Church is Not aFour-Letter Word - theHumm February 2020
Church is Not aFour-Letter Word - theHumm February 2020
By Heather Atkinson
Three years ago, I “came out” to the former minister of the church where I sing in Pakenham. I had asked to meet with him, and I was very nervous. I had a big secret to share.
“Reverend,” I said, then took a long breath. “I’m afraid I’m an imposter. I don’t fit in. I don’t believe in a god. At least not the way everyone else here believes in god, as some sort of supernatural deity who takes care of us.”
The minister looked pensive for a moment and then he smiled and held out his right hand. “Welcome to the club, Heather. Don’t be so sure you know what others believe.”
We spent the rest of our allotted hour chatting about religious faith, matters of the human spirit and philosophical issues we’d each pondered. We compared books we had read on the subject of religion and touched on dissenting views held by other ministers. He mentioned Gretta Vosper. I mentioned Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.
I’d been singing in the choir for several months before I could admit to my adult children that I sang every Sunday in church. They thought I’d gone mad or joined a cult and wondered if I needed an “intervention”.
“You’ve gone over to the dark side, mom,” said the eldest.
Indeed, across the Western world dwindling church congregations and the soaring population of Facebook followers suggests that church has become a four-letter word. Over the years I’ve been careful to explain to my friends — especially those I regard as atheist fundamentalists because of their intolerance of any form of religious belief — that I can sing in church and yet not believe in the entity most people call “God”. I tell them about our choir leader, a professional musician who makes our thirteen voices sound like thirty, and about the community of kind souls at my church, some devout believers in the traditional way, and others, like me, who are reluctant to say there isn’t a god because we can’t offer proof to support that claim. All I can say with certainty is that I don’t need a god to make my life purposeful and humane, but I appreciate that others might.
I and my twelve fellow choristers sing to a small congregation of tolerant and loving folk whose beliefs, I’ve come to learn, span the spectrum. Together we put on Sunday school that gets kids away from their wired world to a quiet space where they can think, for one hour, about loving, respecting, and appreciating each another and our shared mother earth. The divine is invoked (it’s a church, after all) but the children are free to see this spirit as they wish. The added bonus for parents is that each can use that hour to find their own quiet centre in the sanctuary upstairs.
Every summer we welcome children to camp with themes that support these values. Last summer, thirty children sat enraptured while the eleven-year-old granddaughter of a member of the congregation (our own version of Gretta Thunberg) delivered a PowerPoint presentation she’d created herself entitled The Eighth Continent, her exposé of the masses of waste plastic that are overtaking our oceans.
I especially love helping out with our many annual fundraising suppers, welcoming guests to long tables, hearing the harmonies of happy chatter and feeling the love in that space that reminds me of helping my grandmother serve at such suppers when I was a child. The lonely, the sad, those without families close by, come knowing we will welcome them as family.
We also open our doors to the Festival of Small Halls (the concerts are often sold out), lecturers for our guest speaker series, and our guest ministers on Sundays. We reserve the fourth Sunday of each month to put on something special for the congregation. When our new audio-visual equipment is in place there will be movie nights for youth.
Music drew me to this space three years ago, but beyond the shared harmonies I stayed for the companionship of my fellows. We don’t all think alike — what family can claim that? — but we enjoy singing and working, sharing ideas and breaking bread together. We accept the rituals set forth in the bible — some of us literally, others of us metaphorically — while our shared tolerance of each other and other faiths brings us joy and makes us, I believe, better people.
The poet Robert Frost reminds us that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in”.
I think of the place where I sing that way.
A four-letter word.
In memoriam – Dr. Bill Buttle - theHumm February 2020
By Kris Riendeau
I honestly can’t remember when Bill Buttle first started contributing Artbeat cartoons to theHumm, but I think it was some time within our first year of publishing. So for the past two decades (give or take a year or two), his humorous take on the world of art and music has had pride of place here on page 2. On Sunday, January 19, Bill passed away peacefully in Arnprior at the age of 79, leaving behind grieving family and friends as well as legions of Artbeat fans throughout......
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
It is a true gift to discover a passion that endures and rewards for the rest of your life. Charles Spratt is grateful that he has had forty years to enjoy what it took him forty years to realize — he is an artist.
Interviewing artists is always an adventure. When he ushered me into the basement of the tastefully appointed home he shares with his wife Pat in Stittsville, I was astonished. Spratt’s man cave is unusual and fabulous. I would like to return a......
By Linda Beiglee & Sherrie Seward, CoProducers
This enchanting modern classic from Disney is based on the 2018 Broadway musical, bringing Elsa, Anna and the magical land of Arendelle to life onstage.
A story of true love and acceptance between sisters, Frozen Jr. examines the emotional relationship between Princesses Anna and Elsa as they embark on a journey. When faced with danger, the two discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. With a cast of beloved characters, and laden with magic, adventure and plenty of h......
If you like your blues hard and heavy then you won’t want to miss the Bill Durst band at the Cove on February 21. Blues on the Rideau producer James Doran explains: “This will be Bill’s first visit to Westport, and I don’t know why it’s taken this long for us to get him here. I promise that anyone who loves Texas roadhouse-style blues (like ZZ Top) will really enjoy this band. This power trio blues rock is as good as it gets!”
Growing up in Wingham, Ontario, Bill was influenced by Mo......
Almonte’s Seedy Saturday - theHumm February 2020
By David Hinks
The fifth annual Almonte Seedy Saturday will soon be here. That’s right — fifth year — what an amazing anniversary!
Seedy Saturday comes to the Almonte Civitan Club on Saturday, February 8 from 9am to 3pm. Once again there will be guest speakers all day on a wide variety of topics, more than forty artisan vendors and not-for-profits, door prizes, plenty of seed swapping, and homemade brunch from the Civitan canteen. Johvi Leeck, a young local entrepreneur and owner of t......
By Smiths Falls Community Theatre
February is the dreariest of months — if you aren’t a winter person. There’s snow, cold, wind… it seems to have been here forever and seems like it’s never going to end. You need a pick-me-up! A night to forget about it all and just submerse yourself in a whole lot of nonsense. That’s where the Station Theatre comes in. Our production of the traditional British farce Key for Two by John Chapman and Dave Freeman is sure to lighten your mood!
First-time director Linda Pipher has put together a g......
Shift Happens: A Documentary Series The Impact of Humans on Our Planetand What Can Be Done About It - theHumm February 2020
Studio Theatre Perth, Biosphere Environmental Education, and Three Green Peas are pleased to announce a series of documentary films at the Studio Theatre in Perth.
Five award-winning environmental documentaries shown over five months will cover climate change and environmental challenges caused by human activity. One documentary from the series was presented in November 2019, and four more will be shown in February, March, April, and May of 2020. These films explore the dangers facing our......
By Miss Mills
OK — we’re tired of being indoors already, so it must be time to head outside for some awesome activities and marvellous milling about. No problem — Mississippi Mills has you covered (or uncovered, as the case may be)!
Monday, February 17 is Family Day in Ontario, and there are many affordable (and free!) activities to enjoy close to home. In Almonte, Pakenham and area, you can enjoy free public skating, explore local history, have fun outdoors, eat pancakes or catch a screeni......
By Heddy Sorour
Studio Theatre Perth’s upcoming production promises a heart-warming evening of discovery. Marion Bridge by Daniel MacIvor is a humorous and touching story about the power of realization and how it heals more than it harms.
“It’s a drama, with lots of comic moments. They’re amusing characters and the language is amusing and clever and it just flows,” enthuses director Barb Guthrie.
The play is about three sisters in their thirties who congregate at their childhood “home” ......
Artist Eric Walker has been creating his “painted constructions” — blurring the boundaries of painting, collage, and sculpture — for over three decades. Much of his work is linked to the history and culture of the Maritimes, combining elements of high art with more vernacular forms. Walker aims to call attention to collective history by focusing on a mix of commonplace subjects such as ships, trains, government buildings and cities seen from the ground ......
By Heidi Taber Work
The Perth & District Union Public Library is preparing to use their space like never before. On Saturday, February 22 at 8pm, the library will be transformed into a live music venue for ......
- On This Month’s Cover
- The Return of the Victory Garden: an Interview with Ed Lawrence
- The Great Veggie Grow-Off is a GO!
- Calling All Novice Vegetable Gardeners
- Give Moms a (Coffee) Break!
- Playful May
- Reflecting on Earth Day 2020
- Hygge Your Home! Turning Your Space into a Calming, Comfortable Sanctuary
- The Best Gift