Friday, April 27, 2012

Colleagues List, April 28th, 2012

Vol. VII. No. 37


Wayne A. Holst, Editor


Colleagues List Blog:

Canadian Anglican Google Groups:

My E-Mail Address:

New "Quicklinks" are now included
with many items. Otherwise, scroll
down to find your selection in the
body of the blog, as in the past.


Dear Friends:

This is my last issue of Colleagues List
until the June 2nd edition - five weeks
from now.

Marlene and I depart for Newark, NJ on
Tuesday. We plan to spend four weeks
visiting New England/Boston, New York City,
Philadelphia and Washington, DC. It is
our way of coming to a new appreciation
for formative American history. As well,
we hope to take in the culture and beauty
of that part of our North American
continent. It is 33 years since I lived
in New Jersey and worked in Manhattan,
and I suspect a lot has changed.

We should have things to report.


This week, let me introduce an exciting
new book on biblical apocalyptic literature:

"Revelations - Visions, Prophecy, Politics
 in the Book of Revelation," by Elaine Pagels

Ms Pagels has has a significant influence on
biblical studies for the past three decades
due mainly to her expertise in Gnosticism.

I very much enjoyed reading this book.
Colleague Shona Cook provided it for me.

As colleague Martin Marty has written of
the author:

"Pagels writes with the instincts of a
novelist, the skill of a scholar, and the
ability to sort out significances that many
scholars lack."

Colleague Contributions:

Martin Marty (Chicago, IL) - introduces us to
the results of a new poll on religion and media

Gary Nickle (Ft. Saskatchewan, AB) - shares
an article from Truthout that I have been
working to get approved for publication.
It concerns four American fundamentalisms
and is a critique of modern US culture.

James Wall (Chicago, IL) - the former editor
of the Christian Century writes about
John Newton and some modern implications
of his life.

Jim Taylor (Okanagan, BC) - reflects with us
on how children assess their losses.

Phil Callaway (Three Hills, AB) - always
brings good humor to Colleagues List.
Thanks, Phil! (see text below)

Net Notes:

"The Lure of Books" - are you interested
in the difference between electronic and
traditional books? (Christian Century)

"Ethiopian Orthodoxy" - an intriguing
exploration of early African Christianity
and the rich legacy it continues to offer
(New York Times)

"Charles Colson has Died" - this man
worked for Richard Nixon and was sent
to jail for what he did. His conversion
was influential (Christianity Today)

"Battle Over the Contemporary Church" -
Vatican Two began a process that has
divided modern Catholicism in many ways.
Read how this happened (First Things)

"Irish Defend Colleague Against Rome" -
Rome has been pressuring an Irish priest
who supports women's ordination and gays.
The number of his supporters grow...
(America, National Catholic Reporter)

"Seeking New Ways to be Religious Today"
- an interesting article on how moderns
seem both non-conformist yet concerned with
faith matters (Huffington Post Canada

"Baptist Couple Edits Muslim-Friendly Bible"
- after years of work among Muslims, this
missionary couple has come up with a most
intriguing method for inter-faith dialogue
(Anglican Journal)

"How Much do Internet Giants Know About You?"
- a helpful article on how the internet has
invaded our private lives most significantly
(The Guardian, UK)

"Girls Ready for Marriage by Age 10 - Cleric"
- an Islamic cleric advocates things that are
quite repulsive to many in the West - and that
includes many Muslims (Uca News)

"After Crackdown - More Support for US Women"
- a second article this week on Vatican pressure
to force change - but history suggests these
tactics are fruitless (Uca News)


Global Faith Potpourri:

Fourteen religion stories come to us this
week from around the world, provided by
Ecumenical News International

Wisdom of the Week:

Robert Corin Morris, Henri J.M. Nouwen,
Thich Nhat Hanh and Kathleen Norris
offer us insights worth considering.

On This Day:

Provided from the archives
of the New York Times:

Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for
assassinating NY Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better
known as Mark Twain, died in Redding, CT.

World's worst nuclear accident occurred at
Chernobyl, USSR. An explosion and fire sent
radioactivity into the atmosphere, killing 31.


Closing Thought: Julian of Norwich

Blessings to you during the month of May!
Pray for our safe travels.



St. David's and ACTS Ministry Announce:


April 22nd - May 8th, 2013

Tour sale begins with deposit starting summer 2012.
Full payment due, January, 2013

More details such as costs to be made available
in the Sunday worship guide and the St. David's
Spiritual Travelers Discussion List Group as they
become available.

To join the list discussion contact:
Deb. Charnusaki -

Your tour hosts:

Marlene and Wayne Holst (or)


NOTE: David Rostad will visit St. David's
for a Special Turkey Tour Information Night
Monday, September 10th, 2012

All are welcome!


September 21st-23rd, 2012

Watch for new information as it
becomes available.


"Welcoming the Stranger -
 From Neighbors to Friends"



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

Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -



An accumulation of thirty-five books studied
since 2000 can quickly be found at:

This collection of study resources represents
more than 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.



Book Notice:

Visions, Prophecy and Politics
in the Book of Revelation
by Elaine Pagels. Viking Canada.
$29.50 CAD. 246 pages
ISBN #978-0-670-02334-9.

Publisher's Promo:

Through the bestselling books of Elaine
Pagels, thousands of readers have come to
know and treasure the suppressed biblical
texts known as the Gnostic Gospels. As one
of the world's foremost religion scholars,
she has been a pioneer in interpreting these
books and illuminating their place in the
early history of Christianity. Her new book,
however, tackles a text that is firmly,
dramatically within the New Testament canon:
The Book of Revelation, the surreal
apocalyptic vision of the end of the
world... or is it?

In this startling and timely book, Pagels
returns The Book of Revelation to its
historical origin, written as its author
John of Patmos took aim at the Roman Empire
after what is now known as "the Jewish War,"
in 66 CE. Militant Jews in Jerusalem, fired
with religious fervor, waged an all-out war
against Rome's occupation of Judea and
their defeat resulted in the desecration
of Jerusalem and its Great Temple. Pagels
persuasively interprets Revelation as a
scathing attack on the decadence of Rome.
Soon after, however, a new sect known as
"Christians" seized on John's text as a
weapon against heresy and infidels of all
kinds - Jews, even Christians - who dissented
from their increasingly rigid doctrines and

In a time when global religious violence
surges, Revelations explores how often
those in power throughout history have
sought to force "God's enemies" to submit
or be killed. It is sure to appeal to
Pagels' committed readers and bring her
a whole new audience who want to understand
the roots of dissent, violence, and division
in the world's religions, and to appreciate
the lasting appeal of this extraordinary text.

Author's Words:

The Book of Revelation is the strangest book
in the Bible, and the most controversial.
Instead of stories and moral teaching, it
offers only visions — dreams and nightmares,
the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,
earthquakes, plagues and war. In the
climactic battle scene, Jesus appears
as a divine warrior, Satan is thrown
into a pit, and all humans who had died
faithful to God reign over the earth for
1,000 years.

The author, John of Patmos, was a Jewish
prophet and a follower of Jesus who probably
began to write around the year 90 after
fleeing a war that had ravaged his homeland,
Judea. But his Book of Revelation wasn't
unique. At the time, countless others —
Jews, pagans and Christians — produced a
flood of "books of revelation," claiming
to reveal divine secrets. Some have been
known for centuries; about 20 others were
found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945.

So what do the other revelations tell us,
and how did John's come to trump the others?
Unlike the Book of Revelation, the great
majority of the others weren't about the
end of the world, but about finding the
divine in it now. Many offered encouragement
to seek direct contact with God — a message
that some early Christian leaders ultimately
chose to suppress...

These... revelations, written several
generations after Jesus' death, were often
written by anonymous followers of Jesus
under the names of disciples — not to
deceive their readers but to show that
they were writing "in the spirit" of those
whose names they borrowed. Many were probably
not written by Christians at all. Some of
the revelations drew upon sacred traditions
of Egypt and Greece and, in some cases, on
the Hebrew Bible. Others included practices
similar to Buddhist meditation techniques...

In the fourth century, bishops intent on
establishing "orthodoxy" labored to suppress
writings like the Secret Revelation. Although
they didn't deny that Jesus was human, they
tended to place Jesus on the divine side of
the equation — not only divine but, in the
words of the Nicene Creed, "God from God…
essentially the same as God." Orthodox
theologians insisted that the rest of
humankind were only transitory creatures,
lost in sin — a view that would support what
would become their dominant teaching about
salvation, offered only through Christ,
and, in particular, through the church
they claimed to represent.

From the second century, Christian leaders,
who saw their close groups torn apart as Roman
magistrates arrested and executed their most
outspoken members, felt that John's Book of
Revelation spoke directly to these crises
because it prophesied God's victory over Rome.
Such Christians championed this book above the
rest. Some challenged other books of revelation,
with their more universal visions, calling them
illegitimate and heretical.

Throughout the ages, Christians have adapted
John of Patmos's visions to changing times,
reading their own social, political and
religious conflicts into the cosmic war
he so powerfully evokes. Yet his Book of
Revelation appeals not only to fear and
desires for vengeance but also to hope.
As John tells how the chaotic events of
the world are finally set right by divine
judgment, those who engage his visions often
see them offering moral meaning in times of
suffering or apparently random catastrophe.
Many poets, artists and preachers have
claimed to find in these prophecies the
promise, famously repeated by Martin Luther
King Jr., that "the arc of the moral universe
is long, but it bends toward justice."

The Book of Revelation reads as if John had
wrapped up all our worst fears — fears of
violence, plague, wild animals, unimaginable
horrors from the abyss below the earth,
lightning, hail, earthquakes and the
atrocities or torture and war — into one
gigantic nightmare.

Yet this worst of all nightmares ends not in
terror but in a glorious new world. Whether
one sees in John's visions the destruction
of the whole world or the dark tunnel that
propels each of us toward our own death, his
final vision suggests that even after the worst
we can imagine has happened, we may find the
astonishing gift of new life. Whether or not
one shares that conviction, few readers miss
seeing how these visions offer consolation
and that most necessary of divine gifts — hope.

- from Chapter One

My Thoughts:

Elaine Pagels has been a favourite biblical
scholar of mine for more than thirty years.
Her first book "The Gnostic Gospels" came out
in 1981 and took the religious world by storm.
In it, this amazingly thorough and aware woman
introduced a whole new world of Christian
scriptures (Gnostic Nag Hammadi texts, unearthed
in 1945) to readers that had been unaware of the
existence of material that had been lost for
almost 2,000 years.

For thirty years, Pagels has been challenging
common wisdom with books on "The Gospel of
Thomas," "The Origin of Satan," "Sex and
Politics in Early Christianity" and, recently,
"The Gospel of Judas." The author makes her
contribution (it seems to me) not by putting
down but by raising poignant questions of
the orthodox Christian tradition. She does
this by means of her easy familiarity with
the Gnostic and other early religious texts.

She helps us to see that the primitive Christian
community was by no means uniform in its
beliefs, and that what we have come to know
as "the orthodox Christian tradition" was
shaped by a combination of factors - expediency,
political pressure, human arrogance - as well
as the divine workings of the Holy Spirit.

While she has presented the Gospel of John
in a previous work, this is the first time
Pagels has written exclusively about an
existing canonical text of the New Testament.

"Revelations" - suggests that the Book of
Revelation constitutes a combination of
visions, prophecies and politics. Originally,
it was the testament of a "John of Patmos"
(not the apostle or the writer of the letters
of John in the New Testament.) John's main
agenda was to portray the Roman empire as
the supreme enemy of God and of the followers
of Jesus. In time, the book was used as a
criteria for measuring "true" biblical

Christians have responded to the book of
Revelation in many ways. Luther, for example,
did not consider it a fit canonical text.
Black Americans, and other persecuted peoples,
have seen in its imagery meaningful signs of
their own worthiness before God in the face
of their enemies.


I gain considerable help from the author who
puts apocalyptic literature of various kinds -
within and beyond Christianity - into a
useful context.

Confusion is the first reaction of many
Revelation readers. Apocalyptical material
was ubiquitous in John's era, but Pagels
gives Revelation meaning and perspective by
setting it within a wider body of literature.

Apocalytic writings like Daniel (from the
Hebrew scriptures) and Revelation (from
the Christian tradition) continue to have
a life of their own. Different times call
different people to come up with different
interpretations of these texts. This can
create chagrin in the hearts of many who
are confused by a plethora of applications
as well as literalist ones.

At the same time, the imagery is timeless,
and allows people of various eras to find
meaning in them.

Even though creating fear in the hearts
of readers is a significant intention of
the writer, hope also emerges. In Revelation
21 for example, John dreams majestically of
"a new heaven and a new earth" where all the
evil and confusion of ths past is gone, and
a new world is offered to those who endure

As the New York Times reviewer of this
book states: "The meaning of the Apocalypse
is ever malleable and ready to hand for
whatever crisis one confronts." (see
"The Last Trumpet" by Dale G. Martin.
Apr. 6th, 2012)

That is one lesson to be leared from Pagel's
book. Another is that we all should be
vigilant to keep some of us from using the
vision for violence against others.

Buy the book from



Chicago, IL

April 23rd, 2012

"Annenberg Poll on Religion in the Media"


Fort Saskatchewan, AB

April 8th, 2012

Dear Wayne:

Most Truthout articles are re-printed from
other sources and some are of course opinion
or research pieces from their affiliated


March 6th, 2012

"America's Four Fundamentalisms"


Chicago. IL

Wall Writings Website
April 21st, 2012

A Reflection on John Newton
With Contemporary Implications

"Throw Their Filthy Ships
 Out of the Water!


Okanagan, BC

Personal Blog
April 25th, 2012

"How Children Process Their Losses"


Three Hills, AB

Phil Callaway’s Laughlines
April 24th, 2012

Thirty years ago this month I asked Ramona
to marry me. Clearly medicated, she said,
“Yes.” How has it lasted so long?

Laughter helps. Even when she says, “You
want breakfast in bed? Sleep in the kitchen!”

Today’s Laugh: When the Moscow Circus came to
Calgary, a beautiful lion tamer walked into the
cage and headed straight for a fierce lion.
The lion humbly wrapped its paws around her and
nuzzled her with affection as the crowd thundered
its approval. All except for one farmer who
hollered, “What’s so great about that? Anyone
can do that!” The ringmaster laughed. “You
wanna try? Step into the cage!” The farmer yelled,
“Sure. But first get that lion outa there.”



In an Electronic World

The Christian Century
April 24th, 2012


Bedrock of Art and Faith

New York Times
April 22nd, 2012


Aide to Nixon had Remarkable Conversion

Christianity Today
April 22nd, 2012


Vatican II Watershed

First Things,
April 22nd, 2012



America Magazine
April 30th, 2012

"A Growing Disconnect:

National Catholic Reporter
April 26th, 2012

(open with Mozilla Firefox)



Huffington Post Canada
April 24th, 2012


Project of Lifelong Devotion

Anglican Journal
April 20th, 2012


Invasion of Privacy?

The Guardian, UK
April 22nd, 2012


Prompts Resentment in West

Uca News
April 25th, 2012


An old tactic with less clout today

Uca News
April 26th, 2012



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
20 April 2012

United Church of Canada Marks
Earth Day with webcast

(ENI news) - The United Church of Canada will
mark Earth Day on 22 April in a high-tech but
low impact way: by going online. The church
will host a live, interactive webcast starting
3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time that will focus
on "healing soul, community and creation," UCC
moderator Mardi Tindal told ENI News.

Radiation protection standards are skewed
towards industry, says Japanese group

Fukushima, Japan (ENI news) - International
radiation protection standards historically
weighed radiation risks and cost-benefit
considerations in such as way as to protect
the nuclear power industry at the expense of
radiation victims, a Japanese interfaith network
has said. The Interfaith Forum for Review of
National Nuclear Policy held a meeting from
17-19 April in Fukushima to debate claims by
the Japanese government regarding the effects
of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
accident, which took place in March 2011.

Philosopher and theologian Emanuel
Swedenborg gets fresh look in new book

Washington (ENI news) - William Blake, Ralph Waldo
Emerson, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Helen Keller
all found something to like in Emanuel Swedenborg.
Emanuel who? A new book, "Swedenborg," by author
and former Blondie bassist Gary Lachman, attempts
to uncover the little-known Swedish scientist,
philosopher and theologian, reports Religion
News Service.


23 April 2012

Philippine diocese takes strong stance
against "corporate greed"

Baguio City, Philippines (ENI news) - A Philippine
Catholic diocese is protesting what parishioners
and environmentalists describe as the "corporate
greed" of the country's largest mall owner, Henry
Sy, one of the world's wealthiest people. The
Baguio diocese plans to halt the celebration of
mass and the performance of other religious rites
at a Sy-owned mall to express its disappointment
about an expansion project. Leaders hope it will
convince the Sy family to listen to critics'
concerns, according to Bishop Carlito Cenzon.

Conference in Dominican Republic to discuss
emerging threats to religious freedom

(ENI news) - More than 800 scholars, government
officials, legal experts, and religious liberty
advocates from some 60 countries will partake
in the 7th World Congress for Religious Freedom
in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The event
runs from 24-26 April, according to a news
release from the Latin American and Caribbean
Communication Agency. The conference seeks to
keep religious liberty advocates "ahead of
the curve" by exploring emerging threats to
religious freedom around the world, notes
the release.

German theologian discusses
challenges faced by Protestants

Paris (ENI news) - The Protestant church
faces three main challenges as it gears up
to celebrate the 500th anniversary in 2017
of Martin Luther's Reformation, according
to a leading theologian. Margot Kässmann,
former head of the Protestant Church of
Germany (EKD) and ambassador for the
anniversary, told ENI news that Protestants
need to examine their role in an increasingly
secular society.

Russian patriarch calls priests
who opposed prayer service 'traitors'

Moscow (ENI news) - Patriarch Kirill I
called clergy who opposed the holding of
mass prayer meeting held in Moscow on 22
April "traitors in cassocks," in a sign
of continuing division within the Russian
Orthodox Church over political and social
issues. Moscow police said the nearly
65,000 people participated in the service
of supplication, or moleben as it is known
in Russian, held in front of Christ the
Savior Cathedral.


24 April 2012

France hears the gospel,
or at least the music

Paris (ENI news) - As pedestrians walked
along the river Seine in Paris on a recent
balmy Sunday, they could hear soaring music
coming from a boat moored quayside in the
Bercy neighborhood. The curious who crossed
the metal gangplank to peek inside the vessel
saw an energetic singer and a pianist, both
dressed in white, and a bass player and
saxophonist dressed in black. The quartet
were performers at a "Gospel brunch," the
latest example of the popularity of gospel
music in France.

More churches are turning
to high-tech outreach

(ENI news) - No matter where you live, you
can go to church, so to speak, with Christ
Fellowship in McKinney, Texas, which is on
board with almost every high-tech gambit
under heaven, reports Religion News Service.
Find the church by going online--the 21st-
century version of sighting a steeple on
the horizon. Beyond its website, Christ
Fellowship has a Facebook page to give it
a friendly presence in social media.


25 April 2012

Armenian archbishop commemorates
genocide with Israeli Jews

Jerusalem (ENI news) - Nations who commit
genocide must be brought to justice by a
world tribunal, said Armenian Archbishop
Aris Shirvanian on the eve of the Memorial
Day of the Armenian Genocide, commemorated
by Armenians worldwide on 24 April. "The
Convention on the Punishment and Prevention
of Genocide was signed in 1948 but so far
no country has (been held accountable) for
committing genocide," he said. "Since the
Armenian genocide and the Holocaust there
have been other genocides in Cambodia,
Rwanda, Darfur, Sudan." Shirvanian spoke
to a small group of Israeli Jews, many of
them immigrants from English-speaking
countries, in the Yedidya modern Orthodox

Global Christian leaders denounce
attack on Sudan Presbyterian Church

(ENI news) Global Christian leaders are
condemning the destruction on 21 April of
the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Bible School in Khartoum, an incident that
occurred amidst escalating hostilities
between Sudan and South Sudan. Nearly 500
people, said to be members of a fundamentalist
Islamic group, attacked the church compound
in the West Gerief district of the Sudanese
capital, burning Bibles and destroying and
looting property. The attack has since
increased fear among Christians in the

National assembly of Indian churches
begins with political statements

Bangalore, India (ENI news) - The quadrennial
general assembly of the National Council of
Churches in India (NCCI) began on 25 April with
an opening worship that contained unusually
strong expressions of opinion on current issues
such as the Koodankulam nuclear power plant.
Opening worship at the assembly, which ends on
28 April, featured statements opposed to the
nuclear plant (in southern Tamil Nadu state),
to what is seen as the undemocratic acquisition
of land in Orissa state for a steel plant and
to what was called abuse of special army powers
in Kashmir and northeast India. Three delegates
from the affected regions read the statements.
They were followed by Bible readings relating
to the issues.


27 April 2012

Gospel calls for solidarity
with the oppressed, says WCC leader

Bangalore, India (ENI news) - The Rev. Olav
Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World
Council of Churches (WCC), on 26 April called
for solidarity from churches with those
"groaning" under pain, suffering and
oppression, in an address to the National
Council of Churches in India (NCCI).
Referring to the theme of the 27th general
assembly -- "The Gospel in a Groaning World"
-- Tveit said the church is called upon
"to share the groaning and suffering of
the world" and "to share in the hope that
change is possible, that redemption can
become reality and injustice and conflicts
shall not have the last word."

Listen to the most vulnerable,
church alliance urges World Bank head

(ENI news) - The Geneva-based Ecumenical
Advocacy Alliance (EAA) on 25 April urged
the World Bank, under newly-appointed
president Jim Yong Kim, to include faith-
based organizations in its decisions and
listen to "those most affected by poverty,
hunger, disease and injustice." In a letter
of congratulations to Kim, who takes office
on 1 July, EAA Executive Director Peter
Prove noted that the alliance supported
an initiative while Kim was director of
the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS
department that pledged to treat three
million people with anti-retroviral drugs
by 2005.



April 23rd, 2012

"What we cultivate and care about inwardly
either freshens or poisons the bloodstream
of humanity."

- Robert Corin Morris


April 24th, 2012

"Patience is not waiting passively until
someone else does something. Patience asks
us to live the moment to the fullest, to be
completely present to the moment, to taste
the here and now, to be where we are. When
we are impatient, we try to get away from
where we are. We behave as if the real thing
will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere
else. LetÂ’s be patient and trust that the
treasure we look for is hidden in the ground
on which we stand."

- Henri J.M. Nouwen


April 25th, 2012

"In everyone there is the capacity to wake up,
to understand, and to love."

- Thich Nhat Hanh


April 26th, 2012

“We shortchange ourselves by regarding religious
faith as a matter of intellectual assent. This
is a modern aberration; the traditional Christian
view is far more holistic, regarding faith as a
whole-body experience. Sometimes it is, as W.H.
Auden described it, 'a matter of choosing what
is difficult all one's days as if it were easy.”

- Kathleen Norris



Provided from the archives
of the New York Times

On April 23, 1969 - Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced
todeath for assassinating New York Sen. Robert
F. Kennedy. The sentence was later reduced to
life imprisonment.


On April 21, 1910 - author Samuel Langhorne
Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, died
in Redding, CT


On April 26, 1986, the world's worst nuclear
accident occurred at the Chernobyl plant in
the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire in
the No. 4 reactor sent radioactivity into
the atmosphere; at least 31 Soviets died



Some of us believe that God is All-Power
and can do all, and that God is All-Wisdom
and knows how to do all. But that God is
All-Love and wants to love all, here we
restrain ourselves. And this ignorance
hinders most of God's lovers, (but) as I see
it God wants to be thought of as our Lover.

- Julian and Norwich

For Julian, God is not just love but
"All-Love." What are the implications of
that awareness in our lives? Do you agree
with Julian that we hinder ourselves by
denying that God is All Love? What can we
do to lessen that obstacle in our self-
understanding and God-understanding?

Do you agree that God want's to be
considered our lover? How real is
this for you?


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