A Liberating Liturgy

How The Eucharist is Related to Gentrification and Why Urban Housing Is Sacred – Part II

Stephen Setzer Continue reading

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A Liberating Liturgy

How The Eucharist is Related to Gentrification and Why Urban Housing Is Sacred – Part I

Stephen Setzer

The words “Eucharist” and “gentrification” may seem to be quite disparate in their context and meaning. One alludes to ceremony, tradition, religion, and sacrament, while the other connotes cities, housing, displacement, and economics. They are seemingly worlds apart. However, it is my contention in this paper that these worlds are not so far apart as they may initially appear. Rather they are connected at a foundational level through their respective understandings of place. What is it? Is it special? To whom does it belong? And do any of these things matter? As Christians we are a part of a story, a story that is centered, interestingly, on a particular understanding of place. Rooted in the Old Testament narrative of Abraham and Sarah and the stories of exile, the Scriptures are intent upon forming our understanding of the inherent specialness of place. Moreover, Christian tradition speaks to that same understanding through the development and process of its liturgy. Particularly, through the Eucharistic liturgy we are told a story week after week of the specialness of sacred space and our place. So then in this paper I will begin to build a bridge from Christian liturgy to our urban neighborhoods and explore how an understanding of the Eucharistic liturgy can provide the urban church with a prophetic voice against redevelopment at the cost of displacement. Continue reading

Without This Bowl We Die

A sermon for All Saints’ Sunday preached on the occasion of presbyteral ordinations in the Anglican Diocese of Quebec

Mary Jo Leddy

Revelation 21:1-6a

John 11:32-44

In a recent film about the renowned Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, he relates some amazing facts about the reach of the breath that we breathe. Suzuki says that we now have evidence that the breath that we breathe out will enter into the space around us, gradually combine and recombine with other breaths, expand and travel. This process continues, he says, such that IN ONE YEAR our breath will have travelled around the world and back to us so that we will breathe in the breath we breathed out 365 days ago.

This is an astonishing fact. As are other facts that contemporary science offers for our meditation: we are breathing in the dust of stars, every moment. We are breathing in the breath of plants and animals, the breath of countless other human beings. The living and the dead.

It is one of our most ancient beliefs that we as Christians belong to a Communion of Saints, the living and the dead. We believe we are mysteriously, graciously, sustained by the goodness, the holiness, the justice of others. They are God’s breath among us now. Continue reading

A Costly Confession

From Cheap Grace to Embodying Forgiveness in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Priest: Good afternoon Walt

Walt: I told you I’m not going to confession.

[…]

Priest: I’ve been thinking about our conversation about life and death. About what you said. About how you carry around all the horrible things you were forced to do, horrible things that won’t leave you. It seems it would do you good to unload some of that burden. Things done during war are terrible. Being ordered to kill. Killing to save yourself, killing to save others. You’re right. Those things I know nothing about. But I do know about forgiveness. And I’ve seen a lot of men who have confessed their sins, admitted their guilt, and left their burdens behind them. Stronger men than you. Men at war who were ordered to do appalling things and are now at peace.

Walt: Well I gotta hand it to you, Padre. You came here with your guns loaded this time.

Priest: Thank you.

Walt: And you’re right about one thing. About stronger men than me reaching their salvation. Well, halle-fucking-lujah. But you’re wrong about something else.

Priest: What’s that Mr. Kowalski?

Walt: The thing that haunts a man the most is what he isn’t ordered to do.[1]

It’s a well-worn scene. A patronizing priest, clothed in clericals, approaches a surely man and offers him some unasked for advice: he should make a confession. The prospect of the surely man (Walt) confessing to the priest is made even more absurd by the contrast in the two men’s appearances. The priest, under thirty, is equipped with a baby face that would assign wisdom to a toddler. Walt, face lined with a bitter old age, wears a grittiness only Clint Eastwood’s features can bear.

It takes only a few lines of dialogue before the audience understands the characterizing back stories of each. The priest, whose occasional insights are clouded by his vocational infancy, recently left the seminary. Walt, a veteran in the Korean War, never left the battlefield. The priest, believing he can exercise a kind of forgiveness that can relieve its recipient of the burden of guilt, continually offers the sacrament of confession. Walt, believing such forgiveness is not meaningful in relation to the crimes he has committed, continually rejects it.

The struggle for a meaningful forgiveness is at the heart of Clint Eastwood’s 2008 film, Gran Torino; a film that raises important questions for Christian practices of forgiveness: Who has the power to forgive? How is forgiveness given? What is the relation between the individual seeking forgiveness and the community? And what does all this have to do with the sacrament of confession? Continue reading

Bishop to Speak on Church and Politics

“The most serious deficit Canada faces as a nation is its leadership deficit. This national challenge goes far beyond the political parties and includes the major institutions that operate within Canadian society. The heart of the problem is found in our complete rejection of making public decisions based on the concept of the ‘Common Good’.”

So says Canadian Anglican bishop and former member of the Ontario Legislature, The Rt. Rev. Dennis Drainville, who will be presenting a lecture on February 29th, at 7:00pm, entitled “Where Have all the (Good) Leaders Gone?” It will be held at Seeley Hall, Trinity College, in Toronto, Ontario. All are welcome.

See poster here.