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Author Bios



Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Articles Written

  • The power of hope

    The power of hope
    The least spoken of the three “theological virtues” is, almost always, hope. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: April, 18 2017
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  • The liberating power of the Good News

    The liberating power of the Good News
    In the man from Galilee, God becomes the exploited, inferior, impure, enslaved human being—not to approve of this condition and just make us feel good because we are crushed but to lead us out of this destructive spiral of evil”—Virgilio Elizondo, A God of Incredible Surprises: Jesus of Galilee.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: March, 06 2017
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  • How do we act like a church?

    How do we act like a church?

    Until very recently, it was widely accepted that models of governance, administration and decision-making used in government were also appropriate for the church.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: February, 24 2017
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  • The second coming of Christ

    The second coming of Christ
    In many circles of our church, outside of the liturgy itself you don’t hear much about the second coming of Christ.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: December, 13 2016
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  • Finding our hidden humanity

    Finding our hidden humanity
    God has placed much of our true and full humanity in each and every heart. But we only begin to find it there. God hides fragments of our true and full humanity in other places.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: November, 07 2016
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  • When preaching becomes a challenge

    When preaching becomes a challenge
    I preached at the ordination of a dear friend recently. Feeling a bit too nervous to be comfortable, it made me wonder beyond the event at hand.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: October, 18 2016
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  • Our high calling

    Our high calling
    Fr. George Metcalf was one of the most dedicated and holy people I had ever met. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: August, 29 2016
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  • Blessed are the troublemakers

    Blessed are the troublemakers
    For many  centuries,the church has considered itself the religious aspect of the larger society. Entrance in the church was entrance into society and vice versa. Everyone was to live in harmony with the larger pattern of life in what was thought to be a Christian society. Fitting in with the expectations of civil society was an unquestioned norm. This approach reached its height, it would seem, in the 1950s, the last great period of growth and influence for the church in North America.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: May, 17 2016
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  • The sacred walk

    The sacred walk
    I have heard elders describe the way of life God desires and designs for every creature as “the good walk.” This is, I believe, a dynamic translation of the word Bimadiziwin, which means to live and also, to walk. To live is to walk. Elders use it to holistically describe ethics, spirituality, sociology and psychology in a comprehensive term—they are all needed for the good walk. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: April, 13 2016
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  • Polite and pious

    Polite and pious
    Our lives are increasingly controlled, in every aspect, by economic and technological factors. Broadly speaking, culture is so infused with these considerations that it is difficult to see them clearly. For all but a few of our elders, our waking and sleeping are shaped by the dictates of a rather unforgiving pattern, crafted by an economically based technocracy. This is now the air that we breathe: it appears to be our life and death.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: March, 09 2016
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  • Recognizing a ministry of sacrifice

    Recognizing a ministry of sacrifice
    Though it’s hard to get an exact count, we suspect that a few hundred men and women serve as unpaid or non-stipended ministers in the Anglican Church of Canada. The majority of them are in rural and bush Canada in Indigenous communities, and most of them are Indigenous members of the communities they serve.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: February, 09 2016
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  • The ministry of shared suffering

    The ministry of shared suffering
    Many of us have  been shaped by the norms of a way of being church that is under great stress: this is the idea that a church is, at a minimum, an academically credentialed priest with a stipend, presiding over a building and a staff (paid and/or volunteer) that is able to provide services and program. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: January, 14 2016
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  • The God who sees me

    The God who sees me

    And she called the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi,” by which she meant, “Have I not gone on seeing after He saw me!”

    —Genesis 16:13 (Jewish Publication Society)

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: November, 30 2015
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  • Our agenda, as we wake up

    Our agenda, as we wake up

    Last month, this column spoke of the institutional church’s captivity to the mindset of Western culture. We called it a kind of “hypnotism” whereby many of the assumptions of Christian faith were blunted or obscured by the powerful counterpoint of Western ideas. This is not to say that there weren’t many points of mutual agreement and benefit in this exchange. There were, however, many aspects of this mutuality that may be seen as negative, as in the way churches played an animating role in colonization.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: November, 06 2015
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  • Hypnotized

    Hypnotized

    Recently, I used the word “hypnotized” to describe the way the churches of a Western cultural framework have been impacted by their relationship with the cultures and governance of Euro-North American countries. A good friend asked, “What does that mean?” So, I will try to explain.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: September, 29 2015
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  • The gift of a new life

    The gift of a new life
    Repentance is a concept that isn’t very popular in contemporary society. You don’t hear about it in mainstream culture, at least not in a positive way.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: August, 24 2015
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  • Returning to a Christian way of life

    Returning to a Christian way of life
    The churches that have been a part of the European and North American cultural framework have played a unique and important role in the colonization of our planet over the past five centuries. At times, it should be recognized, they calmed down some of the excesses of colonization. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: May, 06 2015
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  • Heeding a gospel warning

    Heeding a gospel warning
    The hypocrisy and corruption associated with the Pharisees, as portrayed in the gospels, has made their name a potent insult. But Christian teaching, despite describing this corruption as extremely dangerous, often places the threat of the Pharisees’ attitude and actions far away from our present day context. This is a mistake.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: April, 08 2015
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  • An indigenous teaching that may surprise

    An indigenous teaching that may surprise

    Recently, I was talking with a friend who is, I think, a most important Indigenous theologian. As we discussed the church’s teaching on the Trinity, we observed that many non-Indigenous commentators assume that Indigenous people would have no interest or time for this foundational Christian doctrine.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: March, 12 2015
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  • Moral injury and the future of Canada

    Moral injury and the future of Canada
    In recent years, it has been more widely recognized that there are a number of not immediately recognized costs to participation in war. Post-traumatic stress disorder is the most well-known and understood psychological war wound, but a new category of psychological war injury has emerged: moral injury. This refers to the negative consequences of observing and participating in the massive and systemic moral breakdown associated, especially, with war.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: February, 17 2015
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  • Words of hope and courage

    Words of hope and courage
    Yesterday, I received this on Facebook from a friend. She says, in so few words, that which so many of us struggle to say with many:
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: January, 23 2015
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  • The future among us

    The future among us
    Everyone of us has an interest in the future health of our church. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: December, 01 2014
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  • Justice for our children

    Justice for our children
    Years ago, we sat next to a father and his two young children—a boy and a girl, both probably between five and eight years old. As the food and beverage cart came by, each time the father would buy a beer; each time his children would beg for food. “We’re hungry, Daddy,” they cried. We were grieved that each time he responded, “We don’t have any money for food.”
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: November, 28 2014
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  • A way of life for this age

    A way of life for this age

    For the past few years, it has been my practice to speak to indigenous youth about the critical role that they will play in our common future.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: October, 14 2014
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  • The Creator’s new song

    The Creator’s new song
    For this edition’s column, I wanted to, once again, share a poem from my friend, Fr. Ewan MacPherson
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: September, 17 2014
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  • Leading in the circle

    Leading in the circle

    On April 23, 2014, near his home on Siksika First Nation, we laid to rest my adopted brother and friend, the Rev. Mervin Natowohki (“Holy Water”) Wolfleg.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: June, 10 2014
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  • Singing our way home

    Singing our way home
    In the traditional way, before colonization, it seems that song was an essential element of every aspect of indigenous life. Songs were maps, histories and ceremonies. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: May, 13 2014
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  • Becoming a family

    Becoming a family

    Colonial governments and First Nations certainly saw the treaties from different cultural perspectives.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: April, 23 2014
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  • The friendly gospel

    The friendly gospel
    A good friend, an indigenous Anglican priest from Guatemala, recently made a powerfully perceptive statement. Translated from Spanish, he said, “The gospel is friendly to our culture and life-ways.” This short sentence has a number of important dimensions.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: March, 11 2014
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  • Only God can save us

    Only God can save us
    For quite a few years, a growing number of indigenous people, concerned about the renewal of their communities, have insisted, directly or indirectly, that only God can save us. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: February, 18 2014
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  • The wondrous daily birth of the Word

    The wondrous daily birth of the Word

    To believe in Jesus is to believe that God has a destiny for humanity and creation. To believe is to have confidence, not only that God will eventually redeem humanity and bring creation to its fulfillment, but that this destiny is present today, the Word made flesh, among us, in us and for us.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: January, 28 2014
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  • A justice that is waiting

    A justice that is waiting
    The Rev. Titus Peter, a Gwich’in elder and priest, once told me that he couldn’t speak against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, though he was often asked. “It makes me so angry,” he said. “It makes me want to drink.” After decades of sobriety and introducing countless others to sobriety, this was quite an admission. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: December, 11 2013
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  • Finding our way to the truth

    Finding our way to the truth
    The September Anglican Journal featured an article on page one—An ‘appalling, inhumane’ experiment— that quoted from a statement Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and I made in response to the revelation that children at residential schools in the 1940s were subjected to nutrition experiments. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: November, 26 2013
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  • Pierced by sorrows, but called to joy

    Pierced by sorrows, but called to joy
    People my age or older will remember quite a few sayings (and a surprising number of pop songs) that warned us that life is not about money.
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: October, 15 2013
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  • Moments of grace

    Moments of grace
    Across Turtle Island, I have seen in an uncountable number of homes the picture of Archbishop Michael Peers, former primate, delivering his apology on August 6, 1993 at the Native Convocation, which later became known as Sacred Circle. His apology seems to have touched a lot of people...
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: September, 23 2013
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  • Canada's seeds of hope

    Canada's seeds of hope
    Chief Elijah Harper recently passed away after a life of ex­traordinary influence. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: July, 29 2013
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  • A man named Richard

    A man named Richard

    Richard Twiss, famous Lakota Christian and my friend, was one of the most engaging and compelling people I have ever met. When he tragically died of a heart attack at age 58 on February 9, 2013, he left a void that, in human terms, will be almost impossible to fill.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: May, 27 2013
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  • Kneeling before God

    Kneeling before God

    In recent years, I often recall the first time I saw my dad pray. It was unsettling. I came upon him in church, where he was kneeling, his hands shading his eyes. He had a type of intensity that, at three or four years old, I had never seen before. Nor had I had ever seen him kneel before his God—or anyone else, for that matter.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: April, 23 2013
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  • Blessed freedom

    Blessed freedom

    The shape of Anglican life has always been determined by two primary concerns: to be faithful to the fundamental elements of the apostolic church and to embody that saving faith in the contexts in which its church communities are found. The church affirms that this is not only the responsibility of the local church but also a freedom given by divine command.

    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: March, 05 2013
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  • Renewing the promise

    Renewing the promise
    Many Canadians yearn for constructive progress in the relationship with indigenous peoples. Ongoing miscommunication and misunderstanding have blunted this hope, however. 
    By Mark MacDonald
    Posted: February, 12 2013
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