Category : Canada

Vital Food for Thought from Alisdair MacIntyre on Saint Benedict’s Feast Day

“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead–often not recognising fully what they were doing–was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another–doubtless very different–St. Benedict.”

–Alisdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Terre Haute, Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 3rd. ed., 2007), p. 263 (my emphasis)

Update: Peter Leithardt’s comments on this are also worth pondering:

“The turning point, he says, occurred with a renunciation of the “task of shoring up the Roman imperium,” which required “men and women of good will” to begin to distinguish between sustaining moral community and maintaining the empire. Roman civilization was no longer seen as synonymous with civilization itself. Mutatis muntandis, this is the intellectual and practical transformation that has to take place before we can begin to construct “local forms of community” for the flourishing of civility and intellectual life. We need to acknowledge that our task isn’t to shore up America, or the West, or whatever. If we promote local communities of virtue as a tactic for shoring up the imperium, we haven’t really grasped MacIntyre’s point, or the depth of the crisis he described.

That renunciation is as emotionally difficult as the project of forming local communities is practically difficult.”

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Philosophy, Theology

Happy Canada Day and 151st Birthday to all Canadian Blog readers!

Posted in Canada

The NY Times Profiles a Toronto area School, the Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy:1 Neighborhood. 24 Kindergarten Classes. 40 Languages. (Some Miming Helps.)

The school has 630 students, all between the ages of 4 and 6, and most are the children of immigrants. This makes up 24 classes of kindergartners.

They arrive speaking 40 languages but very little English, reflecting the motto of Toronto, “Diversity Our Strength.” So teachers wear cords around their necks with little laminated pictures giving basic instructions.

One shows an image of a person pushing another, with a line through it. No pushing. There are others, too. Line Up. Stop. Breathe.

“In the beginning, there is lots of miming,” said Stephanie Hammond, a teacher….

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Children, Education

(WSJ) Bob Kuhn–Canada Attacks Religious Freedom

Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, amid many promises that traditional religious believers would be protected. Those promises have proved empty. Earlier this month the Supreme Court of Canada told Trinity Western University, which I lead, that it could not open a law school. Accrediting a school that upholds traditional Christian teachings on marriage could send the wrong message to Canadians who disagree with Trinity’s beliefs, we were told.

This isn’t about the quality of our educational programs. Our researchers hold millions of dollars in grants. Many members of our faculty have been recognized as 3M Teaching Fellows, Canada’s most prestigious award for excellence in educational leadership. We are consistently ranked one of the best Canadian universities for educational experience, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement.

Trinity simply is being punished for asking its faculty and students to observe traditional Christian teachings on marriage through a community covenant. In 2001 the high court ruled decisively that this policy did not disqualify the university from training public-school teachers. It seemed as if the ruling gave Trinity a secure place as one of the few private faith-based schools in Canada.

But that was then. In 2012 Trinity decided to open a law school.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(The Tablet) Ruth Gledhill–NT Wright on why the West faces catastrophe if it fails to reconnect with its Christian roots

“We lack a clear idea of what a modern civil society ought to look like. And that’s dangerous. Europe has torn itself apart twice in the past hundred years. I don’t think we can say that secularism is the great gospel that is necessarily going to triumph. On the contrary, it seems to me that secularism, if you’re not careful, leads to a pretty dark place. It’s the same dark place that much ancient philosophy was in before the arrival of Christianity. Because, basically, secularism is a modern form of Epicureanism.”

[Tom] Wright, the attentive teacher, sees that I am struggling. I’m brought up to speed. Epicurus, he explains, was the ancient Greek philosopher who believed that pleasure was the greatest good. “And here’s the interesting thing,” Wright continues. “Epicureanism says, if the gods exist, they are a long way away; they don’t bother about us so we don’t need to bother about them. What we have to do is just make ourselves as comfortable as we can. And that’s fine if you are reasonably well off and have got good slaves and a nice little vineyard. But for most people, life is very different.”

“Western Europe and North America has been an Epicurean society for the last 200 years,” Wright goes on. “Thomas Jefferson said, ‘I am an Epicurean.’ The Epicureans were never a majority in ancient Greece, but they have become a majority in the Western world. And, as Benedict pointed out, we have been living on borrowed time, feasting on the fruits of other people’s labour. But the worm has turned. Now the people who we have exploited and ignored are – quite literally – being washed up on our shores. It is becoming clear that our freedoms and our sophisticated modern comforts have been purchased at a terrible cost for people in many other parts of the world.

“We simply have no narrative to make sense of this,” Wright tells me. When the Arab spring happened, there was an assumption among some in the West that all that was needed was to topple a few dictators and then a tolerant, liberal democracy would somehow spring up automatically. “The last seven years have shown that that’s simply not how things work. Life is more complicated than that.”

Then I witness one of the deft connections Wright is celebrated for making between a contemporary problem and an almost forgotten solution. “Unless we reconnect with the ancient Christian narrative,” he says, “we will never understand what is happening, let alone to come through to the other side.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, England / UK, Europe, Religion & Culture, Theology

(TGC) Joe Carter–The Incel Movement and the Repugnant Logic of the Sexual Revolution

[The US Supreme Court 1965] Griswold [decision] was based on a negative right to privacy. But since then it has broadened to include new positive rights—such as the requirement of businesses to pay for abortifacients in their health-insurance plans and to use artistic talents to serve the “weddings” of same-sex couples.

Some sexual-rights advocates, such as bioethicist Jacob Appel, are now claiming a right even more expansive than the right to privacy: that “sexual pleasure is a fundamental right.” Based on this view, they argue for the inclusion of numerous new negative sexual rights, such as that women and girls have a right to sell their bodies for money.

Yet if sexual pleasure is fundamental, what happens to those who are unable to acquire it because of a lack of money or mate? We don’t deny people food or water because they can’t afford it, so why would deny them the “fundamental right” of sex?

The logic of sexual rights will compel, as Hanson noted, that sex may need to be redistributed using the power of the state. Hanson may be the “creepiest economist in America,” but he’s also able to follow the presuppositions of the sexual-rights advocates to their logical conclusion.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Philosophy, Sexuality, Theology

(Guardian) Ontario issues first non-binary birth certificate after human rights claim

Canada’s largest province has issued its first non-binary birth certificate, marking the culmination of a successful human rights claim against Ontario.

Joshua Ferguson had waited nearly a year after petitioning the provincial government for a new birth certificate in order change the document from male to non-binary, as Ferguson identifies as neither male nor female. Instead, the film-maker uses the pronoun “they”.

“It’s a victory for me. It’s a victory for the trans community,” Ferguson told reporters on Monday.

Born in Ontario but now residing in Vancouver, Ferguson had travelled to Toronto to apply for the new birth certificate, which they said would better reflect their identity. Ferguson’s successful application follows a push by the transgender activist Gemma Hickey, whose non-binary birth certificate in Newfoundland and Labrador last year marked a first for Canada.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Politics in General

(TLC) Nashotah House calls Regent College’s Hans Boersma to Endowed Professorship in Ascetical Theology

Before joining Regent College in 2005, Boersma taught for six years at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, after serving as a pastor. Along the way, Boersma has emerged as a leading voice among Protestant and evangelical theologians exploring and appropriating the riches of the Catholic tradition.

Boersma is the author, coauthor or editor of 13 academic books and numerous scholarly articles, focusing especially on the intersection of sacramental and ascetical theology. His recent titles include Scripture as Real Presence: Sacramental Exegesis in the Early Church (Baker, 2017), Embodiment and Virtue in Gregory of Nyssa: An Anagogical Approach (Oxford University Press, 2013), Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry (Eerdmans, 2011); Nouvelle Théologie and Sacramental Ontology: A Return to Mystery (Oxford University Press, 2009). His next book is a treatment of the beatific vision, the transforming joy of Christian hope.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Canada, Seminary / Theological Education

(BC Catholic) The little-known story about one aspiring Trinity Western University law student who stood up for marriage and his Faith

News about Trinity Western University’s attempts to open a Christian law school, and the ensuing battles in the courts and the media, has spread across the country many times over.

The Law Society of B.C. has opposed the law school because of TWU’s community covenant asking students to abstain from sex outside marriage between a man and a woman.

But few know the story of one aspiring law student from Surrey who agreed to lend his name to the case, even though it could ruin his chances of ever being accepted to law studies.

“Everyone has choices to make on a regular basis on whether or not they will stand up for their faith,” said 29-year-old Brayden Volkenant.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Canada, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Regent College Profiles David Robinson, a visiting scholar in theological ethics for the 2017-18 year

You were ordained in 2009 and have worked in both Anglican and Episcopal churches. Can you comment further on how you have tried to balance your pursuits in ministry with your academic pursuits?

I have to confess that I don’t think I do balance very well. That’s partly because my week is mainly spent caring for a rambunctious toddler. But I have also been trained to pursue something other than balance. I remember one mentor, in particular, talking about what it means as a theologian to, before all else, be responsive to the Word, the Word being God’s address to us in our forms of life across different seasons. Sometimes God’s call will provide you a feeling of equilibrium between academic work and other ministry opportunities.

But sometimes it can mean that you have an intense period where life feels a bit out of control—starting a new ministry, for instance, or that final period of “writing up” a thesis. The important thing for me is to be able to say that I’m responding to God at that moment, giving my all where I’m called to serve. Right now, I’m primarily an academic and dad; while I certainly take part in the church, I’m not that active in leadership. That’s the shape of my obedience for this season and I’m finding new clarity and joy here.

Maybe twenty years from now I’ll be able to give you a better answer. Maybe part of it is that I’ve had a period of four years in ministry, then four years in PhD work, now a combination of full-time parenting and writing. Certainly in both cases I sought the other community: as a pastor in Ottawa I was regularly involved on the neighbouring university campus, and as a doctoral student in Scotland, I was regularly involved in the local churches. Then there are times when the communities overlap: a big joy of my time in Scotland was working with Iain Provan and other Regent alum as they founded the Abbey Summer School, where they insist on integration.

Read it all and you can check out his website there.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CBC) How Quebec City Muslims and Anglicans found friendship through faith and grief

Members of Quebec City’s Muslim community will stand alongside those of the Huron-Wendat, Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and many other communities Sunday, as they honour the victims of last year’s deadly attack on a mosque.

The interfaith ceremony, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Pavillion de Jeunesse at Expo Cité, will not be the first time different religious communities in the city will have come together since the shooting.

Bruce Myers, bishop of the Anglican diocese of Quebec and Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, spoke with Ainslie MacLellan on CBC Radio’s All in a Weekend, about how their communities have built a friendship.

Read it all (and please note there is an audio option also, which is about 12 1/3 minutes).

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Globe and Mail) A new generation of prenatal testing raises ethical questions

For about $800, an American lab would analyze the fetal DNA circulating in Ms. Owens’s blood and tell her as early as 10 weeks into her pregnancy if she was carrying a baby with the chromosomal anomalies that cause Down syndrome and a few other, less common, conditions.

“Once I found out about this test,” Ms. Owens said, “I refused to wait until I was in my second trimester. I had to know right away.”

The desire of women like Ms. Owens to know as much as possible about their pregnancies as early as possible is behind a quiet revolution in prenatal screening in Canada and other developed countries.

A new generation of simple blood tests is allowing would-be parents to learn about the sex and potential genetic anomalies of their babies in the first trimester, a stage of the pregnancy when it’s relatively easy to get an abortion in Canada.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(AJ) Canadian Anglican ex-priest receives 22-month conditional sentence for theft

Noah Njegovan, a former priest in the diocese of Brandon, who pleaded guilty in December to stealing more than $190,000 from the diocese, was handed down a 22-month conditional sentence Tuesday morning, January 9, by Justice John Menzies of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Brandon, Man.

Under the terms of his sentence, Njegovan will be confined to his home for 12 months—only allowed to leave the house for work, medical emergencies and four hours each Saturday to obtain necessities—and under a curfew of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the remaining 10 months of his sentence. He will have a criminal record for theft over $5,000.

“This is commonly known as ‘house arrest,’ with very strict curfew and supervision conditions,” said Diocese of Brandon Bishop William G. Cliff in a letter to his diocese January 9. “Mr. Njegovan will be able to go to work and will have four hours per week for necessary maintenance. Otherwise, he must remain at his home and at any time, be able to prove to police that he is there. Should the police check on him and he is not there, he will finish the rest of his sentence in a provincial institution.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Kim Phuc Phan Thi–The Salvation of ‘Napalm Girl’

A decade removed from the defining tragedy of my life, I still desperately needed peace. I had so much hatred and bitterness in my heart. Yet I was ready for love and joy. I wanted to let go of my pain. I wanted to pursue life instead of holding fast to fantasies of death. When Pastor Ho finished speaking, I stood up, stepped out into the aisle, and made my way to the front of the sanctuary to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

When I woke up that Christmas morning, I experienced my first-ever heartfelt celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I know what it is like to experience terror, to feel despondent, to live in fear. I know how wearying and hopeless life can be sometimes. After years in the spiritual wilderness, I felt the kind of healing that can only come from God.

I had spent so much of my life running—first from the bombs and the war, then from communist Vietnam. I had always assumed that to flee was my only choice. Looking back, I understand the path I had been racing along led me straight to God. Today I live at ease. Yes, my circumstances can still be challenging. But my heart is 100% healed.

My faith in Jesus Christ is what has enabled me to forgive those who had wronged me—no matter how severe those wrongs were. Faith also inspired me to pray for my enemies rather than curse them. It enabled me not only to tolerate those who had wronged me but to love them.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Christmas, Christology, History, Religion & Culture, Vietnam

(AJ) Saskatchewan Anglicans share church with Roman Catholics

In the early afternoon of Christmas Eve, 2016, Chad Geis, chair of the pastoral council at the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qu’Appelle, Sask., arrived at the church he had known since his childhood to get things ready for the Christmas morning mass.

From the moment he stepped in, it was clear something was amiss. It was oddly cold inside. The thermometer read -5° C. Christmas services ended up being cancelled at the church while Geis tried to find out what was wrong with the boiler.

Two and a half blocks away, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, there were no Christmas services planned either. Its congregation of eight to 10 active members receives sacramental ministry once a month from a retired priest who also ministers to other churches, and they wanted to offer the priest the option of putting on a service at a larger church with more children, says warden Jean Kurbis. So Kurbis and some other parishioners had made plans to attend the Christmas service at the Roman Catholic church instead. When they arrived on Christmas Day, they were surprised to see a sign bearing the words “Closed until further notice” on the door.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ecumenical Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic