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Learning Archive - 2009 Programming
Through the years many opportunities for learning have been offered at Church of the Redeemer. We are keeping track of what has gone before as a window into the life of the community. 2009 programming is outlined below.
Telling the Story 2009 (The Letters of Paul)
“Nobody who listens to a radio can believe in miracles.” So wrote Rudolf Bultmann, a very great New Testament scholar, in 1943. He meant that modern technology – the gadgets we all take for granted in our everyday lives, from indoor plumbing and flush-toilets to radio, television, and personal computers – has abolished the credibility of miracles. But a very recent poll of Americans found that something like 89% do believe in miracles. This suggests one of two things: either the vast majority of North Americans are not using radios, televisions, and personal computers – or that Bultmann was wrong.
Miracle-stories are like bread and butter in the Bible; they often serve as a turning-point in larger narratives, such as the stories of Moses, the prophets Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus. So how do we – Christians who are also citizens of the modern world – deal with miracles? Can we believe the Bible’s miracle stories? Can we believe that miracles are possible today?
Stephen Reynolds, Senior Associate, presented ‘Do You Believe in Miracles?’ on three Thursday evenings:
Bible Study, led by Dr. Abigail Young, addressed a single compelling theme inspired by the 2006 Lenten lectionary. Over five evenings, Abigail examined the three Old Testament covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses as well as the promise of a new covenant in Jeremiah. Then the focus shifted to the New Testament for an examination of the fulfilment of that promise.
This series was part of an ongoing study group led by Abigail, who holds a Ph.D. in the history of Biblical interpretation. To read the text of Dr. Young's remarks, please click here.
For the fifth year, Stephen Reynolds selected films from his vast personal DVD collection and led Faith on Film during Lent.
Stephen said: "All of this year’s films are products of Hollywood’s 'golden age,' the Hollywood of the Studio-and-Star system. The five movies we’ll be viewing were produced as 'star-vehicles,' feature-films groomed to be show-cases for such Hollywood supernovas as Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and Bing Crosby."
The theme for this Lent’s series was: How did “old Hollywood” combine romance and religion? And at least four of the films might make you ask: How many angels dance on the head of a DVD?
Sergeant York (1940) – starring Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Joan Leslie
Based on the true story of Alvin York, a hard-livin’ Tennessee yokel who experienced conversion to Christ – and whose conversion made him a conscientious objector when the USA entered the first World War in 1917. His claim was denied, he was drafted – and he went on to become the most decorated American soldier of WWI. This movie came out at a time when Americans were deeply conflicted about the second World War; it had a role in helping American public opinion to embrace the idea of aiding, and then joining, Britain against Nazi Germany.
Going My Way (1944) – starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald
Fr O’Malley ( Crosby), a cool young priest, comes to a dying inner-city parish and gives it – and its irascible older priest (Fitzgerald) – a new lease on life. Bing, of course, sings (with a little help from a scratch boys’ choir and Risë Stevens, a soprano who did her best to make operatic arias “swing”). This movie won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Leo McCarey), Best Supporting Actor (Fitzgerald), and Best Song (“Swinging on a Star”) at the 1945 Academy Awards.
Angels in the Outfield (1951) – starring Paul Douglas and Janet Leigh
A baseball team with a brutish coach (Douglas) goes on a winning streak after a little boy intercedes for them. Guess how God answers the little boy’s prayers?
The Bishop’s Wife (1947) – starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven
The suave embodiment of an angel (Grant) comes to the aid of a hard-pressed bishop (Niven) and his wife (Young) at Christmas.
Cabin in the Sky (1943) – starring Ethel Waters, Lena Horne, Rex Ingram, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra
This movie’s cast is entirely Afro-American, at a time when “The American Way of Life” took apartheid – racial segregation – for granted. For that reason, Cabin in the Sky should have been a “B-list” movie; but those who star in it – Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong – count today among the very greatest Stars in the firmament of American culture. And this movie – about the struggle of “de Lawd” (Ingram) for a hapless soul (Eddie “ Rochester” Anderson) – is one of the reasons why.
The Lord’s Prayer enjoins us to pray for forgiveness “as we forgive those who sin against us.” Does this mean that God will not forgive us if we don’t forgive those who wrong us? What do we do when we can’t bring ourselves to forgive? Are some things unforgivable? Can we forgive if the wrong-doer isn’t repentant? What is the point of forgiveness: is it a merely mechanical “tit-for-tat” sort of thing, or is there something much more profound about it?
This course, led by Paul Gooch and Pauline Thompson, looked at several biblical passages, an essay by Nick Wolterstorff entitled “Jesus and Forgiveness”, and Act V, scene I of Shakespeare's TheTempest, which was shown during the final session. Readings were made available in advance.
William Cooke, long-time member of Church of the Redeemer and couple & family therapist, uses discussion/viewing of clips from films to explore grief and faith with his clients.
William says: “Several years ago I realized that people who were mourning often weren’t able to read or talk about their loss, but they would regularly describe a film or a segment of a film that had literally moved them to tears. As I began to ask more about this, I found that it was often many of the same films and even the same scenes from films that was having this impact. In fact, it seems that film may be one of the ways we learn how to mourn in our culture.”
The evening drew from that experience, while inviting the reflections and insights of participants. Scenes from A River Runs Through it, Billy Elliot, In America, and Waking Ned Devine were shared.
This summer course was for newcomers and for those who wanted to deepen their understanding of the Redeemer community. The four sessions were led by Andrew Asbil, Incumbent, and Liska Stefko, Lay Pastoral Assistant.
Andrew Asbil, Incumbent, and Christy Anderson, Architectural Historian, took a tour of the theological symbols and features incorporated into Church of the Redeemer’s Architecture.
This course was for newcomers and for those who wanted to deepen their understanding of what it means to be part of a church community. Topics and leaders for the four sessions were:
Andrew Asbil, Incumbent, and Liska Stefko, Redeemer’s new Lay Pastoral Assistant, explained the Eucharist as they celebrated and took time to describe the parts of the Eucharist, the vestments, ceremonial elements, and the part we all play as we gather at the table.
Carol Finlay led Redeemer Readers - a book discussion group devoted to interesting reading and thought-provoking discussion with an emphasis on contemporary Christian themes. Titles and authors were:
What can Christians learn from the Dead Sea Scrolls? British Scholar Dr. George Brooke provided a general introduction to the scrolls, but spoke especially on the great Cave 11 Qumran Psalms scroll, part of which was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum during November 2009. He also related most of the other scrolls then on exhibit to the New Testament.
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