Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Bishops discuss changes to church structures, marriage canon

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 


Diocese of New Westminster Bishop Melissa Skelton snapped this photograph of Anglican Bishop Ordinary to the Canadian Forces Peter Coffin (left) and diocese of Ottawa Bishop John Chapman at a farewell dinner for retiring bishops during the House of Bishops meeting in April. 


When the House of Bishops met in Niagara Falls, Ont., from April 13 to 17, they discussed some contentious issues, including possible amendments to the marriage canon and a call from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) for significant changes to church structures. But, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said there was, nevertheless, “a spirit of hopefulness” at the gathering.

The bishops devoted one day to in-camera discussions of the resolution passed at General Synod 2013 that asked that the church amend the marriage canon to allow for same-gender marriages.

“The focus for the day was prayerful consideration of the whole matter of amendment of the marriage canon from the perspective of the role and responsibilities of the bishops as chief pastors,” Hiltz said in an interview.

Hiltz said the bishops discussed how they could “care for the church in this time of conversation—that is not an easy conversation, to say the least,” both leading up to the next General Synod in 2016 and following it. “Everybody listened to one another with a lot of attention and mutual respect,” Hiltz said. “And we’re committed, clearly, to continuing that kind of conversation at the next two meetings.”

The discussion was facilitated by an ad hoc group of bishops—Bishop Melissa Skelton of the diocese of New Westminster, Bishop Stephen Andrews of the diocese of Algoma, Bishop William Anderson of the diocese of Caledonia, Bishop Michael Hawkins of the diocese of Saskatchewan, and Bishop Michael Oulton of the diocese of Ontario (who could not attend this meeting)—appointed at the previous meeting of House of Bishops.

Archbishop John Privett of the diocese of Kootenay and Bishop Linda Nicholls from the diocese of Toronto, who are both members of the marriage canon commission, also gave bishops an update on their work. They reported progress on producing the commission’s final report on the issue, saying they expect to wind up their work in time to present the report and a draft resolution to the Council of General Synod in fall 2015.

In an interview, Nicholls said she would not be able to comment on the content of the bishops’ discussions since they were in-camera. But, overall, she said, the meeting had “a good sense of fellowship.” She added: “I think the House has found a way to meet together, and have good conversation together, and be honest about the struggles we have…We are all facing struggles, and our Bible studies together have been critical to that.”

Meanwhile, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh presented a revised document from ACIP that calls for greater self-determination for Indigenous ministries within the Anglican Church of Canada.

The bishops discussed the document, “Where Are We Today: Twenty Years after the Covenant, an Indigenous Call to Church Leadership,” in terms of what they thought needed more clarification, what they found encouraging and what they found challenging. MacDonald and Mamakwa noted their comments, but Hiltz said the input may not change the text of the document, which ACIP has approved for presentation at the Sacred Circle gathering of the church’s Indigenous ministries in August.

The document included calls for changes in church structures that would be more in keeping with Indigenous ways of decision-making and for an investigation into how money is spent in the name of Indigenous ministry. Hiltz reported that there was “real interest in and support” for getting conversations started about those matters and figuring out who needs to be at the table for them.

Hiltz observed that what underlies much of these discussions is the question: “What is everybody’s understanding of self-determination?” This is a conversation that needs to continue, he said. The premise starting with the Covenant in 1994 was for Indigenous self-determination within the Anglican Church of Canada, but Hiltz said that  “when you look at a significant call for change in structures and reconsidering the whole notion of borders and so on,” people are not sure what self-determination will mean in terms of concrete changes. “If you were to map the Anglican Church of Canada, given all these developments around self-determination, what might it actually look like 20 years from now?”

In an interview, MacDonald said that all of the Indigenous bishops felt that ACIP’s call to the church was positively received at the meeting. That was helped by reassurances that the intention has always been to remain within the Anglican Church of Canada and not to establish a separate or parallel Indigenous church, he said.

The bishops also appreciated the explanatory video about self-determination that was prepared by ACIP, working with Anglican Video, MacDonald said.

Another significant development at the meeting was the endorsement by the House of the #22days campaign, calling Anglicans to commit to working toward healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples during the 22 days from the start of the closing event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa on May 31 to National Aboriginal Day on June 21.

Hiltz noted that Bishop Robert Hardwick of the diocese of Qu’Appelle shared plans to ring church bells for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and the other bishops decided that could be done in all of their dioceses, adding it into the official call to the church issued by the primate and Bishop MacDonald.

In another development, a new bishops training program, spearheaded by the metropolitan bishops, will be launched this fall. Hiltz said newly elected bishops will participate in the program, but it is designed so that other bishops who want more information about a particular topic can also join in. One of the components of the program will be bringing bishops to the national office in Toronto. “It’s just a really good opportunity for folks to meet some of the staff here that really stand ready and willing to help them with the magnitude and latitude of their [new] role,” Hiltz said mentioning departments such as communications, pensions and human resources.

The bishops listened to an update from Faith, Worship and Ministry director Eileen Scully and the chair of its committee, Canon Andrew Asbil, on the work of the liturgy task force, which is developing new or alternate liturgies for trial in worship services. Hiltz said the bishops expressed a desire to be close to or participate in its work, as chief liturgical officers in their dioceses. Hiltz said their feedback to the task force was affirming, but added that “part of it, of course, is they don’t want to be surprised or blind-sided” by the new material produced and on which they may have to decide whether to give their permission for its use.

Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, updated the bishops on planning for General Synod 2016, on the vote by the synod of the Episcopal Church of Cuba to take steps to return to The Episcopal Church and on plans to provide a resource to help Canadian Anglicans navigate the upcoming federal election campaign this year from a faith perspective. Hiltz said that Anglicans may be particularly interested in asking what the parties’ platforms are on issues such as homelessness, child poverty, restoring right relations with Indigenous people, the climate and promoting peace and stability.

At a celebratory dinner, the bishops also said thanks and farewell to retiring bishops Barry Clarke of the diocese of Montreal and James Njegovan of the diocese of Brandon, as well as celebrating the upcoming marriages of Clarke, Skelton and Archdeacon Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the primate.

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Anglican Journal News, April 22, 2015

Montreal service marks centennial of Armenian Genocide

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Harvey Shepherd

Floral wreath honours “martyrs” of genocide at a service in the basilica at Saint-Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. Photo: Harvey Shepherd


Montreal 

On Monday night, a representative of the Anglican Church of Canada joined the Roman Catholic archbishop of Montreal and about 2,000 other people, largely from the local armenian community, in a worship service marking the 100th anniversary of what is remembered as the Armenian Genocide.

From 1915 to 1922, more than 1.5 million Armenians were declared enemies of the state and massacred in what was then the Ottoman Empire and now modern Turkey. Turkey has refused to acknowledge the killings as genocide.

A near-capacity congregation in the basilica of Montreal’s landmark Saint-Joseph’s Oratory included Archbishop Bruce Stavert, retired archbishop of the Anglican diocese of Quebec, who came on behalf of the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and the Rev. Stephen Petrie, ecumenical officer of the diocese of Montreal. The retired archbishop, now serving as an honorary assistant in a Montreal parish, also filled in for the Anglican bishop of Montreal, Barry Clarke.

The service was jointly organized by both main Canadian sections of the orthodox Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church and the Armenian Evangelical Church.

Participants in the partly candlelit service listened to haunting choral music from the liturgical tradition of the ancient Armenian Church and to scripture readings and prayers by clergy of Armenian and other churches, largely from traditions based in the Middle East and now active in the Montreal area. Stavert read the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Luke in English.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal, who delivered the homily, said he was humbled by the event and the great historic tragedy it commemorated.

He also referred to recent comments made by Pope Francis when he spoke to Armenian pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica. On that occasion, the Pope said that in the last century humankind had lived through three “massive and unprecedented tragedies”—the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians, which he described as the first genocide of the 20th century, and the other two, perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism.

The bulletin for Monday’s service noted that the event was meant to commemorate the “sacred memory” of the tragedy that befell 1.5 million Armenians who were slaughtered  and another million who were “uprooted from their ancestral homeland and driven to the desert of Syria in journeys of no return.”

A few days before the Montreal service, Bishop Abgar Hovakimian, based in Montreal as the primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church Canadian Diocese—one of the two branches of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Canada—participated in the annual meeting of the Anglican Church of Canada’s House of Bishops, at the invitation of Bishop Clarke.

In his speech, Bishop Hovakimian focused on the centennial of the Armenian Genocide and its consequences in the contemporary world, according to a report distributed by his diocese. “His Grace mentioned that the twentieth century was a century of inventions, but not all of the ideas that were born in the minds of human beings made this world a better place for its inhabitants,” said the report. “One such ‘invention’ of the twentieth century is the crime of genocide that was committed against the Armenian nation with the sole aim of achieving the total extermination of the Armenian identity.”

The Rev. Walter Raymond, a former priest in the Anglican diocese of Quebec, now a chaplain in Monaco, visited Armenian communities in the Middle East a few years ago. In an email interview, Raymond said, “I was always given to understand that the ‘motive’ for pushing the Armenians and the other minority groups out of Turkey had a lot to do with the Ottoman Empire’s losses in World War 1, which caused large groups of Turkish nationals to return home.” With the shortage of housing and available land, “the government adopted the policy of clearing out the minority groups to make room for the returning members of the majority.”

There were also some parallels between the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust, “in that Armenians were something of a despised minority group,” said Raymond. “Both groups, living in minority settings for centuries [the Jewish and Armenian diasporas] had learned how to survive, despite the prejudice of their majority hosts, in business and commerce, and had learned to preserve and protect their national cultures. So it was as easy politically for the Ottoman authorities to target the Armenians as it was for Hitler to target the Jews, by feeding on the natural xenophobia of the majority amplified by social, economic and cultural jealousy.”

The Montreal service was one among several commemorative events held in Canada and around the world.

Harvey Shepherd is editor of The Montreal Anglican, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Montreal. 

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Anglican Journal News, April 22, 2015

How to read the Bible: An interview with legendary theologian Harvey Cox

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

How to read the Bible: An interview with legendary theologian Harvey Cox (link is external)

 

Religion News Service: While there is no single right way to read the Scripture, some ways are better than others, says the iconic theologian in an interview about his new book, “How to Read the Bible.” _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, April 15, 2015

Islam’s Jesus

Posted on: April 19th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

ISLAM’S JESUS
by Zeki Saritoprak

University Press of Florida
Paperback edition, April 2015
222 pages. $28.95 CAD
ISBN #978-0-8130-6178-8

 

 

Author’s Bio:

Zeki Saritoprak is associate professor in the
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
and the Beddiüzaman Said Nursi Chair in Islamic
Studies at John Carroll University, Cleveland OH.

He is the author of numerous works on Islamic
theology in English, Turkish, and Arabic.

 

Review By Wayne A. Holst

My Thoughts:

There is nothing like hearing the author of a
book like this introduce his arguments in
person, and engaging in debate with his
audience. Several months ago I had the
opportunity to do this when Zeki Saritoprak
spoke to a group of about 60 people (many
of whom were Muslim) in the church I serve
and attend in Calgary.

The author attempts to approach Jesus
theologically, and from a Muslim perspective,
but with the primary intent of encouraging
dialogue with Christians.

In that regard, it does not require a
three-way discussion which would include
Jews, but Jews would certainly be welcome
to participate.

The book is written so that both Christians
and Muslims can understand it. It is not
so much a comparative scripture study,
or a religious studies presentation as it
is an attempt to simplify the process of
gleaning key theological insights about
Jesus, found in the Qur’anic tradition,
so that at least Muslims and Christians
understand Jesus better.

This exchange would differ from a dialogue
between Jews and Christians. We share a
similar biblical canon in the Hebrew Bible,
even though Jews do not accept the New
Testament as their sacred scripture.

When engaging Muslims, Christians will
encounter sacred texts with which they
are not familiar – the Qur’an and Hadith
(Muhammad’s commentary on the Qur’an.)
Muslims, on the other hand, accept both
Hebrew and New Testaments as sacred;
only they believe their own scriptures
supersede them, just as Muhammad
supersedes Jesus as a prophet.

Of course, both Jews and Muslims do
not accept, as Christians do, that
Jesus is God. That would require quite
a different dialogue.

But after some of these ground rules
are laid out, there continues to be
much room for discussion and mutual
enlightenment on the subject of Jesus.

We will discover that, after centuries
of mutual isolation – indeed antagonism –
we are entering an new era of mutual
engagement.

This approach is truly a pathfinder effort
in the potentially rich engagement of Muslims
and Christians. It should contribute greatly to
a rapprochement.

I encourage you to locate, read, and
share a copy of this important work.

 

Buy the book from Amazon.ca
http://tinyurl.com/pjfrkaq

 

Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. X, No. 36,  April 19th, 2015

 

William Murdoch is ‘sort of our best selves’

Posted on: April 18th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews
By Shannon Hengen

Fr. Keegan (guest star Peter Outerbridge) and Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) in episode 815, “Shipwreck.” Photo: Christos Kalohoridis © Shaftesbury


In its eighth season, shown in 110 countries, Murdoch Mysteries (CBC) is often praised for the detective’s use of innovative crime-solving technologies. But the series offers more: a study of how its central characters work through all that is new in their time. As in our own, much in late nineteenth-century Toronto was new, forcing the main characters into perplexing situations.

Yannick Bisson (Detective William Murdoch) says about the character that “an ongoing theme with him was to constantly observe what he believes to be true, whether it holds up or not” (FAJO Magazine, Jan. 10, 2013). Clearly related to his professional life as a detective, the statement also explains how Murdoch makes personal decisions, of which perhaps the most significant has been whether or not to marry the woman he loves (Dr. Ogden)—herself a woman of integrity. He is Catholic, she is not, and they must both wrestle with such issues as abortion and divorce. Wrestling with moral issues distinguishes all of the main characters and helps to raise this series above the ordinary.

Detective Murdoch wants to find the truth as a detective and as a person.

It’s an interesting part of life that none of us can deny. Part of what we set out to do with our show is to service all of the things that appeal universally. One of the things that is universally appealing, obviously, is a man and a woman that are somewhat destined to be together and how they work that out. Logistically, it’s been tough because we’ve had to stretch it out for many years. None of us expected to be this far down the road. We’re about to start season nine. It’s such a rare thing for these shows to go so long.

Do your own values figure into the character?

Well, sure. It’s always been interesting to me because I think the character of Murdoch isn’t really just a reflection of me. The way my writing team and I have seen it when we’ve had this conversation is that William Murdoch is sort of our best selves. He’s our ideal self in any sort of crisis. He’s sort of the eyes of the audience. He helps to guide the audience through the ebbs and flows, so I like to think he’s our best selves in the worst situations. He’s honest, he’s forthright, he stands by his principles, he’s forward-thinking, but he hangs on to tradition. That’s sort of been my take on it and certainly collectively what we’ve built with him.

Popular culture has many characters who aren’t like that.

I’ve noticed that in a lot of the more popular shows at the moment the characters are very reprehensible, but you’re sort of drawn into the show. You have guys that cook drugs, you have guys that are informants, you have a president that’s devious—all these different things that make up these big cable shows right now—some pretty wacky characters. So for us to have been able to have appeal and to last so long with somebody who’s a fairly straight arrow is unique and kind of fun.

The denominations of the two main characters…

Different characters speak about it in a positive connotation, and sometimes negative, where [Murdoch] gets called a papist at times. At the beginning of the series, it became clear that William Murdoch was always going to be faced with a glass ceiling. He would never be able to rise above the position of detective, so that very much is the reality that he lives within and deals with daily. She [Dr. Ogden] would be more—we sort of thought of her as being more—I don’t want to say atheist…But she’s not in sync with the constraints of male-dominated religious society as well as political society.

We see characters making hard decisions that give them humanity and integrity. Is that why people love the show?

I would say that’s my number one compass: your own personal integrity, fighting and striving to be true to yourself and true to your beliefs.

 

Shannon Hengen is a writer based in Sudbury, Ont.

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Anglican Journal News, April 17, 2015

Church leaders sign climate change declaration

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Bishop Dennis Drainville of the Anglican diocese of Quebec talks with workshop leader Paul Mackey and atmospheric scientist Alan Betts at the Green Churches Conference in Quebec City. Photo: André Forget


On April 15, Christians from across Eastern Canada gathered at the Green Churches Conference/Colloque Eglises Vertes in Quebec City to learn about how churches can practise better environmental stewardship and to sign an ecumenical declaration committing their churches to creating a “climate of hope” in the face of worsening climate change.

Rooting itself in ancient biblical teachings and modern climate science, the declaration committed churches to enact “an ecological shift” by “bringing improvements to our places of worship.” It also pledged churches to “act as good citizens in order to build a society which is greener and more concerned about the future of the next generations.”

The principal signatories of the declaration were Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, primate of the Catholic Church in Canada; Archpriest P. Nectaire Féménias of the Orthodox Church of America; Rev. David Fines, former president of the Montreal/Ottawa conference of the United Church of Canada; Bishop Dennis Drainville of the Anglican diocese of Quebec; Diane Andicha Picard, Guardian of the Sacred Drum Head for Andicah n’de Wendat; Rev. Katherine Burgess, incumbent at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Quebec City; and Norman Lévesque, director of the Green Church Program.

However, to emphasize the collective responsibility of churches in fighting climate change, the declaration was read by all present, and everyone was given the opportunity to sign.

The reading of the declaration followed a presentation by Dr. Alan K. Betts, an atmospheric scientist based in Vermont who has been studying the effects of climate change for more than 35 years. Betts explained how the unusual weather patterns of last winter—in which parts of western North America experienced record highs while Easterners experienced an especially cold winter—were in keeping with larger changes to weather patterns consistent with the rise of C02 in the earth’s atmosphere.

But Betts also spoke about questions that touched much more closely on faith, arguing that climate change was a “spiritual denial” of the facts. “Climate deniers do not want to see truth,” he said. “We are in a society where the rich are very dependent on propaganda to defend fossil fuel exploitation.”

While Betts was very clear about the enormity of the threat that climate change poses, he did not suggest that there was no hope, but argued that people “united with the spirit and the science” can cause change, “because when we stand for truth, creation responds.”

The conference was organized by Green Churches, an ecumenical network that began in 2006 as a project of Saint Columba House, a United Church mission in Montreal. In the nine years since it began, the network has grown to include 50 churches across Canada from Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Evangelical and Quaker traditions.

Following Betts’s presentation and the reading of the declaration, participants spent the late morning and afternoon of the one-day conference in a series of workshops, held in both English and French, focusing on practical ways in which churches could reduce their carbon footprint and energy use. One workshop, led by the Rev. Cynthia Patterson and Sarah Blair of the diocese of Quebec, looked at the work that the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is doing to return its grounds to their original function as gardens.

Lévesque, director of the Green Church Program, said that while there were slightly fewer people in attendance than he had expected, he was impressed with the number of prominent church leaders in attendance, such as Cardinal Lacroix and Bishop Drainville.

He was also struck by the participants’ passion. “The people here, the interest—it was more than interest—it was conviction,” he said, adding that it was important that participants included people with the power to change church structure.

Elana Wright, who works for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and led a workshop on the relationship between food justice and climate justice, was likewise impressed with the level of participation.

“It showed that there is a critical mass of people that want to take action and do something,” she said, “and they are following the Christian principles of respect for creation and really putting it into action and bringing it to their church leaders.”

Drainville also viewed the conference as being highly important—so much so, in fact, that he delayed his flight to the House of Bishops meeting by a day in order to participate.

“It is always a great opportunity to spend time with people who see the same kind of priorities,” he said, “and obviously as an Anglican, believing strongly in the Marks of Mission and particularly the fifth mark of mission [To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth], coming here and showing our solidarity as we respond to the needs of creation is very important.”

The next Green Churches Conference is scheduled to take place in Ottawa in autumn 2016.

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Anglican Journal News, April 15, 2015

Holocaust document reaffirms fight against anti-Semitism

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

SONY DSC

The re-release of a document exploring the context of the Holocaust is the latest step taken by the Anglican Church of Canada to promote Christian-Jewish dialogue and continue the struggle

Commended in 1989 by the church’s National Executive Council—the precursor to the Council of General Synod—From Darkness to Dawn: Rethinking Christian Attitudes Towards Jews and Judaism in the Light of the Holocaust was written by the Subcommittee on Jewish-Anglican Relations, following a 1983 resolution that condemned racism and anti-Semitism. The resolution also called for the production of materials to help Anglicans learn more about anti-Semitism.

The study program From Darkness to Dawn was made available online this year, in advance of the annual commemoration of the Holocaust, or Shoah, on April 15.

Archdeacon Bruce Myers, coordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations, noted that despite From Darkness to Dawn’s official commendation, it is unclear how widely the study program has been taken up by the church at large.

Myers himself only discovered the document while doing research in the General Synod archives on the church’s involvement in Christian-Jewish dialogue.

“It’s a fine document into which a considerable amount of time and work was invested, but it appears to have been only minimally received by our church,” he said.

“Even if a few of the references [that] the document makes seem a bit dated, the larger issues it deals with—especially the historic roots of anti-Semitism and the church’s historic complicity in it—haven’t changed.”

The strong stand by the Anglican Church of Canada against anti-Semitism dates back to 1934, when the General Synod of what was then known as the Church of England in Canada adopted a resolution condemning the persecution of Jews in Germany and recognizing Jewish contributions to human history.

More recently, in 2013, General Synod approved a resolution committing the church to “resolutely oppose anti-Semitism” as well as anti-Arab sentiment and Islamophobia.

While the Anglican Church of Canada, along with other churches, participates in national-level dialogue with the Jewish community through the Canadian Christian-Jewish Consultation (CCJC), the CCJC has been in a state of limbo since 2012, when Jewish representatives stepped away from the table due to a decision by one of the participating churches to boycott goods produced on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

On a local level, however, Christian-Jewish dialogue remains as vibrant as ever.

In Montreal, local Christian and Jewish representatives continue to meet regularly. The Rev. Stephen Petrie represents the Anglican church at the dialogue and serves as treasurer, while the Rev. Prof. Patricia G. Kirkpatrick, who teaches Hebrew Bible and Biblical Hebrew at McGill University, attends occasionally and provides support.

In 2013, the Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Montreal promoted interfaith dialogue about the proposed Quebec Charter of Values—which would have banned the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public employees in Quebec—through discussion groups, radio and TV interviews, and the production of a video entitled Nous sommes québécois.

“It may seem strange to people out in the community that a Jewish-Christian dialogue would launch a campaign stressing issues of diversity, and why it is that individuals should be allowed to wear their religious icons—whether it be a kippah or a cross around your neck or a veil on your head…,” Kirkpatrick said.

“But we felt strongly that we could actually engage the larger community with this kind of political issue that was right on our doorstep in order to highlight those aspects of anti-Semitism that are almost global, in the sense that all people can all of a sudden be the recipients of draconian legal measures brought on by governments wanting to forbid certain religious…rights and privileges.”

The responses to the proposed Charter of Values, she suggested, illustrated the importance of promoting community dialogue to guard against the type of scapegoating that has targeted Jews and other minorities throughout history.

Global Relations Coordinator Andrea Mann, who serves as the church’s lead staff on Israel-Palestine issues, noted that the definition of anti-Semitism has changed over the years.

“I think that Christians want to better understand what it means to be anti-Semitic in the contemporary context,” she added, “and are going to find some help in that regard in From Darkness to Dawn.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Bishop Barry Clarke of the Diocese of the Montreal and the Rev. Prof. Patricia G. Kirkpatrick represented the Anglican Church of Canada at the Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Montreal. Erroneous information was provided.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, April 13, 2015

Niagara Anglicans embark on Dominican mission

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Parishioners from four different Anglican churches in the diocese of Niagara embarked on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in late February this year.

St. Thomas’ Anglican Church in St. Catharines, Ont., led the way, this being its sixth mission trip to the Caribbean nation. St. Thomas’ was joined on this occasion by members of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Niagara Falls, Ont.; St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Thorold, Ont.; and the Parish of St. James and St. Brendan in Port Colborne, Ont.

The Anglican team worked together with The Samaritan Foundation and the Not Just Tourists project to build houses and provide essential medical supplies for people living in the impoverished areas surrounding the tourist city of Puerto Plata. They also provided school supplies and distributed two weeks’ worth of staple foods to 75 families living in houses previously built by The Samaritan Foundation.

The Samaritan Foundation has been active in the Puerto Plata region for over 25 years, and has planned and funded 1,500 homes, 12 churches, eight schools and six medical centres. Not Just Tourists began in the late 1990s when, after witnessing the startling need for basic medical supplies in Cuba, St. Catharines residents Dr. Ken Taylor and his wife, Denise, started bringing essential medicines with them on trips to the island nation and neighbouring countries.

On the February mission to the Dominican Republic, Dr. Taylor treated over 900 patients and helped deliver medical supplies worth approximately $100,000.

In a letter to the Anglican Journal, Bill Rivers, who heads up Youth Ministry at St. James and St. Brendan and was a participant in the mission, conceded that the “‘grunt’ work—moving concrete blocks, mixing mortar, digging foundations”—was demanding, but also served to unite the team in its common purpose. “Happily,” he added, “before leaving, the team experienced great joy in seeing the houses awarded to two young Dominican families.”

Rivers was quick to point out that although the construction of houses and the distribution of various supplies were key components of the mission, they were not the only aspects. “Our faith manifests itself in not only the work we do while there, but in the compassion we feel, the love we share and the prayers we offer,” he said. “It absolutely…[has] both an immediate and lasting impact.”

That impact proved all the more powerful the week before the group was set to leave for the Dominican, when they discovered that all their construction tools had been stolen. The mission would have been derailed had not Bickles Hardware in Niagara Falls, Ont., and Canadian power tools manufacturer Makita stepped in and donated five brand-new power tool kits. “Prayers answered!” as Rivers put it.

 

Ben Graves is an intern for the Anglican Journal.

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Anglican Journal News, April 13, 2015

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere

Posted on: April 11th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere
By Pico Iyer

Simon & Schuster, a TED Original, 2014
ISBN: 978174678472-4
74 pages

 

TED talk is available at go.ted.com/stillness.

 

Nowhere, Pico Iyer claims, is the most interesting destination.

Iyer, a travel writer by trade, makes this pronouncement in a new work, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. The book accompanies a 15-minute TED talk, and runs only 74 pages—compact enough to finish in one sitting.

He describes having, as a young man, a dream job as a global affairs writer at Time magazine in New York City. The lifestyle was frenetic and, oddly, gave him pause: “Something inside me felt that I was racing around so much that I never had a chance to see where I was going, or to check whether I was truly happy.”

He quit, and went to Kyoto, Japan. In his single room on a back alley in the ancient city, the thrill of open time stretched out before him “like a meadow.” He was hooked.

Kyoto set him on a life path with recurring trips to “nowhere,” even as he made his living by going places.

What drew him back?

“I felt the liberation of not needing to take my thoughts, my ambitions, myself—so seriously,” he writes. He returned from these sojourns refreshed, whether “nowhere” meant practising stillness at home, visiting a monastery or claiming the hours of a long flight for no agenda at all. Stillness brought new acuity to his art, and cultivated a happiness that motivates the book.

“I don’t claim to have any answers,” Iyer offers, with unconvincing modesty. It’s unconvincing because the work has the marks of a manifesto. Without claiming any religious faith—though clearly influenced by Buddhism—he defends stillness for both its intangible pleasures and practical benefits.

“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.”

Most wanderers in harried modern life feel the intuitive truth and pull of his thesis, but actually doing it seems elusive. Many apparently need a more compelling “why” before embarking en masse to nowhere.

The Art of Stillness offers health and happiness as the main rewards of stillness. In contrast, many Christian practitioners of stillness identify a deeper “why” behind their regular pouring out of the mad rush. Emptying, for them, is neither an end in itself nor simply a means to personal happiness. For the disciple of Christ, it promises a refilling with his mind and heart, in order to be his hands and feet to the world. Augustine writes early in Confessions, “Thou has created us for thyself, and our heart knows no rest, until it find repose in thee.” Solitude and stillness, however enjoyable, cannot on their own redeem our restlessness.

Iyer’s conclusion could perhaps be stronger if he highlighted the “why” of stillness beyond personal development. But it remains convincing. His writing is winsome and clear. His credentials as a travel writer give him special authority, and he successfully sells the importance of going nowhere.

“In an age of constant movement,” he writes, “nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”

Wise words.

 

Michael Wightman is a journalist based in Saint John’s, N.B.

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Anglican Journal News, April 10, 2015

Henry David Thoreau: Spiritual and Prophetic Writings

Posted on: April 8th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Spiritual and Prophetic Writings
Edited with Intro by Tim Flinders

Modern Spiritual Masters Series
Orbis Books, Maryknoll NY
February, 2015. 196 pages.
Paper $34.50 CAD. Kindle $9.99 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-62698-110-2.

 

 

Editor’s Comments:

In 1848, Henry Thoreau mentioned the idea
of retreating into the wilderness, anticipating
a two-year sojourn at Walden Pond (just south
of Concord MA) where he lived.

In an letter exchange with a friend he talked of
“sundering himself from society for this time,
from the spell of institutions, customs, and
conventionalities, that I might lead a fresh,
simple life with God, without and within.” (and)

“I do believe that the outward and inward life
correspond. I do believe in simplicity.”

Thoreau had been educated at Harvard, in Boston,
just east of Concord. He encountered the work of
New England transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo
Emerson, also of Concord. and was smitten by his
call for personal freedom and living in accord with
nature and the inner voice of conscience – radical
views for a culture of the time that was saturated
with an authoritarian Calvinist ideology.

After graduation, Thoreau wrote: “Let men, true
to their natures, cultivate the moral affections,
lead manly and independent lives… Let them make
riches the means, not the end, of existence.”

Thoreau met and cultivated a friendship with
Emerson, who introduced the young man to
many leading writers and intellectuals of the
day.

It was most likely that Emerson suggested
Thoreau keep a journal, a decision that would
contribute significantly to his ultimate reputation
as a writer, social critic and naturalist. Over the
years that journal would serve multiple functions
as a record of his thoughts and impressions,
especially of the natural world. He included there
a rich detail of his empirical observations of plants,
animals and other aspects of nature he encountered
in his daily walks and at the pond.

His spiritual questing led him to mystics of many
ages and he was drawn to medieval Catholic writers
previously unknown to  him because of Protestant
sectarianism and narrow thinking. He was particularly
fond of Augustine, Teresa of Avila and Meister Eckhart.

He was also a pioneer in the study of spiritualities
in non-Christian faith traditions.

Thoreau rejected the Christian redemptive
theology in which he was raised and said:

“God prefers that you approach him as thoughtful,
not penitent… though you are the chief of sinners.”

We may regard Thoreau as a literary stylist of
the first rank, a penetrating social critic, a skilled
and intuitive naturalist, a philosopher. At heart,
however, he was a spiritual seeker.

“My profession,” he would say, “is always to
find God in nature.” Thoreau’s most famous book
and core of his lasting legacy is “Walden” (1854)

– edited from the Introduction

 

Read his Wikipedia bio:
http://tinyurl.com/pnwun

 

 

Review By Wayne A. Holst

My Thoughts:

I first encountered the writings of Thoreau during
the 1960’s in a revealing course on American literature
taught by Dr. Flora Roy, professor of English and the
first woman dean of an Ontario college department.
Today the school is known as Wilfrid Laurier University.

Roy really helped Thoreau speak to me. But at the time
I was not readily able to understand what the man was
talking about. Transcendentalism seemed so distant
to the Christianity I knew, and Thoreau’s nature
reflections seemed a bit strange to a youth brought
up and still living in small town, rural Ontario close
to nature.

But Thoreau has remained an enticing voice for
me. Three years ago, Marlene and I spent a whole
day in Concord MA. We visited the Alcott house,
the Unitarian Church, and indeed, Walden Pond.
So much of my life almost fifty years earlier
came back to me, as with much more experience
I could associate these sights with a world that
was much different for me now.

(Concord is also famous for Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
and as a birthplace of American democracy, but those
stories are for another time.)

As with many books in the Orbis Modern Spiritual
Masters Series, “Henry David Thoreau – Spiritual
and Prophetic Writings” is a worthy introduction
to his story and his work as an eco-spiritualist
and social justice advocate.

It took a hundred years for many people to come
to understand him better and to see him as a
prophet for our time, not just an historical figure.

The book includes selections from many of his
key writings under the categories of – journal
and letters, essentials, spiritual life, sacred nature,
God, religion and the times, essays, and of course,
Walden.

I know of no better or convenient introduction
to this early American genius than this book.

Thanks again to Orbis and friends like colleague
Robert Ellsberg for bringing it to us in 2015.

 

Buy the book from Amazon.ca:
http://tinyurl.com/pwxuyeg

 

From Orbis Publications:
http://tinyurl.com/qad54o4

 

 

Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Colleagues List, Vol. X, No. 33,  March  29th, 2015