Friday, April 25, 2014

Colleagues List, April 27th, 2014

Vol. IX.  No. 35



Wayne A. Holst, Editor
My E-Mail Address:

Colleagues List Web Site:

"Quicklinks" are included with many items
at the beginning of this issue. To get a more
complete picture, however, scroll down to
find your special selection in the body of
the blog. 

Note that not all items here have links.


Dear Friends:

This will be my last issue of Colleagues List
until June 1st. Marlene and I have planned
a trip down the US Pacific Coast to
Southern California, returning through
the Mountain States. 

This week, my Special Item is a book notice on
"How God Became Jesus." It is a response to 
Bart Ehrman's "How Jesus Became God" that
was presented here two weeks ago, April 13th.

Scroll down for article.


Colleague  Comment -

Karen McKeown writes me about a new 
book 'Medicine Walk' by Richard Wagamese


Colleague Contributions - are from

Reginald Bibby who provides a
"Canadian Survey on Life After Death"

Rob Fennell who invites us to
"A Nova Scotia 'Camino' Pilgrimage"

Jim Taylor who writes on the theme
"Many Ways of Communicating"

Ron Rolheiser who reflects on
"God's Quiet Presence in Our Lives"

Martin Marty who informs us about the
"British Priesthood Uptick" (and)

Michael Higgins who suggests that
"There's More than One Way to Make a Saint"


Net Notes - this week include

"New Papal Saints" - word from Rome this
week is that two former popes will be
declared saints Sunday (America Magazine, 
National Catholic Reporter, Sightings)

"John/John Paul Compared" - both
popes made their own unique contributions;
the first was universally loved, the second
stood strong against communism, but may
or may not have dealt well with sex abuses
(America Magazine, National Catholic Reporter)

"Anglo-English Relations Warm" - the
visit of the president of Ireland, who
was welcomed by the queen helps to
bring a tragic era of relations to an end
(America Magazine)

"Ehrenreich: Living With A Wild God" -
this new book by an atheist who has
had mystical experiences was introduced
here several weeks ago. Now, a review
(New York Times Review of Books)

"51% of Americans Question Big Bang" -
more than half of Americans claim to
believe the biblical account of creation
as opposed to the scientific one 
(The Christian Post)

"A Healthy Church is Not Always Growing" -
Archbishop Welby says that some churches
engaged in important social justice work
will never grow numerically (The Tablet, UK)

"Anne Lamott Publishes 'Stitches' (review)" -
the latest by a favorite author is reviewed
this week (Englewood Review of Books)

"Ukraine: Canadians Need to be Taking Notes"
- Canadians should not take lightly what is
currently taking place in the Ukraine, says
this writer (Christian Week Online)

"The Resurrection: Reclaiming a Mystical View"
- this article claims that many early Christians
assumed a mystical understanding of the
resurrection, and so might we (National
Catholic Reporter)

"Turkey Issues Regret for Armenian Massacre"
- for the first time, a leader of Turkey has
acknowledged wrong in a long-standing feud
(UCA News)


Wisdom of the Week -

From Sojourners and Bruderhof Online:

Anne Lamott, Clarence W. Hall, Thomas Merton,
Henry Knox Sherrill, Mary Wollstonecraft,
William Blake and Frederick Buechner

- share insights with us. Scroll down.


On This Day -

April 20th - 26th

From the archives of the New York Times:

"Early Planning for UN Held in San Francisco"


Closing Thought -

Again, this week, we conclude with words
from a favorite author, Henri Nouwen
Please scroll down to read him.


Additional Learning Resources:

St. David's Monday Night Winter Study Link

St. David's Book Study Archives - 15 Years


I'll be back in touch with you in five weeks!




The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature.
Essays by Bird, Evans, Gathercole, Hill and Tilling
Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI. 2014.
$21.00 CAD. Kindle $11.00 CAD. 336 pp. Paper.
ISBN #978-0-310-51959-1.

A critique of Bart Ehrman's book "How Jesus
Became God." That book was presented on
Colleagues List, April 13th,2014.


Publisher's Promo:

In his recent book "How Jesus Became God: 
The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee"
historian Bart Ehrman explores a claim that resides 
at the heart of the Christian faith--- that Jesus of 
Nazareth was, and is, God. According to Ehrman, 
though, this is not what the earliest disciples believed, 
nor what Jesus claimed about himself.
The first response book to this latest challenge to 

Christianity from Ehrman, "How God Became Jesus" 
features the work of five internationally recognized 
biblical scholars. While subjecting his claims to critical 
scrutiny, they offer a better, historically informed 
account of why the Galilean preacher from Nazareth 
came to be hailed as 'the Lord Jesus Christ.' Namely, 
they contend, the exalted place of Jesus in belief and 
worship is clearly evident in the earliest Christian 
sources, shortly following his death, and was not 
simply the invention of the church centuries later.


Editor's Comment:

The purpose of this volume is to offer a critical response
to Bart Ehrman's book.

Ehrman is something of a celebrity skeptic. The media
attraction is easy to understand. Ehrman has a famous
deconversion story from being a fundamentalist
Christian to becoming "a happy agnostic." He's a
New York Times bestselling author, having written
several books about the Bible, Jesus and God with a
view to debunking widely held religious beliefs as based
on a mixture of bad history, deception and myth. He's
a publicist's dream since in talk shows and in live debates
he knows how to stir a crowd through hefty criticism,
dry wit, on the spot recall of historical facts and rhetorical
hyperbole. He also has a global audience.

For conservative Christians, Ehrmam is a bit of a 
bogeyman... constantly pressing an attack on their
long-held beliefs... Conservatives buy his books if only
to keep their disgust at him fresh and to find out what
America's favorite skeptic is up to now. For secularists,
the emerging generation of "nones" (who claim no
religion, even if they are not committed to atheism 
or agnosticism) Ehrman is a godsend. He provides
succor and solace that one need not take Jesus too
seriously, confirming that Jesus is the opiate of the
masses and that the whole God thing might be just
a big mistake.

In any event, Ehrman is worth addressing, since his
skill as a textual critic is widely acknowledged and his
showmanship as a public intellectual can hardly be
denied. Such a pity that he is almost always wrong!

In the recent book "How Jesus Became God"  Ehrman
proffers the view that belief in Jesus divinity emerged
gradually in a messy process that ebbed and flowed
from exaltation to incarnation. If this is so, recognition
of Jesus as God was not so much a process of divine
revelation  as it was a human process, a process that
struggled for legitimacy even within the church.

We (the contributors to this collection of essays) do
not dispute that christological development took place
and the theological controversies  that followed were
indeed messy. We dispute, however, whether 
Ehrman's account and explanation for this development
is historically accurate.

Not everything Ehrman says about the origins of 
belief about Jesus' divinity is wrong. Some things are
quite true, some things we'd agree with but say
differently, some things we'd suggest need better
nuance, and other things we contend are just plain
out of sync with the evidence. While Ehrman offers
a creative and accessible account of the origins of
Jesus' divinity in Christian belief, at the end of the
day, we believe that his overall case is ... not
convincing at all.

But you'll have to read the rest of this book to find
out why!


My Thoughts:

We can't deny that Ehrman is a kind of a celebrity
skeptic and a media darling. We don't also deny that
he seems to like debunking widely held religious 
beliefs, claiming them to be based on a mixture of 
"bad history, deception and myth." It is clear that 
he can claim a global audience for his work.

That, in itself is no reason to dismiss Ehrman!

The contributors to this book claim that Ehrman 
provides succor and solace that one need not take 
Jesus too seriously, suggesting that Jesus is the 
opiate of the masses and that the whole God thing 
might be just a big mistake.

There is obviously good reason, based on history,
to concede that Ehrman may indeed be right.

Ehrman states that recognition of Jesus as God 
through the early stages of Christian development
was not so much a process of divine revelation  
as it was a human process, a process that
struggled for legitimacy even within the church. 

Here, I believe, is the core reason for the debate
between the contributors to this book, and Bart
Ehrman. They believe in divine revelation as
a process that originates with God from a realm 
beyond the human, while Ehrman believes that 
this "revelation" is essentially of human origin.

A key issue, it seems to me, centers on what we 
mean by divine revelation and where we locate
its source. Viewing it as a human process does
not trouble me. Ehrman's position does not 
present a faith problem even though I don't 
share his agnosticism.

I believe that revelation transcends human
understanding, but it is also something that 
emerges essentially through human experience.


I am not impressed by the editor's comments 
that may be construed as a case of academic 
envy. Ehrman appears to be more popular and 
probably sells more books that all of these 
writers combined!

What I do value, however, is their stated 
attempt to debate whether Ehrman's account 
of the emergence of Jesus as God is historically 

Too many of us who were formed by - and who
still deeply respect - classic Christianity, tend
to become defensive and resort to ad hominems 
in the discussion (i.e. criticizing Ehrman as a 
person rather than criticizing his ideas.)

I have encountered the same dynamics with 
the reception of much of what Bishop Spong
has written. Serious Christians are inclined
to be threatened by what Spong has to say, 
and the way he says it, rather than to debate
him on the level of ideas.

The  contributions of both Ehrman and Spong 
can become important means to one's growth 
in faith. We can enjoy engaging both of them 
even when they might 'hit below the belt' 
from time to time.

I heartily recommend you secure and read
this critique of Ehrman, just as I would again
encourage you to secure and read Ehrman
himself. Do this with a group of open-minded 
thinkers who do not have to defend God or 
the orthodox tradition of the church in the

The end result, I suspect, will be the discovery 
that you grow as a person and enhance your 


A Conservative Review
of Bart Ehrman's book 
from the Christian Post
April 24th, 2014:

A correction from the book's contributors:
dated April 25, 2014

An article on April 24, 2014, attributed comments 
describing Bart Ehrman's work in How Jesus Became 
God as "populist conspiracy theories and sloppy 
history" to authors Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, 
Simon Gathercole, Charles E. Hill and Chris Tilling. 
The attribution was incorrect. The remark was 
made by a reviewer of Ehrman's book.


Buy the Book from



Calgary, AB.

April 20th, 2014

Dear Wayne:

I've heard good things about Richard Wagamese's 
book 'Indian Horse' but this new book 'Medicine Walk' 
sounds like a possible Monday Night Book Study...

"In the life story of each person is the reflection 
of another's life." says Robert Atkinson.  

Enjoy, Karen



Lethbridge, AB

Globe and Mail
April 21st, 2014

"Canadian Survey on Life After Death"


Halifax, NS

"A Nova Scotia 'Camino' Pilgrimage"


Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
April 21st, 2014

"Many Ways of Communicating"


San Antonio, TX

Personal Website
April 21st, 2014

"God's Quiet Presence in Our Lives"


Chicago, IL


April 21st, 2014

"British Priesthood Uptick"


Fairfield, CT

Globe and Mail
April 25th, 2014

"There's More than One Way
   to Make a Saint"




"Why Make Saints?"
  Interview with Jas. Martin

America Magazine (video)
April 25th, 2014


"Popes had Flaws and Greatness"

National Catholic Reporter
April 26th, 2014


"RCC Recognizes Two New Saints"
  An Ecumenical Perspective

April 24th, 2014


A Worthy Pope Indeed

America Magazine
April 25th, 2014


Did He Deal With Abuses?

He Did -

National Catholic Reporter
April 24th, 2014

He Didn't -

National Catholic Reporter
April 26th, 2014


Heads of State Share Welcome Visit

America Magazine
April 28th, 2014


Barbara Ehrenreich Has Mystical Experiences

New York Times Review of Books
April 27th, 2014


Most Believe it Contradicts the Bible

The Christian Post
April 26th, 2014


Welby Comments on Congregations Doing Justice

The Tablet, UK
April 15th, 2014


Popular Author Offers a Life Handbook

Englewood Review of Books
April 25th, 2014


Democracy Should Not be Taken for Granted

Christian Week Online
April 23rd, 2014


An Original Way of Describing It Needs Reconsideration

National Catholic Reporter
April 20th, 2014


Prime Minister Offer Condolences, an Opening Gesture

UCA News
April 23rd, 2013


Provided by Sojourners and Bruderhof Online -

"This is the Easter message, that awakening is possible, 
to the goodness of God, the sacredness of human life, 
the sisterhood and brotherhood of all." 

- Anne Lamott


"Easter says you can put truth in a grave, 
  but it won't stay there."

- Clarence W. Hall

"In the old days, on Easter night, the Russian 
peasants used to carry the blest fire home 
from church. The light would scatter and 
travel in all directions through the darkness, 
and the desolation of the night would be 
pierced and dispelled as lamps came on in 
the windows of the farm houses, one by one. 
Even so the glory of God sleeps everywhere, 
ready to blaze out unexpectedly in created 
things. Even so his peace and his order 
lie hidden in the world, even the world of 
todayready to reestablish themselves in 
his way, in his own good time: but never 
without the instrumentality of free options 
made by free people."

- Thomas Merton


The joyful news that He is risen does not 
change the contemporary world. Still before 
us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact 
of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do 
the work, accept the discipline, and make 
the sacrifice."

- Henry Knox Sherrill


 "It is justice, not charity, 
   that is wanting in the world."

- Mary Wollstonecraft


"The great and golden rule of art, as well 
as of life, is this: that the more distinct, sharp, 
and wiry the bounding line, the more perfect 
the work of art, and the less keen and sharp, 
the greater is the evidence of weak imitation, 
plagiarism, and bungling. What is it that 
distinguishes honesty from knavery, but 
the hard line of rectitude and certainty in 
the actions and intentions? Leave out this line 
and you leave out life itself; all is chaos again, 
and the line of the Almighty must be drawn 
out upon it before man or beast can exist."

- William Blake


Anxiety and fear are what we know best in this 
fantastic century of ours. Wars and rumors of 
wars. From civilization itself to what seemed the 
most unalterable values of the past, everything 
is threatened or already in ruins. We have heard 
so much tragic news that when the news is good 
we cannot hear it.

But the proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well. 
And as a Christian, I say this not with the easy 
optimism of one who has never known a time when 
all was not well but as one who has faced the cross 
in all its obscenity as well as in all its glory, who has 
known one way or another what it is like to live 
separated from God. In the end, his will, not ours, 
is done. Love is the victor. Death is not the end. 
The end is life. His life and our lives through him, 
in him. Existence has greater depths of beauty, 
mystery, and benediction than the wildest visionary 
has ever dared to dream. Christ our Lord has risen

- Frederick Buechner


Provided from the Archives
of the New York Times

"Early Planning for UN Held in San Francisco"



"Everything that is, is given by the God of love. 
All is grace. Light and water, shelter and food, 
work and free time, children, parents and grand-
parents, birth and death - it is all given to us. 

Why? So that we can say gracias, thanks: to God, 
thanks to each other, thanks to all and everyone."

- Henri J.M. Nouwen, 
  from "Gracias! A Latin American Journal"



"Near Death and Eternal Life"