Apr 24 2008

April 2008 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters

Sea of Faith                         Newsletter       


    Dunedin                                          April  2008


Colin Gibson talked about
Growing with a Song

and illustrated what he said by playing some of his own hymns.      Colin said:
 “I have been writing hymns for over forty years without thinking very much about what changes in my own sense of spirituality they reveal.  But inevitably under the impact of thoughtful hymn writers other than myself – people like Shirley Murray, Joy Cowley, Elizabeth Smith, and many others – as well my encounters with the new theologians and many different ministries, I have gone through changes in thought and understanding that a charitable onlooker might describe as progression. In this talk I hope to identify a few key themes in my own hymnwriting which hopefully show the forward motion of a an intellectual current, rather than the ceaseless wish-wash of the tide on the edge of the sea of faith”.
Last month:
Did you miss hearing Ian Fleming talking about Karen Armstrong’s account of the importance and relevance of the Golden Rule – both in the First Axial Age and today?  You can still catch up on this by checking out last month’s posting.      




“The Faith Club”
I’m sure many of you would enjoy reading this book by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver,  and Priscilla Warner. 
After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, Ranya, who sees herself as both an American and a Muslim, decided it would help relationships among people – especially her fellow New Yorkers –  of the three Abrahamic faiths, if there were a book for children showing how much these three faiths have in common.  So she got in touch with Priscilla, a Jew,  and Suzanne, a Christian, to help her write it. 
The three of them soon found that writing a book for children had to wait while they worked on their understanding and acceptance of one another.  This book tells the story of that growing, deepening, understanding.  They tape-recorded their meetings, and each one kept a journal, so the book has a compelling immediacy.  Each of them is quite remarkably self-aware, honest and articulate, and I found the book absorbing reading, almost like a novel.   We can follow each of them as Priscilla, for example, perceives barely-hidden anti-Semitism in what seemed to the others like innocent comments, and when Ranya and Priscilla are coping with the strangeness of an Episcopalian [ = American Anglican] Easter communion service.
At least as significant, I thought, as their blow-by-blow account of this growing understanding of each other and of the faith traditions in which the other two stood, is the way in which each of them, in her own way, developed a more personal faith and became more involved in her own tradition and her own local congregation, as a result of her interactions with the other two. 
Looking back, I wonder whether a book of this kind could only have been written by people belonging to the major monotheistic faith traditions. I wonder what sort of book could have been written, for example, if one person had been a Christian, and the other two represented Buddhism and Hinduism.    One small crisis for Suzanne, the Christian, in the book, came when she realised that her deeper respect and fondness for Ranya and Priscilla brought with it a deeper appreciation of their faith traditions – Judaism and Islam.  Am I, she found herself wondering, starting to betray what I’ve been taught all my life, that Jesus is “The Way”?   What personal issues would I face, I wonder, if I were in her shoes, but the other two people were a Hindu and a Buddhist?
In short, the book is an easy, enjoyable read, and if you are inclined to let it open wider questions, it can do that for you, too. 
The book isn’t in the Dunedin Public Library catalogue, and University Books could only offer to order the hardback version from USA.  But Epworth Books, Box 17255 Karori, Wellington 6417 [Phone 0800 755 355] have the paperback for $25.99.  We got our copy through Amazon.com 
–  Donald Feist.
Chairman:    Geoff Neilson   –    Phone 489-6727  –    Email:  geof
Newsletter Editor:   Donald Feist  –   Phone 476-3268   – Email:   Don       













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