Friday, February 19, 2010

Colleagues List, February 20th, 2010

Vol V. No. 26


Edited by Wayne A. Holst




In this issue:

Special Item:

"Spiritual Leaders Who Changed the World"
 They Changed the World By Their Writing

Joseph Campbell
Thomas Berry
Huston Smith

My Comment:

We Can Benefit from Spiritual Guides
of Other Faiths and of No Formal Faith


Colleague Contributions:

Mathew Zachariah
Ken Kuhl
Doug Shantz
Margaret Somerville


Net Notes:

A New Kind of Christianity
Does Suffering Improve Us?
The Churches and Gay Youth
Brother Andre - First Quebec Saint
Vatican Lists Best Albums of All Time
Russian Olympic Chaplain Discovers Faith
Pope Meets Irish Bishops on Abuse Scandal
Top Olympic Chaplain is Experienced Player
Building Peace Thru Non-Violence in N.Ireland


Global Faith Potpourri:

Nineteen Stories from Ecumenical News International


Quotes of the Week:

Elaine Puckett
Mahatma Gandhi
T.S. Eliot
Rainer Maria Rilke
Thérèse of Lisieux


On This Day (Feb 16th - Feb. 19th):

Feb. 16, 1923 - Tomb of King Tut unsealed in Egypt
Feb. 17, 1972 - Nixon makes historic trip to China
Feb. 19, 1945 - US Marines land on Iwo Jima (WWII)



A Prayer for Lent



Dear Friends:

I would like to provide you with background
on three spiritual guides that I have come to
know and appreciate in my spiritual journey.

I never met Joseph Campbell or Huston Smith
but their work has influenced my life over
the years and I have used their books often
in my writing and teaching.

I did meet Thomas Berry at a retreat in
Southern Ontario about twenty years ago. He
was kind enough to allow me an interview with
him as we discussed eco-theological issues
at a time when I was being introduced to
to the subject in general and his work in

During Lent, the University of Calgary
Chaplaincy, the Bookstore and I are working
together to offer a course on spiritual
leaders from a broad sprectrum of humanity.

The six-part series began this week and we
focused on the mentors noted.

I thought that at least some of you might be
interested in my comments. I offer web links
that will hopefully take you further if you
wanted more. I also add some thoughts on why
I believe it is worthwhile to study people
like this.


Colleague Contributions:

This week Mathew Zachariah suggested I consider
a letter to the Globe and Mail editor (Feb. 12th)
in response to the article "A Church Facing the
Threat of Extinction" shared here last week.
Thanks for a careful reading of both Colleagues
List and the Globe and Mail, Mathew!

Ken Kuhl - shares an article from the Victoria
Times Colonist on creative uses for churches
that are no longer serving as places of worship.

Doug Shantz - on sabbatical right now, is still
responsible for the lecture series that continue
to be offered at the U of C in his absence. This
year, Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers of the Institute of
Christian Studies in Toronto will be giving two
lecturs in the Iwaasa Series on Urban Theology.
May your reasearch in Europe continue well,

Margaret Somerville - appears again this week,
courtesy of the website. She
writes about unavoidable ignorance and the
resulting mistakes that occur when medical
decisions are made by fallible humans. Your
thoughts are always stimulating, Margaret.


Net Notes:

"A New Kind of Christianity" - is the title of a
new book by emerging church leader Brian McLaren.
I offer an interview with the author and two
takes on the book from differing places on the
theological spectrum (Sojourners Online,, Spirituality & Practice)

"Does Suffering Improve Us?" - Ed. Halliwell,
writing from the UK, gives a Buddhist perspective
on suffering, a seasonal topic for the Christian
season of Lent, I would suggest (The Guardian)

"The Churches and Gay Youth" - Heidi Neumark
is a Lutheran pastor (ELCA) at Trinity Church,
Manhattan. I knew Heidi as a college student
and fellow worshipper at St. John's Lutheran
Church, Summit NJ. She is interviewed on her
creative work with gay youth.
(PBS, Religion and Ethics)

"Brother Andre First Quebec Saint" - anyone
who travels to Montreal is the better for
taking time to visit St. Joseph's Oratory on
the old north side. The man behind that great
facility was a humble Catholic layman, Alfred
Bassette. In the early twentieth century he was
a popular spiritual healer in a city that was
considerably more "piously Catholic" than it
is today (Globe and Mail)

"Vatican Lists Best Albums of All Time" -
those who consider L'Osservatore Romano
(long viewed as a mouthpiece of the Vatican)
a stogy old rag should take another look.
(Wall Street Journal)

"Russian Olympic Chaplain Discovers Faith" -
offers a classic conversion story in a modern
context. Katarina Antaniuk, is a chaplain
with the Russian team at the Winter Olympics
in Vancounver. Imagine this story appearing
twenty years ago! (

"Pope Meets Irish Bishops on Abuse Scandal" -
in an unprecedented action this week, the pope
summoned the Irish hierarchy to a serious
reprimand for allowing the well-publicized
priestly sexual abuse tragedy in that land.
Detractors viewed the pope's action as quite
inadequate. Others viewed it as appropriate.
I offer several perspectives. (BBC, ENI,
National Catholic Reporter, The Tablet, What do you think?

"Top Olympic Chaplain is Experienced Player" -
read comments from Paul Kobylarz, head chaplain
at the Winter Olympics. A veteran contender
himself, Kobylarz is participating in his
fifth games  (Christianity Today)

"Building Peace Thru Non-Violence in N.Ireland" -
we continue to watch developments in Ulster,
hoping that the historic Good Friday Accord
of eleven years ago will hold and bring both
peace and full self-government to this nation.
(Christian Science Monitor - a Christian
Science perspective)


Global Faith Potpourri:

Ecumenical News International offers nineteen
new and interesting mini-reports on religious
issues from across the world this week.


Quotes of the Week:

Elaine Puckett, Mahatma Gandhi, T.S. Eliot,
Rainer Maria Rilke and Thérèse of Lisieux
share their spiritual wisdom with us.


On This Day (Feb 16th - Feb. 19th):

The ancient tomb of King Tut was unsealed in Egypt
87 years ago this week (1923); President Nixon made
his historic trip to China 38 years ago this week
(1972); and US Marines landed on Iwo Jima 55 years
ago this week as WWII drew to a close in the
Pacific (1945). Read of these special times in
human history. Consider the interesting article
that speculates on the cause of King Tut's death
3,000 years ago.



Sojourners offers us a lenten prayer.

Blessings on your lenten journey.




Contact us at: (or)
St. David's Web Address -

Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -



Created and maintained by Colleague Jock McTavish



Monday Night Study, January 18th - March 29th, 2010

An insightful description of where Christian faith
is moving in the twenty-first century.

Follow our class videos, power point presentations,
other notes and study resources. Bookmark this link:



A collection of twenty-five+ studies conducted since 2000 can
quickly be found at:

This collection of study resources represents 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.




Joseph Campbell
Thomas Berry
Huston Smith

This Lent the University of Calgary chaplains are once again
sponsoring a study of "Spiritual Leaders Who Changed the World"
(Part Two.) The University Bookstore and St. Davids ACTS
ministry are co-sponsors and I am leading the six sessions on
Thursdays through to Holy Week.

We are studying the book by that title (Skylight Paths, second
edition, 2008) edited by Ira Rifkin. For those interested in
the first notes we created for this course (first edition, 2002)
please click the following link:

Selected leaders from the 75 biographies appearing in the text
are determined by classmembers as we cannot study all of them.
Here are thoughts I gathered for our first session:


Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)

Campbell developed an international reputation as a teacher of
comparative mythology. A Roman Catholic by background, he did
not consider himself a Christian but was profoundly interested
in spiritual meaning. He had a great gift as a storyteller and
was able to integrate narratives from many cultural traditions
into the popular lectures he gave as a professor at Sarah
Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY for 38 years.

As a teacher in the English Department, Campbell explored the
myths of different cultures - complemented this with many
psychological insights contained in mythology - and from this
he developed spiritual ideas of significance for moderns from
timeless mythological themes.

A breakthrough book, coming early in his career, was entitled
"Hero With A Thousand Faces." It is still in print (New World
Publishers have recently published his complete works.)

This book introduced Campbell's concept of archetypal images
common to all humanity - regardless of culture and creed;
the myth of the eternal return - describing a cyclical view
of life we are inclined to follow; and the heroic journey
that every person  takes. He believed there are common
mythological themes pervading and integrating all great
religious traditions.

Campbell's popularity surged when, just before his death in
1987, the US media commentator Bill Moyers interviewed him
and produced "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth,"
published by Bantam paperback, 1988; also still in print.

Campbell's maxim "Follow your bliss" became a popular
reminder that personal happiness can result when we listen
to our deepest intuitions and persue our most passionate
interests in life.

Read more about Joseph Campbell, click:


Thomas Berry (1914-2009)

Thomas Berry, priest/scientist, elder of the environmental
movement, and self-defined "geologian" - was a cosmological
historian and an advocate for a new planetary civilization.
He sought to transform our thinking from human to earth-

Berry believed that each era of humankind (classic, medieval,
age of discovery, etc.) had its "great work." Berry believed
that our society's "great work" was to connect technological
advances to environmental concerns. He proposed that we are
entering the "Ecozoic Age," an era when humanity must seek
to reconnect to the earth and create a new way of life that
reverses the destruction it has long inflicted upon the
planet. He advocated for the extension of legal rights to
"other than human" interests and believed that corporations
should be limited by law to morally accountable activities.

In his book "The Universe Story" completed with coauthor/
scientist Brian Swimme, Berry developed the idea that
science is now telling us a "new story" which began with
the "Great Unfolding" - (their term for the big bang.)

Humans, says Berry, need to rediscover their place in an
ever-evolving cosmos and find their creative role in a
changing world.

Two other popular books were "The Dream of the Earth"
and "The Great Work: Our Way into the Future."

"The universe itself," says Berry, "is the enduring reality
and the enduring value even while it finds expression in
a continuing sequence of transformations."

Learn more about Thomas Berry, click:


Huston Smith (1919 - )

Smith pioneered in the field of discovering "comonalities"
among what he called the world's wisdom traditions (Hindu,
Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Confucianism, Sikhism,
Taoism, Jainism, Islam, and the Primal Religions.) He took
their study out of the classroom and into people's homes
via television and popular books.

Born in China to Methodist missionary parents, Smith came
to the USA at age seventeen to study to become a missionary.
Instead, however, he continued his university studies and
graduated from Chicago with a PhD in philosophy of religion.

Smith differs from many religion scholars by his habit of
dispensing with the observational study of religion in
favour of firsthand experience.

He consistently sought out the mystical in each religion
and taught that all the world's major religious traditions
are embued with the Divine and are therefore worthy of
study, respect, and understanding.

After retirement, Smith got involved with debates over
religious freedom and between science and religion. He
called for the recognition of traditional religious
wisdom alongside modern achievements of science.
Some of his most famous books are: "The World's Religions:
Our Great Wisdom Traditions" (revised, 2006), "Why
Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an
Age of Disbelief" (2006).

As he nears the end of his life, Smith has written
his autobriography "Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing
the Divine" with Jeffrey Paine (2009).

Read my (2009) Globe and Mail review of this book:


My Comment:

We Can Learn Much from Spiritual Guides
of Other Faiths and No Formal Faith.

A disaffected Catholic who nevertheless spent much
of his life seeking and interpreting spiritual meaning
from many human traditions. A priest/scientist who,
while decades ahead of his time, is helping us see
creation and human destiny with a new set of eyes.
A Protestant missionary's son who determined that
his future lay in interpreting faith traditions to
each other.

Each of these spiritual leaders evolved into persons
who remained part of their origins but who continued
to grow and bring others to new depths and heights of
spiritual awareness. Their stories may be much like
our own. Their visions can provide new faith direction.

We can learn something about the future of faith by
remembering our past. Several generations ago we
began to discover the value of inter-church dialogue.

We were enchanted by the practices and understandings
of other Christians. But we also learned that to
truly engage with others we needed some sure footing
in our own traditions. You cannot relate to others
without an identity of your own.

The same truth applies as we now begin the very
adventursome journey of discovering other faith
traditions - the new ecumenism for our time. Knowing
where we stand will enhance - not detract from - our
learning from others.

The three figures I have noted are pioneers and
possible models for us. Each one took on a special
dimension of the inter-spiritual quest. Each one
offers support for our own journeys that can lead
to more peaceful, just lives and a more peaceful,
just world.




February 14th, 2010

Hello Wayne: The Archbishop of Toronto has written a
short but pointed response letter to Michael Valpy's
article about Anglicanism which appeared in the Friday
(February 12th) edition of the Globe and Mail.

It is worth quoting. Mathew


Proximity to death is healthy

Someone once noted that the odds on death are
pretty impressive - one out of one person dies
(A Church Facing the Threat of Extinction -
February 10th Globe and Mail). Yet, most of us
do not spend our lives lamenting that, rather,
we get busy living. The church is always one
generation from death. That is actually healthy.

The church, in every generation, must reach
out and invite others to share in the Gospel.
To rely on children's automatically following
their parents in a religious practice is not
sustaining. Faith must be a personal response
to God.
Christendom may be dead but Christ is alive.
The Anglican Church will continue to attract
people, regardless of their heritage, because
we offer intelligent faith, caring community,
compassionate concern for others, and above
all, space to encounter the living God who
can and does change lives.

- Colin R. Johnson, Archbishop of Toronto
  (Anglican Church of Canada)



Victoria Times-Colonist
February 18th, 2010
by Grania Litwin

Churches at crossroads

New uses pondered for Anglican properties that will
be closed to worship

What do the Conservatory of Music, Belfry Theatre,
Ballet Victoria and the Canadian College of Performing
Arts all have in common? They're all located in former

And in a year or two, 10 more Greater Victoria church
properties could be sold or leased, holding opportunity
for creative new uses...

Read the article:



The Iwaasa Lecture on Urban Theology
Dr. Donald A. Kuipers,
Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, ON.

What's So Critical About Faith (and)
Cross-Pressured Authenticity:
Charles Taylor on Religious Identity
in a Secular Age
(click to open attachment for details)



Virtual House News
February 19th, 2010

The Dangers of False Certainty

Read the article, click:



by Brian McLaren

Interview with the author
Sojourners Online
February 18th, 2010


Two Reviews:

Christian Week
February 16th, 2010

McLaren Lets the Cat Out of the Bag


Spirituality and Practice
February, 2010



The Guardian
February 18th, 2010



PBS Religion and Ethics
February 19th, 2010.
Read the article, click:



Globe and Mail
February 13th, 2010
by Rheal Seguin



Wall Street Journal
February 16th, 2010
The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and U2 Make Vatican
Newspaper's List of Best Albums; Bob Dylan Snubbed
The Vatican has previously denounced rock music as the
devil's work but in a surprise change of tune on Sunday
the Holy See's official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano,
published what it called "a semiserious guide" to the
top ten rock and pop albums of all time, including works
by the Beatles, Michael Jackson and U2.

Read the article, click:



Finds it is for More Than Just Old Ladies

Virtual House News (EFC)
February 19th, 2010



BBC News
February 15th, 2010

Ireland's Roman Catholic bishops meet Pope Benedict
XVI at the Vatican over the Irish child sex abuse


Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
February 15th, 2010

Irish bishops castigated before Vatican
meeting with Pope

Dublin (ENI). Twenty-four Irish Roman Catholic bishops
received a tongue-lashing on 15 February from a top Vatican
official as they began two days of unprecedented meetings
with Pope Benedict XVI and his officials. The bishops are
in Rome following the publication, on 26 November, of an
Irish government-commissioned report, led by Judge Yvonne
Murphy, into how the Roman Catholic Church in Dublin dealt
with allegations against priests of sexual abuse. The day
began with a Mass for the 24 Irish bishops before their
encounter at the Vatican. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the
Vatican's Secretary of State, a right-hand man of the Pope,
described abuse scandal as "humiliating" and "abominable".

The Tablet
February 19th, 2010
Heinous crimes, grave failures


It was an unprecedented event in Catholic history.
Pope Benedict XVI summoned the entire hierarchy of the
Church in Ireland to Rome this week and publicly rebuked
them. The sexual abuse of children by members of the
clergy was "a heinous crime and grave sin", he told them.

In a statement afterwards, the Vatican made clear it was
errors of judgement and omissions that stood at the heart
of the crisis".

In other words, it was the bishops' fault.

As inquiry after inquiry has revealed, they consistently
covered up the activities of abusive priests to protect
the Church's good name from scandal. The result is a
scandal 1,000 times worse, from which the Church in
Ireland may never recover.


February 16th, 2010

Concluding Statement of Vatican and Irish Bishops


National Catholic Reporter
February 18, 2010

Irish abuse victims disappointed, angered

"We were expecting something and we got nothing"
  by Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service


DUBLIN, Ireland -- Victims of clerical child sexual
abuse and groups representing them reacted with a mix
of anger and disappointment to a Vatican statement
issued after a papal meeting with Irish bishops.

Marie Collins, who was abused by a Dublin priest,
told Catholic News Service that she thought it was
"pathetic" that the statement was "so far away from
accepting that there was a policy of coverup."
"I wasn't expecting much from the meeting, but the
fact that the resignation of bishops was not even
on the agenda had been insulting," she said...


Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
February 18th, 2010

Vatican gets flak for not taking Irish abuse cases
seriously enough
Rome (ENI). The Vatican is facing criticism by victims
of abuse and some church commentators for failing to take
the issue of sexual abuse in the Irish church seriously
enough. Some Irish victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic
said that the pope and Ireland's bishops did not discuss the
resignation of bishops who covered up the abuse, said the
Rome-based La Repubblica newspaper on 17 February.

"Pope Benedict fails to lead his Church through crisis in Ireland,"
was the 17 February headline in, which describes
itself as a Web site for the global Irish community. Itcarried a
column by "Father Tim", who is described as an Irish Catholic J
esuit missionary and is the site's spiritual specialist.



Christianity Today
February 16th, 2010
by Luanne Radecki Blackburn

The head Christian chaplain at the Vancouver Olympics draws
on years of playing professional hockey in U.S. and Sweden.



Christian Science Monitor
February 18th, 2010

Read the article, click:



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
15 February 2010

Southern African Anglican bishops lambaste
gay-bashing in Africa

Cape Town (ENI). The bishops of the Anglican Church in
Southern Africa say they are disturbed by the debate
among Ugandan lawmakers and clergy of a draft law that
seeks to criminalise homosexuality. "It even proposes
imposing the death penalty, which we regard as a breach
of God's commandment, 'You shall not murder,' given in
Exodus 20:13," the bishops, who are meeting near Mbabane
In Swaziland, said in a statement made available to
Ecumenical News International. The bishops called on
all Christians to stand up against the proposed law so
that it is not passed in Uganda or anywhere else in the
world, and called on Uganda's president and lawmakers
"to engage in dialogue with their counterparts on the
rights of minorities".


Debate on minarets moves from Switzerland to Germany

Trier, Germany (ENI). Reactions to an attempt by a small
Muslim community in a German industrial town to build a
minaret on its mosque have triggered a debate that some
politicians and religious figures fear is sparking a rise
in extremist rhetoric. The debate follows a vote in a
November 2009 national referendum in Switzerland not to
allow the construction of any more minarets in that country,
and also talk in neighbouring France of banning the burqa,
an all-covering garb that some Muslim women wear. The Muslim
community in the south-western town of V÷lkingen near
Saarbrucken have applied for permission to build a minaret
on top of their mosque on the banks of the Saar River.


Churches deplore hospital blast in Pakistan,
rue security

Kochi, India (ENI). Church officials in Pakistan have
condemned the bombing of a hospital in Karachi earlier
in the month that killed 27 people, including five
Christians from two families, and left over 100 injured,
and have accused the government of being unable to deal
with violence in the country. "We condemn this diabolic
act. Bomb explosions in a hospital are most shocking,"
Nuzat William, president of YWCA Pakistan told Ecumenical
News International on 11 February from her Karachi office.
In a press statement giving details of the Christians
killed, Aftab Mughal, director of Minorities Concern of
Pakistan, also condemned the 5 February blast that was
triggered from a motorbike parked at the Jinnah
Postgraduate Medical Centre Hospital.


16 February 2010

Polish church stands by commemoration of
German war dead

Warsaw (ENI). A Polish archbishop has defended a
Roman Catholic parish that created a memorial to
German civilians who drowned when their ships were
torpedoed by Soviet submarines in the final months
of the Second World War. "I do not agree that this
monument skirts over differences," said Archbishop
Jozef Zycinski of Lublin. "In times of war, all those
who faced dramatic situations and died without knowing
the fate of their loved ones, were victims, irrespective
of which side they found themselves on." The church
leader was reacting to a protest letter by lawmakers
from Poland's centre-right opposition Law and Justice
party who demanded the dismantling of the monument in
the northern port of Gdynia to victims from the Wilhelm


Madagascan church leader happy at release
of radio journalists

Nairobi (ENI). The president of the Madagascar's largest
Protestant church has welcomed the release of two
imprisoned church radio journalists, but has warned they
are still facing trial for allegedly colluding in an army
mutiny after reporting on the action. "Yes the journalists
have been temporary released. So while on the one hand we
are happy, we are not satisfied about the decision of the
tribunal. You will see, they are not really free, as they
are awaiting trial," the Rev. Lala Rasendrahasina, who
heads the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM)
told Ecumenical News International.


International help may be needed after
Cook Island cyclone disaster
Melbourne, Australia (ENI). A state of emergency was
declared in the Cook Islands after Tropical Cyclone Pat
struck on 10 February causing heavy damage to the island
of Aitutaki. The day after winds of up to 200 kilometres
(120 miles) an hour tore through the South Pacific nation,
the leader of the Cook Islands Christian Church said his
denomination would be at the forefront of recovery efforts.
Some Cook Island residents believe it is difficult for a
tiny nation to flag international help when it is over
shadowed by the massive earthquake that has claimed more
than 200 000 lives in Haiti.


'World's oldest pastor' dies in Japan
after publishing new book

Tokyo (ENI). The Rev. Tsuneharu Oshima, an active pastor
at the age of 101, has died in the western Japan city of
Kobe according to the Mikage Shinai Christ Church, where
his funeral and memorial service were held. The church,
which is a local congregation of a Pentecostal denomination,
The Japan Assemblies of God, said that Oshima "finished his
precious work of evangelism and mission, fought out a fight
of faith, ran the distance that he ought to run to the end".
Oshima's local church, Kobe Philadelphia Church, part of the
Free Christian Missionary Fellowship where he served as the
senior pastor, had described him as "the oldest pastor in
the world", until he died on 13 February. The church was
rebuilt after the devastating Kobe earthquake in 1995.


17 February 2010

Christians begin Lent pondering
how they can act for others

Geneva (ENI). Christians observing the Lenten time of
sacrifice are being urged to engage in acts that enable
a better sharing of world resources. Eastern Orthodox
churches began Lent on Great Monday, two days before
Western Christians on Ash Wednesday. It is a 40-day
period inspired by the time Jesus spent in the
wilderness, a story shared in the Bible's New
Testament. Observant Christians often give up meat,
alcohol or chocolate or engage in some type of fasting.
In Geneva, Jenny Borden, the interim executive director
of the Geneva-based Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, said,
"Despite the goodness and bounty of God's gifts to us
in creation so many people experience scarcity: famine,
hunger, deprivation and want."

Speaking at an Ash Wednesday service at Geneva's
Ecumenical Centre, Borden said, "It is a good time to
think carefully about the injustice of the world food
situation, where food is unjustly and unsustainably
produced, and unjustly and unsustainably consumed, and
where the right to food for all people is not met,"
said Borden.


Former Canadian chief military chaplain faces sex charges

Toronto (ENI). A retired head chaplain with Canada's armed
forces has been charged with sexual assault in connection
with an alleged attack in 1972. Retired Brigadier-General
Roger Bazin was a young Roman Catholic chaplain in the
early stages of his career when the incident is alleged
to have occurred. The charges, laid on 16 February, stem
from an alleged attack on a man at an armed forces base
in the province of Ontario. They were filed in a civilian
court. Bazin, who is now aged 72, served as chaplain
general - the head of the military chaplaincy - from 1992
to 1995, when he retired. He lives in St. Claude, Manitoba.


Anglicans in England call for more action
on violent videos

London (ENI). The Church of England Synod, a key Anglican
governing body, has demanded that the British government
review regulations of video games, saying they are having
a disturbing effect on society. A delegate to the synod,
which met in London from 8 to 12 February, had offered to
show the assembly of bishops, clergy and laity a compilation
of violent images. "Why is it acceptable, indeed lawful, to
portray the killing and burning of a woman in 'Fatality',
the sawing of a woman in 'Mortal Kombat', playing football
with severed heads, the chainsaw killing of a man in 'Saw 3',
rape, torture and so on?" asked Tom Benyon. "There is a
bubbling sewer of gratuitously violent and sexual pornography
and games all around us. I have seen their pernicious effect;
a family member who saw a so-called game had nightmares."


US state poised to end ban on teachers' head scarves

Portland, Oregon (ENI/RNS). Oregon is poised to become the
48th U.S. state to permit teachers to wear headscarves and
other religious dress in school, ending an 87-year ban that
was originally intended to keep Roman Catholic nuns out of
public schools. The 51-8 vote by the state's House of
Representatives is the first decision towards repealing
Oregon's ban on religious garb. If passed, Nebraska and
Pennsylvania would be the only remaining states to prohibit
religious clothing, Religion News Service reports.


18 February 2010

Ukrainian churches optimistic after
key presidential election

Warsaw (ENI). Orthodox church leaders have welcomed
the victory claimed by Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine's
presidential election, but which a court will rule on
later this month, seen as a turning-point for the
former Soviet republic. "You have made your choice.
I hope that the period of upheavals and instability
will now pass into history," Patriarch Kirill I of
Moscow and All Russia told Ukrainians in a message.

"Ukraine will have to cover a very difficult path.
For a long time the country has been in a difficult
political and economic situation … However, the
future of Ukraine depends most of all on her citizens
themselves. No country in the world has a right to
order you what to do and how to live.

Nepalese seek to correct error about
Buddha's birthplace - Feature

Kathmandu (ENI). The largest party in Nepal wants the
South-Asian republic's government to ask Newsweek magazine
editor Fareed Zakaria, to correct "an error" in his book
about the Buddha. The founder of Buddhism, a religion that
ascribes to non-violence with more than 300 million
followers worldwide, the Buddha was born in 523 BC as
Prince Siddharth to a royal family in Lumbini, a city
in southern Nepal, they said. However, since he attained
enlightenment in India and died there, many people think
the Buddha was Indian. "Zakaria's book, 'The Post-American
World', sends out the wrong message that the Buddha was
Indian," Dinanath Sharma, a member of parliament from the
Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), told Ecumenical
News International. "He was Nepali, which is borne out by
the fact that UNESCO has included Lumbini in its list of
world heritage sites.


Only 5 of top 25 US churches report membership growth

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). Membership has increased in the
Roman Catholic Church - the largest Christian body in the
United States - but the No. 2 Southern Baptist Convention,
along with most traditional Protestant denominations,
reported continuing decline, according to new figures
released by the U.S. National Council of Churches. Both
the Southern Baptists and Catholics reported membership
losses in 2009's Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches;
in the 2010 edition released on 12 February, however, only
the Catholics reported a rebound, with a 1.5 percent growth
rate, to more than 68 million members. Southern Baptists held
on to the No. 2 spot, at 16.3 million members, but that figure
represented a 0.2 percent drop from 2009 and the second
consecutive year of decline. The Presbyterian Church (USA)
experienced the greatest loss among the top 10 denominations
(3.3 percent), down to 2.8 million members.


19 February 2010

Orthodox leader 'resists opposition' with call
for church unity

Geneva (ENI). The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomeos I,
a key leader for the world's 300 million Orthodox
Christians, has written a Lenten encyclical that
stresses the need for greater unity for churches,
and counters accusations from some of his bishops
that ecumenism is heresy. At the same time, a letter
from the head of the U.S. National Council of Churches
to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shows that
Bartholomeos also faces pressure in Turkey. His See
is in Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, and his
official title is "Archbishop of Constantinople,
New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch."


Japanese pastor dismissed for giving communion
to unbaptised

Tokyo (ENI). Japan's largest Protestant denomination
has dismissed one of its pastors for continuing to
allow unbaptised people to receive Holy Communion at
his local church. The sacked minister, the Rev. Jiro
Kitamura of the United Church of Christ in Japan, is
appealing the decision because he says he cannot accept
it. The pastor has campaigned for some time to give the
Eucharist, another name for Holy Communion, to those
who have not been baptised. During Holy Communion
services, in Protestant churches, people receive bread
and wine as symbols of the body and blood of Jesus. "


European court censures Turkey over
religious identification

Warsaw (ENI). European human rights judges have
condemned Turkey for requiring citizens to specify
their religious status on its national identity cards.
"This is in breach of the state's duty of neutrality
and impartiality, since it leads the State to make
an assessment of the applicant's faith," the European
Court of Human Rights said on 2 February. The case
was taken to Strasbourg in 2005 by Sinan Isik, an
Izmir-based member of Turkey's Alevi community,
after local courts refused to allow him to remove
the "Muslim" tag from his national identity document.


Women in US protest for right to
mixed-gender prayers

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). The walls that segregate
Muslim men from women inside many American mosques took
a long time to go up, and it could be a long timebefore
they come down. On 20 February Fatima Thompson was to
find out just how firm those walls are, Religion News
Service reports. Thompson, 44, was planning for about
30 like-minded Muslims to help her stage a "stand-in"
at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., in a bid to
persuade mosque leaders to remove a seven-foot partition
behind which women pray -- or at least allow women the
option of praying in front of it.



Febraury 16th, 2010

When we think about laying down a life for another
we usually think in terms of a singular event. But
it is possible for us to lay down our lives over the
course of a lifetime, minute by minute and day by day.
And it is the work of the Spirit to empower us as we
seek to lose ourselves in acts of lovingkindness and
sacrificial living.

- Elaine Puckett, professor at Candler School
   of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia


February 16, 2010

There are limits to self-indulgence,
none to restraint.

- Mahatma Gandhi


February 17th, 2010

Teach us to sit still ...
And let my cry come unto Thee.

- T.S. Eliot, from his poem,
   "Ash Wednesday"


Noted by Jock Mctavish
February 17th, 2010

If a sadness rises in front of you,
larger than any you have ever seen;
if an anxiety like light and cloud-shadows
moves over your hands and over everything you do.
You must realize that something is happening to you,
that life has not forgotten you,
that it holds you in its hand
and will not let you fall.

- Rainer Maria Rilke
  "Letters to a Young Poet"

February 18th, 2010

I have not the courage to search through books for
beautiful prayers ... Unable either to say them all
or choose between them, I do as a child would do who
cannot read -- I say just what I want to say to God,
quite simply, and [God] never fails to understand.

- Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church.
   French Carmelite nun, canonized in 1925.



On Feb. 16, 1923, burial chamber of King Tutankhamen's
recently unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt.


New York Times
February 17th, 2010

Malaria Is a Likely Killer in King Tut's Post-Mortem
by John Noble Willford

The application of advanced radiological and genetic
techniques to Egyptian mummies is a new step in the
reach of historical inquiry through science.

On Feb. 17, 1972, President Nixon departed on his
historic trip to China.


Feb. 19, 1945, during World War II, some 30,000 United
States Marines landed on the Western Pacific island of
Iwo Jima, where they encountered ferocious resistance
from Japanese forces. The Americans took control of the
strategically important island after a month-long battle.



As we enter the season of Lent, may we be
reminded that we are dust and that it is
to dust that we will return.

Humble us, Lord, and give us a heightened
sense of our utter helplessness apart from
you and the acute need for our dependence
on you. Be near us, we pray. Amen

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