INTRODUCTION By Paul Kroeker
Welcome here everyone – we are so glad you have come in support of Don and Jean Ayre as they launch his new book, “Toward a More Loving and Caring World”.
Don and Jean Ayre welcomed us into the Somerset neighbourhood here in Winnipeg about 10 years ago. We began to connect for coffee and conversation, becoming friends on a journey. I will do a short introduction and then allow Don to speak about his life’s work, reflected here in his book, “Toward a more Loving and Caring World”. There will be an opportunity for questions after Don’s presentation.
It is inspiring to know someone who can express the tenacious optimism which is reflected in the title of this book. Don’s optimism runs deep and is reflected in his daily life. I like that.
For those who know him, you will know that Don is a gentle person but his arguments are quite tenacious. The book is reflective of a long struggle to bring together two academic disciplines, science and theology, between the scientific & the mystical/theological.
He is willing to debate the merits of people like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Eric Fromm, Eric Erickson, Alvin Toffler and many others. Don’s concerns have merit. He expresses a deep indebtedness to a number of people, some of whom, such as Deepak Chopra and Maharishi Yogi, I wished he would argue with more clearly. On the theological side, he enjoys the work of Thomas Moore, and Teilhard de Chardin. The futuristic vision of De Chardin, a Catholic scientist and theologian, seems to have inspired Don in his pursuit of a more loving and caring world.
His book is quite complex and philosophical, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that his life and his work are disconnected from real world issues. Don has a real passion for justice in this more “loving and caring world”. A significant part of his life’s work was with justice and employment issues for First Nations people, an area of great need.
Don has inspired me many times with his comments about the “soul”. We were having coffee together and he said “the soul is much more opportunistic than that”. In other words, the business of our lives and the numbing nature of our culture become the white noise that drowns out the cries of our own soul for dignity, meaning, beauty and truth. He speaks about the soul wanting to get our attention in the middle of a world that often ignores the spiritual. He speaks of the soul having needs that require intentionality and time. Our soul, like an internal compass, is always looking for an opportunity to get our attentionand to draw us aside to a quiet place which nurtures the deeper things that make for a more loving and caring world – are we willing to listen?
In speaking with him about this evening I know that he will want to address the four key questions which form the fabric of his writing, thinking and research - in fact of his life. These four questions weave in and out of every chapter, and become the touchstone between our thinking about a better world and living into that reality.
Whatever your culture, religion or philosophical perspective, I think you will find Don’s four primary questions to be helpful in nurturing “your soul” and hopefully in helping us to participate in the move toward a more loving and caring world.
Biblical scholar and theologian, Walter Brueggeman, used the phrase Prophetic imagination. He suggested that when a prophetic figure speaks, the act of speaking those words helps to bring into reality the things that are yet unseen. As Don speaks on a more loving and caring world, it is my hope and my prayer, that these may be prophetic words that lead to a more loving and caring reality.
Welcome here Don (and Jean), we look forward to hearing what you have to say.