Friday, May 28, 2010

Colleagues List, May 29th, 2010

Vol. V.  No. 40


Edited by Wayne A. Holst




Special Items:

Book Notice (Part Two)

"The Armageddon Factor"


Colleague Contributions:



Net Notes:

After You Believe (N.T. Wright)
New Religion of Body Improvement
Ron Rolheiser Gets to the Essentials
Swedish Princess Wants Classic Wedding
Copernicus Reburied as a Hero in Poland
Dismissed Pastors Return to ELCA Roster
Update on the Continuing Catholic Crisis
Excommunications and an 'Illegal' Ordination
African Statesman Calls Gayness an Abomination
The Nigerian Christian-Muslim Killing Continues


Global Faith Potpourri:

Thirteen Stories from Ecumenical News International


Quotes of the Week:

Karl Barth
Patrick Hart
Dorothy Height
C.S. Lewis
James H. Cone
Sumitr Khorana
Joan Chittister


On This Day (May 23rd  - May 25th)

May 23, 1934 - Bonnie and Clyde shot to death in ambush
May 25, 1925 - Scopes indicted for teaching evolution
May 25, 1925 - Miles Davis - jazz musician - was born
May 27, 1964 - Modern India's first PM, J. Nehru, dies.


Closing Reflection - From the Taize Community



Dear Friends:

Welcome, new friends and old to my sharing of
current issues in religion and culture, written
from a Canadian perspective but global in scope!

After this issue of Colleagues List, we enter the
'summer season' in this part of the world and I
intend to send you bi-weekly - instead of weekly -
issues until we return to a regular routine at the
beginning of September.

Look for issues #41 and #42 on June 12th and 26th!

A new series (Vol VI, No 1) begins July 10th.


Book Notice (Part Two)

"The Armageddon Factor" - by Marci McDonald was
introduced last week when I shared my reflections
from a presentation she made here in Calgary about
ten days ago.

This week, after reading her book, I offer my
reflections as a book notice, but not a formal
review per se. I have formulated five themes from
my reading of "The Armageddon Factor" and these
may eventually become an article with greater
elaboration and finesse than I provide here.


Colleague Contributions:

Alice - found some interesting articles in the
National Post on Marci McDonald, and she shares
them with all of you.

John and Arthur - offer words of encouragement as
I complete the last phase of my cancer journey -
the surgery to remove a tumour in my colon. That
procedure is set to take place, June 15th.

Donald - sends an interesting article by Tenzin
Gyatso (the current, 14th Dalai Lama) entitled:
"Compassion as a Meeting Point" which appeared
this week in the New York Times

Erich - provides commentary on the current crisis
in the Koreas just published on his CanKor website.


Net Notes:

"After You Believe (N.T. Wright)" - Here is a
review of a new book by the Anglican Bishop of
Durham in the UK. A leading evangelical theologian,
Wright deals with the development of Christian
character (Books and Culture)

"New Religion of Body Improvement" - Indeed, it
has become a religion for some; and Jeremy Biles
writes about it from the Marty Center at the
University of Chicago (Sightings)

"Ron Rolheiser Gets to the Essentials" - Read a
most welcome and delightful tribute to colleague
Ron Rolheiser omi, Saskatchewan native and current
president of Oblate School of Theology in San
Antonio, TX. We read a lot of Rolheiser here!
(National Catholic Reporter)

"Swedish Princess Wants Classic Wedding" - imagine
this happening in one of the most progressive
societies on earth! The princess wants her father
to give her away when she marries in June.
(The Telegraph, UK)

"Copernicus Reburied as a Hero in Poland" -
It has finally happened. The scientist who was
excommunicated some centuries ago for declaring
that the sun  - not the earth - was the centre
of our solar system, has now been reburied a hero
(ABC News)

"Dismissed Pastors Return to ELCA Roster" -
Some years ago, several Lutheran pastors were
removed from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America's clergy roster for declaring themselves
to be living in a gay relationship. The policy
of the church was changed last summer and they
have now been re-instated (ELCA News)

"Update on the Continuing Catholic Crisis" -
This series of articles now continues for almost
two months, with no end in sight. Here are items
by Eugene Kennedy on why the abuse crisis would
not have happened if women could be priests;
on the Obama administration's siding with the
Vatican against the right of the state of Oregon
to sue Rome; on Italian priests' mistresses
appealing to the pope on behalf of their men;
and on what all churches can learn from this
crisis (articles are from National Catholic
Reporter, The Guardian and Christianity Today)

"Excommunications and an 'Illegal' Ordination" +
"Bishop Denies Burial to Filipino Politician" -
an American nun and a Filipino politician were
excommunicated and an Italian woman was made a
priest, though illegally (National Public Radio -
Religion and Ethics; National Catholic Reporter;
Ecumenical News International (ENI); Union of
Catholic News Asia)

"African Statesman Calls Gayness an Abomination" -
When Euro-Americans listen to interviews involving
African spokespersons on the issue of same-sex
marriage it is like attending to a conversation
in which the participants are totally passing each
other (The Guardian UK, ENI)

"The Nigerian Christian-Muslim Killing Continues" -
While officially the religious conflict in Nigeria
has calmed down, in reality that is not the case
(says the Christian Science Monitor)


Global Faith Potpourri:

Thirteen stories appear this week courtesy of
Ecumenical News International, Geneva.


Quotes of the Week:

Karl Barth, Patrick Hart, Dorothy Height,
C.S. Lewis, James H. Cone, Sumitr Khorana
and Joan Chittister give valuable insights
through Sojourners Online.


On This Day (May 23rd  - May 27th)

The New York Times offers these stories from the time the
events actually occurred:

Bonnie and Clyde were shot to death in an ambush (1934)
John Scopes was indicted for teaching evolution (1925)
Miles Davis the famous jazz musician was born (1925) and
Modern India's first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, died (1964)


Closing Reflection -

A meaningful prayer is offered by the Taize Community
in Burgundy, France.


I hope to keep a regular summer schedule of sending
you Colleagues List. Your interest and support for
these mailings is much appreciated.




Contact us at: (or)
St. David's Web Address -

Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -



Created and maintained by Colleague Jock McTavish




We plan a 15-day tour of special Celtic sites
in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England -
April 26th - May 10th, 2011.

A highlight of the tour will be a visit to
St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire.

Tour reservations - $300. Sale opens May 2nd.
Call church office for details: 403-284-2276


We are starting a waiting list for this trip;
also an interest list for a second tour in 2012.



Monday Night Study, January 18th - March 29th, 2010

An insightful description of where Christian faith
is moving in the twenty-first century.

Follow our class videos, power point presentations,
other notes and study resources. Bookmark this link:




A collection of twenty-five+ studies conducted since 2000 can
quickly be found at:

This collection of study resources represents a decade of
Monday Night Studies at St. David's, plus extra courses too!

You are welcome to use our course outlines, class notes and
resource pages in your personal and group reflections.



Part Two

The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada
by Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010
419 pages. $32.00 ISBN #978-0-307-35646-8.

Publisher's Promo:

In her new book, award-winning journalist Marci McDonald
draws back the curtain on the mysterious world of the
right-wing Christian nationalist movement in Canada and
its many ties to the Conservative government of Stephen

"The Armageddon Factor" shows that the Canadian Christian
right — infuriated by the legalization of same-sex marriage
and the increasing secularization of society — has been
steadily and stealthily building organizations, alliances
and contacts that have put them close to the levers of
power and put the government of Canada in their debt...

Determined to outlaw homosexuality and abortion, and to
restore Canada to what they see as its divinely determined
destiny to be a nation ruled by Christian laws and precepts,
this group of true believers has moved the country far closer
to the American mix of politics and religion than most
Canadians would ever believe...

"What drives that growing Christian nationalist movement is
its adherents' conviction that the end times foretold in the
book of Revelation are at hand," writes McDonald. "Braced for
an impending apocalypse, they feel impelled to ensure that
Canada assumes a unique, scripturally ordained role in the
final days before the Second Coming — and little else."

"The Armageddon Factor" shows how the religious right’s
influence on the Harper government has led to hugely
important but little-known changes in everything from
foreign policy and the makeup of the courts to funding
for scientific research and social welfare programs like
daycare. And the book also shows that the religious
influence is here to stay, regardless of which party
ends up in government...

... "The Armageddon Factor" explains how US money and
evangelists have infiltrated Canadian politics...

This book should be essential reading for Canadians of
every religious belief or political stripe. Indeed,
"The Armageddon Factor" should persuade every Canadian
that, with the growth of such a movement, the future
direction of the country is at stake.


Author's Words:

"If that apocalyptic scenario seems to have been lifted
straight from some thriller plot, it is, in fact, being
promoted in Ottawa by an aggressive and organizationally
savy band of conservative Christians with increasing ties
to the Conservative government. The degree to which they
succeed in prevailing over policy may depend on whether
Canadians wake up to the realization that slowly, covertly,
the political process is being co-opted by an extremist
vision of Christianity - one ultimately shaped by what I
call "The Armageddon Factor."

- from her Preface

"On a visit to Canada in late 2006, Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist Chris Hedges was alarmed to discover that, in a
country he had always regarded as "a bit saner" than the
US, Harper was putting out the welcome mat for the religious
right. The son of a Presbyterian minister and a graduate of
Harvard Divinity School, Hedges warned Canadians against
following the lead of those Americans who "stood sleepily
by as Pat Robertson and other religious bigots hijacked the
Republican Party and moved into the legislative and executive
branches of government...

"In tracing the influence of that emergent force in this
country, I have attempted to sound a wake-up call, but, in
the end, it is up to Canadian voters to write the next
chapter. Only they can decide the kind of country in which
they want to live."

- from her concluding chapter "Here to Stay"


My Comment:

I plan to look at "The Armageddon Factor" from a different
perspective than most might take to the book. My interest
is to see it as a reflection of religious development in
contemporary Canadian society.

Here are five points I would like to make after reading
the book - assuming a 'larger view' and attempting to
transcend the secular and religious polemic that has thus
far emerged since its publication a couple of weeks ago.

("The Armageddon Factor" is listed as the best-selling
non-fiction book in Canada by Macleans - May 24th and
June 1st issues)


1. The book declares that a more clearly defined
conservative Christian movement is evolving in Canada
that challenges traditional mainline Protestant and
Catholic Christianity as we have come to know and
understand it.

As McDonald describes it, this form of Christianity is not
going to go away and Canadians will simply have to come to
terms with it. Stephen Harper is only a current political
manifestation of it (he doesn't fit the classic Protestant/
Catholic mold) but this kind of conservative Christianity
will continue to be influential long after he steps down
as our prime minister.


2. McDonald paints a 'national' picture of faith by decisively
breaking the long-standing model of Canadian Christianity
viewed essentially from the "St. Lawrence River Valley"

Secular and religious groups in Canada have tended to view
Christianity using a classic Catholic/Protestant paradigm
formulated in central Canada that is proving to be less and
less workable as a way of understanding the nature of faith
in our evolving nation.

'Conservative Christianity' or evangelicalism, has always
been with us, but the form described here is quite new and
different. It is less personal and more public. It is no
longer a small, private affair but a burgeoning political

American influence is clearly a factor in shaping the
emerging paradigm but there is a uniquely Canadian reality
to it. That is often how we describe new developments in
this country.

Many of the new images in this evolving national picture
McDonald paints are from western Canada and particularly
Alberta, but she indicates that this shift is general and
evident from Atlantic Canada to British Columbia.

Viewing Canada religiously from sea to sea is more important
today than it has ever been. We need to see our nation as a
"religious whole" like conservative Christians do and not
from the traditional "regional religious perspectives" that
have blinded us to what is actually going on.


3. The book challenges Canadian conservative Christianity's
attempts to distance itself from American fundamentalism
and forces evangelicalism in this country to define itself
much more clearly and constructively in Canadian terms.

One of the things McDonald keeps harping about are the ties
between American organizations (e.g. Focus on the Family
and James Dobson) and their 'branch plant' operations in
this country. She describes them as fifth column forces in

I, like other critics of this view, think McDonald over-
estimates the significance of these groups. Still, she is
right when she says that it doesn't take many people to
change an entire political system when devotees are highly
committed and willing to work for incremental change over
the long haul.

Her message should not be ignored simply because many
Canadians react with "it can't happen here" sentiments.

If we are convinced that we want to keep American religious
excesses out of Canadian religion and politics - and that
is an honourable Canadian stance - we must indeed be on our


4. McDonald helpfully, if indirectly, posits an important
concern of Canadian evangelical Christianity - that is,
to address the key issue of "speaking of faith matters in
the public square."

"Separation of church and state" and "keep religion out
of politics" - have been long-valued Canadian principles.
We look with disbelief at how Americans blur the boundaries
and vow not to replicate what happens there.

At the same time, we must seriously ask ourselves if it is
realistic to keep religion out of public political discourse
when so many public issues (abortion, homosexuality, etc.)
have religious associations.

Are we denying realities that need to be faced squarely
and openly?

People of faith need to be aware of secular and anti-
religious elements at work in Canada that truly want to
bring about an end to faith in this land. We need to be
realistic that not all secularists are "live and let live"

I believe we need to affirm evangelical Christians -
and especially people like Preston Manning - for trying
to address this matter on the national stage. I see nothing
wrong with Manning's advice that Christians need to be
"wise as serpents but harmless as doves." This does not
imply that we be stealthy or calculating.

Old formulas may no longer be appropriate for a new era
and we should not assume that Manning's concern stems from
a purely selfish motivation to promote his own causes.


5. The book is a poignant statement that religious patterns
in this country are changing. A new kind of pluralistic,
multi-cultural nation that is unique in the world is emerging
before our eyes. Christians are scrambling to keep up with
this remarkable, and I would say positive, transformation.

Everything I have written here needs to be understood in
light of the need for positive, transformational thinking.

I celebrate the appearance of "The Armageddon Factor"
even as I question a good deal of what Marci McDonald has
to say.

The book, above all, is an invitation to a national dialogue.
This exchange should include religious and secular people;
Catholics and Protestants; mainliners and evangelicals;
persons of various non-Christian faith traditions; as well
as Conservatives and Liberals.

I agree with colleague Margaret Somerville who continues
to remind us that freedom of religion does not mean freedom
from religion and we should respectfully listen to all voices
on issues that shape our society's values.

Perhaps, in spite of its baited language, "The Armageddon
Factor" will eventually encourage just that.


Buy the Book:



Calgary, AB

"Harper More Political Than Religious"

National Post
May 12th, 2010
Don Martin

Read the article, click"


"Marci McDonald's Biggest Blunder"

National Post
May 20th, 2010
by Gerry Nicholls

Read the article, click:


"A Comedy of Errors"

National Post
May 20th, 2010
Ezra Levant

Read the article, click:


From Ontario and New Jersey

After my statement in the Colleagues List
of May 22nd that no cancer currently remains
in my system and that surgery will remove a
greatly reduced, dead tumour and bring healing
to my colon:

May 22nd, 2010

That's good news on the health front, Wayne!
Prayers will continue.



May 22nd, 2010

Happy for the good health report.
May it continue that way.  Warm greetings.



Vancouver, BC

"Many Faiths One Truth"
May 25th, 2010

Friends: thanks to Jim Forest for passing along
this New York Times article of May 24th -

Note the reference to Thomas Merton.

And re someone else the Dalai Lama mentions, Baba Amte:
a few  years ago, Simon Fraser U. was privileged to give
the Thakore Award, given every year on Gandhi's birthday,
October 2nd, to Medha Patkar, leader of a non-violent
movement against the destruction of many communities
through the construction of an enormous dam which in
the event didn't deliver the water that had been promised,
and to her colleague, Baba Amte, noted for the reasons the
Dalai Lama mentions...

A beautiful article.



"Compassion as a Meeting Point"

New York Times
May 24th, 2010
by Tenzin Gyatso


North Bay. ON


New York Times
May 26th, 2010
by David E. Sanger E. Sanger and Choe Sang-Hun

Relations between North and South Korea, already strained
over the sinking of a South Korean warship, deteriorated to
their worst point in many years.



The Atlantic
May 21st, 2010


CanKor Report #322

Colleague Weingartner updates us on the
Korean crisis -

Erich's Commentary:




N.T. Wright on Christian Character
- a review of his new book

Books and Culture
May 25th, 2010



May 27th, 2010
by Jememy Biles


To Be Fully Human -


National Catholic Reporter
May 25th, 2010

Read of colleague Ron Rolheiser and his
considerable influence on english-speaking
spirituality today -

Copy and paste this link into your
browser or address bar:



The Telegraph (UK)
May 22nd, 2010



ABC News
May 23rd, 2010



May 25th, 2010

Policy Changes Allow for Reconciled Welcome



"If the church ordained women,
there would be no sex abuse crisis"

National Catholic Reporter
May 21st, 2010
by Eugene Kennedy

Copy and paste this link into
your web browser or address bar


"Obama administration sides with Vatican
in Oregon case seeking to sue Rome"

National Catholic Reporter
May 24th, 2010
by John L. Allen

Copy and paste this link into
your web browser or address bar


"Priests' Mistresses Appeal to Pope"

The Guardian UK
May 28th, 2010


"Don't Shoot the Messenger:
What All Christians Can Learn
From the Catholic Church Abuse Scandal"

Christianity Today,
May 27th, 2010
CT Editorial



American Nun Excommunicated
for Allowing Abortion

National Public Radio
Religion and Ethics
May 23rd, 2010


Shades of Grey in a World
of Apparent Absolutes

National Catholic Reporter
May 26th, 2010

Copy this link and paste
into your web browser or address bar


Bishop Denies Catholic Burial
to Filipino Politician -

A Born-Again Christian and a Mason
Ineligible for Catholic Funeral

Union of Catholic News Asia
May 24th, 2010


Female Priest Ordained in Italy
by Rebel Catholics

The Guardian
May 24th, 2010


Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
25 May 2010

Female priest ordained in Italy chafes at Mass curb

Rome (ENI). A 35-year-old married Sicilian has become the
first woman to be ordained a priest in Italy by the Old
Catholic Church, which broke with the Vatican in the 19th
century over papal infallibility. But when Maria Vittoria
Longhitano tried to celebrate Mass for the first time on
23 May in Milan in the Roman Catholic parish where the Old
Catholics hold their regular worship, she had to take the
service in the gardens in front of the place of worship.
The chapel proprietors were unwilling for a woman to
celebrate Mass in their building, although Longhitano
had been ordained a deacon there in November without
problems. "The prohibition against a woman celebrating
Mass is a sign of male chauvinism," Longhitano told
ENI news. The Old Catholics had been holding worship at
the Roman Catholic parish for 10 years.



The Guardian (UK)
May 26th, 2010


Ecumenical News International
New Highlights
26 May 2010

Southern African bishops urge release
of jailed gay Malawians

Cape Town (ENI). Southern Africa's Anglican bishops
have called on the government of South Africa to press
for the release of two Malawi men jailed after sharing
a traditional ceremony of engagement in a same sex
relationship. "We, the bishops of the Anglican Church
in Southern Africa call upon the government of South
Africa to seek the release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge
 Chimbalanga, who were recently sentenced in Malawi to
14 years imprisonment with hard labour, after they shared
in a traditional ceremony of engagement," the bishops
said on 26 May. The Anglican leaders called on South
African President Jacob Zuma and his government to
lobby the Malawi government at every level to uphold
the commitment it shares through the treaty of the
15-nation Southern Africa Development Community to
promote human rights.



Christian Science Monitor
May 27th, 2010



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
22 May 2010

Church leaders call for restraint
after Madagascar pastor shot

Nairobi (ENI). A pastor in Madagascar is said to
have died after being shot by a stray bullet during a
politically charged gun battle in the country's capital
 Antananarivo. Church sources in Antananarivo said that
Pastor Ranaivo Rivoarison who was shot at died in the
early hours of 21 May. The London-based Council for
World Mission quoted a church member as saying "He and
his wife were walking on the road near the army barracks
where the gun battle erupted and the bullet caught him
from the back." Rivoarison belonged to the Church of
Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM). His wife, Pastor
Rasoanaivo Rina, is the head of the FJKM women's group
known as Dorkasy. The president of the Geneva-based
World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Rev. Clifton
Kirkpatrick and the grouping's general secretary, the
Rev. Setri Nyomi, said on 21 May "We have read with
horror of the new outbreaks of violence in Madagascar
and are particularly  concerned that Pastor Rivo was
shot … by the security forces as he was sharing in a
prayer service earlier today."


Istanbul-based Patriarch's Moscow visit
'marks improved relations'

Moscow (ENI). A visit by Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomeos I of Constantinople to Moscow is expected
to underscore a thawing in relations after decades of
tension during the Soviet era and post-Soviet geopolitical
turmoil. Bartholomeos arrives in Russia on 22 May and will
take part in a service the following day - Pentecost Sunday
- with Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church
at the centuries-old Holy Trinity St Sergius Lavra church
near Moscow. They will concelebrate again on 24 May at
Christ the Saviour Cathedral opposite the Kremlin in the
Russian capital, and then hold talks the next day at
Kirill's residence outside Moscow. The Russian Orthodox
Church is the world's largest Orthodox church. The
Ecumenical Patriarchate is regarded as being the most
important symbolically, but Moscow has chafed when the
Istanbul-based Patriarch of Constantinople is described
as an Orthodox equivalent of a Roman Catholic pope...


Turkish prime minister takes new initiative
on Christian rights

Warsaw (ENI). The head of the Turkish government has
ordered local officials to do more to protect the rights
of Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities,
such as by returning their confiscated properties and
taking action against anti-Christian groups. "Although
their legal situation has begun to improve as a result
of reforms, there are still problems in practice,"
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a
decree published in mid-May. "I therefore urge all state
organs to uphold the rights of the Christian and Jewish
minorities, to behave with respect towards their clergy
and to act decisively against all publications inciting
hatred and discrimination," stated Erdogan. The document
was published on 13 May in the government's official
gazette, five days after a Syriac Catholic church at
Iskenderun was handed back for religious use after
being used as an erotic cinema for half a century.


New book enables Christians to pray
across nations and languages

Munich (ENI). A new book of prayers and liturgical
songs in a variety of languages and from many church
traditions has been produced to help Christians from
different nations and backgrounds pray and sing
together. The book was presented for the first time
at a 15 May service during the Ecumenical Kirchentag,
or church convention, in Munich, Germany. "It is
praying together that binds us most closely together,"
the Rev. Margot Kässmann, the former head of Germany's
main Protestant grouping has written in a foreword to
the book, "Laudate Omnes Gentes: Praying Together -
Resources and songs for ecumenical celebrations."

The 264-page book includes 120 texts, 40 liturgical
songs and several orders of service. They come from
2000 years of Christian tradition, as well as from
ecumenical meetings and gatherings. Texts are printed
in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, and
in various other languages.


24 May 2010

Two patriarchs meet in Moscow, stress unity,
fend-off secularism

Moscow (ENI). Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church
and the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomeos I of
Constantinople, have marked Pentecost and another feast day by
concelebrating services at two of Russia's central places of
worship. In their sermons, the two patriarchs stressed the
importance of pan-Orthodox unity as well as noting the powerful
presence of secularism. In Moscow on 24 May, Kirill and
Bartholomeos celebrated the feast day of Saints Cyril and
Methodius, the ninth-century brothers born in Thessaloniki
who created the Cyrillic alphabet and preached to Slavic
peoples, with a liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the
Saviour, opposite the Kremlin.


TV ad likens abortion to 'any other product',
says Irish cleric

Dublin (ENI). A television advertisement by a sexual health
and abortion group will not be shown in Northern Ireland,
in the face of opposition by churches, but it will go ahead
as planned in the rest of the United Kingdom. The withdrawal
of the proposed advertisement from screens in Northern
Ireland has been welcomed by the Rev. Ian Ellis, editor of
the Church of Ireland Gazette, an editorially independent
newspaper of the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. "To allow
abortion providers to advertise on television is wholly
inappropriate because it suggests that to choose an abortion
is like choosing any other service or product," Ellis said.


World does not want divided church,
says Scottish Presbyterian

Edinburgh (ENI). Scotland should look forward to the
world being a better place and the Church united when it
celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Scottish
Reformation in 50 years time, the new moderator of the
(Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, the Rev. John Christie
has said. "If you think this is dreaming an impossible dream
then let me say this, the Scottish Reformation began with
John Knox in Perth and it circled the globe," said Christie.
He spoke at a service in Edinburgh on 23 May attended by
more than 1200 people to mark the 450th anniversary of the
Scottish Reformation in 1560. Knox was one of the 16th
century founders of the Presbyterian church in Scotland
having worked alongside Reformation leader Jean Calvin
in Geneva. He noted, "The world of 2010 does not need
or want a divided church; divided within itself it
cannot stand."


S. African Anglican leader launches prayer
for soccer World Cup

Cape Town (ENI). The Anglican archbishop of Cape Town,
Thabo Makgoba, has launched a prayer for the World Cup
soccer tournament in advance of the contest that opens
in South Africa on 11 June. "God bless the 2010 World Cup:
bless those who compete, and those who watch, bless those
who host, and those who visit, and help all who love the
'the beautiful game' grow in the love you have given us
to share," says the prayer which Makgoba hopes many people
will join him in praying for the duration of the tournament.
In 2010, the soccer World Cup organized by the International
Federation of Association Football, known by its French
acronym FIFA, is being held in Africa for the first time.


26 May 2010

Russia's Medvedev praises patriarchs
from Moscow and Istanbul

Moscow (ENI). Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I of
Constantinople and Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian
Orthodox Church, seeking to overcome decades of tension,
have met Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in the
Kremlin. On the same day, 25 May, Kirill and Istanbul-
based Bartholomeos held talks at the Russian church
leader's residence in a writer's colony outside Moscow.
The meeting with Medvedev was not originally on the
schedule published on the Moscow Patriarchate's Web
site for the first full official visit to Russia by
Batholomeos since 1993. He had also attended the
funeral of Moscow Patriarch Alexei II in December 2008.


Kenyan church leaders hail Muslim courts'
constitution ruling

Nairobi (ENI). Muslim and Christian leaders in Kenya are
at odds over a court ruling that described as illegal and
discriminatory a constitutional provision for Muslim courts.
The Christian leaders said the ruling by Kenya's High Court
would boost their campaign against a new draft constitution
for the East African nation which would entrench the courts
known as Kadhi that deal with matters such as marriage,
divorce and inheritance. "This judgment reinforces our
calls to Kenyans to reject the proposed new constitution
at the referendum since the draft perpetuates and seeks
to expand the Kadhi courts," said the Rev. David Gathanju,
the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa
on 25 May in Nairobi. Muslim leaders however have said
the court ruling may inflame tensions between followers
of the two faiths. [398 words,


Blacks, mirroring larger US trend,
'come out' as nonbelievers - Feature

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). Standing before a room full of
fellow African-Americans, Jamila Bey took a deep breath
and announced she's come out of the closet. Her soul-
bearing declaration is nearly taboo, she says. "It's the
A-word," said Bey, 33, feigning a whisper. "You commit
social suicide as a black person when you say you're an
atheist," Religion News Service reports. Bey and other
black atheists, agnostics and secularists are struggling
to openly affirm their secular viewpoints in a community
that's historically heralded as one of America's most
religious. At the first African Americans for Humanism
conference recently hosted by the non-profit Center for
Inquiry, about 50 people gathered to discuss the ins and
outs of navigating their dual identities as blacks and
followers of the non-religious philosophy known as


27 May 2010

Christian peace week, European flotilla
pull focus to Holy Land

Jerusalem/Geneva (ENI). The urgent need for a settlement
to the impasse between Israelis and Palestinian is being
highlighted by the World Council of Churches World Week
for Peace in Palestine and Israel. The Geneva-based WCC
describes this as a "joint action for just peace" and it
takes place from 29 May to 4 June, focussing mainly on
the issue of Israeli settlements that are encroaching
into Israeli-occupied Palestinian areas. "We see the
settlements, and the roads [serving them] and all other
infrastructure associated with the settlements as the
main obstacle for peace," said Yusef Daher, executive
secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre. The week
for peace comes as Israel has been preparing to prevent
a flotilla of up to nine vessels carrying hundreds of
pro-Palestinian and peace activists bearing supplies
headed for Gaza, the coastal enclave that is run by
Hamas, but blockaded by Israel.


More Catholics staying out of pews in Poland

Warsaw (ENI). Church attendance is dropping in Poland
for the first time in decades, according to newly
released data, following a sharp fall in priestly and
monastic vocations in the predominantly Roman Catholic
country. "Looking back over 30 years' research, we must
clearly confirm that fewer people are now going to
church," said the Rev. Wojciech Sadlon, a priest from
Poland's Roman Catholic Pallotine order. "But this
isn't a drastic fall - compared to other countries of
Europe, we can still be proud and consider ourselves
the mainstay of Christianity." The data, collected
in the last three months of 2009, showed a slight
recovery in Mass attendance in 2009 to 41.5 percent
of the population of 38 million, compared to 40.4
percent in 2008. However, they also confirmed a
"slow but steady fall" in all 44 Catholic dioceses
over the past decade, running as high as 9.2 percent
in some parts of the country.



Sojourners Online
May 24th, 2010

The Holy Spirit establishes the righteousness of heaven
in the midst of the unrighteousness of the earth and
will not stop or stay until all that is dead has been
brought to life and a new world has come into being.

- Karl Barth, from "The Word of God and the Word of Man"


USA Today
May 24th, 2010

"I've bled for my country, I've sweated for my country,
I've cried myself to sleep for my country -- which is a
lot more than some people who are passing judgement on
me have done. I would rather go sit in prison than go
to Iraq."

- Patrick Hart, U.S. Army sergeant with almost 10 years
on active duty, who went to Canada rather than face a
second deployment to Iraq.


May 25th, 2010

If you worry about who is going to get credit, you don't
get much work done.

- Dorothy Height, a founding matriarch of the American
                  civil rights movement


May 26th, 2010

We must realize the yawning pitfall in that very
characteristic of home life which is so often glibly
paraded as its principle attraction: "It is there that
we appear as we really are: it is there that we can
fling aside the disguises and be ourselves."...

It will never be lawful simply to "be ourselves" until
"ourselves" have become [children] of God ... This does
not mean, of course, that there is no difference
between home life and general society. It does mean
that home life has its own rule of courtesy -- a code
more intimate, more subtle, more sensitive, and,
therefore, in some ways more difficult, than that
of the outer world.

- C.S. Lewis, from essay "The Sermon and the Lunch"


May 27th, 2010

The logic that led to slavery and segregation in the
Americas, colonization and apartheid in Africa, and
the rule of white supremacy throughout the world is
the same one that leads tothe exploitation of animals
and the ravaging of nature.

- James H. Cone, essay "Whose Earth Is It Anyway?"


Boston Globe
May 27th, 2010

"We are reciting a very powerful prayer to summon the Lord
to help our country. Things are quiet now, but there is fear
still within us because none of us know what can happen in
the future."

- Sumitr Khorana, a Hindu community leader, as the chants
of 1,000 Buddhist monks joined the voices of Muslim imams,
Christian priests, and Hindu faithful in a prayer for peace
in Bangkok.


May 28th, 2010

"[Pentecost] is a delicious time. A shaft of light has come
to pierce the uncertainties of the seeking. We are living
now with a torch in our hands, however dark the darkness.

For the early Christians -- and for us now -- it is a matter
only of allowing the Spirit to transform us so that our life
and the life of Christ do finally merge, do really melt into
one another, do truly become one, are united both here and

- Joan Chittister, from book "The Liturgical Year"



On May 23, 1934, bank robbers Bonnie Parker
and Clyde Barrow were shot to death in a police
ambush as they were driving a stolen Ford Deluxe
along a road in Bienville Parish, La.


On May 25, 1925, John T. Scopes was indicted in
Tennessee for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.


On May 25th, 1925, Miles Davis - jazz musician -
was born.


On May 27, 1964, independent India's first prime minister,
Jawaharlal Nehru, died.



Prayer of the Taize Community for May

God of all eternity, through your Holy Spirit you come to dwell
in us so as to light up our lives from within. Beyond frontiers
of culture and language, you unite us in one single communion.
And you say to us: "Communicate my love with your life. I place
my Holy Spirit within you, and I will be with you always."


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