The way it was … as seen by the Churchman

Published July 1, 1998

100 years ago: May 1898

Canadian Churchman reported that the cry for short sermons has become so common, almost universal, that it becomes necessary to ask exactly what it means. All thinking persons will allow that there are subjects which may properly be treated in the pulpit which require a considerable length of time to do any sort of justice to them. On the other hand, no one would defend a long sermon which need not be long. There are sermons which are long because the preacher had not time to make them shorter. Sometimes allowances must be made for such a contingency; but not always and not often. It is to be feared that there are preachers who are so slovenly in their preparation of sermons that they habitually stretch them out to a quite unnecessary length. And there are a kind of preachers, akin to these, who are lengthy simply because they are garrulous. Such a kind are very provoking, very irritating, especially as often they seem to be quite unconscious that the public may have too much of them.

50 years ago: May 1948

Canadian Churchman reported that although our services are not so well attended as formerly, our people are nice, pleasant, polite people; and we enjoy each other’s company. Don’t disturb us! Don’t rock the boat! Don’t expect too much of us! Let us make haste slowly! (Whoever invented that chilling, wet blanketing exhortation of the devil?) This lethargy, this apathy, is the blight of the Church of England across Canada. We have forgotten the martyrs’ blood, the stake, and the rack. We mistake our flaming religion for mild good citizenship, and forget that we live in a broken and disillusioned world that knows no peace. We forget that every Church of England, to be worthy of its heritage, ought to be an outpost of Heaven, ever strong and forceful so that the world about it must be transformed by renewal in Christ.

25 years ago: May 1973

Canadian Churchman reported that freedom of the press, like all the basic freedoms we enjoy in a nation such as Canada, is taken for granted by most people. On occasion, it is a freedom that some people – especially those in positions of power or those seeking power – feel they would like diminished. The church and its press is no exception. Indeed, in the case of Canadian Churchman, editorial independence is guaranteed by General Synod. But there are still those individuals who would prefer a “house organ” publication, reflecting only “good” news – whatever that is – and presenting an image that is favourable and comfortable.


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