In the early hours of Saturday morning we crossed the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge into New York State. Our goal was, as Arenda put it, modifying a quote from a famous book, to “tread the path of literature that doth to Portsmouth lead.” That path was the path of the Ox-Cart Man, who many years ago carted the handmade goods of his family to the seaside market in Portsmouth, where he sold them to buy supplies for the following year.

It isn’t clear from the story to which of the eight American Portsmouths the Ox-Cart Man walks, so there was some contextual geographical work to be done. In the first place, the period is too early to be happening anywhere other than the Atlantic coast. This cuts the number of candidates in half. The town in the story is a sizeable market town, so this excludes the small North Carolina settlement. It must be admitted that each of the three remaining cities, in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Virginia, do match the scant criteria from the story. I decided against the Virginia Portsmouth, though, because parts of the story are quite snowy. That, and there’s a decidedly New England-like feel to things. I also decided against the Rhode Island Portsmouth because the Ox-Cart Man journeys across mountainous terrain, and there are no mountains in the vicinity of Rhode Island. This left the New Hampshire Portsmouth, and this is where we went.

You cross New York State on the I-90, one of the handful of interstates that crosses the whole of the fruited plain from sea to shining sea. You would begin at Seattle and end at Boston, or vice verse, of course, but neither of the termini is significant to this trip. That being said, there are stretches in the western half of New York that remind you of the drive from Vancouver south to Seattle. The Cayuga River, for example, looks a lot like the Snohomish, and the stretches of farmland aren’t all that different from the Skagit River valley. So you do need to remind yourself that you’re ten states away and driving in the wrong direction.

There’s a Lockheed Martin complex at Syracuse, and as you drive past the radar domes, army trucks, and weapons plants you get a sense of SR-71 awesomeness and think to yourself, ’Merica. This is also the point at which the kids start protesting, having been up since 4:30, and when the first three songs of U2’s The Unforgettable Fire don’t calm them down, you resign yourself to readjusting your auditory comfort levels. Eventually, though, at the height of your ten-month-old daughter’s rather emotional appeal, your three-year-old son dozes off. Your daughter realizes that she’s lost her audience, and gives herself up to sleep as well. There’s peace and quiet, and you go back to thinking about D.A.R.Y.L.
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Skipping Like Rams

Saturday is Pastor Jim’s day off, and I took the chance to push farther north. When I was younger I had a well-studied map on my bedroom wall of the northern half of British Columbia. This gave the north a somewhat fabled tinge to my mind, what with its charming place names like Prophet River, Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd, and Tumbler Ridge. So being this far north, I had to see a little bit more.

I drove out of town on the John Hart highway, my goal being Azouzetta Lake out near the Pine Pass. There was no particular reason for that goal, only that Google Earth told me there were some mountains in the area. The lake was still an hour shy of Chetwynd and the distant Peace River country, which I’d really love to see someday, but I had neither the time nor the money to go that far.

The first two thirds of the trip, from Prince George to the turnoff to Mackenzie, is only slightly hilly without a lot to see. There are some lakes, and they do look fetching in the evening light, but unless you’ve got a strong affinity for pine trees you’ll be tuning out quickly.

A lot of this:

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Chasing the Dragon

At this evening’s ethics class at church, someone pointed out Pastor Jim’s sunburn. He explained that in order to properly understand a metaphor, you must also properly understand the reality that the metaphor is using. So if Jesus talked of being fishers of men, that metaphor demands a proper understanding of fishing.

Okay, that’s probably only vaguely related to why we ended up with Travis Wierenga on Dragon Lake today, trailing a triplet of lines and as many wisps of pipe smoke. But if you ask me, the following picture is its own justification.



Up Country

Early Saturday morning I drove my in-laws’ grey Mazda pick-up away from the farm and into the hills. It was raining, and I was on my way north to Prince George, a place I’d never before seen. I love driving and I love seeing new country, and when that new country is BC country then it’s just plain romantic. Not only is the geography compelling, but also the stories that go alone with it.

The Fraser Canyon, for example, is a granite-stricken wrinkle in the earth’s crust through which the Fraser River is squeezed. It begins in earnest after the small town of Yale, which is twenty or so minutes north of Hope on Highway 1. Yale was as far as the old steamboats would go; after that point the gold miners had to find their own way.

The Fraser at Yale, and then about a half hour north, well into the canyon:
image image
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The Men of CRTS

It was the final day of classes today, after which was taken the traditional CRTS photo. Probably the best-looking group of men to date:


Back row, L-R, with the year: John Boekee (1), James Zekveld (1), Hilmer Jagersma (2), David Pol (2), Gerrit Bruintjes (4), Johan Bruintjes (3), William den Hollander (2)
Middle row (excluding the professors): HanGil Lee (2), Jeff Poort (4), Jake Torenvliet (2), Randall Visscher (3), Gerard Veurink (3), Jeremy de Haan (2)
Front row: Jon Chase (2), Steve VanLeeuwen (3), Tyler Vandergaag (4), Rick Vanderhorst (3), Iwan Borst (2)
The professors, L-R: Dr. de Visser, Dr. Smith, Dr. Van Vliet, Dr. Van Raalte

And if you are wondering why in the world Dr. Visscher is not in the photo, click here:

CRTS Class of 2032?

I received a phone call from Dr. Van Vliet a month or so back, inviting me to speak, along with third-year Rick, to a special audience the seminary would be hosting. He asked us to give a presentation on altars, as this had been the topic of our Old Testament research paper. No, this special audience was not a group of Messianic Jews. Rather, it was these guys:


That’s a class of astute kids who came all the way down from Owen Sound, what Google Maps tells me is almost a 3 hour drive. They made the long trip because their teacher was impressed by their keen enthusiasm for Bible class, and felt that a field trip to this hallowed abode of learning was just the thing for them. So I guess our job was twofold: give them a good presentation on altars, but also sell them on seminary.
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Thoughts and Stories From the Conference

Over the past weekend CRTS hosted its annual conference, the topic of which was “Correctly Handling the Word of Truth.” The lectures dealt with how we read the Bible, and there were a lot of them, twelve I think. The seminary invited professors from the seminary of our Dutch sister churches to give lectures as well, with the goal of understanding some of the developments over there.

When Dr. Van Raalte phoned me the other night, I thought something was wrong. He’s normally not a quick speaker, but his words seemed especially measured this time and I expected some serious news.
But he said, “Are you able to drive the Dutch delegates on Monday?”
I relaxed; so everyone was ok, then. A little driving around was no problem.
The Dutch delegates were those who had represented the Theologische Universiteit Kampen van de Gereformeerde Kerken (TUK) at the conference over the weekend. There were eight professors, one student, and one member of the board of governors. Although I had picked some of them up from Toronto’s Pearson Airport on Wednesday, apparently I was needed to drive them back, too. I didn’t know why any of the other students with vans couldn’t do it, but I didn’t ask. None of my business, really.
“Yeah, that’s fine,” I said.
“Well, there’s actually a little more,” he continued. “They would like to go to Niagara Falls first.”
Ah. You can drive to Pearson and back in under two hours in good traffic, but Niagara Falls is forty-five minutes from Hamilton in the other direction. Suddenly what was a small afternoon jaunt had turned into a day-trip, and I was to be something of a host. I understood now the measured tone.

I agreed to it, though, which is how I found myself cruising down the Queen Elizabeth Way yesterday morning in light traffic, explaining to the man next to me that those buildings across Lake Ontario were the Toronto skyline. It was Mr. deJong from the board of governors riding shotgun. He had also ridden shotgun when I picked them up from the airport, so he asked what I thought was a very reasonable question.
“So, are you the best driver at the seminary?”
“Yessir,” I said.
Actually, it’s what I should have said. But sarcasm doesn’t always communicate well, so I just stuck with the truth. Continue reading