Monday, December 9, 2013

Colleagues List, December 8th, 2013

Vol. IX. No. 17



Wayne A. Holst, Editor
My E-Mail Address:

Colleagues List Web Site:

"Quicklinks" are included with many items
at the beginning of this issue. To get a more
complete picture, however, scroll down to
find your special selection in the body of
the blog.


Dear Friends:
My special item this week is a book
notice for two volumes we will be
studying this winter at St. David's.

The first is on Near Death Experience
and the second on Life After Death
by authors Raymond Moody and
John Spong respectively and are entitled:

"Light Beyond" and
"Eternal Life: A New Vision"


Colleague Contributions this week
are by -
Erich Weingartner
Lorna Dueck
Jim Taylor
Ron Rolheiser


Net Notes:

"Nelson Mandela is Dead (4 Articles)" -
the great African racial healer passed away
this week and the world mourns his loss
(National Catholic Reporter, Lutheran World
Federation, America Magazine, The Atlantic)

"Long Walk to Freedom" (2 Movie Reviews) -
the movie on Mandela's life is appearing in
major centers this week and soon will be
appearing in theatres world-wide
(The Guardian, UK, The New York Times)

"Givers Feel and Look Better" (Philanthropy) -
a scientific study on the value of giving is
presented in a journal on this theme
(Journal of Philanthropy)

"Variations on 'Shoes of the Fisherman'" (3 Articles)
- several decades ago a book and movie on this
theme attracted global attention. Now it is becoming
something close to reality (Religious News Service,
National Catholic Reporter, The Tablet, UK)

"The Saint Who Would be Santa Claus" (Video Intro)

- discover the history of the original Santa Claus
of Myra, Turkey through this book and video item
(Englewood Review of Books)

"Five Volume History of Anglicanism is Coming Out"
- a magisterial history of the evolution of the
Anglican Communion will soon be made available
(The Anglican Journal)

"New West Anglicans Elect American Woman Bishop"
- the New Westminster Diocese of the Anglican
Church  in Canada is used to making history and
here is more of that history (The Anglican Journal)

"Are We Asking Wrong Questions About the Church?"
- perhaps one of the reasons that many think our
youth are dropping out of the church is because our
ways of tracking that are simply wrong
(Christian Week)


Wisdom of the Week:

Katerina Katsarka Whitley, Brother Roger of Taizé,
Monica Otto, Alexie Torres-Fleming and
Saint Benedict of Nursia share their thoughts with us.


On This Day:

Japan Bombs Pearl Harbor

4000 Die in Indian Gas Leak

US Declares War on Japan in WWII


Closing Thought -
Martin Luther


I hope your Advent journey is proving
to be a meaningful pilgrimage.





Book Notices -

New Explorations in
Near Death Experiences
by Raymond A. Moody Jr.
Bantam Books, 1988. 205 pages
$11.00 CAD paperback. Kindle $8.00 CAD
ISBN #978-0-553-27813-2

Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism,
Beyond Heaven and Hell
by John Shelby Spong
Harperone, 2010. 268 pages
$20.00 CAD paperback. Kindle $11.00 CAD
ISBN #978-0-06-077842-2



Publisher's Promo:

Raymond Moody has achieved a rare feat in that
through brilliant insight he has created a new paradigm  
(or way of perceiving reality). He has called it near death 
experiences or NDE. It is something that we know is 
widespread in the human condition.

Has the NDE research scientifically proved that there
is life after death? I think not... It merely proves that
at the time of death, many people experience a benign
and promising experience.

Does the NDE research increase the probabilities of
human survival beyond death? I rather think it does,
but as long as one is working with probabilities, there
is still required a leap of faith, which those who have
had a NDE do not hesitate to make...

The NDE is then one of many hope renewal experiences
that occur in human life...

As I read Dr. Moody's explanation of light and Light, he
seems (to be arguing) that the Light came into the
darkness and the darkness could not put it out.

- Andrew Greeley


Author's Comment:

For more than twenty years I have been working on
the cutting edge of NDE research. In the course of my
studies, I have listened to thousands of people tell
about their deeply personal journeys into... what?

The world beyond? The heaven they learned about
from their religion? A region of the brain that only
reveals itself in times of desparation?

I have worked with many NDE researchers and know
that in the depths of their hearts most of them believe
that NDEs are a glimpse of life after life. But as
scientists and people of medicine, they still haven't
come up with "scientific proof" that a part of us goes
on living after our physical being is dead.

What happens when we die? I don't think science
can ever answer that question...

In the absence of firm scientific proof, people 
frequently ask me what I believe. Are NDEs evidence
of life after life? My answer is "Yes."

After twenty-two years of looking at near-death 
experience, I think there isn't enough scientific proof
to show conclusively that there is life after death.
But that means scientific proof.

Matters of the heart are different. They are open to
judgments that don't require a strictly scientific view
of the world. Based on examination, I am convinced
that NDEers do get a glimpse of the beyond, as brief
passage into a whole new other reality.


Buy the book from



Publisher's Promo:

Bishop John Shelby Spong, author of Jesus for the 
Non-Religious, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, 
Sins of Scripture, and many other books, is known 
for his controversial ideas and fighting for minority 
rights. In Eternal Life: A New Vision, a remarkable 
spiritual journey about his lifelong struggle with the 
questions of God and death, he reveals how he came 
to a new conviction about eternal life. God, says 
Spong, is ultimately one, and each of us is part of
that oneness. We do not live on after death as 

children who have been rewarded with heaven or 
punished with hell but as part of the life and being 
of God, sharing in God's eternity, which is beyond 
the barriers of time and space. Spong argues that 
the discovery of the eternal can be found within 
each of us if we go deeply into ourselves, transcend 
our limits and become fully human. By seeking God 
within, by living each day to its fullest, we will come 
to understand how we live eternally.

Always compelling and controversial, Spong, the 

leading Christian liberal and pioneer for human rights, 
wrestles with the question that all of us will ultimately 
face. In his final book, Spong takes us beyond religion 
and even beyond Christianity until he arrives at the 
affirmation that the fully realized human life empties 
into and participates in the eternity of God. The 
pathway into God turns out to be both a pathway 
into ourselves and a doorway into eternal life. To 
Job's question "If a man (or a woman) dies, will he
(or she) live again?" he gives his answer as 
a ringing yes! 


Author's Comment:

There is a sense in which this book has been in 
preparation my entire life... I have lived through a
variety of death experiences, as every person does.

(As I have studied the questions related to death and
eternal life) I now discover that I have moved far
from the assurances and authorities for which I once
claimed ultimate truth... Religious concepts become
fragile indeed when education renders them no longer
believable... No human words, ancient or modern,
can ever capture ultimate truth...

The human need to believe in God and in ultimate
matters as life beyond death, I came to conclude,
must be greater than the human ability to believe
these things. (I continued to claim certain truths,
especially as a priest of the church, long after I
was able to believe them.)...

I find that people find it hard to speak about death.
It is not something about which people feel comfortable.

My task in grief situations was so often simply to help
the bereaved make decisions they would have been
quite capable of making on their own had they not
been immobilized by grief.

(In my quest for answers about life after death
I studied the Hebrew and Christian scriptures of the
Bible. I learned that there is not a definite understanding
of this phenomenon in the Hebrew tradition. In the
New Testament, heaven is not defined in Paul, and there
is no hell in his writings at all. Resurrection lies at center 
of the gospel portraits of Jesus, but even that subject
is described in a wide variety of ways by both Paul and 
the gospel writers. I have sought meaning in other
faith traditions. I have also studied various forms of
para-psychology. I have studied "out of body" and "near
death experience.")

(There were great benefits for me personally in all these
investigations, but never did I feel they brought me to
a place of writing a book about life after death.)

(Realizing that I was growing older and closer to death
made the matter more pressing for me. I felt drawn
to revisit and go beyond what the Christian tradition has 
had to say about this subject.)

(For me, writing a book on life after death would have
to be, ultimately, an intensely personal matter.)

If I were asked to respond to the question... Job asked
so many centuries ago, "If a man (or a woman) dies,
will he (or she) live again?" my answer is "Yes."

Now let me take you on the journey that I have walked
which carried me beyond religion, and even beyond
Christianity, as it is traditionally understood, but which
has brought me to a new vision of eternity, to the place
where I can give that "yes" answer with both conviction
and integrity.


Buy the book from


My Thoughts on these books: 

My desire to investigate the findings of these two books -
one by a scientist and one by a theologian - is prompted
by two important realities.

The first is that I have entered my eighth decade. Even
though my family physician recently suggested that I could
well live into my nineties (that means perhaps twenty
more years) I know that I am closer now to my end than
I have ever been. I think about that in ways I never
might have thought fifty, thirty, or even ten years ago.
Consider that in terms of your own life.

The second is that I admit to having problems when
I attend memorial and funeral services at a wide range
of Christian churches, as well as funeral homes and even
secular events for friends who honor no declared faith
tradition.  Have you thought much about how these
services have changed over the years?

We have become so disenchanted with traditional
spiritual language at such events that we tend to
focus primarily on the deceased. We honor the departed
but we offer very little in terms of hope for those who

We don't want to focus on the fires of hell. Thank God!
But we are also very hesitant to talk about heaven.
The idea that people end up going to one place or the
other is rather distasteful to many people today.
This smacks of exclusivism and religious heartlessness.
I believe that posing such defined alternatives is,
ultimately, spiritually crude and elitist.

So, we tend to avoid discussing the future and often
settle for warm feelings about the departed and 
the past.

Frankly, many of our Christian memorials differ little
from purely secular ones. We offer little by way of
hope. Actually, I have often been more uplifted by
the humanistic spirit of some non-religious events
than I have by religious ones.

I think that we who are people of the Spirit - who 
seek to live the way of Christ - need to become
much more attentive to the message we are
proclaiming to those who attend memorial or
funeral services in our churches. Our vocabulary
needs some retooling to express hope and
aspiration as well as due honor and respect.

As much as I reject the traditional rigidities
of fundamentalist and conservative Christian
theology, I also reject the sweet but shallow
impressions we may leave with fragile and 
vulnerable mourners - who come seeking some
direction for their own lives - as well as to pay 
their respect and love to the person no longer 
with them.


We need to investigate what science is teaching
us about end-of-life realities. We also need to
plumb our great faith traditions. From all that
questing, I believe we can develop contemporary
ways of thinking about dying, death, and life after 
death that will offer both purpose and substance.  

That is why we will be studying Moody and Spong
this winter at my church.



Erich Weingartner
Calandar, ON

Dec. 3rd, 2013

"Ecumenical Accompaniment for
 Building Justice and Peace in Korea"


Lorna Dueck
Toronto, ON

Context News (Video)
December 6th, 2013

"After the High River Flood"


Jim Taylor
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web \log
December 4th, 2013

"The Risks of Peace and Goodwill"


Ron Rolheiser
San Antonio, TX

Personal Website
December 1st, 2013

"Every Tear Bring the Messiah Close"




Mandela Ever Mindful of the
Church's Role in SA Struggles

National Catholic Reporter
December 5th, 2013

Mandela Stood for Principle,
Justice and Peace

Lutheran World Federation
December 5th, 2013

Iconic Mandela Had Human Touch

America Magazine
December 6th, 2013

South Africa's Next Struggle

Atlantic Online
December 6th, 2013


Film on Mandela Premiers in London
and then in New York this Week

The Guardian, UK
December 6th, 2013
The New York Times
December 8th, 2013

Video Presentation

Journal of Philanthropy
November 26th, 2013

"Church Prisoners" Who Walked Streets

Religious News Service
December 3rd, 2013

"Times are Changing Under Francis"

National Catholic Reporter
December 6th, 2013

"Kung Welcomes Francis' Reforms
 and Suggests their Wide Acceptance"

The Tablet, UK
December 4th, 2013

True History of His Origins in Myra, Turkey
(book and video introduction)

Englewood Review of Books
December 6th, 2013


Series to Highlight Global Nature of Church

Anglican Journal
December 4th, 2013


BC Diocese Makes Two Historical Decisions

Anglican Journal
December 1st, 2013


Why Young are Leaving May Not be the Issue

Christian Week Online
November 1st, 2013



"To wait. To hope. To dream.
We share these human longings -
we creatures of the Almighty."

- Katerina Katsarka Whitley


"If, in spite of our inner contradictions, 
we set out again every morning towards 
Christ, it is not with any kind of normality 
in mind. It is with the ultimate goal in 
view, the goal beyond our hopes, that of 
becoming conformed to the very likeness 
of Jesus himself."
- Brother Roger of Taizé


"If our life's destiny is centered only on
our five senses, then it is earthly, but if
we can connect from within and find an
internal spirit of Truth, it becomes heavenly.
This is pure love that has no boundaries.
This is the love that Jesus talk about."

- Monica Otto


"I’m not a theologian, but I learned about
the theology of the incarnation. One of the
beautiful things I read is that you cannot
redeem what you will not assume. It says
to me experience of God among us was God
among the poorest of the poor - colonized,
marginalized, suffering, oppressed people.
If I want to redeem that, I have to be willing
to assume that, to become one with that."

- Alexie Torres-Fleming


"All guests who arrive should be received
as Christ, for he himself will say, 'I was a
stranger and you took me in.'"

- Saint Benedict of Nursia


On This Day, from the archives of
the New York Times - written as
history in the making -





See to it that you do not treat the
Gospel only as history, for that is only
transient; neither regard it only as an
example, for it is of no value without
faith. Rather, see to it that you make
this birth your own and that Christ be
born in you. This will be the case if
you believe; then you will repose in
the lap of the virgin Mary and be her
dear child. But you must exercise this
faith and pray while you live; you
cannot establish it too firmly.

This is our foundation and inheritance,
upon which good works must be built.

Source: Watch for the Light


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