Eremos Magazine - Current Issue

Magazine No. 131 [ June 2015 ]

What does love require?

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Inside this issue

The Commodification Of Life by Sarah Bachelard
Sabbath And The Common Good: A Christian Response To The Environmental Crisis by George Browning
A Talent For Compassion by Andrew Collis
Walk In My Shoes by Rev Richard Geering
The Shop Assistant: Uncommon Courtesy In A London Op Shop by Rob Hadfield
Learning How To Listen Into Life by Sue Emeleus
Barbara C. Crafton’s ‘Jesus Wept: When Faith And Depression Meet’ reviewed by Digby Hannah
Val Webb’s ‘Testing Tradition And Liberating Theology’ reviewed by Sue Emeleus and Frances MacKay
Farewell Shirley Parkin by Frances MacKay
Eremos Information and Membership


I have just returned from a family reunion over the Anzac Centenary weekend, followed by a retreat on centring prayer with Cynthia Bourgeault at the Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo.

Next week I am off to Israel on a pilgrimage led by two spiritual directors from Melbourne. Each of these ‘spaces’ – family, nation, religious tradition – invites me to reflect on who I am and the influences (not always conscious) that have shaped, and continue to shape me in my understanding of God, self and others.

Cynthia Bourgeault’s teaching on centring prayer was an encouragement to ‘let go’ conditioned attachments that block our receiving and passing on God’s love and compassion.

The first three articles in this issue challenge us to become more aware of the collective conditioning that leads us to collude in ways of thinking and behaving that are so destructive to our relationships with each other and with the environment. Sarah Bachelard suggests that a collective mindset that overemphasises productivity and profit distances us from our deeper needs and our potential for creativity and compassion.

George Browning urges us to challenge ‘the mantra of exponential growth’ that drives our political agenda if we are to avoid saddling future generations with our ecological debt. In reflecting why Christians are no more committed to environmental issues than the community at large, he wonders if a focus on personal salvation has unwittingly encouraged ‘an exaggerated individualism in western, market-driven, consumer-addicted, societies’.

Like Sarah Bachelard, he suggests the value of revisiting the theology and practice of ‘sabbath’. A sabbatical ethic, he says, originally designed to keep acquisitiveness in check, could still help us address the current ecological crisis by showing us how to live sustainably and within limits.

Andrew Collis also suggests that a focus on personal faith and piety at the expense of social obligation no longer cuts it. His unusual reading of the parable of the talents is not about how the third servant failed to use his gifts, but also about his willingness to resist an economic system of exclusion and inequality.

But perhaps it is not a choice between personal spiritual practices and social obligation. In the reflective articles and reviews that follow, the writers remind us that God is everywhere present if our eyes are trained to see and our ears to hear. As Rob Hadfield reminds us, ‘we are silent loiterers at the threshold, listening for a footfall, rhythms of a heartbeat’.

Often there is the implicit invitation: What does love require? For the people of Sydney following the Lindt Café siege love was expressed in a torrent of floral tributes. Sometimes we can only bear witness and grieve. At other times we need to act (repent?) and to resist colluding in unjust structures.

I leave you with Ian Swallow’s cover image of the lighthouse. What might it say to you about the role of Eremos?

Blessings always,

Frances MacKay

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