Author Archive

A novel parable with a story message

Posted on: September 12th, 2018 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments

I am honored that Editor Hollis Hiscock chose to publish a review of my novel, Shaking Parkinson’s, in the September issue of The Niagara Anglican Newspaper. What follows is Hollis’s review:

 

I decided to review Eleanor’s novel because my father had Parkinson’s Disease, and perhaps to vicariously relive our family’s experience. Also, I admire her writings and knew it would be worthwhile, thought-provoking and enjoyable.

A novel can be like a parable — a story with a message. Eleanor’s Shaking Parkinson’s is an excellent example. The story immediately captures and holds the reader, and its message, according to Robert Kirk, is one of “hope and joy”.

Just as Jesus’ parables came from his observation of human experiences, so does Eleanor’s “novel parable”.

It tells the story of Joyce Saunders as she — with her family, friends and colleagues — face and struggle with Parkinson’s Disease, and how it impacts and revamps their own attitudes, behaviours and relationships.

In the preface, Eleanor describes her own personal journey with Parkinson’s Disease, as well as a “greater insight into the emotional and psychological repercussions of what is often called this dread disease”.

I found the sequence interesting — to get the facts and then read the story. At first, I thought it should be reversed, but as I read the novel I found my thoughts going back to Eleanor’s preface. After completing the novel, I went back and reread the preface to get further insights.

I enjoyed the quotes from William Shakespeare, A.A. Milne and others at the beginning of each chapter, and searched for their relevancy and application as I delved into Joyce’s story.

According to the back cover, you should read Shaking Parkinson’s because, “This is a larger-than-life novel, one that tweaks your conscience and helps you address the challenges of Parkinson’s Disease in your life”.

Read Eleanor’s novel parable for its story; any message you garner will be a bonus.

University Health Network news

Posted on: February 13th, 2018 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments

http://www.uhn.ca/corporate/News/Pages/Parkinson_patient_hopes_new_book_can_help_others.aspx

New novel published

Posted on: December 9th, 2017 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments

Now available in kindle and paperback at Amazon.com

The Creed’s Credibility

Posted on: December 27th, 2016 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments

In each of the six Niagara churches where we have worshipped, Wayne as interim priest and Eleanor as chorister, a few parishioners have expressed their difficulties with the content of the Nicene Creed.

Picture this: a diligent, positive parishioner asks to see Wayne and sets a time and date. When he arrives, he closes the door, locks it, takes a seat and confesses: “I feel guilty for doubting the Nicene Creed.”

What a relief! He isn’t suffering from cancer or about to lose his job. Theology? Let’s talk. First of all, however, he needs to be heard: “The Creed is not even in the Bible. It’s all about levels of power. This isn’t what Jesus is all about. The word love isn’t even in the creed! And God doesn’t sit on the clouds, for heaven’s sake! Most of what I believe is reflected in the hymns and the sermons, but I have to tune out when we get to the Creed. I can say about half the words. What’s wrong with me? Am I still a Christian?”

The first response must affirm his doubting faith. Jesus helped Thomas when he experienced doubt. Questioning faith is an opportunity for growth in faith. Freaking out at doubters is singularly unhelpful. We, too, are uncomfortable reciting the Nicene Creed every Sunday. ‘Uncomfortable?’ That’s an understatement.

An active lay person in another parish told how, in a conversation with the priest and his assistant, she had expressed similar doubts. Both men harangued her and insisted that until she took a Bishop’s Diploma Course and reconsidered her faith, she could no longer function as lay reader. When two ordained men gang up on a single lay woman, forcefully telling her that she must believe every word of the Creed to be a Christian, that is bullying—at such a moment, the Creed loses its credibility.

Why is the weekly repetition of the Nicene Creed so important? The ritual must have some meaning for parishioners, and we get that. The difficulty arises with those who are inflexible, who insist that it must be spoken at every Eucharist. Alternate creeds like the Apostles Creed or the ancient Shema are deemed second-rate. And Heaven help us if an experimental liturgy uses contemporary language to reflect today’s spirituality!

After all, the Nicene Creed was commissioned by the Emperor Constantine in 325CE. Imagine Jesus and his followers composing something similar for the Caesars in their lifetimes. Surely Jesus’ teachings as found in the Bible are more spiritual, more profound, than a Roman Emperor’s plans to make Christianity the state religion. This elevated status undermined the radical theology of Jesus which challenged Rome’s violent suppression of its conquered people.

There’s just so much old science reflected in the Creed that does not jive with what we know today about the universe. The ancient concept of a three-tiered world, to begin with. And a flat earth.

The Nicene Creed teaches us to believe in “one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” Is that in the Bible? No. What good does it do? It does not make much difference to most people’s lives. If we are still considering the role of the Nicene Creed in the Christian church after 1700 years, still fretting about ideologies, we have missed the point.

It’s more important to be like Jesus than to repeat words about Jesus. Faith is not recitation of words but living the Word, following the Way of Jesus. Instead of reciting a creed, we should be helping, praying, learning, teaching and curing in Jesus’ name. Jesus did not tell us to believe in concepts but to trust in Him, in the Father, in the way of the Kingdom.

by Eleanor Johnston and Wayne Fraser

first published, October 2016, http://niagaraanglican.ca/newspaper/docs/2016/oct.pdf

A review from Vienna on Amazon

Posted on: November 15th, 2015 by Eleanor Johnston 1 Comment

Churchland is a book to curl up on the couch and read when you feel good. Characters are portrayed that are people we all know in our daily lives; Eleanor Johnston has created a story we can all imagine ourselves living.
This is a story that presents great characters, great conversations, lovely word painting of the southern Ontario region of Jordan in the snow storm and lovely portrayals of the relationships between sisters, children and parents, between colleagues and between friends.
Marcia’s lesson of having to listen and be compassionate with everyone and how necessary it is to take the time to do that is a lesson we have all had to learn in our lives.

Another feel-good aspect was reading about the enjoyment of sharing meals together… blueberry pancake breakfasts, spontaneous evening meals, and raising glasses with friends.
Here is raising a glass to Churchland!

“All is forgiven” First, the good news

Posted on: January 15th, 2015 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments

re The Globe and Mail Thurs Jan 15

The Good News—”All is forgiven”

On Wednesday January 14, a week after the terrorist attack on the headquarters of the atheist satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, the surviving workers of this magazine published their first issue. On the front cover is a cartoon of the weeping prophet Mohammed holding a sign saying “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) under a headline proclaiming “Tout est pardonne,” (“All is forgiven.”)

What was the reaction to this profound gesture? My eyes filled with tears of joy and pity that this satirical victim of a horrible attack would respond with spiritual grace, reaching out to all, forgiving all. It could have been Jesus (Je suis) forgiving the attackers, speaking from the cross, identifying with “Charlie,” the victimized magazine. By publishing another drawing of Mohammed, the magazine bravely asserted its right to free speech. But it showed Mohammed grieving for both atheists such as the magazine Charlie and the murderous wrong of his followers’ attack.

I expected and hoped that “The National” would lead with this good news last night, but it didn’t. Instead we had the usual pessimistic violence.

I expected and hoped that “The Globe and Mail” would lead with this good news this morning. I had to look for it in the online edition. The Pope was to be seen urging “Muslim leaders to  condemn religious-based violence.” Good for him!

The magazine’s lawyer is quoted saying that the magazine “will include other cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed and also making fun of  politicians and other religions.” Really, that cover was just a joke???

That depends on whether we see goodness in this world, or only evil. “For the past week, Charlie, an atheist newspaper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and prophets combined,” reads the lead editorial in the new issue.

“His story is my story!”

Posted on: February 8th, 2013 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments

Feb 16, 2013 Fort Erie How Far to go Home

“Guenter’s Story is My Story”

Posted on: February 8th, 2013 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments

 

How Far poster St Paul’s

 

“His story is my story!”

German refugees

Posted on: February 8th, 2013 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments
for Fort Erie production of the story of 1945 Prussia

for Fort Erie production of the story of 1945 Prussia

For those looking for a love poem for February 14

Posted on: February 8th, 2013 by Eleanor Johnston No Comments

 

“Here is the deepest secret nobody knows.


Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

And the sky of the sky of a tree called life;

Which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide.

And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.

I carry your heart.
I carry it in my heart.”

by e. e. cummings