Chapter 1 – further thoughts…

Well, a (very) small group of us met over the lunch-hour, and had a very good conversation. Some key points:

  • Folks were saddened by the negativity that Coren experienced even before he had come out in favour of same-sex marriage. We talked about how most of us move in more liberal circles and don’t tend to experience this first hand. Even when we do, it is often done anonymously, with people not brave enough to actually own their negative response. What has your experience been?
  • We were struck by the comparison Coren makes about how Jesus actually condemns divorce, and yet many conservative church groups are more tolerant of that as a reality, versus same-sex marriage (about which Jesus says NOTHING). We talked about the way in which Jesus’ idealism about marriage and statement against divorce is seen by many feminist scholars as a way of affirming women in a culture where it was easy for men to discard wives. We also talked about how the acceptance of divorce is a relatively new development in even the Anglican church, and the irony of that in a church which formed around the request for a divorce from a monarch! (And then Megan gave a brief history lesson on why the Anglican church is not just the result of a whim by Henry VIII…)
  • We wondered – why did Coren think the Anglican church was more welcoming than the Catholic church? Is that because we focus less on doctrine? Is it because he is in the Diocese of Toronto which is quite liberal? I am not sure that either of this article or this interview helps clarify these questions, but they are interesting to read!
  • We also wondered if this change of heart around same-sex marriage has affected his other beliefs?

What do you think? What comes to mind with any of this, or with the questions posted yesterday? What did you think of the first chapter? Does it make you want to keep reading?  Got questions about our questions? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

(and note – next week is the ‘meat’ of the book, an exploration of the Biblical arguments – I will have the ‘basket of Bibles’ from the chapel at our Monday meeting and we will sit and actually look at the passages…)

Ch. 1 “So this is how it feels”

So – did you get through the first chapter of “Epiphany”? Thoughts so far? This is a fairly light introduction to the serious business of chapter 2, when Coren looks critically at the Bible. But this chapter sets the stage as Coren lays out the strong negative response that he experienced as he moved to a less conservative position about same-sex marriage.

Some questions to ponder in response to this chapter:

  1. Coren seems surprised by the vitriole that his change of heart prompted in others. Are you surprised? Can such a response be justified? What is it that prompts such anger and fear?
  2. How familiar are you with the conservative world that Coren portrays? In your own everyday world, how much of this negative response exists? Does his story seem accurate?
  3. The tipping point for Coren seems to have been learning about the new laws in Uganda (p. 15 “Those people in that nation who happen to have such a biting obsession with the gay community and such a chronic and violent homophobia brought me to my senses.”) Until then, Coren believed that he could still act in love while opposing same-sex marriages. Are there other experiences that have changed people’s minds on this issue?
  4. Coren was let go from his role as host of 100 Huntley St. Was that fair? If you are host of a show, do you need to agree with the unwritten values and asumptions of the company paying for the show? What if the position was reversed and he was promoting a conservative agenda on a liberal, left-wing show – would that be OK?
  5. When do you take a stand? When do you stay quiet?
  6. Who do you think this chapter is aimed at? Who is his intended audience?

Coming to our group tomorrow (Monday) at 12 noon in the Ministry Centre? Bring your thoughts with you – come prepared to discuss these and other questions. I will post an update after the in-person meeting, and then feel free to comment and add your own thoughts…

We’re back!

It’s been a couple of years since we posted from the chapel community. But this winter we are inviting people near and far to join us as we read Michael Coren’s latest book, Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart & Mind over Same-sex Marriage. This book made The Globe and Mail’s list of the top books from 2016, and the author will actually be at Renison on Saturday June 17th for a one day workshop marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The book is readily available from most booksellers and on-line, both through Amazon and Indigo.

epiphany-bookIf you are around Renison and want to join the in-person discussion, we are meeting on Mondays at 12 noon in the Ministry Centre, beginning on January 16. I will try and post here each Monday – both as an update on the questions/wonderings/insights I am bringing to the day’s discussion, and then also sharing what happens from the face-to-face conversation, and inviting you to join us as that continues virtually.

Looking forward to some thoughtful conversation!


Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Signs of hope...

(photo credit: Louise Black)

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’ (Matthew 28:1-10)

Should the Good in Good Friday say something

Happy Good Friday everyone! This article on this special day explains why Good Friday should, and does, start with ‘good’. This day, roughly 1981 years ago, Jesus was put upon the cross to save us from our sins. I know it’s sad that he had to pass away, but he did if for a good cause. If God did not play for him to die then he would have lived for awhile, but most definitely our sins would have not been forgiven and we would be living a dreadful, sinful life.

Don’t you think we should be rejoicing over his suffering instead of sulking in the shadows? He did it for us, God willingly put his son on the cross to sacrifice for us. That just reminds me about how generous and powerful God is. It certainly would not have been an easy thing to do but God knew Jesus was the only person who was special enough to do that.

We all wear dark colours on that day to honour Jesus’s life, but do you ever think that maybe he might like us to wear neon instead? He did it for us to live a happy and cheery life so by honouring him, he still might want us to thank him for all he has done for us. You might also be angry at this time of year. I suspect you might be furious at the people who put Jesus on the cross. You might feel like one of your friends is being bullied because Jesus is our friend.

So we also need to forgive. Let go all of our negative feelings so we can enjoy our sin-free day like Jesus meant us to.

Laura (11 years old)

Maundy Thursday through a Child’s Eyes

As Holy Week continues, and we really enter into the thick of it all, there is a memory from my childhood that keeps rising. I am about 7, singing in the children’s choir at St. Marks. We’re singing at a service with all sorts of ordained people, a vast array of interesting hats and one exceptionally vivid rainbow stole. I’m actually not sure what the occasion was, but I’ve always remembered it as being a Maundy Thursday service. The part of this service that sticks out to me the most is the singing. Everyone—my fellow choristers, the nicely dressed clergy, the whole congregation—was singing Jesus Remember Me, one of the more well-known chants from the Taizé community. In that moment I can remember feeling very small. While I might have been too young to find words for it, I knew that something profound was happening that night. It was something massive, and I could not quite tell whether or not I was a part of it. I wanted to be, but I did not have the ability to completely enter into the magic surrounding me. Surrounded by so many wise men and women endlessly singing the cries of a thief, I was a child shyly approaching Jesus. In asking him to remember me, I tugged gently at his robe. Our eyes met briefly, and he smiled at me, reassuring me that I would not and could not be forgotten. Suddenly I did not feel so terrified at my smallness.
This is a memory that has stuck with me for years. Every time I sing, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” I feel like a child again, looking up hopefully to this extraordinary man in a room filled with so many strangers. In the midst of the chaos and cacophony life is often filled with, particularly in the suffering we remember this week, that reassuring smile is most comforting. We may not always be the most dazzling star in the sky, but we will never be forgotten.


Invitations to walk and pray

We are in the city now. Jerusalem. The crowds are changing their tone – we know what is coming…

In the midst of Holy week I am planning a prayer walk for Holy Saturday. You are invited to hear a story of our modern crucifixion of Jesus as life giving water – and pray with us for the Resurrection anew. Here is a modified excerpt from the planned liturgy for the Prayer walk.

“Dear Grand River life giver,

How can I begin writing to such an esteemed stranger? I do not know you as I wish I did. As such, I hope you will not take offense at this small, presumptuous, hopeful offering.

I know you are the lifeblood of this land and many peoples. Before this I know you are your own life, and a being unto yourself. How then should a small creature like me relate to you, who were before me and will remain after me? For you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Yet my people are many, and we have done you many wrongs. We have usurped the inheritance of those named by the peoples’ treaty to be wardens of your shores and waters. We have compounded the pollution of our hearts and ways with the spilled blood of our sisters and brothers, who had sworn to safeguard the life that you sustain.

It is they whose forgiveness I must seek as I approach your holy waters. Deal gently with me, for I am filled with brave talk and small deeds.”

These pipelines under our feet connect us in so many ways. They are the veins of our society and lives. Just think.
This morning, we put on our clothes, made in a factory WITH OIL.
For breakfast we had fruit, shipped here from Central America WITH OIL.
We packed ourselves snacks in plastic containers, made WITH OIL.
We drove to church in cars WITH OIL.
The pipelines connect us to the global economy of oil, and we are complicit.”


As we walk, wherever we find ourselves this Easter, may we remember the one who walks before us and leads the way towards the light.