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Last year during Lent I led a study on the seven deadly sins. It seemed a good exercise in self-reflection that was fitting for Lent. And then COVID-19 hit in the middle of Lent, and Lent (and life in general) became even harder.
 
One would expect that a conversation on sin would be too heavy a burden for that season. We were all struggling with uncertainties and anxiety, along with the loss of so many things that brought us pleasure. Surprisingly enough, focusing on sin was deeply encouraging.
 
Rebecca Konyndyk DeYounges points out that the seven deadly sins(vices) are not so much about doing wrong but about the wrong pursuit of good. As she notes in her book, Glittering Vices, “The vices offer subtle and deceptive imitations of the fullness of the human good, what we often simply call ‘happiness.’” (38). We seek the good that they represent “in the wrong way, at the wrong times, and wrong places, too intensely, or at the expense of other things of greater value.” (39) In terms of specific vices, she describes gluttony as a focus on “one’s own pleasure. Excessive pleasure. Immediate, tangible pleasure.” (140). Like gluttony, lust’s “excessiveness reduces something designed for more than pleasure to mere pleasure and reduces even the fullness of that pleasure to mere self-gratification.” (165)
 
I hear echoes of Ecclesiastes 2 in DeYoung's words. Ecclesiastes names how pleasure in of itself is not enough to bring happiness. In fact, pleasure can be a distraction from us seeing reality more clearly. Are we, as DeYoung questions, “relying on the pleasure of food to compensate for the lack of rest, relaxation, and joy in an overstressed life” (145)? Or is my preoccupation with my wants and comfort closing my eyes to how my actions are hurting others, or keeping me from seeing and caring about the suffering of others?
 
I pray that our continued look at the book of Ecclesiastes will help us lament how the good can be distorted and harm others, and may we learn to live more fully into the joy and hope that we have in Christ.

This week at Wine Before Breakfast... After Dinner...

Deb Whalen-Blaize will be playing live throughout,
Aileen Verdun is preaching on Ecclesiastes 2:1-17,
Mike Walker is reading Scripture,
Jesse Frohlich will act as the Voice of the People, and
I have the honour of crafting our prayers. 

I hope to see you Tuesday evening at 7:22pm.

In hope, 
Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink
CRC Chaplain at the University of Toronto

P.S. Besides the book by DeYoung, which you’re welcome to borrow from me, the following is a link to a recent one-hour talk she gave on sin

CRC Campus Ministry is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Wine Before Breakfast... After Dinner
Time: January 19, 2021 07:22 PM America/Toronto
Contact uoftcampusministry@gmail.com to get the zoom link.  
Community Announcements

1. Sign-Up Sheet
We invite you to click on this link and sign up for writing a prayer litany, acting as the voice of the people, reading our scripture or reading the land acknowledgement and dismissal. If you have any questions about these rolls, please email Aileen!

2.Virtual Silent Retreat - Sat Feb 6, 9:30am-12:30pm
Please join us for our annual ministry silent retreat. While we can't be together at the convent this year, we want to challenge you to consider taking the morning in silence with the community. In the uncertainty and challenges of our current times, it is perhaps even more important to make space for some calm and quiet to listen to God and reflect more deeply on life. Similar to the convent, we will gather together in the morning over zoom, and then again at the end of our retreat to share our experience of intentionally taking time to be quiet. We will provide resources and ideas for doing a retreat at home. Contact Aileen or Carol for more information or to register.


3. ICS Course: Body, Language, Power
WBB member Andrew Tebbutt will be teaching a course at the Institute for Christian Studies this term called "Body, Language, Power: The Question of the Human in 20th Century French Philosophy". This course will focus on the ways that our experience as human beings are defined by our relations to other people, our embodiment, and our concerns about freedom and authenticity. Find out more information here

4. New Leaf Book Club: A Sort of Homecoming
Last summer, our community had the privilege of witnessing the presentation of a festschrift in honour of Brian Walsh, titled A Sort of Homecoming. For the next few weeks, a book club through New Leaf Network focusing on contributions from A Sort of Homecoming will be hosted by long-time member of WBB and co-editor of A Sort of Homecoming, Andrew Stevens-Rennie. Find out more information and how to sign up here!

5. WBB Philosophy Club
The WBB Philosophy Club will be continue to meet from 6:00 - 7:30pm every other Wednesday this term, reading through Glen Sean Coulthard's
Red Skins White Masks. If you're interested in discussing the tensions of the spiritual life and would like to join in this small group, please email Andrew Tebbutt. No prior philosophical knowledge required!
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