Wayne A. Holst, Editor
My E-Mail Address:
Colleagues List Web Site:
Canadian Anglicans Google Grops Web Site:
"Quicklinks" are included with many items.
Otherwise, scroll down to find your selection
in the body of the blog.
June means that I begin to think of the
courses I hope to teach at the church and
the university this fall and winter.
As my Special Item this week I include a
notice of the book I am planning to use
at the university next winter. It is
entitled "The Evolution of God" by Robert
Wright. It has been around for several years
now, and has proven staying power. It seeks
to build bridges between the faith traditions
and between religion and science.
I consider it a timely contribution to
current quality thinking.
Colleague Comment: this week is from friend
Isabel Gibson of Ottawa who discusses the
contribution of Pope Francis I.
Colleague Contributions: this week are by
Kirsty Hunter and Christopher White, United
Church of Canada ministers and friends from
Ontario; as well as standbys Ron Rolheiser
of San Antonio and Jim Taylor Okanagan, BC.
"Idea of the Holy" - here is a helpful
piece on mysticism with reference to
the German theologian of the last
century, Rudolph Otto (Uca News)
"The Pope Said What?" - Francis continues
to impress with his comments, often they
are off-handed as well, but not always
(CNN Religion Blog)
"Justin Meets Francis" - the Justin here
is not Trudeau, but the New Archbishop
of Canterbury (Anglican Journal)
"John and Francis - Two of a Kind" -
the current pontiff is compared to
everyone's favorite pope and comes off
looking pretty good at this point
(The Tablet, UK)
"Future is Uncertain for Vision TV" -
One of Canada's institutions has been
this venerable TV channel, but its life
may now be limited (Christianweek)
"Rowan Williams on Story of Narnia" -
the former Canterbury continues to
publish good things. His latest is on
Narnia's lion (Englewood Review of Books)
"Anglican Communion Has New Web Site" -
here is a notice about an upgrade in
global Anglican communication
Dalai Lama Reflects on Self-Immolation"
- for the first time, the spiritual leader
of the Tibetan Buddhists speaks out on
what he considers misplaced devotion
(Huffington Post Canada)
"Brazilians Flock to Evangelical Churches"
- while this is not a new report about the
growing evangelical influence in Latin America
current particulars help to update the story
(Yahoo News) http://tinyurl.com/kg6hfwm
"Conference on Religion and Public Discourse"
- Canadians continue to discuss the place of
public religion in our changing society
(Evangelical Fellowship of Canada)
Wisdom of the Week:
Robert James Brown, Francis of Assisi
a quote from "The Cloud of Unknowing"
by an unknown author provide our words
of insight for this issue.
On This Day:
Covering the week of June 10th - 15th,
the New York Times brings back these
Tear Down that Wall! - Reagan Urges Soviet
Six Day War Ends Between Israel and Syria
British Win Falklands War
Closing Thought - this week is by
English writer and journalist of
the last century, G. K. Chesterton
I hope you are enjoying your life right now.
Our New Fall Programs will be posted here
shortly, as they develop over the next months.
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.
Book Notice -
THE EVOLUTION OF GOD
By Robert Wright
Back Bay Books, 2010
Little, Brown and Company
Paperback, 576 pages
In this sweeping, dazzling journey through
history, Robert Wright unveils a discovery
of crucial importance to the present moment:
there is a pattern in the evolution of Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam, and a "hidden code"
in their scriptures.
Through the prisms of archeology, theology,
anthropology, and evolutionary psychology,
Wright repeatedly overturns conventional wisdom
to show how and why religion can strengthen the
social order - even in an age of globalization -
and explains why modern science is not only
compatible with religion, but actively affirms
the validity of the religious quest.
Vast in scope and thrilling in ambition,
The Evolution of God brilliantly alters our
understanding of God and where He came from -
and where He and we are going next.
Journalist and political commentator Andrew
Sullivan gave the book a positive review in
The Atlantic, saying that the book "... gave
me hope that we can avoid both the barrenness
of a world without God and the horrible fusion
of fundamentalism and weapons of mass
Newsweek religion editor, Lisa Miller,
described The Evolution of God as a reframing
of the faith vs. reason debate. Drawing a
contrast to such authors as Sam Harris,
Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens,
Miller gives an overall positive review of
the book's approach to the examination of
the concept of God.http://tinyurl.com/lyeyuo5
In a review for The New York Times, Yale
professor of psychology Paul Bloom said,
"In his brilliant new book, “The Evolution
of God,” Robert Wright tells the story of
how God grew up." Bloom sums up Wright's
controversial stance as, "Wright’s tone
is reasoned and careful, even hesitant,
throughout, and it is nice to read about
issues like the morality of Christ and
themeaning of jihad without getting the
feelingthat you are being shouted at.
His views, though, are provocative and
controversial. There is something here
to annoy almost everyone."
In this book, I talk about the history of
religion, and its future from a materialist
I think the origin and development of religion
can be explained by reference to concrete,
observable things - human nature, political and
economic factors, as well, as technological
But I don't think a "materialist" account of
religion's origin, history, and future - like
the one I'm giving here - precludes the validity
of a religious worldview. In fact, I contend
that the history of religion that is presented
in this book, materialist that it is, actually
affirms the validity of a religious worldview;
not a 'traditional' religious worldview, but
a worldview that is in some meaningful sense
It sounds paradoxical. On the one hand, I think
gods arose as illusions, and that the subsequent
history of the idea of god is, in some sense,
the evolution of an illusion. On the other hand
(1) the story of this evolution itself points
to the existence of something... meaningfully
called divinity; and (2) the "illusion," in the
course of evolving, has gotten streamlined in a
way that moved it closer to plausibility. In
both of these senses, the illusion has gotten
less and less illusory...
For now I should just conclude that the kind
of god that remains plausible, after all this
streamlining, is not the kind of god that most
religious believers have in mind.
There are two other things that I hope will make
a new kind of sense by the end of this book, and
both are aspects of the current world situation.
One is what some people call the clash of
civilizations. Since 9/11, people have been
wondering how, if at all, the world's Abrahamic
religions can get along with each other as
globalization forces them into closer and closer
context... I think that(there are things) we can
do to make the current "clash" more likely to have
a happy ending.
The second is... another kind of clash - the much
discussed "clash" between science and religion...
through all history some notion of the divine has
survived the encounter with science. After all,
science has changed relentlessly, revising if
not discarding old theories, and none of us think
that this is an indictment of science... Maybe the
same thing is happening to religion. Maybe a
mercilessly scientific account of our predicament
... is actually compatible with a truly religious
worldview, and is part of the process that refines
a religious worldview, moving it closer to truth.
These two big "clash" questions can be put into
one sentence -
Can religions in the modern world reconcile
themselves to one another, and can they reconcile
themselves to science? I think their history
points to affirmative answers.
Religion will need to address the challenges to
human psychology. (And) it will have to highlight
some "higher purpose" - some kind of larger point
or pattern that we can use to orient our daily
lives, recognize good and bad, and make sense of
joy and suffering alike...
Is there an intellectually honest worldview that
truly qualifies as religious and can - amid the
chaos of the current world - provide personal
guidance and comfort? ... I don't claim to have
the answers, but clear clues emerge naturally
in the course of telling the story of God.
So here goes...
- from the Introduction
It is refreshing to discover that some modern
scientists are embracing, not disparaging, the
reality of religion.
This book continues the quest of a creative,
scientific mind, to study the place of religion
in human life and to advocate optimistically
for its continuing role into the future.
At the same time, author Robert Wright
indicates what we have received as religion
over the years is no longer adequate for our
present and future. The same critical approach
used by scientists needs to be employed by
people of religion.
Using tools that inform both science and the
social sciences, Wright argues for the
positive place religion has played and can
continue to play in human self-understanding.
Note that Wright is not discussing personal
faith here. He is dealing with the phenomenon
of religion in human cultures. He challenges
many of the new atheists on their own terms
and attempts to demonstrate the contribution
religion has to offer the greater human good.
Here is a book for people who seek to build
bridges between the great faith traditions
as well as the worlds of science and religion.
It is also refreshing that Wright has a
broader sense of what religion encompasses
than simply targeting the red herring called
fundamentalism. Many new atheists seem to
have a very limited awareness of religion
and continue to criticize people of faith
as though we all adhere to creationist ideas.
The invitation of this book is to engage
people of good faith in the quest for honest
reconciliation in a world strongly influenced
by scientific thinking.
For those who are troubled by what many term
a "creeping secularism" in our cultures, and
for those from the global south and east who
claim to be both scientific and conservatively
religious, this book suggests ground rules
and guidelines for dialogue.
Here is a call to be inclusive, not exclusive;
and one that encourages the building of
bridges, not of walls.
Wright's book has been around for three years
now, and gives good indication that it will
have an enduring shelf life.
A conversation with Robert Wright and a good
group study guide is included in the
suggested paperback edition.
Buy the Book from Amazon.ca:
June 9th, 2013
Always interested to see the latest coverage
on Pope Francis.
I suspect he is changing the face of the papacy
for the foreseeable future - how will anyone have
the nerve to pick up the trappings of the office
again,after he has so determinedly put them down?
He's a good reminder of the impact one person
"Best Explanation for Religion
That I've Ever Heard"
Video by Bishop John Spong
Quoted in Globe and Mail Article
on Assisted Suicide Bill tabled
this week in Quebec:
Christopher White, 56, Toronto
I have been a United Church minister for 26
years, first in Edmonton, then in Whitby, Ont.,
where we built a new church. For the last
2 1/2 years I’ve been back in Toronto in
the neighorhood I grew up in. I’m married
with two daughters.
One of the challenges of right to die
and the issues that come from religious
communities is that death is in God’s hands,
and not something we, as human beings, should
interfere with. Part of the concern from
religious communities is the potential for
abuse. Unfortunately, we have historical
examples of oppressive states deciding who
gets to live and who gets to die.
We are in a place now where medicine has
the capacity to extend existence, but not
to extend life. I think we need to be very
clear about the difference between extending
existence and a life where we get to
participate in the community and live as
we wish, even if there are disability and
health issues. When medical science simply
prolongs existence, then I think we are in
a very different place.
We know that if people who are terminally
ill are given a certain level of morphine,
it will draw their lives to an end, but we
don’t say [to medical authorities] you
shouldn’t do that because it interferes with
nature or with God. As a society we need to
say to people that if it is a choice, not
between life and death, but between existence
and death, what are your wishes? We already
have that capacity with Do Not Resuscitate
orders. But, as a minister I have seen
families fighting tooth and nail not to
have life support turned off for somebody
who needs to be let go. Death is a natural
part of life. We need to accept that. If
you are in a nursing home and you have a
DNR on file, it doesn’t necessarily apply
if you are transferred to hospital. You
have to have a separate DNR at the hospital.
People don’t realize this.
Read the entire article:
San Antonio, TX
June 9th, 2013
"Andrew Greeley, RIP"
June 12th, 2013
In Search of the Great Whatever"
THE IDEA OF THE HOLY
Rudolph Otto and Mysticism
An Interfaith Perspective
June 12th, 2013
THE POPE SAID WHAT?
Stunners from First 100 Days
CNN Religion Blog
June 13th, 2013
JUSTIN MEETS FRANCIS IN ROME
Archbishop and Pope have a
"Meeting of the Minds"
June 14th, 2013
JOHN AND FRANCIS - TWO OF A KIND
John XXIII and Francis I Alike
The Tablet, UK
June 15th, 2013
FUTURE UNCERTAIN FOR VISION TV
Religion Channel's Difficult Future
June 6th, 2013
ROWAN WILLIAMS ON STORY OF NARNIA
Review of "The Lion's Heart"
Englewood Review of Books
June 14th, 2013
ANGLICAN COMMUNION HAS NEW WEB SITE
Links World Anglican Comunity
June 13th, 1013
DALAI LAMA REFLECTS ON SELF-IMMOLATION
"Understandable" but with "Little Effect"
Huffington Post Canada
June 13th, 2013
BRAZILIANS FLOCK TO EVANGELICAL CHURCHES
People Find Mass and Liturgies Boring
June 9th, 2013
CONFERENCE ON RELIGION, PUBLIC DISCOURSE
McGill University Hosts Important Meeting
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
June 11th, 2013
WISDOM OF THE WEEK
Provided by Sojourners Online -
We have got some very big problems
confronting us and let us not make
any mistake about it, human history
in the future is fraught with tragedy
... It's only through people making a
stand against that tragedy and being
doggedly optimistic that we are going
to win through. If you look at the
plight of the human race it could well
tip you into despair, so you have to
be very strong.
- Robert James Brown
Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit,
which Christ grants to His friends, is that of
self-conquest and of willingly bearing sufferings,
injuries and reproaches and discomforts for the
love of Christ. If we shall bear all these things
patiently and with cheerfulness, thinking on the
suffering of Christ the blessed, which we ought
to bear patiently for His love, O Brother Leo,
write that here and in this is perfect joy.
- Francis of Assisi
For I tell you this: one loving, blind desire
for God alone is more valuable in itself, more
pleasing to God and to the saints, more beneficial
to your own growth, and more helpful to your
friends, both living and dead, than anything else
you could do.
- From "The Cloud of Unknowing"
ON THIS DAY
From the Archives of the New York Times
June 10th - 15th
'TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!' REAGAN URGED SOVIET
SIX DAY WAR ENDS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND SYRIA
BRITISH WIN FALKLANDS WAR
CLOSING THOUGHT -
The whole modern world has divided itself
into Conservatives and Progressives. The
business of Progressives is to go on making
mistakes. The business of the Conservatives
is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.
- G.K. Chesterton