At the Redeemer, we know that asking deeper questions and exploring issues of faith helps us grow both as individuals and as a community.
Throughout the year, we offer a variety of speakers and learning series, providing opportunities to gather and learn together; details are provided here as well as through our eNews. A warm welcome awaits all who join – parishioners, friends and members of the wider community.
Contemplative Radical: The Legacy of Thomas Merton
Amidst a monk’s life of silence and prayer, Thomas Merton (1915-1968) authored over fifty books. Deeply rooted in the contemplative tradition, he spoke prophetically on issues of war, race, and the economy. He was a chaplain to the peace movement of the 1960s. A pioneer of interfaith dialogue, he formed relationships with Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi , and Jewish mystics and theologians.
His voice remains immediate and compelling today. His insistence that social action requires a grounding in contemplative vision makes him an ideal saint for Church of the Redeemer.
Join us for four Wednesday sessions at 7 pm at Church of the Redeemer, as we explore Merton’s legacy and how he points us toward the future. Please register to help us prepare to welcome you.
Thomas Merton: Global Visionary – with Michael Higgins. Audio of this September 18 session is here.
October 16 – Woods, Landscape, City: The Prophetic Spirituality of Thomas Merton – with Paul Pynkoski
November 20– Thomas Merton and Wisdom-Sophia: Awakening to the Feminine Face of God – with Christopher Pramuk
January 15, 2020 – We Are Already One: Indigenous Peoples and Race in Thomas Merton – with Paul Dekar
Marginalia – Sunday School for Grown-Ups
Our Scholar-in-Residence, Nate Wall, will lead these conversations with the help of some special guests. The series of six sessions is divided into three themes of two meetings each.
- Riddling Jesus – Who was Jesus anyway? (October 13 and 20)
- Making the Bible – Where did the Bible come from (November 10 and 17)
- Sing in the Waiting Room – What are the roots of the “O Antiphons” we sing in Advent? (December 1 and 8)
The first five sessions will be offered twice each date at 10 AM and 11 AM to accommodate people who attend both morning services. The December 8 session will be in the evening at a time to be confirmed.
More information about this series is here.
Redeemer Readers – Church of the Redeemer’s Book Club
The group will meet this year in the board room on the lower level for one hour at noon on Thursdays – October 24, December 5, January 30, March 26 and May 7. New members are always welcome and all are invited to attend as many of the five sessions as you can. The books selected for reading this year all illustrate the consequences in people’s lives of what they believe, or what those who have authority over them believe. We will be able to see how good and bad belief systems affect their practices and their lives.
The Books We Will Read
Thursday, October 24: Mandatory Celibacy for the Priesthood – Waddell, Helen. Peter Abelard. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1933; copyright Helen Waddell, 1947.
Peter Abelard (1079-1142) was a brilliant scholastic philosopher, theologian and logician who ran afoul of major figures in the Church because of his brilliance in debating and his questioning of authority. His love affair with Eloise of Argenteuil is one of the most famous love stories of the Middle Ages. The story unfolds in the context of the powerful theological beliefs of the 11th and 12th centuries, many based on church traditions. Would their story have unfolded differently in a different time with a different theological ethos.
Thursday, December 5: Pernicious Individualism – David Brooks, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. New York: Random House, 2019.
In this book, David Brooks explores the four commitments that are usually taken to define a life of meaning and purpose: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith, and to a community. It is a provocative social commentary about how our individualism has led us away from rooting ourselves in a neighbourhood and binding ourselves to other people in social solidarity and love. The title is the underlying metaphor for our lives: that the first mountain we all want to climb in our youth and early adulthood turns out not be the one we end up climbing after the first one fails to satisfy. How much of our successful ascent of the second mountain comes about as a change to the beliefs we hold, and how much as a new understanding of commitment?
Thursday, January 30: Honouring your Father – Westover, Tara. Educated. Toronto: Harper Collins, 2018.
This is the remarkable autobiography of a young woman raised in Nevada by an unorthodox Mormon father whose strongly held and unshakeable paranoid beliefs caused terrible damage to his children. It is also the story of her escape, first to Brigham Young University and then to Cambridge, an escape that for her was imperative but whose high price was the lasting destruction of most of her family relationships. The story is told in vivid and at times horrifying detail, but also without hatred and blame. It is an account of how one man’s destructive beliefs brought about so much harm, and how education and a new understanding has brought some healing.
Thursday, March 26: Surrendering the Intellect? And/or What does Loving your Enemies mean?
a. Anonymous. The Cloud of Unknowing. Transl. Carmen Acevedo Butcher. Boulder: Shambhala, 2018. Orig. ©2009 by CAB.
This is a fourteenth-century text is one of the great classics of English mysticism. It will enrich our own contemplative/mystical lives, and raise questions like: How important is contemplation to the spiritual life? Is mystical union with God possible? Is it for everyone? Is there Scriptural warrant for this? How does Christian mysticism differ from Buddhist mysticism?
b. Kohn, Sally. The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2019.
This is an excellent discussion of the process of how we learn to “love our enemies”, unpacking three important steps that we can take to make our world a better place. She reports on her visits to Rwanda, the Middle East and across the United States, talking with one-time terrorists and white supremacists, and contacting some of her own Twitter trolls. The book is America focused, but the problems of our modern world are universal, it seems.
Thursday, May 7: Wounds Beyond Healing? – Robinson, Marilynne. Lila. Toronto: Harper Collins, first Canadian edition, 2014.
This is the third book of the Gilead trilogy, covering much of the same time period as Gilead and Home. Lila has made an appearance in the earlier books, but here her point of view is central. After her bare-survival childhood she meets the minister John Ames, is baptized, proposes to him and marries him. How complete is her transformation? Where do we see the remnants of her past popping up? Her theology is good, but how complete a conversion can good theology and a loving community bring about?
Our brochure for this season is available here.
All are welcome. Please join in.