Thursday, September 22, 2011

Journey Conference is this Weekend!

I knew taking on two courses would be a lot of work - but two courses and planning a conference - yikes! I am so excited (and glad) that our Journey of the Universe film premiere and conference is this weekend. Registration is really healthy and all of the last minute details are coming together. We have a great line-up of presenters on the Saturday, with the whole emphasis being on the implications of this film. Executive Producer Mary Evelyn Tucker is our keynote speaker and will be with us throughout the conference. I've seen the film already and it is very well done. I am actually really impressed that even though it is carefully not anchored in any religious or spiritual tradition - the film provides ample opportunity for people of faith to find themselves in this story. It is true to Thomas Berry's idea that religions can't offer us the solutions we need, but neither can a solution come that does not include religions. The task for those of us who are devout people of faith and take this cosmology seriously is to find the ways in which our stories are found in the great story of the Universe (or as I like to think of it, the really big picture of how truly amazing Creation is when we stop thinking Creation is just about our planet). In many ways this is the inevitable end of the Copernican revolution - we may assent to a non-geocentric cosmology, but we still often get caught up in our anthropocentrism.

Here is the line up:

Opening comments: Dr. Karlijn Demasure, Dean, Faculty of Human Sciences (Saint Paul University)
Keynote address: Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker

Two sets of two concurrent panels:

Panel A: One Earth: Many Religions
  • Heather Eaton (Ph.D.) Saint Paul University: Christianity 
  • Iman Ibrahim (MA International Affairs): Islam 
  • James Miller (Ph.D.) Queen’s University: Daoism 
  • Noel Salmond (Ph.D.) Carleton University: Hinduism and Buddhism 
  • Moderator: Frank Emanuel (yours truly) 
Panel B: Natural Sciences 
  • Simon Appolloni (Ph.D. cand.) University of Toronto 
  • William David, Senior Policy Analyst, Assembly of First Nations 
  • Aaron Gross (Ph.D.) University of San Diego, Religion and Animals 
  • John Stone (Ph.D.) Carleton University, IPCC 
  • Moderator: Jessica Hetherington (Ph.D. cand.) 
Panel C: Spirituality

  • Cindy Gaudet (M.A.) Metis, Moon Lodge Canada 
  • Miriam Martin (Ed.D.) Saint Paul University, Religious Education 
  • Ian Prattis (Ph.D.) Carleton University emeritus, Zen 
  • Anne Taylor (M.P.S.) Kairos Spirituality for Social Justice Centre 
  • Moderator: Kathryn Guindon (M.Sc.) 

Panel D: Social Sciences and Political Action 

  • Tony Clarke, Director Polaris Institute 
  • Joe Gunn, Director Citizens for Public Justice 
  • Elizabeth May MP, Leader, Green Party of Canada 
  • Vern Neufeld Redekop (Ph.D.) Saint Paul University, Conflict Studies 
  • Moderator: Marlene Kelly (gsic), Team member of Kairos Spirituality for Social Justice Centre

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mourning the Loss of our first Family Pet

Gracie recently celebrated her first year with us. We even baked a hamster friendly cake - honey not sugar and full of the nuts she loved. We had been treating her for an eye infection and she had been quite lethargic as of late. We noticed because she was always so full of life. Even when we were giving her eye drops she never complained or nipped. And she seemed to be pulling through, but yesterday Sharon noticed that she seemed to be getting worse again. She passed away in her sleep, the girls found her in the morning. She looked so peaceful curled up. I found an appropriately sized box which the girls decorated. We all wrote messages for Gracie on the box and placed her in there with lots of shavings, just the way she liked to sleep. We also gave her her salt lick and a wooden heart she had for chewing. I dug a deep hole in the garden (about 2.5 feet) and we spent some time sharing the things we liked most about Gracie, good memories. I loved the way she would crawl all over my arms in the evenings. We capped the burial site with some stones the girls had painted at a vacation bible school they attended this summer. I think they were supposed to make images of Jesus or the cross - but my kids never do what you expect, they had both made pictures of Gracie. So these serve as a fitting reminder of the hamster we loved so much. It is a good opportunity to learn how to grieve together. Hard as that is I think it is an important part of life. Life is fragile. My youngest asked me if I thought Gracie would go to heaven. I asked her if she believed that God loved and cared for all God created. She said she did and I told her that was her answer. I am really aware that what we say about the dead is always for the living - her final words to Gracie were about being happy in heaven. Many, many tears were shed today, and I imagine more will come tonight. Rest in peace Gracie, you will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Settling in at Saint Paul

In exactly one hour I will be standing in front of a bit over 30 students talking about what we will do this semester in Introduction to Theology. I'm pretty excited. Just got situated with all my books and finally connected to the new wifi network at the school. Now to get my blackberry setup on the same WIFI so I can control my slides that way - Vectir rocks. If you are in my course, I'll be seeing you soon.