One requires vision, and the other, courage.
*(A follow-up to my article entitled, War & Peace, for the February / March ’09 issue of E.C.)
In the work that I do as a strategic and business advisor to media companies and ministries, and I suppose due to my nature and giftedness, I tend to focus on “Vision Casting” and “Strategic Innovation”, asking people to reach beyond themselves to consider what could be, in the context of what is. Interestingly, both purviews can be deceiving given the clarity of our “lens”, often governed by our jaded or enhanced interpretation of reality. Looking at our great country, its history and legacy along with our future prospects, is like that too. Nationalism is a precious tradition that is embedded in the heart, having been passed down through the faith of our fathers. But it can also be a fragile thing. It was once vigorously defended in battles of discernable good and evil, and now embattled within its own borders under the scrutiny of a generation dubious of the suspect motives of the high commanders.
In the midst of these new realities, the true follower of Jesus is at least conflicted, as they consider the Canadian’s God given role as peacemakers amongst the global bullies in today’s world.
Due to media, that world is a much smaller place and we may tend to view our nation in the context of a sometimes-frightening International backdrop. I believe that our generation has grown up in a truly remarkable time in the history of North America, and Canada in particular. We brought television into the forefront of home entertainment, in fact we invented the concept of “Home Entertainment”, and we had Stanley Cups, Expo 67’, CN / Vista-Car Train Tours of the Rockies, The AVRO Arrow (Oh how I grieved the loss of that one), Bell Telephone, the establishment of really big BANKS, Yorkville Avenue, Joni Mitchell, The CN Tower, John Diefenbaker (YIKES), and myriad other cultural movements including the establishment of seemingly timeless physical and corporate landmarks (or not so “timeless” if you count Nortel).
As a “Believer” I find myself fighting off the cynicism (you’d think it would actually be the other way around) though this, thankfully, is counterbalanced by a proportional amount of sheer joy knowing that God really is in control and He really does love us…all of us! It’s been said, “culture needs icons” though I wonder if culture now happens and is understood on multiple levels. There is a deep river of culture that flows in and through Canadian society and it is based on a heritage of unchanging values, ethnicity, faith, and other truisms that point to a legacy and opportunity that is now routinely bombarded, if not torpedoed by the massive engine of POP Culture. The latter seeks to turn every human soul into a customer, and every worthy ideal into a commodity for our own self-gratification. If we could package Nationalism, make it “Green” and socially conscious on a global level, discount it to the lowest possible price and sell it like an IPOD or a pair of NIKE shoes, we might have a shot at getting the attention of the young average Canadian. The trouble is that its shelf life would be rapidly diminished and our young average Canadian consumer would quickly become distracted by the next voice they hear in their inner ear.
I’ve often used this analogy when describing one of the modern day pitfalls of the North American Christian church, particularly those that have chosen to become “seeker friendly”. The church, having grown up in this land of consumerism, can also unwittingly become, what I call, a “BIG BOX CHURCH” (to use the modern retail merchandising idiom) by turning the faith into a commodity, packaging and discounting it, and selling it at the lowest possible price in order to fill the pews. It is then possible, in such settings, to avoid teaching that which points to Jesus’ instruction to us to pick up our cross and follow Him (Mark 8 : 34). I like to say that there are two lessons that arise from this teaching. The first is that, if you’re arms are lashed to a 100 – 150 pound piece of lumber, you have neither the physical dexterity nor the strength to pick up and carry anything else. The second lessen is that, if you’ve got a cross strapped to your back and your following Jesus, there’s only one place you’re going, and that’s a “hill to die on”.
So, do we have a clear sense of conviction about which hills we would die on in our personal faith, and in the context of our faith in our country? In a political sense, is anything these days worth dying for, or perhaps better said, worth killing for, militarily speaking? How do we die and live all at the same time as the Easter story so compellingly portrays?
Several years ago I wrote the following aphorism: “The church that stands for nothing...will fall for anything”. It’s a frightening thought, but it leads me full circle to the concept of National pride and our hope for the future of the Dominion. Canada must decide what it believes and reject the overwhelming whim of special interest groups that have only one real “interest”, and that is to destroy moral and spiritual absolutes. We are choking on moral relativism and political correctness because we have turned many of our time-honoured ideals and beliefs into commodities that can be offered up to the alter of legislative or high-court debate by mere humans who actually believe that their “court” is, in fact, “Supreme”. By so doing we may be denying the undeniable God His rightful place in the courts of our hearts.
Interestingly, those who would hold up the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and now use it as a weapon to undermine the conservative viewpoint on matters such as the point at which a fetus has life and its inherent value, or the definition of marriage, seem to forget that for there to be apparent, and inalienable rights of human beings there must first be a “rights-giver” who is by definition one who can not be challenged and who is the standard by which our “rights” are established and thereafter, forever defended. The Charter, though worthy and imperative by the integrity of its original formation, may therefore give rise to the realization that there must be absolute truths; though, its interpretation and application in our generation seem to be more about promoting special interests at the expense of such truths that do not happen to fit our evolving behavioral “norms”.
Wars of words are being fought over the co-mingling of unfounded and contradictory ideals, though I can’t imagine that such a war could ever be won. Despite such societal dynamics, and as I consider the high-ground that Canada has attained on a world level, I remain proud as a Canadian and at peace in my own heart knowing that God loves our Dominion and its citizens more than we could even imagine. As we pray for her and submit to Him, I’m certain that He will answer even the most perplexing questions of our time.
Doug McKenzie is a 37-year veteran of the Entertainment Media industry having founded and built one of Canada’s largest, multi-award winning television / film postproduction studios, and having co-founded an Academy Award winning technology group based in Toronto and Los Angeles. In 1988 Mr. McKenzie received the Certificate of Merit in Canada’s Awards for Business Excellence from Industry Canada. Later Mr. McKenzie served as President of divisions of Maclean Hunter Ltd. and Rogers Communications Inc. respectively, and as Vice Chair of the Task Force for the Implementation of Digital TV as commissioned by Heritage Canada. From 1998 to the present, through Advanced Media Group Corp., Mr. McKenzie served as an industry advisor and as interim CEO to Visual Bible International of Nashville, and Crossroads Christian Communications Inc. (NFP/Charitable Organization) of Burlington. Among other charitable organizations, he is currently a director on the board of governors of Amazon Focus, Visionledd, and Tyndale University, College and Seminary.