Friday, 28 March 2008

What they want you to know! by: Carter Shepard and Carolyn Cummings

What they want you to know!
Messages from beyond the grave.

By Carter Shepard and Carolyn Cummings
Cumming Press

ISBN 9780976706311


As a writer who has published nearly 200 book reviews in the last 3 years, I now daily receive offers of books from authors who have found here on my blog or my reviews on Imprint's website or Amazon.com or Amazon.ca. I usually look at all the offers and decide if it is a book I would be interested in reading or not, based upon the information they have included in their letter. I must have missed something big in the offer from this book. You see my reviews are broken down roughly as 50% Fiction, 15% Catholic, 10% Fiction, 10% History, 5% Fitness and Health, 5% Biography and 5% Tech manuals. So why would anyone think I would want to read a book by a psychic about supposed conversations with the dead?

What I was expecting from the write-up for the book, was gleaned wisdom from history figures' lives and how to live a better life. What the book is, is 18 supposed interviews with the dead historical figures through a medium. The book does provide a short biography for each of those 'interviewed'. The list includes Albert Einstein, Nicole Simpson, Ronald Reagan, Leonardo Da Vinci, Johnny Cash, Princess Diana, John Kennedy Jr., Princess Grace, Benjamin Franklin, Christopher & Dana Reeve, Jackie Kennedy, William Shakespeare, Audrey Hepburn, Howard Hughes, Natalie Wood, Steve Irwin, Abraham Lincoln and John Scudder. An impressive list of historical figures to have drop into your parlor for a conversation.

Most of the participants seem anxious to share their views on life, love and living with the authors. It is interesting to note that if the book is correct and they did have conversations with the dead, modern English is what is spoken in the afterlife. The book is also full of photos spanning the interviewees' lives.

I am not sure what to make of the book. It was interesting and somewhat fun to read these supposed stories. But that is coming from a point of view that believes that interviews like these cannot have taken place. If offered as true experience, as I believe the book is intended, I feel it is misguided and dangerous if however it is intended as fun and humourous then it is well done and worth a read. So I will leave it to your personal beliefs and persuasions as to whether you pick up this book or not. But buyer be warned - it might not be exactly what you're expecting.

(Fist Published in Across the Creek 2008-04-01 in the Book Look column.)

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Legacy of Ogma by: E.A. Rappaport

The Legacy of Ogma
E.A. Rappaport
iUniverse
ISBN
9780595464043 (Paperback)
ISBN 97805957010919 (Cloth)

ISBN 9780595906987 (Ebook)


Halia, a beautiful young thief, finds a small crystal orb. This is the beginning of a grand adventure. While searching for the key to the sphere, she encounters Ahriman a sorcerer and Xarun a warrior, both of whom has his own sphere. The three set off on an adventure around the globe to find out the secrets of the orbs. This book has it all - wizards, thieves, warriors, battles between good and evil. It contains travel, or we should say journey or quest, and the great unknown.

This book has it all for a fantasy fan! There is epic scenery across the continent and under the sea. Add to that adventure, weapons, magic and battles. A reader could not ask for more in a book from this genre than we have in this volume.

Rappaport writes in a smooth and pleasing style. The reader gets drawn into the story and the world is so well-crafted it becomes believable. While reading this book you are transported into a world in your imagination and it is as if you are there participating in the events. Rappaport creates believable characters that stay true to themselves. Some new authors have characters who become wishy-washy or who seem to change personality part way through a book, sometimes even a number of times. Rappaport has not fallen into that error. He obviously spent a lot of time planning the characters and the plot to create this novel. He also does a great job at describing stunning scenery and believable fight scenes. His battles are neither too gory nor too glossed over. He writes with the balanced approach of a pro. The dialogue is great - neither stunted nor verbose. Rappaport has written an excellent book.

This book is the first in a series by E.A. Rappaport, and if the other two books in the weapons trilogy are as good as this one, fantasy fans are in for a treat, not only in this series but in future writings from Rappaport. If you are a fantasy fun give this new author a try.

(First published in Imprint 2008-03-28.)

Monday, 24 March 2008

Catholic Blog Awards 2008 - Thank you.

Thank you once again for the nominations and the votes. I finished middle of the pack which is a little higher than last year. For the full results from the Catholic Blog Awards then please click here, go and check out some of the great blogs out there!


Saturday, 22 March 2008

The Prodigal Son - An Analysis

The Prodigal Son - An Analysis

The story of the prodigal son is one that strikes a cord with almost everyone who hears it. In a very primal way we can all relate to the story from different points in our lives - being the parent, and one or the other of the two sons. There have been times in my life when I have been the son who squandered it all, at others the father giving to the one who squandered, and the son who stayed at home and did what was to be done, resenting the prodigal's glorious return party.

So from this point I must state that I easily and quickly relate to all three of the main characters in the story, but also to the fourth character - the audience that hears the story for the first time. In my opinion they are the ones whose minds we must really get into. For if we can understand their reactions, we will understand the characters
better.

First, I will look at the aspects of the story that apply to each of the four characters, and then how I relate to each of them. Next, I will attempt to see how each of the characters would have related to the story, and thus hear it through their ears. Finally, I will look at the jokes, puns, put downs and humor in the parable.


However, I would like to look at the story itself first. It is fairly commonly known that in rabbinical schools, instructors would teach in story form. Therefore it is not surprising that Jesus used this format. What is surprising is that he put such deliberate insults and cutting remarks into the story. In Jewish society, the son would have been considered dead after taking his inheritance, and to take the son back would have been an insult done by the father, to the father, as perceived by society. The most obvious cutting remarks made were about the son having worked with pigs, the most unclean animal to the Jewish people. So the question becomes, why did Jesus include such unusual acts in this story?

Jesus uses these unique features in order to stretch and pull the minds of the
listeners then and the readers now. He is checking to see if we grasp the twists and turns within the message. Do we catch on to the fact that the grace given, His grace doesn't make sense? That God is sneaky and mischievous in using what ever it takes to draw us back to Himself?

In considering most of my life, I relate best to the prodigal, who took was coming to him, took it out of turn, then proceeded to run away and squander it. When I entered Queen's university ten years ago, I wanted God's blessing but was unwilling to yield to him all area's of my life. Especially were the areas of my finances, relationships, sexuality, and vocation. I was just unwilling to trust God, and tried to work my own plans. So I took the money God provided and tried to do what I wanted with my life. I took the loot and wasted it, much like the prodigal on wine, women and song. At Queen's I spent more time concerned with being with friends and having a good time, than using the gifts and talents God has given to me. I ended up with a Dean's vacation (at the school's insistence, a year off to consider if I want to be at school). I then found myself getting ready to live on the streets of Ottawa-there was no more money, no work, and no friends left. That was when I finally turned back to God and said "ok I yield, do it your way. What do you want me to do?" Much like the prodigal I
realized my sins were against God and Heaven, as well as against all of those who have tried to help me and been rejected by me. I too found myself coming back begging to be a servant.

And like the Father in this story, my God in heaven welcomed me back, and through me a party. The father in this story is the character I relate to the least. Here he is showing unconditional love to someone who according to Jewish religious customs should be dead to him - the Father should not have even acknowledged him. Yet the father runs out to him, and in a shameful way, welcomes him back - he goes to great length's to show his love and acceptance of his son. He kills the fatted calf, gives him the best robe, a ring, and sandals. This father does not care about convention, customs, or even pride. He throws every thing out the window to embrace the son whom he loves and had thought was dead or thought he would never see again.


Much like this father, I too have been in places of having to do what does not make sense in order to show love. I have a friend who has Multiple Personality Disorder; for whom I have been on support team for a few years now. Time and again, we have watched her throw away her progress and success so that she might gain short-term release through alcohol, sex or drugs. Each time she came back asking for help, and each time we have been there for her; accepting her, loving her, and doing what ever it takes to help her. At one point her body was not getting any rest; the personalities that were children would come out and keep the body up playing all night. In order to help her, I started going to her place each night and reading the Narnia Chronicles to her until the children fell a sleep, then would let myself out. It took time and effort, and doesn't make sense to a lot of people. But it was what needed to be done to help her.

So like the father I was willing to sacrifice my honour and my care for what other's opinions were, to help someone close and dear to me. Now however we must look at the hardest position: that of the elder son. I believe it is the hardest, because we don't want to see ourselves there. We don't want to see when we have been unforgiving, resentful, unyielding or even down right judgmental.

It is very easy for us to think harshly of the older son. To see his anger and think that it is wrong and should not be there. However, we need to realize that for years he had done all that his father had asked. He was not wrong in his reactions; he could just not understand his father's joy over a little brother who has just wasted his father's money and possessions. I too find myself sitting in judgment of others, of those who have been blessed and do not seem to be using their blessing, and also those who seem to forgive too easily. I know that I need to learn to be more like the father and less like the older son. I need to learn how to extend grace and mercy unto others as I would like to receive it from God and others myself.

Yet we have to take into consideration that this older son did the right and good, and was feeling very under appreciated. How many times have we grumbled against the blessings of others? A good example is the case of Jeffery Dalhmer. Prior to his execution he became a Christian, and was involved with an extensive bible study and discipleship by the prison's chaplain. Yet I have heard Christians say "if he is gonna be in heaven I don't want to be there", or they say it was all a show and don't believe that he really became a Christian. It is true, we can never know for certain if someone else is a Christian or whether they are acting, but we do need to give the benefit of the doubt.

This reminds me of a story a pastor told once. A pastor goes into an elder's meeting and says that he knows for certain that someone in the congregation has been committing adultery. He asks the elders what should be done about it, and 11 of the twelve say the man should be put out of the church. The oldest of the elders is sitting there quietly, with tears streaming down his face. The pastor asks him why he is crying, and he responds, "there but by God's grace goes I." That is the man the pastor takes with him to confront the adulterer. The pastor found out which of the elders would be willing to extend grace, and which of them would condemn.

That is how we need to respond to those who have fallen away: with grace and mercy, not just the minimum amount of it. The father in this story could have taken the younger son back as a servant as the son wanted, but he restored him as a son, going as far as he could in extending mercy and love to his son.

In looking at the audience, I am not sure how they would have responded to this message. Some would have assumed it was ramblings and not worth their time. Others who knew their sinfulness would have yearned for a response such as the father gave the son. Yet others still would have felt as if their whole life had been like they had been playing the merciful father, and would do so again and again and again, till the son's and daughters stopped coming home.

The Parable of the Lost Student!
(The assignment to write a modern parable.)

There once was a young man, who had good marks, and good looks and was on his way to success. He knew God had placed a call upon his life, but he tried to go his own way, studying sciences rather than religion. He went off to school, doing "okay" in his first year, but falling heavily into debt. His second year he drank heavily, fell further into debt, with his marks falling again. In his third year he was asked to take time off and see if he really wanted to be at university. He then found that he could not find work, or keep it. So he returned to church and to God and decided to follow him.

And for seven terms in a row God has provided the money for the schooling, and God has blessed him with good marks and continually provided jobs and housing term by term. And now this young man is trying to follow in God's ways.

(First Written for RS206 Jesus Life and Legacy Spring 2000.)
Last Year I reviewed a great book about the Prodigal Son by George Chevrot.


Thursday, 20 March 2008

The Mystic Masseur - A Film Criticism

Title: The Mystic Masseur
Year: 2001

Director: Ismail Merchant

Writer: V.S. Naipaul (novel)
Caryl Phillips (screenplay)
Studio: Merchant Ivory Productions

Film Stock: Color
Run Time: 117 min.

The film The Mystic Masseur from director Ismail Merchant presents a bit of a baffling story when examined from Irish Catholic eyes. However with that limitation in mind, I will attempt to address the question of the cult of Ganesh (pun intended). Was Ganesh, or G Ramsey Muir, a conman or a mystic and does the movement that rose up around him, or that he created, count as a cult? If it is a cult, in what ways?


Stark & Bainbridge in their article outline 3 models of cult formation. They are: 1) the Psychopathology Model, 2) the Entrepreneur Model and 3) the Subculture-Evolution Model. The Mystic Masseur, and the movement that develops around Ganesh, fits both models two and three. In the rest of the paper we will examine how specifically.

In the entrepreneurial model Bainbridge and Stark list ten chief ideals about the development or work of a cult in this style. They state: "1. Cults are business which provide a product for their customers and receive payment in return, 2. Cults are mainly in the business of selling novel compensators, or at least freshly packaged compensators that appear new, 3. Therefore, a supply of novel compensators must b
e manufactured, 4. Both the manufacture and sales are accomplished by entrepreneurs. …" Ganesh creates both a successful business and a successful cult out of writing his books and advising people.

One of the first examples of this from the film is his healing of Pratap of the dark clouds that are haunting him. In this screen shot we see Ganesh behind a curtain, his wife Leela directing the show in front of the curtain, Beharry shoved to the side, Pratap front and center, with his mother Mrs. Cooper and Auntie observing the healing take place. The setting is a mix of symbols and practices from across religious traditions. Candles, bells incense, yet a crucifix sitting on the table with 5 bowls of offering on the left by Beharry. In this scene we see the manufacture of ritual and practice that produces a miraculous healing. This is the beginning of the rise of the cult of Ganesh in the movie.

In the Subcultural-Evolution model, in this way the cult of Ganesh emerges in the Indian Hindu community in Trinidad through a number of factors, and like Stark & Bainbridge predict, it reaches a point of failure due to the exchanging of compensators. Ganesh becomes a leader within the Indian community on Trinidad; he first becomes a healer, and spiritual writer, and then through that popularity he becomes a member of parliament. However, after Ganesh moves from being the mystic masseur to being a representative of the government he quickly falls from grace with the people who were once his
closest followers. He cannot return to being the mystic masseur after the people have lost some of their faith in him. Therefore the cult diminishes until he visits oxford where he is now known only as a foreign dignitary, whom Pratap does not recognize by the name he is using now.

The film The Mystic Masseur sees the rise and fall of a cult leader within a subculture. Ganesh moves through many roles and titles or positions through the movie with an ease of a snake-oil salesman, who changes his pitch for each town or state he is visiting. The cult rises up around Ganesh and it also falls down around him during the progression of the film. As such, this is a religious film showing a Hindu personality cult localized to a specific place and subculture.


Endnotes:

Bainbridge & Stark Cult Formation: Three Compatible Models 1979
IBID. P.288
IDIB p.291,292

Bibliography

Bainbridge, William S
& Stark, Rodney
Cult Formation: Three Compatible Models
1979

http://imdb.com/

(First Written for RS266 Religion in Popular Film Fall 2007.)

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Cursillo 50 Years of Challenge In North America

Cursillo 50 Years of Challenge

The Cursillo, or Cursillo de cristianidad, -the little course in Christianity- started fifty years ago, in the format that we know it in today. But just what it is, who is involved, how it spreads, and where it is going are questions that are hard to answer. Even for those who have made a weekend, Cursillistas, the answers are not clear cut. I will be looking at some of the history, format and direction of this group. But most importantly I will be looking at
it's purpose, it's goal.
Cursillo started as a renewal movement among men in Spain. The first course, that resembles those of today, was run in January 1949. Within a very short time, the need for weekends for women was recognised. By 1952 the course was taking place in the States, both in Spanish and in English. It grew out of a need for men to become more involved in the church again. It was brought to the US by Spanish airmen who were training in Texas.
The course focuses on: "The participants live in a close community atmosphere for a period of 3 days for the purpose of trying to help each other achieve a deeper and richer appreciation of their life in Christ." It also attempts to define what the community should be at it's core. It is an attempt to apply Christianity to all areas of one's life. It was also hoped that it would help to bring about some of the reforms that were proposed in the Vatican II: "Many thought it was helping to usher in the new age of renewal by putting into practice the emphasis on personalism and community of contemporary pastoral theology and of the documents of the Vatican Council." But in order to do this it had to work inner change in the participants, Pope John Paul II put it this way, "The purpose of evangelism is therefore precisely this interior change." Thus we can see that Cursillo is about inner change, within the participants. Frank Briganti puts it this way, "It is rather an Impulse, a movement towards restoring Christ in society by means of individual renovation." therefore Cursillo is not meant to be a movement, but a practical living out of faith, a way of life. Dominick Wiseman described Cursillo this way, "Cursillo is not focused on doing, it is about being, we are called to be followers of Christ, to be Christ for others." Thus Cursillo can not be seen as an end in itself, but it is the beginning. The participants are to take back to their lives what they learn. It should be the introduction to something better, more fulfilling. "The main thrust is to encourage and support people where they are, in the workplace, factory, office, sports club, local neighbourhood and parish." At the National Cursillo Centre they state, "This weekend should be pictured as an introduction to something better, not as an end in itself." Pope John Paul II gave this command in his address to the national Ultreya: "You, members of the "Cursillos of Christianity", must then be the ferment in the various environments of modern society in order to make today's man meet the look of Christ the Saviour. ... concerned with being evangelical leven in the places where you live and work." But Cursillo also realized that we cannot do this alone.
One of the mainstays of the group is grace, the key verse from the bible for this is; "the one who began the good work among you will being it to completion." At the end of the weekend when you are given a cross you are told "Christ is counting on you.", Pope John Paul II expanded this and stated " Christ is counting on you, and you can count on his grace." But we can not do this by ourselves, we need others. This community aspect of Cursillo, challenges participants to meet in both Group Reunion and Ultreya. In small groups of 4-6 and in large groups of many groups. In the small groups you share in what is happening, you are vulnerable, open and care for and support each other. We help each other to persevere in living the Christian life. In the Ultreya we are encouraged and challenged by the greater community.

Cursillo has grown fast and furious in North America, since it's introduction in 1952, by the late 1960's: "More then 100,000 Catholics in this country have made the Cursillo," and in 1980, "An estimate of more than 75,000 people who make a Cursillo each year in the 135 American dioceses in the US where some 750,000 persons have completed the three-day period of spiritual renewal". As can be seen by these numbers Cursillo is growing exponentially. It has been growing by 50000 people a year, and it doesn't show any sign of slowing.
Cursillo has also been changing with the times; they recently changed some of the terminology so that it would be more current. "Piety is now Holiness, Study is now Formation, Action is now Evangelization" Although Cursillo is also inherently Catholic, "It is not that the Cursillo should be for catholics only but that the Cursillo be denominational because the program should be true to each denomination's particular teachings, dogma, liturgy, ect." But in remaining Catholic it is sharing this tool of growth. Thus the Cursillo is in the control of the Cursillo secretariat, the catholic Cursillo, licenses other denominations to run their own courses. These other denominations must sign an agreement to stay true to the goals and purposes of the Cursillo. They also conform as much as they can to the catholic weekend, as far as they can in faith. An example is Mary and the rosary are not part of the Lutheran "Walk to Emmaus", or the Presbyterian "Cursillo". But Cursillo does encourage group and Ultreya that can be ecumenical.

One of the biggest area's of Cursillo growth is in prisons in the US, where they run catholic Cursillo and where there is also a new ministry called Karios, and ecumenical Cursillo for prisoners.
Where Cursillo is going is hard to tell, it is still spreading even if at a slower rate then was anticipated. It is spreading across denominations and around the world. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Hamilton in his letter "Renew 2000" challenged those in his diocese to be more ecumenical, and to this end 2 Cursillistas have undertaken to arrange an Ontario wide, interdenominational Ultreya in the year 2000, and smaller events in cities across the province. There are also plans underway for a World Ultreya in Rome, "World Ultreya will be held on July 24th, 2000 in Rome with the Pope presiding."

So Cursillo is still going forward and challenging people to community and to be Christ to the world.

Endnotes

  1. Christ to the World, Volume 7 1962, p.161
  2. Modern Catholic Encyclopaedia, p.548
  3. L'Osservatore Romano, 20th May 1985, p.9
  4. The Priest, January 1962, p.33
  5. The Tablet, 12th April 1997 p.467
  6. The Tablet, 12th April 1997 p.466
  7. Http://www.natl-cursillo.org/faq.html
  8. L'Osservatore Romano, 20th May 1985, p.9
  9. Philippians 1:6, NRSV
  10. L'Osservatore Romano, 20th May 1985, p.9
  11. America, April 29th 1967, p.616
  12. US Catholic, January 1980, p.29
  13. Http://www.natl-cursillo.org/faq.html
  14. Http://www.natl-cursillo.org/faq.html
  15. Http://www.natl-cursillo.org/world.html
Glossary

Ultreya Medieval Spanish for "Onward", or "keep going". It is a weekly meeting in
which there is further explanation of faith or morals but in a setting similar
to that of a Cursillo.

Cursillo (cursillo de cristianidad) "the little course in Christianity". A movement of the church which by means of it's own method makes it possible for people to live
what is fundamental for being a Christian, and to live it together, it helps people
discover and fulfill their personal vocations, and it promotes the creation of
core groups of Christians who leaven their environments with the Gospel.
Group Reunion The group reunion has two elements - the group (of persons) and the
reunion (the group coming together). Combined, the two elements constitute the total reality of a group reunion, which can be defined as a group of Christian
friends who gather together on a regular basis to become better friends and
better Christians.

Holiness is developed by Morning devotions, prayer life, worship attendance, Communion and spiritual retreats.

Formation is study. God's presence is realized through reading Holy Scriptures, and daily Spiritual Guides, Our Horizons are widened through reading Religious publications, Denominational newspapers, and religious magazines.

Growth in religious understanding is achieved through attending, bible studies,
Church school classes, and religious seminars.

Evangelization Is what we do during the week so Christ will be better known and loved in your: family, vocation, community, small group, and Christian community.

Note: All deffinitions come from the following two web pages.
Http://www.natl-cursillo.org/faq.html
http://members.aol.com/alanj32020/curfaq.htm

Bibliography

Modern Catholic Encyclopaedia, article on "Cursillo",
Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN; 1994

Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version,
World Publishers, Iowa falls, Iowa; 1989

Journals

Benet, J. Hervas. The Cursillos de cristianidad: A magnificent Instrument of Christian Renewal and of the Apostolic Conquest, in Christ to the World, 1962 Vol. 7 p.161-168

Pope John Paul II. 'Cursillos' are an instrument brought about by God to announce the Gospel in our age, in L'Osservatore Romano, Rome 20th May 1985 p.9 (Reprint of Sermon Given Saturday April 20th 1985 to Ultreya)

Not Attributed. Attack on Cursillo, in America, April 29th 1967, p.616

Wiseman, Dominick. A Weekend For Christ, in Tablet, 12th April 1967, p.466,467

Reilly, Robert T. Is The Cursillo Movement Winding Down, in US Catholic, Janurary 1980 p.25-30

Brigant, Frank. The 'Cursillo' Makes it's Way, in The Priest, Janurary 1962 p.33-38

Web Pages

The National Cursillo Centre - Frequently Asked Questions
http://www.natl-cursillo.org/faq.html

The National Cursillo Centre - World Cursillo Events
http://www.natl-cursillo.org/world.html

(First wriutten for RS 100H Catholicism Winter 1999.)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The Wrath of Zar by: Shayne Easson

The Wrath of Zar
Shayne Easson
Westbank Publishing

ISBN 0978984013

I cautiously approach first books by authors, especially if they are being touted as having great talent. Most of my favourite authors develop their voices as they progress through a number of works, from Douglas Coupland, to Chuck Palahniuk, Steven Brust and others. I have gone back and reread their books in the order they were written to see the progression in their skill and talent as a story teller. Thus when I was asked to review Shayne Easson's first book, I agreed with a little hesitancy. Easson surprised!

This book is action-packed, and full of adventure, daring and danger. Our hero is Adan Caynne who has a life full of mystery and trials. There are many unanswered questions about his father, and a brother that has been captured and dragged away from home by demons. As time goes on and he searches for his brother, he discovers that a few key people will help shape the future of his people - if they are to have a future. He finds himself bound to these individuals: Prince Riordan of Corrona, and Princess Karyna of Wyndhaven, both of whom are on their own quest. Then Adan comes to realize that even though he is from a small village, he is one of them.

This book, the first from Calagrian Shayne Easson, does not disappoint. It is very reminiscient of Peir's Anthony's Battle Circle trilogy, Sos the Rope, Var the Stick and Neq the Sword. Easson has developed a strong voice as a writer. His characters are believable and not one-dimensional. The plot moves at a great pace and keeps you drawn in. The story ends and leaves you wanting more. There is not much more you could ask for from a fiction novel - it entertains, it takes you to a different world, and it makes you care about the characters and leaves you desiring to know what happens next.

This is a very good first book, and will be enjoyed by those who like Sword and Sorcery style fantasy.

(First Published in Imprint 2008-03-14.)

Friday, 14 March 2008

Dump your Trainer by: Ashley Marriott and Marc L. Paulsen

Dump Your Trainer
Ashley Marriott, Certified Personal Trainer
and Doctor Marc L. Paulsen
BookSurge Publishing

ISBN 9781419680236


Some books are self-published or as some call them, "vanity press books" - and for a reason. This happens to be one of them. Over the last decade or so I have read a number of fitness books from Body for Life, to Sly Moves and from most I can take away some useful information and apply it to my life. I cannot even say that about this book. The book is touted as being a fun guide to weight loss and fitness, humorous and insightful. To be honest, I did not find it any of those things.

The book has a number of things against it from the get go. The cover is a joke and the photos that are supposed to show you how to do exercises are small, dark and grainy. The margins are too big, and the amount of whole space per page makes the book look unfinished, unprofessional and like it is a draft version not a finished product.

The book makes a number of claims that just seem unfounded and irrational. It claims that you can burn three times the calories playing some video games as you can in a training session with a personal trainer. It also states that some programs with a personal trainer can cause you to gain weight. In my experience that may be true, but in gaining that weight it is more lean muscle mass and dropped body fat and inches from the body. So gaining that weight is actually a good thing and a sign of progress. Marriott is a certified personal trainer, and I bet her rates went up after this book published. The book is supposed to be a tool to work out on your own and not spend money on trainers, yet Marriot's biography states that she has a wide range of clients and still teaches group classes. Dr. Paulsen claims that he lost over 50lbs using this program and has kept it off for over 8 years. Did he not use Marriott as a personal trainer to lose those pounds? The contradictions in these things make you not want to trust anything in the book.

On a positive note the book will teach you how to do a personal fitness assessment. It does include sample shopping lists, and meal plans and a number of healthy recipes. Marriot also touts the Wii as an exercise tool, but why wouldn't she? She is developing a video game for it based on this book. It's said that the best way to make money from writing is to write a self-help book, a romance novel or a fitness book. Marriott has done just that and given it a clever title that will attract attention and some hype. So in conclusion, Marriott is great at marketing and self- promotion but the book in my opinion is no different from a lot of others on the market and not as good as some of them, and therefore not worth the time or effort. Besides, who has time to read a fitness book, when you can go and play your Wii and call it today's workout?

(First Published in Imprint 2008-03-14.)

Other Fitness Articles:
Fall 2011 Programs
Workout program March 2012
My Gear February 2012
Fitness My Retrospective

TRX Articles:
TRX an Introduction
TRX Force

TRX Force Tactical
TRX Essential Flexibility

My P90X Series:
Phase I, Phase II, Gear, Phase III, Fitness Options, P90X at 120 Days Out

Health & Fitness Book Reviews:
The Primal Blueprint 21 Day Total Body Transformation - Mark Sisson
The Ten Commandments Of Lifting Weights - Jared Zimmerer

Toadally Primal Smoothies - Todd Dosenberry
Caveman Resurection - Jeff Pickett
40 Days to Optimal Health - Dr. Scott Morris
Eat Stop Eat - Brad Pilon
The Primal Blueprint - Mark Sisson
The New Rules of Lifting - Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove
Bench Press by: Sven Lindqvist
Sly Moves by: Sylvester Stallone
Fit for Eternal Life: A Christian Approach to Working Out, Eating Right, and Building the Virtues of Fitness in Your Soul by: Dr. Kevin Vost
Body for Life 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strenght by: Bill Phillips
Lose Fat Not Faith by Jeremy R. Likeness
Living The Good Life: Your Guide to Health and Success by: David Patchell-Evans
Dump your Trainer by: Ashley Marriott and Marc L. Paulsen

Thursday, 13 March 2008

The Mathetes Awards

I was nominated for a Mathetes Award for Witness. Thank you Ebeth, much appreciated.
The mathetes Award is not originally from a Catholic, however, as the Church teaches, there is truth in all Christian faiths and I truly believe that. Being a disciple for Christ is a taking road less traveled, not being liked by everyone, and taking chances to make a difference.

Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) it to make more disciples. So the rules for accepting the award are such:
Winners of this award must pick five other "disciples" to pass it on to, and provide links for
(1) the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God),
(2) the person that awarded it to you, and then
(3) name and sites of the five people that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ.

Well, here are the five bloggers that inspire me:

Eric Scheske - The Daily Eudemon
Grant and Janet Carioni - The Carioni's Adopt
Alan Linton - Esgaroth's Journal
James Hahn - Real Life Rosary
Karen Hall - Some Have Hats

So who will you nominate?

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Award Nominations:

I have been nominated for some awards lately and to be honest it is a bit of a surprise.

First Last fall I was nominated for a Mathetes Award for Witness. Thank you Ebeth, much appreciated.
I found out recently I have also been nominated for some Blogger Choice Awards. I do not deserve to win in either category.
Finally I have been nominated for a few categories in the Catholic Blog Awards again this year. I really do not feel like I deserve them either but thanks for the nominations and for the votes. This year I have been nominated for:

Best Individual Catholic Blog
Best Overall Catholic Blog
Best Written Catholic Blog
Most Informative & Insightful Catholic Blog
Smartest Catholic Blog


Last year this blog was nominated for the CBA's in the catagories of:
Smartest Catholic Blog
Best Written Catholic Blog

My Other Blog (Now abandoned McEvoysMusings.) was nominated for:
Best Individual Catholic Blog
Best New Catholic Blog
Most Spiritual Catholic Blog
Best Written Catholic Blog

Which always baffled me a bit because all post there were on Book Reviews and More, it was just a filtered version of my Catholic and Christian Book Reviews. I do not know who is nominating me, but I can say thank you, even though I only blog because I like writing book reviews and promoting books I like and enjoy. This blog only started as an archive for my published book reviews. So thank you, I hope you enjoy the expanded horizons as I publish some of my essays, and reviews of tech books on top of my normal fiction, and religious book reviews.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

What Does the Bible Say About Peace? Or Does The Bible And Peace Overlap At All?

What Does the Bible Say About Peace?
Or Does The Bible And Peace Overlap At All?


When one mentions the bible and peace in the same breath, in to days world, it can often lead to debate, arguments, frustration and even anger. So even to begin with the topic of the bible and peace is difficult at best. Especially if one is trying to combine academic aspirations and deep profound personal belief.

I know that I am full of contrary notions and behaviors. I have come to accept the dichotomy that is myself, full of lofty idea?s, notions and beliefs?s; and also base actions and great failures to those ideals and to God. Yet this is also the understanding of peace and the bible that I am coming to from this course. I see the Bible as a book about peace, but most of it?s examples and stories are the stories of where peace is lost or forfeited by our old/sinful self.

In this paper I will try and define my understanding of peace, how peace and the bible relate, also how I relate to the concepts of peace/shalom and the Bible. I will be looking at a few passages from the course work that have really affected me. I will also try and tie together the many loose ends that the readings, lectures, bible itself and my own thoughts on each of the previous three. I know even now that I will barely scratch the surface of these topics, and my own study of this theme has only just begun through this course and it will be a lifelong pursuit.


My first task will be to define peace or shalom, as I will be using them from now on in this paper. I like what Westermann has to say in The Meaning of Peace, (pp 19,20), that shalom can only be present when there is wholeness or completeness in all areas of an individuals life. Douglas Harris in Shalom, describes it as wholeness, welfare and well-being. I agree in essence with both of these authors. However I see the dichotomy in the concept of peace up against that of Shalom. In the first class on September 14, we as a group flowcharted our ideals on Peace, and some of the dichotomy?s in our ideals. This is contained in appendix A. As can be seen from this chart the concepts and idea?s that ?Peace? brings to mind are many and varied. My working concept is that Shalom and Peace are two overlapping circles, Shalom is the ideal or goal and peace is what we often settle for. Not that we would stop striving for the goal. Shalom should be our hope and our aspiration.

I will first look at some Old Testament passages, the first in my opinion is the perfect example of my definition of shalom. Leviticus 26:3-6, in this passage God promises complete blessings and protection, if the Israelites will only follow God?s commands and statutes. There is in these three short versus promise of plenty of food, protection on land, and peace(shalom) for the people. In fact most of Leviticus and Deuteronomy are the promise of peace ,if. These two books are filled with ?if ... then? statements. If you do this... then it will go well with you. These are God?s offer, and promise of peace if the people will only live in His Ways. Yet time and time again the people turn away to their own ways, and forsake God. There are examples of this turning aside by both individuals and by communities, or most of Israel.

The first example I will look at is that of King David. David, who was called a man after God?s own heart, yet not only committed adultery, but tried to cover it up in two different ways. This story is covered in 2 Samuel11-12. Because of this sin against others and God had great ramifications on David, His Family and also the nation. In 2 Samuel 12:7-15, is God?s judgement on David, this judgement includes the death of the child of this union; adultery will be done unto David and it will be public, and the sword and strife will follow David and His house. The loss of shalom to the Kings house, caused major problems in the whole kingdom. For as the battle for the crown between David and his son, Absalom, the whole nation was in a state of lack of unity, loss of shalom.

The next example predates the previous, and it is the story of the war with Benjamin, as seen in Judges 19-21. In this story, 11 tribes go to war with Benjamin because of a call to battle by a Levite. In Judges 20:18 the first major mistake is made by the 11, they enquire of the Lord, ?Who shall go up first.? When they really should of been asking if they should be going up. They make this mistake two times, and get beaten back by Benjamin. They also end up committing a greater sin in providing wives for the remaining Benjaminits because of their rash oaths. This who section leads into the period of Kings, with the final verse of Judges, there was no king in those days, and every one did what was right in their own sight(Steve?s Paraphrased Version).

Thus the shalom that was to be established by the 12 tribes being a federation under God had failed. The people had gone there own ways. This lead to the poeple asking for a King, to be like the nations around them. The role and responsibilities of the King changed through different periods of Hebrew history. But it was expected that a King would guide and rule, and be a guarantor or peace. That a king would reward good, and punish evil. However this seldom was the case. Saul, David and Solomon each had good starts but each messed up majorly as kings, and each caused a loss of Shalom. Then in the post exilic writings a new vision of a King came into the writings, that of king as worship leader, priest.

This exilic vision of the king, was very different from that at the end of Judges. At the end of Judges the people believed a King could and would solve most of their problems. Unfortunately, the King really just added a whole new set of problems into the social structure. In first Samuel 8:11-18, detail all the ways a good king will be taxing on the people. He will take the best of all they have, fruit, flocks, offspring, produce. And all of his sins end up bringing problems on the whole nation, as seen above in the case of David. Where in the exilic writings they look back and see the problems with the King system, so they rewrite the role of king. He is to sit in the temple, lead worship, copy scriptures, be a judge. This is almost a looking back at the Judges period with longing, for ?The Good old Days.? Or it is a synthesis of the 3 periods of there history so far. People as slaves, people as group of federated tribes, and a nation under God through a king.

Thus it is not surprising that Jesus was not recognized by most as the long awaited Messiah, The Prince of peace, The Prince of Shalom. Some were expecting a revolutionary, a strong king with a Mighty right arm, a ruler to overthrow the established Roman rule, and return Israel to it?s military and political prestige of the past. When Christ came preaching release to the captives, the sick healed, the bound loosed. He was not what most were expecting or what most wanted in their Messiah, their Shalom among them. They were expecting A warrior, and they perceived Jesus as a rabble-rouser, a subversive. They wanted the Peace of military might, he offered true peace of the year of the Lord, the Jubilee.

Jesus came to teach a new way, what Walter Wink calls ?the Third Way?. Jesus shows this in many passages but the two most powerful are Mark 12:13-17, and The Sermon on the mount/plain. In these instances Jesus is showing that there are more options open to us then we often think. And if we are to be instruments of peace, we will need to be listening to the voice of God in order to notice these counter cultural ways. Our options are not to just be submissive and take all the abuse, and not the other extreme of open revolt or becoming the abusers our selves. But Jesus 3rd way is to exert our personhood, to take back our equality, and to be workers for peace on a different level. We are to be wagers of peace. What all this means I have not figured out, but I have come to understand that I need to be much more reflective on my actions and the underlying reasons for those actions. I need to be cognoscente of why I do what I do, and where it is leading me in my life. Either as an instrument of peace, or of chaos, conflict and destructions.

One of the biggest things I have learnt from this course, is something that Tom said in class, ?You can never count on God behaving the way you want. He is sneaky and ingenious in ways he seeks peace.? There are example after example of this in the Bible. God will go to nearly any lengths to make peace with us frail, sinful, sinfull, obstinate, proud, haughty hardhearted people.

My Favorite example of God?s sneakiness in waging peace is the story of Jonah and Ninevah. From the beginning Jonah knew God would forgive these people and not work his wrath on them. Jonah knew if he went and preached the judgement on them, that they would repent, and God would relent. That is why Jonah tried to run away. Yet how often are we like Jonah, are we called to bring about repentance, change, or reconciliation, and we try and run away from what God is calling us to do. In playing ?Jonah? this way, we are being instruments of unpeace, or we are being counter peace agents. We should all glory and bring glory to God, when we are at peace with Him, at peace with others, and can be open to being used as His instruments of peace.

Yet in order to be open to being these warriors for peace. We need to know God, and His story; through the bible. Only by being familiar with God?s ways, can we be keeping our eyes open for ways in which he is trying use us. God does want to use each of us as his instruments. We need to be part of his family through accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Then by having the covenant of Peace, can we receive the Holy Spirit, and be open to god?s directing us to be his tools of peace.

I now want to look at this concept of the Christian Struggle. Or how does the Christian Wage peace. On my arm I have a tattoo of the shield of faith, the swords of the spirit, the helmet of salvation(crown of life). And the shield is embossed with a roaring lion, the lion of Judah being a title for Christ Jesus. When I got this ink work done some seven or eight years ago, I saw the Christian church as an army. An army That I had been called to fight in. To be a soldier for light in a world of darkness, in which many do not even recognize the darkness they are in. Though I still believe those things, through this course I have a very different opinion of what they mean. In no longer believe that it is all about spiritual warfare as some authors and theologians(I use the term loosely) would have us believe. For example Mark I. Buebeck, Neil T. Anderson, Frank E. Peretti, all have some good points, but tend to focus on the spiritual side too much, and not our responsibilities on the human side, to be seeking shalom.

So I will now look at Ephesians 6 in light of these new insights. Ephesians 6:10-18 sets the context for The struggle in the Christian life I believe for the individual and corporately. Like the comparison of peace and shalom, this concept was outlined as two overlapping circles. The first is the old life, or old age. Old age being time before Christ. The second is the new age, or our life in Christ. There is a very clear line drawn bisecting the first circle at the beginning of the second. The shaded area where the two circles overlap is the battleground. Either he battleground within the individual, or that of the Christian community and it?s struggles to bring light into the world. The moment of transition from non believer to believe, from old life to new, our personal Pentecost experience. This moment is that line bisecting the first circle. This call from Paul in Ephesians 6 is a call to be fully human, not just human, to be fully alive, not just living.

Thus we have a synthesis of The Divine Warrior, and us as his soldiers. But our battle is to be different, we are to be warriors, for peace, we are to exemplify each of the pieces of Armor in Ephesians 6, we are to be truthful, righteous, bearers of good news, faithful, instruments of salvation (Shalom), open to the spirit, and prayer warriors. We are to integrate, into self all of these aspects of the Divine Warrior, Our God and Father, Jesus our Lord and Savior. We are to integrate all aspects of this holy soldier, from Isaiah 11,52,59 and Ephesians 6, and finally 1st Thessalonians. We as individuals and as communities are to be Holy, are to be soldiers, are to be working for peace, especially when it is hard and outside of our comfort zone.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Christian life is a battle. But through this course I have come to see that that battle is one of being instruments of Shalom, we are at war, but not with other people, with the princes and powers. We are to extend the left hand of peace to the people and help to bring them into the light. I used to believe that spiritual warfare was the greatest calling in the Christian church, I am shifting my thought to the peacemaker is the role to be treasured and pursued by all Christians. That will incorporate spiritual warfare, but that is not the be all and end all of the Christian life.

I want to get personal now, in how this course has affected me. I could maybe even go so far as to say afflicted me. Afflicted me to examination of conscious, motives, actions, and my life as a whole. This course as well as some others in my studies for ministry. I want to share an experience that started last year. In The Introduction to Catholicism course with Christine Vanin last year we did the Book, and watched the Movie ?Dead Man Walking?. That book had a profound effect on me. When I was in High school, I was at a party one night, and I wanted to leave because I had to play rugby the next day. I was suppose to drive a friend and fellow rugby player home Bill MacLeod. He wanted to keep drinking so I left him behind, and never saw him alive again. He had hitched hiked home from the party. He was picked up by a group of men, raped, tortured, and left to die in a field. Only one of the men was ever caught, he is currently in prison. Someone I know is a guard at this prison, I used to rejoice at every attempt on this man?s life. I wanted to see the death penalty come back to Canada. I have visited the room in Kingston where the last execution in Canada took place. During the course work last year, my opinion changed. I as a Christian cannot support the death penalty. As a result of this I have started corresponding with a prisoner on death row in the states. I can not excuse their crimes, but I can work at overcoming my own prejudices and biases, to extend love and friendship to these people. I do not know all the answers, but I can work at being an instrument of shalom. I am planing on writing Bill?s murderer and extending to him my forgiveness and friendship. This is a direct result of this course, and the call to be shalom makers.

Another way this course has changed my views, is that I have never had a problem with military service. In fact while at Queen?s University during dessert storm there was a group of us, that were going to sign up if the war had continued. We were willing to go and fight this just cause. Now I do not believe I could in good conscious serve in the military in a fighting capacity. It would be contrary to my ideal of being one who is called to wage peace.
In summary, I still believe the bible is a book about peace, where most of the examples are where peace was lost or forfeited. But our responsibility as Christians, in writing the continuation of the book of Acts in our day to day personal, communal, and corporate lives should be working to write the new chapters where Peace and Shalom is being worked out, and brought about. We need to be consciously, actively working at being instruments of peace, and aware that it is a battle we are in to wage that peace in a way that will bring honor, glory and praise to our God.

I still have a lot of pieces of the puzzle to work with. But only as I seek ways to actively engage in being a peacemaker will I be able to fit them into the puzzle of ?The Bible and Peace?. I will also discard the pieces I have placed that do not belong in the picture. The process is continuous and ongoing, each time I believe I have God narrowed down on a topic He throws me His curve. Then the quest to know Him, His ways and to live for Him begins again. That is the wonderful adventure of being a Christian, the quest is ongoing and ever changing, continually bringing new challenges and calling us to more and to lift us up higher.

At this point I can say I do not understand it all, but I can say Shalom, I am at Shalom, with myself, with my awesome Creator God, and with my community. My prayer is that that Shalom will ever be deepening and growing, as I seek to be it?s servant, it?s student, and to others less far on the journey hopefully it?s teacher.
Shalom!

Appendix A

1. Brain storm from September 14th 1999 on word "Peace";

  • Shalom
  • Absence of War
  • Love
  • Justice
  • 60's
  • disarmament
  • Harmony
  • mediation
  • happiness
  • well-being
  • nonviolence
  • Equality
  • conflict
  • compromise
  • serenity
  • freedom
  • solidarity
  • Health
  • active
  • action
  • Peacemakers
  • community
  • God
  • quiet
  • Security
2. Dichotomy's in above idea's or in concept of Peace;
  • Individual vs communal
  • passive vs active
  • justice vs quiet
  • religious vs political/social
  • process vs result
(note: vs, can mean contrary to, or of or against, or in addition to)

*Taken from personal class notes.

(First Written for RS 353 Peace and the Bible Fall 1999.)

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Why The Jesuits?

Why The Jesuits?

Why the Jesuits? When I began preparing for this essay, I had some questions in mind. Why the Jesuits?, was of course the first and foremost, but also. Why are they always drawn to controversy, why do people either hate or love them? Whatever the response, Jesuits always induce strong reactions in people. When I started the research for this paper, I intended to compare and contrast the Jesuits through the eyes of Douglas Letson, and Michael W. Higgins and their book The Jesuit Mystique, and Malachi Martin's book, The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church. But in talking with Michael Higgins and in starting to read the latter, I agree with Michaels assessment of Martin, namely: "He's Nuts". He is an ex-Jesuit who is bitter and filled with anger.

When I started research I had the question in mind, Why the Jesuits? Unfortunately I have not come to an answer to that question. My reading and research has led to many more que
stions, questions that I now have more quidance to be parsued due to, Jesuit authors, biography's and additional books I discovered. I have however, come to see 3 important forces at work in the Society. First their history as individuals and as a community, and their view of community. Through that their self understanding and view of their role in society at large, especially their often being on the forefront and leading edge of change, change in attitudes, practices, and views. Secondly the centrality of "The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius", both to self and communal understanding and service. And finally their service of humanity, especially in the area of social justice, which has been of importance to the Jesuits since their earliest beginnings. Yet before I get into that I want to look at some personal experiences about the Jesuits.

I was born and raised Irish-Catholic: my family attended church ever Sunday until
I was about 10 years old. I was an altar boy, and loved church. I was studying to become a Catholic priest after highschool. My spiritual Director was Jim McGilvry, once when we were at a retirement dinner for a priest, Jim was cracking jokes about Jesuits. Another priest said, "Jim you have nothing nice to say about the Jesuits do you?", Jim replied "That's not true, last week when I went by their house, I saw 4 fresh graves." This profoundly disturbed me and was a contributing factor in my leaving the Catholic Church. My next experience with a Jesuit was when I moved to Guelph, Ontario. I met with the Chaplain at University of Guelph, Father Phil Nazer, and found him to be a kind gentle, man. Even though I no longer considered myself a Catholic, he met with me regularly, and we worked through the "Spiritual Exercises" together. This man was the closest I have ever seen someone to my personal ideal of Christ Jesus. Even after my acceptance at Renison College to study to become an Anglican Minister, he meet with me, prayed for me and supported me. This love in action also profoundly affected me.

Setting aside my perception, how has the Society of Jesus, seen themselves? Through what lenses do they look at the world, and at each other? Higgins defines them this way "The Jesuit mystique is by design an invitation to engage the society in an ongoing dialogue concerning the practical human imperative demanded by the written word." There has always been this practical aspect to the Jesuits. Christopher Hollis SJ writes this about the earliest Jesuits; "Who is there, that would not admire the extraordinary spectacle of this union of seven men animated by a noble purpose who turn towards heaven and under the roof of a chapel lay down their worldly
wishes and hopes and consecrated themselves to the happiness of their fellow men? They offer themselves as a sacrifice to the work of Charity that shall give them no property nor power nor pleasure; they renounce the present for the future, looking forward only to a hereafter in heaven, and content with no happiness on earth beyond what a pure conscience can bestow." It is true, what those seven men set out to do, was revolutionary, they were willing to give up all, to follow Jesus and Him crucified. They knew their path would be one of crosses and burdens, and yet they chose to shoulder the load and follow, in a hard and perilous fashion. They knew that in order to follow Jesus, their first concern must not be for self, but for others. Serving others through tangable actions, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, all of the works of mercy. "For ultimately, the society is the lived expression of the people who embody it's charism in their service of others- their "care of souls," as Ignatius called it." But in order to really serve others, they had to become forerunners of much that was to become accepted in the Church and society at large.

They were forerunners in the area of educated clergy, "but the Jesuits emphasis on an educated clergy was a significant departure in it's day, a departure that was later to be embraced by the Council of Trent(1545-63)" They also pursued wisdom, this was a command of the man they were, and are emulating: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to their Courts" Michael Higgins puts it this way, "The Jesuit has always understood the art of worldly wisdom: his practical cunning is both and admired and denounced. It has always been part of the Jesuit mystique."

But this self definition and self understanding has under gone many changes in their history. Having been censured once and expelled from just about every European country at one time or another they have had to be wise and flexible. "In the twentieth century, however, they began to reassert their ancient self-understanding as men for others and as apostolic innovators."7 But central to this self understanding is the "Spiritual Exercises", that is what we will look at next.

The exercises are the central defining characteristic of the Jesuits, but they are different for each and every person. They begin with self evaluation, "and the exhortations with which the Spiritual Exercises begin concerning the unambiguous necessity for personal choice, personal enlightenment, and personal discernment." These exercises lead one to look into self, and then through self to others.

They call for meditation, but meditation that is not an end in itself, meditation that is the beginning of action. "Which argues that God is already doing it, that our first job is to be at God's side helping to realize the divine intention with every thing we have by way of tools, intelligence, and human spirit."


Central to this is the belief that God is actively involved in his creation, that he is interested in what is happening and is working to bring about his will in it. "Finding God in every event, in all things, requires the operating conviction that God is wilfully inserted into human history, that this vital, energetic engaging God is not indifferent to struggling humanity. The God of Ignatius, the God who can be found in all things." The exercises also call for challenge, as well as discernment. It is a call to imitate the life of Christ and his saints. These "Exercises", lead one to choose between two standards, that of Christ or that of Satan. These exercises, and the whole of Jesuit history is full of serving others, of social justice.


Social justice has been a part of the Society since it's very beginning, In the words of Ignatius of Loyola, "that there should be no poor who have to go about begging but that they should all receive the help they need." Like in many other area's the Jesuits were leaders in this area, and also in the Liberation theology that has sprung from it. Before Vatican II, social justice was on the rise. Higgins and Letson see this paradigm shift in the church as a whole as a rebirth of the Society, "Even before the Council, there had been inklings of an openness to more traditionally Jesuit concerns for Social Justice, but John XXIII's vision of the modern church clearly provided for the rebirth of the society." Times were changing, and again the Jesuits were at the forefront and the extreme of where things were going. "Justice was in: theologians wrote about it: missionaries preached it: activists died for it. The Society of Jesus embraced the cause of justice with a passion both inspiring and disconcerting."

Shortly after the Vatican Council II, the congregation of Jesus had it's 32 General Congregational meeting. Pedro Arrupe was the Superior at that time, and prophetically he saw that to align themselves with the cause of Social Justice, would cost them and cost them dearly. In His own words: "Is our General Congregation ready to enter upon the more severe way of the cross, which surely will mean for us a lack of understanding on the part of civil and ecclesiastical authorities and of our best friends?" His words were to prove more true then he could ever imagine. With in a few short years Jesuit blood would be spilt in more then one country. It would be spilt because the Jesuits chose to side with the poor, the disadvantaged, to speak out again injustice and systems that would keep the status quo. "The Jesuits once again, were to be found on the frontier and not safely ensconced in the citadel. They were called to lead."

And lead they do, wherever they go, what ever field they are working in. They believe that "contemplation in action involves both action and contemplation."16 The Jesuits are full of contradictions, they are full of mystery, and they always cause us to react. Whether they challenge us, or revolt us, they always cause us to react to them. "What is there about the Society of Jesus that is clearly sustaining it's diminished numbers through the ravages of an increasingly secular society laying waste to scores of smaller, less resilient congregations of men and women?" I don't have any answer to these questions I only have more questions but that is part of the quest that each of us are on. Finding the right questions that lead us to contemplation and through contemplation to action. But I believe that part of the answer to 'Why the Jesuits?', comes from Letson and Higgins, "but also the humility to act in total obedience to legitimate authority. Humility, obedience, exceptional learning: a rare combination of human characteristics." The Jesuits are a rare combination, of people and ideals. May they always be there to be challenging us.

End Notes

  1. The Jesuit Mystique, p. xii
  2. The Jesuits: A History, p. 15
  3. The Jesuit Mystique, p.72
  4. The Jesuit Mystique, p.26
  5. Matthew 10:16, NASB
  6. The Jesuit Mystique, p. 33
  7. The Jesuit Mystique, p.58
  8. The Jesuit Mystique, p.23
  9. Grail, March 1992 p.27
  10. The Jesuit Mystique, p.75
  11. Letters of St. Ignatius of Loyola, p. 44
  12. The Jesuit Mystique, p.60
  13. The Jesuit Mystique, p.106
  14. Justice with faith Today: Sellected Letters and Addresses, p.205
  15. The Jesuit Mystique, p.112
  16. The Jesuit Mystique, p.66
  17. The Jesuit Mystique, p.xi
  18. 18. The Jesuit Mystique, p.21

Bibliography

Letson, Douglas and Higgins Michael,
The Jesuit Mystique
Toronto, MacMillian Canada, 1995

Hollis, Christopher SJ,
The Jesuits: A History
NewYork, Barns and Noble, 1968

New American Standard Bible
Toronto, Gideons, 1973

Costello, Jack SJ,
"Ignatian Spirituality: Finding God in all Things.", Grail: An ecumenical Journal
Ottawa, March 1992 p. 27

Ed. William J. Young SJ
Letters of St. Ignatius of Loyola,
"Letter to the Townspeople of Azpeitia"
Chicago, Loyola University Pres, 1959

Arrupe, pedro SJ,
Justice with Faith Today: Selected Letters and Addresses.
St Louis, Institute of jesuit Sources, 1980

(First written for RS100H Catholicism Winter 1999.)