Saturday, September 25, 2010

Colleagues List, September 25th, 2010

Vol VI,   No. 4


Edited by Wayne A. Holst




Special Item in this Issue:

"Roots and Wings"
A Reflection on Summer Travels in Ontario & BC


Colleague Communication:

Douglas John Hall


Colleague Contributions:

Michael Higgins
Martin Marty
Jim Taylor
Ron Rolheiser
Eboo Patel
Doug Shantz


Net Notes:

An Historic Welcome to the UK
Gideons Slow Down Pace of Change
My Conversation with Terry Jones
Scientific Theory for Red Sea Crossing
Colleagues Honour Sri Lankan Theologian
Belgian Church Still Reels from Abuse Crisis
Christian Astronomer Says He Would Baptize Aliens
Young Theologians Hope to Reduce Church Polarization
Will New Canadian in the Vatican be a Mere "Yes Man?"
Scholars Propose Rewrite of 400 Year Old Passion Play
Conservative Canadian Lutherans Consider Other Alliance


Global Faith Potpourri:

25 stories from Ecumenical News International


Quotes of the Month:

Esther de Waal
Oscar Arias Sánchez
Joan Chittister
C.S. Lewis
Mother Teresa
Martin Luther
Toni Morrison


On This Day (Sept. 9th - Sept. 25th)

Sept. 9, 1976 - Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung dies
Sept.11, 2001 - Two airliners crash into World Trade Center
Sept.12, 1977 - South African black student leader Biko dies
Sept.22, 1862 - Lincoln issues first Emancipation Proclamation
Sept.25, 1957 - Nine black children escorted to Little Rock school


Closing Thoughts -

Looking back two lifetimes ago:

J. Ray Houser and Wayne Holst
Lutheran Brotherhood Award, 1967



Dear Friends:

The autumn season is upon us and that means
a return to classes and a more regular schedule.

This weekend, the Gandhi Society of Calgary holds
its annual dinner - always a sign of autumn!
Thanks, colleague Tony Parel, for the work you
put into this event each year.


As a special item for this issue, I offer some
reflection on the two trips we took near the end
of summer. I entitle these thoughts:

"Roots and Wings - A Reflection on Summer Travels
 in Ontario & BC"


Colleague Communication:

Douglas John Hall - writes from Montreal to alert us
to the appearance of his article in the September 7th
issue of the Christian Century. It was entitled -
"Cross and Context: How My Mind Has Changed."

I have located a link to the article and hope all of you
take the time and make the effort to read this important
article on Doug's spiritual/theological evolution.

Doug also informs us that he has written a new book:
"The Messenger: Remembering Bob Miller" to be published
next year by Fortress. We'll watch for it!

Though a United Church of Canada theologian, Doug. Hall
has done more than any modern Canadian Lutheran guide
(William Hordern may come close to him) to interpret
and promote the theology of Martin Luther in this country
and beyond it. He does so using the term theologia crucis
or, "a theology of the cross" - which, like Luther, he
contrasts with theolgia gloria - "a theology of glory."


Colleague Contributions:

Michael Higgins - introduces Cardinal John Henry Newman and
tells us why the pope came to the UK to beatify him earlier
this month - "A Very Modern Christian" (Globe & Mail). I then
add other articles on this important man I have long admired.

Martin Marty - provides two pieces this week. The first
is on the extreme and unfortunate comments about Islam made
recently by Franklin Graham. It is entitled: "Franklin
Graham on Islam and Violence." With Marty, I'm not impressed
with Graham's rhetoric. The second article speaks to the
issue of how skewed the subject of Islam has become in
many American minds - "Until There Are Churches in Saudi
Arabia." An American reflects on America (Sightings)

Jim Taylor - takes on the subject of face coverings and
how France has recently banned them - "New Times Replace
Old Traditions" (Web Log)

Ron Rolheiser - writes in a kind and generous way about
inclusiveness - "How Large Is Your Heaven?" and I thank
him for it (Column for September 12th)

Eboo Patel - head of Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core
(introduced to me by Martin Marty) interviews with
Canadian Irshad Manji and Richard Cizik. Their topic?
"The State of Islam in America" (ABC News Video)

Doug Shantz - chairholder of Christian Thought at the
University of Calgary, Doug announces two important
autumn lectures offered by Anne Moore and Mark Mealey.


Net Notes:

"An Historic Welcome to the UK" - beside the Islamic
brouhaha in the USA, a matter of considerable religious
significance this past month was the visit of the pope
to the UK. I include articles from ENI, The Tablet (UK)
Australia News, The Telegraph (UK) National Catholic
Reporter, The Daily Mail (UK) Anglican Journal News
(Toronto) and The Guardian (UK)

"Gideons Slow Down Pace of Change" - the famous Bible
distributors retain some very traditional ideas as
recent decisions reflect - from

"My Conversation with Terry Jones" - A Canadian
evangelical leader is being credited with convincing
would-be Qar'an-burner Terry Jones to halt his tragic
efforts - at least for now (

"Scientific Theory for Red Sea Crossing" - an
American scientist attempts to explain how the
Children of Israel escaped Egypt by "crossing
the Red Sea on dry land" (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Colleagues Honour Sri Lankan Theologian" - some
will recall that, a decade ago, Asian theologian
Fr. Tissa Balasuriya ran afoul of the Vatican and
some in his own religious order (the Oblates of
Mary Immaculate) because of his attempts to replace
Western theological constructs with themes and
imagery rooted in Eastern faith traditions. Now,
in his senior years, he is being honoured by
colleagues (Cathnews Asia)

"Belgian Church Still Reels from Abuse Problems" -
The news for the church in Belgium keeps getting
worse. Here is an update from the New York Times.

"Christian Astronomer Says He Would Baptize Aliens" -
in addition to challenging the claims of creationist
theology, the question of baptism for aliens from
other planets (if we ever encounter them) is taken
up in seriousness (The Guardian, UK)

"Young Theologians Hope to Reduce Church Polarization" -
responding to the growing division in the American
Catholic Church a group of young theologians have met
to discuss ways of bridging serious gaps (National
Catholic Reporter)

"Will New Canadian in the Vatican be a Mere 'Yes Man?'" -
the recently announced appointment of Cardinal Quellet
of Quebec to head the Vatican's bishop's council prompts
other North American Catholics to question his appointment
and, in doing so, reflects the division in the church I
noted above (National Catholic Reporter)

"Scholars Proposed Rewrite of 400 Year Old Passion Play" -
A Jewish rabbi writes about changes to the text of the famous
passion play enacted every decade at Oberammergau, Bavaria.
Concerns by Jewish scholars about biblical language that could
be construed as anti-Jewish now report that the script has
been appropriately altered (Sightings)

"Conservative Canadian Lutherans Consider Other Alliance" -
the pattern has already been established by other groups
breaking from North American mainline denominations. In
this instance, we read about some Lutherans in Canada


Global Faith Potpourri:

25 stories from Ecumenical News International are presented
this week. As we return to a weekly CL schedule, the number
of short reports will be reduced.


Quotes of the Month:

Esther de Waal, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Joan Chittister,
C.S. Lewis, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther & Toni Morrison
provide good insights this week.


On This Day (Sept. 9th - Sept. 22nd)

Stories as they happened are from the archives
of the New York Times:

Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung dies (1976)
Two airliners crash into World Trade Center (2001)
South African black student leader Steve Biko dies (1977)
Abe Lincoln issues first US Emancipation Proclamation (1862)
Nine black children escorted to Little Rock school (1957)


Closing Thoughts -

When the following link appeared unexpectedly on my screen
I was carried back in thought to a time - 43 years ago -
when my career was beginning. Little did I realize then
how my life would be re-shaped and changed by the opportunity
I had to study in Europe.

J. Ray Houser and Wayne Holst
Lutheran Brotherhood Award, 1967

See link, below.




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

Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -



Created and maintained by Colleague Jock McTavish




We plan a 15-day tour of special Celtic sites
in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England -
April 26th - May 10th, 2011.

A highlight of the tour will be a visit to
St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire. Choir
members from our group will sing at various
informal cathedral events through the day
and at Evensong, on Saturday, May 7th!

Details are presently being finalized with
the cathedral dean, Jonathan Lean.

We are also planning to sing while visiting
Iona, Scotland and the Church of Mary Immaculate
in Inchicore, Dublin, Ireland.


We have a waiting list for this trip; also an
interest list for other, future tours!


Announcing our New Fall Study at St. David's:

Follow this study by clicking:


A Celtic Spirituality (Philip Newell)

Including background material from the book:

THE CELTIC WAY (Ian Bradley)



Join our ten week Monday Night Study, which will run
from September 20th through November 29th

Special Guest:

Dr. Wayne Davies, Department of Geography, U of C.
is a native of Wales. He will speak with us at one
session, introducing us to his homeland, and explaining
some of the important sites we plan to visit to maximize
our appreciation of the tour.

This program is being made available for regular
Monday Night study-folk plus those planning to
take the tour of Celtic Lands next spring.

This study series is part of our St. David's fiftieth
anniversary celebrations and is provided for all!



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.



A Reflection on Summer Travels in Ontario & BC

This year Marlene and I made Canada our travel focus once
more. Last year we saw "Mile Zero" of the Trans Canada
Highway in St. John's NL. This year, we visited "Mile Zero"
in Victoria BC.

In addition, we stood on the southernmost tip of Canada -
Point Pelee - which juts into Lake Erie from Essex County
in Ontario. In what might be described as a typical Canadian
experience, we were welcomed by a Least Sandpiper to the very
small, sandy point at which the land literally ended!

That means we still have the northernmost tip of our beautiful
country still to visit as we keep discovering what lies
between our nation's magnificent borders!


While I could connect our BC and Ontario visits using any
number of themes and images, I choose the words "roots and
wings" for this brief essay about our recent experience.

For me at least, Waterloo County Ontario represents the
place of my roots. St. Jacobs is my home town and St. James
Lutheran, my formative family of faith. On the other hand,
Salt Spring Island represents a place of wings, which stands
for new, uncharted but exciting and anticipated territory.

We went to St. Jacobs to meet with people who have been
part of my long-established beginnings and to Salt Spring
Island for an experience rather new for us - a same-gender
marriage ceremony involving a member of our family.

Indeed, 'roots' and 'wings' are good, descriptive terms for
these experiences. I maintain that all of us need both.


Thanks to colleague Pauline Miller, the church secretary
at St. James Lutheran, we were able to attend the Sunday
service on September 12th. In many ways it was very much
like the hundreds I attended there as a youth. The liturgy
was solid, substantial, obviously well-known to the regulars,
and a source of comfort and reassurance. I am no longer a
routine attendee at Lutheran liturgies but many memories
flooded back. Here was the location of my baptism and my
confirmation (in an earlier building) and first sermon!

In some ways the service was unfamiliar to Marlene, but
together we recognized the significance of this place for
my early nurturing and spiritual formation.

Some of the welcoming people I recognized. Many I did not.
It has been forty-two years since I left home. It was very
re-assuring to know that good people are still tending the
spiritual fires of a place that has nurtured countless
people over the years.

A special experience for us was to have dinner with the
current mayor of Woolwich Township - former school-mate
Bill Strauss who is two days older than me and heading into
yet another civic election at age 68! Bill and Maryanne are
faithful Catholics and we reflected on growing up in what
was then a rather homogeneously German Protestant community.
Of course, things change - even in a place like St. Jacobs!

Marlene and I visited St. James Cemetery and the graves
of my parents Alf and Marieta Holst, as well as the memorial
stones for many of my ancestors and relatives.

It was good to return to St. Jacobs. It gave me a renewed
sense of life grounding and substance.


The visit to Salt Spring Island was prompted by an invitation
from Laura and Bascia to attend their wedding. It would be the
first time Marlene and I would experience the vow-sharing of two
people of the same gender. Even though such weddings are becoming
more common and families are invited to attend - the experience
is still a bit strange for many.

A whole new set of terms are required for such ceremonies.
'Husband' and 'wife' no longer apply, for example. Kissing
was part of the ceremony - but was there a bride? Was there
a groom? Well. not really.

Seeing two women kissing as we did takes a little getting used
to, but we realize that is essentially a matter of custom.
Customs can and do change. We will accept that.

The United Church minister who married them, Rev. Bob Pollock
of Vancouver, did a fine piece of pastoral work - both in the
preparation and follow-through. It was obvious that all three
of the key persons involved in the ceremony had put much thought
and spiritual devotion into the proceedings.

I think Laura and Bascia appreciated that we made the effort
to 'come all the way from Calgary' as they said, to represent
a number of others in our family who did not attend for various
reasons. Frankly, as one who has married many heterosexual
couples over the years, I felt the level of spiritual preparation
and climate of this ceremony was second to none.

We were proud and happy to attend this service in the back yard
of a friend's house on the island, and then to participate in
the joyous reception that followed in the Harbour House in the
town of Ganges.

We love this couple and wish them well on their life journey.
We reflect on the experience as something taking us beyond the
customary; but one which will no doubt become commonplace for
future Canadian generations.

We are proud to live in a country where human rights are
taken seriously and a church that is willing to act on that
belief. Even though we need to respect religious differences -
we are happy that no particular religious/moral perspective
is permitted to control the majority.


So, book-ended by a return to my home church and attendance at
a same gender wedding ceremony this summer, we can speak with
mutual satisfaction about "roots" and "wings."

I hope that your summer was equally nurturing and satisfying.





Dear Wayne -  Hope you have had a good summer.
Christian Century (Sept. 7th issue) published my
article in the HOW MY MIND HAS CHANGED series.

I also have a new book in the offing —

Fortress will publish it in 2011.



Thanks for informing us, Doug.

We will keep an eye open for the book.
Here is the Christian Century link to your article:




The Globe and Mail
September 18th, 2010

Newman: A Modern Christian


Newman Still Commands Our Attention

National Catholic Reporter
September 18th, 2010


A Conspiracy of Bishops and Faithful

America Magazine
September 23rd, 2010

Newman championed the spiritual awareness of
the laity, but not at the expense of bishops:



"Franklin Graham on Islam and Violence"

September 13th, 2010


"Until There are Churches in Saudi Arabia"

September 20th, 2010



Web Article
Sunday Sept. 19th, 2010


France has boldly gone where no nation has gone before.
Last Tuesday, the French Senate voted 246 to one to ban
face coverings. France’s lower house, its National
Assembly, had approved the legislation in July...

Read the article:



Sept. 12th, 2010

"How Large is Your Heaven?"



"Islam in America"

ABC News Video
September 11th, 2010

(please wait out the brief commercial
 at the beginning of this exchange)



Chair of Christian Thought
University of Calgary

Bentall Lecture in Christian Theology
Monday, October 4th, 2010

Swanson Lecture in Christian Spirituality
Monday, November 8th, 2010

For more details:



16 September 2010

Pope arrives in Britain with warning
on 'aggressive' secularism

Edinburgh (ENI). Pope Benedict XVI on his first
official visit to Britain has sounded a warning
against "aggressive forms of secularism" that no
longer respect or tolerate traditional values and
cultures. Speaking on 16 September on his arrival
in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, Pope
Benedict said Britain should not obscure, "the
Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms".
The visit comes against the backdrop of a worldwide
scandal of sexual abuse by clerics and the way in
which Catholic Church authorities have dealt with
it. Speaking to reporters on the plane that brought
him to Edinburgh, Benedict said he was shocked when
he learned of the extent of the abuse. He said the
victims are now the church's top priority, The
Associated Press reported.


Britain Welcomes the Pope

The Tablet
September 17th, 2010


Kasper Calls Britain a Third World Nation

The Daily Mail (UK)
September 14th, 2010


Pope Acknowledges Church's Failures

Australia News, Sydney
September 16th, 2010


We Will Not Be Silenced
Pope Tells Secular Britain

The Telegraph UK
September 17th, 2010


When Apologies are Not Enough

National Catholic Reporter
John L. Allen
September `8th, 2010


Pope Speaks about 'Freedom to Convert'

Anglican Journal News
September 17th, 2010


John L. Allen's Wrap-Up on Pope's Visit

A summary of articles
National Catholic Reporter
September 20th, 2010


Popular Press Summary of Papal Visit

The Guardian UK
September 23rd, 2010


Visit Lays a New Foundation

The Tablet UK
Sept. 25th, 2010


September 22nd, 2010

Gideons retain traditional policies



Canadian Evangelical Helps
to Diffuse International Incident
September 17th, 2010



US Scientist Explains "Dry Land" Miracle
When Israelites Escaped from Egypt

Sydney Morning Herald
September 22nd, 2010



Fr. Tissa Balasuriya Challenged Western
Christian Models Using Asian Ones

Cathnews Asia
September 22nd, 2010



New York Times
by Stephen Erlander
September 20th, 2010

Promises of change from a new archbishop have done little
to settle upheaval in a church already dealing with a
loss of members, fewer priests and growing secularization.



The Guardian UK
September 17th, 2010



National Catholic Reporter
September 16th, 2010



National Catholic Reporter
September 20th, 2010

Will Cardinal Quellet Simply Mouth Papal Policy?



September 16th, 2010


September 10th, 2010



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
6 September 2010

Cost of fixing Delhi for Commonwealth Games
worries churches

New Delhi (ENI). Indian church leaders say the billions
of dollars being spent on sprucing up the capital city,
New Delhi, for the Commonwealth Games in October is
wasteful. "There is a whole lot of public money that
could have been used for the welfare of the poor that
is being wasted on Delhi's streets," John Dayal, Delhi-
based secretary general of the All India Christian
Council, told ENI news. "The politicians and officials
have once again proved that the welfare of the poor is
not a major priority for them," noted Dayal, a member
of the National Integration Council chaired by the
Indian Prime Minister. India's leading English daily
newspaper, The Times of India, released the results
of a survey on 1 September that said that 76 percent
of the people of Delhi feel that the Commonwealth Games
expense is "unjustified", while many more are worried
about their tax liability for the prodigious spending.
The games take place every four years.


Mini Luthers on Wittenberg market square
cause offence to some

Trier, Germany (ENI). Eight hundred colourful miniature
figures of the 16th-century Protestant Reformer Martin
Luther on display on the central market square of
Wittenberg, where he lived and worked, are causing
offence. Visitors have been walking around the market
place between the black, green, red and blue figures,
picking them up and placing them in other parts of the
town. This art show has, however, been heavily
criticised by prominent theologians such as  Friedrich
Schorlemmer from Wittenberg, who played a prominent
role in the peaceful protests that led to the fall
of the Berlin Wall more than 20 years ago. Schorlemmer
told the Leipziger Volkszeitung, a newspaper in eastern
Germany, in August, "This is theological and aesthetic
rubbish. Martin Luther cannot be mass produced." The
installation by German artist Ottmar Hörl is part of
the Luther Decade celebrations commemorating the period
between Luther's arrival in Wittenberg in 1508 and the
beginning of the Reformation in 1517.


7 September 2010

Hawking's theories do not nullify belief in God,
say faith leaders

Canterbury, England (ENI). Jewish, Christian and Muslin
leaders have all rejected claims that belief in the divine
has been disproved following the assertion by British
physicist Stephen Hawking that science leaves no role for
God in the creation of the Universe. In his new book,
"The Grand Design", Hawking says, "Because there is a law
such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself
from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is
something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists,
why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light
the blue touch paper and set the Universe going." In a
previous book, "A Brief History of Time", Hawking had
written that finding a theory for creation would be
humanity's greatest achievement, "for then we should
know the mind of God".


13 September 2010

Trust is needed, says Finland's
first female Lutheran bishop

Helsinki (ENI). Finland's first female Lutheran bishop has
been consecrated at a service in Helsinki Cathedral at which
she said that both Church and society need to strengthen trust.
"People long for trust," Bishop Irja Askola said in a sermon
at her 12 September consecration. "If … we cannot get into
good terms in order to be able to communicate with those
with different opinions, backgrounds or ways of life, we are
on the way to destruction. Different opinions will not destroy


Macau Catholic bishop opposes politics in church paper

Hong Kong (ENI). Macau's Roman Catholic bishop has asked
the local Portuguese-language church newspaper O Clarim
(The Bugle) to downplay political news and focus on religious
issues. Bishop José Lai Hung-seng told journalists on 7
September that during a meeting earlier with the editor of
the diocese-owned newspaper O Clarim, he had urged him to
focus more on church events. "It is a Catholic newspaper.
We do not want it to turn out to be propaganda, or the
mouthpiece of political factions. The church's newspaper
should not meddle in political issues, but share the
Catholic faith and spread the Gospel," the bishop said.


14 September 2010

India churches in appeal for Christians targeted
in Quran protests

Bangalore (ENI). Churches in India are asking for support
after Christian institutions became the target of violent
protests linked to the reported desecration of a copy of
the Quran in the United States. At least 16 people were
killed and more than 60 injured in clashes on 13 September
with security personnel in India-ruled Kashmir. Most of
those people were killed after police opened fire to quell
violent mobs, S. S. Kapur, the chief secretary, or highest
official, of Jammu and Kashmir state, told media. Kapur
said the crowds had come out on to the streets after a
"foreign" television station had reported that a copy of
the Quran had been desecrated in the United States.
Tension had been rising in Muslim-majority Kashmir after
the announcement by the Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of a
tiny church in Florida, of plans to burn copies of the
Qur'an on 11 September, the ninth anniversary of the
terror attacks in the United States.


Russia's prisons look to faiths
to bring moral guidance

Moscow (ENI). Russia's prisons, struggling with a
growing crime rate, overcrowding and shortfalls in
funding, are turning to religion to bring moral
guidance to inmates. The move marks a dramatic change
from the Soviet system, when clergy and believers were
often imprisoned for their faith. "We have signed
agreements with all of the leading confessions of our
country," said Aleksandr Reimer, the director of
Russia's Federal Correctional Service, in an interview
with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta, an official government
newspaper. Although the Russian Orthodox Church has
become increasingly close to the State in recent
years, Reimer said that that imposing Russia's
largest religion on inmates was not the goal.


15 September 2010

Heaven trumps hell in Canadian poll
that shows waning faith

Toronto (ENI/RNS). "Hell is a half-filled auditorium,"
wrote the U.S. poet Robert Frost. In Canada, it's slightly
less full. According to new poll, a bit more than half of
Canadians believe in heaven, but less than a third believe
in hell, Religion News Service reports. About 53 percent
said they believe in life after death; about 27 percent
said they believe in reincarnation and half expressed
belief in religious miracles. In the United States,
according to a 2004 Gallup poll, 81 percent of Americans
believe in heaven and 70 percent in hell. An earlier
Gallup survey found that 77 percent of Americans were
optimistic about making it to heaven. The Canadian poll,
which surveyed 420 people earlier this year, found that
about 30 percent of respondents agreed with the statement,
"I know God really exists and I have no doubts." Another
20 percent conceded that they "have doubts" but "feel
that I do believe in God." Ten percent said they believe
in God "sometimes" and a further 20 percent said they
don't believe in a "personal God" but "do believe
in a higher power".


September 16th, 2010

Romania church leaders say Roma deportations wrong;
no solution

Warsaw (ENI). A Catholic bishop in Romania has deplored
the mass expulsion of Roma from France, and he has urged
European governments to do more to integrate the
continent's Gypsy minorities. "There are substantial
Roma communities in all European countries, not just
Romania and Bulgaria,"  Virgil Bercea, the Greek
Catholic bishop of Oradea told ENI news. "When the
French drive them out, all they do is return to visit
their families and then travel somewhere else, whether
back to France, or on to Italy, Spain or Germany." The
52-year-old bishop, whose church combines the Eastern
Orthodox rite with loyalty to Rome, was speaking as
European Union heads of government gathered for a 16
September summit in Brussels, which was expected to
include a discussion of France's expulsions of Roma.


World media has scant mention of women
in wealth-gap news

Geneva (ENI). Women remain grossly underrepresented in
newspaper, television and radio reporting the Global
Media Monitoring Project has found in recent research.
Carried out in newspapers, television and radio
newscasts in 108 countries across the world, the
project found that only 3 percent of stories on poverty
highlight gender equality and inequality issues, the
GMMP said in a 13 September statement. The research
results were released in advance of New York's 20-22
September United Nations Millennium Development Goals
summit, which is to examine eight development goals to
be achieved by 2015. The media project, coordinated by
the World Association for Christian Communication,
found that only two percent of stories on education
and 3 percent of those on the environment underscore
gender inequality, following research carried out in
the global North and South. The GMMP says it aims to
promote, "fair and balanced gender representation in
and through the news media".


17 September 2010

Indonesian church leaders say
attack on its members 'barbaric'

Tokyo (ENI). Leaders of the Protestant Christian Batak
Church, a Lutheran church in Indonesia, have condemned
the beatings and stabbings of its pastor and church
members in Bekasi, outside the capital Jakarta in West
Java, on 12 September. "Rev. Mother Luspida Simanjuntak,
Mr Sintua Hasian and several other church members were
suddenly attacked by some unidentified men riding a
motorcycle," said Bishop Bonar Napitupulu and the general
secretary, the Rev. Ramlan Hutahaean, on 15 September.
"Sintua Hasian was attacked with sharp weapons, while
the Rev. Mother Luspida Simanjuntak and several other
church members suffered bruises caused by blows and
kicks … Such actions are barbaric," they said in their


20 September 2010

Pope's Britain visit gets some acclaim
after rocky start

London (ENI). Pope Benedict XVI completed a successful
State visit to England and Scotland despite opposition
from secularists and those who accuse him of intransigence
on the issue of child abuse by clergy, some media reports
suggest. Prime Minister David Cameron said on 19 September
just before Benedict left, "You have offered a message not
just to the Catholic Church but to each and every one of
us of faith and none." Cameron noted that the Pope had
delivered, "a challenge to all of us to follow our
conscience, to ask not, what are my entitlements; but
what are my responsibilities? To ask not what we can do
for ourselves, but what we can do for others?" The Belfast
Telegraph, a daily newspaper in Northern Ireland, reported
on 20 September, "Pope Benedict XVI returned to Rome last
night from the United Kingdom after a four-day State visit
which went much better than expected."


Church near site of Russian tsar's family's remains,
burns down

Moscow (ENI). Fire has destroyed one of the main churches
at a monastery near where the remains of Russia's Tsar
Nicholas II and his family were dumped after they were
murdered by Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918. An official
from Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations told
journalists during a briefing in Yekaterinburg that the
exact cause of the 14 September fire still had to be
determined but said that it began in a section where a
hot water furnace stood in the wooden church at Ganina
Yama. That is the name of the mine shaft near the Urals
Mountains city where the remains were initially deposited
after the execution. The family and their doctor and
servants were killed in the basement of the Ipatiev House
in Yekaterinburg, about 1500 kilometres (900 miles) east
of Moscow, where they were being detained. Criminal
negligence rather than arson is regarded as the main
cause of the blaze.


21 September 2010

Catholics give 'quality' education in Malawi,
but fall short on faith

Blantyre, Malawi (ENI). Two studies by Roman Catholic
organizations in Malawi show that the church's schools
have contributed to quality education and yet they have
failed to build up Catholicism among their students.
The study, conducted between 2005 and 2010 in 48 out
of 476 Catholic primary schools and 12 out of 119
secondary schools, was the first large-scale
investigation into the role the church plays in
promoting education in the country. It was instigated
by Catholic Relief Services in conjunction with the
Episcopal Conference of Malawi, the grouping of bishops
in the southern African country. "A lack of visibility
of priests or nuns at Catholic schools makes communities,
students and teachers think they are no longer aligned
to the Catholic Church," the Blantyre-based Daily Times
newspaper quoted the bishop-elect for the Karonga
diocese, the Rev. Martin Mtumbuka, as saying.


Filipino Christian and Muslim leaders talk
to repel extremism

Baguio City, Philippines (ENI). The threat by a U.S.
pastor to burn the Quran, on 11 September, and the
reaction it evoked, have spurred Filipino Christian
and Muslim leaders to commit to inter-faith dialogue
to promote understanding. "The pastor who thought he
could burn the Quran may not have even read it," said
Bedejim Abdullah, Islamic chaplain of the Philippine
Military Academy. "Such threats stem from ignorance
of the contents of the Islamic scripture, which
promotes peace and harmony." Abdullah was speaking
on 20 September during a meeting with Christian
ecumenical leaders, during which they planned Muslim-
Christian symposia to promote better understanding
between the faiths. The Muslim chaplain was referring
to the Rev. Terry Jones, who heads the Dove World
Outreach Center, a church in the Florida university
town of Gainesville. Jones and his tiny congregation
threatened to burn the Islamic holy book, but dropped
the plan after worldwide condemnation.


Poll: Most in US say religious expression
in public schools is OK

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). A majority of those in the
United States - including those who do not practice
a particular faith - think students should be able
to express their religion in public schools, a new
poll by the First Amendment Center finds. Three-
quarters of Americans support student religious
speech at public school events. A slight majority
of those who don't practice religion (52 percent)
think such expression is appropriate, Religion News
Service reports. In addition, 80 percent of Americans
said students should be permitted to pray at events
at public schools. "Clearly most Americans want to
keep government out of religion, but they don't see
an expression of faith by a student at a public school
event as a violation of the separation of church and
state," said Ken Paulson, president of the Freedom
Forum's First Amendment Center in a 15 September
announcement of the findings.


22 September 2010

Sudanese churches' leader calls
for Obama’s help over referendum

Nairobi (ENI). The head of the Sudan Council of Churches
has urged U.S. President Barack Obama to help ensure that
the January 2011 referendum on self determination for
southern Sudan is fair. The Rev. Ramadan Chan Liol, the
general secretary of the council, which includes Orthodox,
Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, stressed that a
credible process presented the highest chances of southern
Sudan and the Abyei people's verdict being respected in the
9 January poll. "I urge him [Obama] to help ensure an
internationally monitored and protected, transparent,
free and fair referendum,"  Chan told ENI news in an
interview on 13 September. He was speaking from Khartoum
days after the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
said the situation between the north and south was "a
ticking time bomb with enormous consequence", and
independence of the south was "inevitable".


European Parliament concerned at state of Jordan River

Jerusalem (ENI). The European Parliament has expressed
concern at devastation to the Jordan River and has called
on Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to
"cooperate and rehabilitate" it. The river holds special
importance for Christians due to the Bible saying Jesus
was baptised in it. The parliament of the European Union
called, "on the governments of Israel and Jordan and the
Palestinian Authority to work in a spirit of cooperation
in order to save the Lower Jordan River, and (urge) them
to establish, with the support of the European Union, a
Jordan River Basin Commission," in a 9 September
resolution. At the same time the parliament welcomed
cooperation among the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian
local communities who are facing water challenges in the
Lower Jordan River area. It called on Israel and Jordan
to "fully honour" commitments made in their peace treaty
concerning the rehabilitation of the Jordan River.


23 September 2010

German Catholics to apply
new procedures in selecting priests

Trier, Germany (ENI). Admitting past failures in dealing
with cases of sexual abuse by clergy against young people,
Germany's Roman Catholic bishops have announced stricter
procedures for selecting new priests. At its annual autumn
meeting in the central German town of Fulda from 20 to 23
September, the German Bishops' Conference discussed how
to prevent sexual abuse of minors in the future. The
bishops agreed a new framework that would be introduced
into all their institutions. Earlier, the bishops had
apologised for the abuse that had taken place within
Catholic Church institutions, and announced that the
matter of compensation for victims is to be discussed
with government officials. "We know that we failed,"
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, chairperson of the bishops'
conference, told the meeting of 67 diocesan and auxiliary
bishops from the 27 German dioceses during the opening
ceremony on 20 September. Then, in a 23 September
statement, Zollitsch said that, as part of the new
prevention programme, the bishops had decided to put a
special emphasis on the training and selection of priests.


Kashmir churches relieved at 'tough action'
against Quran protests

Bangalore, India (ENI). Church leaders in charge of the
tiny Christian community in India's troubled Kashmir
region have thanked the government for protecting them
during recent violent protests. More than 25 protesters
were killed and many more injured when security forces
fired on mobs venting their anger on scattered Christian
centres in Kashmir following reports that there had been
a desecration of the Qur'an in the United States. "We are
thankful to the government for protecting our people and
centres with determination," said Bishop Pradeep Kumar
Samantaroy, who heads the Church of North India's Amritsar
diocese that covers Kashmir. Bishop Samantaroy spoke to
ENI news on 21 September after returning from a meeting
in Kashmir with leaders and the police chief from India's
northernmost states of Jammu and Kashmir, where he thanked
them for protecting the Christian community.


US scholar says Israelites drank beer as well as wine

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). Ancient Israelites drank not only
wine but also beer, according to a biblical scholar at Xavier
University, a Roman Catholic school in Louisiana. "Ancient
Israelites, with the possible exception of a few teetotaling
Nazirites and their moms, proudly drank beer - and lots of
it," said Michael Homan, in his article for the September/
October issue Biblical Archaeology Review, Religion News
Service reports. While English translations of the Bible
do not mention beer, the original Hebrew does, he said.
Homan, an archaeologist, said the Hebrew word "shekhar"
has been mistranslated as "liquor," "strong drink" and
"fermented drink," but it translates as "beer" based on
linguistic and archaeological research. Confusion over
whether the ancient Israelites drank beer also stems
from the difficulty of identifying and finding
archaeological remains of beer production in Israelite


24 September 2010

UN Millennium Development Goals summit
gets mixed grades

New York/Geneva (ENI). Leaders of global faith and
humanitarian groups have given mixed reactions to a
New York summit evaluating the United Nations'
"Millennium Development Goals", set out a decade ago
to reduce global poverty. Political leaders at the
summit acknowledged that progress towards achieving
the eight MDGs by 2015 is not where it should be. In
a final "outcome document" for the 20 to 22 September
U.N. summit, participants recommitted themselves to
achieving the goals, which include the eradication of
extreme poverty and hunger. Church leaders have
applauded the progress made so far to reduce global
poverty but say more must be done. The general
secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev.
Olav Fykse Tveit, told UN secretary general
Ban Ki-Moon in a letter that, "Without significant
transformations in global economic frameworks, the
attainment of the MDGs by 2015 is endangered.


Muslims back Bulgarian Orthodox call
for religion in school

Sofia (ENI). The head of Bulgaria's Muslim community has
announced his backing for a campaign by the country's
Orthodox Church to make religious education compulsory in
schools.  The church held a mass march in Bulgaria's capital
of Sofia on 24 September in support of its aim as protestors
shouted against "60 years of atheism", introduced during the
communist era. In a statement reported in the Bulgarian daily
newspaper Klassa, the office of the Chief Mufti, who is the
spiritual leader of Bulgaria's Muslims, the second-largest
religious group in the country, said, "The mufti calls on
Bulgarian citizens professing the religion of Islam to
support this expression of solidarity with the campaign
by Christians."


Methodist churches in Britain use 89 languages

London (ENI). The Methodist Church in Britain conducted
services in 89 languages, in addition to English and Welsh,
one of the official languages in Wales, in 2009, the church
has announced. "All this reflects the multi-cultural nature
of Britain in 2010," the Rev. John Chambers, a minister at
Walworth Methodist Church in London, told ENI News. "We have
four fellowships in our church: Sierra Leone, Ghanaian,
Zimbabwean and Nigerian." Chambers said that during the
year, each fellowship holds its own service. "There will
be readings in local languages, hymn singing in different
languages, and now and again preachers from the countries
concerned will address congregations. People come to the
Methodist Church knowing that their ethnic traditions will
be acknowledged." The media officer for Britain's Methodist
Church, Karen Burke, said that languages used at services
include Afrikaans, Cantonese, Eritrean, Farsi, French,
Hindi, Portuguese, Shona, Swahili, Urdu, and many others.



Provided by Sojourners Online

September 9th, 2010

"Listen!" ... I could spend the rest of my life pondering
on the implications of that one word. It plunges me at once
into a personal relationship. It takes me away from the
danger of talking about God and not communing with [God].

- Esther de Waal, "A Life-Giving Way"


September 10th, 2010

Peace is not a matter of prizes or trophies. It is not
the product of a victory or command. It has no finishing
line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of achievement.
Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions
by many people in many countries. It is an attitude, a way
of life, a way of solving problems and resolving conflicts.
It cannot be forced on the smallest nation or enforced by
the largest. It cannot ignore our differences or overlook
our common interests. It requires us to work and live

- Oscar Arias Sánchez, from his Nobel Lecture


September 16th, 2010

Monastic spirituality says that we are to honor one
another. We are to listen to one another. We are to reach
across boundaries and differences in this fragmented world
and see in our differences distinctions of great merit that
can mend a competitive, uncaring, and foolish world.

- Sr. Joan Chittister, from "The Rule of Benedict"


September 17th, 2010

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has
risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see
everything else.

- C.S. Lewis


September 22nd, 2010

It is not enough for us to say: "I love God, but I do not
love my neighbor." Saint John says that you are a liar if
you love God and you don't love your neighbor. How can you
love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your
neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live?
And so this is very important for us to realize, that love,
to be true, has to hurt.

- Mother Teresa, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1979


September 23rd, 2010

Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things
we do not see.

- Martin Luther


September 24th, 2010

Bit by bit … she had claimed herself. Freeing yourself
was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self
was another.

- Toni Morrison, in "Beloved"



Sept. 9, 1976, Communist Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung
died in Beijing at age 82.


Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackers crashed two airliners
into the World Trade Center in New York, causing the
110-story twin towers to collapse. Another hijacked
airliner hit the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a
field in Pennsylvania.


Sept. 12, 1977, South African black student leader
Steven Biko died while in police custody, triggering
an international outcry.


Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the
preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all
slaves in rebel states should be free as of Jan. 1, 1863.


Sept. 25, 1957, with 300 United States Army troops
standing guard, nine black children were escorted to
Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, days
after unruly white crowds had forced them to withdraw.



J. Ray Houser and Wayne
Lutheran Brotherhood Award, 1967

(If accompanying picture does not appear, click 'print')


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