EDMUND RICE – Restoring the Circle to the Celtic Cross
Peter Hardiman cfc – self-published, 2010
A well-researched, thematically developed treatment of the life of Edmund Rice, this book examines the story from the angle of Celtic spirituality. Leading readers through dreamworld, myth, and otherworld, the writer gives major attention to the significance of the Celtic cross, which differs from an ordinary cross in that it contains a circle where the vertical and horizontal arms meet. Hardiman uses this feature to say that whereas an ordinary cross speaks of adversity, the circle draws attention to the loving creativity of God. His thesis is that Edmund Rice, coming on the scene towards the close of Ireland’s difficult Penal times, brought something of the joy of creation to the deprived youth of Ireland and the many needy who touched his compassionate heart. The author presents Rice’s difficult, declining years in great detail, where the cross is much more apparent than the circle. Giving rein to his imagination, Hardiman occasionally becomes a dramatist and a novelist to create the atmosphere for his story. He also uses a multitude of images to emphasise the points he is making. Copies of the book may be obtained from Xavier Grafix, 28 Moorak St, Taringa, Queensland, 4068, Australia.
Source: Oceania Christian Brothers newsletter, July 2010.
ORDINARY COURAGE – My journey to Baghdad as a human shield
Donna Mulhearn – published by Pier 9, February 2010
Donna Mulhearn is the Edmund Rice Networking Co-ordinator for the New South Wales and ACT region of Oceania. Her book is described as “an extraordinary story of one young woman’s stand for her belief in non-violent action and against Australia’s involvement in the war on Iraq”. It is “a documentary of her powerful experience as a human shield in Iraq in 2003 and a frank insight into the days preceding the war”. Community Photographer Tony Robertson comments: “Donna writes with the keen eye of a journalist tempered by the compassion of a heart formed in disciplined meditation. Ordinary Courage is not an easy read. It brings tears and anger as much as joy and hope in the unfolding of the dreadful days leading up to the Invasion of Iraq”. He adds that “there is an invitation to the reader to continue the story Donna has begun”. For more information about this book, see the website www.ordinarycourage.org
Source: Oceania’s Edmund Rice Network newsletter of May 2010.
ENCOUNTERING GOD IN THE MARGINS – Reflections of a Justice Volunteer
Aidan Donaldson – published by Veritas, Dublin, 2010
Over the last ten years, Dr Aidan Donaldson, Assistant Head of Religious Education and Chaplain at St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School in Belfast, has led groups from Ireland to parts of Africa on ‘immersion’. Aidan points out the difference between ‘immersion’ and ‘voluntourism’. Voluntourism is a willingness to give time and expertise to ‘help’ those in less fortunate situations in the Undeveloped World, something noble in itself, but really more meeting the participants’ own needs for new life experiences in a generous yet ultimately not life-changing way. Immersion occurs when the participant realizes that his/her whole mode of living is contributing to the massive injustice in our world which keeps so many people in sub-human situations; the result is to see things in new ways and make some radical changes to how we live and how we advocate for global justice.
Aidan uses his great experience to tell very human stories of the lives of the people with whom he has developed relationships in Africa. He sees himself different now from the somewhat reluctant teacher who was first invited to join a group going to Zambia a decade ago. His understanding of the gospel has been turned upside down, and he presents an extremely strong challenge to the values of a developed world materialist and consumerist society. As well as the many and often massively challenging human interactions he has experienced, he is constantly asking the bigger questions as to why things are as they are.
I recommend Aidan’s book as another source of wisdom and insight into the lives of many of our brothers and sisters in the world. It is “an attempt to restore a voice to the voiceless through allowing them to share their life, their hopes, fears and struggles”. It is not a book to read and then put down and go on living as before; it invites each of us to engage in ‘immersion’ wherever we are!