Eremos Magazine - Current Issue

Magazine No.129 [ December 2014 ]

Solidarity may mean travelling with those who are not respectable, on issues that are considered unacceptable.

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Inside this issue

Is Religious Zeal Ever Healthy?
by Sarah Bachelard
From Insiders And Outsiders To People Without Borders by Val Webb
Apology To God by James Charlton
James Charlton’s Non-Dualism In Eckhart, Julian Of Norwich And Traherne: A Theopoetic Reflection reviewed by Frances MacKay
The Sacramental World Of Gerard Manley Hopkins by Rob Hadfield
Is There Still A Place For Christian Feminism? by Jonathan Inkpin
Volunteering In Vanuatu by Jennifer Burns
A Call To Adventure by Katherine Rainger
Evie Parkin’s Challenge by Heather Keens
Eremos In The Desert by Terese Sheridan
Eremos Information and Membership


We begin this issue with contributions from two Australian women theologians, who incidentally have also presented at Eremos events this year. They have a talent for bringing together spirituality and theological reflection in addressing contemporary issues and concerns. In asking if there is such a thing as healthy, legitimate religious zeal, Sarah Bachelard invites us to reflect on the difference between ‘selfrighteous and (violently) triumphalist religiosity’, and ‘radical discipleship’ that aligns itself in solidarity with the ‘vulnerable and oppressed’. Val Webb’s encouragement to become ‘people without borders’ further develops the need to move beyond identifying ourselves ‘against’ others, to being in community with them – especially with those of different belief systems.

Val’s ‘insider-outsider’ metaphor links to the theme of dualism that is taken up in James Charlton’s poem ‘Apology to God’ and my review of his book, Non-Dualism in Eckhart, Julian of Norwich and Traherne: A Theopoetic Reflection. I suggest that Charlton’s contemplative, poetic and embodied approach to theology might help us address the challenges of inter-faith relations and the environmental crisis in a progressively desacralised world and secular culture.

The encouragement towards non-dualism and (re)sacralisation is also implicit in Rob Hadfield’s ‘The Sacramental World of Gerard Manley Hopkins’. Rob suggests that by inviting us to ‘sacramental wakefulness’ and ‘away from self-absorption’, Hopkins’ poetry also invites us to join him in being both witnesses to, and participants in the divine presence in the world of people and nature. 

John Inkpin reminds us that early Christian feminists were prompted by a passion for social justice, not just recognition of women in ministry. I wonder what these feisty pioneers would make of a young woman in a hijab, Malala Yousef, who fearlessly advocates for the rights of all, although education for young women is her main emphasis!

Jennifer Burns and Katherine Rainger describe what it might mean to enlarge our borders by visiting other cultures – Vanuatu and India respectively - to offer friendship, solidarity and practical assistance. Katherine also explores the notion of calling and friendship as she tells Caitlin’s story of her challenging work among traumatised women and children in Kolkata.

It is part of our Eremos brief that we explore spirituality in an Australian context, including Aboriginal spirituality. Two of our events obviously fall into this category: ‘An Afternoon with Evie Parkin’ and ‘Eremos in the Desert’. For those of us who were unable to attend these Eremos events, Heather Keens and Terese Sheridan share their experiences and impressions.

As we are moving into Advent, it seems appropriate that each of the contributors to this issue has somehow reminded us that incarnation is not something that is confined to what is sometimes called the ‘Jesus event’. They have invited us to reflect on the ways the divine continues to be enfleshed – or perhaps needs to be further enfleshed – in this world. Where does that leave us?

Frances Mackay

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