Vol. VIII No. 24
Wayne A. Holst, Editor
My E-Mail Address:
HOLY WEEK and
THE MARTYRDOM OF OSCAR ROMERO
March 24th-30th, 2013
Colleagues List Web Site:
Canadian Anglicans Google Groups Web Site:
"Quicklinks" are included with many items.
Otherwise, scroll down to find your selection
in the body of the blog.
We begin the most solemn and significant week
of the church year. I hope that some of the
items in Colleagues List will be of help to you.
To begin, I offer a personal reflection entitled:
"Oscar Romero - Saint in Waiting" as March 24th
is the anniversary of his martyrdom 33 years ago.
Then, I provide a book notice on a new title by
Bart D. Erhrman of the University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill -
"Did Jesus Exist?
The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth"
Ehrman believes that Jesus was a historical
figure but does not consider himself a Christian.
I am just completing the teaching of a course at
the university this winter entitled "Heresies
and Heretics" which uses as its main textbook -
"Lost Scriptures that Did Not Make It Into
the New Testament" by Ehrman, and I like the
clarity of his work.
Colleague Communications -
This week, we offer articles by two of
our standby writers:
Jim Taylor - writes on
"Unfair Portrayals of the Catholic Church"
Ron Rolheiser - Discusses "Praying in a Crisis"
Thanks again, friends.
Here are a total of 14 articles gleaned from
the World Wide Web during the past week -
"Accounting for the Empty Tomb" - a truly
seasonal article on the meaning of the
resurrection (America Magazine)
"UK Church Opens Doors to Muslims" - a
signal that Christians in England are
trying to welcome Muslim neighbors
(Uca News) http://tinyurl.com/bthhq5u
"Archbishop of Canterbury Enthroned" -
Bishop Welby became the new Archbishop
of Canterbury this week and commented
that a woman would assume this role
(New York Times, The Guardian, UK)
"Female Cleric to Install Canterbury" -
a first for a Canterbury enthronement,
a woman performs the intallation rites
(Uca News) http://tinyurl.com/cv6afhc
"Pope Extends His Hand to Non-Religious" -
Francis I continues to be his own man
and takes an open approach to reporters
of other faiths and no faith
(Religious News Service)
"Is This a New Catholic Papal Springtime?" -
Early, hopeful signs appear that the
new pope will chart a positive course
(The Tablet, UK; National Catholic Reporter)
"Francis I - His Role on the World Stage" -
The pope as credible "international conscience"
is a theme presented from America Magazine
"How the Internet Culture is Rewiring Us" -
the cyber-world is changing the way we live
says this interesting article from down under
(The Canberra Times, Australia)
"India Passes Tougher Sexual Violence Laws" -
in the wake of the terrible rape tragedy
at year-end, laws are being tightened
(Uca News) http://tinyurl.com/aw4exud
"What We Talk About When We Talk About God" -
a video book launch by Rob Bell the author
who became famous for "Love Wins"
(The Christian Century)
Wisdom of the Week:
Sojourners offers us advice from -
Archbishop Oscar Romero, Mahatma Gandhi
and Pope Francis I
On this Day:
Tokyo Subway Gas Attack
Martin Luther King Begins March to Montgomery
Isabel Gibson shares the tenth of twelve
"The Gift of Familiarity"
Blessings on you this special season!
Wayne's Study Programs:
ST. DAVID'S AND UNIVERSITY ACTIVITIES
St. David's and ACTS Ministry -
Our Spiritual Travelers Tour for 2013
TURKEY AND THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
THIS TOUR HAS 26 MEMBERS AND WILL
DEPART APRIL 23rd, 2013 (17 days)
Our major tour themes are: Classic Greek and Roman,
Early Christian, Muslim-Christian and the beautiful
scenery of the Mediterranean coast of SW Turkey.
*Enjoy Istanbul (Constantinople) - long a link
between East and West.
*Classical cities like Troy will be visited and
intriguing ancient sites will be revealed.
*Pilgrims from many of the regions we will visit
were present in Jerusalem at Pentecost - people
from "Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia" -
*Saint Paul founded churches in many of the centers
of central and western Turkey and we will spend
quality time in places like Ephesus.
*We will come to know cities mentioned in the
Book of Revelation (chapters 1-3) by Jobn.
Cities like Pergamon, Thyatira, Philadelphia,
Sardis and Smyrna
The tour book will include reflection pages
with the itinerary as well as answers to many
Your tour hosts:
Marlene and Wayne Holst
OUR WINTER AND SPRING 2013 STUDY PROGRAMS
With more to be announced -
AT ST.DAVID'S UNITED CHURCH
"WELCOMING THE STRANGER" WEEKEND AT ST. DAVID'S
THIS EVENT WAS VERY SUCCESSFUL!
Friday March 1st - Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
Mary Jo Leddy, Romero House, Toronto.
Mary Jo's presentations will take place
at St. David's church.
Other guests are presently being secured for
panels, workshop and as seminar leaders. These
activities will be held on the university
Watch for new information on this
special weekend focused on Canada's
policy for welcoming new Canadians
and how Christians might respond.
See Reflections on this event,
Colleagues List, March 10th, 2013.
MONDAY NIGHT STUDY
THIS STUDY ENDS THIS WEEK!
From Monday, January 14th
through Monday, March 25th.
7:00 - 9:00 PM TM Room.
We close, March 25th, holding a phone
conference call with Mary Jo Leddy
of Toronto to reflect on her books
and her weekend with us.
"Radical Gratitude" by Mary Jo Leddy
Review of book links:
(Western Catholic Reporter)
(Gospel and our Culture)
Cost of the course: $50.00
Buy only the book: $20.00
We have a few remaining copies
of "The Other Face of God" and
have sold a total of 110 copies
of Mary Jo's books at St.David's.
If interested, call the office
THURSDAY MORNING BIBLE STUDY
"Wisdom in the Books of Song of Solomon
Thursday, January 17th - April 11th, 2013
THIS SERIES HAS BEGUN!!
All welcome. No cost.
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY
THIS COURSE WILL SOON BE COMPLETED!!
Tuesday Night University Study sponsored
by the Faculty of Continuing Education:
HERESIES AND HERETICS - The Real Story of
Early Christianity. Cont Ed Course 198-001
Ten Sessions - Jan. 22nd - Mar. 26th, 2013
Click this link for books, costs and details:
THIS COURSE IS CONCLUDING SOON!!
Faith and Spirituality Centre Winter Study
Sponsored by the Christian chaplains of
the University of Calgary
TWELVE STEPS TO A COMPASSIONATE LIFE
A Study of Karen Armstrong's latest book.
Fridays - March 1st - April 5th
12 noon - 1:00 PM
Six Weeks - Native Centre Board Room,
McEwan Student Centre, University of Calgary.
12 noon to 1:00 PM: Cost of the book: $15.
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 -
An accumulation of thirty-five books studied
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.
OSCAR ROMERO - SAINT IN WAITING
A Personal Reflection
It just so happens this year that the
beginning of our remembrance of the
passion and martyrdom of Jesus (during
Holy Week) coincides with the martyrdom
of Central American archbishop Oscar
Romero on May 24th (and the days following.)
I find this happy conjunction fascinating
because each man's witness and death helps
to honor and shed light on the other.
My reflection will focus on Romero.
We are quite familiar with the Gospel
accounts of Jesus' story, but Romero's
may be less familiar. For some help
here, you may wish to click this link:
Achieving the status of a declared "saint"
in the Catholic Church may not be all that
necessary, but it would do no harm, and perhaps
a lot of good, if Romero's cause for sainthood
would soon be officially recognized by Rome.
In reality, Romero is already considered a
saint by the people of El Salvador, his home
country, and by many others around the world.
Official canonization would only confirm what
Other communions like the Anglican and Lutheran
honor him and, as time goes on, ecumenical
recognition is becoming a growing reality.
The thought came to me this year - the 33rd
anniversary of Romero's death - that with the
election of the first Latin American pope,
it would be an ideal time to press for the
completion of Romero's cause. What better
way for a Latin American pope to recognize
a fellow bishop whose concern for the poor
is mutually shared?
Of course, Romero has been associated with
liberation theology, the unique gift to
the churches that originated in Latin America.
Even though John Paul II was a great fan of
Romero's, there was some hesitance in Roman
circles to endorse a man with "Marxist
leanings." Rome is suspicious when priests
side with the poor 'against the establishment'
because, as in Latin America, the church seems
often in league with the political powers
that be. Also, Catholics in Europe and other
parts of the world have suffered mightily
from persecution under Marxist regimes.
In truth, the life of Francis I suggests that
even though he sided with Rome in his concern
about liberation theology, he has always shown
great empathy with the poor.
Not only does he talk about it. He lives it!
His record shows that Francis was never too
comfortable in the Argentinian halls of political
power. His record could be described as reflecting
a 'soft' rather than a 'hard' confrontational
approach to established political power.
Perhaps we can now welcome a pope who can bring
two conflicting theologies together for the
greater good of many.
Francis does not share the tragic experience
of some of his predecessors with 20th century
Communism and various forms of Fascism in
Europe. Francis could bring a fresh vision to
the debate, both within and outside the
I sense from initial impressions at least,
that Romero and Francis are actually very
close in their natures and sympathies.
So, as we remember the martyrdom of both
Jesus and Romero during these next days, I
hope that global Christianity will make some
bold new gestures to show its identification
with the poor and to stand against oppression
in whatever form that takes.
DID JESUS EXIST?
THE HISTORICAL ARGUMENT FOR JESUS OF NAZERETH
by Bart D. Ehrman,
HarperOne, paperback. $18.99 CAD.
2013. ISBN # 978-0-06220644-2.
In "Did Jesus Exist?" historian and Bible expert
Bart Ehrman confronts the question, "Did Jesus
exist at all?" Ehrman vigorously defends the
historical Jesus, identifies the most historically
reliable sources for best understanding Jesus’
own message, and offers a compelling portrait of
the person at the heart of the Christian tradition.
Known as a master explainer with deep knowledge of
the field, Bart Ehrman methodically demolishes both
the scholarly and popular “mythicist” arguments
against the existence of Jesus. Marshaling the
evidence from within the Bible and the wider
historical record of the ancient world, Ehrman
tackles key issues that surround the mythologies
associated with Jesus and the early Christian
In "Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for
Jesus of Nazareth" Ehrman establishes the criteria
for any genuine historical investigation and
provides a robust defense of the methods required
to discover the Jesus of history.
Every week I receive two or three emails asking me
whether Jesus existed as a human being... I began
to wonder: Why are so many people asking...
I decided to look into the matter and discovered,
to my surprise, an entire body of literature
devoted to the question of whether or not there
ever was a real man, Jesus... I was almost
completely unaware - of this skeptical literature.
I should say at the outset that none of this
(skeptical) literature is written by scholars
trained in the New Testament or or early Christian
Of the thousands of scholars of early Christianity...
(teaching in recognized schools) none of them,
to my knowledge, has any doubts that Jesus existed.
But a whole body of literature out there, some of it
highly intelligent, makes this (skeptical) case...
These sundry books are of varying quality...
When mythicists (who do not believe in the existence
of the historical Jesus) use the term (myth) they
often seem to mean simply a story that has no
historical basis, a history-like narrative that
in fact did not happen. In this sense Jesus
is a myth because even though there are plenty of
ancient stories told about him, they are not
historical. His life and teachings were invented
by early storytellers. He never really lived...
The reality is that whatever you may think about
Jesus, he certainly did exist. That is what this
book will set out to demonstrate...
The view that Jesus existed is held by virtually
every expert on the planet...
I am not a Christian, and I have no interest in
promoting a Christian agenda. I am an agnostic
with atheist leanings, and my life and views of
the world would be approximately the same whether
or not Jesus existed...
But as a historian, I think evidence matters.
And the past matters. And for anyone for whom
both evidence and the past matters, a
dispassionate consideration of the case makes
it quite plain: Jesus did exist. He may not be
the Jesus your mother believes in, or the Jesus
of the stained glass window, or the Jesus of
your least favorite televangelist or the Jesus
proclaimed by the Vatican, the Southern Baptist
Convention, the local mega church, or the
California Gnostic. But he did exist, and we
can say a few things, with relative certainty
Jesus existed, and those vocal persons who deny
it do so not because they have considered the
evidence with the dispassionate eye of the
historian, but because they have some other
agenda that this denial serves...
From a dispassionate point of view, there
was a Jesus of Nazareth.
- from the Introduction
In my view humanists, agnostics, atheists,
mythicists and anyone else who does not advocate
belief in Jesus would be better served to stress
that the Jssus of history is not the Jesus of
modern Christianity than to insist - wrongly
and counterproductively - that Jesus never
existed. Jesus did exist. He simply was not the
person that most modern believers today think
- from the Conclusion
One thing I learn from my reading of Ehrman's
book is that one can believe in the historical
Jesus without accepting him as Lord and Saviour.
Many conservative Christians today link the
historicity of Jesus to his role as Son of God.
Ehrman, who began as an evangelical Christian
believes that Jesus was indeed a historical
person but he does not accept him as Lord.
A second thing I learn from my reading of
Ehrman's book is that one can believe in
Jesus as a mythological figure, created
in the imaginations of humans, but have
little ground to stand on if that belief
denies Jesus was a real human being.
For my part, I believe that Jesus was indeed
a historical figure but that much of what we
know of him is mythological in nature. I
believe that much good myth is historically
Thus, I guess I differ with both Ehrman
and many he criticizes as mythicists!
Frankly, I am not sure that Ehrman really
understands the meaning of myth as I have
come to appreciate it.
Modern theological debates are not unlike the
debates that went on during the first Christian
centuries. Back then, some denied Jesus ever
existed but only 'seemed' to exist. We might
call such believers Docetic. At the same time,
there were those who thought Jesus did exist
as a real human being, but was not a savior in
the sense that his death and resurrection
offered humans the grounds for their eternal
salvation. We might consider such believers
Many Gnostics held that Jesus was a wise
teacher who could link humans to divine reality,
but he is not Savior in the classic Christian
The church, through its foundational ecumenical
creeds, declares that Jesus was both human and
divine but defining that further was impossible.
So, in essence, the centre of my faith continues
to be a mystery. I am invited to accept this
mystery by faith, not human understanding.
Ehrman views Canadian religion journalist
Tom Harpur as a mythicist. To understand a
little of what Erhman means, you may wish
to read my review of Harpur's book "The
(Harpur liked my review of his book and posted
it to his website. Scroll down past the book
cover promos to my full review.)
Ehrman differs from Harpur in that he does
not think Jesus was essentially a mythical
figure. He was a real human being. Still,
he, like Harpur, has moved from conservative
Christianity to agnosticism, even atheism.
I think it is important to read a book like
Ehrman's "Did Jesus Exist" - not because I
share his agnostic or atheist belief but
because he helps me to appreciate that
modern debates about the person and work
of Jesus are not that new. Most of this
ground was already covered during the
first centuries of Christian history
and that resulted in the formulation
of those ancient creeds.
I think that we need to continue struggling
with these issues today, to to formulate
creedal statements befitting our times as well.
Consider this book because it is written by a man
who has a good understanding of history and
contemporary spirituality. I have learned much
from my study and teaching of his books.
Differ with him if you will, but I think
that like me, you will emerge the better
and more enlightened for having done so.
Buy the book from Amazon.ca:
"Unfair Portrayals of the Catholic Church"
San Antonio, TX
"Praying in a Crisis"
ACCOUNTING FOR THE EMPTY TOMB
A Historical Interpretation
April 1st, 2013
UK CHURCH OPENS DOORS TO MUSLIMS
Interfaith Gesture a Positive Move
March 21st, 2013
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY ENTHRONED
"One Day A Woman Will Fill This Role"
New York Times
March 21st, 2013
New Archbishop a Tough Leader
Welby Focused as Canterbury Head
The Guardian, UK
March 21st, 2013
FEMALE CLERIC TO INSTALL CANTERBURY
Symbolic Action has Much Significance
March 21st, 2013
POPE EXTENDS HAND TO NON-RELIGIOUS
Meets Non-Catholics, Jewish Leaders
Gesture of Openness is Welcomed
Religious News Service
March 21st, 2013
IS THIS A NEW PAPAL SPRINGTIME?
Francis Begins With Much Support
The Tablet, UK
March 23rd, 2013
Is Vatican Reform Now Possible?
John Allen Offers Five Tests
National Catholic Reporter
March 22nd, 2013
Signs, Signals Pointing to a New Era
National Catholic Reporter
March 23rd, 2013
THE POPE'S ROLE ON THE WORLD STAGE
He is an International Conscience
Catholic News Service/America Magazine
Video Presentation - March 20th, 2013
HOW INTERNET CULTURE IS RE-WIRING US
The Cyber World Has Major Influence
The Canberra Times, Australia
March 17th, 2013
INDIA PASSES TOUGHER SEXUAL VIOLENCE LAW
In Response to Major Public Outcry
March 22nd, 2013
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT GOD
Trailer of New Book by Rob Bell
March 18th, 2013
WISDOM OF THE WEEK
Offered from Sojourners Online
I have frequently been threatened with death.
I must say that, as a Christian, I do not believe
in death but in the resurrection. If they kill me,
I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.
Martyrdom is a great gift from God that I do not
believe I have earned. But if God accepts the
sacrifice of my life, then my blood will be like
the seed of liberty, and a sign of the hope that
will soon become a reality.
- Archbishop Oscar Romero
The atomic bomb brought an empty victory ...
but it resulted for the time being in destroying
the soul of Japan. What has happened to the soul
of the destroying nation is yet too early to see.
- Mahatma Gandhi
We live in the most unequal part of the world,
which has grown the most, yet reduced misery the
least. The unjust distribution of goods persists,
creating a situation of social sin that cries out
to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller
life for so many of our brothers.
- Pope Francis
ON THIS DAY
Provided from the Archives
of the New York Times:
March 17th - 23rd, 2013
TOKYO SUBWAY GAS ATTACK
Fringe Group Responsible
MARTIN LUTHER KING BEGINS WALK TO MONTGOMERY
Early Steps in Civil Rights Movement
CLOSING THOUGHT - Isabel Gibson
The Gift of Familiarity
In the kitchen, reach for the paring knife without
thinking or looking. In the shower, reach for the
face cloth in its accustomed spot without having
to open eyes covered in suds.
Wheel the car into the garage, stopping at the one
spot that allows the overhead door to close, yet
that doesn’t bump the tools piled against the wall.
Plan vacation stops with on-the-ground knowledge of
ferry schedules and affordable (and clean!) local
Cook up the same old Christmas feast. Hide Easter
eggs in the same old places, to the same old squeals
of the children finding them.
Enjoy again winter’s snowy crunch, spring’s fresh
breeze, summer’s plaintive cry from the loon, fall’s
angled light. Ruefully note the same behaviours in
ourselves that we deplored in our parents.
Moving through a present that carries the past,
may we enjoy the familiarity that eases our
day-to-day routine, simplifies our logistics,
warms our celebrations, and enriches all the
seasons of our lives.
Check out Isabel's Blog "Traditional Iconoclast"