Vol 32 No. 2 (2013)
Oblates and Nation-building in Alberta [+] 145–161
This article places the work of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, particularly residential schools, within the context of independence movements and nation-building of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As sociopolitical change became manifestly evident from early in the nineteenth century, Indians sought education for their children as a means of assisting them to adapt to the changing world. In Canada such education became part of public policy for a different reason: Assimilation was considered advantageous for nation-building –a perspective which persisted into the 1970s. Concern for Indian culture and survival was shown in the actions of Oblate priests early in their ministry as they sought to intercede at all levels of government on behalf of their constituents. Priests influenced by liberation theology of the 1970s and 1980s took a new approach to community building. The sociopolitical context changed as preparations leading up to the 1992 quincentennial of Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas unfolded and the work of the Oblates began to be viewed differently from both outside and inside the Society. During the 1990s public apologies were made to First Nations and Métis by governments and Churches. In the current post-apology context there are joint initiatives, such as the pilgrimage at Lac Sainte Anne, which reveal continuing efforts on the part of Oblate, First Nations and Métis communities to heal past trauma and move together into a shared future in the Canadian province of Alberta.
This paper provides a new translation and analysis of Ibn Khaldun’s title to his magnum opus kitāb al-‘ibar, wa dīwān al-mubtada’ wa al-khabar, fī ayyām al-‘arab wa al-‘ajam wa al-barbar, wa man ‘āṣarahum min dhawī al-sulṭān al-akbar, known in short as Kitāb al-‘Ibar (or as I translate it, Book of Allusions). This translation and analysis articulates the relationship between Ibn Khaldun’s style of writing and the substance of his teaching. It begins by giving an account of Kitāb al-‘Ibar’s overall structure and teachings and then proceed to demonstrate how these are skillfully captured in the title. As I argue here, paying attention to the style of writing is an important interpretative tool necessary to reveal the depth of Ibn Khaldun’s teachings. This new translation and analysis shows how, despite Kitāb al-‘Ibar apparent concern with history, this book is intended by Ibn Khaldun to be primarily about politics, seeking to challenge well established and honored notions of the origins of political power.
William James proposed a Science of Religions in his Varieties of Religious Experience in order to fulfill his promise that pragmatic empiricism could illuminate the meaning and truth conditions of religious ideas. Most commentators have focused either on his “will to believe” defense of faith, or on his analysis of the power of mystical inspiration. A unifying interpretation is assembled, synthesizing his kind of pragmatism, his fascination with mysticism, and his application of Science of Religions to religious saints. Religious saints generate live hypotheses about society moving towards the ideal moral order. People can participate in that momentous opportunity for progress with their own moral lives. Although James’s Science of Religions permits interdisciplinary inquiry into religious experience, and especially the moral energy of inspired saints, his hopes for verifying hypotheses about God cannot be fulfilled.
Le Martyr Imaginaire: Illness and Theatre in the Career of Gabriel Breynat, Bishop of the Mackenzie, 1901-1926 [+] 209–242
Gabriel Breynat, Catholic bishop of the Mackenzie from 1901, claimed chronic illness due to the harsh task of evangelizing “the ends of the earth,” though he did not see the arctic coast for decades. Endless symptoms, combined with a grim “idea of north” among Vatican figures, fed the perception of his near-martyrdom to the cold. To play this to advantage, Breynat benefited from the emergence of neurasthenia as popular diagnosis, of rest as treatment, of intense medicalization of hydrotherapy in France, of the need for heroes in that country, and of Rome’s renewed interest in missions. Throughout, the role of suffering “bishop of the Pole” raised his status, brought support for good works, and made staff (nuns, priests, and brothers) work increasingly hard. While he sought health in far-off spas and wealthy widows’ homes, they struggled to effect his plans, including a hospital for Inuit to mark his reign’s silver anniversary. Western medicine, it turned out, seldom helped gain souls, yet its constructs can be key to grasping the white side of missions—both on site and at the heart of the church.
This article conducts case studies of Hamas and al-Qaeda before moving into a generalised discussion of religion and terrorism and especially suicide terrorism. It finds that religion does indeed have a role to play in the development and enactment of terrorism. However, this is deemed to be at the level of enabling and aggravating. Religion is found to be good at binding groups together via a narrative and with the assistance of ritual, but it is proposed that ideology and doctrine are relatively unimportant. Moreover, religion is not the ultimate cause, as the groups that carry out such attacks exist for non-religious, political reasons. Religion has particular effects and depending on the circumstances in which they are applied, the outcome can be radically different.
Working in the Fields of Meaning: Cultural Communities, Museums and the New Pluralism, by D. J. Goa. Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, 2013. 284pp. pb., $19.95 ISBN-13: 9781551953168 257–258
Toward an Ecology of Transfiguration: Orthodox Perspectives on Environment, Nature, and Creation, ed. by J. Chryssavgis and B.V. Foltz. Prefatory Letter from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Fordham University Press, 2013 ISBN-13:9780823251445 [+] 259–260
Toward an Ecology of Transfiguration: Orthodox Perspectives on Environment, Nature, and Creation, edited by John Chryssavgis and Bruce V. Foltz. Prefatory Letter from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Foreword by Bill Mc-Kibben. Fordham University Press, 2013. 508pp., hb., $125.00, ISBN-13:9780823251445; pb., $35.00, ISBN-13: 9780823251452.