Dangerous certainty

In 1954, psychologist Leon Festinger read a story in his local newspaper headlined “Prophecy from planet Clarion call to city: flee that flood.” The prophecy emanated from Chicago housewife Dorothy Martin, who, through an experiment with automatic writing, received a warning that the earth…

Devilish devices

Every now and again, a biblical phrase is lifted out of context to teach things that the writer never intended. Despite President Lincoln’s bold claims, Jesus’ words about a house divided had nothing to do with the American Civil War. Biblical phrases like, “I…

Angels with flats

Have you ever wondered about the verse that suggests a stranger might be an angel in disguise? Or, at least, the verse that is sometimes interpreted that way? I am speaking of Hebrews 13:2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby…

Final judgement: Real, certain, irreversible

You may be unaware, but if you’re reading this, you survive the apocalypse. Again. American numerologist, David Meade, recently predicted that the rapture would take place on 23 April 2018. It was a complex prediction, involving Bible codes, astrological constellations, and newspaper exegesis. On…

I’d be less

I recently read the autobiography of Andre Agassi, an American tennis player whose profession career spanned twenty years (1986–2006) and whose unorthodox apparel and attitude is widely credited with helping to revive the popularity of the sport by which he made his living. Agassi’s…

Here I stand

I recently listened to a recorded conversation between Christian author and speaker Skye Jethani and American journalist Jonathan Merritt. During an interview with Eugene Peterson last year, Merritt asked Peterson, a member of the liberal Presbyterian Church (USA), if he would consent to conducting…

As he is

An illustration in a 1916 edition of The Washington Post portrayed a group of Roman diners at a table with a large bowl beside each. The caption read, “The disgusting Roman custom known as the ‘vomitorium.’ After the banquet was over bowls were brought…

Footprints in the sea

In 2001, missionaries Jim and Roni Bowers were flying into Peru with their six-year-old son, Cory, and their infant daughter, Charity. A CIA spotter plane, part of an anti-narcotics program, identified the missionary aircraft as a potential drug runner, alerting Peruvian authorities of their…

God’s way

In August of 1996, a female gorilla housed at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, made international headlines after a three-year-old boy climbed the wall around the gorilla exhibit and fell more than seven metres into the enclosure. The boy suffered a broken hand and…

Every dark shadow

It seems that we live in a world of memes. According to Merriam-Webster, a meme, strictly speaking, is “any idea, behaviour, style, or usage that spreads from one person to another within a culture.” Most people have come to associate the word, however, with…