Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 28, 2009
Church press offers faith-filled alternative
Canada's Christian publications show that faith is alive in so many ways
Canada's Christian publications offer diverse perspectives and tell of a variety of faith experiences that can't be found in mainstream media.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Ah, it's Lasha's lament."
Canadian Church Press administrative assistant Sue Newbery wrote these words back to me in response to my message enclosed in magazine articles I judged in the organization's annual writing contest.
During each of the three years of judging the magazine feature writing for the Canadian Church Press, I anguished over two matters.
One, that I had to make a decision about which of the fabulous submissions - varying from 30 plus to more than 50 - were the best.
Two, that denominations do not get to see the publications each produces, do not reap the wisdom and insight found in each other's pages.
Sue is used to my mild rantings by now. But I do wish information, insights, solutions could be shared.
This is why I am penning this article. These religious newspapers and magazines deal with spiritual, ethical, moral elements of life. They nurture. They broaden horizons. They make the reader accountable. They let you know you matter.
You'll never find this in the celebrity/violence driven secular media.
For all these reasons and more, we, as a nation, must stand up for journalistic enterprises of all faiths.
READING TO ENJOY
Reading to judge an article, of course, is work. But here I must confess I do something else. I read each article first - to enjoy.
Then I go back and read to evaluate.
But those first readings stay with me. Oh, the hope and understanding I harvest and tuck away into my memory from the hundreds of stories! Faith is alive in so many ways, faith is practised, faith, at many, many times, is hard work.
Here are but a few of the stories that bubble to the surface of my mind when death and destruction headlines of the daily news threaten to smother hope.
A Mennonite pastor once wrote a no-holds-barred article explaining why he took a time-out from his work. The flock wanted too much from this man. And he laid their demands out - needs and wants where family, friends and/or other professionals could and should help them. Instead, they off-loaded their burdens onto the preacher.
He took it until he could take it no more, shut his door and ventured on a sabbatical of sorts. During this time away, he realized he loved his work, his calling. And he came back, but with boundaries firmly in place. His work, he said, is to be his flock's spiritual coach. And that's it.
How many other religious shepherds find themselves in this unfair dilemma?
STORIES FROM WORLD VISION
Opening the pages of the World Vision magazine shows the impact donations can make to a community. Carefully crafted articles tell of how workers support the people, but without intruding on their mores and culture. It's not all floss and gloss either. The reality of the people's lives and the roadblocks World Vision workers face are all there too.
VILLAGES WE NEVER SEE
These articles, plus others from magazines and newspapers by priests and aid workers in Africa and South America, underline that yes, developing world support matters. They also take us to countries and villages we would never see, introduce us to societies that put family and community first and are not slaves to the materialism god.
Stories that take the reader into the underbelly of Canada's cities uncover the desperate plight of the poor, especially those who fall through society's social net. Portrayals like these transform numbers into faces, faces whose shared words turn judgments into understanding.
So when one drives through the inner city and sees those who call the street home, the river bank their bedroom, one cannot judge, especially when you realize more than half of these struggling souls are there because of untreated mental health problems.
VOICE FOR THE POOR
Reading accounts in the Salvation Army magazine and other newspapers and magazines on their strategies and methods of advocacy in giving voice to the poor and marginalized could give other religious communities ideas and solutions.
The same goes for other scenarios such as attracting youth, welcoming new immigrants, embracing our aboriginal brothers and sisters, discerning one's calling.
Sheer economics say we cannot subscribe to the numerous various publications of other faiths.
But the next time you are in a library, be it university or public, ask where the religious publications are kept. A perusal of the offerings just might give a new insight or understanding that could be of benefit.