/Creative Commons

Jesus Meets “The Great Firewall of China”

Very recently, the government of China has restricted the sale of Christian Bibles online, to its own citizens. The Communist government of China wants to control rapidly growing religions, including Christianity and Islam, although the Islamic Koran is still available online. Religion was supposed to die in China, after the Communists came to power in 1949, but recently there are signs that Chinese people are becoming more religious, and the major religions are surging in popularity. Also, China is becoming a world leader in online marketing, or e-commerce. The growth in online sales is also surging in China, and this is a very recent trend. RELATED: China’s e-commerce explosion. What can we learn? In this mix, Bible sales have suddenly been restricted. RELATED: China bans Bible sales: New York Times Bibles are still available from church book stores, but not online. Strangely, China produces millions of Bibles for export, in many languages, including Chinese. There are no restrictions on this business. So, what does the restriction of Bible sales mean for Christians? Probably not much. …

Credit: Magdalen_A_T/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Really Mess up Your Life

There is a country song about “Springtime in Alberta” where a cowboy complains about his moody girl friend. Her moods are just like nasty winter storms that blow in when the weather should stay warm. There is probably truth in that song, on both sides. I never met the woman, but we do have interesting spring weather. This Easter weekend is the coldest since 1940, with wind and snow, but it was nice a few days before. We had another surprise early on Good Friday morning. Someone started pressing all the call buttons for our apartment building and begging for help. I had the job of dressing in warm clothes and going out into the storm at four in the morning, to see if I could help. A muscular young man ran up to me and begged me to phone a cab so he could go home. I phoned the police first, and a taxi drove by as I was talking. I waved, but the cab driver didn’t even slow down. Also, the police never …

Vancouver, BC Credit: Jerry Meaden/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Persecuted Christians of British Columbia

A young woman in Vancouver British Columbia applied for a job and received a reply: “… we are not a Christian organization, and most of us actually see Christianity as having destroyed our culture, tradition and way of life.” and “‘God bless’ is very offensive to me and yet another sign of your attempts to impose your religious views on me. I do not want to be blessed by some guy… who has been the very reason for the most horrendous abuses and human rights violations in the history of the human race.” There were other offensive statements, and she did not get the job, so she sued. I think she won 8500 dollars. RELATED: Trinity Western grad ‘attacked’ for being Christian in job rejection: CBC The young woman applied as a recent graduate of Trinity Western University, a private Christian school in BC, and the employers reacted when they learned that. But wait, there’s more: “Maybe the Trinity leadership would be better suited for a Putin’s Russia or any other like his regarding the …

London, England Credit: Carlos Torres/Flickr/Creative Commons

Lauren Southern, Right Wing Extremist, Expelled from Britain

Recently, a young woman from Canada, Lauren Southern, was expelled from Britain, and sent across the channel to Calais France, where she was detained briefly by French authorities. This is an odd story. I’m Canadian, and I can’t think of any time when a Canadian was banned from Britain. My family identifies as Scottish and I would be highly offended if I was expelled from Scotland. “Southern” sounds English to me and she probably feels the sting of being expelled from England. And then there is the picture. Lauren Southern is a pretty young woman with long blonde hair, and the pictures posted with the story look professional. A picture tells a thousand words, and her image argues against the words. She just doesn’t look like a bad person. Also, she was accused of being a racist for criticizing a religion, which is technically impossible. Religion is a choice that we can change any time, and not a race that we are assigned at birth. RELATED: Right-wing journalist Lauren Southern denied entry to UK, purportedly …

Credit: Ann Lusch/Flickr/Creative Commons

Kindness and Human Evolution

I was travelling on the weekend, and I learned a hard lesson about air travel. It is so easy to be bumped these days. My flight to another city was bumped to an earlier time, and I was able to deal with that. But I didn’t know if I could get home on time. I walked up to the airline counter and a young woman told me I was supposed to confirm my flight online. If not, I would be charged ten dollars, or possibly not get on the plane. I did not know that, and she told me to take out my phone, log onto the free airport Internet and click “yes” on their website. I had some trouble logging on, and she just told me to just check in, and they would waive the ten-dollar fee. I should have asked for her name and sent a commendation to her boss. What she did was simple kindness; she did not have to help me. Kind acts like that send a powerful message. I knew …

Lahore, Pakistan Credit: r12a/Flickr/Creative Commons

Have you heard about the Chinese Martyrs in Pakistan?

On June 8, 2017, Islamic radicals announced that they had executed two citizens of China, in Pakistan. The two were a man and a woman, apparently a married couple, named Meng Lisi and Li Xinheng. They were identified as unauthorized Christian missionaries who tried to convert Muslims in Balochistan, a dangerous province in Pakistan, where the majority population is Muslim. The couple lived in Quetta, the capital city. Something interesting is happening there. RELATED: Risky road: China’s missionaries follow Beijing west: BBC If you look at a map of China, you can see that western Chinese territory borders on Pakistan, in a remote mountainous region. Pakistan has been allied with China for decades, as their rival India sided with Russia and the Soviet Union. Recently, China has invested billions in “Silk Road” trade to the west to expand their trade economy. The Silk Road trade route, including travel by sea near the ancient coast of India and Pakistan, was a popular idea with the ancient Roman Empire, two thousand years ago. At the time of …

Credit: Richard McHowat/Flickr/Creative Commons

So, what is a blessing in the real world?

“Bless you” is something you might hear from your grandmother, or if you sneeze. The very old superstition is that you sneeze your soul leaves your body when you sneeze and it must be blessed back in. My sneezes can wake up babies and make them cry, they are so loud, and by that standard I have no soul. The concept of blessing is getting outdated in our modern world. A blessing is just something good, usually from God, or from someone who is close to God and acts as His agent. Some Christians still say “God bless you.” I believe the problem with blessing is us. The way God sees people is very different from the way we see, and we don’t appreciate good things from humble people; make that ‘unimportant’ people. A few years ago, I worked in a large university, surrounded by people who were trying to be important in the world. I wrote about this a few days ago. When I reached early retirement age, I was retired against my will. …

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Is God Real? or Donuts in the Snow

So, is God real? If yes, why is there suffering in this world? Why doesn’t God fix our problems, if He loves us? This is an old argument, and I learned the answer a few days ago. Here is some background. Right now, where I live in Canada, we are in “Roll up the Rim to Win” season at Tim Hortons. Timmies is a cultural thing here, we all go there for coffee or tea and conversations. We also eat too many donuts there. In season, we roll up the rims of our paper cups and learn what we have won. I usually win a chance to play again; they are very kind when they say “no.” When I win a free donut I tear off that statement from the rim, and keep the ticket. One thing I really don’t need is a free donut and I can think of something worse, two free donuts. I had two winning tickets that I carried with me like a guilty pleasure. I do contract work, and some …

Island jutting out of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Credit: matlacha/Flickr/Creative Commons

Babylon is Imploding

In Australia there is a disagreement among scientists about global warming and the death of the Great Barrier Reef. Now the ‘disagreement’ has produced threats of firing and career termination for university professors, and lawsuits in court. I worked in a large university, in Canada, and I know one thing is true; if you want to understand any controversy in the system, just follow the money. You might believe there is a secular world system that stifles all dissenting opinions, including Christians who believe in Jesus; and you might be correct. But, in my experience, the system is supported with taxpayer money, and it is filled with scared people who are counting the days to retirement. The evil world system is imploding with money problems. In Australia, agriculture and industry and tourism could lose billions, and university professors could lose, or gain millions in grant funding because of the Barrier Reef. That’s the new way to pay for higher education, with funding applications. I understand the fight, even though I have never been to Australia. …

Credit: Jona Nalder/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Curse of Borderline Personality Disorder

Years ago, I needed to buy some small piece of hardware. Since I live in Canada, I went to Canadian Tire, and since I had two small sons, I took them with me. The boys were six and four years old, I think, and they were thrilled. When we walked into the store, they sprinted away from me and disappeared down some shopping aisle. That store had tires, and car parts, and tools, and toys, and more, and I knew I had lost them. I was not happy about this, so I bought the thing I needed and waited by the front door; they had to surface some time. When I finally saw them, I was shocked. The oldest boy had a sick look of panic on his face, and the little one had a blank desperate look as he followed his brother. They thought their father had abandoned them, and the emotions were real to them. Puppy love feels real to the puppy. I still feel guilty about that, and I never did it …

Crossing a river in Kerala State, India Credit: Michel Coutty/Flickr/Creative Commons

Hindus, Muslims, and Human Evolution

Something is happening in the world, and it’s like storm clouds gathering. On January 20, India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Mr. Satyapal Singh made statements that were critical of Darwinian Evolution, including has belief that the subject should not be taught in schools in India. RELATED: India’s Education Minister Slammed After Claiming That Evolution Is ‘Scientifically Wrong’ About six months before that, the government of Turkey made similar statements. RELATED: Evolution Will No Longer Be Taught in Turkish Schools India is governed by religious Hindus, and Turkey is governed by religious Muslims. They don’t have the same religious beliefs, but something about Darwinian Evolution really bothers both groups. It’s one thing they agree on. It’s easy for English-speaking westerners to think they are the leaders in human progress, but there are other voices. Darwin’s theory for the origin of the species, evolution, is a logic escalator. In a department store, you don’t need to climb the stairs, you only need to make one small step and the machine will carry you to …

Credit: Dennis/Flickr/Creative Commons

Christians and Human Sacrifice

Don’t be fooled by my extreme title, Christians don’t drag some poor victim to the top of a pyramid and lay him on an altar; we are more subtle. Picture a group of children who got caught doing something wrong. The most important thing to report to the adults is ‘who takes the blame for this one.’ If we can heap the blame on someone else, we are free and clear. Our sacrificial victim is more like a scape goat. Among adults, this blame shifting can damage one person’s reputation, and it can damage families and churches. The destruction can last a life time. In my family, I am ashamed to admit, I fell for this a few months ago. My Dad is very old, and Mom is gone, so we are all concerned about our old father. A few months ago we learned that something wrong had been done with Dad’s money, maybe. I easily believed what I was told and I started to panic. I can remember at least one phone call that …