Monday, November 23, 2009

Interfaith Road Show

A minister, a rabbi and a sheik get together...and this is what happens. Yes, it's true that in interfaith dialogue many of us try to avoid the difficult topics unless they're raised - I was on an interfaith panel that included my Ahmaddiya Muslim colleague devoting his entire presentation to the crucifixion of Jesus being a falsehood. Would I have spoken about the difference between Muslims and Christians on this issue if he hadn't raised it?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pollution in China

Chinese industrial pollution - in sickening colour. Reminds me of Edward Burtynsky's photos in Manufactured Landscapes.

Central American Thoughts

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist who writes about international affairs (his latest book is about the importance of lifting women out of poverty) asked for suggestions on where and who to visit in Central America for development stories. I typed out a few thoughts in the comments section of his blog:
"When I was visiting the United Church of Canada’s Mission and Service Fund projects in Nicaragua’s northern Atlantic region, I was impressed by the work of the Moravian Church in Puerto Cabezas. The church operates schools (including a university campus with a seminary) and a water-bottling operation that provides clean drinking water for the entire town. There is a Moravian women’s community centre which was built with funds provided by the Presbyterian Church of the USA, with a coordinator paid by the United Church of Canada. Miskito women at the centre make quilts and pillow cases for sale to feed their families in Puerto Cabezas and the interior. When I was there in 2007 they were asking for funds for classes to teach the women how to use sewing machines. Two other aspects of the story of this area: it is near the Honduran border, so many of the men were Contra fighters during the 1980s, although there seems to be a spirit of cooperation between former Contras and the Sandinista government that was newly elected when I visited; and two hurricanes have hit the region hard in the last two years."

He's receiving a lot of excellent advice from people with experience on the ground in Central America - looking forward to his columns from the region.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Well, I am seriously out of the blogging loop - so far out that I had forgotten that there was a loop. Graduating, being ordained, moving, moving again, getting broken in at the new churches, finding it easier to post links and thoughts to Facebook than to the blog...all added up to no blogging for quite some time. But I promise to be a more conscientious blogger from now on.

Just back from the American Academy of Religion annual meeting in Montreal, where I presented a paper on French-language evangelism in the United Church of Canada, 1925-1975. Great conference - heard Tariq Ramadan (one of the world's leading Muslim intellectuals) twice, the Black Liberation theologian James Cone, a panel on multifaith understandings of death and dying in hospice care, a panel on the "death of God" theme, a presentation on Iroquois spirituality and culture with Ellen Gabriel (familiar to many Canadians from the Oka crisis 19 years ago), and saw the Bill Maher anti-religion documentary Religulous. Best line heard during the conference goes to James Cone: "Anyone who does not address the liberation of the poor and weak does not have the gospel. Maybe another gospel, but not the Christian gospel." He went on to say, "It's hard to preach the gospel and not be offensive. They just don't go together." Inspiring, enlightening, thought-provoking.