Gretta Rocks!

April 30, 2008 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

I had never gone to a book launch before, so I looked forward to attending the Toronto launch of Gretta Vosper’s book, “With or Without God (Why How We Live is More Important Than What We Believe)”.  It was held at the charming Multi-Faith Centre in the Koffler Institute on Spadina Avenue. The evening was delightful.

I knew I would enjoy the event when I entered and cast my eyes upon a table laden with cookies, squares and the tastiest of tiny strawberry cream filled éclairs. This in itself ensured success for me, however, in addition to the table, the evening was to prove not only delicious but inspiring and enlightening too.

Gretta Vosper is the founder and chair of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity. In a nut shell, Progressive Christianity is seeking to shed the hidebound doctrine and liturgy that has smothered spiritual growth for centuries so that people may rediscover for themselves, the sacredness and interconnectedness of creation. Some casualties of this shedding have been the supernatural and anthropomorphic God, the divinity of Jesus and the veneration of the Bible as the authoritative word of God for all time. These losses have scared and alienated many people and Vosper has been the target of much criticism for disrupting the status quo. However, the crowd at this launch demonstrated there are many people (of all ages) with whom her words have resounded deeply. Comments from a couple of them were enlightening for me, but first, let’s look at inspiration.

There was singing. The singing was performed by a group of talented young ladies who obviously sang from the heart. The words and music were crafted by Scott Kearns (Vosper’s husband), who backed the group on keyboard, and while there was a hint of ‘praise music’ to my mind, it was thankfully void of themes typical of charismatic mega churches and rather focused on worthiness and love. There was even a rockin’ tune that had the room clapping and swaying. It was great. I thought of Charles Wesley and how his music greased the ways of the Methodist movement so many years ago. Perhaps Scott’s excellent talents will grease the way of the Progressive movement.

Gretta then spoke about her book; the encouragement of Bishop John Spong, the idea that the time has come to prod the old church and how her journey at West Hill United has been challenging and rewarding. Actually, she not so much spoke to the group, as conducted a ceremonial, demonstrating progressiveness in celebrating and honouring Spirit. It all went down very well and the love in the room between Gretta, the people and Progressive Christianity was palpable. I know I felt very encouraged.

The highlight of the evening was the question period following the formal presentation. Vosper answered a number of questions from various people and during this period was my ‘Aha’ moment. Two people made comment to the group stating they didn’t find relevance in Christianity and didn’t consider themselves Christians. One of them mentioned the term ‘post Christian’ and the light came on. Hey, isn’t this what the emerging church is: the ‘post Christian’ church? Yes! We are on the cusp of a new age where disparate faith groups will find common ground and come together. I saw in my mind’s eye a huge umbrella labelled Christian and increasing numbers of people emerging from under it, not into the rain, but the sunshine. Add in that this meeting was in the Multi-Faith Centre (where that same day groups of Pagans, Muslims, Hindus and Christians had met) and the glass with which we view the future became less dim. The trip home was great, my mind roiling with possibilities.

I recommend you read Gretta’s book and if possible see her in action. You will discover that she is not the scary antichrist her detractors have called her and is in fact loving, intelligent and engaging. I also think she is on the right track. Read her, see her: I’m sure you will feel the Spirit too.



Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

Spring Has Sprung All Faiths Together

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