I’M LOSING FAITH IN MY FAVORITE COUNTRYThroughout my life, the United States has been my favorite country, save and except for Canada, where I was born, raised, educated and still live for six months each year. As a child growing up in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, I aggressively bought and saved baseball cards of American and National League players, spent hours watching snowy images of American baseball and football games on black and white television and longed for the day when I could travel to that great country. Every Saturday afternoon, me and the boys would pay twelve cents to go the show and watch U.S. made movies and particularly, the Superman serial. Then I got my chance. My father, who worked for B.F. Goodrich, took my brother and me to watch the Cleveland Indians play baseball in the Mistake on the Lake in Cleveland. At last I had made it to the big time. I thought it was an amazing stadium and it was certainly not a mistake. Amazingly, the Americans thought we were Americans.I loved the United States and everything about the country: its people, its movies, its comic books, its sports and a great deal more. The country was alive and growing. No, exploding. It was the golden age of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The American dream was alive and well, but demanded hard work, honesty and frugality. Everyone understood that. Even the politicians.Then everything changed.Partly because of its proximity to the United States and a shared heritage, Canadians also aspired to what was commonly referred to as the American dream. I fall neatly into that category. For as long as I can remember I wanted a better life, but because I was born with a cardboard spoon in my mouth and wasn’t a member of the golden gene club, I knew I would have to make it the old fashioned way: work hard and save. After university graduation I spent the first half of my career working for the two largest oil companies in the world: Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell. The second half was spent with one of the smallest oil companies in the world: my own.Then I sold my company and retired into obscurity. In my case obscurity was spending summers in our cottage on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka, Ontario and winters in our home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My wife, Ann and I, (and our three sons when they can find the time), have been enjoying that obscurity for a long time. During that long time we have been fortunate to meet and befriend a large number of Americans, many from Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation. One was a military policeman in Tokyo in 1945. After a very successful business carer in the U.S. he’s retired and living the dream. Another American friend, also a member of the Greatest Generation, survived The Battle of the Bulge and lived to drink Hitler’s booze at Berchtesgaden in 1945. He too is happily retired and living the dream. Both of these individuals got to where they are by working hard, saving and living within their means. Both also remember when their Federal Government did the same thing.One of my younger American friends recently sent me a You Tube video, featuring an impassioned speech by Marco Rubio, Republican senator from Florida. In the speech, Rubio blasts the spending habits of his Federal Government and deeply laments his country’s future. He is outraged that the U.S. Government spends three hundred billion dollars, each and every month. He is even more outraged that one hundred and twenty billion of that three hundred billion dollars is borrowed. In other words, Rubio states that for every dollar the U.S. Government spends, forty cents is borrowed. I don’t blame him for being upset. If I had run my business using that arithmetic, I would be in the soup kitchens. If individual American families had applied that arithmetic to their finances, none of them would be in a position to pay a thin dime of taxes.In this connection I witnessed what I consider to be t
Stephen Douglass
It is foolish to wish for beauty.  Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others.  If the mind be but well cultivated and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.  So said the teachers of our childhood; and so say we to the children of the present day.  All very judicious and proper, no doubt; but are such assertions supported by actual experience?We are naturally disposed to love what gives us pleasure and what more pleasing than a beautiful face—when we know no harm of the possessor at least?  A little girl loves her bird—Why?  Because it lives and feels; because it is helpless and harmless?  A toad, likewise, lives and feels and is equally helpless and harmless; but though she would not hurt a toad, she cannot love it like the bird, with its graceful form, soft feathers and bright, speaking eyes.  If a woman is fair and amiable, she is praised for both qualities, but especially the former, by the bulk of mankind: if, on the other hand, she is disagreeable in person and character, her plainness is commonly inveighed against as her greatest crime, because, to common observers, it gives the greatest offence; while, if she is plain and good, provided she is a person of retired manners and secluded life, no one ever knows of her goodness, except her immediate connections.  Others, on the contrary, are disposed to form unfavourable opinions of her mind and disposition, if it be but to excuse themselves for their instinctive dislike of one so unfavoured by nature; and visa versâ with her whose angel form conceals a vicious heart, or sheds a false, deceitful charm over defects and foibles that would not be tolerated in another. 
Anne Brontë
Bookish folk aren’t what they used to be. Introverted, reserved, studious. There was a time when bookish folk would steer clear of trendy bars, dinner occasions and gatherings. Any social or public encounters would be avoided at all costs because these activities were very un-bookish. Bookish people preferred to stay in, or to sit alone in a quiet pub, reading a good book, or getting some writing done. Writers, in fact, perhaps epitomised these bookish traits most strongly. At least, they used to.These days, bookish people, such as writers, are commonly found on stage, headlining festivals, or being interviewed on TV. Author events and performances have proliferated, becoming established parts of a writer’s role. It’s not that authors have suddenly become more extroverted – it’s more a case that their job description has changed. Of course, not all writers are bookish. Not in the traditional sense of the word anyway. Some are well suited for public life, particularly those from certain academic backgrounds where public speaking is encouraged and confidence in social situations is shaped and formed. These writers may even be termed ‘gregarious’ and are thus happy being offered up for speaking engagements, stage discussions and signings. Good for them. But the others – the timid, shy and mousy authors – they’re being thrust into the limelight too. That’s my lot. The social wipeouts. Unprepared and ill-equipped to face our reader audience. What’s most concerning is that no one is offering us any guidance or tips. We’re expected to hit the ground running, confident and ready, loaded with banter, quips and answers. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Paul Ewen
Existentialism is commonly associated with Left-Bank Parisian cafes and the ‘family’ of philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir who gathered there in the years immediately following the liberation of Paris at the end of World War II. One imagines offbeat, avant-garde intellectuals, attached to their cigarettes, listening to jazz as they hotly debate the implications of their new-found political and artistic liberty. The mood is one of enthusiasm, creativity, anguished self-analysis and freedom – always freedom.Though this reflects the image projected by the media of the day and doubtless captures the spirit of the time, it glosses over the philosophical significance of existentialist thought, packaging it as a cultural phenomenon of a certain historical period. That is perhaps the price paid by a manner of thinking so bent on doing philosophy concretely rather than in some abstract and timeless manner. The existentialists’ urge for contemporary relevance fired their social and political commitment. But it also linked them with the problems of their day and invited subsequent generations to view them as having the currency of yesterday’s news.Such is the misreading of existentialist thought that I hope to correct in this short volume. If it bears the marks of its post-war appearance, existentialism as a manner of doing philosophy and a way of addressing the issues that matter in people’s lives is at least as old as philosophy itself. It is as current as the human condition which it examines.
Thomas R. Flynn
With the veil removed by the rending of Jesus' flesh, with nothing on God's side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry without? Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God? We hear the Bridegroom say, `Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely.' (Song of Sol 2:14) We sense that the call is for us, but still we fail to draw near and the years pass and we grow old and tired in the outer courts of the tabernacle. What doth hinder us?The answer usually given, simply that we are `cold,' will not explain all the facts. There is something more serious than coldness of heart, something that may be back of that coldness and be the cause of its existence. What is it? What but the presence of a veil in out hearts? A veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. It is the close- woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgment of the cross. It is not too mysterious, this opaque veil, nor is it hard to identify. We have but to look in our own hearts and we shall see it there, sewn and patched and repaired it may be, but there nevertheless, an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress.This veil is not a beautiful thing and it is not a thing about which we commonly care to talk, but I am addressing the thirsting souls who are determined to follow God and I know they will not turn back because the way leads temporarily through the blackened hills. The urge of God within them will assure their continuing the pursuit. They will face the facts however unpleasant and endure the cross for the joy set before them. So I am bold to mane the threads out of which this inner veil is woven. It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.
A.W. Tozer