catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 20 :: 2003.10.24 — 2003.11.06


Feed the hungry

Last weekend, Rob and I spoke at two events at Redeemer University
College, just outside of Ontario. We were lured to the engagement not
only with the promise of our first paid speaking gig, but also that
we'd meet a bunch of "livewire neo-calvinists." Meet them we did and
"livewire" they certainly were.

I think it's safe to say that I've never encountered such a
promising group of modern Reformers in a concentrated area that so
easily expanded beyond the walls of an academic institution. My
amazement was the result of the intersection of several important
groups. First, there was the Ontario Student Solidarity Local (OSSL).
Looking for a more focused approach, the Redeemer University College
social justice group teamed up last spring with the Christian Labour
Association of Canada (CLAC) to form the OSSL. It was amazingly
refreshing to see a group of students (not too much younger
than myself) taking the call to practical cultural engagement very
seriously and wrestling constantly and successfully with the question
of vocation. So OSSL was super group #1.

Super group #2 came in the form of a gathering of CLAC supporters,
some younger, but mostly my parents' and grandparents' ages. Designated
as the General Workers Local (GWL), the group was composed of
individuals who financially and ideologically support the work of the
Christian Labour Association in organizing workers on the basis of
Christian principles, meaning that the employee/manager relationship is
not seen as antagonistic and the dignity of the individual as an image
of God is a top priority. More broadly, GWL members support the efforts
of CLAC to practically apply the Reformed worldview in the sphere of

The idea that was really reinforced for me last weekend was the
vital importance of a comprehensive Christian worldview that tangibly
connects theory and practice. Obviously, my involvement with *culture is not optional
betrays that this idea was already important to me, but seeing such a
diverse and committed group of individuals actually making a go of it
was truly refreshing to me.

I also became aware once again of the dangers of not connecting the
theoretical with the practical. As a denomination whose gift seems to
be education, there's the constant risk that all of the most motivated
and visionary Reformed individuals will cluster in the world of
academia, where minds that are alive to the call to redeem all of
culture can be insulated from the frustrations of "status quo

And I understand this tendency as much as I understand its opposite:
the tendency to find the work of redeeming all of culture exhausting
and the Kingdom ultimately beyond our understanding, which occurs all
too easily when we stop learning. The unsharpened, undiscerning
Christian mind is just as vulnerable to the influence of the world as
it is to the influence of anti-cultural fundamentalism and both are
extremely dangerous. In some ways, I'm frightened by the ecumenism of
Reformed churches today because the drift seems too often headed away
from a thoughtful, intentional approach to culture and toward a
legalistic and simplistic approach. In short, too many Reformed folks
are losing sight of why they're Reformed.

On the other hand, the ecumenism is exciting as various
denominations discover their relative strengths or "denominational
calling." In my somewhat limited experience with other denominations,
it seems as though Lutherans have claimed the calling of discovering
the full working out of grace in the lives of individuals and
communities, while Mennonites have claimed the calling to practical
service and peacemaking, taken directly from the challenges of Christ.
While the Christian Reformed denomination has claimed the calling of
education, others have claimed evangelism or disaster relief as their
unique calling. It's exciting to be at a point at which, for whatever
reason, not only are the individual parts of the body of Christ fully
realizing their callings, but in fact, whole limbs are beginning to
work together to cultivate the Kingdom.

But the continuation of this process depends on a continuous supply
of new disciples. At the meeting of the General Workers Local, a fact
that was acknowledged several times was the decidedly "gray" color of
the group that had gathered. One white-haired gentlemen asked the
question: how many of us became interested in issues of worker justice
after we were 30 years old? Not one person responded in the affirmative
and he succeeded in clearly illustrating the need to educate young
people in the necessity of practical and all-encompassing cultural
engagement and vocation. So how can we best do that?

I left with a renewed personal commitment to continue my studies,
both individually and communally, in order to develop my mind as a
representative of Christ. I also left with renewed excitement for *cino's
proposed high school curriculum, college off-campus program and
intentional living projects. Honestly, I've never been more convinced
of their importance. However, we face the eternal obstacle of funding.

I know we've made this plea many times and we're probably on the
brink of another fund-raising campaign (hopefully not as irritating as
those on public television and radio since you don't have to listen
to us beg), but I would sincerely ask you to consider now what
resources you might be able to contribute to this work. I, along with
Rob and Grant and others, would begin the full-time work of bringing
the message of cultural engagement to young people tomorrow (tonight,
even) through technology and personal interaction if it were
economically feasible.

I continue to imagine daily the incredible possibilities of the
community of believers all working effectively at specific, individual
tasks with an inspiring awareness that all of culture is being
positively redeemed to the glory of God. The members of the body are
hungry for this message, hungry for the permission to claim what they
love to do and make it their life's work, and hungry for a community of
support that understands the risks and sacrifices of living a life that
is totally transformed. No matter what amount of resources *cino
is blessed with, we will continue to do as much as we can to feed a new
generation of disciples. But we will also continue to dream bigger than
what we can actually achieve at any given moment.

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