Posted by: gcarkner | August 30, 2015

Fall 2015 Retreat at Whistler

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Jim Wallis as written a very mature book articulating the social, political  and cultural implications the Sermon on the Mount called The (Un)Common Good. He challenges the inequity, injustice and alienation of the poor in North America

Thought-provoking Quotes from Jim Wallis, The (Un)Common Good

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.  ~Robert F. Kennedy

Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives. ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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“People were made for family, community, and human flourishing, not consumerism, materialism, addiction, and empty overwork.” (p. 18)

“How do we build a culture for the common good in an age of selfishness?” (p. 21)

“Who we think Jesus is will determine the kind of Christianity we live.” (p. 25)

“We are looking for moral clarity, mental sharpness, and emotional maturity in our responses to the steady assault of outside messages on our lives.” (p. 37)

“The greatest challenge to us in a world of injustice and a culture of cynicism is how to hang on to belief in a better world that would change this one.” (p. 39)

“The pilgrimage of our lives is the learning to apply the kingdom to the biggest and most consequential of social and political events, to the most personal of our closest relationships, and to the daily interactions we have with colleagues, coworkers, neighbours, and complete strangers. The Teacher wants to teach us in all those ways.” (p. 39)

“The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount are the charter of the kingdom of God, the Magna Carta or the constitution of the kingdom; they are the instruction manual for living in the new age.” (p. 47)

“To be able to feel the pain of the world is to participate in the very heart of God. The compassionate response of God’s people to human suffering is one of their defining characteristics.” (p. 48)

“And when Jesus is asked by his disciples who will be first in his kingdom, he tells them it will be the servants of all. Humility us the one of the most under appreciated values in our intensely competitive culture, economy and politics.” (p. 49)

“And those who long for the presence of justice, who are hungry and thirsty for it, demonstrate that they belong to a God who promises it.” (p. 49)

“There is no way that all our conflicts and sins against each other can be rectified in this very human world, but those who have learned to forgive by practicing “truth and reconciliation” herald the coming of the kingdom of God.” (p. 49)

“Pure heart” is another way to say “having intensity”, something that seems to be sorely lacking in cultures that encourage us to get away with anything we can. We long for people have have an inner quality of truthfulness, honesty, goodness and honour.” (p. 50)

“What we need most are not just peace lovers, who talk against all the violence, but peacemakers, who actually learn to resolve our endless and inevitable human conflicts without recourse to such destructive methods.” (p. 50)

“His instructions about retaliation call for revolutionary tactics of nonviolent resistance, and he follows that by giving us the most radical command ever–to love our enemies.” (p. 51)

“Thus, for me, “social justice” is integral to the meaning of the gospel—a holistic message that includes both personal salvation and social transformation.” (p. 54)

“And from a biblical perspective, salvation extends far beyond the personal, to see God acting in the world to redeem and restore the whole creation—persons, relationships, institutions, and the natural environment itself.” (p. 61)

“The Occupy movement has focused our attention on the top 1 percent who rule our economic structures; today the enormous gaps between the top and the bottom (and even the middle) of our societies continue to grow.” (p. 69)

“Read it carefully, Jesus says that the way we treat those who are “the least of these” will be regarded as the way we treat him!” (p. 70)

“The Samaritan, on his way down the road Jericho, sees another person in trouble and breaks all the rules and boundaries to help him. Most of all, he shows that compassion and love require action and are not just ideals or feelings.” (p. 97)

“Jesus says no to [exclusion] because there are no “non-neighbours” in this world. All of God’s children are our neighbours, and that radical concept is absolutely essential to the idea of the common good. Indeed, it is a spiritual foundation for the common good.” (p. 98)

“Even in the nation’s business schools, vibrant conversation is going about how the practice of turning supply chains into sustainable value chains will help build business credibility while creating loyalty among customers and among even more discerning stakeholders of all kinds.” (p. 105)

“One of the clearest and most holistic words for justice is the Hebrew shalom, which means both “justice” and “peace”. Shalom includes “wholeness” or everything that makes for people’s well-being and security and, in particular, the restoration of relationships that have been broken.” (p. 244)

“This is some of the strongest language in the Bible about worship and justice, and it clearly makes the connection between the two. God “takes no delight” (as some of the other translations say) in the “noisy” worship of his people if their worship is disconnected from justice—from making things right for those who are poor and oppressed.” (p. 246)

“Words such as “oppression” and “justice” fill the Bible. The most common objects of the prophets’ judgements are kings, rulers, judges, employers—the rich and powerful in charge of the world’s governments, courts, economies, systems, and structures, those who run the world’s logic. When those who are in charge mistreat the poor and vulnerable, say the Scriptures, it is not just unkind but also wrong and unjust, and it makes God angry.” (p. 252)

“And the topics of the prophets’ messages to the powerful are things like land, labour, capital, judicial decisions, employer practices, rulers’ dictates, and the decisions of the powerful—all the stuff of justice ad politics.” (p. 252)

“Do you want to make fundamental changes in the way the world works? It is really not about commitments to political systems or philosophies, or large or small governments. Instead, it’s about going to the root causes of things that are wrong, getting to the core of the problem, and then going far enough to make things right again.” (p. 252)

Justice and Religious Extremism “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~ Mother Teresa (p. 129) “First, religious extremism will not be defeated by a primarily military response to it.” (p. 145) “Second, religious extremism is best undermined from the inside rather than smashed from the outside. The answer to bad religion is not a secularism, as the “new atheists” like to say; rather, it is better religion.” (p. 145) “Third, while the use of force to protect our security and bring perpetrators to justice is justifiable, defeating the mind-set and motives of terrorists will come with much broader and more creative strategies.” (p. 145) “The hardest saying of Jesus, and perhaps the most controversial in our post-9/11 world, is indeed, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44).” (p. 147-148)

See also Alabama Lawyer Bryan Stevenson on Answering Injustice Excellent Sermons on Lent and Justice by Darrell Johnson!sermons/c12v3

Welcome to UBC, a Great Opportunity to Expand Your Horizons

 Welcome to UBC! It was great to meet and chat with many of you at the GSS Clubs and Resources Fair on Friday September 4. You are all on a journey academically and personally. We hope that GCU can add fun, spice and colour to that adventure. Our updates are on the GCU Blog Site We post important lectures, social events and study group information, places to intersect with others who can build your imagination. It is a great network of creative minds and you add much with your background experiences, academic passion and searching questions. We hope that you will find it a home away from home in a community of mutual support. You can also ask questions or get information at or

Hike with us next Saturday, September 19 to see some of the beautiful local landscape. We will lead you on an accessible hike with running shoes Grouse Mountain. Meet at 277 west 16th ave (near Cambie) at 10:00 am with a lunch and a bottle of water. (T:604-222-3549) 10.00 for the gondola ride down. Beautiful views. Contact Ute

Fall Retreat, October 2-3 in Whistler Each fall we offer a retreat for a chance to build deeper relationships and study an important topic together. Stay in the dorms that Olympic athletes used in 2010. This year’s theme is the Sermon on the Mount (with insights from Jim Wallis’ book The (Un)Common Good).

Regular Thursday Study Group Join us for dessert and study at 277 west 16th ave. starting on September 24 at 7:00 p.m. This fall we are working through the book of Ephesians (with insights from Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson). The questions from academic life can be brought to the Scriptures and the study of the Bible can inform our academic work in surprising and life-giving ways.

Finally, Ute offers opportunities for reflective prayer and spiritual direction on Tuesdays at noon at Regent College. These are often quite transformative: Join her to make space for God in your busy life.

Because GCU is interdisciplinary and international, it creates a lively conversation as people bring their wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise, joy and compassion to the table. We look forward to hearing about your research passion and the questions you are exploring. You truly inspire us and add so much value to the lives of other graduate students. Our privilege is to advocate for you and your success as a whole person. Let us know if we can help you in any way and join the GCU adventure..

Have a super start at UBC,

Gord & Ute Carkner, Your GCU Mentors and Support

Gordon holds a Ph.D. Philosophical Theology (also trained in Human Physiology at Queen’s University, and theology in TEDS Deerfield, Illinois)

Ute has a Masters in Spiritual Direction, Regent College (also Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education)

Get Perspective on your Academic Career

Our Alumni include doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals, economists, performing artists, educators, scientists, engineers, inventors, university professors, researchers, geneticists, physicists, mathematicians, school administrators, philosophers, politicians, writers, city planners, environmentalists, psychologists, counsellors, chemists, government bureaucrats, business leaders, lawyers, technologists, aircraft designers, immigration specialists, pastors, missionaries, theologians, leaders of campus ministries.

New Students from SPPH, Architecture, Community Planning, Genetics/Cancer Research, Biotech Engineering, Metals Engineering, Social Work, Education, Chemistry, Early Childhood Education, Biology, Economics, Biofuel Research, Food Science, etc.

Word of Welcome from UBC Faculty

Long hours in the laboratory, thesis proposals, the weight of comprehensive exams means that a grad student needs a support infrastructure. I can’t speak highly enough about getting involved with a group on campus like GCU, and also finding a good church home base. Also as you are walking into your office or biking into campus, try praying for your profs, fellow students, or admin staff; this can help stimulate surprisingly fruitful conversations. And don’t forget that you are here to serve undergrads with grace. Feel free to track me down for coffee; I love ideas exchange.

~Dr. Craig Mitton, PhD

Associate Professor

School of Population and Public Health

As a graduate student several decades ago I found the Grad Christian Union community at my university uplifting spiritually and socially. In an often chilly secular environment, it was a great venue to meet other grads outside my own field and cultural background and develop friendships and join in events with those who shared the same core values. I am still in contact with several of these friends 30 years later. With some other faculty and graduate students, I helped to launch the Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum a number of years ago. Gord has been a solid advisor to this group as well 

~Dr. David Ley

Professor Department of Geography

University of British Columbia

There is no more important bellwether for our society and our culture than the university — and yet Christians within academia often travel incognito, which isn’t good for them, isn’t good for the university, and isn’t good for other Christians, who often feel alone when really they’re not. A ministry to grad students and thus provides a vital venue where Christians can connect, show their colours, and stimulate each other to play the full role they’re called to play as fully alive and “out” followers of Christ. Decide to be a public Christian at UBC.

~Dr. Dennis Danielson

Professor of English

University of British Columbia

Graduate research is often like looking for a lightswitch in a totally dark room. It can be frustrating at times. It certainly was for me! It was invaluable for me to have close connection with other Christians whom I could share that load with, and who were praying for me.

 ~Dr. Bé Wassink

Instructor, Materials Engineering

University of British Columbia

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How to Succeed as a Graduate Student?   ~Dr. Martin Ester
I am Martin Ester  a computer science professor at SFU who has supervised graduate students for more than ten years. I am also a Christian who is convinced that my faith is relevant to all aspects of my and our world. I continue to enjoy this part of my job very much and have the impression that my students also do enjoy their studies, at least once in a while. Sometimes current or prospective students ask me for advice how to succeed, and I have tried to distill the following short advice, which will hopefully be useful not only for computer science students.

1) Make sure to know why you are doing this.
Make sure that you know why you are going to grad school. The monetary benefit of earning a higher salary with a graduate degree may be smaller than you think. And the reputation of your degree may also not be worth investing several years of your life (you have only one!). You may waste part of your life and will not even succeed with your graduate studies if you do not have a better answer. I believe that you need to have a passion for your thesis topic, an inner motivation to explore that helps you to overcome the inevitable hard times during grad school. On the other hand, your studies need a purpose that goes beyond your own interests, and you should have a realistic understanding of how your studies will help you to better serve “humanity”. Keep in mind that, e.g., not every PhD can have an academic career.

2) Be hungry to learn and be teachable.
I have often noticed that super smart grad students with a somewhat arrogant attitude have the feeling that “they have arrived already” and are neither working hard enough nor willing to accept guidance from their supervisor. As a consequence, they tend to be less successful than grad students who may be a tick less intelligent but are really hungry to learn and willing to accept both encouragement and correction from their supervisor or from other people such as reviewers of their scientific papers. Read as many good books and papers as possible. Discuss your research with your supervisor, with other professors, with your fellow students. Apply and test the results of your research in industry, government or where possible. Finally, ask the deep questions and try to come up with solid, new answers.

3) Maintain your balance.
This advice may surprise you the most. Do not get me wrong, you must work hard, really hard to succeed in grad school. However, while grad school is very important, realize that there is more to life. Take care of your body by feeding it properly and exercising enough. Do not neglect your social life, but cultivate meaningful friendships at school and outside. And pay attention to the spiritual dimension of your life which connects you to God. As Jesus summarized when asked for the greatest commandment: “Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and body. And love your neighbor as yourself.” Do not postpone the seeking of balance in your life until after grad school, when “things will get better”. Things will not get better, but worse: you will get only busier in the course of your life. Therefore, start finding and maintaining your balance now!

~Dr. Martin Ester, Computer Science, Simon Fraser University

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