Saturday, February 27, 2010

Colleagues List, February 27th, 2010

Vol V. No. 27


Edited by Wayne A. Holst




In this issue:

Special Item -

"Spiritual Leaders Who Changed the World - Part II"
They Advocated Change and Displayed Love in Action

Simone Weil
Dorothy Day
Albert Schweitzer


My Comment:

We Can Learn from Spiritual Guides Who
Function Outside of Organized Religion


Colleague Contributions:

Thérèse Castonguay
Ian Hunter
Jim Taylor
Doug Koop
Robin Walker


Net Notes:

Sexually Confused
The Language God Talks
More on Irish Abuse Scandal
Cardinal George at Brigham Young
Aussie Anglicans Sign Up With Pope
Beginning of the Reformation's End?
Censure of ELCA Congregation Lifted
Grant to Faith Groups Sparks Debate
Relic Reveals Noah's Ark was Circular
German Bishops Respond Rapidly to Scandal
Lutheran Bishop Resigns over Drunk Driving


Global Faith Potpourri:

Fifteen Stories from Ecumenical News International


Quotes of the Week:

Kim Fabricius
Jamaica Kincaid
Andrew Bacevich
Toni Morrison
Olav Fykse Tveit


On This Day (Feb. 20th - Feb. 23rd):

Feb. 20, 1962 - John Glenn first American to orbit earth
Feb. 21, 1965 - Malcolm X is shot and killed by assassins
Feb. 23, 1954 - Salk vaccine inoculation of children begins
                       - WEB DuBois Born: Negro Leader & Author (obit)
Feb. 26, 1993 - Bomb explodes in World Trade Center; six dead.


Closing Prayer



Dear Friends:

We are now finding our way through Lent. Very soon we will
arrive at Easter, but hopefully we are making the bsst use
of our journey throught this special time of the Christian year.

I decided to share with you my readers three more spiritual
leaders from our Thursday noon university study. May you
find the notes on Simone Weil, Dorothy Day and Albert
Schweitzer interesting like I did presenting them.

We can learn from spiritual guides who remain outside of
organized religion, and I offer my thoughts on that topic
as well.


Colleague Contributions This Week:

Thérèse Castonguay - a Grey Nun living in Montreal is an
old friend and faithful reader of Colleagues List. When she
read here that Brother André was the first Canadian to be
recognized by the Catholic church as a saint she wrote to set
the record straight. Thanks for the correction, Thérèse!

Ian Hunter - no stranger to this list, wrote an article on
Tiger Woods which appeared in the Globe and Mail this week.
I pass it on to you for your consideration.

Jim Taylor - has some thoughts on why people put memorial
name plaques on park benches. An interesting contribution
as usual, Jim!

Doug Koop - writes in spite of the fact we are still locked
into winter (Winnipeg usually moreso than Calgary.) Doug, who
is editor of Christian Week, has his mind on butterflies.
Read his article which appeared this week.

Robin Walker - another Manitoban, and dean of the Anglican
cathedral in Brandon, has light thoughts to pass on to you!


Net Notes:

"Sexually Confused" - Zoe Margolis, a UK writer, expresses a
sentiment frequently heard in North America. She fears that
faith schools - which will be granted certain teaching rights
under a new law passed by Parliament - will keep students in
the dark about important life issues (The Guardian UK)

"The Language God Talks" - Herman Wouk, the prolific writer
of some decades ago - has not been publishing much recently.
After all, he is 94. Now, he is coming out with a new book
on a favourite subject - the relationship of science and
faith. Welcome this famous Jewish writer back again!
(Publishers Weekly)

"More on Irish Abuse Scandal" - I have articles from Catholic
News Service and The Tablet (UK) to keep you current on the
developments in Ireland. Here is an issue that is not going
to go away for a long time, if ever.

"Cardinal George at Brigham Young" - The Catholic Archbishop
of Chicago got a warm reception when he addressed a large
crowd at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. BYU, by
the way, is a big Mormon school (Zenit News, Rome)

"Aussie Anglicans Sign Up With Pope" - the ink on the
invitation from the pope has not dried, and a group of
Anglicans from Australia have requested the right to
join the Catholic church and yet remain Anglicans too.
Read the article from Anglican Church News (Toronto)
"Beginning of the Reformation's End?" - will they lose the
majestic liturgical resonances of Cranmer and the Book of
CommonPrayer and other great services of the Anglican
tradition? Some fear that is the price Anglicans will pay
for going over to Rome (Wall Street Journal)

"Censure on ELCA Congregation Lifted" - a decade ago,
Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in North Kansas City, MO
was censured for calling a pastor in a committed same
sex relationship. Now that church has been warmly
welcomed back into the fold (ELCA News)

"Grant to Faith Groups Sparks Debate" - direct government
grants to church-related programs are usually taboo in
Canada. When the City of Winnipeg recently made a sizable
donation to a downtown Youth For Christ project it got
some people up in arms (Globe and Mail)

"Relic Reveals Noah's Ark was Circular" - while excursions
on Mount Ararat to find the ship that survived the flood are
no longer de rigeur, some researchers are still trying to
probe details of that mythological boat (The Guardian, UK)

"German Bishops Respond Rapidly to Scandal" - learning from
the fiasco in Ireland, it would seem, is at the heart of
a very different response to the recent bad news in Germany
(Zenit News, Rome)

"Lutheran Bishop Resigns over Drunk Driving" - another very
sad news report from Germany this week. Bishop Margot
Kaessemann is stepping down from several significant posts.
(ENI and ELCA News)


Global Faith Potpourri:

Fifteen Stories from Ecumenical News International bring you
up to date on religion developments from around the world.


Quotes of the Week:

Kim Fabricius, Jamaica Kincaid, Andrew Bacevich,
Toni Morrison and Olav Fykse Tveit share their wisdom
with you this week.


On This Day (Feb. 20th - Feb. 26th):

John Glenn (1962) Malcolm X (1965) Jonas Salk (1954),
W.E.B. DuBois (1868) and the World Trade Centre explosion
of 1993 - nine years before 9/11 - are the stories from
the New York Times archives this week.


A closing reflection ends our Colleagues List.

Blessings to all,




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An insightful description of where Christian faith
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You are welcome to use our course outlines, class notes and
resource pages in your personal and group reflections.



They Advocated Change and Displayed Love in Action


Weil was one of the most influential philosophers of
the 20th century and is considered the "patron saint"
of those who strive to live a spiritual life outside
organized religion.

She was born of non-observant Jewish parents in Paris
and even as a young girl she was committed to learning
as well as to oppressed and suffering people. She
was able to gain a superior education and began teaching
in a high school. Unsatisfied, she started tracking down
issues of injustice. Not content to merely write about it
she engaged in work alongside people who laboured in
unjust conditions like the French grape harvesters, and
workers in a Renault car factory. She went so far as to
take up arms with the Republican Army in Spain during its
1930s revolution. During World War II she worked with the
exiled Free French under Charles DeGaulle in England.

Weil was profoundly drawn into the spiritual life and
had a number of mystical experiences that affected her
deeply. She developed a great love for Jesus, but
decided not to undergo baptism because she saw her
calling as "a believer outside the church."

Two of her key books include "Gravity and Grace"
(Routledge, 1992) and "Waiting for God" (Harper 2009)
-  both reprinted.

Her writing reflects both freshness and integrity;
demonstrating how a profound faith can exist outside
religious institutions.

"Religion, insofar as it is a sense of consolation, is
a hindrance to true faith," she once wrote poignantly,
"and in this sense atheism is a purification."

Read my thoughts on her comment, below.

Read More:



Founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day
was one of the great lay activists of the 20th century.
She has become an inspiration to faith-based social-and-
political-change movements, worldwide.

Born into Chicago poverty she was inspired to move beyond
it through education and social awareness, but she remained
committed to seeing beauty amid squalor wherever she met it.

Day won a scholarship and studied at the University of
Chicago, but two years into her program (1916) she quit
school and moved to New York to work as a newspaper reporter.
She was consumed by socialist causes, and invested much
energy in demonstrations for the rights of women.

Her upbringing had been largely irregligious but as an
adult she was drawn into the Catholic church. She was much
impressed by the liturgy and commitment to serving immigrants.

She had a daughter out of wedlock but determined to join
the church and have her baptized.

In 1932 she met Paul Maurin, a Catholic social reformer
who had embraced poverty and envisioned a social order
based on the Gospels that would unit intellectuals and
workers. The two started the "Catholic Worker" newspaper
to share their vision and experience. Soon circulation
mushroomed. She sought to make the newspaper's ideals
realities for many people. She created living space
for impoverished women and men in the famous "Hell's
Kitchen" zone of lower Manhatten as well as in 32 other
locations across the country.

It was in a Catholic Worker community that one of our
own colleagues, Robert Ellsberg, was impressed by the
vision of Dorothy Day. He subsequently worked to
tell her story and share her message by editing a
number of Day's books (see below.)

Day remained a probing radical all her life; and
was a strong adversary of her nation's involvement
in the Vietnam war.

When she died, some of her supporters sought to have
her canonized. Others felt she would oppose such
efforts, chosing instead to direct the monies invested
in that process in support of the poor.

"This work of ours toward a new heaven and a new
earth," she said, "shows a correlation between the
material and the spiritual... Food for the body is
not enough. There must be food for the soul."

Her most famous book is her autobiography entitled:
"The Long Loneliness" (St. Thomas More Press, 1993.)

Ellsberg edited "Dorothy Day: Selected Writings"
(Orbis, 1992) and more recently "The Duty of Delight:
The Diaries of Dorothy Day" (Marquette University
Press, 2008.)

Read More:



Schweitzer was one of the world's great humanitarians. He
was a physician, philosopher, theologian and musicologist.
While he sought to be a citizen of the world through his work,
it was his missionary effort in Africa that won him the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1952.

His religious philosophy is summed up in the famous phrase
"reverence for life," which means love and compassion for
all living things.

He made a significant contribution to biblical scholarship
with his famous "The Quest of the Historical Jesus" (a
current reprint was produced by Johns Hopkins University
Press, Baltimore, 1998.)

His thesis was that any modern attempt to determine the
historical Jesus and his context is inherently subjective
and scientifically insufficient because of a lack of
non-biblical sources to serve as comparisons. While many
have challenged these points his main contribution had been
to affirm the mystical nature of Jesus and the eschatological
(Kingdom of God) dimension of Jesus' teaching.

Schweitzer, notwithstanding, there have been many modern
scholarly attempts to compare the Jesus of history with
the Christ of faith (colleague Marcus Borg would use the
terms "pre-Easter" and "post-Easter" Jesus). Whatever views
of Schweiter and his theological contribution we may
hold, there is no doubt that - more than 100 years ago -
he established many of the parameters for much of the debate
that followed in his wake.

He was an organist and Bach scholar who wrote significant
treatises on that great composer, but he is mainly
remembered for his compassionate missionary service in

In 1913 he established a hospital in Lambarene, Gabon
where he treated thousands of Africans for leporsy and
sleeping sickness. Along with his wife Helene Bresslau
he spent the rest of his life in Africa and used the
money from his Nobel Peace Prize to expand his hospital
and build a leper colony.

"Nothing is the world is ever accomplished without
enthusiasm and self-sacrifice," he once said.

Read More:

A Schweitzer website to visit:


My Comment:

We Can Learn from Guides Who Strive for the
Spiritual Life Outside Organized Religion

"Religion, insofar as it is a sense of consolation,
is a hindrance to true faith," Simone Weil once wrote
poignantly. "In this sense atheism is a purification."

Simon Weil words strike the reader and I find that
they challenge me to think more deeply about why I
choose participation in the life of an actual
congregation as part of my spiritual life.

Weil states that seeking consolation as a reason for
engagement with a faith community can in fact be
a hindrance to your faith. Atheism, on the other hand,
can effect a purification of it.

I have these thoughts in response to her comments.

When I teach classes at the university and students
ask me why I am a Christian I tell them that I gain
both "consolation" and "challenge" from my faith. I
think that being part of a church community gives me
a place of support and prompts me to be and to do
more than I could on my own.

If all I sought from my church was consolation - I
believe that Weil is right. Mere warm fuzzies can
actually be a danger to faith.

Balancing that, however, it the "challenge" of the
Gospel to follow Jesus and live compassion and justice.

I am convinced that there are many good people who
would probably be better off following their faith
journey outside of organized religion. I have heard
too many horror stories and know too much about what
bad religion can do to simply repeat the weathered
cliche that being in the Christian community would be
the best thing for everyone.

At the same time, and in spite of some bad experience
in my own life, I continue to want to affiliate with
a meaningful Christian community.

As you might gather, I no longer associate going to
church with going to heaven. I know quite a few
atheists and agnostics who will probably be better off
in their "eternity" than some self-righteous churchgoers.
Still, I choose to bepart of the church, while allowing
those who reject it their right.

I continue to learn much from spiritual guides who brook
no pretense about being religious.



Montreal, QC

Hello, Wayne,

Thank you for keeping me on your mailing list.
I always find your messages interesting and very
informative. I am sorry that I seldom answer.
Free time is rare around here!

Re: Brother André - he is the first Canadian man
to become a saint in 2010. The foundress of the
Grey Nuns, Ste. Marguerite d'Youville was canonized
in 1990. Another saint is Marguerite Bourgeois,
foundress of the Sisters of the Congregation of
Notre Dame. She was born and raised in France and
died in Canada in 1700. She was canonized in 1982.



St. Thomas, ON

Globe and Mail
February 24th, 2010

"Tiger Woods was never more than a golpher"


Okanagan, BC

"Fear of Being Forgotten"

A shiny new park bench appeared on a beach by the lake.
The seat and back are polished concrete. The frame is
cast iron, bolted down to a concrete pad.
Its a nice bench, a comfortable place to sit, looking out
across a little bay to the hills on the far side of the lake.

The bench is a memorial to a 20-year-old son who died a
little less than a year ago...

Read the article:


Winnipeg, MB

Christian Week
February 23rd, 2010

"Wondering where the butterflies are"


Brandon, MB.

Memorable Senior Moment

Get out of the car!

This is supposedly a true account recorded in the
Police log of Sarasota, Florida.)

An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and, upon
returning to her car, found four males in the act of
leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags
and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top
of her lungs, “I have a gun, and I know how to use it!
Get out of the car!”

The four men didn’t wait for a second threat. They got
out and ran like mad. The lady, somewhat shaken, then
proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of
the car and got into the driver’s seat. She was so
shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition.
She tried and tried, and then she realised why. It was
for the same reason she had wondered why there was a
football a Frisbee and two 12-packs of beer in the
front seat. A few minutes later, she found her own
car parked four or five spaces farther down.

She loaded her bags into the car and drove to the police
station to report her mistake. The sergeant to whom she
told the story couldn’t stop laughing. He pointed to the
other end of’ the counter, where four pale men were
reporting a car jacking by a mad, elderly woman described
as white less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white
hair, and carrying a large handgun. No charges were filed.

Moral Of the story?
If you’re going to have a senior moment.. make it memorable.





The Guardian
February 24th, 2010



Publishers Weekly Online
February 24th, 2010

Author writes at age 94 - New Herman Wouk book:
"The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion"



Catholic News Service
February 22nd, 2010

Read the article


The Tablet
February 27th, 2010

Too little, too late, again
by David Quinn



Zenit News from Rome
February 24th, 2010

Cardinal at Mormon University Urges Working Together


The president of the U.S. episcopal conference drew
an unusually large crowd at the Mormon Brigham Young
University, telling his audience that Catholics and
Mormons have to unite to defend common values.

Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago,
addressed a group of about 12,000 on Tuesday, according
to the Salt Lake Tribune.

"I'm personally grateful," Cardinal George said, "that,
after 180 years of living mostly apart from one another,
Catholics and Latter-day Saints have come to see one
another as trustworthy partners in the defense of shared
moral principles."

Read the entire article:



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
22 February 2010

Australian Anglican group 'first'
to sign up to Pope's call

Melbourne, Australia (ENI). A group of "traditional
Anglicans" in Australia has voted to accept the
recent invitation of Pope Benedict XIV to convert
to full communion with the Roman Catholic Church,
whilst retaining their membership of the Anglican
Church. Meeting in Melbourne, the Australian branch
of Forward in Faith, which comprises many members
of the international anglo-catholic grouping called
the Traditional Anglican Communion, "received with
gratitude" the Pope's invitation to join Rome.
They decided unanimously to establish a working
group to enable the process to move forward.


Anglican Journal
February 23rd, 2010

Read the article:



Wall Street Journal
February 26th, 2010

Pulling Episcopalians toward Rome with their
beloved liturgy.

Read the article:



February 22nd, 2010
by John R. Brooks

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- For nearly 10 years members of
Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in North Kansas City,
Mo., have been worshiping under public censure and
admonition, placed on the congregation for hiring a
pastor in a committed same-sex relationship. Today
the public censure has been lifted, and members of
Abiding Peace have been welcomed back to the fold....

Complete the article, click:



Globe and Mail
February 22nd, 2010

Read the article:



The Guardian
February 22nd, 2010
by Maev Kennedy

Newly translated tablet gives building instructions
Amateur historian's find was almost overlooked
That they processed aboard the enormous floating wildlife
collection two-by-two is well known. Less familiar, however,
is the possibility that the animals Noah shepherded on to
his ark then went round and round inside.

According to newly translated instructions inscribed in
ancient Babylonian on a clay tablet telling the story of
the ark, the vessel that saved one virtuous man, his family
and the animals from god's watery wrath was not the pointy-
prowed craft of popular imagination but rather a giant
circular reed raft...

Read more:



Zenit News from Rome
February 23rd, 2010

General Assembly Takes Up
Issue of Sexual Misconduct

A suspicion of sexual abuse must be followed by a
"perfect and absolutely transparent explanation,"
says the president of the German episcopal conference.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch affirmed this Monday when
he spoke to the press about the program of discussions
at the bishops' spring general assembly.

On the agenda is the issue of cases of sexual abuse
of minors in certain Jesuit schools. Around 100 former
students have come forward in recent days reporting
they were abused; most were students at one school...

Read the article:


The Tablet
February 27th, 2010

Bishops Apologize to Abuse Victims


Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
25 February 2010

German Catholics announce plans to deal with
sex abuse claims

Trier, Germany (ENI). Germany's Roman Catholic bishops
have given details of plans to deal with allegations of
sexual abuse by clergy and lay people that have rocked
their church in Germany over the past month. In the
midst of the biggest scandal to hit the church, the
bishops have accepted responsibility for what has taken
place, and on 25 February they announced a four-point
plan to deal with the crisis detailed in a statement
they released after a four-day meeting Freiburg. Germany's
bishops have appointed their youngest colleague, Stephan
Ackermann of Trier, to coordinate all issues related to
the sexual abuse of minors.



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
24 February 2010

First female German Protestant leader quits
after drinking offense

Trier, Germany (ENI). The first woman elected to
lead Germany's 24 million Protestants through the
Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Bishop Margot
Kässman, has said she is resigning, only days after
she was apprehended for a drink-driving offense.
She said she will immediately give up her posts as a
bishop and as head of the EKD, but will continue as
a pastor. Kässmann, a Lutheran and the chairperson
of the EKD, the umbrella organisation of Germany's
Protestants, was caught drink-driving on the evening
of 20 February evening in Hanover. She allegedly
jumped a red traffic light and was found three times
over the legal limit...


February 24th, 2010

Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson Comments:



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
22 February 2010

African churches use mobile phone to ring up
growth in members

Nairobi (ENI). A mobile phone suspended on a belt
round the waist, or from the neck, is a common sight
among members of church congregations in Africa. Now,
church leaders are heaping praise on mobile phones,
sometimes called cell phones, because they say the
instruments help congregations grow. Mobile phone use
increased rapidly in Africa about 10 years ago. At
that time, however, some Christians on the continent
criticised the phones for being "marks of materialism".
Now, that has changed. "It is as if cell phones have
come to revolutionise everything, even Christianity,"
says Anglican Bishop Charles Gaita of Nyahururu in
central Kenya. "They are making things happen quickly."
Gaita says mobile phones make it easier and cheaper for
the church to spread word about its activities, such
as Bible studies and meetings.


Hindu leader Ravi Shankar urges Catholic clergy
to resist extremism with love

Vailankanni, India (ENI). Hindu leader Shri Ravi Shanka
has told a national meeting of Catholic priests in India
that religious extremism "can be fought only through love,
genuine spirituality and education". "The speed [of the
spread] of fundamentalism surprises me but we have to
fight it," Shankar, founder of the Art of Living movement,
told the Assembly of Indian Catholic Priests, who were
meeting to mark the Year for Priests that Pope Benedict
XVI declared in June 2009. More than 800 Catholic priests
from across India plus several bishops led by Cardinal
Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for
Clergy, were among those present when Shankar addressed
the gathering at Vailankanni in Tamil Nadu earlier in February.


23 February 2010

World church leader urges other faiths
to join Christians on climate

Geneva (ENI). Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Muslims
could strengthen Christians in persuading global
leaders to agree to ambitious and sustainable goals
at the next international talks on climate change if
they joined forces, says the newly appointed general
secretary of the World Council of Churches. The Rev.
Olav Fyske Tveit was speaking to journalists before
he was officially installed on 23 February as the
general secretary of the WCC, a grouping of 560
million Christians from mainly Anglican, Orthodox
and Protestant churches. On many issues, the
organization works closely with the Roman Catholic
Church, which serves on some WCC committees.


Group says 'naked' body scanners
breach Islamic teachings

Toronto (ENI). An Islamic group is recommending that
Muslims avoid the new full-body scanners at airports,
and opt for body frisk searches instead because the new
technology violates religious teachings. The Fiqh
Council of North America, a group of Muslim scholars,
says the scanners see through clothes to create a
three-dimensional image of a person's naked body.
In a statement, the group said, "It is a violation
of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen
naked by other men and women." The statement noted
that the scans are, "against the teachings of Islam,
natural law and all religions and cultures that stand
for decency and modesty".


Indian school book with Jesus holding
cigarette, beer, is removed

Kathmandu (ENI). Officials in a north-eastern Indian
state, where more than 70 percent of the population
are Christians, have confiscated school textbooks that
contained an image of Jesus holding a beer can in one
hand and a cigarette in the other. Officials of the
St. Joseph Girls' Higher Secondary School in Shillong,
the capital of India's predominantly tribal and Christian
state of Meghalaya, said they have filed a complaint with
police against the publisher of the book, Skyline
Publication, based in New Delhi.

Parents brought the illustration to the notice of the
school authorities who in turn reported it to the state's
education ministry. Police have seized about 30 copies of
the book, meant as an aid for the teaching of writing and
spelling, while the school, run by nuns, has asked its
students to return any remaining copies in which the
image was used to illustrate the word "idol".


February 24th, 2010

Protestants, Catholics regret resignation
of German bishop

Trier, Germany (ENI). Protestant and Roman Catholic
leaders have expressed their regret about the
resignation of Bishop Margot Kässmann, the first
woman to lead 24 million German Protestants, who
belong to the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).
At a 24 February press conference in Hanover, where
she was resident bishop, Kässmann said she was
resigning from her leadership positions, only days
after she was stopped for a drink-driving offence.

When she made her announcement she was flanked by
her four grown-up daughters. Kässmann said she had
given up her posts as a bishop and as head of the
EKD but would continue serving as a pastor.


Philippine Catholics, officials,
debate condoms and AIDS prevention

Manila (ENI). Roman Catholic leaders in the Philippines
have lambasted a government campaign that encourages
condom use to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS,
while a health official has blamed the church for
thwarting its drive. The Archbishop of Lipa, Ramon
Arguelles, on 23 February called for the resignation
of the Philippines health department secretary,
Esperanza Cabral. Arguelles was quoted on the Catholic
Bishops Conference Web site as saying it is "immoral
[for Cabral] to be pushing for the use of condoms,
which we all know are not a deterrent to AIDS".
Cabral told reporters, however, "We are a secular
state where the Church and State are separate."


Indian women's self-sufficiency promoter
wins Niwano Peace Prize

Geneva (ENI). The Niwano Peace Foundation has announced
it will award its 2010 peace prize to Ela Ramesh Bhatt,
an Indian Hindu who is a follower of the teachings of
Mahatma Gandhi, and who applies them to enable women
to become self-sufficient. In a 24 February statement
announcing the winner of the Niwano Peace Prize, the
foundation said Bhatt is "known as the 'gentle
revolutionary'." It added, "She has dedicated her
life to improving the lives of India's poorest and
most oppressed women workers.


Tutu urges Kenyan truth commission head to resign

Nairobi (ENI). Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop
Desmond Tutu and a group of nine other former heads and
members of national truth commissions, have urged Bethuel
Kiplagat to resign as the head of Kenya's Truth, Justice
and Reconciliation Commission. Tutu, the former Anglican
archbishop of Cape Town and chairperson of South Africa's
Truth Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a
statement sent to Ecumenical News International in Nairobi
that retired diplomat Kiplagat does not meet the essential
standards for a person in that post."


Sermons 'set back cause of women, Christianity by centuries'

Canterbury, England (ENI). A leading advocate in England for
the ordination of women as priests has complained that two
sermons by an (Anglican) Church of England minister have set
back the cause of women and Christianity, by centuries. In
an interview with Ecumenical News International, US-born
Christina Rees said that the Rev. Mark Oden, a priest at
St Nicholas' Church in Sevenoaks, Kent, and the church's
rector, the Rev. Angus MacLeay, appear not to understand
that the Bible must be read with an understanding of its


Web 'Chat church' gets employee
into tangle with regular body

Johannesburg (ENI). South Africa's biggest Dutch Reformed
Church, the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk, is investigating
an Internet church set up by one of its employees that the
church's governing body complains allows swearing, and gives
a platform to atheists. Jean Oosthuizen's "Kletskerk", which
translates from Afrikaans as "chat church", is facing a
special investigation by a team from the NGK's general
synod, said Kobus Gerber, NGK spokesperson. Oosthuizen
serves as news editor of one of the church's publications.
The call for a probe came after the NGK leadership cut all
links with the Kletskerk, which has been popular since it
went 'live' in 2005.


26 February 2010

World church body anxious about treatment of
Egypt's Christians

Geneva (ENI). --Senior officials of the World Council of
Churches have warned that Christian Copts in Egypt are
being made to feel like "aliens in their own country".
At the same time they have urged churches in the North
African country to "continue their involvement in Muslim-
Christian dialogue". In a statement on 26 February the
executive committee of the WCC, which represents 560
million Christians worldwide, said, "It is a matter of
regret that in Egypt today Christians can easily fall
victim to violence and hatred, and that their security
is not fully guaranteed. Many Copts, in particular, are
made to feel like aliens in their own country."


Faith-based groups grow as part of New Zealand
left politics - Feature

Melbourne, Australia (ENI). New Zealand politics has taken
on an unexpected religious flavour since the left wing of
the political divide adopted faith-based groups into their
normally secular structures. Whilst New Zealand has a
number of longstanding faith-based political parties,
they have been seen as representing the right wing of the
political spectrum. The development of affiliated religious
subgroups within the Labour Party and the Greens is


Asia's largest Christian event focuses
on green spirituality

Maramon, India (ENI). The annual Maramon convention of the
Mar Thoma Church, which lays claim to being Asia's biggest
Christian gathering, has in 2010 focused on caring for the
earth, with government officials handing out tens of thousands
of saplings for planting. "If we persist with the unscientific
exploitation of natural resources and neglect of environmental
concerns, there will not be anything left for the future
generations in the earth in which we live," cautioned
Metropolitan Joseph Mar Thoma, head of the Mar Thoma Church.


Black churches in US team up to tackle problems facing
black men

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). --The leaders of three black
Methodist denominations are joining together - for the
first time in 45 years - to address unemployment, crime
and other problems that disproportionately affect black
men in the United States. "When people talk about us being
in an economic downturn, that's nice talk for the general
community, but for the African-American community, we are
in depression," said Senior Bishop John R. Bryant of the
African Methodist Episcopal Church, Religion News Service
reports. "Our people are hurting."



Sojourners Online

February 22nd, 2010

[Some say,] "But pacifism is so impractical!"
As if Christian ethics were utilitarian, as if
there were a calculus for shalom! ... In any
case, it is not as if the whole church has
tried pacifism and found it wanting, the fact
is that the whole church has not tried
pacifism at all.

- Kim Fabricius, from his book, "Propositions on
  Christian Theology: A Pilgrim Walks the Plank


February 23rd

Express everything you like. No word can
hurt you. None. No idea can hurt you. Not
being able to express an idea or word will
hurt you more. Like a bullet.

- Jamaica Kincaid,
  Caribbean-American novelist and professor


February 24th, 2010

"The American people and the governing class have
accepted that war has become a permanent condition.
Protracted war has become a widely accepted part
of our politics."

- Andrew Bacevich, retired Army Col. (and now
  history professor at Boston University) whose son
  was killed in Iraq in 2007, on how eight years of
  war have affected American foreign policy.
  (Washington Post)


February 25th, 2010

Love is or it ain't.
Thin love ain't love at all.

- Toni Morrison, writer
   and winner of the 1993
   Nobel Prize for Literature


"The cross is and will forever be the sign of the
church. This is the symbol that we have together,
the symbol of what we have together, the symbol of
what the churches have to give to the world. From
the beginning to the end.²

- Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, in his installation as
  new general secretary, World Council of Churches.



On Feb. 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the
first American to orbit Earth as he flew aboard
the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule.


On Feb. 21, 1965, former Black Muslim leader Malcolm X
was shot and killed by assassins identified as Black
Muslims as he was about to address a rally in New York
City; he was 39.


On Feb. 23, 1954, the first mass inoculation of children
against polio with the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh.

On Feb. 23, 1868, W.E.B. DuBois Dies in Ghana; Negro Leader
and Author, was born. Read obituary.


On Feb. 26, 1993, a bomb exploded in the garage of New York's
World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than
1,000 others.



We thank you, gracious God, for the freedom we
have to practice and live out our faith. We pray
for our brothers and sisters around the world who
do not have that freedom, for our fellow Christians
who find themselves persecuted for seeking to follow
you. Strengthen them with courage, with discernment,
and with faith. Help us not only to do what we can
to aid them, but also to learn what we can from them.
Make us more and more aware of your body -- the Church,
Lord Jesus. Amen.


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