October 08, 2012


Yesterday morning, our senior pastor dropped a bombshell during his Thanksgiving sermon: he announced his resignation to accept the presidency of Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario. (The story he told of how he gradually came to this decision was touching. If and when I revive my rather moribund series on the will of God, I may have to find a way to include it.)

Pastor Rick has been a part of our church family for nearly 15 years—only a few months' shorter time than I have been there myself. In fact, he candidated for the pulpit only a week before I moved to Ottawa: in the midst of the infamous 1998 ice storm, no less, which fortunately didn't stop him from moving to Canada from California in the end! He is probably the finest expository teacher I have ever heard in Real Life, and also someone with whom I've had a good "professional" relationship, of a sort, as the computer operator who turns his PowerPoint slides for him a few Sunday evenings per month.

It will be very disappointing to see Pastor Rick go. Heritage's gain is our loss. But I would rather not eulogize his pastorate on Thanksgiving weekend; rather, I'd prefer to list a few things for which I am now profoundly thankful.

  • I am thankful for having met Rick Reed, and that I can count him as a friend.
  • I am thankful for his faithful exposition of the Word of God these past 15 years, and for the way that he preached exactly the message that I needed to hear on several occasions, his encouragement, his devotion to his pastoral duty, his personal integrity, and his Christian humility.
  • I am thankful that the Met's partnership with Heritage means he isn't really gone all that far.
  • I am thankful for the rest of our pastoral staff and the board of elders, whose oversight will ensure that we will weather the coming changes.
  • I am thankful for the wisdom of the elders, whose recommendations of pastoral candidates has always had the overwhelming confidence of the congregation.
  • I am thankful for the Met, a beacon of the Gospel and a locus of biblical faithfulnes in the Ottawa area for 80 years.

It is that last bullet that is most significant. Senior pastors will come and go (Pastor Rick is the eighth), but the church stays, because its head is not in the ever-changing parade of staff, but the unchanging Christ. I am called to fellowship with the local assembly, not to follow a man about the country like a spiritual Deadhead.

On the same day that Rick Reed resigned, I submitted my application for membership in the Met. The work of the Gospel continues here in Ottawa, and I want to be part of it for the long hall. Meanwhile, I think it will be in good hands in Cambridge.

God speed, Pastor Rick.

October 01, 2012

On September and science fiction

It's October 1, which means my eighth stab at a science fiction-free September has, more or less, come to an end. My goal for this September was twofold: first, to focus on nonfiction (which I normally only read in between novels, as time permits), and to finish up some books that I had started earlier in the year. As usual, I fell somewhat short of those goals, but if the point is to get my nose into something other than space opera, can it really be called a failure?

I started the month with Mark Steyn's After America. Steyn's previous book, America Alone, foresaw a future in which the United States alone refused to capitulate to the expansion of Islam. The book was so controversial that excerpts published in Maclean's got him, and the magazine, in trouble with Canada's human rights commissions. After America is a sequel of sorts, in which Steyn argues that even America itself is in decline. Whether you agree or disagree with Mark Steyn's politics, you at least have to admit that he is a treat to read—one of the wittiest columnists now working.

Next, I started in on Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, about the Clutter family murders in Kansas in 1959—the book that originally defined the true-crime genre. It's engaging reading, but I was sidetracked by lighter fare: What Einstein Told His Cook by chemist and food columnist Robert Wolke. I love to cook, and often it's the science behind cooking that interests me most. A lot of the science in this book I knew already, of course, but nonetheless Wolke is an entertaining writer. I look forward to reading the sequel someday.

Then, I got sidetracked again, this time by Ann Coulter's Godless. This time, though, the book was on loan, so it trumped anything I didn't have to return soon. (This would apply also to any SF books I happened to have on reserve; the moratorium isn't absolute, and I'm not going to pass up on a library book just because it's the wrong month.) Like Mark Steyn, Coulter is an effective and witty polemicist, but unfortunately I'm finding Godless more shrill than persuasive.

So that's September. I've still got about half of In Cold Blood and two-thirds of Godless, so I'll see if I can get those two volumes off my nightstand by the end of the week. Then, it's back to Frank Herbert and Stephen King.