Saturday, November 15, 2014

Colleagues List, November 16th, 2014

Vol. X.  No. 15



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. 

Note that not all items here have links.


Dear Friends:

My Special Item this week is a book notice
for Karen Armstrong's special, new study:

"Fields of Blood -
  Religion and the History of Violence"

This is an important addition to contemporary
scholarship and I hope to interest you in it.

Her new book:

Her bio:

Please scroll down for background and
my thoughts about the book

Colleague Contributors this week are:

Elfriede Schroeder - publishing her blog
"In Transit" with an article on the subject:

"How Can I Keep from Singing?"


Jim Taylor - picks up the topic:

"Remembrance Day -
 The Words, the Pen, the Silences"


Ron Rolheiser - writes about:

"Spiritual Warfare"


Net Notes this week -

"Revisionist Islam" - read about the
eschatological theology providing
the foundational thinking of ISIS
(America Magazine)

"Canadian Bible Reading Study" -
here is some interesting information
on the place of bible-reading among
the Canadian public today; also, a
Bible-rating survey from the UK
(Canadian Bible Reading Website,
2014 and the Christian Post)

"Small Victories - by Anne Lamott" -
here is the latest book by a favourite
author who expresses herself well
(Englewood Review of Books)

"Billy Graham at 96 - Still Preaching" -
it is always interesting to keep up
with the continuing ministry of a most
notable Christian 20th century pastor
(Christianity Today)

"Recalling the Fall of the Berlin Wall" -
Pope Francis gives his impressions of
what the end of the wall meant for us all
(Catholic News Service Video)

"Pope Putting His Stamp on Roman Curia" -
Francis is giving a new face to the Catholic
Church, personally, and in his appointments
to important roles in the hierarchy
(Catholic News Agency, New York Times)

"Warrior Wives of Evangelical Christianity" -
American evangelical women stand for
something different than feminism and the
biblical understanding of some other Christians
(The Atlantic Online)

"Women 'Banned' from Indian University Library" -
an interesting story with a familiar ring to it
from pre-feminist days in the West. Apparently,
women are too distracting to the boys
(UCA News)

"Would Gandhi's Non-Violence be Effective Today?"
- what would Gandhi say about ISIS, based on
how he approached the threat of Hitler in his day?
(UCA/International, National Catholic Reporter)

"Mormons Acknowledge Joseph Smith was Polygamist"
- under internal pressure to declare the truth about
their founder,  the LDS makes it official at last
(New York Times, Globe and Mail)


Wisdom of the Week is provided by
Sojourners and Bruderhof online and
comes to us from: ,

J. R. R. Tolkien, Lauren Winner,
Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa

Please scroll down to read this.


On This Day is provided from the archives
of the New York Times and reports events
as they were taking place:

"WWI Ends With Signed Armistice"
"Major US WWII Victory  at Guadalcanal"


Closing Thought is from Menno Simons,
founder of the Mennonites.

Please scroll down to read him.


2014/15 Adult Spiritual Development
ACTS Ministry Programs at St. David's
and at the University of Calgary


Book Notice:

Religion and the History of Violence
by Karen Armstrong

Random House Canada, Mississauga ON
$32.00 CAD. 512 pages. Oct. 28th, 2014
ISBN #978-0-307-40196-0

Publisher's Promo:

From the renowned and bestselling author of
A History of God, a sweeping exploration of
religion's connection to violence.

(In a number of our western societies today)
religious self-identification is on the decline.
Some have cited a perception that began to
grow after September 11 that faith in general
is a source of aggression, intolerance and
divisiveness--something bad for society.

But how accurate is that view? And does it
apply equally to all faiths? In these troubled
times, we risk basing decisions of real and
dangerous consequence on mistaken
understandings of the faiths subscribed
around us, in our immediate community
as well as globally. And so, with her deep
learning and sympathetic understanding,
Karen Armstrong examines the impulse
toward violence in each of the world's
great religions.      

The comparative approach is new: while
there have been plenty of books on jihad
or the Crusades, this book lays the Christian
and the Islamic way of war side by side,
along with those of Buddhism, Hinduism,
Confucianism, Daoism and Judaism.

Each of these faiths arose in agrarian
societies with plenty of motivation for
violence: landowners had to lord it over
peasants and warfare was essential to
increase one's landholdings, the only real
source of wealth before the great age of
trade and commerce. In each context, it
fell to the priestly class to legitimize the
actions of the state. And so the martial
ethos became bound up with the sacred.

At the same time, however, their ideologies
developed that ran counter to the warrior code:
around sages, prophets and mystics. Within
each tradition there grew up communities  
that represented a protest against the injustice 
and violence endemic to agrarian society. This
book explores the symbiosis of these two
impulses and its development as these
confessional faiths came of age.

The aggression of secularism has often damaged
religion and pushed it into a violent mode. But
modernity has also been spectacularly violent,
and so Armstrong goes on to show how and in
what measure religions, in their relative maturity,
came to absorb modern belligerence--and what
hope there might be for peace among believers
in our time.


Author's Bio:

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous
other books on religious affairs-including
A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War,
Islam, Buddha, and The Great Transformation-
and two memoirs, Through the Narrow Gate
and The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been
translated into forty-five languages. She has
addressed members of the U.S. Congress on
three occasions; lectured to policy makers at
the U.S. State Department; participated in the
World Economic Forum in New York, Jordan,
and Davos; addressed the Council on Foreign
Relations in Washington and New York; is
increasingly invited to speak in Muslim
countries; and is now an ambassador for
the UN Alliance of Civilizations. In February
2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and is
currently working with TED on a major
international project to launch and propagate
a Charter for Compassion, created online by
the general public and crafted by leading
thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam,
Hinduism, and Buddhism, to be signed in
the fall of 2009 by a thousand religious
and secular leaders. She lives in London.


Author's Words:

I believe that modern society has made a
scapegoat of faith.

In the West, the idea that religion is inherently
violent is now taken for granted.

As one who speaks on religion, I constantly
hear how cruel and aggressive it has been ...
expressed in the same way almost every time:
"Religion has been the cause of all major wars
in history."

(But) obviously the two world wars were not
fought on account of religion and terrorism
is caused by a complex range of reasons.

Yet, so indelible is the aggressive image of
religious faith in our secular consciousness
that we load the violent sins of the 20th century
onto the back of "religion" and drive it out into
the political wilderness (just like the ancient
Hebrews drove out their scapegoat)...

Our world is dangerously polarized at a time
when humanity is more closely interconnected
- politically, economically, and electronically -
than ever before. If we are to met the challenge
of our time and create a global society where
all peoples can live together in peace and mutual
respect, we need to assess the situation accurately.

We cannot afford oversimplified assumptions
about the nature of religion and its role in the
world. The ... "myth of religion" served Western
people well at an early stage of... modernization
but in our global village we need a more nuanced
view in order to understand our predicament fully.

This book focuses mainly on the Abrahamic
traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
because they are the ones most in the spotlight
at the moment... we will explore some of the most
prominent instances of religiously articulated
violence such as Joshua's holy wars (Judaism),
the call to jihad (Islam) and the Crusades, the
Inquisition and the European wars of religion

(But religion is not going to disappear, Indeed
good religion will continue, along with the bad.)

Modern secularism is by no means the end of
the story. In some societies attempting to find
their way to modernity, it has succeeded only
in damaging and wounding psyches of people
unprepared to be wrenched from ways of living
and understanding they always had supporting
them. (In our day) licking its wounds in the
desert, the scapegoat, with its festering
resentment, has rebounded on the city that
drove it out.


My Thoughts:

I was recently speaking with an old school
friend of mine, now essentially retired as
a priest, who was expressing some profound
doubts, and addressing heartfelt hurt, over
the Christianity he had lived and proclaimed
so faithfully over many years.

One of the major laments he voiced had to
do with how Christianity - the great religion
that on the one hand proclaims "peace on
earth and goodwill to all humankind" - should
have apparently left in its wake such a violent
legacy most everywhere it has spread.

I sympathised with him, and shared how
some of my atheistic and agnostic students
over the years had ripped into religion, calling
it hypocritical and destructive.

(In truth, I could not have agreed with those
students more, but only about some of their
criticism, and not all of it).

Here is a book - written by a person whom
I would like call a kindred, though more
astute, spirit - and I am happy to call her that.

We are, indeed, in need of some new ways of
understanding what we have so implicitly
and naively assumed to be good about the
history of the church and the global spread
of Christian mission.

It is important that we honestly confront the
bad stuff, but not dump the baby with the bath.

Here is a study that can help us discover a new
way of understanding, not just about Christianity,
but about much of Hebrew and Islamic religion
as well.

Indeed, there is a God of the Hebrew Bible
who advocated the slaughter of the enemy
Canaanites; a God appearing with the name
of Jesus who served the imperial purposes of
Constantine and of medieval kings and popes.
Indeed, there is much to come to understand
about the Allah of Islam's jihadic history that 
has been destructively debased by modern
pseudo-Islamic terrorists.

This is not an easy read, but that can be said
about most of Armstrong's writings. To get
to the heart of many of our false assumptions
and fears, however, we need to follow the
thought of this excellent author as she leads
us to see how even the best of human religious
motivations can be perverted into something
it is not. 

In the end, therefore, Armstrong is not about
to reject religion per se. Her purpose is to see it
refined of false accoutrements and the wishful
thinking of its most ardent adherents.

This is a timely and rewarding book. It will help
many of us to discover that - what we may have
sometimes falsely represented (like my friend
and I are learning) - is not indeed evil and to
be rejected, but in need of clearer understanding.


Buy the book from



Winnipeg, MB

"In Transit"
Personal Blog
November 11th, 2014

"How Can I Keep from Singing?"


Okanagan, BC

Personal Website
November 10th, 2014

"Remembrance Day -
 The Words, the Pen, the Silences"


San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
November 10th, 2014

"Spiritual Warfare"



Origins of Nightmare in Syria and Iraq

America Magazine
November 24th, 2014


Video Report of Actual Practices

Canadian Bible Reading Website (2014)


"Bible Most Valuable - Says UK  Study
  Outranks 'Origin of the Species,' '1984'

The Christian Post
November 15th, 2014


Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace

Englewood Review of Books
November 14th,2014



Christianity Today
November 7th, 2014


He Sees it as a Larger Human Story

Catholic News Service Video
Via America Magazine
November 9th, 2014


Recent Appointments Show Preferences

Catholic News Agency
November 10th, 2014

"US Bishops Confused Over Francis"
Reason? Appointed by Conservative Popes

New York Times
November 11th, 2014


Claiming an Anti-Feminist,
Pro-Biblical Approach

The Atlantic Online
November 9th, 2014


Too Distracting for the Boys

UCA News
November 12th, 2014


Are We Facing Different Conditions?

November 13th,2014

National Catholic Reporter Opinion
November 12th, 2014

"It Would be Just as Effective"


Admits this Officially for First Time

New York Times
November 10th, 2014

Globe and Mail
November 11th, 2014



Provided by Sojourners and Bruderhof online:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

- J. R. R. Tolkien


The Spirit is the reason we can build a church
and have confidence that we will get it at least
a little bit right.

- Lauren Winner


Justice too long delayed is justice denied.

- Martin Luther King Jr.


When Jesus came into the world, he loved it
so much that he gave his life for it. He wanted
to satisfy our hunger for God. And what did he
do? He made himself the Bread of Life.

He became small, fragile, and defenseless for us.
Bits of bread can be so small that even a baby can
chew them, even a dying person can eat them. He
became the Bread of Life to satisfy our hunger for
God, our hunger for love.

- Mother Teresa



Provided from the archives
of the New York Times

"WWI Ends With Signed Armistice"

"Major US WWII Victory  at Guadalcanal"


(Founder of the Mennonites)

True Christians do not know vengeance.
They are the children of peace.

Their hearts overflow with peace.

Their mouths speak peace, and they walk
in the way of peace.

- Menno Simons



Fall 2014 Adult Spiritual Development
ACTS Ministry Programs at St. David's
and at the University of Calgary:

September 15th - November 24th
7-00-9:00PM TM Room
(Thanksgiving Day exempted)

"A Fair Country" by John Ralston Saul

"Medicine Walk" by  Richard Wagamese

Led by Jock McTavish and Wayne Holst

Link to study:


December 1st
7:00-9:15PM TM Room
Sponsored by the Bible Study Group

"From Jesus to Christ" -
  How Jesus Became God

  by Bart Ehrmann
  A PBS Video Series  - Part Two
  (total of two hours in length)

Hospitality and discussion

Led by Jock McTavish and Wayne Holst

All welcome. Hospitality donation only


(Twelve Weeks)

September 18th - December 4th
10:00-11:00AM TM Room

"From Jesus to Christ IV -
  A Study of the Book of Acts"

Led by Wayne Holst
No charge.

Study resource -
The DK Complete Bible Handbook



"Jerusalem and the Land of Three Great Faiths"

October  16th - 31st, 2015

Tour Company: Rostad Tours Calgary
Tour Hosts: Wayne and Marlene Holst
Sponsored by: St. David's ACTS Ministry
Endorsed by: St. David's Church Council



Interfaith Chaplains' Book Studies
For faculty, students, staff, campus guests -

Fall 2014

Native Centre Board Room
McEwan Student Centre

Fridays, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

Oct 17, 24, 31, Nov 7, 14, 21
(six sessions)

"Everything Belongs:
 The Gift of Contemplative Prayer"
  by Richard Rohr.

Participants are encouraged to attend
all six sessions. However, you may attend
one or more sessions on a drop-in basis.

Book cost $15.00


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