Richard Gott Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt. New York: Verso, 2011, 568 pages.
In “Shooting an Elephant,” an autobiographical essay published in 1936, George Orwell speaks of time spent as a police officer in a Burmese town. At close quarters with the dirty work of imperialism the young Orwell had grown deeply disillusioned with the British Empire. At the same time he was possessed of a “rage against the evil-spirited beasts who tried to make my job impossible.” Torn between hatred of Empire and resentment of the local population Orwell is a solitary and conflicted figure who, in the end, acts not out of a sense of duty but a fear of looking ridiculous. As Orwell reflects on the existential quandaries of his younger days he is able to retroactively reconcile the incoherence of this earlier experience to a lack of education and an isolation that left him unable to gain perspective. “I did not even know,” he writes, “that the British Empire is dying, still less did I know that it is a great deal better than the younger empires that are going to supplant it.” Continue reading
A Sermon on Genesis 1.1-5 Preached at the Ordination of a Deacon
Michael Polanyi, the Hungarian-British polymath, professor of physical chemistry at the University of Manchester, was one of the most distinguished philosophers of science in the 20th Century. He was the grandson of the Chief Rabbi of Vilnius and a convert to Roman Catholicism. This is what he said about the Scriptures:
The book of Genesis and its great pictorial illustrations, like the frescoes of Michelangelo, remain a far more intelligent account of the nature and origin of the universe than the representations of the world as a chance collocation of atoms. For the biblical cosmology continues to express – however inadequately – the significance of the fact that the world exists and that man has emerged from it, while the scientific picture denies any meaning to the world, and indeed ignores all our most vital experience of it.
What is this intelligent account? The theme of Genesis One in a single sentence is this: The mighty God through the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of his eternal Word creates a universe ordered to the good, the true, and the beautiful. Continue reading
Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in Canada
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada turned forty years old in November. Many individuals who reach that milestone find it a felicitous occasion to look back and celebrate past accomplishments, as well as to look ahead and consider future directions. So, too, did the current members of ARC Canada. Continue reading
Canada, and possibly the world in general, is going downhill if you listen to Bishop Dennis Drainville. We lack good leaders, people feel demoralized and the the institution of the church is crumbling, to name a few of the ills Drainville hopes to combat with his self-published book Renewing Hope.
Written in the weeks following Jack Layton’s death, Renewing Hope is “a critique of Canadian and Western society, economies and political situations,” Drainville said. By focusing on lack of leadership, the concept of the common good, corporate concentration in media, and competency-based education he hopes to engage people as citizens and help build a better, and more just Canada. Continue reading
Jan Zabeil’s Film River Use to be a Man in Review
River Use to be a Man stands at the crux of an unfinished conversation (and perhaps unfinishable) on the nature of representation. Which stories are we permitted to tell and in what kinds of places are we entitled to tell them? These are the sorts of questions that are inevitably asked when a film is depicted in the fragmented site of colonialism – more so when one who does not find that place his home authors that representation. This is both the narrative and the metanarrative of German film maker Jan Zabeil’s feature, where functioning as both author, director, and actor (and one might be tempted to add, character), he plays a listless German youth wandering Botswana, who is forced by circumstances beyond his control to journey on a boat down a river in search of his own life. This is a tale of existential and spiritual survival, a Heart of Darkness for a postmodern generation. Continue reading