Friday, December 16, 2011

Colleagues List, December 17th, 2011

Vol. VII. No. 18


Wayne A. Holst, Editor


Colleagues List Blog:

My E-Mail Address:


Special Item
In This Issue -

Book Notice:

"The United Church of Canada: A History," 
 edited by Don Schweitzer

Colleague Comments:

Joan Gray
Ian MacDonald

Colleague Contributions:

Martin Marty
Jim Taylor
Ron Rolheiser

Net Notes:

Comfort Women Protest
Giving Only at Christmas
Another Noah's Ark 'Finding'
Christopher Hitchens is Dead
Koreans Fast Over 'Corrupt' Group
Paulo Friere - The Man from Recife
Abuse Victims Claim Church 'Payoff'
Canada Withdraws from Kyoto Accord
Protester - Time's Person of the Year
Persecution of Christians Grows in Egypt
Attacked Pakistan Buildings - Unfinished
The High Cost of the Now-Defunct Iraq War

Global Faith Potpourri:

Eighteen ENI Geneva stories.

Quotes of the Week:

Henry Ward Beecher
Thomas Raymond Kelly
Amma Sarah
Rachel Naomi Remen 
Thich Nhat Hanh

On This Day:

Dec. 12, 1963 - Kenya gained its 
independence from Britain.

Dec. 14, 1981 - Israel annexed the 
Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967.

Dec. 16, 1978 - Margaret Mead, world
famous anthropologist, dies of Cancer

Closing Thought: Meister Eckhart



Dear Friends:

As we near Christmas I want to inform
you of Colleagues List issues I plan to
send through year end. 

I hope to send one issue - it will
include our family letter - before
December 25th, and one more by 
December 31st.

The last issue of the year usually
contains a collation of all book notices
and personal articles I have shared with 
you in the past twelve months. That way,
you should be able to catch up with a
notice or article you may have missed. 

It represents an annual summing up. This 
year I intend to send a total 42 issues of 
Colleagues List - one more that the average 
for the past seven years.


This week I introduce the first critical
history of the United Church of Canada.
It was edited by Don Schweitzer of
St. Andrews College, Saskatoon, and
contains contributions from fourteen
others. Wilfrid Laurier University Press 
of Waterloo, Ontario serves as publisher.

The book is entitled:

"The United Church of Canada: A History"

and it officially appears at year end. 

Colleague Comments:

Two Calgary colleagues from St. David's
United Church share their thoughts -

Joan Gray - offers a link to the story of
an Edmonton congregation's vision.

Ian MacDonald - a semi-retired engineer,
enjoys science and religion articles. 
This week, the big one comes from 
CERN (European Organization for
Nuclear Research located in Geneva.) 
It tells of the Higgs boson experiment 
relating, in part, to the "God particle." 
There is more to come on this story.

I remember visiting CERN while a graduate
student in Geneva, and know that its
scientists are frequently on the cutting
edge of experiments linking science and
other disciplines.

Colleague Contributions:

Martin Marty (Chicago) -  this week
turns his attention to atheism in America.

Jim Taylor (Okanagan) - writes about being
adopted and its impact.

Ron Rolheiser (San Antonio) - digs into
his archives for a Christmas reflection.

Net Notes:

"Comfort Women Protest" - the quest for 
an apology from the Japanese government 
continues (ENI, Ucan)

"Giving Only at Christmas" - an article 
on the benefits of year-end giving for 
different reasons (EFC - Faith Today)

"Another Noah's Ark 'Finding'" - every 
so often, another project surfaces, intent 
on finding pieces of the 'real ark.'  
Here is the latest (Christian Post)

"Christopher Hitchens is Dead" - the 
outspoken critic who fixed his sharpest 
attacks of recent years on religion, 
succumbed to cancer (New York Times, 
Guardian UK)

"Koreans Fast Over 'Corrupt' Group" - a 
group of Protestants are fasting to bring 
about the demise of a church agency it 
considers evil (Ucan News)

"Paulo Friere - The Man from Recife" -
here is a good biography of one of the
twentieth century's most revolutionary
educational thinkers. He is a longtime 
hero of colleague Mathew Zachariah 
(Englewood Review)

"Abuse Victims Claim Church 'Payoff'" -
persons who suffered from clergy abuse
claim the church wanted to pay to shut
them up (Vatican Insider)

"Canada Withdraws from Kyoto Accord" -
this expected move, long intended by
the current Canadian government, is
decried by many others in Canada and
beyond (Guardian UK, ELCIC, Toronto Star)

"Protester - Time's Person of the Year" -
the story of protest was repeated often
in 2011 with "Occupy" the most visible

"Persecution of Christians Grows in Egypt"
- growing concern over the fate Christians 
in the "new" Egypt (

"Attacked Pakistan Buildings Stay Unfinished"
- several years ago, Christians who suffered
from sacked facilities were promised new
ones. They still wait (Ucan News) 

"The High Cost of the Now-Defunct Iraq War"
- quietly the US has left Iraq, and there
is precious little to cheer about at a cost
of one trillion (National Catholic Reporter)

Global Faith Potpourri:

This week, I include eighteen religion
stories provided by Ecumenical News 
International, Geneva.

By the way, colleague David Harris,
editor of the Presbyterian Record,
(Canada) heads up the ENI project.

Quotes of the Week:

Henry Ward Beecher, Thomas Raymond Kelly,
Amma Sarah, Rachel Naomi Remen and
Thich Nhat Hanh share their wisdom with us.

On This Day:

Kenya gained independence from Britain (1963)

Israel annexed the Golan Heights, seized 
from Syria in 1967 (1981)

Margaret Mead, anthropologist, died (1978)


Closing Thought: Meister Eckhart, a
medieval mystic concludes our letter
for this week, with comment from
Matthew Fox.

Blessings on your last minute
Christmas preparations.



Introducing the Full Program


"The Other Face of God:
 When the Stranger Calls Us Home"

by Mary Jo Leddy

Ten Monday Nights - 
January 16th - March 26th
(except February Family Weekend)

Information about the book from



A Study Program Sponsored by:
The Department of Continuing Education
At the University of Calgary

Taught by: Wayne Holst

"God, Atheism and Morality" (ten sessions)
Tuesday Nights, 7:00PM - 9:00 PM
January 24th - March 27th, 2012

Course Information:



Welcome to our -


Noon Hour Book Discussions for Faculty, 
Staff and Students Winter Series for 2012:

"An Altar in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor

Discovering God in the ordinary experiences of life
March 2nd - March 30th - five Friday noon sessions

Time and Location for all sessions:
12:00 to 1:00PM in the Native Centre Board Room
Located above the Dairy Queen, Mac Hall Student's 

Led by: Wayne Holst, 
Coordinator of the ACTS Ministry, St. David's United
and a Faith and Spirituality Centre Liaison.

Reviews of "An Altar in the World"

Cost of the book: $15.00 each


Join us this year for stiumlating campus discussions!

For more information: Adriana Tulissi 403-220-5451
Co-ordinator, Faith and Spirituality Centre, U. of 
C. -



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

Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -



An accumulation of twenty-five+ studies conducted
since 2000 can quickly be found at:

This collection of study resources represents 
more than 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.



Book Notice:

A History, edited by Don Schweitzer
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Dec. 2011. 306 pages. $39.95 CAD
ISBN #978-1-55458-331-7.


Publisher's Promo:

From its inception in the early 1900s, 
The United Church of Canada set out to 
become the national church of Canada. 
This book recounts and analyzes the 
history of the church of Canada’s 
largest Protestant denomination and 
its engagement with issues of social 
and private morality, evangelistic 
campaigns, and its response to the 
restructuring of religion in the 1960s.

A chronological history is followed by 
chapters on the United Church’s worship, 
theology, understanding of ministry, 
relationships with the Canadian Jewish 
community, Israel, and Palestinians, 
changing mission goals in relation to 
First Nations peoples, and changing 
social imaginary.

The result is an original, accessible, 
and engaging account of The United 
Church of Canada’s pilgrimage that 
will be useful for students, historians, 
and general readers. From this account 
there emerges a complex portrait of the 
United Church as a distinctly Canadian 
Protestant church shaped by both its 
Christian faith and its engagement 
with the changing society of which 
it is a part.


Author's Words:

The United Church of Canada has had a
significant presence in English-speaking
Canada for over eighty years... (since)
the late-1950s when roughly 20 percent
of Canada's population belonged to it,
the United Church has been present in
most English-speaking Canadian communities.

When it was founded at an inaugural service
June 10th, 1925 (it saw itself as playing)
a decisive role in shaping the moral ethos
of Canadian society by infusing the values
of Evangelical British Protestantism into
Canadian citizens and society through
evangelism, Christian education, social
service, public activism and advocacy.

While its influence on Canadian society
has greatly decreased in recent decades,
it remains the largest Protestant
denomination in Canada and Christianity
continues to exert a significant influence
on the Canadian imagination...

(For all this) there exists no academic
history of the United Church of Canada
itself. This book attempts to fill this
gap in Canadian historiography...

The United Church itself is at a point
where it needs a critical account of
its history (as most of the books written
on the church over the years have been
celebrations, not critical assessments.)

(At the time of its formation and up until
recent decades the United Church has had
"a unifying vision that is compelling,
attainable, and shared,"  - that saw
itself as being and becoming a national

(Now) there is a call for a new vision,
which arises partly from the United
Church's inability to be what it formerly
was. To find a new vision for itself,
leaders and members of the United Church
need to study its past and learn from its
history. This anthology was written
to help in this process.

The UCC deserves study because of its
place in Canadian culture, and because it
has been a significant ecclesiastical
entity, an experiment in church union in
it own right.

The United Church is also a unique church
within Canada. (Because it lacks) primary
identification with any one international
church body, it has an autonomy that
distinguishes it from most other Canadian
denominations. Being both uniquely
Canadian and unique within Canada, it has
a fascinating history that is worth

(The editor outlines the two main sections
of the book - a series of chronological,
historical chapters divided largely into
decades from pre-union, then from the
1930s into the twenty-first century. In 
the second part of the book he invites
others to take up particular thematic 
foci that are helpfully traced for us  
through the eras of the church's history. 
He closes with a chapter on "The Changing 
Social Imaginary of the United Church of 

Tracking how its social imaginary has
changed reveals that this is only part of
the story. The United Church's history is
also one of faithfulness, of gains and
achievements that, at present, are often

I hope to provide a resource for all who
desire to understand the United Church
more fully. We hope that it will be
supplemented in the future by many more

- from the Introduction

In 2006, Moderator Peter Short noted
that (the) original vision is no longer
an animating part of the United Church's
social imaginary. (I examine why this is
so and what this change has meant for
the church.)

As the United Church (came to) accept
disestablishment, confidence about its
place in Canadian society gave way to
a crisis concerning its future. It
began to examine many of its teachings
and practices.

(We have apologized a lot to various
groups, and we are a much humbler church
than we used to be.)

In the course of the 1970s, the social
ethic of the United Church became more
radical. Official statements began to
express a preferential option for the
poor... The United Church now began,
in theory, to see Canada very
differently from the way it had in its
originating social imaginary...
measured against the hopes and goals of
its originating social imaginary, the
United Church's history has been 
predominantly one of failure and loss...
this is not only about a loss of members,
privilege and power. It is also about a
loss of vision, a sense of identity
and purpose that the idea of becoming
a "national" church provided...

Its originating vision of becoming a
"national" church is gone partly because
changes in Canadian society make it no
longer feasible, but also because while
the United Church continues to affirm
these underlying values, it now understands
their meaning and implications very

- from the final chapter
  "The Changing Social Imaginary"


My Thoughts:

The two most valuable contributions
of this attractive new book edited by
Don Schweitzer of Saskatoon are these:

It offers:

- a critical, historical assessment of the 
life of the United Church of Canada (and)

It issues:

- a call to engage in an intelligent, 
focused discussion on a new vision for the 
United Church of Canada, in light of the
great changes in Canadian society and the 
subsequent loss of vision this church has 
experienced over its almost ninety years 
of history.


I became a member of a local United 
Church in Calgary (twenty-two years ago)
because I felt accepted in the community
and learned that I could share many of
the gifts I had to offer the people
there. My mother had been raised in
the United Church (Ontario) and had
moved to another mainline Canadian
Protestant denomination through marriage.
In an unexpected turn of fate, I
reversed that move on my mother's part.

When I joined St. David's United Calgary,
I determined that I would be a "layman"
in that community (after serving for 25 
years as a pastor) and that I would support 
the clergy and congregation with the gift 
of critical affirmation, not negative 
criticism. To a large extent, I think I
have been able to honour that commitment.

So, if I were to constructively assess
my United Church community, two key 
concerns stand out for me:

1. It is unfamiliar with its history
2. It lacks an inclusive future vision

That is why Schweitzer's book serves
an important purpose for me, and I
suspect, it would for many within and
beyond the United Church of Canada.

There have been many detractors of
the United Church over the years, but
I would encourage those too to join in 
this constructive assessment and the 
call for a new vision based on the
experience of the church's past.

I believe that studying this  book 
could help to foment that vision.

Those who criticize from the position of
some current "ecclesiastical ascendancy"
outside of the United Church of Canada
should patiently be reminded that it is
not hard to be dislodged from a position
of ascendancy. The United Church of Canada
has learned this. The viability of many 
Canadian denominations is in jeopardy
today - as the studies by Reginald Bibby,
for example, keep telling us.

Those who have experienced a humbling
similar to that of the United Church
should gain some courage to revisit
the valuable lessons of their own
church's past, and to join a similar
vision quest. Hopefully, this will
happen within individual communities
as well as ecumenically.

The challenges we face are larger
than those confronting individual
denominations. The benefits that
we could experience together are
much greater than we may sometimes


It takes a lot of courage to face
one's past critically. It takes 
much boldness to face one's future
with vision, rather than pessimism.

Strength and temerity in a humble 
spirit are values reflected in this 
book. I honour Don Schweitzer, his 
colleagues, and the United Church
of Canada for presenting this history 
for all of us to engage.

A book like this should be in the 
hands of all thoughtful and concerned, 
members of United churches across the 

It should also be in the hands of
many others who have a vision for
the whole church; not simply their
own faith family.

Buy the book from:

The Publisher:



Calgary, AB. 

December 14th, 2011
Hi Wayne,  You share so much with us.  

I wanted to share this article with you.  
This is the church in Edmonton that 
brought me into the fold of the United 
Church and the one that (my son) Matthew 
grew up in.    

Joan Gray

"Farsighted Church Investment"

Edmonton Journal
December 13th, 2011


Calgary, AB.

December 14th, 2011


I found the last paragraph
of the Globe editorial the best...

To paraphrase Psalm 14: "The fool has 
said in his heart there is no Higgs
boson. Tuesday's announcement is a
testament to our constant search for
meaning and understanding, and proof
that whether we look for answers
inside an atom or inside a place of
worship, it is the search that makes
us divine."


"The Higgs Boson and
 the Search for God"

Globe and Mail
December 14th, 2011



Chicago, IL

December 12, 2011

"Atheism in America" 


Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
December 14th, 2011

"Growing Up Adopted"



Personal Blog

"Reasons to Celebrate Christmas"
 (December 2009)




Ecumenical News International
December 14th, 2011

Christian women join demonstration 
by victims of Japan's wartime sexual 

Tokyo (ENI news) - Christians in South 
Korea, Japan, and elsewhere, led mostly 
by women, joined on 14 December to mark 
the 1,000th Wednesday demonstration in 
Seoul demanding dignity and justice for 
victims of the Japanese military's sexual 
slavery during the Second World War. In 
Seoul, about 2,000 people participated 
in the weekly demonstration in front of 
the Japanese embassy, demanding Japan's 
official apology and reparations to the 
victims, the so-called "comfort women." 
Similar demonstrations reportedly took 
place in 27 other places in South Korea. 
The demonstration's organizer, the Korean 
Council for the Women Drafted for Military 
Sexual Slavery by Japan--led by a female 
Christian minister, Rev. Han Kukyom, and 
Yoon Mee-hyang--urged the Japanese 
government to "stand up for the solution 
of the problem." Among the council's 
founding member organizations is Korean 
Church Women United. 


"Too Frail to Continue Quest for Apology"

Ucan News
December 14th, 2011


Is This a Bad Thing?

Faith Today
Nov/Dec, 2011


"Overwhelming Evidence" Sited

The Christian Post
December 13th, 2011



Ecumenical News International
December 16th, 2011

Renowned writer and polemicist 
Christopher Hitchens dies, aged 62

New York (ENI news) - Both opponents 
and advocates of religious faith are 
mourning the death of author, polemicist, 
and atheist Christopher Hitchens, who 
died 15 December after a long battle 
with esophageal cancer. Though known 
principally for his iconoclastic political 
writings - which included sharp barbs, 
bordering on contempt, for political 
figures as varied as Henry Kissinger 
and Bill Clinton - in recent years 
Hitchens became known for his criticism 
of religion, arguing that human decency 
is not derived from religious faith. 


New York Times
December 16th, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist 
in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George 
Orwell who trained his sights on targets as 
various as Henry Kissinger, the British 
monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-
seller attacking religious belief, and 
dismayed his former comrades on the left 
by enthusiastically supporting the American-
led war in Iraq, died Thursday at the M. D.
Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was 62.

Read More:


The Guardian, UK
December 16th, 2011


Protestant Christian Protest

Ucan News
December 13th, 2011



The Englewood Review of Books
December 10th, 2011


Cash Offered in Belgium for Silence 

Vatican Insider
December 14th, 2011


Our Position Opposed by Many

The Guardian, UK
December 14th, 2011


Comment by colleague Susan Johnson
National Bishop, ELCIC

From the National Office of the ELCIC
December 14th, 2011

ELCIC National Bishop Expresses 
"Disappointment and Concern" at 
Government's Decision to Withdraw 
Canada from Kyoto Protocol

Winnipeg, 14 December 2011 - The 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada's 
(ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson 
wrote to The Honourable Peter Kent, 
Minister of the Environment, to express 
her "disappointment and concern" over 
the recent decision of the government 
to withdraw Canada from participating 
in the Kyoto Protocol. 

In her letter, Bishop Johnson urges the 
government to set a national target to 
cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 25 
per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, 
implement an effective national plan 
to reach this target, and help developing 
countries reduce their emissions and adapt 
to climate change. 

"Climate change is very real," writes 
Bishop Johnson. "It is urgent that we 
reduce green house gas emissions in 
order to limit the effects of climate 

The letter references a decision made 
by delegates at the 2009 ELCIC National 
Convention which affirmed, "that global 
warming is the greatest threat to life 
on earth--that entire populations and 
ecosystems are threatened by devastating 
impacts such as drought, heat waves, 
fires, floods, storms and rising sea 

Bishop Johnson urges the Canadian 
Government to match the commitment 
made by members of ELCIC congregations 
and reduce emissions by 25 per cent, 
and to support a national plan that 
helps reduce emissions. 

Read the full text of the letter here:


Canada Hits Bottom
Withdrawing from Kyoto

Toronto Star
December 16th, 2011


A Composite Image
December 14th, 2011


December 9th, 2011



Ucan News
December 12th, 2011



National Catholic Reporter
December 15th, 2011

"It's much harder to end 
 a war than to start one"
  - President Obama

Open with Mozilla Firefox:



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
12 December 2011

Norway sees sharp increase in 
Catholic population

Oslo, Norway (ENI news) - The Roman Catholic 
population of Norway almost doubled from 2005 
to 2011, mainly due to immigration, according 
to a Statistics Norway report. The latest 
figures show the number of Catholics in Norway 
is about 83,018, up from 43,118 six years ago, 
the agency said on 6 December. The main reason 
is immigration of artisans, mainly from Poland. 

Churches in Congo slam presidential 
election process

Kinshasha, Congo (ENI news) - As international 
observers say that general elections in the 
Democratic Republic of Congo were flawed, 
churches also have been highly critical of 
the process that re-elected President Joseph 
Kabila, but are appealing for peace among a 
restless electorate. "We are telling the people 
to keep peace and avoid violent protests. We 
reminding them that we have been at war for 
long and we need to preserve what is remaining 
of the country," Pastor Josue Bulambo 
Lembelembe, vice-president of the Church of 
Christ in Congo in South Kivu told ENI news 
in a telephone interview from the town of 
Bukavu on 12 December. Churches said the 
28 November polls were marred by 
irregularities, fraud and violence. 


Evangelicals in Colombia express 
concern over law changes 

Bogota, Colombia (ENI news) - Evangelical 
leaders in Colombia say they're concerned 
about the future of their nation in the wake 
of recent legislation that has decriminalized 
euthanasia, eased abortion restrictions and 
could legalize same-sex marriages, reports 
the Latin America and Caribbean Communication 
Agency (ALC). "These matters that the 
Colombian Congress is considering are nothing 
other than the sociopolitical, cultural and 
religious changes of the times to come, that 
affect our country considerably," said 
evangelical Senator Edgar Espindola Nino 
at the "First Pro Ecclesial Forum: Human 
Rights and the Church," held 28 November 
in Bogota. 


Russian Orthodox voices 
join cries of election fraud

Moscow (ENI news) - After a week of 
mounting protest over alleged fraud in 
Russia's 4 December parliamentary election, 
the Russian Orthodox Church has called for 
stricter control over the election process 
-- evidence of the extent to which anger has 
spread in Russian society. A demonstration 
in Moscow on 10 December drew 25,000 people, 
according to police, but opposition leaders 
said the numbers were at least 80,000. 
Smaller protests were held across Russia. 
The voice of the church could play a 
significant role as activists plan for 
demonstrations on 17 and 24 December. 

13 December 2011

Pope meets with British rabbi as part 
of ongoing interfaith outreach

Rome (ENI news) - Pope Benedict XVI on 12 
December met with Lord Jonathan Sacks, 
the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew 
Congregations of the Commonwealth in a 
closed-door meeting in which the Vatican 
says the two discussed the economic and 
political situation in Europe and the 
role that faith should play in the modern 
world. After the meeting, Sacks presented 
Benedict with a copy of The Koren Siddur, 
a Hebrew and English Jewish prayer book 
Sacks translated. 

Tree planting in Luther Garden 
signals unity among Christians

Wittenberg, Germany (ENI news) - On a 
cold, blustery day in the German town of 
Wittenberg, Bishop Yuri Novgorodov of the 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kazakhstan 
patted down the dark soil at the base of 
a freshly-planted linden tree. Not more 
than a hundred yards away, the tower of 
the Castle Church soared into the bright 
winter sky. Bishop Novgorodov's linden 
tree is the latest addition to the Luther 
Garden, and is flanked by trees planted 
by representatives of the Evangelical 
Lutheran Churches of Tanzania and Latvia. 
With the 500-year anniversary of the 
Reformation approaching in 2017, the 
Luther Garden hopes to have 500 trees 
planted by then. 

Evangelical Church of El Salvador 
recognized for century of service

San Salvador, El Salvador (ENI news) - As 
part of the nation’s ongoing bicentennial 
celebrations, the Evangelical Church of El 
Salvador was recognized in early December 
for its more than 100 years of service. 
The Legislative Assembly, on the occasion 
of the Bicentennial of the First Cry of 
Independence, celebrated 5 November, 
noted the establishment of the evangelical 
movement in El Salvador coincided with the 
rise to power of rulers favoring 
secularization, freedom of worship and 
legalizing of civil marriage, according 
to the Latin America and Caribbean News 

Pope to visit Cuba in first papal 
trip in more than a decade

Rome (ENI news) - Vatican officials 
confirmed this week that Pope Benedict 
XVI would visit Cuba and Mexico some 
time before Easter next year, in a 
]landmark trip that would mark the 
first papal visit to Cuba since Pope 
John Paul II visited the communist but 
predominantly Catholic island state in 
1998. During the celebration of a mass 
in St. Peter's Basilica honoring 
Mexico’s Virgin of Guadalupe, Benedict 
mentioned the travel plans and said he 
hoped God would guide residents of Latin 
America to "build a society based on the 
development of good, the triumph of love, 
and the spread of justice." 


14 December 2011

Sri Lankan government apologizes for 
arrest of Catholic nun

Colombo, Sri Lanka (ENI news) - The 
Sri Lankan government has made a public 
apology for the arrest of a Catholic nun 
on child trafficking charges. The nun 
belonged to the Missionaries of Charity 
(MC) order founded by Mother Teresa. 
"This is a serious and very sensitive 
issue. The apology ... is a clear 
indication of the government's stand on 
this matter," said Minister Keheliya 
Rambukwella, a Sri Lankan cabinet 
spokesman, in a news statement on 
8 December. 

American city will 
see 'multi-faith neighborhood'

Omaha, Nebraska (ENI news) - Omaha, 
Nebraska may not be the place that 
some imagine as fertile ground for 
the prospect of the three Abrahamic 
faiths finding common ground but, the 
vision of such peaceful co-existence 
has taken a major step towards becoming 
reality. The Tri-Faith Initiative of 
Omaha announced on 13 December that 
it has completed the purchase of four 
adjacent parcels of land, amounting 
to about 35 acres, on a former golf 
course in the heart of Omaha, Episcopal 
News Service reports. The course is 
being turned into Sterling Ridge, a 
development that will also include 
single-family homes, an assisted-
living facility, office and retail 
space and a hotel. 

Outcome of climate talks not good 
for poor nations, say global 
Christian leaders

Nairobi, Kenya (ENI news) - United 
Nations climate talks achieved minimal 
success, say Christian leaders and 
activists, who claim the outcome does 
too little to respond to the impact 
of climate change on poor countries. 
At the 17th Conference of Parties to 
the United Nations Framework Convention 
on Climate Change talks, political 
leaders agreed to retain the Kyoto 
Protocol - though Canada withdrew 
from it - and start negotiations in 
2015 for a new legally binding deal 
to take effect in 2020. A fund for 
climate aid to poor countries was 
also agreed upon at the conference, 
which ran from 29 November to 9 
December in Durban, South Africa. 


15 December 2011

Anglican bishop pleads for agreement 
on Zurbaran paintings in Britain

Durham, England (ENI news) - The Anglican 
bishop of Durham is urging a wealthy 
businessman and the commissioners who 
manage the Church of England's assets to 
"look afresh at what can be done" to keep 
a set of 17th-century religious paintings 
in northeast Britain as the center of a p
lanned historical visitor attraction. 

Bishop Justin Welby's intervention follows 
reports that Jonathan Ruffer, an investment 
fund manager, has withdrawn an offer of 15 
million British pounds to save a set of 
paintings called "Jacob and his Sons" by 
the Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran. 
The paintings have hung at Auckland Castle, 
see of the Anglican bishops of Durham, for 
the last 255 years. 

Philippine church leaders join movement 
against big mining firms

Baguio City, Philippines (ENI news) 
Leaders from Philippine Roman Catholic and 
Protestant groups have joined non-government 
and indigenous peoples' organizations in a 
renewed campaign against big mining firms. 
"The campaign against large-scale mining is 
also a campaign against greed," the Rev. 
Eduardo Solang, a retired priest of the 
Episcopal Church of the Philippines, told 
ENI news on 14 December. 

Primate of Traditional Anglican Communion 
resigns after dissension

Adelaide, Australia (ENI news) - Archbishop 
John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional 
Anglican Communion (TAC), has said he will 
resign from office in May in the wake of 
dissension within the College of Bishops over 
recent events, including the terms of his plan 
that would include the TAC in the ordinariate 
of the Roman Catholic Church. "Profound 
doctrinal and moral differences have grown 
between us. It is my intention, provided 
the membership of our college is 
substantially clarified in the next few 
months, to tender my resignation as primate 
at Pentecost," Hepworth said in a news release.


16 December 2011

In Canada, Jewish, Muslim comedians joke
about Christmas

Toronto (ENI news) - Christmas can be a lonely 
time for non-Christians in North America. Jews 
have Chanukah--and traditionally go to Chinese 
restaurants on Christmas Day. Muslims, well, 
can always go to the movies. On the other hand, 
the Christmas season can be pretty funny for 
Christianity's fellow Abrahamic faiths. 

Certainly, "Kosher Jokes for the Halaladays" 
comedy revue thinks so. (The terms Kosher 
and halal refer to ritual dietary laws for, 
respectively, Jews and Muslims.) Bringing 
together Jewish and Muslim comics for a 
three-city Canadian tour this month, the 
show tries, as its news release states, 
"to laugh and be very merry." 

Christian group presses for passage of 
communal violence bill in India

Andhra Pradesh, India (ENI news) - The 
All India Christian Council (AICC), an 
ecumenical advocacy group, has urged the 
Indian government to expedite the passage 
of a bill which can "effectively curb 
communal violence and bring justice" to 
victims of religious intolerance and 
violence. The AICC, along with other 
Christian groups, has made a nationwide 
call for a prayer campaign in favor of 
the bill, a draft of which is in 
circulation ahead of being introduced 
in the Indian parliament. 



December 9th, 2011

"The habit of taking each other before 
God in prayer, familiarly and by name, 
is eminently beneficial. It will cleanse 
you. It will sweeten your disposition. 
It will take away from you every particle 
of the raven that loves to feed on carrion."

- Henry Ward Beecher, from "Familiar Talks" 


December 12th, 2011

"In worship we have our neighbors to right 
and left, before and behind, yet the Eternal 
Presence is over all and beneath all. Worship 
does not consist in achieving a mental state 
of concentrated isolation from one’s fellows. 
But in depth of common worship it is as if we 
found our separate lives were all one life, 
within whom we live and move and have our 

- Thomas Raymond Kelly 


December 13th, 2011

"If I pray to God that all people might be 
inspired because of me, I would find myself 
repentant at the door of every house. I 
would rather pray that my heart be pure 
toward them than that I changed something 
in theirs." 

- Amma Sarah


December 14th, 2011

“Wounding and healing are not opposites. 
They're part of the same thing. It is our 
wounds that enable us to be compassionate 
with the wounds of others. It is our 
limitations that make us kind to the 
limitations of other people. It is our 
loneliness that helps us to to find other 
people or to even know they're alone with 
an illness. I think I have served people 
perfectly with parts of myself I used to 
be ashamed of. ”

- Rachel Naomi Remen 


December 15th, 2011

"We are all children of society, but we are
also mothers. We have to nourish society. 
If we are uprooted from society, we cannot 
transform it into a more livable place for 
us and for our children."

- Thich Nhat Hanh



Provided from the archives
of the New York Times

On Dec. 12, 1963 - Kenya gained its 
independence from Britain.


On Dec. 14, 1981 - Israel annexed the 
Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967.


On Dec. 16, 1978 - Margaret Mead,
famous anthropologist, dies of cancer



"We sink eternally from letting go,
 to letting go into God."

Meister Eckhart

Eckhart reminds us how radical and forever
are our experiences of letting go. There is
no stopping them. Life is a series of letting
go moments from when we leave the womb to
the hour of our death and final leave-taking.

Every new beginning involves a letting go and
since life is about letting go, it's good to
develop the habit now, and with a smile on
our faces!


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