Archive for the ‘Christian Faith’ Category

Our Choices Will Determine if We are Toronto the Good   Leave a comment

An op-ed in the Toronto Star, written by Devika Shah, Adina Lebo and Cameron Watts, published on January 23, 2019, spoke about the choices that Torontonians are making. It argues that if Toronto truly is a “world-class city” or “Toronto the Good,” we must choose to move beyond slogans to action. Too many Torontonians are hurting.

This raises the question about how we are taking care of our neighbours, as many of our faith communities call us to do.

The opinion piece can be accessed at: https://www.socialplanningtoronto.org/toronto_the_good

 

 

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Dealing With Poverty   Leave a comment

Nelson Mandella said that poverty is not an accident.

Living in poverty also not a deliberate decision that people make.

Image result for poverty is not an accident

To tolerate the existence of poverty in affluent nations like Canada is a deliberate decision that has been made by those who have the power to make, or influence, governmental decisions. Although the House of Commons voted to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000, a report demonstrates that child poverty has actually increased in Canada. The report gathered Statistics Canada tax-filer data and found that child and family poverty has increased to 1,331,530 children in 2012 from 1,066,150 children in 1989. https://globalnews.ca/news/1685376/25-years-since-canada-vowed-to-end-child-poverty-where-are-we-now/

One means of moving toward the elimination of poverty is to implement a Basic Annual Income for all people. Here in Canada there was a trial of this idea that took place in Manitoba, and in Ontario. Unfortunately, the research in Ontario was cancelled by Doug Ford shortly after the Progressive Conservative Party won the provincial election on June 7, 2018. For more information on Ontario’s situation, check out:

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/change-gonna-come/2019/01/re-instating-basic-income-ontario-would-help-raise-children

Ontario’s cancellation of the research on Basic Income has adversely affected the hopes and dreams of many. One tragic story was reported in the Toronto Star:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/12/27/hamilton-couple-with-newborn-prepares-for-wind-down-of-basic-income.html

How we care for each other is a statement of our love for each other, and our commitment to a healthy community. Basic Annual Incomes are one way that we can, collectively,  help our neighbours who are less fortunate, and who are human beings just as I am a human being. Poverty is not an accident! We can, together, make a better world for all by sharing; collectively.

Choose Faith Over Fear   Leave a comment

This story was posted on the United Church of Canada website (July 18, 2018) and is a statement that brings positive energy to my soul. As we remember the birth of Jesus, we also remember the narrative in Matthew’s Gospel that tells of Jesus and his family being refugees.

Sign being held aloft: No Muslim Ban

Sign from a Muslim ban protest, Washington, DC.

Credit: Liz Lemon, Flickr [CC0 1.0]

Racism and Islamophobia practised by individuals and nations continue to destroy God’s beloved community.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. —Matthew 25:35–36

Affirming that God is at work in the religious life of all humanity, the United Church is committed to working with all people of goodwill for compassion, peace, and justice in the world. Together with our full communion partner the United Church of Christ (USA), we respond with outrage and sorrow to the recent US Supreme Court decision upholding President Trump’s executive order barring people from several Muslim-majority countries from travel to the United States.

When Jesus named welcoming the stranger as one of the characteristics of those who are faithful followers of his way, he spoke of a gathering of nations. This recent decision demonstrates once again that racism and Islamophobiapractised by individuals and nations continue to destroy God’s beloved community.

United Church of Christ leaders say that this “travel ban is a signal that we are closing the door to our neighbors who are fleeing violence and persecution, and that our faith calls us to do otherwise.” As part of our commitment to racial justice, The United Church of Canada is called to speak against discrimination rooted in racial and religious bigotry. Indeed, the recent travel ban decision has been criticized as the US Supreme Court once again legitimizing and legalizing racism.

International interfaith organization Religions for Peace expressed its sorrow and moral opposition to the Supreme Court ruling, calling all people of faith to “welcome the other.” “Each of our diverse faith traditions calls for profound active solidarity with, and empathy for, the ‘other’ rooted in a spirit of unity, as a deeply held and widely shared value among our religious communities,” states the organization.

Religions for Peace has joined with a global coalition of faith leaders (including the World Council of Churches, of which the United Church is a member) in the Faith over Fear campaign, an initiative which invites people of faith to “welcome the other” by opening their hearts and communities to refugees.

Although Canada’s refugee sponsorship programs have supported people of many faiths, Canadians are not immune to these global currents of fear and distrust of “the other,” or to underlying racism and Islamophobia. Recent responses to asylum-seekers entering Canada from the United States; hate crimes attacking individuals and their places of worship; increasing numbers of visa refusals for those coming to Canada from the global South—all point to a Canada less welcoming than our faith envisions. Recently the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International, and the Canadian Council of Churches (of which the United Church is a member) filed a court challenge of the safe third country agreement between Canada and the United States, through which refugee claimants cannot legally enter one of these countries from the other.

Choosing faith over fear requires us to denounce all actions that violate on the basis of race or religion. As people of faith, we must denounce that which violates the human rights, dignity, and very life of those around the globe who seek refuge from war, poverty, or climate devastation, and of those who simply seek to travel or work in a different part of the world.

We are called to work with Canadians of all faiths for immigration systems that “welcome the other” and contribute to communities that are just and inclusive,‎ honouring diversity as a gift for all. Consider exploring the stories of hope and welcome on the Faith over Fear website. Or share this statement on your social media networks with the hashtag #NoMuslimBanEver.

For more information, contact:

Gail AllanProgram Coordinator Ecumenical and Interfaith

416-231-7680 ext. 4162
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4162

gallan@united-church.ca

2018 as a movie   Leave a comment

Yes, it is that time of year when observers of many aspects of life create their personal list of the “Ten Best …..”, etc..

In 2018 I had the privilege of watching quite a few movies, but only one was unique in the manner in which it affected my emotions AND my thinking. It is a film that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in current events, ethics, and theology – or any one of those.

This film has been reviewed in The Tyee by Dorothy Woodend.

Two of the paragraphs of Woodend’s review are:

The temptation to look for an overarching idea or umbrella under which an entire year of films can be collected is something of a fool’s errand. But I am just that fool, and if there was one film that summed up the current moral moment, it was Paul Schrader’s First Reformed.

Schrader, to put it mildly, is an uneven filmmaker. Raised as a strict Calvinist he came late to movies, but went on to pen Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ, and directed American Gigolo. Sure, he has also made a number of horrendous films, but the man has something to say, and his latest, First Reformed, charges full force at religion, corporate malfeasance, environmental collapse and the agonized search for meaning. And I do mean agonized. This isn’t the most fun thing to watch over the holidays, but it is riveting in ways that I did not expect. Made with rigour and purpose, it is also possessed of a seriousness and mystery that’s rare in contemporary cinema.

The whole, excellent review can be accessed at:

https://thetyee.ca/Culture/2018/12/12/Year-In-Film-First-Reformed/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=121218

Racism and The United Church of Canada   Leave a comment

At the most recent gathering of the General Council of the United Church of Canada the topic of racism within the church surfaced as a result of a “powerful” speech given by Rev. Paul Walfall of Edmonton.

Is “the church” listening?

Rev. Paul Douglas Walfall speaks at General Council in Oshawa, Ont. on Friday, July 27, 2018. (Credit: United Church/Flickr/Creative Commons)

The text of his adder to the General Council can be found at:

https://ucobserver.org/columns/2018/07/paul_walfall_general_council/

A subsequent interview with The Observer can be found at:

https://ucobserver.org/interviews/2018/08/paul_douglas_walfall_interview/

Conservatives Don’t Own Jesus   Leave a comment

On May 24, 2018 The Walrus published an article, with the title above,written by Michael Coren. In it Coren argues that the secular “left”, and “progressive” Christians ought to find common cause ( a “joint enterprise ) and work together.

We can add more beauty and life to this world through cooperation, no?

Some of what Coren writes is:

“There are those on the left who see religion as a distraction from the genuine challenges of poverty, echoing the Marxian notion of faith as the “opiate of the people.” Having watched Christian groups try to restrict the rights and freedoms of lgbtq people, they are angry at religious leaders who support and defend arch-conservative administrations. In return, I offer the vision of a joint enterprise based on the moral agenda we share: a dedication to the social values that liberate the very people to whom Jesus devoted his work and teachings. He came for everybody but certainly seemed to prefer the poor and needy. He came to provoke the complacent and empower the vulnerable. He was never a figure of the status quo.”

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For the full commentary from Coren, go to The Walrus at: https://thewalrus.ca/conservatives-dont-own-jesus/

 

The Hope Within Us   Leave a comment

Roman Catholic‒United Church Dialogue Releases Report on Climate Change

Published on July 19, 2018

The report explores the spiritual resources of our common tradition for addressing climate change and working for ecological justice. It includes practical, faith-filled suggestions for action to address the ecological crisis of the anthropocene.

hands-earth

The Roman Catholic‒United Church of Canada Dialogue has released a report on climate change entitled The Hope within Us. Since October 2012, the Roman Catholic‒United Church of Canada Dialogue has met eight times to explore our churches’ responses to the ecological crisis, with particular attention to climate change. The report explores the spiritual resources of our common tradition for addressing climate change and working for ecological justice. While not turning away from the real dangers of the ecological crises, the dialogue provides a vision of hope, based on our common Christian faith, that a new relationship between humanity and creation is possible. The report writes:

“So we hold to two poles of a single paradoxical truth. First, Christians have a responsibility to act faithfully even when we see our actions as small and insignificant. Second, our ground for hope is not in ourselves, but in that which comes when we lose hope in our own powers and put our hope in the One through whom all things were made and in whom all things will find their fulfillment. It is a hope that knows resurrection lies beyond death and the tomb. We experience hope not as a secure possession or achievement but as a mysterious gift that we receive more fully as we act upon it.”

In addition, the report addresses fundamental questions such as: What is our theology of creation, of Earth and our place in it, and of the environment and its future? What, in light of our present situation, are the key issues for the churches, today and tomorrow? What, in particular, should our two churches do together and with others? The dialogue marked the areas of consensus found on these important questions, but also noted areas where different emphasis lay, or where further dialogue and understanding are needed. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home and The United Church of Canada’s faith statement A Song of Faith provided a rich resource for the dialogue and are reflected throughout the report.

The Hope within Us report also includes Earth Hour Vigil, an ecumenical prayer service prepared by the dialogue and offered to our churches, ecumenical partners, and wider networks to promote Earth Hour as a celebration and commitment to compassionate action for creation’s well-being.

The Roman Catholic‒United Church of Canada Dialogue is sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and The United Church of Canada.