Monthly Archives: August 2017

Thomas Times Two

This coming Sunday I will be giving the sermon at the United Church in Steinbach.  I will be looking at two saints of the church who share a first name- Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More.  Thus the title of my talk and this blog post- Thomas Times Two.  The reason I’ve chosen that title is because I have to speak the following Sunday in my Winnipeg church and that’s the topic they gave me.  I wanted to use the same sermon in both churches.  Each Sunday in summer our congregation Bethel Mennonite is looking at the lives of two saints and examining what we can learn from them for our own lives.  

thomas more by Hans Holbein the Younger

Thomas More

I won’t give away too much of my talk just in case you are planning on hearing it at either location, but I will tell you I’ve learned lots of interesting stuff about both Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More as I’ve researched their lives.  Like the fact Thomas Aquinas was a gifted musician as well as a famous thinker and writer.  And that fact that Thomas More aside from serving as an advisor to King Henry VIII, loved animals and lived with a house full of interesting creatures.  

thomas aquinas

Thomas Aquinas

I didn’t know Thomas Aquinas was best friends with Saint Bonaventure or that Thomas More has more than a hundred  educational institutions named after him.  I also gleaned plenty of good life advice from the two men named Thomas. 

I do wish at least one of the saints I had been assigned to speak about was a woman. They are sadly neglected in the church’s catalogue of saints, but I have learned a whole lot as I have studied two men who lived the most interesting of lives, one in Italy and the other in England almost two centuries apart. 

Other posts………….

More Visible But Not Equal

My Husband and the Pope Are On The Same Page

Sunday Morning Worship with Quakers in Costa Rica

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Filed under History, Religion

Giving Slaves a Modern Humanity

turner and prbhai

Did you know slavery was legal in Canada til 1834?  The ad above was one of many placed in Canadian newspapers by owners looking for their runaway slaves.  In the Art Gallery of Ontario ‘s exhibit Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood artists Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai have tried to restore humanity to these runaway slaves by dressing them up and photographing them in modern day costumes that compare to the 1800s style clothes the slaves are described as wearing in the ads.   

photo turner and prbhaiThis woman is sheathed in a calico gown, holding a silk hankie and wearing a dress hat just like the runaway slave described in the ad.  But the black woman in the photograph is free and no one’s slave. Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai hope portraying the runaway slave this way will make people more aware that slavery was part of Canada’s history. 

Other posts………..

A Man Affectionately Deplored By His Wife

Jamaican Slavery

A Black and White Religion

 

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Filed under Art, Canada, History, Toronto

Indian Horse

I almost couldn’t bear to read parts of this book.  In Indian Horse author Richard Wagamese describes life in St. Jerome’s Indian residential school in Ontario with such descriptive prose that you are forced to put the book down at points to compose yourself and just breathe.  If that’s how I felt reading about it, what must it have been like for the children actually experiencing it? 

indian horseThe hockey team at the residential school is in some ways the salvation of Saul Indian Horse the character at the centre of the novel but in other ways it leads to the crushing of his soul and spirit. 

residential school children photo at the heard musuem

Residential school children in a photo at the Heard Museum in Phoenix Arizona

The book reminded me of an exhibit I saw at the Heard Museum in Phoenix- Remembering our Residential School Days and also of another book I read recently Bear Town where hockey becomes both a means of salvation and a destructive force in a small community. 

children residential school nwt public domain

Children at a residential school in the North West Territories

I bought this book for the Indigenous Relations section of our church library but wanted to read it myself first.  I will highly recommend it to our library users.  It makes me ashamed of what was done in the name of my religion.  It makes me incredibly sad children had to experience such suffering. It makes me realize it may not be possible to ever right this wrong. 

Other posts………..

 

Art That Makes You Feel Sick

What is the Doctrine of Discovery?

A Black and White Religion

 

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Filed under Books

How Long?

Before he began his sermon yesterday our pastor led us in a time of prayer for peace and an end to the violence and hatred we had seen splashed across our media in recent days.  He referred to the ramped up rhetoric and violent threats that raise the possibility of nuclear war between the United States and North Korea and the hate filled speech and actions on display in Charlottesville.   Our pastor prayed for peace and love to characterize the relationships between God’s children.  He had a large Bible on a table at the front of our sanctuary open to a Psalm that begins with the words,  “How long O Lord?”  

moms-candle

A candle given to me after my Mom died. I had it lit as a reminder to pray for peace the day of the American election. I think I need to light it again.

How long will it take before we realize that everyone is a child of God and  threatening violence against any one of them is wrong? How long before we realize that things like the color of our skin, our gender, our country of citizenship, our religion or our political beliefs don’t give us the right to feel superior? Before he prayed our pastor lit a lamp placed just beside the Bible open to the psalm with the words……… How long? 

Other posts………

Hopeful Families in Korea

That’s How Light Gets In

Inter-Faith Dialogue- A Path to Peace

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Filed under Reflections

Getting Nostalgic and Just a Little Sad

cousins peleeThis is my favorite photo from our family reunion weekend on Pelee Island in Ontario. One night as the sun was setting our children and their cousins made their way  down to the lake front to sit by a large inukshuk someone had built.  Watching them silhouetted against the sinking sun I got kind of nostalgic and sad.  I remembered all the happy times these thirtysomething adults had as kids… playing together, celebrating holidays and having fun on their grandparents’ farm.

Their grandparents have died now, all these cousins have families of their own, and several live in other provinces, so it will be harder and harder to bring everyone together. Our reunion this summer was a whole year in the planning. 

cousins peleeLater looking at this photo I thought of how lucky the Driedger cousins were to have been part of a family where they were loved so unconditionally by their grandparents and where aunts and uncles and cousins cared about them and were interested in them.  One of the purposes of inukshuks is to act as direction markers so people can find their way.  They are like northern compasses. I hope as our children look back on our many family gatherings over the years, they will have a sense that our time together served as a kind of marker or touchstone that helped them navigate through life. pelee island sunset

Other posts………

The Path of Life

The Driedger Amazing Race

Name That Driedger

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Filed under Family

On the Boardwalk and Walking to the Tip of Canada

During our time in Ontario I spent an afternoon at Point Pelee National Park.  In honor of Canada’s 150th birthday the park is free to all visitors throughout the year. I was accompained by my daughter-in-law and sister-in-law as we walked the entire length of a board walk that takes you out across a large marsh. We heard many birds, saw beautiful water flowers and my daughter-in-law spied a painted turtle resting on a lily pad. I learned from the signage along the boardwalk that wetlands like the Pelee Marsh help to prevent water shortages and curb global warming.  Canada is home to 25% of the world’s wetlands. 

I also learned the marsh’s stands of cat tails, are like nature’s supermarket providing nourishment and shelter for many different kinds of creatures.  Insects hibernate in the cat tails’ hollow stems in winter and the cat tails’ roots, shoots and seeds provide muskrats, ducks and geese with food. From the top of the tall tower at the end of the marsh you can get a beautiful birds-eye view of the wetland. One of the flowers we saw blooming profusely in the marsh was the swamp rose. Later we hiked down to the tip of Point Pelee, the southern most point on Canada’s mainland. I had a relaxing and energizing afternoon in a beautiful setting with two women it’s great to spend time with. What could be better? 

Other posts……..

Treking to the Tip of Canada

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Filed under Nature

Art That Makes You Feel Sick

 

Don’t Breathe, Don’t Drink is the name of this disturbing art work by Ruth Cuthand. I saw it last week at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  Ruth says the kind of blue tarp which acts as a table cloth in her art piece was used for the roofs of hastily constructed shacks she saw First Nations people living in after their homes had been condemned because of black mould in the dry wall. The glasses of water on the table contain plastic and beaded representations of the different kinds of bacteria and parasites found in the water on 94 northern reserves that have boil water advisories. Ruth has put some of the bacteria filled water into baby bottles to remind us that children may be drinking this contaminated water too. 

I have read a few articles lately about how art can help to bring about social change.  I hope Ruth Cuthand’s Don’t Breathe Don’t Drink does just that. 

Other posts…….

Warrior Women

Whale Bone Sculptures

What is the Doctrine of Discovery?

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Filed under Art, Toronto