Tag Archives: Mark Buchanan

Reconciliation: We need a new story

Reconciliation is an important part of the Jan/Feb Faith Today. One of our writers, author and professor Mark Buchanan, mentions a ministry called New Story — one day seminars that help churches understand our relationship with  First Nations people. Mark shares more with us in this mini-interview.

Why did you use the name New Story?

The name New Story captures what we believe needs to happen with our relationship with Indigenous peoples. Most Canadians have been part of a story that is largely about hurt, suspicion, and avoidance. That story keeps perpetuating itself.  We need a new story that recognizes the past, no matter how awful or ugly, or how implicated in it we are, but which refuses to get stuck there. We need a story that moves us – all of us – toward a better future.

Read our cover story to find out more about this important take on reconciliation.

Can you tell us what a typical New Story day looks like?

We’ve so far held two New Story events, both shaped a little differently but with many of the same elements. Each has begun with First Nations protocols acknowledging our presence on traditional lands – for us in southern Alberta, that’s Treaty 7 Territory. An Indigenous Elder or Chief has then welcomed us and led in an opening prayer.

Both events have included several Indigenous and a few non-Indigenous plenary speakers and workshop presenters. These sessions have explored various topics – First Nations history, culture, worldview, dance, and themes of reconciliation or “where do we go from here?” In the second event, we used the Kairos “Blanket Exercise,” an imaginative journey, from an Indigenous perspective, through Canada’s history, from pre-colonialism to the present day.

Each event has also featured a First Nations talking circle in which participants are given an opportunity to share their experiences, good or bad, with others.

Is there a typical response you see from people who attend? Are they surprised to learn new facts and the real history?

Often people who attend a New Story event have had some exposure to the legacy of residential schools, or they know something of the history of colonialism, and they’ve come to learn more. But many are shocked, sometimes overwhelmingly, when they learn the fuller story: the harm, both systemic and personal, that churches, schools, governments, settler communities, individuals have brought upon indigenous peoples. There are a lot of tears. Often anger. Many participants repent – of stereotypes, of prejudices, of their actions or inaction in the past. Probably the most surprising part of a New Story event is watching Christians discover the depth and beauty of Indigenous cultures, and how these cultures in many ways are, not just compatible with the gospel, but a rich expression of it.

What are the most important things you want people to take away from a New Story day?

We want people to see Indigenous peoples and their cultures through a new lens, one that corrects previous stereotypes and prejudices, but that doesn’t simplify or minimize differences and complexities – that actually magnifies these things.

We emphasize our shared humanity, but we also highlight real and meaningful differences between peoples and cultures. This counteracts the tendency many of us have to try to reconcile with others by finding a lowest common denominator.

Frankly, that approach is part of the old story. What we are trying to do is find grounds for reconciliation in which no one is required to relinquish or distort their identity. That’s a new and better story.

We hope people come away with a commitment to lifelong and humble learning. We especially hope that many new friendships are born.


Thank you!

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A Canadian author tackles the life of David in upcoming novel: A FT mini-interview with Mark Buchanan

Readers of the Jul/Aug Faith Today were treated to a take on King David that we might not have read before. “You anoint my head with oil: What a Bronze Age warrior-king can teach us about friends and enemies,” is an inspiring essay that looks at the friendships in David’s life, and how they might help us with our own.

But Mark Buchanan (MB) is working on more than that angle of David’s life. Deeply immersed in the writing process for his upcoming novel based on the life of the warrior-King from the Bible, one of our fave Faith Today (FT) writers took a few minutes out of his writing schedule to tell us more about the book, and his creative process.

Mark Buchanan’s essay in the Jul/Aug issue of Faith Today examines the role of friendship in David’s life. Buchanan is working on a novel about the warrior-king’s life.

FT: Mark, tell us about the novel you’re working on about David. What do readers need to know?

MB: I explore David’s story and character from multiple perspectives of those who know him well – his wife Michal, his nephew and general Joab, his priest Abiathar, and so on. I weave these multiple viewpoints into an overarching narrative that traces David’s life from birth to death. And, of course, I salt the whole thing with snippets of Davidic psalms. I am hoping that the overall effect captures both the sweep and grandeur of the story and the depth and complexity of the man.

David’s central and lifelong quest revolves around his longing for the father’s love. That explains nearly everything about him – from his astonishing intimacy with God to his failures as a husband, to his aloofness and yet indulgence toward his own children, especially his sons. It explains his military feats and his domestic fiascos. So I’ve made that quest – to find the father’s love – the deep story of the novel.

FT: What have you learned about David and his story that surprised or moved you particularly?

MB: That David is no hero. He’s a flawed and conflicted man who keeps throwing himself on God. He’s a king who needs a King, a father who needs a Father.

FT: We tend to think of you as a non-fiction writer. What has writing fiction been like for you?

MB: Wonderful. Terrifying. Deeply satisfying. Tormentingly hard. And it is borderline insanity to try to tackle a story so loved and revered – there are so many ways to mess this up. So we’ll see…

FT: What is your hope for the book?

MB: That it invites those who know the story well to reimagine it and reengage it, and invites those who don’t know it at all to explore the source material.

FT: What is next? Or are you thinking of that yet?

MB: Another novel – about a pastor who is a kind of modern day David.

FT: Thanks Mark!

MB: And you as well. Thanks for indulging my obsession.

Mark Buchanan is associate professor of pastoral theology at Ambrose University in Calgary. He is author of several books including Your Church Is Too Safe: Why Following Christ Turns the World Upside-Down(Zondervan, 2012). Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season of Your Soul (Zondervan, 2010) and the forthcoming David: A Novel (Watch for news of its release this Winter).

Faith Today loves to tell stories of the creative Christian arts in Canada today.  Subscribe now for a regular dose of inspiration. 

Off you go to the printers! See you soon.

Today we hit ‘send’ on the latest issue of Faith Today, shooting it out of our computers directly to the printers’, almost right on schedule. The last few days of a magazine’s production cycle involve poring over pages and pdfs, tweaking design (although our designer is so good we rarely do any tweaking) and trying to pick up any last stray errors or omissions. And then finally saying, “Done!”

Here it is! A sneak peek at our Jul/Aug issue. We’d love it to be your first issue as a Faith Today subscriber.

In about two weeks we will have the glossy, deliciously real magazine in our hands, ready for distributing, reading, flipping, sharing with friends, and fanning out on coffee tables (or this time of year, maybe straight to the cottage?).

We know you will enjoy this “birthday issue” of Faith Today. Not our birthday of course, but Canada’s. When we began to sketch out the issue we knew we wanted a kind-of aerial view piece on the evangelical Church in Canada. Where have we come from? What are our milestones, even as our country celebrates a biggie? And, perhaps most intriguingly, where are we headed? This one story, by veteran writer and intrepid-challenger-of-the-status-quo, John G. Stackhouse Jr., takes the lion’s share of space in this issue, as it should. But it is balanced beautifully with an essay by Mark Buchanan, a writer whom we think is one of Canada’s best. He’s been thinking about King David a lot lately, and what David can teach us about friendship.

We met up with Christine MacMillan at a conference recently in Ottawa. She is a leader in the Church in Canada who is now on the global stage with the World Evangelical Alliance. She’s been in the pages of Faith Today before, but not as the lead interview. We’re so glad she sat down with us and opened up about what she is seeing going on in the evangelical Church worldwide, but also about her own recent journey with cancer, something she refers to as the “cross of the unexpected.”
Continue reading Off you go to the printers! See you soon.

The beauty of church

There are a hundred reasons to dislike church. A thousand reasons to suspend your participation in one church, or swap it for attendance at another. I attend church every Sunday and I haven’t church shopped, swapped or dropped since I was in my early 20s (and that was a while ago). I’m married to an Anglican priest, so his church is my church, our family goes every week, and yes, there is bickering and badgering and we are often late.

Read Rod Wilson’s article on the circulation of the saints in the Jan/Feb Faith Today, available now.

As I’ve seen people in various churches over the years drop out for a time or for good, or switch churches (usually for a bigger or newer option, and yes, I totally get that there are lots of good reasons to leave a church), I’ve wondered what I would do if I had that freedom. Would I become a circulating saint, as Rod Wilson puts it in his recent Faith Today article? Would I regularly try out other churches to sample the offerings? Would I choose my couch and a good book on Sunday morning instead, and often? Would I let my kids throw in the worship towel because I just can’t stand the arguing? I can’t honestly answer “no” to those questions, because I just don’t know. I hope not, but it is possible that without my built-in church attendance motivation,  I might go to bedside Baptist, and poolside Presbyterian and be Lutheran at the lake, and all those other silly names.
Continue reading The beauty of church

Our favourite Faith Today stories in 2016

As a fun end-of-year exercise, we editors put our heads together and chose some of our favourite Faith Today stories from 2016. “Favourite” meaning they resonated with readers for some reason. Or favourite could mean that we just simply loved the end results of the writer’s hard work, or thought an interview subject said some really important things we all need to hear.

We started out the year with a love letter to the Church. See you in 2017!

So, here’s our list (in no particular order, and just for fun).

Artful Discipleship: how the arts can help in spiritual formation. We love this Carolyn Arends piece with the honour it gives to the arts, and of course, with its connection to our first ever, wildly popular colour it yourself Faith Today cover. This was so much fun to pull together and it was awesome to see readers respond and send in coloured covers from all across Canada.
Continue reading Our favourite Faith Today stories in 2016

“Dear Church” and other bits of awesomeness from the latest Faith Today

by Karen Stiller

If you were going to write a letter to the Church, what would you say?

I know I’d have a few complaints and suggestions. Hopefully I would be polite and loving.

The Jan/Feb Faith Today will arrive in mailboxes soon.
The Jan/Feb Faith Today will arrive in mailboxes soon.

I know I would say thank you for all the Church has given me. For how it catapults me into community whether I feel like it or not, for how it comforts and challenges me, for how it forces me to grow by holding a mirror up to my unpleasantness.

I would say thank you for the small groups, for the good friends, for the egg salad and the white bread that is so hard to find anywhere else these days.

The cover story of the Jan/Feb Faith Today is exactly that: a letter to the Church from someone who loves it. Mark Buchanan, well-known and respected Canadian author, past-pastor and now professor of pastoral theology at Ambrose University, took the task very seriously. He says thanks, and then he makes some very solid suggestions to the Church he loves, and also challenges himself (and us!) to higher ground. On a purely superficial level, the spirit of the piece inspired one of our coolest covers ever, in my opinion.
Continue reading “Dear Church” and other bits of awesomeness from the latest Faith Today

Why the Bible Sometimes Turns People Nasty

– By Mark Buchanan

2080656MidResI teach a class at Ambrose University on spiritual formation. It’s my favourite class, except for my other classes.

I opened my first session last week by reading some of the story of Stephen from Acts. Here are the sections:

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue… who began to argue with Stephen….

Continue reading Why the Bible Sometimes Turns People Nasty

Love Dispels Fear

Click the cover image to read the Nov/Dec 2013 issue.

Our stories this issue challenge us to think Christianly.

We really did go behind the scenes for this issue, to the streets of Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Our writers were assigned to get a glimpse of what life on the street is like for prostituted women and the Christians who try to serve them.

Senior editor Karen Stiller handled the Toronto segment only three nights prior to her departure for another story in Senegal (see “Operation Christmas Child” on p.12).

Continue reading Love Dispels Fear