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Issue 120

Issue 120 cover - image of cracked earth

Eremos No. 120

Published: September 2012
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It is only as I begin writing the editorial that I see the extent of the connection between pieces that initially may appear very different. Of course difference remains, and you will undoubtedly find some pieces speak to you more than others.
The first two pieces are responses to a recent Eremos event, Breaking the Silence on Spirituality in Australia. I also wanted to acknowledge David Tacey’s overall contribution to Eremos in helping us maintain our prophetic edge as we seek to articulate a spirituality for our time and place. Bridget McKern focuses on what we have to learn from the wisdom and generosity of indigenous spirituality in addressing not only environmental issues but also our attitude to refugees.
‘Retreat to the Centre’ continues environmental and indigenous themes. Philippa Wicks comments: ‘We had been led not so much to look at the land, but to look into it, and in it to see ourselves’.

‘Performing the Sacred’, Annette Maie’s search for a spiritual home, takes up the exile theme, introduced by Bridget McKern. The notion of a spirituality of place can be problematic in a world where migration and the Internet loosen our attachment to one place. Finding our own indigeneity or spiritual ancestry (David Tacey’s recommendation if we are to avoid colonizing indigenous spirituality) can be complex and multilayered, as Annette’s piece shows.
Davina Allison’s ‘Till the Longing is Less’ and her two poems, ‘Chevalier’ and ‘Mary in the Desert’ suggest that our spiritual heartland is not just historical and geographical. Her spiritual quest for the absent beloved takes her into a pre-modern, mystical world of art and poetry. Peter Newall (‘Remembering Rembrandt’) also acknowledges the power of art and literature in shaping his capacity to see the Divine within the human and natural world, particularly in the faces we encounter.

Merton’s notion of the quest for the true self is, according to Michael Lewin, another way of grounding one’s spirituality. Such a quest can take us through some challenging territory when chronic illness strikes, as Mark Beresford’s ‘In Sickness and in Health’ suggests.

Carolyn Minchin is in good company in struggling with the Church’s tendency to marginalise gays rather than display the inclusiveness of its founder. Richard Holloway, author of Leaving Alexandria (reviewed by Kay Harman), and Keith Mascord, author of A Restless Faith (reviewed by Sue Emeleus), also find difficulty with the Church’s intransigence on this and other issues. To be true to themselves they are no longer able to be representatives of the churches into which they had been ordained.

However, we finish on a more celebratory note with Janet Scarfe’s reflection on the twentieth anniversary of women’s ordination in Australia. This is a win (perhaps not unqualified) for the inclusiveness demonstrated in many of the articles.

Frances MacKay