Pulpit and Politics in pictures

There has been much to write about in my Pulpit and Politics blog during the past year. Please see a sampling below. If you would like to read any of these posts in full, just scroll down to the Archives section at the bottom of the screen and click on the appropriate month. In reviewing these many posts, I see that the predominant themes revolve around Environment, First Nations, Refugees, Peace and Democracy. If we could get those things right, we would live in a much healthier and more harmonious way with one another. I plan to continue Pulpit and Politics in 2015 with perhaps an increased number of posts. I retired from my day job recently but certainly not from writing and I look forward to remaining engaged in this way. I am pleased that you read the blog and I always appreciate the feedback posted to the Comments section.

Best wishes to you and yours in the New Year.



Pulpit and Politics, a review by Ron Dart

My recent book book Pulpit and Politics has been reviewed in the Clarion Journal of Spirituality and Justice, an on line publication.  The reviewer is Ron Dart,  a professor in the Department of Philosophy & Politics at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, B.C. You will see that he recommends the book and is pleased that it deals with religion as an authentic force in public life, rather than dismissing it out of hand as is commonly done in secular academic analysis. He criticizes me, though, for being soft on religious progressives while being hard on religious conservatives. Also, he disapproves of my describing the current reality in Canada as one of competing religious ideologies, one progressive and the other conservative.  Continue reading Pulpit and Politics, a review by Ron Dart

Gruending book launches in Saskatchewan

Fr. Andrew Britz and Dennis  Gruending
Fr. Andrew Britz and Dennis Gruending

I had two recent launches in Saskatchewan for my book Pulpit and Politics.  One of the events was at St. Peter’s College in Muenster, where I was a boarding school student for three years in high school and first year university in the 1960s.  My friend Father Andrew Britz interviewed me about the book prior to a time of questions and comments from the audience.  I have known Father Andrew since my student days and we  collaborated on a book in 2010 called Truth to Power, a collection of his best editorials over the more than 20 years he served as editor of the Prairie Messenger newspaper.  He was an  excellent and courageous journalist and I recommend his book to anyone who thinks and cares about social justice. Continue reading Gruending book launches in Saskatchewan

130 at Ottawa launch for Pulpit and Politics

Juliet O'Neill and Dennis Gruending (Koozma Tarasoff photo)

 About 130 people attended an Ottawa launch on November 2nd for Dennis Gruending’s new book, Pulpit and Politics: Competing Religious Ideologies in Canadian Public Life. The event took place at Southminster United Church and was co-sponsored by Kingsley Publishing and an Ottawa-based group called Canadians for Democratic Renewal. Veteran journalist Juliet O’Neill, who is now working as a media officer at Oxfam Canada, interviewed Dennis about his book and that was followed by a period of audience questions and comments. Rev. Bill Blaikie, a former long-time Member of Parliament, was a special guest. He has written a new book called The Blaikie Report: An Insider’s Look at Faith and Politics, released by United Church Publishing House. In Ottawa, Pulpit and Politics is available at Brittons magazine stores as 846 Bank Street (at 5th Avenue) or at 352 Richmond Road in Westboro. It can be ordered through Alpine Book Peddlers, toll free 1-866-478-2280. Pulpit and Politics is also available at Amazon.ca.





Post media papers carry Pulpit and Politics interview

Several Post media newspapers carried a question and answer piece on either October 29 or 30 by journalist Paul Gessell with Dennis Gruending  regarding his new book Pulpit and Politics: Competing Religious Ideologies in Canadian Public Life. The newspapers carrying the piece included the Ottawa Citizen, Regina Leader Post and Edmonton Journal.  Those papers and a number of others also carried an excerpt from the book.  You can read the Q & A piece HERE.

Dennis Gruending to publish book on Pulpit and Politics

Pulpit and Politics by Dennis GruendingThose of you who follow my blog will wonder why I have not been posting for the past number of weeks. In fact, several of you have contacted me to ask about it. The truth is that I have been taken up with the final edits of a book that I will publish in October. It’s called Pulpit and Politics: Competing Religious Ideologies in Canadian Public Life, and Kingsley Publishers of Calgary will release it. The themes and details that I deal with in the book arise largely from this blog, which I have been writing since late 2007. Actually, many of you have contacted me with constructive criticism about the blog and have provided ideas for stories that I might pursue. Many of those suggestions have made their way into the book but it goes well beyond the blog. I have revised the material, updated and added to it, and the book will also contain a detailed index of names and organizations as well as a comprehensive reading list.

I have been struck over the past few years by the growing competition between religious progressives and conservatives for power and influence in Canadian politics. This is an historic rivalry and one that will become even more pronounced now that Stephen Harper has won a majority government, partly through the efforts of religious conservatives. Their political agenda is anchored in opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, publicly funded childcare, a dislike of many social programs, and a general suspicion of government. Since its inception in 2006, the Harper government has courted conservative evangelicals, along with certain Catholic and Jewish voters, to join a political coalition that would change Canada into a leaner and meaner state, albeit it one with more prisons and a larger military.

The book will look closely at the political ideology and tactics of religious conservatives, but that is only half of the story. I will also report on efforts by religious progressives who are struggling to have their voices heard on issues of equality, justice, human rights, and peace. This is an effort that plays out on Parliament Hill, as well in church basements, synagogues and temples. It is not merely a topic of casual interest; the consequences for our future are potentially dramatic. Religious faith informs political decisions about the division of wealth in our society, education and race relations, immigration, respect for democracy, foreign policy, and environmental issues, to name just a few.

The book will also examine religiously inspired ideas and events elsewhere that are having an impact in Canada. We cherish our reputation as a peaceable kingdom, but we are not immune to religious fundamentalism, even extremism. The bombing of Air-India Flight 182 bound from Toronto to New Delhi in 1985 killed 331 people, making it the most widely felt terrorist attack in Canadian history. It was planned and executed by Sikh religious extremists living in Canada. There are no tranquil islands in an increasingly globalized world of ubiquitous jet travel, round-the-clock news feeds, and secured Internet chat rooms. Canada is not an island, particularly given its tradition of engagement abroad and its increasingly ethnic and religious diversity. It is for these reasons (in addition to natural curiosity) that on my travels and in my reading I pay close attention to the links between religious faith and public life in other countries as well as my own.

I have watched this drama unfold from my base in Ottawa, and I have also participated in it: as a writer, a director of information for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and later as a Member of Parliament and a blogger. There is a fine body of research and writing in the United States and elsewhere about the importance of understanding the motivation and tactics of religious groups involved in public life. Far less attention has been devoted to the topic in Canada. I am determined that Pulpit and Politics will help to fill this gap.

Pulpit and Politics will sell for $22.00 and will be available (in October) from Kingsley Publishing or Alpine Book Peddlers.  It will also be available as an ebook. I hope that you will consider buying a copy for yourself and perhaps another for a family member or friend. I’ll let you know when Pulpit and Politics becomes available. And now, I will get back to writing for my blog. I promise.

Stephen Harper’s hit list, organizations whose funding has been cut or ended

Stephen Harper, gov't of Canada photo
Stephen Harper, gov’t of Canada photo

The Conservative government has thrown us into the 2011 election campaign. This is perhaps a good time to take stock of who the Harperites have spent their time attacking in the past several years. (They have also lavished favour on their own, appointing them to be judges, to the Immigration Review Board, the CRTC or other federal agencies). The list of organizations that have been shut down and cut back, and the individuals bullied, is a long one and we can expect it to grow if the Conservatives are re-elected. I have written extensively about some of these actions, including the government’s attack on the ecumenical group KAIROS and the shameful treatment of the Rights and Democracy organization, but the following list, culled from on line sources, is more comprehensive. Continue reading Stephen Harper’s hit list, organizations whose funding has been cut or ended

Pulpit and Politics wins in 2010 Canadian Blog Awards

By Dennis Gruending

cba_2nd.jpgMy Pulpit and Politics blog placed second in the Politics category of the 2010 Canadian Blog Awards. Winners are based entirely on the number of votes they receive from readers, so thanks to everyone who took the time to cast a ballot. You can find the list of winners in all categories by clicking here.

I began to publish Pulpit and Politics almost three years ago, in November 2007. I wrote this in my first post on November 9th of that year: “I plan with this blog to explore the growing influence that religion is having upon politics and society in Canada and elsewhere. This relationship is not merely a topic of interest but rather it has an effect upon the lives of millions of people.”

I have posted 85 pieces in these 36 months and written 95,000 words, enough to fill a modestly sized book. I passed a milestone a few weeks ago when my blog received “hit” number 100,000. That means that Pulpit and Politics has been visited 100,000 times. Of those hits, 27,000 have been what is called “unique” – in other words the blog has been visited by 27,000 different individuals. This is perhaps a modest number of visitors when compared to some of the megablogs out there but significant nonetheless.

I have had posts to the blog’s Comment section from many of you and I thank you for them. Please keep them coming. My blog postings eliciting the greatest number of comments were two that I wrote on Canada’s gun registry, and another on an event called The Cry, which is organized by a religiously conservative youth group and staged on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. I was surprised that interest in those events appeared greater than in other pieces I have written about Canada’s war in Afghanistan or the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi to name just two. There was also keen interest in a piece that I wrote about the positions being taken on the issues by Canadian churches in the 2008 federal election. I also received numerous comments in response to another posting about the questions I would ask if I were the journalist moderating the televised leaders’ debate in that 2008 same campaign.

It has all been great fun and I am committed to continuing with the blog. Researching for it gives a focus to much of my reading and for many of the events that I attend in the community — in Ottawa, the world comes to you if you are patient enough to wait for it. And I now find that when traveling abroad I am constantly observing people and events with blog future postings in mind.

So, thanks for reading and for your comments. Stay tuned for my next post, an analysis of a book written by American writer Mark Juergensmeyer. It is called Religious Challenges to the Secular State, from Christian Militias to al Qaeda, a topic that has implications for us in Canada as well.