Vol. VI. No. 15
Edited by Wayne A. Holst
Colleagues List Blog:
Christmas greetings to you and your loved ones.
Be assured of a memo in my prayers over the
Holy Season of Christmas. Have a healthy and
prosperous New Year. God bless you and yours.
Fr. Jim Bradley
St. Bruno's Parish, Los Angeles, California
Introduced in this Issue -
"What Good Is God?
In Search of a Faith that Matters"
by Philip Yancey
"Lessons & Carols for Christmas"
"Oklahoma Paranoia Strikes Deep"
"Worth a Mention from Christian Week"
"Religious Persecution in North Korea"
"Afghan Women are Still Horribly Abused"
"Elevating the Atheist Vs. Believer Debate"
"Polygamy Hurts Women, also Hinders Society"
"Church, Not Faith, Leads to a Satisfied Life"
"Calgary Anglican Parish Joins Catholic Church"
"In Pakistan Christianity Earns Death Sentence"
"Remembering Women Missioners Killed in El Salvador"
Global Faith Potpourri:
8 stories from Ecumenical News International
Quotes of the Week:
Therese of Lisieux
Thich Nhat Hanh
On This Day (Dec. 7th - Dec. 10th)
Dec. 7, 1941 - Japanese attack Pearl Harbor
Dec. 8, 1941 - US enters World War II; declares war on Japan
Dec. 10, 1948 - UN adopts Universal Human Rights Declaration
Closing Thought - Phil Callaway
One of the titles we will be selling this Christmas at
our annual church book sale is:
"What Good Is God? In Search of a Faith that Matters"
by evangelical Christian author, Philip Yancey.
Yancey is a journalist by profession who emerged from
a confining Protestant fundamentalist background. Still,
he has not abandoned his affection for some of the basic
evangelical values with which he was raised. He approaches
some of life's more difficult questions with a piercing
honesty that can serve to 'destabilize' jaded Christians
and non-Christians alike.
I am pleased to introduce his new book in this issue.
This week a friend from Ontario shares an article on
Martin Luther. The piece will likely unnerve those who
like to put the reformer on a pedestal (The Telegraph, UK)
Don Moore - long-standing friend and colleague from the
Kitchener-Waterloo region of Southern Ontario - has some
good news to share. He now works for World Vision Canada.
Congratulations, Don! (personal correspondence)
Beth Porter - heads the L'Arche Canada Foundation from
Richmond Hill, ON. This week, she released the foundation's
quarterly e-journal "A Human Future" which features a letter
from Jean Vanier to a Canadian parliamentary committee
Gary Nickel - old friend and colleague, has been investing
a good deal of his semi-retirement in good work for the
church. He writes on the importance of "interim ministry"
and his involvement in it. The article on this topic comes
to us via the ELCIC's Synod of Alberta (synod correspondence)
"Lessons & Carols for Christmas" - one of the most famous
Christmas broadcasts is this from King's College, in
Cambridge, UK. (Religion and Ethics, National Public Radio)
"Oklahoma Paranoia Strikes Deep" - the attitude toward Islam
and Muslims seems not to be very healthy in parts of America's
conservative heartland (Louisville-Courier Journal)
"Worth a Mention from Christian Week" - every year, colleague
and editor Doug Koop presents a picture of the top stories
appearing on the pages of his newspaper (Christian Week)
"Religious Persecution in North Korea" - violence against
Christians is not easily reported from this rogue nation,
but here is one perspective on what is taking place there
(The American Spectator)
"Afghan Women are Still Horribly Abused" - the West is
obviously torn over its involvement in Afghanistan, and
surveys indicate the majority of citizens want us out.
But what about the circumstances daily endured by Afghani
women? (The Guardian UK)
"Elevating the Atheist Vs. Believer Debate" - a brave
and intelligent Canadian Muslim woman wants to raise
the standard in discussions between atheists and people
of faith, whatever their religious persuasion
(The Globe and Mail)
"Polygamy Hurts Women, also Hinders Society" - as former
wives in polygamous relationships begin to make their
stories public, a rather sordid situation is revealed
(The Montreal Gazette)
"Church, Not Faith, Leads to a Satisfied Life" - a recent
survey indicates that participation in religious community,
not the teachings of that community per se, are most
important to most church attendees (National Post)
"Calgary Anglican Parish Joins Catholic Church" - some
months ago, Pope Benedict invited disaffected Anglicans
to 'cross the Tiber' and become Roman Catholics. Here
is the story of one congregation that has responded
"In Pakistan Christianity Earns Death Sentence" -
stories about how some Christians are treated in that
nation are very disconcerting (Time Magazine)
"Remembering Women Missioners Killed in El Salvador" -
Thirty years ago, four American sisters - members of
the Marynoll Society - were murdered in El Salvador.
They are not forgotten (Independent Catholic News)
Global Faith Potpourri:
8 stories are reported this week from Geneva and
Ecumenical News International
Quotes of the Week:
Meister Eckhart, Therese of Lisieux, Thich Nhat Hanh
Arundhati Roy and Jean Vanier share good thoughts
with us courtesy of Sojourners Online.
On This Day (Dec. 7th - Dec. 10th)
Read these stories, brought to us from the archives
of the New York Times, at the time they actually
Japanese attack Pearl Harbor; USA enters WWII (1941)
US enters World War II; declares war on Japan (1941)
UN adopts Universal Human Rights Declaration (1948)
Closing Thought - Colleague Phil Callaway, speaker and
humourist, who lives in Three Hills, Alberta but who
travels extensively, shares a Christmas laugh.
I completed the writing and mailing of my Christmas
cards this week, and some friends have already let
me know that their card has been received.
While many people find the task of sending cards and
special messages at Christmas a big burden, I enjoy it!
A major reason for happily undertaking this annual task
is that most of those who receive such cards have stood
by me in challenging circumstances over the years and I
do not want to lose touch with them - especially at such
a significant season of the year.
Enjoy your Christmas preparations!
SPECIAL ST. DAVID'S LINKS
Contact us at: email@example.com (or) firstname.lastname@example.org
St. David's Web Address - http://sduc.ca/
Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -
ST DAVID'S ACTS WEB PAGE
Created and maintained by Colleague Jock McTavish
INTRODUCING OUR ST.DAVID'S WINTER STUDY FOR 2011
"An Altar in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor (and)
"I Shall Not Hate - A Gaza Doctor's Journey"
by Izzeldin Abuelaish
Books go on sale Sunday, December 12th, 2010
More study and website particulars will
be posted as they become available
INTRODUCING MY UNIVERSITY WINTER COURSE FOR 2011
GOD, ATHEISM, AND MORALITY
We continue our investigation of the New Atheists and
consider the question: "Can we be good without God?"
Text for the course will be Sam Harris' new book:
"The Moral Landscape:
How Science Can Determine Human Values"
(Free Press, October, 2010)
Course description and registration information:
ST. DAVID'S 50th ANNIVERSARY
TOUR OF CELTIC LANDS - 2011
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. Choir
members from our group will sing at various
informal cathedral events through the day
and at Evensong, on Saturday, May 7th!
We have 26 choristers signed up as part of the
tour group. This special choir begins rehearsals
in early January - led by our congregation's
music director, Brent Tucker.
Details are presently being finalized with
the St. David's cathedral dean, Jonathan Lean.
We are also planning to sing while visiting
Iona, Scotland and the Church of Mary Immaculate
in Inchicore, Dublin, Ireland.
ALL 38 PLACES ON THE TOUR ARE NOW SOLD OUT
We continue to gather a waiting list for this trip,
as they may be some drop-outs as we near deadlines.
We have started an interest list for future tours!
Let me know if you are interested in knowing more
about exciting, spiritual tourism!
SUMMARY OF OUR AUTUMN MONDAY NIGHT STUDY
We are introducing live videos of our sessions,
edited by Jock McTavish:
Review Our Fall Program at St. David's by clicking:
New material will continue to be added to this page
as it becomes available.
A collection of twenty-five+ studies conducted since 2000 can
quickly be found at: http://bookstudies.stdavidscalgary.net/
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.
WHAT GOOD IS GOD?
In Search of a Faith that Matters
by Philip Yancey, Faith Words,
Hachette Book Group, New York.
2010. $27.00 CAD. 287 pages.
Journalist and spiritual seeker Philip Yancey has always
struggled with the most basic questions of the Christian
faith. The question he tackles in - WHAT GOOD IS GOD? -
concerns the practical value of belief in God. His search
for the answer to this question took him to some amazing
settings around the world: Mumbai, India when the firing
started during the terrorist attacks; at the motel where
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; on the Virginia
Tech campus soon after the massacre; an AA convention;
and even to a conference for women in prostitution. At
each of the 10 places he visited, his preparation for
the visit and exactly what he said to the people he met
each provided evidence that faith really does work when
what we believe is severely tested. WHAT GOOD IS GOD?
tells the story of Philip's journey - the background,
the preparation, the presentations themselves. Here
is a story of grace for armchair travelers, spiritual
seekers, and those in desperate need of assurance that
their faith really matters.
... As I get involved (in the extreme situations outlined
in this book) one question looms above all: What good is God?
What does religious faith offer peasants undergoing such
persecution, or students recovering from a campus massacre,
or women who have spent years of virtual slavery in the sex
trade? If I can find an answer, or even a clue, to the
question of what good is God in situations like these,
it will help me with the hard questions of faith that
confound all of us at times...
... I keep leaving home in quest of what happens when the
faith I write about in a mountain cabin confronts the real
world. Does it work?
... two-thirds of the survey respondents who claim no
religion still believe that God exists. Some of them judge
that organized religion is hypocritical or irrelevant and
others simply question what God is good for. During the
years when the West resisted "godless communism" religion
seemed an important bulwark. Now our most prominent
enemies are religious extremists. Little wonder more and
more people have doubts about the value of religious faith.
Defenders of the Christian faith rise up with point by
point rebuttals of the skeptics. As a journalist, I approach
such questions differently. I prefer to go out in the field
and examine how faith works itself out, especially under
extreme conditions. A faith that matters should produce
positive results, thus providing an existential answer to
the the underlying question, "What good is God?"
My travels have taken me to places where Christians face
a refiner's fire of oppression, violence and plague. This
book relates stories from places like China, where the
church grows spectacularly despite an atheist government,
and the Middle East, where a once-thriving church in the
heartland now barely hangs on; and South Africa, where a
multicolored church picks through the pieces of its racist
When I spend time among such people my own faith undergoes
a tabletop test. Do I mean what I write about from my
home in Colorado? Can I believe that, as the apostle John
promised in one of his letters "the one who is in you is
greater than the one who is in the world"? ...
Almost always I return from my travels encouraged, my
faith buoyed. Only one third of the world's Christians
now hail from the West, and I have been privileged to
see remarkable evidence of God at work... As a writer,
I would like to bring (the good news I've seen) to the
jaded West, for such stories barely make the headlines
In my travels I have found certain themes to be universal,
regardless of personal application. The question "What
good is God?" occurs in some form to every person who
experiences pain or death or poverty or unfairness - in
other words, to everyone. (My trips help me in my own
search for faith) and I hope and pray that something of
what I have learned in these ten places will become part
of your search, just as they have become part of mine.
- introductory chapter "The Story Behind the Search"
Philip Yancey continues to be one of my favourite authors
and I have read most of his books over the years.
What keeps me reading him is the authenticity of his spiritual
quest and his resistance to pat answers to what he considers
complex spiritual issues. Yancey challenges religious and
non-religious alike with his investigative journalism.
As evidence of this, the author writes the following in his
concluding chapter "Afterthoughts" -
"I wish skeptics like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins
had the same chance to hear stories of transformation from
social outcasts who hit the very bottom and now credit God for
the strong grace that saved them in the most literal sense"...
These people reply "What good is God? He rescued me from sex
slavery and drug addiction. God brought me back to life"...
At the other end of the spectrum, Yancey writes, "the scholar
C.S. Lewis worked in a sophisticated academic environment
that bred its own form of evil: contention, snobbery,
arrogance, backbiting." Though Lewis did indeed offer some
logical arguments in support of what he believed, those
who knew him before and after his conversion point to his
own life as the strongest proof.
"He's the most thoroughly converted man I have ever met,"
said one acquaintance.
Yancey challenges the cynical and the sophisticated -
whether atheist or liberal religious - with basic stories
of people who have no other reason to believe in God
but that "once they were lost, and now they are found."
Yancey also challenges those - religious or otherwise -
who "live in a bubble" and who, for various reasons,
refuse to deal with life as it really is. We all try
to find places of comfort and security in our lives.
And for many, religion offer those rewards. But Yancy
is not satisfied with a false kind of comfort. He must
deal with life as he has come to see it.
This is a book that engages both author and reader with
challenges of living outside of their comfort zones.
I encourage you to engage with Yancey's book "What Good
is God?" because you will not rest easy as you read it.
And that, to my mind, is a good thing.
Buy the book at Amazon.ca:
A FRIEND FROM ONTARIO
- sends a newspaper article compares the
times of Martin Luther with our own.
"Luther: A Hatred of Turks, Jews and Papists"
Dec. 3rd, 2010
World Vision Appoints New Church Relations Ambassador
World Vision Canada
A Human Future
Jean Vanier's Letter to the Parliamentary
Committee on Compassionate Care
"Some Thoughts on Interim Ministry"
Experienced Pastor Writes on Important Work
- helping congregations through transition
PASTOR HAS LEFT THE PARISH AND
THE PARISH HAS A VACANCY - NOW WHAT?
If a parish has had a pastor with a "long-term" ministry,
and then, If an Interim Ministry with an Interim Pastor
does NOT follow, the chances of the next permanent pastor
staying more than 2 years in that parish is only 5%!!
When a parish is without a permanent pastor, there needs
to be time to adjust to the change, often to grieve the
loss of relationship, to review the past, take stock of
the present, and plan for the future. And of course, "we
want and need a new pastor!" But this is the time to slow
down and be thoughtful, prayerful, and consider one's needs
- so definitelythis is not the time to rush to call a new pastor.
Interim Pastors are available and trained and can best
help in this time of change. The Synod Office can help
with this. Interim pastors will help with the usual
on-going ministry needs of a vacant parish. They also
have certain skills and training which will help the
parish in its journeytoward a new pastor - but that
journey is born out of parish planning and reflection
toward finding what is right for that unique parish.
Yes, parishes are unique: they have much in common,
but each has its ownparticular needs and opportunities,
and one needs to have "awareness" of one's situation
before looking for that new pastor.
The Synod Office provides a parish with a package of
resources and step-by-step guidelines. These include
help in reviewing the past and planning for the future
and all steps in between. Where are you going with your
ministry and how do you want to get there? What and
where is your mission and how do you want to do it?
What resources do you need?How do you want to express
Jesus Christ to the community around you? These and
other questions are part of planning which will help
in selecting a new pastorwho will be compatible with
your parish and your needs.
Then when you as a parish have together "done your
homework" and have an idea of the ministry you want
to work toward in the future, the steps toward finding
that pastoral ministry you are interested in can be
taken. Possible candidates are considered and choices
are narrowed down, as theparish then seeks its new
pastor. The choice is not done by the bishop as in
some of the old movies. Instead the parish chooses,
and does so out of their careful planning process.
PS - And when the new pastor and parish are ready,
that Interim Pastor rides off into the sunset [or
in a different direction] and begins the process
over again somewhere else. Interim Ministry was
intentionally developed into the helping form it
is in North America back inthe 1970s, and has
continued to make use of the best resources to
be of help. It is one of the resources which comes
to the parish via your benevolence giving.
Questions? ...just ask.
- Pastor Gary email@example.com
LESSONS AND CAROLS FOR CHRISTMAS
King's College Cambridge, UK
Religion and Ethics (NPR)
December 3rd, 2010
How this special event became an important
expression of Christmas around the world -
OKLAHOMA PARANOIA STRIKES DEEP
State Votes Against Sharia Law and
reflects an unhealthy attitude to
Muslims and Islam -
December 3rd, 2010
WORTH A MENTION FROM CHRISTIAN WEEK
End-of-Year Story Notes (a preview)
December 1st, 2010
RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN NORTH KOREA
Christians suffer in this rogue state...
The American Spectator
December 10th, 2010
AFGHAN WOMEN ARE STILL HORRIBLY ABUSED
Exposure to the outside world has not
much changed the conditions of women
The Guardian UK
December 9th, 2010
ELEVATING THE "ATHEIST VS BELIEVER" DEBATE
Canadian Muslim Seeks Higher Standard in
the discussion of religious topics today
Globe and Mail
December 10th, 2010
POLYGAMY HURTS WOMEN AND HINDERS SOCIETY
Stories from Bountiful, BC are not a blessing
The Montreal Gazette
December 8th, 2010
CHURCH, NOT FAITH, LEADS TO A SATISFIED LIFE
Church involvement, not beliefs per se, is
what seems to be helpful to people
December 6th, 2010
CALGARY ANGLICAN PARISH JOINS CATHOLIC CHURCH
Congregation votes to leave Anglicanism
Dec. 6th, 2010
IN PAKISTAN, CHRISTIANITY EARNS A DEATH SENTENCE
To be a Christian is a life or death matter
December 6th, 2010
REFLECTION ON 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF
WOMEN MISSIONARIES KILLED IN EL SALVADOR
Marynoll missioners are still remembered
thirty years after their martyrdom
Independent Catholic News
December 7th, 2010
GLOBAL FAITH POTPOURRI
Ecumenical News International
3 December 2010
Wrong reading of Bible story 'legitimises'
Manila (ENInews). Asian Christian leaders have challenged
what they describe as a distorted interpretation of the
Bible's Genesis story about God telling Adam and Eve to
"subdue" the earth and to "have dominion" over other living
species and non-living resources on the planet. "The
misinterpretation, which has been blamed on Christians,
has helped legitimise the wanton profit-oriented exploitation
of the planet and its resources," said Hrangthan Chhungi of
the Presbyterian Church of India. She said that the more
appropriate translation from Hebrew, the language in which
Genesis is written, is "to over-see and take care, rather
than to subdue and have dominion".
Faith now 'a consumer commodity in America', warns new book
New York (ENI news). In a culture that places a high premium
on the consumer marketplace, U.S. churches have become too
willing to embrace a "market mentality" in trying to attract
followers, says a new book by a journalist who is an ordained
minister. "Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and
the Selling of the American Soul", by G. Jeffrey MacDonald,
argues that faith "has become a consumer commodity in America".
This, he says, is a grievous mistake, because the Church is
not a business. "Unlike commercial enterprises that sell
widgets or life insurance, the Church doesn't exist to
satisfy the wants of customers," MacDonald writes in the
book, which focuses on U.S. Protestant congregations.
6 December 2010
Pope gets gloves from ecumenical leader to warm relations
Rome (ENI news). The head of the World Council of Churches
in his first official meeting with Pope Benedict XVI has
said he wants to strengthen cooperation with the Roman
Catholic Church, especially in the Middle East. No
official statement was released after the 4 December
audience at the Vatican, but the WCC general secretary,
the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, told journalists in Rome
there had been a "a very open and friendly" conversation.
He noted that at the meeting, he and Pope Benedict had
stressed that there are many levels at which the WCC
and Roman Catholic Church already cooperate.
Indian churches hail probe
into pastor-led 'child trafficking'
Chennai, India (ENI news). Church officials and activists
have welcomed an investigation ordered by India's federal
Supreme Court into trafficking in children by pastors and
exploitative Christians eying ways to pull in foreign
donations. "Such unscrupulous social work by some
Christians is bringing discredit to the entire Christian
community. Such transplantation will not help the growth
of the children," Bishop G. Devakadasham, the Church of
South India's deputy moderator, told ENI news. Devakadasham
heads the CSI diocese of Kanyakumari in the southern Tamil
Nadu state where the National Commission for Protection of
Child Rights has conducted raids on dubious orphanages at
the direction of the Supreme Court.
US clergy's professional reputation hovers in the middle
Washington DC (ENI news/RNS). What do nurses, soldiers,
pharmacists, elementary school teachers, doctors, and
police officers have in common? U.S. Americans say they
are all more ethical and honest than members of the
clergy, according to a Gallup survey released on 3
December, Religion News Service reports. Slightly
more than half of Americans (53 percent) rate the
moral values of priests, ministers and other clerics
as "very high" or "high."
7 December 2010
Filipino sugar labourers' lives painful,
church group finds
Tarlac, Philippines (ENI news). Life is not sweet for
workers at a sugar estate owned by the family of
Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III, a visiting
church group has found. "I have been watching closely
developments in the Philippines since the late dictator
(Ferdinand) Marcos was ousted in 1986 but it looks like
much remains to be desired in this so-called democratic
country," Tony Waworuntu, a former staff member of the
Christian Conference of Asia, told ENI news.
King James Bible still exerts influence,
literary scholar argues
New York (ENI news). The King James Bible may not
be the dominant cultural reference point it once
was in the United States, but it still influences
contemporary letters in the country, argues a new
book. While "we no longer have a culture pervaded
by Scripture, where Bible reading is a daily
practice in parlour and pulpit," the King James
Bible's influence remains embedded in American
culture, writes scholar Robert Alter in "Pen of
Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible".
The King James Version of the Christian Bible
was authorised by King James I of England.
Completed in 1611, it became the standard
Bible in the English-speaking world up through
the 20th century. Its cultural influence in
Britain, and subsequently the American colonies
and later the United States, has long been noted.
Survey: Typical US atheist is white son
of religious parents
Washington DC (ENI news/RNS). The typical member
of a fast-growing U.S. atheist association is a
highly educated, married white male who grew up
with religious parents. The Freedom from Religion
Foundation, which grew from 5500 in 2004 to about
16,000 members this year, announced results of a
survey of its members on 1 December, Religion News
Service reports. Asked about their primary reason
for being "de-converted from religion to free-
thought," about a third of respondents said
"religion doesn't make sense." Seventeen percent
said religious hypocrisy or bigotry was the cause;
9 percent said reading sceptical authors; 5 percent
cited reading the Bible.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
December 6th, 2010
"If the only prayer you say in your life is 'thank you,'
that would suffice."
- Meister Eckhart
December 7th, 2010
"The closer one approaches God, the simpler one becomes."
- Therese of Lisieux
December 8th, 2010
"In everyone there is the capacity to wake up,
to understand, to love."
- Thich Nhat Hanh, from "Being Peace"
December 9th, 2010
"Not only is another world possible,
she is one her way. On a quiet day,
I can hear her breathing."
- Arundhati Roy
December 10th, 2010
"We all know well that we can do things for
others and in the process, crush them, making
them feel that they are incapable of doing
things by themselves. To love someone is to
reveal to them their capacities for life,
the light that is shining in them."
- Jean Vanier
ON THIS DAY
Dec. 7, 1941 - Japanese attack Pearl Harbor; USA enters WWII
Dec. 8, 1941 - the United States entered World War II
as Congress declared war against Japan one day after
the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Dec. 10, 1948 - the U.N. General Assembly adopted its
Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
CLOSING THOUGHT - Phil Callaway
"Merry Christmas! I just bought an ice cream maker for my wife
to give me Christmas day. The wonderful thing about reaching
my age is that it will come as a complete surprise!"