Monthly Archives: April 2022

Faith Without Buildings

The story on religious participation in Canada could not be bleaker. According to the Global national news last night, only 18% of Canadians remain religiously active or committed. Furthermore many Canadians no longer see religion as beneficial to society. While tolerant, they feel discomfort about organized religion. The full story can be read here: https://globalnews.ca/news/8759564/canada-religion-society-perceptions/

In another report the Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s in Newfoundland is in receivership, placing many of its properties up for sale. They are deluged with court ordered compensation payments to victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage. Parishioners are being told they should consider remortgaging their homes and buy their local church building, should they wish to continue worshiping there! This story can be read here: https://www.saltwire.com/atlantic-canada/opinion/commentary-a-time-of-reckoning-for-newfoundland-and-labradors-roman-catholic-churches-and-parishioners-100706474/#.Yl4AZdrIZsw.gmail

The reasons for the decline of religious participation in Canada are numerous. Youth are no longer instructed in the Faith at school or at home. The abuse scandals that rock the Catholic Church have resulted in much pain and shame and caused many of the flock to leave. The notion that Islam is a violent religion bent on world domination, has been sown by the media. Rigid pro-Trump views of the “religious right” have spilled over over into Canada causing much political division and negative views of religion. Pandemic authorities made things worse for believers by classifying religious ceremonies as “non-essential” services. Some faithful are still afraid to attend an indoor service and may never come back. The rise in the west of consumerism and neoliberalism with its cult of individualism means: I define what is wrong or right for me personally. Anti-authoritism and lack of respect for differences is rampant in social media.

Canadians see evangelical Christianity (e.g., Baptists, Mennonites, etc.), Islam and Roman Catholicism as the least beneficial to Canadian society. The younger the age group, the more strongly opposed they are to such institutions. While tolerance continues at present, is it just a matter of time until open persecution of members of these groups becomes socially acceptable? Sadly, it seems in the case of Muslims, such persecution has already begun in Canada on a regular basis.

So what are we religiously still active to make of this? Is the end of public religion as we know it, just a few short years away? When us old folks die off, will that be the final blow to organized religion? Will faith without buildings or people to fill them mean the end? I SAY FIRMLY NO! There are many positive happenings, please read on.

When we were in Mexico this past winter we attended a non-denominational evangelical church, because we were invited to by friends and the service was in English. As Catholics, it was great to experience the emphasis on the “word of God” and the great 35-40 min sermons that ensued by some great preachers. What was also unique and edifying was the fact that the service was held out-of-doors in a multi-purpose event facility rented to us on Sundays. It was a beautiful jungle setting and often there were gorgeous flowers for taking home that were left from a wedding held the previous day. This was a faith service without a building.

When in Winnipeg recently, we attended St Kateri Tekakwitha RC church which shares their building with a local Mennonite church community. In fact Lutherans had originally built the church but when their numbers declined, they sold the building and it became a multi-congregational facility.

Another positive development in my view is the proliferation of online religious services. In addition to regularly attending Mass, I watch EWTN daily Mass from Alabama, St. Michael’s Cathedral Masses from Toronto, Holy Cross Church Sunday Mass from Kemptville, ON and even the occasional service from St. Paul’s Presbyterian, my childhood church in Ottawa. I recently saw the Chrism Mass from the Pembroke Diocese without having to drive there. Wow! These have greatly enriched my lived religious experience. I imagine many of you have similar experience too. Hence accessibility to religious services is greatly enhanced now for all the committed, the curious and those seeking.

The last thing I wish to say on this subject (apart from sorry for the long post) is to ask the question “What are we being called to?” IMHO, to a new form of Church, a new form of religion. Whether it be attending small group services in peoples’ homes or outside, watching religion online, sharing a church building with other groups, going on a religious pilgrimage or spiritual retreat, private prayer and meditation at home, people today are still seeking healing and the Truth. Perhaps the need now is more than ever. Hence as children of God called to worship Him, the future is just as bright with or without the buildings.

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Bye to Winterpeg for now

Kyle, Ashley and Hazel

We are home now after our short stopover in Winnipeg. During our last two days there we went bowling together.

And back to the park one more time.

After some delicious donuts.

Went to St. Kateri Tekakwitha church as it is run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. They have a new larger church located in the north Main area now. We were welcomed warmly.

And Elias helped me blow my birthday cake candles out. Thanks Elias!

The weather was great. This week they are expecting 30 to 50 cm of snow from a late Colorado clipper storm! We were truly blessed in seeing our family. It’s good to be home again.

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We have to rethink the way we live in Canada

Having just returned from 3 months in Mexico, I am convinced we have to totally rethink our lifestyle in Canada. In Mexico our default mode of transport was our feet. We walked everywhere and when we couldn’t, (too far, with friends, grocery runs, etc.) we took a bus, Uber or cab. Yes, I can hear the yeah, buts….it’s different here.

When we got back to Winnipeg, we saw the 8 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic on Portage Ave going zoom, zoom, zoom and it suddenly dawned on me. We have to rethink and change our lifestyle, no matter how uncomfortable this will be. In Canada our default mode of transport is of course the private car powered by hydrocarbon based fuels. For those of you who already ‘get it’, ie what follows from this, congratulations! For you others, please read on.

As I learned from Mark Carney in his recent book Values, in order to limit global temperature rise to 2 Deg C from pre-industrial levels the world has a global carbon emissions budget. That is in terms of the amount of GHGs (greenhouse gases like CO2) released. These gases absorb or reflect heat back to earth causing increasing global temperatures which are leading to rising sea levels and more frequent raging wild fires, extreme heat events, droughts, floods, tornados, etc..

In fact each country has its own “carbon emissions budget“ and Canada is using its up already whether we are cognizant of this or not. We have to start designing communities so that the default mode of transportation can be walking and public transit again. A private car would only be used when other options are not viable. e,g, a road trip, commute to work. Apart from the GHG saving effects, we have found we are happier and healthier whenever we walk somewhere or take public transit- it simplifies things.

What about airline travel and discretionary cruises etc.? Economics can handle this in my view by increasing the cost of carbon emissions significantly thus deterring more and more of us from these types of activities. Heating your house you say. Zero emission electricity is the long term answer. Intercity travel? Busses, trains and zero emission cars.

My neighbour’s zero emission Hyundai Ionic

Progress is being made. The cost of batteries, solar cells and wind turbines has fallen dramatically. Carbon capture technologies are proving more feasible. Companies and governments are starting to publicly explain how and when they will attain net zero operations. Incentives to purchase zero emission vehicles are here. So before you hop in the car without thinking, how about considering other options … such as walking more often.

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