Archives for posts with tag: Tommy Douglas

Mary’s Magnificent Protest Song

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.—Luke 1:52

Read: Luke 1:46-55

Reflect: Is the message of Advent becoming clear by now? God’s coming to Earth is about a reversal of status and values. Mary’s song in response to the angel’s announcement continues this theme. Hannah and Mary may seem unlikely singers to be raging against the machine of empirical power, but that is the whole point! God often speaks through the unlikely.

Just as “pride goes before a fall” so the small will be lifted tall. Tommy Douglas was a man of small stature, a small-town Baptist pastor on the Canadian prairies during the Great Depression, yet a few years ago he was voted as the “Greatest Canadian” in a television poll. He once said, “Watch out for the little fellow with an idea.” His idea was that all people, regardless of their wealth or status, should be entitled to equal health care. He left the pastorate and went into politics, working tirelessly for the rights of the poor and marginalized and becoming known as the father of universal health care in Canada.

Mary was the little girl with an idea who, in our text, speaks just as forcefully as any preacher or politician. Did she have an inkling of who her child would become and what he would do? Her protest song is a collage of poetry from the Psalms and prophets and sounds very much like Hannah’s song from generations earlier. Mary’s son Jesus, born in a cave many miles from home, would become the Savior of the world and the Great Leader who would inaugurate the reign of God. How do we respond this advent season?

Respond: My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.—Luke 1:46-47

In recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary as a political entity, I begin a series of Canadiana blogs this summer, including a few top ten lists! So let’s begin with politics:

My Top Ten Canadian Politicians [Yes, there are some!]

    1. Tommy Douglas: My favourite by a southern Saskatchewan mile and voted greatest Canadian in a CBC poll a few years ago. I agree with the poll. A small-town Baptist preacher who became the father of universal health care, a true servant of the people.
    2. Lester B. Pierson: Although he only had a minority government, he introduced universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada, the Maple Leaf flag, bilingualism and biculturalism, kept Canada out of the Vietnam War, abolished capital punishment, and won the Nobel Peace prize.
    3. Louis Riel: Read some of my other blogs and you’ll know why. The Canadian government of 1885 killed him and the government more than a century later needs to exonerate him. https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/exonerate-louis-riel-2
    4. Nellie McClung: Also see previous posts.
    5. Bill Blaikie: He was the faithful M.P. in Transcona [Winnipeg] for 30 years. We lived in his riding for 6 years and he even accepted an invitation to talk to our church youth group about faith and politics, about which he later wrote a fine book.
    6. Joe Clarke: He always seemed awkward publicly and only served as PM for a few months but he was a solid and respected international diplomat in later governments.
    7. Jack Layton: A true social democrat who spoke out on behalf of the marginalized and brought new energy to his party and to federal politics, all while fighting a personal battle with cancer.
    8. Agnes McPhail: The first woman to be elected to Canadian parliament.
    9. Wilfred Laurier and
    10. William Lyon Mackenzie King for being the longest serving PM’s. Anyone who sacrifices decades of life to public service leading a democratic nation has my admiration.

 

Notice that John A. Macdonald is not on the list. I will tell you why on the next post.

Thanksgiving weekend is upon us in Canada. I am most thankful for family, food, and friends as usual but since I’m blogging “Canadiana” let us give thanks for all the blessings we enjoy in this wonderful political entity called Canada. Canadians complain about the weather, about our politicians, about our hockey teams, about too much of this and not enough of that but really, we have a lot to be thankful for. Here are just ten things:

  1. First Nations. Before there was Canada there were many nations. They have been hospitable and humble hosts even though we brought some really bad gifts from Europe.
  2. Geography: coastal beaches, mountains, deserts, prairies, forests, muskeg, rolling meadows, and the Canadian Shield—a unique collection of rock, lakes, and trees that covers almost half of Canada.
  3. Road Trips to explore the above. The Trans-Canada Highway that runs from coast to coast is the ultimate one. We traveled it in 2007 as a family of 6 in a mini-van [Check out the pictures under “Slide shows”], although we did not do the Newfoundland section which is on my bucket list.
  4. The People. If the USA is a melting pot, Canada is a salad where every distinct people group is encouraged to embrace their uniqueness while still contributing to the whole. Do you see the multi-cultural crowd wearing hard hats behind an electioneering politician?
  5. Winter. Although on the west coast we can hardly claim to have winter, to brave the harsh winter elements is a truly Canadian experience. Other than licking a metal pole at minus 30—which I would not recommend—that feeling of your nostrils and eyelids freezing together beats sunburn any day.
  6. Universal Health Care. Invented by Tommy Douglas, a Baptist pastor turned socialist politician—which could only happen in Canada. He was voted the “Greatest Canadian” in a poll a few years ago. We complain about wait times but the fact that all sick people can go to a hospital for treatment without incurring massive debts is one of the best things about Canada.
  7. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [CBC]. A state-owned radio and telecommunications network that is more critical of the government than any privately owned network.
  8. Hockey. World’s fastest game on ice and sometimes our national religion. The regular season has just begun. Now if only a Canadian team could win the Stanley Cup. Oops, that was a complaint!
  9. Good neighbours. Although we love to denounce our big brother to the south—mostly because of our inferiority complex—we enjoy the world’s longest undefended border. How y’all doin’ eh?
  10. Self-deprecation. It’s so endearing and it makes for some great comedy. “Sorry for bragging.”

What would you like to add to the list?