O Canada: Our neighbors to the north

My mother-in-law has a creative touch. God made these flowers, but she has tended them well!
My mother-in-law has a creative touch. God made these flowers, but she has tended them well!

Because today is Canada Day, I would like to express my appreciation for what I consider Canada’s best export — my mother-in-law, Dorothy Harmon. Her overall good will, charm and knowledge of what is “proper” (in the British sense) would have been winning qualities in themselves. But add to that her decision to move over a thousand miles south to “The States” and stay here, meet my father-in-law and later have my future wife and that says winner in my book.

Another of my favorite Canadians, Tim Challies, posted today about another reason that makes our neighbors to the north unique — they have two national anthems. Of course we know “O Canada” because it is a cool sounding, more easily sung song than ours here in the USA. But, as Tim explains, it was written in French and English and the translations go two directions. What a country! Tim, as is his wont, is thorough in explanation and gives the topic its due:

Thus we have two official national anthems, one written in French and one in English. It must be noted that the lyrics of these songs, even when translated to the same language, bear little resemblance to each other. Beyond the first two words there is little correlation in language or underlying themes. It is also interesting to note that while the songs are written in different languages, they were also written by men of different theological backgrounds. The English version is Protestant and emphasizes hard work and duty. The French version, written by a Roman Catholic, emphasizes history and national glory.

Today it is common for performances of the anthem to mix the French and English versions of the song. This leads to a rather interesting mixture of thoughts that actually makes the song seem quite militaristic.

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
Just as your arm knows how to wield the sword,
It also knows how to bear the cross;
Your history is an epic
Of the most brilliant feats.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.


In recent years the song has come under attack from various parties who claim that the anthem is either sexist or too religious. Some have suggested removing the words “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.” Others have suggested ways of removing the references to God. So far these suggestions have met with resistance, but it is likely only a matter of time before the changes are made. After all, this is the nation that has legalized homosexual marriage and has decriminalized marijuana. We’re on the forefront of political correctness.

In How To Be A Canadian, Will and Ian Ferguson suggest that a defining characteristic of Canadians is that they do not know their own anthem. Certainly they do not loudly sing it with pride as do our American neighbours (as I noted last night when I was at the ball game—barely a person there bothered to sing along). “First lesson as a newcomer to Canada: Whatever you do, do not learn the words to ‘O Canada’! Nothing will mark you as an outsider more quickly. Canadians don’t know the words to their national anthem, and neither should you.”

And, to finish the celebration, here is the talented Andrew Osenga (not Canadian, but still pretty good because he’s American) singing the praises of Canada:

Don’t be a hater: Get to church

Ted Kluck and Kevin DeYoung, who teamed up to write “Two Guys Who Are Not Emergent” and the just-published “Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion,” recently wrote an article for the On Faith section of the Washington Post. For two young guys, they sound a chord not heard often in this culture. That is, the church is important in our society:

Here’s what Bono, Oprah, and the guru speakers on PBS won’t tell you: Jesus believed in organized religion and he founded an institution. Of course, Jesus had no patience for religious hacks and self-righteous wannabes, but he was still Jewish. And as Jew, he read the Holy Book, worshiped in the synagogue, and kept Torah. He did not start a movement of latte-drinking disciples who excelled in spiritual conversations. He founded the church (Matt. 16:18) and commissioned the apostles to proclaim the good news that Israel’s Messiah had come and the sins of the world could be forgiven through his death on the cross (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:14-36).

Now, these guys are not naive. They know what churches can be like and how they have received a reputation for not being the most loving places in the world:

We’ve been in the church our whole lives and are not blind to its failings. Churches can be boring, hypocritical, hurtful, and inept. The church is full of sinners. Which is kind of the point. Christians are worse than you think. Our Savior is better than you imagine.

But the church is not all about oppression and drudgery. Almost every church we know of visits old people, brings meals to new moms, supports disaster relief, and does something for the poor. We love the local church, in spite of its problems, because it’s where we go to meet God. It’s not a glorified social/country club you attend to be around people who talk and look just you do. It’s a place to hear God’s word spoken, taught and affirmed. It’s a place to sing praises to God, and a place to serve others. It’s a place to be challenged.

Their new book “provides a solid biblical mandate to love and be a part of the body of Christ and counteract the ‘leave church’ books that trumpet rebellion and individual felt needs.” I know that there are many of us who have in the past gone through or currently are going through difficulties with your fellow believers in the church. Don’t despair — and don’t leave the church.

Download the study guide to go with the book.