Redeemer University - Christian university changes everything. Starting with you.          
Skip Navigation Links
Seeking God?

Visit this room to gather, learn and share with the Body of Christ

"Zed," Not "Zee"
Canadians need to recognize our great contributions to the Kingdom. We need to create Canadian-made solutions to Canadian issues and problems.

I am Canadian!"

For many Canadians that phrase is associated with a beer company and its famous commercial a few years ago that highlighted, in a lighthearted way, the differences between Canadians and Americans. "I'm not a lumberjack or a fur trader … I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber … it's pronounced 'zed,' not 'zee' … I have a prime minister, not a president … My name is Joe, and I am Canadian!"

Multiculturalism, not melting pot, is the catch phrase. But at the same time, our two peoples are the same.

The so-called rant touched a nerve among Canadians and drove a simple beer commercial to unprecedented heights of popularity. It appeared on T-shirts, and the actor portraying Joe did his rant live at the beginning of a hockey game.

I am Canadian. A simple statement, yet in some ways so profound. It differentiates us and stamps us as separate from Americans even though we share the same continent. The differences between us are at once vast and miniscule. We have different worldviews in some ways. Our military role is most often one of peacekeeper, from Bosnia to Cyprus to the Golan Heights to Haiti. We are more inclusive of different peoples and philosophies, yet we allow—even celebrate—differences. Multiculturalism, not melting pot, is the catch phrase.

But at the same time, our two peoples are the same. We both value the high principles of freedom and democracy and have fought wars together at sacrificial costs to ensure that mankind is free.

On the Christian front we celebrate the uniformity of Christ-centredness that marks believers whether they are in Toronto or Tacoma or Tokyo. We are one in purpose. One in prayer. One in mission. The gulf between Americans and Canadians in this way is so microscopic as to be invisible.

Canadians and Americans shouldered the load together from day one. Dr. A. B. Simpson—a Canadian-born American preacher—epitomized this, labouring for the lost at home and around the world.

The United States is so huge … that it can overwhelm others inadvrtently. This is certainly true in Christian circles.

So what's the problem? Speaking to the U.S. Congress a number of years ago, the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau expressed it best. He compared our national relationships to that of an elephant and a mouse. While the elephant may just sneeze, the mouse gets pneumonia.

The United States is so huge in terms of resources, power and influence that it can overwhelm others inadvertently. This is certainly true in Christian circles. And the fault lies with Canadians, not Americans.

So much of American Christian material and resources are spectacular. And riveting. And exciting. And dynamic. So many U.S. speakers are wonderful and godly. So many of the projects and initiatives are excellent. Canadians naturally use them. Whether it's a Willow Creek or The Purpose-Driven Church or a Promise Keepers programme, they are admirable and God given.

But I wonder if we are missing something when we depend upon those wonderful resources. Many of them are driven by the needs and concerns of American society. The icons they point to—the flag, Statue of Liberty, references to the Constitution and so on—are American. The cultural references and touchstones are American. This is as it should be. They speak to their marketplace. At the same time, kudos to those U.S. organizations and speakers who recognize that fact and work to mould their approach to meet Canadian needs or situations. But should the onus for adaptation be on them or us?

I am Canadian! Should that not mean that we create and celebrate Canadian model programmes, Canadian speakers, Canadian books, Canadian projects and Canadian music? After all, as Joe said in a roundabout way, who should know Canadians better than Canadians?

There are issues facing Canadian society that only Canadians can address. We have political and legal challenges in regard to marriage, the Church and our freedoms that can be fought only on a Canadian front using Canadian symbols, analogies and icons. We cannot—must not—rely on American-produced answers to deal with these significant issues, even when the issues may, on the surface, seem the same. Our political process is different and demands different approaches. Our cultural psyche is unlike that in the United States and demands that we address it ourselves.

Does this mean ignoring the great resources and organizations that emanate from south of the border? Certainly not!

Rather, my prayer is that across the board, Canadian Christians would take this model to heart: working together, sharing ideas and resources, tackling the great Kingdom issues together, and yet respecting the need for targeted approaches to issues.

We need to focus on, and yes, take pride in our homegrown … efforts.

For example, in September 2003 Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination in America and Canada both signed a Joint Ministry Agreement. U.S. C&MA President Dr. Peter Nanfelt said that the strengths of the two denominations complemented each other. He noted that the collaborative efforts of both organizations around the world enhanced each other. Often, he said, the smaller Canadian Church is able to react more speedily and creatively to situations. "The innovative level in Canada tends to be greater. We have gained many great ideas from the Canadian family."

Canadians need to recognize and celebrate our great contributions to the Kingdom. We need to focus on, and yes, take pride in our homegrown authors, musicians, speakers, pastors, church planters, organizations and missions efforts. Dr. Oswald Smith, founder of the People's Church in Toronto, Ontario, and a Simpson con-temporary, used to say that only this generation can reach this generation. We need to create Canadian-made solutions to Canadian issues and problems.

It's about enhancing, not taking away. It's about using and being the best that God has given us to meet the needs in our Jerusalem as well as our Judea and Samaria.

As Canadian Christians we need to say, "I am Canadian. And I want to stretch myself and my people to reach my nation with God's grace and power."

Barrie Doyle is a public-relations professional and media professor at Humber College in Toronto.

Originally published in alife, July 2004.




  • Redeemer University - Christian university changes everything. Starting with you.

Visit our Marketplace

Support the EFC ministry by using our Amazon links