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December, 2005 - Nr. 12

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The Editor
Frohe Weihnacht
Treasured Memories
The Spirit of Christmas
Mozart chuckles
German Ball 2005
Toronto Connection
K-W & Beyond
Concordia's 132nd
Martini Dance
Totengedenktag 2005
November Vortrag
Hoffmann Fest 2005
Dick reports...
Musical Journey
At the Royal
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
St. Nicholas...
Major Events in Germany
Hansel & Gretel at Opera York
Wiener Blut / Vienna Love
TSO Christmas Events
Prelude to Christmas
Christmas Shopping Advice
Clifford The Big Red Dog
PM on Climate Change
Stop the Violence...
OPP Recruitment

Letter from the Editor

GS Hospitality Connections

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  

Dear Reader

As every year around this time my thoughts turn to the bigger issues in life: why are we here and what are we doing with this opportunity to fulfill our destiny?

I wish I could say that my observations tell me that we are doing a much better job than we have done in the past, and perhaps we have, but it does not seem enough. The problems on this planet are mounting in severity instead of becoming less dangerous to life. Mankind has not become kinder in its dealings with each other. The weather patterns are becoming equally more violent and are causing terrible damage among so many people. Earthquakes shake not just our confidence but also every last penny out of our wallets. There is hardly a day that goes by when we are not asked to give for yet another disaster relief fund.

The governments of the world are giving our tax moneys to all sorts of good causes, are scolded if they do not by all the professional do-gooders, and then we are asked to give more from what is left to us.

Have you noticed how banks who used to hold our trust, have gone into totally speculative markets - here and abroad -, and are required to make their stockowners more and more money, while there is less and less of the stuff left for the rest of us?

Perhaps it is time to entertain the notion that President Kennedy was supposed to have held so dear just before he was shot: It is time for countries to take back the right to print money, as much as is needed for a country to run its affairs properly. After all, we know by now that the money that is moving around is no longer backed by gold in Ford Knox or anywhere else on the planet. It is just a picture, a graphic, printed on fancy paper, that enjoys so totally unfounded the confidence of the people of the world.

With these printed bits of paper we hold each other hostage instead of using it for the purpose it once was created, a means to exchange symbolically other then with goods and services. No one country was to have more than it could back up with actual valuable metals, such as various forms of precious metal.

We wonder what happened to it, the idea and the gold!

As the world turns and we churn out more poison to destroy our health and the planet’s wellbeing, we hold each other ransom with these bits of paper, forgetting that eventually, the way we are going, the terrible disasters on this planet - created by ourselves - will cost so much that we will have to help everyone without money; or we will have to print it, give it and then forgive it, because no one will be able to pay it back anyway.

It would take quite a bit to revamp the money system, and the world’s bankers would scream bloody murder, no doubt. Crime might flourish to gain control of it, and that would mean that the tax system would have to be revamped too, with everyone paying taxes, perhaps only one tax at the buying stage of a product or service, not just the hardworking lower to upper middle classes, as usual, but also those that would take it from us in various legal or illegal ways.

This is important to consider with a federal election looming in the wings.

Call me idealistic, but without people that do not dare or care to think in terms of taking back what we have lost, which is control of our circumstances, there would be no humanitarian organisations. There would be no charity; instead the barbarism that we so carefully cover up with fancy vestments of civilisation, would rein supreme and a lot more needless suffering would be the order of the day everywhere.

It is no wonder that religious leaders are taking a hand in the peacemaking efforts of this world, that has learned not much from its past, yet still insists on solving its conflicts cruelly with violence and force.

Celebrities are speaking out in ways that used to be unheard of in the past. We are making use of these resources to mobilize good will and good sense in all the people of the world, regardless of religious background. And while it has always been my own believe that the church, any church, should stay out of the field of politics, I also believe that it is any church’s or religious movements duty to enlighten and educate its disciples, to teach or present a workable philosophy with which conditions on this planet can be changed for the better, and with which survival of all living things and beings can be enhanced.

Candle light parade in Kitchener

In 1996 I wrote a Christmas editorial, which I will insert here for the most part, because it is still so valid today. Here it is again:

Throughout mankind’s history we can record a desire for redemption and salvation from the human condition. All people on earth at all times have looked for their purpose of being, a reason for their existence. All religions have somehow tried to address this need. It is an ongoing search for the meaning of life, a search for truth.

Questions as to how we came into existence and why remain largely unanswered or have still too many question marks. But the belief that we were created in the image of something greater remains.

Being created in God’s image, being God’s children suggests that we are somehow, somewhat like a supreme being. It is this search for the true origin in this constellation of our existence that religion offers us as a quest.

We hope fervently that our existence and that of all life has a purpose and is more than a coincidental happening or a logical conclusion to some big bang, way back in time.

Science offers all sorts of explanations. But science deals simply with the molecular structure of the manifestations of life. Yet we know that there is more to it, because we can observe the effects of occurrences, which have nothing to do with the physical structure of anything.

Thought and emotion do not emanate from a dead substance. We say that hope and belief can move mountains. And right here we enter into the arena of spirituality.

How does science explain this observable phenomenon? In chemical reactions and movements of neutrons and electrons!

And who or what causes that?

Science urges us to agree that everything has its origin in a few tiny particles, which exposed by coincidence to other tiny particles, cause the evolution of matter. But it still cannot explain the origin of the original particles and who or what caused them to exist and then move them to take different shapes. There must be a parallel source of life, not manifest in the physical universe, namely the one that animates matter and energy, thus creating space and time, namely all those things to which we are as people subject to. What are we minus those physical manifestations?

Only in the field of religion do we find answers to this question. And while we search for evidence and answers, we cross the bridge from these seemingly unrelated fields of science and religion. Both aim to convince us to their theory. Both work separately from each other. But I feel that only hand in hand are the real answers to be found.

A true search for the truth encompasses science and religion and in fact should be one and the same endeavour.

The birth of Jesus and his life as a son of God have become Christianity’s inspiration to close the gap between the material and the spiritual world. Other religions have similar figures reminding us of our true origin, offering avenues to a meaningful existence, confirming our beliefs in ourselves as spiritual beings and eternal life.

Guido Reni’s painting (this painting was our front page in December 1996) is a particularly beautiful example of this light, which shines in all of us. It represents the hopes we have for a better future, a future we cannot leave in the hands of scientists or an unknown, unidentified entity, but have to actively help to create ourselves.

All our customs refer in some way to our beliefs and express the desire to be the best we can be. Combating the dark, the unknown, makes us wish only more to find out about the workings of this universe and our role in it.

As long as we don’t forget who and what we really are amidst the trappings of this universe we have the chance of an eternity in the light.

The many candles we light this season symbolize that hope and the way.

Have a very merry Christmas, or "Frohe Weihnachten" and remember: The truth is there to be known. The answers are found in a discipline, which marries science with the humanities, including religion. All we have to do is learn how to know.

This was the end of that letter to my readers in 1996.

I have something to add this time. I want to point out that a lot of efforts are being made by a lot of people of many different faiths to halt mankind’s trend to be so self-destructive. Some methods are old, tried and true, some are new, but they all have in common the fervent wish for a peaceful togetherness.

Toronto is going to be the next and last stop for the World Peace Tour of the Unification Church. The event is sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace. Several events are being held on the 10th and 23rd of December. To learn more go to World peace is something we all would welcome. It would be good if we could support such efforts in any way we can.

I wish every one a wonderful Christmas time with much occasion to reflect about our purpose, togetherness with loved ones, and I wish you a great Christmas tree! Not a seasonal tree, as it has been suggested. A Christmas tree is just that, it was created in the spirit of Christmas, not another festivity; therefore it deserves its rightful name. We do give the credit for it to the correct source and will not have it watered down by other cultures, which insist that we honour their customs with their correct names, which we do gladly. However, we do insist on the same right for ourselves.

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree… O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie gruen sind deine Blaetter. Du gruenst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit, nein auch im Winter wenn es schneit...

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


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