MAGAZINE NO. 148 [ April 2020 ]
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
INTRODUCING OUR NEW EDITOR 5
CONVERTING THE CHURCH by John Foulcher 6
THE UNIVERSE OF WONDERS by John Foulcher 11
FROM THE FIRE FIELDS by Linda Chapman 12
EPIPHANY AND BEYOND by Jorie Ryan 16
INTEGRAL ECOLOGY by Sarah Bachelard 20
THE FREEDOM OF WASTE by Rita Glennon 25
ARE WE ALL PART OF THE STORY? by Kate Scholl 26
AUSTRALIA DAY AND THE VOICE OF AUSTRALIA’S FIRST PEOPLES by Digby Hannah 28
A NATIONAL ACT OF RECOGNITION
by Lindsay McDowell and Pam Lane 31
GOD IN SAFE HANDS: A REFLECTION FOR HOLY SATURDAY by Sarah Bachelard 34
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION AS AN OFFERING OF FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE by Philip Carter 37
BRUCE WILSON’S ‘BLESS YOU HEART ATTACK FOR BEING IN MY LIFE: WRESTLING WITH DEATH,
HEALTH, SELF & SPIRIT’ reviewed by Don Meadows 42
EREMOS INFORMATION AND MEMBERSHIP 45
Welcome to our autumn issue, my last one as editor of EREMOS. I am delighted to announce our new editor, John Foulcher, who will take over from the next issue. Hopefully, the first three pieces – a short introduction by me followed by an article and poem by John – will introduce him in style!
What a summer this has been. Do the words ‘unprecedented’ and ‘apocalyptic’ sound familiar? Certainly the disturbing images that have confronted us here in Canberra in this most disturbing of summers – a blood-red sun hanging in a darkened sky, or a yellow disk in an orange sky, a pervasive smoke pall, together with the more terrifying close-up images on our television screens of out-of-control fire storms in other parts of the country – seemed to warrant these terms.
Commentators were using ‘apocalyptic’ in its popular sense of suggesting the end of the world and final judgment. Yet, as Linda Chapman points out in ‘From the Fire Fields’, ‘The real meaning of apocalypse is the revealing of that which is hidden’. She asks, ‘What do we need to see at times such as this?’ Linda presents what has happened as a wakeup call – apocalypse, not as final destruction, but as warning. Now that the fires have passed, though, will we retain the urgency to address climate change? She concludes, ‘But we must not forget the fires of 2019/20. We must remember. And we must let this remembering be the spur to act on what they have revealed to us. Lest we forget’.
In ‘Epiphany and Beyond’, Jorie Ryan acknowledges the pain and destruction from the fires, at the same time wanting to suggest some hope and resilience. She says, ‘Many of us thought this new scenario of changed weather patterns rendering parts of the world uninhabitable belonged to some kind of future. But it is happening now.’ She wonders whether we can continue to live the gifts seen during the crisis, for example generosity, courage, sacrifice and community-mindedness so that we can make the ongoing changes needed to turn things round.
Sarah Bachelard builds on an earlier article (December, 2019) where she discussed the need for an ‘ecological conversion’ that goes beyond mere intellectual understanding. In ‘Integral Ecology’ she explores some of disconnections – from social as well as natural worlds – that make us reluctant to undergo such a conversion. She concludes that more than individual conversion is needed. Nothing short of a ‘reimagining of our political, social and economic institutions’ will do. The good news about an integral understanding of the situation, though, is that we can start anywhere. Any repair of a part will impact on the whole.
Can we be too earnest about the war on waste? Perhaps Rita Glennon’s entertaining ‘Freedom from Waste’ will strike a chord when she suggests the need to show compassion for the guilt trips triggered when people face project after project to protect the planet.
Another area that has commanded our attention over summer is the controversy over Australia Day. Kate Scholl encourages us to listen to each other so that all may have the opportunity to tell their cultural stories. Digby Hannah reflects on whether this is a day of celebration or mourning. He suggests that any fresh start for this country in trying to reconcile the celebration with the mourning must begin with an acknowledgement of harm, lament and willingness to work towards reparation and healing, whatever it costs.
Lindsay McDowell and Pam Lane’s article on the National Act of Recognition project also suggests that recognition of injustice is necessary before true healing can take place.
The next article takes us into the Easter season. In ‘God in Safe Hands’ Sarah Bachelard says that Holy Saturday challenges us to ‘undergo the collapse of religious fantasy and our infantile longings for rescue from on high’. Drawing on the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Etty Hillesum, she asks, ‘What is faith in a world come of age?’ What does grown-up faith look like?
We conclude with Philip Carter’s exploration of the spiritual direction relationship and with Don Meadows’ review of Bruce Wilson’s recent book, Bless You Heart attack for Being in My Life. Each in its own way suggests that God comes disguised as our life, and that it is only as we sift through the raw material of our days that we harvest the gift of presence.
The articles in this issue do not make for light reading in that they invite us to revisit some events and issues that we might prefer to allow to recede from our awareness. Especially if we are experiencing nature’s response to cooler temperatures and some rain.
Margaret Silf (The Other Side of Chaos) suggests that we can respond to crises – personal or collective – by hoping that God, or faith, will rescue us, or we can dare to ‘trust that God is inviting us to engage in the coming to birth of something new through the labour pains of loss and disintegration’. What difference might it make if we saw our experiences of loss and disintegration as labour pains, a necessary stage in the co-creation of new life? This is not to deny that the longing for rescue and need to lament are a normal human response, a stage in the process.
It only remains for me to say goodbye to you as editor. What a privilege it has been to serve in this way over the last nine years. Thank you for your companionship in seeking to discern where the Spirit is moving in our land.
Love and blessings always, Frances MacKay