I have spent the first half of my career
as a pastor of the church, and the second half as a teacher in the university and the church. I experience much satisfaction working in both worlds. As I engage in ongoing research to support my third activity which is writing, I am constantly finding many interesting items on the net and from friends which I edit and share on my Colleagues List. That way, you too might enjoy information from the worlds
of religion and culture. As of April 2020, this profile has received 2,500 hits.
Thanks for your interest!
"The Ends of Economic Activity"
by Colleague Miroslav Volf
A lecture given November 18th at
Ambrose University College, Calgary
BC Polygamy Ruling Stands
Did Einstein Believe in God?
How Do You Welcome Strangers?
Cardinal Laws Resigns His Post
Secrecy on Pedophilia No Solution
Sears Wish Book or Charity Gift Card?
Grafitti Artist Stops Church Closure
Atheists Launch Non-Believers Campaign
Christian Witness, Inter-religious World
Scandal Hits Bible School at Three Hills
Global Faith Potpourri:
Ten ENI Geneva stories.
Quotes of the Week:
Dorothy L. Sayers
On This Day:
24 Nazi leaders are tried before an
international war crimes tribunal,
Nuremberg, Germany (1945)
JFK is assassinated in Dallas.
Suspected gunman Lee Harvey Oswald
is arrested. LBJ sworn in as 36th
president of the United States (1963)
Jack Ruby shoots and kills Lee
Harvey Oswald, accused assassin
of President Kennedy (1963)
Closing Thought: Jesus
We have come to the end of another
church year, and we begin a new,
joyous celebration of the Advent
season leading up to Christmas.
May this time be one of special
spiritual significance for you!
Doug Koop of Winnipeg, a longtime
friend, associate and colleague -
informed people this week that,
after 25 years, he was stepping
aside as editor of Christian Week.
I am saddened to see him go, but
hopeful that new challenges will
be part of his future, even though
he is uncertain about what they
May God bless and go with you,
friend! You have been a great
supporter and inspiration to me
for many years.
This week, I have transcribed
a talk given by colleague Miroslav
Volf of Yale. He gave this lecture
at Ambrose University College, in
Calgary, Friday, November 18th.
It is entitled:
"The Ends of Economic Activity"
I hope you find my notes helpful.
Ontario Friend - comments this
week on my CL notice, last week,
of John Horman's scholarly book -
"A Common Written Greek
Source for Mark and Thomas."
Thanks, friend, for the time and
effort you put into writing this
Harry Winter writes about the
appointment of Fr. John Crossin as
executive director of the US Catholic
Bishops Secretariate for Ecumenical
and Interreligious Affairs.
Thanks for this update from the
Philip Jenkins - writes of travels
in Eastern European and the memories
of religious persecution he still
picks up there (Christian Century)
Doug Koop - here is the official
announcement of Doug's resignation
as editor of Christian Week.
Lorna Dueck - advocates for more
Christian inpute to end-of-life
decisions in our nation's homes,
hospices and hospitals.
(Globe and Mail)
Kelly Johnson - shares a youtube
report from a ministry assoicate on
the difficult Christian religious
situation in Egypt, with additional
comment by Brian Stiller.
I add an article by Joan Chittister
(National Catholic Reporter)
"BC Polygamy Ruling Stands" - in what
is probably not the end of legal process,
the BC Supreme court ruled to uphold the
current rejection of polygamy in its law
"Did Einstein Believe in God?" - the
discussion continues on whether Einstein
was, in truth, a believer (Miranda Global)
"How Do You Welcome Strangers?" - all
churches seem to be more attuned to this
issue (National Catholic Reporter)
"Cardinal Laws Resigns His Post" - after
he was ousted from Boston, Pope John Paul
gave Law a major church in Rome. He has
now reached retirement age for cardinals
and must resign (Huffington Post)
"Secrecy on Pedophilia No Solution" -
Asian Catholic bishops have been holding
top secret talks on this troublesome
issue that seems to be circling the globe.
A Catholic commentator objects to secrecy
(ENI, Ucan News)
"Sears Wish Book or Charity Gift Card?"
- here are some alternative ideas to
buying "more things" for yourself this
Christmas (Christian Week online)
"Grafitti Artist Stops Church Closure"
- an intriguing story from Germany about
how one declining church was able to
keep the doors open (Spiegel online)
"Atheists Launch Non-Believers Campaign"
- atheists in the evangelizing business?
This seems to be happening in some places
"Christian Witness, Inter-religious World" -
here is good comment from the Evangelical
Fellowship of Canada on the newly approved
ecumenical guidelines for evangelism
"Scandal Hits Bible Institute at Three Hills"
- one of the classic religious establishments
of Alberta has been hit by - you guessed it -
sex scandals; proving that no part of the
church has a corner on the abuse of power
(Montreal Gazette/Calgary Herald)
Note: Colleague Tim Callaway is quoted in this
Global Faith Potpourri:
Ten religion stories from Ecumenical News
International, Geneva, appear this week.
Quotes of the Week:
Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou,
Dorothy L. Sayers, Elise Boulding
and D.H. Lawrence share their
insights with us.
On This Day:
24 Nazi leaders were tried before an
international war crimes tribunal,
in Nuremberg, Germany (1945)
JFK was assassinated in Dallas. Suspected
gunman Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested. LBJ
sworn in as 36th president of the USA (1963)
Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald,
accused assassin of President Kennedy (1963)
The Canonical Jesus (or Christ)
with comment by Mathew Fox
May your Advent expectations and
experience bring you a great deal
of satisfaction this year.
SPECIAL FALL STUDY ANNOUNCEMENTS
Introducing the Full Program
ST. DAVID'S MONDAY NIGHT STUDY 2011
Series nearing completion:
"Living Ethically Amid Chaos"
Two Books by Richard Holloway
September 19th - November 28th
TM Room, St. David's United Church
7:00PM - 9:00PM
"Between the Monster and the Saint"
Spiritual support for pursuing a life
that seeks above all to be good
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.
THE ENDS OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY
A Lecture by Miroslav Volf, Yale Centre
for Faith and Culture
Presented at Ambrose University College,
Calgary Alberta; Friday, November 18th,
This lecture was taped and should appear
on the Ambrose University College website
by the end of November, 2011.
Dr. Volf introduced himself as associating
with the Yale Centre for Faith and Culture
in New Haven, CT. whose purpose it is to
link Christian and societal concerns. In
this case the link is between faith and
business. He is concerned about how faith
can get “legs” in everyday life. Currently,
the theme of this lecture has evolved for
him as he teaches a course in “Faith and
Globalization” with former British Prime
Minister Tony Blair.
“I am concerned about “ends” and the
thought processes we take to determine
and move toward these ends,” he said.
My lecture will focus on globalization
Taken together, religious faiths and
globalization are very powerful forces.
There is actually a high level of
inter-connectivity between them. We live
in a highly inter-related world. There
are no isolated places in it. An issue
in one place affects all other places.
More than ever, we are becoming aware
of our “global oneness.”
What drives globalization? Trade,
exploration, warriors, preachers.
Globalization is driven dominantly by
market forces and this leads to rapid
and constant change. Marx described
this as a permanent revolution.
Will market forces make faith obsolete?
This is the secularization thesis which
developed and was popular in the
twentieth century. In other words,
will modernization lead inevitably to
My definition of secularization: the
diminishment of religious belief and
practice; faith becomes less a factor
in public life and a privatization of
Has the secularization thesis proven
true? No. Actually, there are more
religious people on earth today than
ever and the percentage of the world’s
population that is religious is actually
increasing in relative terms. Consider,
for example, the Muslim, Hindu and
populations – there were 800 million
such people in 1900CE. In 2000CE there
were 3.82 billion. At the same time,
the number of the world’s secular
people has also increased.
Religion is also stepping more boldly
into the public realm.
The democratization process is expanding
considerably around the world (for example,
in India, the poor have been activated by
democracy.) Faith influences many in the
public realm, and it is politically
assertive in many parts of the globe.
There are no longer any “clean social
places” where all are of the same
religious persuasion. Pluralism, or
the existence of differing faiths in
the same place, dominates.
We face a common challenge. How can we
live together as a variety of groups?
Is an exclusivist faith possible? That
possibility is becoming less and less
the reality around the globe. This
creates a new context for living
faithfully as sequestered faith is
not possible. Integrating faith and
the political life is a growing global
Faith and the Creation and Distribution
of Wealth; Faith and the Purposes of Work
The Creation of Wealth. It used to be
(as described by Max Weber) that the
work ethic, inner worldliness and self-
discipline (the so-called Protestant
work ethic) leading to a creative
individualism, was possible. Now, there
is more focus on “social capital.”
I need to relate to others, and must
build trust with them. Today, faith
traditions generate significant social
The distribution of wealth, private or
systemic, is influenced by the faith
traditions. Means must be found to
care for those ‘beyond the group’
and also to provide for the poor
and unfortunate among us.
The purposes of work are affected by
these changes. What role has faith in
the shaping of the question? Why do
we engage in business? Profit? What
is the purpose of profit?
These questions lead to wider questions
concerning the purposes of life; what we
call the “examined life.” I ask these
questions of my students at Yale. “Why
are you here?” “What are the purposes
of life as you understand it?” Why have
so many universities stopped asking
their students such questions? We have
been taken over, more and more, by the
scientific ideal. We don’t ask “meaning
questions” any more. We ask “how,” not
“why” questions today. When we consider
all values and paths equal, “meaning”
disappears from the discussion.
My Main Concern:
I am interested in our procedures – the
justice and fairness questions. We also
need to focus on the purposes of life –
the ends, and the accounting questions.
How can our engagements lead to human
I personally was raised by my parents
to “seek first the Kingdom of God and
God’s righteousness" … so I ask, “How
do our engagements point to the Kingdom?”
Purpose/goal questions are the key
questions people of faith ask as they
engage in public life.
Questions and Answers:
1. You speak of the rise of religion
but the loss of purpose in today’s world.
Why is this?
I think we need to define what kind of
religion we are talking about. We seem
to have a “God the butler” image of God.
“What can God do for me?” Not, “How am
I orienting myself to God?” Here, I think
is why we have both a rise in religion,
but a loss of purpose. There is more
religion, but less faith in our time.
2. How can we discuss purpose in a
Christian faith has a lot to offer.
Not as something unique, but to help
us focus on truth.I think that today,
it is better to emphasize a mutual
quest for the truth rather than
Christian uniqueness. This kind of
truth can be summed up in the phrase
“God is love.”
3. What happens when the quest for
truth becomes a battleground?
I think that in our mutual questing as
humans there will be both agreements
and disagreements. Public space is
needed to give people with a place to
debate and to disagree. We need
“pluralistic space places.” The
Golden Rule should govern our
evangelical tactics. Respect,
above all, must dominate.
4. One member of the audience
congratulated Dr. Volf at this point
for demonstrating the respect about
which he was talking. “Always be ready
to give an account for the hope that
lies within, but do it in a spirit of
respect.” (I Peter 3:15.)
Volf: “I believe we can respect other’s
opinions even as we may disagree with them.
5. What is the focus and theological
vision of the “Occupy Movement?”
It is a rage against injustice. I am
concerned that Christians have not picked
up on this sentiment and articulated
positive alternatives. Still, I don’t
know how I would go about that. I need
to reflect more on this movement
because it represents a call to rethink
our societal directions. Christians have
always been good moralizers and complainers.
6. What is “the Good Life?”
Modern Christians have not engaged this
question. We need to develop coherent
answers to this question, not necessarily
uniform answers. We are currently impotent
7. Is the Christian voice possible in the
larger issues of “the military,” “business,”
We should not be discouraged, but work from
the place and groups within which we find
ourselves. We have a responsibility to get
to the heart of the issues out there, and
not give simplistic answers.
November 20th, 2011
Thanks for your presentation and review
of John Horman's book. For many who grew
up thinking that the New Testament Gospels
were the only works of that kind, a work
like John Horman's is certainly an eye
opener, I'm sure. "We" do forget so
easily - especially, I believe, if "we"
know little of, or are little interested
in knowing, our Christian history - that
the Christians who wrote and edited and
preserved those four works we call the
Gospels did not live and work in a vacuum.
I'm currently reading Birger A. Pearson's
2007 work, Ancient Gnosticism, and am
struck again with how much thought and
study and writing was going on in the
first two or three centuries of the
Christian Church's history.
And this in no way, I believe, takes away
from the fact that Christians, living in
the Holy Spirit, imbued even with that
Spirit, also long ago came to the
conclusion as to which works/writings/
"books" they recognized and accepted
as our Sacred Scripture/Holy Writings,
containing the written Word of God.
Yes, definitely, yes, study of extra-
canonical works can and does enhance
the study of the Bible.
That a fixed canon is a reduced canon...
I see a fixed canon - as it is known in
the Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental
Orthodox Churches - more as a response
to those who reduced the canonical books
at a particular juncture in the history
of the Church, a response to those who
were perceived to be saying that certain
books or writings do not actually contain
the sure and certain written Word of God.
The fixed canon - fixed definitively in
the Catholic tradition at a time of
great polemics, as we know - says,
"These writings do contain that written
Word of God."
The early Church was nourished by writings
far more numerous than those that are today
included in the New Testament of the
Christian Bible. John Horman, and others
too, do us all a great service in making
us aware that none of this arose in a
vacuum or "fell from the skies."
HARRY WINTER OMI
November 21st, 2011
If you pull up Father John Crossin
OSFS on the internet, you will find
a nice description of his being named
executive director of the US Catholic
Bishops Secretariate for Ecumenical
and Interreligious Affairs, Nov. 17.
John's field is moral theology, and he
has written books on the spiritual
dimension of ecumenism. He is an expert
on the spirituality of St. Francis de
Sales. He served as executive director
of the Washington DC Theological
Consortium. When we had a Cluster of
Independent Theological Schools and I
was representing the OMI's, he
represented the OSFS and our third
partner was the OP's (Dominicans).
I'm sure he would welcome our prayers as
he takes this new assignment. Can you
mention this in new weeks newsletter?
Hope the winter weather has not come
too soon to western Canada.
Check out this youtube video of last
Friday nights all night prayer vigil
in the famous cave church in Cairo.
Over 70,000 attended and because Sat7
televised it live it is believed
that millions may have joined in
What impressed me was the unity
across denominations (the Coptic,
Orthodox and other churches), the
call to repentance for the Church,
the call to glorify Jesus, (there
was a special segment of blessing
for their enemies), and prayer for
their nation. You may not understand
the Arabic, but you can get a feel
for the Spirit of the event by
watching selected portions of this
clip. Everyone keeps saying God is
up to something in Egypt and in the
Middle East. Perhaps we can learn
from our Arab brothers and sisters!
Ecumenical News International
Gereva, November 23rd, 2011
Asian bishops hold closed-door
meeting on pedophilia
Bangkok (ENI news) - Asian Catholic
bishops held a conference from 14
to 19 November in Bangkok on the
"considerably serious problem" of
child sexual abuse, but the meeting
was closed to journalists and no
communique had been issued as of
22 November. The Federation of
Asian Bishops' Conferences told
news media that the conference,
entitled "The Impact of Pedophilia
-- Crisis in the Church in Asia,"
was closed and advised reporters
not to attempt to visit the venue
at Assumption University, according
to UCAnews, the Union of Catholic
Asian News service. An open letter
posted in January on the
federation's website invited
cardinals, archbishops and bishops
to the gathering to discuss "letters
from different quarters of the Church
that pedophilia has already become a
considerably serious problem in Asia."
Ecumenical News International
21 November 2011
Despite protests, Polish order
defends silencing priest
Warsaw (ENI news) - A Polish monastic
order has defended its decision to bar
a former superior-general from speaking
to the media, despite a protest against
the decision from thousands of the
priest's supporters. "Like all monks,
the Marians take three community vows:
chastity, poverty and obedience - no
Marian can be the property of a TV
station or editoral board, or of an
institution or office," the Rev. Pawel
Naumowicz, the head of Poland's Order
of Marian Priests, wrote in an open
letter. The order was reacting to an
11 November petition urging the
withdrawal of a media ban on the Rev.
In London, people of faith
reach out on Mitzvah Day
London (ENI news) A dozen members of
South London Liberal Synagogue walked
through the Streatham High Street
shopping center on 20 November, but
they weren't looking for pre-Hanukkah
bargains. They talked to shopkeepers,
asking how they coped with crime,
keeping streets safe and helping
neighbors. It was one small project
that was part of "Mitzvah Day 2011,"
an international day in which the
Jewish community reaches out to
neighbours with a range of good
deeds, and it had extra resonance
after a week of rioting last summer
affected London and other British
Indian churches propose
New Delhi (ENI news) - Mainline
churches in India have prepared
a suggested version of anti-
corruption legislation and sent
it to the government as it is
drafting comprehensive anti-
corruption legislation to be
presented inParliament in early
December. "We want the government
to take intoconsideration the
views of the Christian community,"
Samuel Jayakumar,executive secretary
of the Commission on Policy,
Governance and Public Witness of
the National Council of Churches
in India (NCCI), told ENInews in
an interview from New Delhi.
22 November 2011
U.S. fundamentalist university
maintains stunning Catholic
Greenville, South Carolina (ENI news)
-Walking across the tidy campus of Bob
Jones University (BJU) in Greenville,
South Carolina, there's no obvious sign
this bastion of Christian fundamentalism
is also home to one of the nation's
largest collections of Renaissance
and Baroque religious art from the
heart of Catholic Europe. It's all
the more surprising since the school's
old-time Protestant leaders have for
years taught that Catholicism is a
"cult" and even the "Mother of Harlots,"
Religion News Service reports. But the
school has amassed the collection out
of a sincere belief in the teaching
mission of great religious art,
according to school leaders and
Norwegian Christians and Muslims
condemn religious extremism
Oslo, Norway (ENI news) - In the
aftermath of attacks last July that
killed 77 and were carried out by a
self-described "cultural Christian,"
Norwegian Christians and Muslims on
22 November jointly condemned
religious extremism as "contrary
to the teachings of our religions."
Religious extremists "put themselves
in the place of God and believe that
they are fighting on behalf of God
against the enemies of God," said a
statement released on 22 November
from the Islamic Council of Norway
and the Church of Norway Council
on Ecumenical and International
Faith groups oppose
proposed cluster bomb accord
Geneva (ENI news) - Religious
groups are opposing a proposed new
international law on cluster bombs
currently being discussed in Geneva
since they say it would put more
civilians at risk than an existing
treaty. The proposal is being
considered at the Fourth Review
Conference of the Convention on
Conventional Weapons, which is
taking place from 18 to 25 November
at the United Nations offices. The
new law, supported by the U.S.,
Russia, Israel, China and India,
would mandate the destruction of
all cluster bombs produced before
1980, but allow stockpiled weapons
to be used for up to 12 years.
Faith groups say an existing law,
the Oslo Convention on Cluster
Munitions, offers better
23 November 2011
In Philippines, vote urged on
population bill that Catholics oppose
Manila, Philippines (ENI news) Inspired
by the "Occupy Wall Street" movement in
the United States, various groups trooped
to the Philippine House of Representatives
in late November to demand a vote on a
population-control bill that is opposed
by Roman Catholic Church leadership.
Holding signs reading "keep your theology
out of my biology," demonstrators from
the "Occupy for RH" (Reproductive Health)
movement urged legislators on 21 November
to "listen to the people and not to the
bishops." The proposed law promotes both
natural and artificial methods of
contraception. But the Catholic Church
accepts only natural family planning
methods and has been opposing the bill.
Cathedrals becoming rallying points
for anti-capitalist protesters
London (ENI news) In the two months
since the "Occupy" movement spread
around the world, protesters in
several cities are setting up camp
around cathedrals, with varying
reactions from clergy and parishioners.
In the United Kingdom, observers say
the trend is forcing churches to reflect
on their mission and demonstrates a
search for values. "Churches are
becoming an international mustering
point for protesters," the Rev.
George Pitcher, a former adviser
to the Archbishop of Canterbury,
told ENInews. "I think young people
are looking for a form of values-led
leadership, rather than the compliance-
culture that has prevailed in the City
of London," he said, using a phrase
that refers to those who only do the
minimum to comply with laws or
Number of Somali refugees declining
due to aid and rainfall
Nairobi, Kenya (ENI news)- With rainfall,
increased humanitarian aid and military
operations inside Somalia, the movement
of migrants into Dadaab, the world's
biggest refugee complex, has greatly
declined, a Christian relief agency
official said. Moses Mukhwana, Dadaab
project coordinator of the Lutheran
World Federation, spoke to ENI news
days after the United Nations reported
that famine had receded in the three
areas of Somalia previously described
as the worst affected. "There is
already reduced agency work and
presence in the camp. We are only
addressing critical humanitarian
needs," said Mukhwana.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Provided by Sojourners.online
November 21st, 2011
"If an elephant has its foot on
a mouse and you say that your
are neutral, the mouse will not
appreciate your neutrality."
- Desmond Tutu
November 22nd, 2011
"Words mean more than what is set down
on paper. It takes the human voice to
infuse them with deeper meaning."
- Maya Angelou
November 23rd, 2011
"Unless we do change our whole way
of thought about work, I do not think
we shall ever escape from the appalling
squirrel-cage of economic confusion in
which we have been madly turning for the
last three centuries or so, the cage in
which we landed ourselves by acquiescing
in a social system based upon envy and
- Dorothy L. Sayers
November 24th, 2011
"Frugality is one of the most beautiful,
joyful words in the English language,
and yet one that we are culturally cut
off from understanding and enjoying.
The consumption society has made us
feel that happiness lies in having
things, and has failed to teach us
the happiness of not having things."
- Elise Boulding
November 25th, 2011
"My belief is in the blood and flesh
as being wiser than the intellect.
The body-conscious is where life
bubbles up in us. It is how we know
we are alive, alive to the depths
of our souls, and in touch somewhere
with the vivid reaches of the cosmos."
- D.H. Lawrence
ON THIS DAY
Nov. 20, 1945 - 24 Nazi leaders went
on trial before an international war
crimes tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany.
Nov. 22, 1963 - President John F.
Kennedy was assassinated while riding
in a motorcade in Dallas. Suspected
gunman Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested.
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was
sworn in as the 36th president of the