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Vol VI. No. 29 ***** Wayne A. Holst, Editor ***** Colleagues List Blog: http://colleagueslist.blogspot.com/ ***** In this Issue Special Item This Week - Summarizing My Course on "God, Atheism and Morality" Can We Be Good Without God? ___ Colleague Contributions: Mark Noll Jim Taylor Reginald Bibby Ron Rolheiser ___ Net Notes: The Great EB Three Mile Island Anniversary Modern Families and Gay Adoption Another Veil 'Reveals' Face of Jesus Learnings from 50 Years of Confessions North Korea is on 'Knife Edge' of Hunger India Debates Ban on Biography of Gandhi Protestants See Biased South Korean Media Priest Women's Ordination Supporter Dumped Canadian Woman Head of Int'l Salvation Army ___ Global Faith Potpourri: Twelve ENI stories appear this week. ___ Quotes of the Week: Shiva Vandana Jean Vanier Brenda Peterson Marianne Williamson Francois Mauriac ___ On This Day: March 26, 1979 - Camp David Accord - Begin and Sadat March 28, 1979 - Three Mile Island Nuclear Incident March 29, 1973 - Last US Troops Leave South Vietnam April 1, 1945 - American Forces Invade Okinawa ___ Closing Thought - Julian of Norwich ************** Dear Friends: My winter classes have been coming to an end. It is a good time for reflecting on what we have been learning together. Today, I summarize my very satisfying university course entitled "God, Atheism and Morality." I asked - "Can We Be Good Without God?" - and got some very helpful responses. ___ Colleague Contributions: Mark Noll - co-authors a new book on Christian voices from Africa and Asia (Publisher's Weekly) Jim Taylor - praises the value of interdependence (Personal Web Log) Reginald Bibby - picks up on a study out of Arizona this week. He challenges the view that faith is dying in Canada (Assist News, National Post) Ron Rolheiser - writes a column on "Loving Our Enemies" (Personal Web Site) ___ Net Notes: "The Great EB" - the Encyclopedia Britannica is celebrating a special anniversary and I provide some help to understand this formidable publication (Christian Century) "Three Mile Island Anniversary" - with Japan strongly on our minds here is a reminder of America's biggest nuclear disaster (Christian Science Monitor) "Modern Families and Gay Adoption" - Marlene found this story on the adoption of a child by gay parents - a redemptive article well worth reading in full (Calgary Herald) "Another Veil 'Reveals' Face of Jesus" - some people seem to thrive on stories of relics and reminders of Jesus among us. Here is a new wrinkle on the 'Shroud of Turin' phenomenon (Zenit News from Rome) "Learnings from 50 Years of Confessions" - a priest with many years of experience in the 'confessional' shares some of his discoveries (America Magazine) "North Korea is on 'Knife Edge' of Hunger" - once more, this isolated land seems to be on the verge of disaster from starvation (The Guardian, UK) "India Debates Ban on Biography of Gandhi" - last week the New York Times published a review of a new Gandhi biography. The book has precipitated a storm in Gandhi's homeland (New York Times, Ucan News) "Protestants See Biased South Korean Media" - some Christians in Korea are blaming the popular media for some very bad publicity (Ucan News) "Priest Women's Ordination Supporter Dumped" - Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who has taken on many justice causes, including the ordination of women to the priesthood, learned this week that he cannot remain in his order (Ucan News, New Catholic Times) "Canadian Woman Head of Int'l Salvation Army" - we celebrate the appointment of a Canadian woman to the international leadership of the Salvation Army, with headquarters in London. (Christianweek.org) ___ Global Faith Potpourri: Twelve ENI, Geneva stories appear this week. ___ Quotes of the Week: Provided through the services of Sojourners.online: Shiva Vandana Jean Vanier Brenda Peterson Marianne Williamson Francois Mauriac ___ On This Day: The New York Times provides these stories as they were happening: Camp David treaty - Begin and Sadat (1979) Three Mile Island Nuclear Incident (1979) Last US Troops Leave South Vietnam (1973) American forces invade Okinawa (1945) ___ Closing Thought - Julian of Norwich Wayne ************************ SPECIAL ST. DAVID'S LINKS Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org (or)email@example.com St. David's Web Address -http://sduc.ca/ Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services - http://sduc.ca/services.htm ___ ST DAVID'S ACTS WEB PAGE Created and maintained by Colleague Jock McTavish http://stdavidscalgary.net/ __ INTRODUCING OUR ST.DAVID'S WINTER STUDY FOR 2011 Books Considered: "An Altar in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor (and) "I Shall Not Hate - A Gaza Doctor's Journey" by Izzeldin Abuelaish More study and website particulars will be posted as they become available. Last Session - Monday, April 4th, 2011! Special Guest: Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman B'Nai Tikvah Reform Temple, Calgary He will speak on peace in the Middle East and give his views on "I Shall Not Hate" as a supporter of the Palestinian doctor. Here is the link to the session design: http://tinyurl.com/46eyn5j Here is a TV Ontario Interview with Dr. Abuelaish provided by Bookbrowse.com: http://tinyurl.com/4nbdreg ***** MY UNIVERSITY WINTER COURSE FOR 2011 GOD, ATHEISM, AND MORALITY This course is now completed. See notes in Special Items Section of Colleagues List this week. "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" (Free Press, October, 2010) Supplementary text: "Godless Morality" by Richard Holloway (Canongate (new edition) 2009) Click here for course description http://tinyurl.com/2fc7xr4 ***** UNIVERSITY LENTEN STUDY FOR 2011 A Joint Project of the Multi-Faith Chaplains and St. David's ACTS Ministry This Year's Subject: "Community and Growth" by Jean Vanier. The book first appeared in 1989 and continues to be widely read. Learn from Vanier's years of experience in L'Arche communities around the world. This book will be of interest to those who seek insights for living and working together in a pluralistic society such as our own. This study is for university faculty, staff and interested students. It runs for six weeks. Time: Thursdays, 12 noon to 1:00PM March 3rd through April 7th, 2011 Cost: Free. Copies of the book available for purchase, courtesy of the Christian Reformed Chaplaincy and thanks to Paul Verhoef Location: Small Board Room, Native Centre, McEwan Student Centre. Vanier book study link: http://tinyurl.com/4hkv66x ***** REMINDER: ST. DAVID'S 50th ANNIVERSARY TOUR OF CELTIC LANDS - 2011 Airline tickets, a special travel booklet with much good spiritual reflection material and information about preparations to make and places to be visited have been provided this week to all persons on the tour. 36 PEOPLE ARE BOOKED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS JOURNEY TO CELTIC LANDS FROM APRIL 26th-May 10th. We have started an interest list for other, future tours! Let me know if you are interested in learning more about exciting, spiritual tourism! This is a cutting edge ministry at St. David's. We hope to do many more of these tours in future! Take a look at the St. David's, Wales Sacred Site: http://tinyurl.com/4gbg35t ***** STUDY ARCHIVES 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. ****************************************** SPECIAL ITEM My Winter University Course Summary: GOD, ATHEISM AND MORALITY Can We Be Good Without God? Continuing Education Course HUM 142: January 25th – March 29th, 2011 Meeting at University of Calgary Main Campus, Science A, Room 129 Texts Used for the Course: THE MORAL LANDSCAPE: How Science Can Determine Human Values, by Sam Harris, Free Press, Simon and Schuster, Hardcover. 2010. GODLESS MORALITY: Keeping Religion Out of Ethics, by Richard Holloway, Canongate (UK) New Edition, Paperback, 2009. The Authors Speak: “Morality is a genuine sphere of human inquiry, and not a mere product of culture. Progress is possible." - Sam Harris “Moral struggles are frequently between competing ‘goods’ rather than between a straight good and a straight evil.” - Richard Holloway ***** Class Composition: Members ranged from self-declared atheists through persons of faith (some practicing, some not.) People were drawn out of interest in the subject, desire for a positive learning experience, and a hope to discuss and exchange ideas for personal growth. We were people from across the believer-non-believer spectrum who like debating ideas, sharpening perspectives and enhancing understandings. A clear climate of mutual respect prevailed. First Session: Introductions and expectations - Expressing oneself and listening to others. ***** NOTES ON HARRIS Core thesis – Science can be the basis for ethics; this is a critique of both traditional science and religion. Of religion, which has tended to define conflicting ethical codes for people in the name of some divine force or deity; and of science which has tended to stand outside ethical debates. Moderates on both sides have failed; allowing religious and scientific fundamentalists to define the debate, and to stay out of the other’s turf. We must not practice “moral blindness” in the name of tolerance.” Values = facts. “Well-being” is the supreme human moral value. ___ Philosophical Constructs (My basic critique of Harris): We discussed the history of philosophy as both critique and support for theistic-based ethics. Socrates evoked the myth of “Euthyphro” to distinguish between ethics based on “the gods” and ethics based on reason. A study of the history of philosophical thinking can give us a better background in the formulation of both reason and faith-based ethics. We discussed ethical systems based on “means” and “ends” – ends justify means, (or) means justify ends. Post-modern ethics understand our world to be "relational." Static systems are hard to apply today. Ethics must study the complex situations of thought and action (praxis) so that what we do in the present defines what is ethical. Harris seems to lack a solid background in the development of philosophical thought over the centuries and seems at times to be struggling to 'reinvent the wheel.' ___ Free Will (Harris): “If we really understood what our brains tell us, we would act ethically.” “We live, however, in a state of causality. We know what is good but are often unable to live it.” “We inherit a dilemma. We 'know' but fail to 'act' on it. The result is frustration." “Is there a resolution? Try, by intent to live as ethically as possible; not with fatalism.” Robert Burton, a scientist, critiques Sam Harris – we must be realistic about what science can accomplish in society in terms of shaping ethics. "There is simply no getting rid of faith-based thinking. The science/religion controversy will not go away. We must learn to co-exist." ___ The Danger of Intellectual Dishonesty: Harris claims Francis Collins (evangelical Christian and former head of Genome Project) John Polkinghorne (physicist and Anglican priest) and the editors of Nature Magazine – are all intellectually dishonest. They understand science but compromise their views in favour of religious audiences which form majority thinking in society. The fact is, Harris too can be criticized for intellectual dishonesty, and we discussed a number of instances in the book where that seemed evident. ***** NOTES ON HOLLOWAY Core thesis – We must disconnect God and religion from ethics. Still, God does not disappear. God mustbe involved in our ethical struggles – not as a moralarbiter, but as inspiration/companion in our attemptsto define realistic ethical understandings. The good life results from inner intentions and awareness of observed consequences. The most effectivemoral systems operate on consent, not coercion. Ethicsimplies a competition of "goods" not a fight over "good"vs. "evil." Each moral system has a "good" and a"shadow side" associated with it. Leave God out of ethical systems, says Holloway. ___ Morality as an Art Form Morality is an art form, writes Holloway, not a science.It is like jazz compared to classical music. It followsimprovisation, not a fixed score. The genius ofimprovisation is that it is a better ethical metaphorto guide our thinking and behavior. Shame and fear are not good moral agents. Appeal totradition and authority is doomed to failure becausethese sources contradict each other and often result in violence. “Personal choice” must replace “command moralities.” ___ Classic Christian Morality Viewed Sex as Evil Holloway critiques classic Christian morality whichsaw sex as evil, and religious morality has damagedmany people. Today, there is a shift in thinkingamong at least some religious people who seek adifferent way of defining Christian morals. We needto rediscover a balance between the extremes of“religious asceticism” and “over-indulgence.” Still morality concerns us because we see a breakdownof ancient traditions and institutions. The institution of marriage, for example, is a casein point. ___ Other Contemporary Ethical Issues Holloway discusses the gay/lesbian issue, addictivesubstances like alcohol and drugs, the "life wars"over abortion and euthanasia, and the "reproductivesupermarket" of natural interventions (insemination,infertility) genetic engineering and cloning, and surrogate motherhood. Harris works to create a new science-based ethicalsystem while Holloway has developed his own faith system, applying his principles to many currentissues. Of course, Holloway is criticized by Christians with traditional perspectives for being a moral relativist. Holloway, however would not view himself in these terms. He says he is a realist. "We do not resolve our problems by abandoning traditional systems," he says. "But we honor thereality that the systems we’ve inherited run counterto many of our deepest human values – like freedom, and choice. "We need to learn to respond tosituations with grace appropriate to the event." ___ Summarizing Holloway: We need to celebrate moderation, pleasure, consent;an allowable diversity; since there are many competingethical "goods" out there. We can work our way throughthe current confusion, since humans are enormously creative people. It is our glory. ***** CLASS COMMENTS ON OUR TEXTS AND THEIR LEARNINGS FROM BOTH AUTHORS AND OUR CLASS DISCUSSIONS My most eye-opening discovery was how atheists are ignored, even discriminated against in our society. For example, at public prayers or with mottos like "in God we trust." Harris did not provide a clear, sensible way. Holloway was more helpful. He addressed issues in ways I found made sense. Sometimes Harris picked the most infantile and disgusting examples to make his point. Discussing these matters in class brought some enlightenment. OK. Let’s put Harris aside. Who should be involved in the shaping of societal values? Neuroscientists? No. Social scientists, poets, philosophers… If you simply poke around in your brains you lose something. Who is the "I" to form the basis for moral behavior? That is our struggle in these times. We did well in our discussions together. Where does morality come from? From us! ___ I didn’t learn a lot of "new things" but I was able to revisit many thoughts I had not thought about for many years and that was good. The workings of the brain do not necessarily provide us with a basis for morality. Harris rather oversimplifies the issues although I found both the Harris (TED) talk and the Holloway (interview) videos to be helpful. Harris speaks of female disfigurement and his outrage at the Muslim faith for practicing vaginal abuse. I too am outraged by this, but I do not likethe way he presents his case. I enjoyed the class discussions around so many issues like this. It helped me a lot. ___ I wonder about universal principles like “The Golden Rule.” I wonder if there really is, in fact,any possibility for universal principles coveringall humanity. This seems unrealistic. All moral systems have good points, but they have flaws tothem as well. We must use our wits to work out our moral behaviors.Science cannot do this. Ultimately, I believe thatphilosophy will help us make appropriate “ad hoc”decisions. ___ I see society’s attitude to atheism as the last form of acceptable prejudice. We have largely overcome racism, sexism and are working on religious tolerance. But atheism has not been treated like the human rights issue it is. There are few places to come together to discuss these matters in an intelligent way and I am glad I had this group to be and to talk with. There is a stridency out there which is modeled by many religious advocates. The new atheists have had to challenge that stridency, sometimes with their own form of it. But just as the first anti-racists and pro-feminists had to be strident to be heard and to make their presence felt, so too with modern atheism. Atheists are often branded as being intellectually inferior, and shallow. They are criticized for lacking compassion as well as lacking a desire to lead ethical lives. If people like Dawkins have "dissed" religion, it is because so many religious types have "dissed" atheism. Being "dismissive" of atheism is just as bad. People like Karen Armstrong do that much too readily. ___ My point of view was not so much changed but more confirmed by these sessions. I was challenged, but I continue to appreciate my value system. I was pleased to discover, as a young mother of two, that my brain still functions. I enjoyed the intellectual discussions. Harris did not change my mind. He did not stretch my thinking. Holloway was more nuanced and helpful in his presentation. Can science determine morals? Yes and no. For some the answer is “yes” and for others "no." I believe we need human reasons for the ethical answers we seek. I myself find more answers in science than in spiritual persuits. Humans evolve ethically over time, and science is also evolving. I see a growing capacity for science to provide answers in the future. I found Harris’ TED talk more convincing than his book. ___ Harris was too reductionistic and does not tap thesocial sciences for help. We can't deal with moralityin a vacuum - scientific or otherwise.
Atheists candisagree, and hopefully they can do so respectfully.Harris has given us a language, a framework todiscuss these issues and for that I thank him. Science is a set of tools to help us reflect on societal health. Holloway is a sign that others can“get it” and I do appreciate it that some Christiansdo, in fact, “get it.” I am not a moral relativist;you can’t function that way. Also, I do not like being discounted by comments like"you’re not really an atheist, are you?" We need togrow in our ability to engage each other respectfully.But in the end, we must rely on our wits. ***** CONCLUDING THOUGHTS Most appreciated by the class was the opportunity toshare and develop ideas in an environment of comfortand freedom. There are not a lot of places in oursociety where that seems to happen. Our group climateand discussion was very helpful to many. Human rights attention needs to be directed to therights of atheists as other rights battles are beingwon. “How my mind has changed” was not so much the experience of the group it seems, as “How my thoughtshave been challenged, refined, affirmed and developed.” Other study suggestions? “A History of Humanistic Thought” “Can Atheists be Spiritual; Aesthetic?” “Non-theistic Faith and Morals” – ***** COLLEAGUE CONTRIBUTIONS MARK NOLL Book Notice Publisher's Weekly March 30th, 2011 - CLOUDS OF WITNESSES: Christian Voices from Africa and Asia Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom. IVP Books, $25. US (300p) ISBN 978-0-8308-3834-9 Because Euro-Americans are largely unaware of Christian history in Africa and Asia, the authors set out to tell stories of Christian leaders from Korea, China, Africa, and India. These narratives from the 19th and 20th centuries stand on their own rather than filling the pages with assessment and evaluation, because “it is important first simply to know before trying to judge,” the authors write. Profiles of influential Christian voices and activists range from Archbishop Janani Luwum, a martyr in Uganda murdered by Idi Amin’s regime in 1977, to Dora Yu, a woman considered the foremost Chinese evangelist during the early 1900s. The otherwise brilliant book suffers from uninspiring front matter, and while one strength is the incredible detail harvested from missionary journals, biographies, and autobiographies, the first chapter immediately bogs down in minutiae of church politics surrounding its subject, Anglican martyr Bernard Mizeki. The value of this book is the window it opens to a diverse world. The authors maintain that these stories show indelibly that the Holy Spirit has been active across the world and across time. (Coming in April) _____ JIM TAYLOR Web Log March 30th, 2011 "Lonely Independence" http://edges.canadahomepage.net/2011/03/ ***** REGINALD BIBBY WILL RELIGION BECOME EXTINCT IN CANADA? Other Countries in Similar Situation Assist News March 26th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/4ze8tjw --- "Predicting Religion's Demise is Way Off the Mark" by Reg. Bibby National Post Mar. 4th 28th http://tinyurl.com/4gkt6op ***** RON ROLHEISER Column March 24th, 2011 "Loving Our Enemies" http://tinyurl.com/68fy4h9 ***** NET NOTES THE GREAT EB Christian Century March 24th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/6j66bwc ***** THREE MILE ISLAND ANNIVERSARY Christian Science Monitor March 28th, 2011 Picture Gallery http://tinyurl.com/4fvmczm ***** MODERN FAMILIES AND GAY ADOPTION The Calgary Herald March 24th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/66yaacf ***** ANOTHER VEIL 'REVEALS' FACE OF JESUS A Sister to the Shroud of Turin Zenit News from Rome March 28th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/4v8q4jx ***** LEARNINGS FROM 50 YEARS OF CONFESSIONS A Priest Shares a Life of Discovery America Magazine Apr. 4th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/4kvjngb ***** N. KOREA ON 'KNIFE EDGE' OF HUNGER 6 Million People are Starving The Guardian, UK March 30th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/475vnsq ***** INDIA DEBATES BAN ON GANDHI BOOK Some See it as Dishonoring Him Others Seek Freedom of Expression New York Times April 1, 2011 Book on Gandhi Stirs Passion in India Joseph Lelyveld's new biography has been banned in part of India because of its discussion of an intimate relationship between Gandhi and another man. http://tinyurl.com/3wbwm6z --- Ucan News April 1, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/4x86x9y ***** PROTESTANTS SEE BIASED S. KOREAN MEDIA See Press as Slanted Against Them Ucan News March 31st, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/4gbpp29 ***** PRIEST WHO SUPPORTED WOMEN'S ORDINATION IS RELEASED FROM HIS ORDER Bourgeois Removed as Maryknoll Father Two Catholic Views Ucan News March 30th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/6egkhf4 --- New Catholic Times March 30th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/6ffh7bl ***** CANADIAN WOMAN NEW HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL SALVATION ARMY Christianweek.org March 29th, 2011 http://tinyurl.com/4le9qjv ***** GLOBAL FAITH POTPOURRI Ecumenical News International News Highlights 28 March 2011 'Word is God' at Shakespeare theatre's season in London London (ENI news) Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London has entitled its 2011 season "The Word is God" and will mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with a cover-to-cover reading between Palm Sunday, 17 April, and Easter Monday, 25 April. _____ Vatican will send observer to Libya conference Rome (ENI news) - The Vatican said on 27 March that it is sending an observer to tomorrow's conference in London where foreign ministers from nations involved in military action in Libya will discuss the next steps in the operation, protection of civilians and possibly humanitarian aid. The Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) to Great Britain, Bishop Antonio Mennini, will communicate Pope Benedict XVI's desire for "peaceful and lasting solutions" to the Libyan conflict, according to Fr.Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See's press office. _____ Lutheran church in Brazil marks 50 years of mission New York (ENI news) - In 2011, the Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil marks 50 years of continuous mission among the indigenous peoples of Brazil. A book, "A Bridge Between Worlds," will be published this year that details the gathered experience and knowledge of the 50 years of mission among the indigenous, 28 of which were coordinated by the Council of Mission Among the Indigenous (COMIN), according to the council. ***** 29 March 2011 Expert says faith groups play an environmental role Nairobi (ENInews)--Religious denominations and people of faith play crucial roles in caring for the environment and mitigating the effects of climate change, according to the head of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC). "[Faith groups] will not be able to answer the scientific questions of climate change, but they can change the way we behave. I think we can address it. It will not happen fast, but will happen sustainably," Martin Palmer, ARC's general secretary told ENInews on 29 March in Nairobi. ***** 31 March 2011 Christian Reformed church members to meet with farm workers Grand Rapids, Michigan (ENI news) - About 30 representatives of the Geneva-based World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) on 31 March will begin a conference on social justice by visiting with low-paid, itinerant tomato field workers in Immokalee, Florida and calling attention to their concerns. _____ De Santis appointed editor of ENInews Geneva (ENI news) - Ecumenical News International announces that Solange De Santis has been appointed editor of the ecumenical news service ENInews (www.eni.ch) on a one-year contract from March 2011 to March 2012. _____ African faith groups get funds for environmental conservation Nairobi (ENI news) - A UK-based environmental conservation group said it is offering financial support to African faith groups to help them develop environmental conservation plans. "This is simply seed money to help consultations to take place. We know for faith communities to introduce new dimensions to their work, is not easy," said Martin Palmer, general secretary of the Alliance for Religions and Conservation (ARC), based in Bath, England. He was attending a conference in Nairobi on religion and the environment, organized by ARC and hosted by the All Africa Conference of Churches. _____ Churches in Argentina explore faith and ecology Buenos Aires, Argentina (ENI news) - Several churches in Argentina explored the subject "Christian faith and ecology: towards an eco-ecumenical theology" in a conference held 28-29 March at Instituto Universitario (ISEDET), a Protestant theological school. The event was sponsored by ISEDET, the Argentina-based Rural Reflection Group and the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) Latin America and Caribbean region and was supported by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the United Church of Canada. ***** 1 April 2011 Christian communicators say women treated unfairly by media Little Rock, Arkansas (ENI news) - A more fair and balanced representation and portrayal of women in the media is one way journalists can help create a more equitable world, said a media observer and peace advocate."Fair and balanced news media representation holds the potential to enable the emergence of societies marked by non- hierarchical social relations that guard ... values of equality, justice and freedom from discrimination," Sarah Macharia, programme manager for media and gender justice of the Toronto-based World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), said 31 March at the annual convention of the Religion Communicators Council. _____ British millionaire buys then donates religious paintings Canterbury, England (ENI news) - A self- effacing multi-millionaire, Jonathan Ruffer, 59, has become a cultural icon here after buying a series of 17th century religious paintings from the Anglican church for 15 million pounds and then giving them back so they can remain on public display and potentially boost art tourism in parts of the rundown northeast of England. _____ Canadian Anglican, Lutheran councils hold first joint meeting Mississauga, Ontario (ENI news) - The executive councils of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) opened on 1 April their first joint meeting,marking a step toward deepening the denominations' "full communion" relationship. Gathering in Mississauga, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, the ACC's Council of General Synod and the ELCIC's National Church Council will meet until 3 April under the theme "Growing Together." _____ Deadly Afghan riots blamed on Quran burning at Florida church Washington, D.C. (ENI news) - The Florida pastor who presided over the recent burning of a Quran said the United Nations must protect Afghans from deadly riots, even as he denied responsibility for inspiring them. ***** QUOTES OF THE WEEK Provided courtesy of Sojourners.online March 28th, 2011 "Who feeds the world? My answer is very different to that given by most people. "It is women and small farmers working with biodiversity who are the primary food providers in the Third World, and contrary to the dominant assumption, their biodiversity based small farms are more productive than industrial monocultures." - Shiva Vandana --- March 29th, 2011 "To wash the feet of a brother or a sister in Christ, to allow someone to wash our feet, is a sign that together we want to follow Jesus, to take the downward path, to find Jesus' presence in the poor and the weak. Is it not a sign that we too want to live a heart-to- heart relationship with others, to meet them as a person and a friend, and to live in communion with them?" - Jean Vanier --- March 30th, 2011 "I thought that animals were always in the trenches, in harm's way. Unless somebody, somewhere could find a way to build a new ark. It had to be bigger than my balsam wood toy. It had to be big enough to carry us all -- again." - Brenda Peterson, from her book "Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals" --- March 31st, 2011 "The power of nonviolence is not circumstance- specific. It is as applicable to the problems that confront us now, as to problems that confronted generations in the past. It is not a medicine or a solution so much as a healing process. It is the active spiritual immune system of humanity." - Marianne Williamson, from her book "The Healing of America" --- April 1st, 2011 "No doubt a life of Jesus should be written on one's knees, with a feeling of unworthiness great enough to make the pen drop from the hand. A sinner should blush for [his or her] temerity in undertaking such a work." - Francois Mauriac, from "Life of Jesus" ***** ON THIS DAY March 26, 1979 - the Camp David peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at the White House. http://tinyurl.com/46ab7k2 _____ March 28, 1979 - America's worst commercial nuclear accident occurred inside the Unit Two reactor at the Three Mile Island plant near Middletown, Pa. http://tinyurl.com/4tzzagt _____ March 29, 1973 - the last United States troops left South Vietnam, ending America's direct military involvement in the Vietnam War. http://tinyurl.com/4rlgwox _____ April 1, 1945 - American forces invaded Okinawa during World War II. http://tinyurl.com/3eqhnfq ***** CLOSING THOUGHT "The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything." - Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) the first English woman writer (end)