2014 Seminar - Hope and Compassion in a World of Fear

After the events of 9/11, US Homeland Security devised a colour coded scale to alert citizens to the level of threat present in our environment. These warnings, intended to help us, were in fact immersing us in a world already permeated by fear….fear of hunger, starvation, inadequate housing, lack of employment, cancer, medical costs, loneliness, and death. These fears, which are closer to the bone, far exceed the threat of terrorism. Fear is an overwhelming reality in our lives and we need to come to terms with this presence in our lives if we are to live fully and faithfully.

Alan Deutschman, in his book Change or Die, writes that "fear is a legitimate and critical emotion….however, to remain in fear is unproductive for health and performance and to bring about constructive change." We need fear to alert us to the dangers confronting us in the 21st century, but fear can become paralyzing.

How do we prevent fear from consuming our lives? How can we live life fully while fear threatens to consume us? How do we live in the tension that fear creates and find balance in our living?

The world's major religions call on us to be compassionate as God is compassionate. That compassion is the bridge which carries us from a world of fear towards a world of peace and harmony. Jesus embodies for Christians the very essence of compassion, even extending this to loving one's enemies. Compassion allows us to use our own pain and the pain of others as a vehicle for connection. Compassion allows us to bear witness to suffering without fear; it allows us to name injustice, to act strongly.

The Dalai Lama once said that "compassion is a necessity, not a luxury, and that without it humanity cannot survive."

What do we fear as we face each day? How do we deal with fear in our lives and the fear that invades our lives from the outside world? Is compassion the answer and, without compassion, is there hope for a future without fear?

These and other questions will be addressed at the 46th Atlantic Seminar in Theological Education under the guidance of Walter Farqharson and Mayann Francis.

Memories of ASTE 2014

Here are some photo memories from last year's seminar.