Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The company of strangers

Today I went to the English Department final luncheon for Professors at Ottawa University. It was good to meet a few of my "colleagues". I had a pleasant visit with a famous person! Cyril Dabydeen is the IMPAC nominated author of Drums of My Flesh, along with a gazillion other books, mostly novels and short stories. He was very kind to this fledgling author and co-teacher, and I really enjoyed conversing with him. We had people in common, which was fun! The gist of it was that I decided to read him, so will certainly be seeking out his work and I'll keep you posted about my reflections on this Caribbean-Canadian writer.

In the meantime I am finishing up Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wonderful book, The Dignity of Difference. I am tempted to write out great segments of it for you, but instead will satisfy myself with this lovely bit, to whet your whistles:

One of the classic roles of religion has been to preserve a space-physical and metaphysical-immune to the pressures of the market. When we stand before God we do so regardless of what we earn, what we own, what we buy, what we can afford. We do so as beings of ultimate, non-transactional value, here because someone-some force at the heart of being-called us into existence and summoned us to be a blessing. The power of the great world religions is that they are not mere philosophical systems, abstract truths strung together in strictly logical configurations. They are embodied truths, made vividly real in lives, homes, congregations, rituals, narratives, songs and prayers-in covenantal communities whose power is precisely that they are not subject to economic forces. They value people for what they are; the value actions for the ideals that brought them forth; they preserve relationships by endowing them with the charisma of eternity made real in the here-and-now.

p. 158

I must add that there is a terrific analysis of the relationship of religion and economics, and in nearing the end, a lovely rumination on forgiveness.

Deep-hearted stuff, well-thought out and presented in language which is both uplifting and accessible.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Picture's Worth...

This is where I live; the building is our National Art Gallery.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Jones