October/Novmeber 2006 cover image: Statue of Luther and Melanchthon in Leipzig, Germany

Vol 21 No 7 October/November 2006

Columns

National Bishops's Turn

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Ida Reichardt Backman—Editor
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E-mail: editor@elcic.ca


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Evolved Credulity

In the September 8, 2006 issue of The Globe and Mail, I came across this tossed-off comment: "Religion and other forms of magical thinking . . . " Let's just say it kind of jumped out at me. The speaker, Bruce Hood, a professor of experimental psychology, goes on to talk about what he calls "evolved credulity" and says that "even the most rational people are made uncomfortable by superstition or connotations of evil."

So, according to Professor Hood, there are millions of us around the world—Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and many others—who are apparently deluding ourselves. Is "magical thinking" what we have lived our lives by, given our lives for in many cases? Is this what we have studied and believed in for thousands of years?

What struck me were mainly two things: the absurdity and arrogance of this type of thinking, but also the realization that something so casually tossed off in an article reflects what is perhaps becoming the prevailing thinking in our world.

Yet the world seems in a dichotomy: a blatant turning away from God in many cases, and a fervent embracing and passionate response and adherence to it in others. British ethnologist and evolutionary theorist, Richard Dawkins, says "Religious faith discourages independent thought, it's divisive, and it's dangerous". Fox Studios, on the other hand, is opening a faith-based wing of its productions studios to produce a dozen films a year for Christian audiences. So I rest my case.

For Lutherans, celebrating Reformation Day and the beginning of Advent, some of these developments may perhaps be a bit disconcerting. But we choose our own way to salvation, and for believers, our way is set out by Jesus. The Reformation, it seems, is never-ending. "Is reformation, making changes, part of what Jesus wants us to do?", reads a Reformation Day service. "What do we see that is wrong with our church today; our community, our world? . . . What is the living Word telling us? . . . Let us hear, feel and live the word of God." (written by Lisa Frenz, 2003).

This issue contains lots of ELCIC news—all of it good. There is lots happening these days: new people to spread the Word, new connections with some of our partner churches around the world, and excitement about developments closer to home.

You'll read about the profound experience of teaching Sunday school, and for older children, the importance of music—pop music, that is—in their lives. You'll learn about the healing rebuilding of an important memorial to Luther and Melanchthon. The image of it is on our front page.

Lots of reading to engage you as you begin preparations for Advent.

Ida Reichardt Backman
Editor