Vol VIII No. 33
Wayne A. Holst, Editor
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This issue of Colleagues List comes to you
a bit later on the weekend because I was
preparing for a talk I gave Saturday to
honour colleague Mathew Zachariah, author
of "Making Anew My Home," at the official
launch of his book. I introduced that book
to the readers of Colleagues List, April 9th
of this year:
Here is the version used by the Anglican
Church of Canada's website:
The relationship between faith and science
continues to occupy the minds of thoughtful
people today. This week I introduce a book
by an English scientist who could be termed
a "new atheist" but who takes a more respectful
approach to the biblical tradition, even though
he believes it is trumped by modern science.
The book is entitled:
"The Serpent's Promise -
The Bible Retold as Science"
Aaron Navrady, Youth Minister at St. David's
United where we share staff roles, found that
my staff meeting devotional on The House of
the Virgin in Ephesus, Turkey reminded him of
another example of a Dominican priest building
spiritual links between Islamic and Christian
spiritualities. He shares his thoughts below.
Colleague Contributions this week are from:
Marjorie Gibson (Vancouver)
Jim Taylor (Okanagan)
Ron Rolheiser (San Antonio)
"Senor Romero" - the famous martyr of
El Salvador is introduced once more
in a review of a new book this week
(Englewood Review of Books)
"Big Brother is Watching" - more
on the matter of privacy and the
growing invasion of our personal
information (The Guardian, UK)
"'I Did Not Want to be Pope'" -
Francis I continues to surprise and
delight people as well as to cause
confusion in the Vatican
(Huffington Post Canada, US Catholic)
"Some Don't Celebrate Morgentaler" -
not all Canadian hail Morgentaler as
a liberator of woman. Here is another
perspective on one who died recently
"Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist" -
the question is posed - did Shakespeare
work primarily as a playwright or as
one who wanted people to reflect on
his words? (The Tablet, UK)
"Young Adults - Why They Leave Church"
- the ongoing matter of youth dropping
out of the church is taken up by a
Canadian evangelical Christian. Canadian
evangelicals seem to be doing a better
job of retaining their youth, by the way
(Faith Today - Evangelical Fellowship)
"Thousands Mark Tienanmen Square Massacre"
- the twenty-fourth anniversary of the
famous event in China is remembered again
this year by the city of Hong Kong
(Uca News) http://tinyurl.com/nx58olf
"Turkey: Religious Freedom and Social Reform"
- an insightful probe into the religious issues
that are related to the unrest in Turkey is
unpacked for us by John L. Allan
(National Catholic Reporter)
"C of E Drops Its Opposition to Gay Marriage"
- this week, the gay marriage bill passed in
the British House of Lords. The Church of
England dropped its opposition as bishops
sitting in the house changed their stance.
The Archbishop of Canterbury remains opposed
(Huffington Post Canada, The Guardian, UK)
Wisdom of the Week -
Courtesy of Sojourners online, the following
share this insights with us:
Henri Nouwen, Francis of Assisi,
Evelyn Underhill and Arundhati Roy
On This Day:
June 2nd - 9th
RFK Shot Dead in Los Angeles
Allies Take the Normandy Beaches
Lateran Treaty - Vatican Again a State
Closing Thought - Paulo Freire
Our New Fall Programs will be posted here
shortly, as they develop over the next months.
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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 SERPENT'S PROMISE
The Bible Retold as Science
by Steve Jones, May, 2013.
Doubleday Canada, Toronto.
Hardcover: $29.95 CAD
Kindle Edition: $15.99 CAD.
A unique contribution to the God/religion debate:
a scientific take on the Bible that doesn't take
sides. Many of the subjects studied by physicists
or by biologists are found in the texts of the
world's religions: the origins of the universe,
of life and of mankind; fate, sex, age and death;
and the prospects of eternal life or of fiery doom.
The Bible is a handbook for understanding Nature
and, in its own way, it succeeds. As a factual
account, of course, it is out of date, but many
of its statements can be rephrased in modern terms.
Distinguished geneticist Steve Jones has done that:
written a riveting, accessible work on recent
advances in our understanding of ourselves,
using the Bible as a framework. His narrative
is structured around the Good Book's grand themes,
from Genesis to Revelations, and weaves a series
of unexpected facts into a coherent whole.
The struggle of rationalism with its opposite has,
after decades of torpor, returned to centre stage.
Polemics against and in favour of religion and
atheism fill the shelves. Instead of adding to
that pile, Steve Jones stands back and take a
fresh look at that issue in a volume that is not
an attack or a defense but which explores scriptural
motifs - Creation, the Garden of Eden, original sin,
the Exodus, virgin birth, the Resurrection, and the
Last Judgment - using the methods and results of the
latest scientific research. It is a remarkably quick
jump, shows Professor Jones, from Adam to
Although some of the questions raised are beyond
the capabilities of science, at least a scientist
can ask them in a new way. Steve Jones shows there
is a better route to understanding the universe
than through doctrine.
About the Author:
Steve Jones is the former Head of the Department
of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University
College London and has worked at universities in the
USA, Australia and Africa. He is also a television
presenter and a prize-winning author on the subject
of biology, especially evolution. In 1996, his
writing won him the Royal Society Michael Faraday
Prize "for his numerous, wide ranging contributions
to the public understanding of science in areas such
as human evolution and variation, race, sex, inherited
disease and genetic manipulation through his many
broadcasts on radio and television, his lectures,
popular science books, and his regular science
column in The Daily Telegraph and contributions
to other newspaper media."
This volume is an attempt… to scrutinize the
biblical pages from the point of view of a
scientist, In an attenuated version of its
original it tries to imitate the Testaments by
weaving what might seem a series of unrelated
facts into a coherent whole. Powerful as the
tools of science have proved, plenty of people
dispute its findings on grounds of belief while
others reject claims on faith because they deny
the truth, or are impossible to test.
Polemical works for and against… belief stream
from the press. Some attack its fundamentals
while others do the opposite… Some try to have
a foot in both camps. They suggest that objective
analysis can only go so far and that there must
be another truth beyond. Martin Luther King said
“Science investigates; religion interprets… the
two are not rivals.” The notion that science and
doctrine occupy separate, or even complimentary,
universes and that each provides an equally valid
insight into the world seems to me unconvincing
and is pursued no further here.
The Serpent’s Promise is not intended as a
statement for or against the joy of sects; as an
attack on, or defense of, Christianity or any
other creed. My own views on the sublime, such
as they are, play almost no part. Instead, I
attempt to stand back and take a fresh look at
the sacred writings in a volume that tries to
interpret some of its themes in today’s language.
The Serpent’s Promise ends with an account of
today’s attempt at a science of faith; and makes
the modest proposal that now may be the time for
the natural to supplant the supernatural as Man
begins to make sense of the universe he inhabits…
Religion depends on revealed or permanent truths…
(On the other hand) Einstein saw the Bible as no
more than ‘a collection of honourable but still
primitive legends which are nonetheless pretty
Science is constantly open to a more adequate
explanation of what can be known. The danger of
doctrine is that its adherents seek confirmation
of what they know… but whatever the triumphs of
modern research, a good portion of humankind still
rejects its tenets because they conflict with their
own opinions… I sometimes wonder whether those who
pour their inane doctrines into their pupils’ ears
ever consider the damage they do; not to my
profession, but to theirs.
I hope to make the case that reason is a better
way to understand the physical universe than is
faith; that science is a more consistent, universal
and satisfying tool with which to organize human
The Serpent's Promise is based on the snake's
message to the women (Genesis 3:4) "No, you
will not die. God knows in fact that the day
you eat (the fruit of the tree) your eyes will
be opened, and you will be like gods, knowing
good from evil."
This is a book by an author who might well be
called a new atheist, but whose writing takes
a higher road than that of many other cynical
new atheists who are contemptuous of faith.
Steve Jones acknowledges the authentic background
offered to modern science by the Bible and he tries
to read the biblical narrative - both Hebrew Bible
and the New Testament - in that light.
Still, he concludes that the faith traditions are
only a backdrop to a more adequate explanation of
reality offered by an ever evolving modern science.
In that regard he wants to reconnect the link that
was severed between science and faith at the time
of the enlightenment.
Here is a critical but sympathetic assessment of
the faith traditions that nevertheless views
science as the ultimate winner of the survival
Many of us would beg to differ with the author.
Still, we continue to benefit from the critique
of modern science on our inherited spiritual
wisdom. We might also question what 'survival'
of the truth really means when the long history
of faith is compared to that of modern science.
This book is another good "workout" for people
of faith who believe that faith needs constant
challenge in order to survive and thrive.
Buy the Book from Amazon.ca:
St. David's Calgary
Your opening at our staff meeting this morning
got me thinking to an episode of the online radio
show On Being. It's an interview with a Dominican
who also connects with Islam as a part of his faith
exploration (he works in Turkey).
I have included the link to the episode (see the
LH sidebar on the page) in case you are interested.
Thanks for your reflections this morning!
Marjorie Remembers Blog
"Spring for the Prairie Child"
Personal Web Log
"Why Opinion Polls Don't Get it Right"
San Antonio, TX
Personal Web Site
"Always in a Hurry"
Recent Bio Reviewed
Englewood Review of Books
June 7th, 2013
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
And Doing More Than That
The Guardian, UK
June 7th, 2013
"I DID NOT WANT TO BE POPE"
Francis Concerned for Psychiatric Health
Huffington Post Canada
June 7th, 2013
Pope's Spontaneity Has Vatican in Spin
May 31st, 2013
SOME DON'T CELEBRATE MORGENTALER
Pro-Lifers Not Happy With Him
May 31st, 2013
SHAKESPEARE AS LITERARY DRAMATIST
Did He Write to be Seen or Read?
The Tablet, UK
June 6th, 2013
YOUNG ADULTS - WHY THEY LEAVE
And Why They Stay in Church
THOUSANDS MARK TIENANMEN MASSACRE
Event Not Forgotten after 24 Years
June 5th, 2013
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND REFORM IN TURKEY
Do the Protesters Want What We'd Want?
National Catholic Reporter
John L. Allen, Reporter
June 7th, 2013
C of E DROPS OPPOSITION TO GAY MARRIAGE
Significant Policy Shift By UK Anglicans
Huffington Post Canada
June 7th, 2013
Canterbury Opposed to Gay Bill
The Guardian, UK
June 3rd, 2013
Lords Approve Gay Bill
The Telegraph, UK
June 4th, 2013
WISDOM OF THE WEEK
Provided by Sojourners Online:
Dear Lord, I will remain restless, tense and
dissatisfied until I can be totally at peace
in your house. There is no certainty that my
life will be any easier in the years ahead,
or that my heart will be any calmer. But there
is the certainty that you are waiting for me
and will welcome me home when I have persevered
in my long journey to your house.
- Henri Nouwen
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
Charity is the live wire along which the power
of God, indwelling our finite spirits, can and
does act on other souls and other things,
rescuing, healing, giving support and light.
Such secret intercessory prayer ought to
penetrate and accompany all our active work.
It is the supreme expression of the spiritual
life on earth.It moves from God to others
through us, because we have ceased to be
self-centered units, but are woven into the
great fabric of praying souls, the 'mystical
body' through which the work of Christ on earth
goes on being done.
= Evelyn Underhill
Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches
are vital but alone are not powerful enough
to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when
soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse
to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when
people boycott the economic outposts of Empire
that are strung across the globe.
- Arundhati Roy
ON THIS DAY
From the Archives
of the New York Times
RFK SHOT DEAD IN LOS ANGELES
ALLIES TAKE THE NORMANDY BEACHES
LATERAN TREATY - VATICAN AGAIN A STATE
CLOSING THOUGHT - Paulo Freire
To speak a true word is
to transform the world.