Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

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Apocalyptic Forecasts

There is no such thing as normal weather. At least not in my part of the world. Perhaps this is what lures so many enterprising types into the weather forecasting field. We now have Environment Canada, The Weather Network, Weather Underground and Accu-Weather to name just a few. Most of them are fairly accurate at telling you what’s going to happen in the next few hours.

This summer we have been getting severe weather watches, alerts and warnings just about every day. There is a possibility of heavy rain, strong winds, severe thunderstorms, hail, funnel clouds, tornadoes and anything else that could possibly happen. Most of it doesn’t happen.

Of course we have had rain, wind, thunderstorms, pea sized hail that fell for a minute or two and didn’t really damage anything. Funnel clouds have been seen here and there, one actually touched down about 70 km south-east of us, ran along the ground for a few minutes and damaged a couple of storage sheds. Not much action for all the apocalyptic-sounding warnings we’ve had.

Years ago, most Protestants were of the Post Millennial persuasion: the world would get better and better until the millennium came and then Christ would return. In the first half of the 19th century, when hopes for the arrival of the millennium through natural progress began to dim, a new idea sprang forth: Christ would return before the millennium and establish it by divine force. There were many varieties of this thinking: John Nelson Darby’s dispensational pre-millennialism, Ellen G White’s Seventh Day Adventism, Charles Taze Russell’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, and yet more. None of them will admit it, but they were all lit by sparks from the same fire.

All teachers of this type of persuasion are specialists in apocalyptic forecasts about the impending doom of this world. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote a book 75 years ago in which he named Benito Mussolini as the Antichrist. Shorty before that time, a well-known American preacher dropped in on a Baptist church in France one Sunday. He recounted to the pastor of this church his visit with Il Duce a few days earlier, in which he had showed Mussolini all the prophecies in the Bible that applied to him. The pastor of that French Baptist church, Robert DuBarry, was appalled, thinking that Mussolini did not need that kind of encouragement.

When I was a boy, my father listened to Canada’s  National Back to the Bible Broadcast every Sunday morning, in which Ernest C Manning would expound on Bible passages referring to Communist Russia and speak of the coming Battle of Armageddon.

Like the weather forecasts, the forecasts of Armageddon change with every shift in the wind patterns. Solomon had sound advice for us in these times: “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4).

US disasters vs Canadian winters

Seventeen years ago at Easter time we drove down to Arkansas where our daughter was teaching. Deborah, a friend of our daughter, travelled with us.  There in the deep south we saw mounds of dirt here and there in the fields. We asked one of the local ladies what they were and she told us they were either crawdads or fire ants.  Deborah turned to us and quietly said, “You couldn’t pay me enough to live in this country.”  No doubt folks from the south would feel the same about our winters.

Because of our cooler climate we do not have many of the insect pests that thrive in the warmer clime south of us. Nor do we have alligators or Burmese pythons. We do not get nearly as many severe storms or floods either.

Last year at this time Christian Public Service of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite had five rebuilding units operating in the USA, usually with six young brethren at a time and a couple as houseparents, volunteering their time to rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by storms and floods.  In addition, hundreds of brethren give time every year for short term Christian Disaster Relief work in emergency cleanup work after storms, fires tornadoes and floods.

Some of that happens in Canada, too, just not nearly as often.  On  June 30, 1912 a tornado hit Regina, Saskatchewan. There were 28 lives lost, 2,500 left temporarily homeless and a large part of the downtown severely damaged.  There have been many tornadoes in the one hundred years since then, but that is still the worst in Canadian history.  Storms like that, and much worse, are annual occurrences in many parts of the USA.

But winter comes to us every year, bringing little personal emergencies with it. Let me tell you about our day yesterday.  Friday and Saturday were mild, with temperatures above freezing. A strong north wind came up in the night, the temperature began to drop rapidly, and when we returned home after morning church no water would come from the taps in the bathroom on the north side of the house.  We have had problems with some sort of creature digging on the north side to find a warm spot under the house. We have closed the hole many times with rocks and gravel. I knew that there had been some activity there again, but it had been covered by snow until the recent warm spell. Now a large hole was exposed and the north wind was whistling in.  I filled the hole again and heaped more gravel on top.  Then I set an electric heater to blow hot air in from the access opening to the plumbing. Within an hour the water was running again.

In the evening, after church and a visit to our children, I could not unlock the back door when we came home. The key would not go all the way in; apparently some moisture had gotten in and frozen. I went to the garage and got a rubber mallet (“When in doubt, use a bigger hammer”), gave a couple of taps, not too gently, on the handle, and then the key went in easily.

The repeated thaws and freezes this month have turned our yards into seas of ice.  One elderly gentleman slipped on the ice and broke his hip.  This is winter in Saskatchewan. Every year is a little different than the previous years, testing our homes, vehicles and bodies in new ways. We always find a way to “muddle through.”

The days are getting longer now, the time between sunrise and sunset is increasing by more than three minutes per day.  Those who live where there are no winters do not know the drama and excitement of a prairie spring.  Nor the glories of a summer with sixteen hours from sunrise to sunset.



Maybe snow isn’t so bad, after all

Where I live we suffered through a long winter and a spring that progressed at a barely discernible pace.   The weather always gives us something to talk about here in Saskatchewan, mostly in a worried or complaining tone, but summer did eventually show up, just as it always has.

Now we are in those glorious days where the sunshine never seems to end.  The sun rises at 5 AM and sets at 9 PM.   The birds start singing at 4 and don’t stop until 10.  And we still have a month to go until the longest day.

Meanwhile, we hear that Gander, Newfoundland, at the far east end of Canada, had a freak snowstorm Monday, dumping 60 cm of heavy white stuff.  For those who don’t speak metric, that is a whole two feet.  Those poor people!

Then we heard of the tornado in Oklahoma – homes, schools, a hospital reduced to rubble, many lives lost.  That puts a different light on our little woes.  No lives were lost in Gander, all the buildings are still standing.  The snow will soon be only a memory and life will go on as usual.

The worst tornado in Saskatchewan history, the worst in all of Canada, happened in 1912 in Regina.  The funnel cloud went through downtown and a large residential area, causing immense amounts of damage and taking 28 lives.  We have never had anything like it in the 100 years that followed.  Last year we had 33 tornadoes in our province, a record.  Most of them were small and occurred in places where they did no property damage.  There have been no lives lost in Saskatchewan due to tornadoes for many years.

I suppose that comes from living in a more northern climate, where the heat does not build up to the intensity it does in places like Oklahoma.  Maybe snow isn’t so bad after all.

I think we had better stop complaining about the weather we have here and start praying for all those in Oklahoma, and elsewhere, who have lost homes and loved ones.  May God grant a special grace through the coming days.

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