Friday, March 25, 2011

Colleagues List, March 26th, 2011

Vol. VI. No. 28


In this Issue

Special Item This Week -

"The Universal Spirituality
 of Classical Music"

Colleague Contributions:

Ryan Slifka
Tony Parel
Martin Marty
Monica Kilburn-Smith

Net Notes:

Ratzinger and Kung
Religion and Obesity Linked
Obama Visits Grave of Romero
Mustard Seed Pioneer Moves On
Book of Mormon Opens on Broadway
Mass in B Minor Consoles Japanese
Rights Council Affirms Freedom of Belief
McLaren Provides a Safe Harbor for Doubt
Jerusalem Bomb Victim UK Bible Translator
UK Concerned About Creationism in Schools
UK Humanists Want Change in Census Questions

Global Faith Potpourri:

Twelve ENI stories appear this week.


Quotes of the Week:

Provided courtesy of

Joan Chittister, Thomas Merton,
Aung San Suu Kyi, Thomas Berry
and Marilynne Robinson

- offer this week's reflection-pieces

On This Day: (March 20th - March 25th)

Provided courtesy of the archives
of the New York Times:

March 20, 1995 - Poisonous Gas Attack in Tokyo 
March 21, 1965 - MLK Leads Rights March from Selma
March 23, 1965 - First US Two-Person Space Launch
March 24, 1989 - Worst US Oil Spill - Exxon Valdez
March 25, 1965 - MLK Arrives in Montgomery, Ala. 

Read these stories as they actually unfolded. 

Closing Thought - Colleagues List Danger



Dear Friends:

Heading through the season of Lent I
would like to share with you this week
some thoughts I have been pondering on
the subject of the international value
of classical religious music.

What prompted this was the appearance
at Carnegie Hall, New York of the Bach
Collegium of Japan for a benefit concert
in support of the beleaguered people of 
that nation.

Many of us have friends who are going 
through similar trauma as those at the 
New York concert and this is a timely 
reflection, it seems to me.

Colleague Contributions:

Ryan Slifka (Halifax), Tony Parel (Calgary),
Martin Marty (Chicago) and Monica Kilburn-Smith
(Calgary) have special letters and links to
share with you this week.

Anticipated seminary studies, thoughts on
Gandhi and culture, Holy land images and
a close-to-home media investigation of the
Womenpriest movement are included here.


Net Notes:

"Ratzinger and Kung" - here are two Germans 
with much more in common than might seem 
possible because of the stormy history 
separating the two (Ucan News)

"Religion and Obesity Linked" - are the more
religious among us really couch potatoes?
A recent study suggests as much 
(Chicago Sun Times)

"Obama Visits Grave of Romero" - when the US
president visited the grave of Oscar Romero
in El Salvador this week, the event prompted
mixed reaction (ENI, National Catholic Reporter)

"Mustard Seed Pioneer Moves On" - from
street person to Order of Canada recipient
in less than three decades - is how
Calgarian Pat Nixon might be described.
Rough edges and all - he evokes respect

"Book of Mormon Opens on Broadway" - a
signal of the domestication of Mormonism
appears this week with the opening of a
musical on this growing US - based religion
(Salt Lake Times)

"Mass in B Minor Consoles Japanese" -
as noted in my 'special item' column this
week, the appearance of the Bach Collegium
of Japan at Carnegie Hall was poignant
(New York Times)

"Rights Council Affirms Freedom of Belief" 
- the United Nations reaffirms freedom of
religion as one of the basic human rights
(Ucan News)

"McLaren Provides a Safe Harbor for Doubt" 
- emergent church leader Brian McLaren was 
in Winnipeg this week with reassurance for 
those who live with religious doubts in a 
church environment that usually discourages 
personal doubt (

"Jerusalem Bomb Victim UK Bible Translator" -
a British woman, on her way to Africa - and
taking Hebrew language studies in the Holy
Land - was one of this week's bombing victims
(The Guardian, UK)

"UK Concerned About Creationism in Schools" 
- in the UK, Free Schools are a sub-unit of
the Private (which we call Public) schools.
Some government officials fear that the
'science' of creationism is being taught 
in such schools (The Guardian, UK)

"UK Humanists Want Change in Census Questions"
- another sign of the growing influence of
secular thinking in Great Britain
(The Guardian, UK)


Global Faith Potpourri:

Twelve ENI stories appear this week.


Quotes of the Week:

Provided courtesy of

Joan Chittister, Thomas Merton,
Aung San Suu Kyi, Thomas Berry
and Marilynne Robinson

- offer this week's reflection-pieces


On This Day: (March 20th - March 25th)

Read these stories provided courtesy
of the New York Times archives:

Poisonous Gas Attack in Tokyo (1995) 
MLK Leads Rights March from Selma (1965)
First US Two-Person Space Launch (1965)
Worst US Oil Spill - Exxon Valdez (1989)
MLK Arrives in Montgomery, Ala. (1965)

Consider them, as they actually unfolded. 

Closing Thought - 

Consider the danger reading Colleagues List! 




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

Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -



Created and maintained by Colleague
Jock McTavish



Books Considered:

"An Altar in the World"
 by Barbara Brown Taylor


"I Shall Not Hate -
 A Gaza Doctor's Journey"
 by Izzeldin Abuelaish

More study and website particulars will
be posted as they become available.

Classes are well underway!

Here is the link to the session design:

Here is a TV Ontario Interview with 
Dr. Abuelaish provided by




We continue our investigation of the
New Atheists and consider the question:
"Can we be good without God?"

Text for the course will be Sam Harris'
new book:

"The Moral Landscape:
 How Science Can Determine Human Values"
 (Free Press, October, 2010)

Supplementary text:

"Godless Morality" by Richard Holloway
 (Canongate (new edition) 2009)

Course description and registration

Classes ending well. A great group
representing a gamut of believers
through atheists. I have been learning
much from them and will post insights
at the end of the sessions.


A Joint Project of the Multi-Faith
Chaplains and St. David's ACTS Ministry

This Year's Subject:

"Community and Growth" by Jean Vanier.

The book first appeared in 1989 and
continues to be widely read.

Learn from Vanier's years of experience
in L'Arche communities around the world.

This book will be of interest to those
who seek insights for living and
working together in a pluralistic
society such as our own.

This study is for university faculty,
staff and interested students. It runs
for six weeks.

Time: Thursdays, 12 noon to 1:00PM
      March 3rd through April 7th, 2011

Cost: Free. Copies of the book available
      for purchase, courtesy of the
      Christian Reformed Chaplaincy
      and thanks to Paul Verhoef

Location: Small Board Room, Native Centre,
          McEwan Student Centre.

Vanier book study link:




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 Evening Prayers on Saturday, May 7th!

We have 25 choristers signed up as part of
the tour group. This special choir began
rehearsals in late January - led by our
congregation's music director, Brent Tucker.

Details have been finalized with St. David's 
Cathedral dean, Fr. Jonathan Lean. We are
being warmly welcomed! 

We are also planning to sing while visiting
other locations on our tour. More details
to follow.


January 26th was the deadline for all
trip payments - 90 days before departure.

We have started an interest list for other,
future tours!

Let me know if you are interested in learning
more about exciting, spiritual tourism! This
is a cutting edge ministry at St. David's.
We hope to do many more of these tours in future!

Take a look at the St. David's, Wales Sacred Site:



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.




This week, the Bach Collegium of Japan gave
a special guest performance at New York's
Carnegie Hall during a festival series entitled:

As the New York Times reported (see "net notes"
below) "... the festival was dedicated to the
victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
To that end, there could not have been a more
consoling work than Bach's Mass in B Minor."

The Times went on to say that the performers had
come from their stricken country to present this
piece to a New York audience, and this lent a
special emotional resonance to the music.

To the critic who wrote in the Times, the evening
performance was admirable and often beautiful.

When the conductor Masaaki Suzuki founded the 
collegium in 1990, he was a pioneer in bringing 
period-instrument performances to modern Japanese 
audiences. The group has long been highly regarded. 
Mr. Suzuki and his ensemble have been recording an
extensive series of Bach works on the Swedish
label Bis, and I am the happy owner of their
recent "Bach and Beyond" box set of 15 discs.
(purchase information at the end of this article.)


For more information on the group visit -

Bach Collegium of Japan Website:

I am playing one of these discs as I write and
it is a lovely interpretation of one of the
famous German composer's great works. These
include his Magnificat and lovely choruses from
many of his sacred contatas - written for worship
services in the Thomas Church of Leipzig. This
sequence is entitled: "A Choral Year With Bach" 

"The chorus, made up of 50 Japanese and other
international performers made clear its purpose
from the opening Kyrie eleison, which begins
with the chorus, fortified by the orchestra,
singing anguished cries of "Lord, have mercy."

"It was, over all," wrote the Times critic 
Anthony Tommasini, "an involving, insightful
and honest performance... and the audience,
clearly moved, gave the courageous visitors
from Japan a long ovation."


This is but one example of many I might note
to suggest that the phenomenon of sharing
what was originally Western classical spiritual
music has now become international.

Several years ago, one of Calgary's largest
Chinese evangelical churches sponsored a full 
orchestra and chorus production of Handel's
Messiah with equally pleasing response as the
Japanese presentation just noted.

Nowadays, especially during the seasons of
Christmas and Easter, it is possible to attend
quality performances of classical religious
music composed by notables like Vivaldi,
Beethoven and Haydn, but also from North and 
South American, and the more-recently contributing 
nations of Austral-Asia, the Arab world and Africa. 

The value of particular kinds of folk music
aside, "classical music" has emerged to connect
people from all parts of the globe. It is 
already becoming the possession of many who
live beyond its original European settings.


Is it possible to enjoy these compositions
of masses, requiems and cantatas without
plumbing deeply the religious words that
make up the text of these compositions?

Of course it is. I commented recently to
my partners in the Chamber Choir at St. David's
Calgary to which I belong, that it is better
that we NOT know some of the words like the
'burning in hell' parts of Mozart's Requiem!
(It is, of course, from the classic Latin mass.)

Sometimes it is possible to sing things we
would not be able to say with conviction.

Still, I believe that some of the profound
meanings from these classical texts carry with
them something that any human can be exposed to
with spiritual benefit.

You don't have to believe in God, or in the
Christian faith, to value the experience of 
Vaughan Williams' or Bernstein's sacred music.

It is possible to view such things purely as
an art form, bereft of religious connotations.
But spirituality knows no human boundaries and
the universal truths inherent in such music
is bound to seep into human hearts and minds,
without reference to race, colour or creed.

I celebrate this development when many might
disparage the results of global culture.


To purchase the music for yourself:

"Bach and Beyond Collegium Japan"
Limited Edition, boxed set of 15 CDs

Arkiv Music Online: Music:



Halifax, NS

March 18th, 2011

I hope all is well in Calgary and at 
St. David's. Here's an article I thought
might interest your readership. 

It's brilliant:

I'm headed to VST (Vancouver School of
Theology) this fall for my MDiv, finally. 
An exciting time. 

Hope things are well with you, body mind 
and spirit.


Calgary, AB

March 19th, 2011

Dear Wayne,

I read about your fast approaching 
pilgrimage to Celtic lands. It is a 
wonderful way of combining spirituality 
with aesthetic pleasure and renewing 
contact with cultural roots. 

When secularism is parading itself as 
the only valid approach to culture, it 
is wonderful that you think otherwise. 
Gandhi is very much in your company. 
He wanted to harmonize secular culture 
and spiritual culture. I would say that 
harmonizing the two, or at least 
attempting to harmonize the two, is 
one of his major legacies to the world.
He saw radical secularism as a foolish 
attempt to explain the intricacies of 

Warm regards to Marlene. 

Have a good trip to the UK.



Chicago, IL

Sightings  3/21/2011
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem"
Jerusalem, Jerusalem is not about Jerusalem 
the city. Guidebooks abound and histories are 
plentiful. What author James Carroll was moved 
to write is a reflection that deals with 
Jerusalem both as real and as metaphor. He 
does not exactly do justice to or make much 
of his subtitle: How the Ancient City Ignited 
Our Modern World, but his reflections will 
ignite at least sparks in the minds of readers 
who want to ponder with him the question: 
what is it about religion, with all the 
solace-bringing good its various forms can 
bring, that also prompts and promotes 
violence of most barbaric sorts?

Marty's article:

New York Times Review, March 18th, 2011


Calgary, AB

Update on Womenpriest movement

"Crime Against Religion"
Global TV Video

March 24th, 2011



Parallel and Different Lives

Ucan News
March 24th, 2011



Chicago Sun Times
March 24th, 2011



ENI New Report
March 24th, 2011

Obama praised, criticized 
for Romero commemoration

New York (ENI news) - U.S. President Barack 
Obama's visit earlier this week to the tomb 
of the late Oscar Romero, the martyred 
archbishop who was assassinated 31 years ago 
on 24 March, is getting mixed reviews by U.S. 

On 22 March, the U.S. president, while on a 
two-day visit to El Salvador and accompanied 
by Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, visited 
the tomb of Romero, who was killed after he 
criticized the U.S.-supported Salvadoran 
military, which had been aligned with death 
squads during a civil war that killed more 
than 75,000 persons.


What would Romero say to Obama?
US Has a Sad History in El Salvador

National Catholic Reporter
March 24th, 2011


Pat Nixon Steps Down After 26 Years
March 22nd, 2011



Salt Lake Times
March 25th, 2011

Latter Day Saints Penetrate 
American World of Culture


Japan's Bach Collegium at Carnegie Hall

New York Times
Mar. 24th, 2010

In a Mass, a Cradle of Consolation for Japan

That the performers of Bach Collegium Japan 
had come from their stricken country to 
present Bach's Mass in B minoron Tuesday 
lent added emotional resonance to the music.


Religion as a basic right

Ucan News
March 25th, 2011


Controversial Leader Appeals in Winnipeg
March 18th, 2011


On her way to Africa

The Guardian, UK
March 25th, 2011


Palestinians at Worst and Best

Sojourners Online
March 24th, 2011


Fears of Fundamentalism

The Guardian, UK
March 21st, 2011


Secularism on the Rise

The Guardian, UK
March 21st, 2011



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
21 March 2011

Muslims in Britain urged to unite and 
defeat Islamophobia

London (ENI news) Britain's 1.8 million Muslims 
have been urged to build bridges with other faith
communities and society as a whole in order to 
defeat the forces responsible for Islamophobia 
in the media. 


Nurse from rural Zambia awarded 
Swiss leadership prize

Geneva (ENI news) - Zambian nurse Agnes Lisulo 
Mulemwa on 20 March was honored in Geneva for 
helping women in her rural community raise their 
standard of living, train to become leaders and 
support health care. 

The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) 
and the women presidents of regional Swiss Reformed 
churches awarded Mulemwa the Sylvia Michel Prize, 
which includes a cash award of US$5,000. The prize 
is named for the first woman to be elected president 
of a Swiss cantonal (regional) church. 


On World Water Day, student Christian group 
focuses on 'water justice'

New York (ENI news) -Humanitarian and advocacy 
groups are marking the 22 March commemoration of 
World Water Day with renewed focus on the need 
for "water justice."

"The global water crisis is going to be one of 
the 'hot topics' and key issues of the 21st 
century," Luciano Kovacs, the North America 
Regional Secretary of the World Student 
Christian Federation, told  ENI news that 
"Water could become the oil of the 21st century." 


22 March 2011

Orthodox churches find it difficult 
to overcome differences

Moscow (ENI news) - Diptychs, an arcane liturgical 
term that describes the order in which Orthodox 
churches commemorate each other at their services, 
is one of the tangled issues blocking plans for 
what could be the first great church council in 
1,200 years.

Some Orthodox leaders say the churches need to get 
together to discuss common issues and speak with 
one voice on such important topics as bioethics, 
sexuality and the environment, but differences 
over arcane church issues such as diptychs and 
autocephaly (the independent status of Orthodox 
churches) run deep. 


23 March 2011

Catholic nun to head Norway's council of churches

Oslo, Norway (ENI news) - Sister Else-Britt Nilsen, 
64, a Dominican nun, has been elected the first 
Roman Catholic to moderate the Christian Council 
of Norway, the national daily Vaart Land reported. 
The council spans most nationwide churches, from 
Orthodox to Pentecostals, in a country where 78 
per cent of the 5 million inhabitants belong to 
the Lutheran state church. 

Elements of Anglican, Lutheran worship will mark 
a decade of communion

New York (ENI news) - Elements of Anglican and 
Lutheran worship will mark celebrations on 1 May 
of a decade of full communion relationships 
between the Episcopal Church and Evangelical 
Lutheran Church in America and, in Canada, the
Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Canada.

Anti-Christian violence continues in Pakistan

New York (ENI news) - Anti-Christian violence 
in Pakistan continued to take a toll as two 
Christians were shot and killed and two were 
wounded after Muslim youths allegedly attacked 
them outside a church building in Hyderabad on 
22 March, according to reports in Christian 


24 March 2011

Latin American Council seeking 
to strengthen youth work

New York (ENI news) - The Latin American Council 
of Churches (CLAI) Youth Pastoral Ministry said 
that over the next three years it will be 
seeking to strengthen its work in Central and 
South America. A "Guide for Youth Workshops 
on the Millennium Development Goals" shortly 
will be made available to the Latin American 
public, said the council, which is based in 
Quito, Ecuador. Work on the guide began in 
November 2010.


Churches in Japan recovering in the midst of 
ecumenical spirit

New York (ENI news) - As recovery efforts in 
Japan proceed, the full impact of the earthquake 
and tsunami two weeks ago continues to be felt 
by many churches that are providing disaster 
relief while grieving lost members and buildings. 
At the same time, prayers, letters of solidarity 
and donations are coming in from the ecumenical 
community in Asia as well as around the world. 


25 March 2011

Shevchuk elected head of Ukrainian Greek 
Catholic Church

New York (ENI news) - The Ukrainian Greek 
Catholic Church announced that the Most 
Rev. Sviatoslav Shevchuk was elected Major 
Archbishop at an electoral synod of bishops 
held from 21 to 24 March. 

Churches march to recall Argentina's 
dark days of dictatorship 

Toronto, Canada (ENI news) - Church members 
joined thousands of marchers in Buenos Aires' 
Plaza de Mayo (May Square) to mark 35 years 
since a military coup overthrew Argentina's 
elected government and installed a 
dictatorship that left up to 30,000 people 
dead or missing. 

Woman to be first permanent Church of Norway 
presiding bishop

Oslo (ENI news) - Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, 
60, was appointed on 25 March to the new office 
of permanent presiding bishop of the (Lutheran) 
Church of Norway, the Norwegian Ministry of 
Church Affairs reported. She will be based in 
Nidaros (Trondheim) and will be installed in 
her new office on 2 October this year. 



Provided courtesy of

March 21st, 2011

"The vision of a culture lies in what becomes 
its major institutions, in what it remembers  
as its most impacting events, in who it sees 
as its heroes."

- Joan Chittister


March 22nd, 2011

"The deepest level of communication is not 
communication, but communion. It is wordless. 
It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, 
and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover 
a new unity. We discover an older unity. My 
dear Brothers [and Sisters], we are already 
one. But we imagine that we are not. And what 
we have to recover is our original unity. 
What we have to be is what we are."

- Thomas Merton


March 23rd, 2011

"We will surely get to our destination 
 if we join hands."

- Aung San Suu Kyi


March 25th, 2011

"Nothing true can be said about God from 
 a posture of defense." 

-  Marilynne Robinson, from book "Gilead"


March 24th, 2011

"There is need for awareness that the mountains 
and rivers and all living things, the sky and its 
sun and moon and clouds all constitute a healing, 
sustaining sacred presence for humans which they 
need as much for their psychic integrity as for 
their physical nourishment."

- Thomas Berry



March 20, 1995 - in Tokyo, 12 people were 
killed, more than 5,500 others sickened when 
packages containing the poisonous gas sarin 
leaked on five separate subway trains.


March 21, 1965 - more than 3,000 civil rights 
demonstrators led by the Rev. Martin Luther 
King Jr. began their march from Selma to 
Montgomery, Ala.


March 23, 1965 - America's first two-person 
space flight began as Gemini 3 blasted off 
from Cape Kennedy with astronauts Virgil I. 
Grissom and John W. Young aboard.


March 24, 1989 - America's worst oil spill 
occurred as the supertanker Exxon Valdez ran 
aground on a reef in Alaska's Prince William 
Sound and began leaking 11 million gallons 
of crude.


March 25, 1965 - Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 
led 25,000 marchers to the state capitol in 
Montgomery, Ala., to protest the denial of 
voting rights to blacks.



Colleagues List Danger:

"Lead us not into temptation, 
 but deliver us from e-mail."