The Blaikie Report

To many Canadians, the names are an honour roll of our political history: James S. Woodsworth, T.C. Douglas, Stanley Knowles, Dan Heap. There are others, all clergy, moved to enter politics because of the “the social gospel,” to improve the life of the people though socialism. Unions were their friends, corporate society their adversaries. Now, another name for the list is Bill Blaikie, a Manitoba NDP member who held his seat in Parliament for almost 30 years, was elected an astonishing eight times, so that when he retired in 2008, he was Dean of the House of Commons. (Now click on the article's title to get the complete book review.)

Secular Shift

One afternoon in late 1965, I walked into a cluttered television studio in Toronto to discuss a book getting wide attention across Canada. The author was also the program host, journalist Pierre Berton. His book, The Comfortable Pew, was a critique of Canada’s churches, which he found wanting in ways that, taken together, made Christian churches “irrelevant,” he maintained. In subsequent years, that word defined an earnest quest of Canada’s major Protestant churches: to become relevant. (Click on the article's title to read the complete story.)

Review of Tom Harpur’s Book “Born Again” – Montreal Gazette

On the first day of May 1971, Tom Harpur, a Rhodes Scholar and Anglican minister, began a career in journalism as religion reporter for the Toronto Star. He’d hold the job for decades and become, to many, Canada’s leading newspaper journalist on religion. (He also wrote widely read books.) He’s highly provocative; one of his books, The Pagan Christ, takes the view that Jesus wasn’t an actual person. In some theological circles, his name provokes disdain. (Click on the article's title to read the complete story.)

Give Grief A Chance – United Church Observer

I remember the afternoon years ago in Nova Scotia when my grandmother died. My father, her eldest son, wrote her obituary at the kitchen table, then phoned the funeral director to arrange her service. He walked to the man’s office 20 minutes away, but about an hour later I was surprised to see him coming back up the front steps. The funeral director had arranged almost everything before my father even arrived. After all, the man knew my grandmother was a faithful Presbyterian, so he’d called her minister asking that Wednesday afternoon be available for her service. He phoned the organist and choir director since they’d certainly be taking part. He phoned the cemetery to have her grave ready. Tuesday, the day before the service, would be for afternoon and evening visitations at her home, her casket open in the living room. So my father simply chose a casket, signed a document or two, and that was that. All went as my father liked things to go: in keeping with custom. That’s how it was back then. (Click on the article's title to read the entire story.)