Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Ottawa fundraiser brings in money for the Arctic

Posted on: March 27th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget

 

St. Jude’s Cathedral, in Iqaluit, was destroyed by arson in 2005 and rebuilt in 2012, but the debt incurred still sits at $1.27 million. Photo: Courtesy of the Diocese of the Arctic

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While St. Jude’s Cathedral now stands proudly in central Iqaluit, the debt incurred in building it stands at $1.27 million, according to Darren McCartney, suffragan bishop for the diocese of the Arctic, an amount that significantly inhibits the diocese’s ability to go about its mission.

For this reason, and because of its extensive and long-standing relations with Anglicans from the Arctic, Christ Church Cathedral in the diocese of Ottawa held a fundraiser on March 21 at its new parish hall building to bring in money to retire the debt.

Leslie Worden, who is involved with the Anglican of Church Women Canada (ACW) and who helped to organize the event, said that despite poor weather, around 100 people came out to a screening of the documentary Soul of the Arctic, produced by Northern-Ireland television network UTV. The documentary chronicles McCartney’s journey from being a priest in Northern Ireland to being a bishop in the Arctic.

“People always want to know about the North,” said Worden, “and there’s not that much I know how to tell them. So in this video, people can see for themselves.”

The fundraiser, which also included a performance by former RCMP officer and noted singer Garth Hampson, brought in $3,000 through freewill offerings, which Worden will be sending to the diocese directly.

When the Anglican Journal contacted McCartney, he expressed his gratitude for the efforts of Christ Church and others. “We’ve been blessed from the wider national church,” he said, “who have contributed quite a lot toward the building and [retiring] the debt so far.”

Fundraisers also help raise awareness, he added, not just about St. Jude’s but about the overall ministry of the church in the North. “Putting ordained ministers in communities and raising up ordained ministers—that’s the challenge. We’ve got something like 31 communities that are currently ministered to by lay readers in non-sacramental ministry.”

McCartney noted that more funds would allow the diocese to bring on more ordained clergy, and to pay more clergy for the work that is being done. “The seminary here in the diocese, where we trained people in the North, sort of went on hold because of the financial commitments that were weighing on us due to the cathedral debt,” McCartney explained. “For a period of time, the focus was very much on the cathedral, and getting the debt down on the cathedral so that the ministry could continue in the Arctic.”

But now that things have stabilized a little, McCartney wants to shift the focus more onto the work that needs to be done. “We need to look at training and the continual need for clergy, the continual need to train our own people,” he said. “That will be the next thing.”

The original St. Jude’s building, erected in 1972 by local volunteers, was destroyed in a 2005 arson fire. The current building was completed in 2012.

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Anglican Journal News, March 27, 2015

ACIP on self-determination: ‘Have we not talked long enough?’

Posted on: March 25th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

Rev. Chris Harper, Freda Lepine, Rev. Ginny Doctor, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples co-chairs Rev. Norm Casey and Archdeacon Sidney Black, Primate Fred Hiltz, Rev. Laurette Glasgow and National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald discuss greater self-determination for Indigenous Anglicans. Photo: André Forget


Indigenous Anglican leaders stated at a recent meeting of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) that they hope their most recent call for greater self-determination to be the last one needed.

“My hope is that this document will be the ultimate document that will help us to arrive where we need to be and where we want to be,” said Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh. “We hope that there will be no need for another statement to address our concerns, our needs.”

The statement, titled “Where Are We Today: Twenty Years after the Covenant, an Indigenous Call to Church Leadership,” was presented to Council of General Synod (CoGS) in November and has already led to some discussion among the council and at the House of Bishops. Feedback from those discussions has led to a new draft, which ACIP presented to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, during ACIP’s annual meeting on March 20 at the Six Nations territory in Oshweken, Ont.

Hiltz joined the meeting for a day, as did the Rev. Laurette Glasgow, the Canadian church’s special advisor for government relations.

“We know that some things we said got people’s backs up,” said Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. Changes have been made in the language and tenor of the text, he said. “We wanted to say things in a winning way so that people would not be put off by the language. We didn’t always understand what would put people off—we have a better idea now, having given it to a number of people.”

The call affirms the commitment laid out in previous statements such as the Mississauga Declaration of 2011, the Pinawa Declaration of 2005 and the Covenant of 1994 to walk alongside the Anglican Church of Canada, but to have self-determination within it. While ACIP recognized the progress that has been made—the creation of the office of National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, for example—many of the members spoke passionately to the primate of the barriers to self-determination that remain.

One of the key barriers, many ACIP members suggested, was the bishops. Freda Lepine, of the diocese of Brandon, noted that bishops were not consistently accommodating of indigenous needs or co-operative with indigenous leadership across the Canadian church. “Some are co-operative, others aren’t,” she said. “I think that is an ongoing thing—I don’t know whether it’s the fact that racism still exists, or that they still don’t understand what we’re trying to do. We need to evaluate that, and where we stand relative to that.”

The Rev. Chris Harper, of the diocese of Algoma, spoke of this as well. “I want to name and recognize not the elephant, but the bear in the room,” he said, “and that is, from our own experience, for each and every one of us in our own diocese, it’s always our bishops. I know our statement will be well-received by CoGS…because I understand CoGS and I know their voice—they are wonderfully receptive people—but I know where the rubber hits the road also, and that’s with the bishops.”

Harper also noted that the slowness of the process has made his relationship to his indigenous constituents sometimes difficult. “We have been sitting at the council fire for long enough,” he said. “The frustration and the discouragement of the wider community of peoples that we are given voice for as we sit here…sometimes we have to go back and say, ‘just a little while longer,’ and the people themselves sometimes express back to us their frustration: ‘have we not talked long enough?’ ”

Hiltz was receptive to the council’s comments. “My heart is with you,” he said. “I can feel and I can identify with some of the frustration that I hear coming out in terms of, how many more appeals do we have to make? I will do my part to try and make sure that there is sufficient time and space on agendas for the House of Bishops and CoGS to have serious engagement with this document.”

Hiltz did, however, have a few questions of his own, mostly regarding how to concretely move forward. “Who picks up this piece, who takes the lead, how do we go about the work, who should be at the table? Those are the next important steps for me,” he said, suggesting that ACIP or some of ACIP’s leadership should meet with representatives from CoGS and the House of Bishops before their meetings in spring. The House of Bishops is scheduled to meet April 13 to 17 and CoGS, May 1 to 3.

ACIP co-chair Archdeacon Sidney Black said in a follow-up interview that he felt the meetings went well and expressed optimism that things would move forward.

“I’m not surprised that there’s the reaction coming out of the House of Bishops and of CoGS when something new comes on the agenda,” said Black, “and I think folks need the opportunity to ruminate on what the call is, and what it is that indigenous folks are asking for. It would be unusual if there was concurrence right away.”

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Anglican Journal News, March 25, 2015

Faith groups invite Pope to visit Vancouver’s poor

Posted on: March 25th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Ben Graves

 

Pope Francis greets a child during a public audience in St. Peter’s Square. His concern for the poor has “caught the imagination of Christians and other people of faith,” says Anglican priest, Dean Peter Elliot, of the Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster. Photo: Martin Podzorny


A multi-faith group in Vancouver, B.C., has issued a formal invitation to Pope Francis to tour the city’s Downtown Eastside and two First Nations reserves.

The grassroots initiative, spearheaded by Vancouver residents Tom Beasley and Judy Graves, was created in hopes of sparking a change in the intransigent poverty that has marred Vancouver for decades. It involves representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, First Nations, Anglican, Catholic, United and Alliance Church communities.

Beasley, a lawyer and member of the United Church of Canada, first presented the idea to Graves over coffee. Graves, who has worked with Vancouver’s homeless since 1974 and lent her name to the invitation as the Anglican signatory, was immediately taken with its clarity of vision.

Graves’ excitement has very much to do with the particular nature of Pope Francis’ ministry. The willingness he has shown to work with the poor, with the most vulnerable elements of society, has strengthened her belief that he is “speaking into the hearts of everyone.”

It is the Pope’s unique access to the most powerful elements of society, however, that Graves said could make the most difference in the Downtown Eastside. “The Pope … [can] speak to the hearts of the powerful, the people who actually have the ability to end homelessness in Canada,” she said.

Vancouver’s various faith communities welcomed the initiative. “We didn’t need to persuade anyone,” said Graves, which signifies for her that Pope Francis’ spiritual leadership goes well beyond the confines of the Roman Catholic Church.

Dean Peter Elliott, rector of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver and dean of the diocese of New Westminster, oversaw the official signing of the letter at St. James Anglican Church in the Downtown Eastside. Elliott said there was widespread support for the invitation because of the Pope himself. “He has, by his actions, reached out to some of the more vulnerable people in society, and has demonstrated that he’s not bound by some of the formal strictures of tradition of his office,” Elliot said.

Faith groups also saw the initiative as an opportunity for “common action” around an important issue.

Elliott considers interreligious and ecumenical relationships to be of utmost personal importance, but laments that oftentimes their endeavours are confined to seminars and lecture rooms. By contrast, he said, a visit to the Downtown Eastside from the Pope would represent a concrete opportunity for members of various Christian denominations to “walk side by side with sisters and brothers from Muslim and Jewish traditions, as well as others.”

In its letter, the group noted that while Vancouver may be one of the world’s most beautiful cities with abundant wealth, its urban core—the Downtown Eastside—has a sizeable number of people who are homeless and have mental disabilities. “Many are indigenous peoples from remote reserves, often from communities of great despair,” said the letter. “Our governments, churches and social agencies have not struggled hard enough to find solutions.”

Elliott said the visit being envisioned is not the typical “state-to-state visit” or “rock star tour” that has characterized most papal visits, but one that will be “a ministry for the people, of teaching and being in solidarity with the poor.”

Aside from visits to the Downtown Eastside and urban and indigenous reserves, the group would like the Pope to celebrate mass from a barge in English Bay, where he would be transported by an indigenous canoe and accompanied by other canoes. The event is meant to symbolize  “a moment on the journey of reconciliation between indigenous peoples and Christians,” whose relationship has been fractured by the legacy of colonialism.

The invitation, which was sent Feb. 19, has not yet received a response. Graves is not discouraged, however, saying that a lag in response time is to be expected with an administration as vast as the Vatican, and that the group remains hopeful as they wait.

Ben Graves is an intern for the Anglican Journal.
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Anglican Journal News, March 25, 2015

Around the world with Hope Bear

Posted on: March 25th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Hope Bear, the much-loved mascot of the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s (AFC) Kids Helping Kids Fund, has been going places. Hope Bear has lounged on a beach chair in South Beach, Miami, looked out over the walls of the ancient capital of M’dina in Malta and taken in an old-fashioned fish and chips dinner in St. John’s, Nfld. And that is merely a small selection of the exotic locales in which Hope Bear has been photographed.

The photos are part of the Foundation’s newly launched campaign, dubbed Where in the World Is Hope Bear? The campaign page on the AFC’s website encourages people to bring Hope Bear wherever they travel, and to take a few pictures along the way.

The Hope Bear initiative began in 2011, shortly after the Rev. Canon Judy Rois took over as executive director of the AFC. In search of new ideas for charitable giving, Rois had conversations via Skype with children across the country. “I believe that kids are inherently philanthropic and quite generous,” she said, “without all the barnacles one gets into adulthood where you get kind of cynical about giving.” Rois asked the children what sort of charitable causes they would choose to give their money to, and they responded, as she put it, with “a blast of ideas.” Eventually, the list was narrowed down to four specific causes: before-school breakfast programs, after-school homework coaching, choir and summer camp programs, and children’s hospice care.

Hope Bear was introduced soon after as the fund’s mascot, and has gone on to become quite popular. Thousands of bears have been ordered, said Rois, adding that the sheer volume of orders has been a surprise. The proceeds from the sales go directly to the Kids Helping Kids Fund, and are used in support of the four branches of giving identified in Rois’s cross-country conversations.

When asked why Hope Bear has met with such an enthusiastic reception, Rois said she believes the reason is its ability to appeal to all ages and all walks of life. Issues within the church can often weigh heavily upon people’s minds, she said, and the bears present an opportunity to do something lighthearted, fun and in support of a good cause. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rois has also seen firsthand the difference the bears can make in the much more serious situation of a child undergoing palliative care. “They become so attached to them,” said Rois, “and what we say is, no matter what happens to any of us, there’s hope in something—you can always hope in something.”

Ben Graves is an intern for the Anglican Journal.

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Anglican Journal News, March 23, 2015

General Synod Planning Committee sets the stage

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

GS Planning Committee

(L-R) General Synod Planning Committee members and staff assemble at Church House in Toronto on March 10. Front row: Lisa Barry, Cathy Waiten, Pamela Boisvert, Bev Murphy, Becky Boucher, Heidi Wilker. Back row: Chris Harper, Peter Wall, Harry Huskins, Cynthia Haines Turner, Martha Tatarnic, Laura Walton, Elizabeth Hardy, Michael Thompson.

 

By Matt Gardner

The triennial meeting of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada requires tremendous planning and organization—a herculean task in which the General Synod Planning Committee (GSPC) carries a great deal of the responsibility.

On Tuesday, March 10, GSPC members gathered at Church House to discuss details of the next General Synod, set to take place from July 7–13, 2016 at the Sheraton Parkway North in Richmond Hill, Ont., in the Diocese of Toronto.

The Rev. Peter Wall, who serves as GSPC chair, underscored the scope of the discussion, with the handling of agenda items occupying much of members’ attention.

“In every General Synod, there are some significant items that take big chunks of time, and then there’s a whole lot of other stuff that takes smaller amounts of time,” Wall said. “It’s like dealing with a jigsaw puzzle.”

Two of the biggest agenda items at General Synod 2016 will be the Commission on the Marriage Canon, which has been carrying out consultations since the last General Synod—a resolution will be presented at the forthcoming meeting—and the way forward for the church in its partnership with indigenous peoples.

Other items may include updates from the Liturgy Task Force and reports on the work done with Lutherans, following a joint Anglican-Lutheran resolution at the 2013 Joint Assembly in Ottawa, to tackle the issues of homelessness and responsible resource extraction. The Bishops of Jerusalem and Cuba will also be present as guests, shining light onto issues in Israel, Palestine and Cuba.

With so much business to attend to, it falls to the GSPC to iron out details related to scheduling, locations and meals, fitting individual items into the larger agenda.

“It’s more an organizational task at the moment,” Wall said. “We’ll get to the content of [the agenda items] as we get further on.”

Plenty of other topics came up for discussion at the March 10 meeting, including budgetary matters, communications, timing of worship, and arrangements for travel and receptions.

The GSPC usually plans for 400 attendees, encompassing just under 300 General Synod members as well as staff, guests and companions.

In a notable change, General Synod 2016 will be the first to use a new formula for electing delegates based on the number of church attendees rather than licensed clergy.

Wall estimated that as a result, the meeting will be smaller by 20 to 25 people, but that the minimum number of members from smaller dioceses will increase.

“It’s going to be perhaps a fairer distribution across the country, but a slightly smaller delegation from some of…the more populated dioceses,” he said.

The GSPC will continue meeting regularly in the lead-up to General Synod, with their next meeting set for Nov. 6.

The diverse committee includes both clergy and laypeople, representing communities from Ontario to Newfoundland.

“It’s a very good committee,” Wall said. “We’re talking well with each other, working well together. It’s inspiring to work with this group.”

Current members of the GSPC are:

  • The Very Rev. Peter Wall, chair; dean of Niagara and rector of Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton, Ont.
  • The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, general secretary, General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada
  • Ms. Pamela Boisvert, Toronto diocese representative; assistant secretary of Synod, Diocese of Toronto
  • Mrs. Cynthia Haines Turner, Council of General Synod; deputy prolocutor of General Synod
  • The Rev. Chris Harper, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, Rector of St. Michael and All Angels in Thunder Bay, Ont.
  • The Ven. Harry Huskins, prolocutor of General Synod; executive officer, Anglican ecclesiastical province of Ontario
  • The Rev. Martha Tatarnic, chair, worship committee; rector of St. George’s Anglican Church in St. Catharines, Ont.
  • Mr. Jamie Tomlinson, previous planning committee member; acting director general, communications, Public Safety Canada
  • Ms. Laura Walton, chair, local arrangements committee; diocesan children’s coordinator for the Diocese of Toronto

The additional host diocese contact is:

  • The Ven. Elizabeth Hardy, archdeacon of York, chief administrative officer and secretary of Synod, Diocese of Toronto

Staff include:

  • Ms. Lisa Barry, senior producer, Anglican Video
  • Ms. Becky Boucher, production manager, Anglican Video
  • Mrs. Bev Murphy, senior manager, communications
  • Ms. Cathy Waiten, manager, office of the General Secretary and coordinator of General Synod
  • Mrs. Heidi Wilker, Blessed Events planner

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, March 17, 2015

Short stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

Sure, Jesus Was Son of God. But How Was His Fiction?

Amy-Jill Levine Makes Contribution to Jewish New Testament Lit

 

By Jerome A. Chanes

Published March 13, 2015, issue of The Jewish Daily Forward,  March 13, 2015.

● Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi
By Amy-Jill Levine
HarperOne, 320 pages, $25.99

When we were children, many of us (especially those of us in yeshivot) were taught to abominate the Christian Scriptures; they were precursors to 2,000 years of Jew hatred. At the very least, it was suggested by our teachers that we could learn nothing from the New Testamant about Jews and Judaism, and that the Christian Bible was the quintessential expression of avodah zara, or idolatry.

To Amy-Jill Levine, who enjoys regnancy among Jewish New Testament scholars, this view is nonsense. Levine, a professor at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School, conceived of and co-edited “The Jewish Annotated New Testament.” An important volume whatever its flaws and holes, it is based on twin premises: First, Jews can learn much about Judaism — especially Judaism in Second Temple Judea — from the Christian Bible; and secondly and more important, illiteracy in Christian Scripture precludes ecumenical dialogue.

It would seem easy to dismiss Levine’s latest work, “Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi,” as a slight book. Big mistake. That Jesus was the consummate storyteller is commonplace. But Levine cogently makes the case that the parables are not mere mayselech, tales and yarns, but that each parable had an “original provocation” or challenge for its original first-century listeners. Levine notes that the authors of the Gospels were among the first interpreters of the parables, and in the process “domesticated” them — a practice that, to the dismay of many, is continued by all too many preachers from the pulpit — diminishing the “original provocation” of the stories.

Levine chooses a dozen or so “short stories,” some of which are well-known parables — “The Good Samaritan” (Who is the “Samaritan” of “The Good Samaritan”?), “The Pearl of Great Price,” “The Rich Man and Lazarus” — and some not in common discourse. She begins each “story” with a literal translation of the tale — this reader discovered that he was able to hear the parable anew, outside the tried and true reading — and then locates the story in its historical and literary context, sweeping away interpretations that distort the original context. Levine is then able to offer the reader (listener, really) fresh readings of what the parable might have suggested to its earliest listeners.

Thus, a parable may not necessarily be about divine grace — a constant trope in the commentaries, often parroted from the pulpit — but about labor practices or economics in first-century Judea. (In many congregations it’s much safer to talk about divine grace than to suggest that society may be saved through corporate aid to the poor!) Or, the parable in its context may not be the story as commonly understood. For example, “The Rich Man and Lazarus” was traditionally understood by many generations of misinformed interpreters as confronting the Jewish view that the rich are righteous by virtue of the fact that they are rich, and the poor are necessarily sinners. Forgotten is the very Jewish view that God is particularly concerned about the poor, widows, orphans and strangers.

Levine’s exploration of first-century Judea is splendid; tax collectors, judges, merchants, widows and mustard trees provide the interstitial tissue for the historical context of the parables. But Levine goes well beyond context. She thoroughly — and wittily — rips the parables from the hands of the “domesticated” interpreters and re-reads them to us in the form that Jesus may very well have intended. In the process, we learn what Judaism could well have been about in Temple times.

All this said, Levine does make a few missteps, some minor, but together they suggest that the author might have taken greater care with the details concerning history and tradition. It’s not clear to me that the Sadducees were just another “group of Jews” — in effect, a sect — as Levine has it. The Sadducees, or Tz’dukim, who were part of the priestly class that controlled the Temple, the power-center in Judea, represented a parallel tradition to the Pharisaic rabbinic leadership. They were not just another sect, but also represented an entirely legitimate tradition in Judea. That the Sadducees were marginalized, indeed demonized, by the rabbinic leadership after the destruction of the Temple is just another example of history being written by the winners. Further, the resurrection of the dead, or t’chi’at ha-meitim, in Jewish tradition is not the same as Olam Ha-Ba — the talmudic “World to Come” — as Levine says it is.

And did Jesus refer to the five books of the Pentateuch by their modern Hebrew names — Bereshit, Sh’mot, Vayikra, Bamidbar and Devarim? Not a chance! These appellations, taken from the first words of each book, are universally used by Jews today, but they date only from the Geonic period, many hundreds of years after Jesus. The titles contemporary to Jesus (as recorded in the Talmud) and used by him were Sefer Y’tzira, M’chilta D’nafkuta, Torat Kohanim, Chumash P’kudim, and Mishne Torah — or, as the Church Fathers correctly had them in translation, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (or Arithmoi) and Deuteronomy. These questions take nothing away from Amy Levine’s book, which is marvelous, and a serious contribution to the Jewish New Testament literature.

But most important is the lesson of the lessons of the “short stories” of Jesus. In her peroration to the reader, Levine moves past the “domestication” of the parables, and still shows how the parables were — and are — intended to disturb. Ministers, priests, imams and rabbis: take note.

Jerome Chanes, a Forward contributing editor, is the author of four books on Jewish public affairs and history.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, March 13, 2015

Welby: Reconciliation not about “syncretism”

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

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses members of various faith groups at the annual inter-faith reception at Lambeth Palace. Photo: Chris Cox/Lambeth Palace


When Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke on reconciliation at the annual reception for faith groups at Lambeth Palace on March 10, he did not shy away from hard truths.

“We Anglicans, and we Christians, know a great deal about killing each other for purportedly religious reasons,” he said to a gathering of faith leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain and Christian traditions, as well as British political representatives. “We have no great mount of righteousness on which to stand, from which to judge the rest of the world.”

One of the reasons faith leaders must come together was “to create a space that is relational…in which we know each other well enough to say the difficult things to each other,” said Welby, in remarks published on his website.

Even as he emphasized that the very fact that so many leaders could gather together peacefully was evidence that progress was possible, Welby acknowledged that the differences between faiths are real and substantial, and that reconciliation is not a matter of erasing difference, but of living with it.

“The challenge for us here, as UK religious leaders, is not to find some kind of strange syncretism in which we say there are no differences,” he said, “but to find ways of demonstrating reconciliation—diversity held, but diversity as blessing, not danger.”

Speaking of his experience travelling throughout the Anglican Communion over the past two years, Welby lamented not only the violence that rages unabated in various parts of the world such as South Sudan, but also the less-publicized scars that conflict has left on places like Myanmar, where bishops must sometimes negotiate heavily-mined roads to visit their parishes.

Conflicts arise from “complex issues,” said Welby, but he did not hesitate to admit that religion is sometimes responsible for them. “Evil-minded people use religion because it’s simple,” he said. “If you say, ‘You belong to X faith and you’re good, and they belong to Y faith and they’re therefore bad…’ everyone can get their mind around that pretty simply.”

Welby expressed his gratitude that the United Kingdom has not seen the kind of constant internecine violence that other parts of the world have been confronted with, but he was quick to add that “there have been attacks on people from faith groups in the UK too. There’s been animosity, fear and division.” Of particular concern for Welby were the attacks on mosques and synagogues. He denounced such violence as “totally, utterly abhorrent and unacceptable.”

But he also spoke of the positive work that is being done to build healthy difference in the United Kingdom, and he singled out members of the gathering whose work was of particular note.

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Anglican Journal News, March 13, 2015

Anglicans must ‘face the lion’

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

By André Forget

 

Anglican “eco-bishops” from around the world discuss the impact of climate change in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Contributed


On the international stage, conversations about Canada and climate change tend to focus exclusively on the tar sands of Alberta,  but this was not the case at the recent Anglican “Eco-Bishops conference” held Feb. 23 to 27, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, shifted the focus slightly to shed light on the devastating impact that climate change is already having on indigenous Canadians living in the Arctic.

“I think they had anticipated that a Canadian voice would be focused on Alberta and oil development,” he said in an interview. “Although I said things about that, I wanted them to understand the unique situation of indigenous peoples in Canada, and that unique impact of climate change.”

MacDonald said that the bishops were very attentive to this message, to the extent that “by the end of the meeting, people were referring to indigenous peoples in the North as being part of the Global South,” due to the shared experience of rising oceans and volatile weather.

MacDonald was joined by Bishop Jane Alexander, of the diocese of Edmonton, and 15 other Anglican bishops at the conference hosted by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, which is dedicated to fighting climate change.

The delegates represented dioceses from around the world, including Fiji, the Philippines and Namibia, which are suffering some of the most dramatic effects of climate change, and from the Western nations who are seen to be driving it.

“The meetings went very well,” said MacDonald. “I think that they brought together a really great group of people, and for the first time in an international meeting like that, they really paid attention to the global South, to indigenous voices and to people on the so-called margins.”

Alexander also found it to be a very productive conference, and while she was quick to note that everyone was aware of the dilemma that flying to Cape Town posed in terms of carbon use, she said the trip was, in the end, worth it.

“We were mindful of the impact of the air travel, but hearing the stories from around the Communion, I think in those face-to-face meetings, I found that we shared a common ground in an incredibly complex issue,” she said. “There’s something about being together. You realize that because the Anglican Communion is a global entity, there is something, surely, that we can say as a global Anglican church about climate change.”

She admitted to being particularly struck by the difficulties illustrated in a story told by the bishop of Fiji, Apimeleki Qiliho, whose diocese includes a number of small islands that, it is predicted, will be submerged within a generation. “There have been offers of resettlement for people because these places will not exist,” she explained, “and [the bishop] has to respond to people who say to him, ‘Well, God told Noah that he’d never flood the land again.’ And so they won’t leave; it’s their home.”

But there were challenges inherent in such a diverse meeting as well. While extensive preparation had been done beforehand, much work still needed to be done to bring everyone onto the same page, according to Ncumisa Ukeweva Magadla, one of the conference organizers.

“I felt like they were coming from two different worlds, the indigenous churches and the Western churches,” she said. “I really did think that some of the bishops—especially the ones coming from the Western side—did not understand the issues that were going on in those indigenous countries like Fiji, like the Philippines, where they face water literally at their doorstep.”

But Magadla noted that sharing their stories brought the bishops together and strengthened their resolve to deal with the problem. “Let’s face the lion,” she said. “Let’s do something that’s going to be change…because really, the people that own these big companies are part of our congregation.”

MacDonald also felt very positive about the conversations the conference had generated, and was particularly energized by the spiritual richness he had seen there. “A lot of folks, both on the right or the left of environmental issues in the dominant Western society, have seen the environment as a kind of add-on to Christian faith,” he said. “What clearly came out of this, which was a pleasant surprise for me, was that a colonial reading of Christianity ignored the inherent environmentalism of the Christian scriptures.”

Among the leaders from the global South, MacDonald saw a rejection of the divide between environmentalism and spirituality. “There wasn’t even a little bit of light between those two; they were part and parcel of who they are,” he said. “They were, by North American standards, radical environmentalists—they were also very Christo-centric evangelical Christians.”

Alexander found this to be true as well. “I think the thing that came out from the meeting for all of us was that this is an environmental problem, yes, but it’s also a spiritual problem.”

The conference will present its work to the Communion in a statement, which is planned for release on Good Friday, April 3.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anglican Journal News, March 13, 2015

Bewilderments: Reflections on the Book of Numbers

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

BEWILDERMENTS
Reflections on the Book of Numbers

By Anivah Gottlieb Zornberg

 

Random House Canada, Toronto
Hardcover, 359 pages. $21.50 CAD.
ISBN #978-0-8052-4304-8.

 

 

Review By Wayne A. Holst

My Thoughts:

When was the last time, if ever, you read the
Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible? Even
more unlikely, have you ever considered this
book to be a aid to spiritual reflection?

Numbers is a hodgepodge of material that
concludes the story of Israel’s wanderings
in the wilderness before finally arriving in
the Promised Land. It is a book of Hebrew
case law, heavy on punishment for infidelity
to God and God’s absolute demands. There
is some poetry and magical practice in the
text, but generally speaking it does not rate
highly as far as interest goes – for Jew or
Christian, it would seem to me.

Could Numbers serve another purpose as
a basis for spiritual reflection and personal
growth as well as an attempt to help fill a
forty-year gap in Israel’s history between
the Exodus from Egypt and the arrival into
the Promised Land?

That is the challenge Jewish author
Aviva Gottlieb Zornberg takes upon herself
to add to a series of commentaries on the
Torah (she has already written studies on
Genesis and Exodus and other psychological/
spiritual works that have gained her quite a
lot of attention in Europe and North America.)

This book contains a creative blending of both
ancient and modern, Hebrew and Christian,
and modern spiritual themes that makes it
appealing to those who want to build their
awareness of shared inter-faith meaning in
our time. She firmly grounds her work in
Hebrew tradition.

Christian spiritual tradition describes much
about which the author alludes as “the dark
night of the soul” but in her able expression
it is not hard to link Hebrew, medieval and
modern Christian spiritual writings. We
discover that all of these contain key and
common themes because they deal with what
is essentially the human predicament.

Good writing. Spirituality. Inter-faith learning.
All three are to be found here and together,
the book is well-worth considering.

 

Purchase the book
from Amazon.ca:

http://tinyurl.com/q7p8ko8

 

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. 30,  March  8th, 2015

Between the Dark and the Daylight

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

BETWEEN THE DARK AND THE DAYLIGHT
Embracing the Contradictions of Life

By Joan Chittister

 

Image

Hardcover, 176 pages $17.33 CAD

ISBN – 10:0804140944

ISBN – 13:978 – 0804140942

 

 

Review By Wayne A. Holst

My Thoughts:

It was a freeing time in my life when I learned that
people were not good or bad, but good and bad. The
same was true for me.

One of the most meaningful learning experiences
for me has been the study of heroic biography. I
continue to be mentored by great lives. My choice
of biographies has changed, however. In the past
I tried to learn from heroes and heroines that
were flawless and super-human. Now, I seek out
those who are presented “warts and all” with
very human characteristics.

Some of the most valuable spiritual writers today
are those who understand this. I think that is why
Joan Chittister is so much appreciated. It is good
to know that in her mature years, she is still
writing new and creative material.

“Between the Dark and the Daylight” is such a
book and her latest was just published this week.
The time between dark and dawn can be very
threatening to those of us who tend to partially
waken before morning. It is at that time that
we are confronted with some pretty scary things.

One of my recurring dreams at that time is a
situation where I am supposed to be ready for
something and I’m not. Perhaps it’s to catch a
plane, to teach a class, or to have some work
completed by deadline. Invariably, I am unable
to do what I am supposed to do = have my
tickets in hand, have my notes ready to present,
have that task completed before it will be
inspected, etc.

I’m sure that says something about my
personality, but I will leave that to you
psychological analysts out there.

What I think writers like Chittister are trying
to tell us in a book like this is that rather than
dreading the fact “I am falling short” or “missing
that boat” – I need to be opening myself to
what seems bad or a weakness about me. It
is in that awakening and what I do with it that
I can change and become a better person. It’s
not because I become so good, but because I
really know myself better.

The same holds true for those I am inclined to
judge for their inadequacies.

Be alert to the learnings that can be your’s
‘between the darkness and the daylight hours’
and embrace, rather than recoil from the
contradictions that present themselves.

Another fine piece of work by the author.

 

Buy the book from Amazon.ca
Release February 24th, 2015

http://tinyurl.com/qy9netg

 

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. 29,  March  1st, 2015