Saturday, January 9, 2016

Colleagues List, January 10th, 2016

Vol. XI.  No. 20



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.


Dear Friends:

Welcome to 2016 and a new year of
sharing interesting religion and culture
themes on my Colleagues List.

I begin with a special item/book notice
that I believe many of you will like.

It is entitled

"Vincent van Gogh - His Spiritual Life and Vision"

- the latest in the growing, comprehensive,
Modern Spiritual Masters Series published
by Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY and edited by
colleague Robert Ellsberg.

I hope you will enjoy it. (book) (bio)


Colleague Comment this week is from
Mathew Zachariah, an appreciated contributor
who wonders about the Paris Climate Change
Agreement of last December, and the biblical
injunctions that we be "fruitful" and "have
dominion" over the earth.

Thanks for a provocative question Mathew.

Scroll down to read his comments.


Colleague Communications - this week are

Marjorie Gibson (Vancouver BC) who asks -

"Who is Belle?"


Jim Taylor (Okanagan BC) who writes two pieces -
"Lessons from a Few Snowflakes" (and)

"From Improbable Beginnings, Big Results"


Ron Rolheiser (San Antonio) TX
who also writes twice -
"My Ten Top Books for 2015" (and)
"Only in Silence"

My thanks to the three of you.


Net Notes: these items caught my eye this week -

"Love in Dala" (video) - from Myanmar comes
an interesting story of an interfaith marriage
(UCA News Video)


"Gender Equality" -
Lags in Japanese religious
culture and here is an article to explain -


"Snowy Owl in Flight" (video) - a marvellous

natural phenomenon as we observe the flight
of a bird heading directly into the camera
and far above the Montreal traffic
(CBC News)


"The Triumph of Email" - Why Does it Keep Winning?
writes the author who ponders its popularity
(The Atlantic Online)


"New Wars, Ancient Feuds" - an update on current

relations between two key members of the Eastern
Orthodox Church family - Russia and Greece
(The Tablet, UK)


"Vancouver as  Secular City" - a study of one

of the world's most secular cities, here in Canada.
What does modernity mean? (The Christian Century)


"Biblical Archeology's Top Ten" (for 2015) - an
intriguing article on recent discoveries and the
reason why they are important (Christianity Today)


"Wheaton Prof Defends Stance" - we introduced

this story several weeks ago. I find what is
happening at Wheaton to be unfortunate. She
is tenured, but may be permanently suspended
(The Christian Post)


"The Untold Story of Mother Teresa" - we have
suspected some of this from previous writing
from the soon-to-be-a-saint, but here is more
about a profound loneliness (UCA News Video)


"Ten Reasons for Attending Church Less" - an

interesting account of why people from across
the church spectrum are no longer regulars.
Modernity is not church-friendly for many
(Christian Week Online)


"Nigeria Unveils Africa's Largest Jesus Statue"
- the 'new kid on the block'- is standing out
and shouting "Jesus is the Greatest"
(The Christian Post)


Wisdom of the Week - comes to us via

Sojourners and the Bruderhof online:

Phyliss Tickle, St. Jerome, Dorothy Day,
John Chrysostom, Rosa Parks,

Marian Wright Edelman, Oscar Romero,
Abraham Joshua Heschel, and
Henri J.M. Nouwen - share this insights.

Please scroll down to read them.


On This Day -
from the archives of the NYTimes:

"Henry Ford Introduces $5.00 Minimum Wage"

"Castro Takes Power in Cuba"

"US Stops Heavy Bombing of Vietnam"

"Germany Begins London Bombing in WWII"

Closing Thought - Huey Newton

Please scroll to the blog's end to read him.

If you are interested, here is our current
Adult Spiritual Development program, so
please scroll to the end of the blog to see it.

"Beginning Our Program Season -
  Winter 2016 Adult Spiritual Development
  ACTS Ministry at St. David's United Church, Calgary"


Thanks for your reading of this first issue of CL
for the new year. I hope to reach you regularly
with interesting material.




His Spiritual Vision in Life and Art
Edited by Carol Berry
Orbis Spiritual Masters Series, 2015.
Maryknoll, NY. 188 pages. $28.50 CAD
ISBN #978-1-62698-152-2.

Publisher's Promo:

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), perhaps
the most beloved artist in the world, was
motivated by a deep spiritual vision, first
expressed in his ambition to become a
missionary and minister, and later, after
his decisive break with organized religion,
through his art. In art he found a new way
to express his solidarity and compassion
for humanity, and to awaken people to the
sacred depths of reality. Though virtually
nobody in his own lifetime understood his
intentions or appreciated his work, van Gogh
poured out his convictions in letters to his
brother Theo. Drawing largely on these
letters, examples of his drawings, and her
own reflections on the interplay between
his life, his spiritual vision, and his art,
Berry draws a moving portrait of van Gogh
as a spiritual seeker and teacher for our time.


Van Gogh Wikipedia Bio:


Editor's Words:

Vincent van Gogh has always intrigued me.
However, it wasn't until another great
Dutchman, Fr. Henri Nouwen, taught a class
at Yale Dininty School in 1979 called "The
Compassion of Vincent van Gogh" that I
began to study Vincent's life in earnest.

What I found was a revelation of human
compassion far exceeding my expectations.
Here was a man wo could fall on his knees
before a flower, or a tree, or a vast field of
wheat in adoration of the wonder and glory.
Here was a man who sought with all his
being to reveal his love for the Creator and
for all of Creation.

Henri Nouwen called Vincent his "saint"
and invited his students to join him in
studying the art and life of this artist who
had touched him so deeply. I am endebted
to Fr. Nouwen and Sr. Sue Mosteller (both
formerly of L'Arche Daybreak in Richmond
Hill ON) who after Henri's death in 1996,
sent me his class notes and urged me to
"do something" with them. I have benefited
from reading many informative and sensitive
works by others who have seen in Vincent
van Gogh a remarkable human being. I am
appreciative of the insights I could glean
from them. Many of these books I have
listed in the bibliography.

The main source, however, for my relationship
with Vincent is the collection of his letters
(the originals are in the Van Gogh Museum
in Amsterdam).

There is an internet letter source you can
find in their
original languages of Dutch and French).
A three volume translation also appears in
English "The Complete Letters of Vincent
van Gogh," Bulfinch Press, Little, Brown,
Boston, Third Edition, 2009...

In these pages, I attempt to clarify the
often-missed spiritual dimension that was
the driving force in Vincent's life. He hoped
his paintings would move us to see our
common bond as part of God's creation.

As we enter the world of devotion and
service, may we discover him as one of
the greatest spiritual guides of our time.

- from Acknowledgements & Introduction


My Thoughts:

Henri Nouwen (died 1996) also introduced
me to the art of Vincent van Gogh. At the
time I was lacking considerably in art
appreciation, and I would say that he started
me on a road to becoming a more serious
student of art (though not as a painter).

My wife Marlene, and I have visited the
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and have
purchased a number of van Gogh art books.
We particularly like his "Starry Night" pictures
which are favourites of many.

Marlene is no amateur photographer, herself,
and we have enjoyed touring in the south
of France where there seems to be something
magical about the region's natural light. We
fully appreciate why van Gogh spent a good
part of his later life there. He produced, in
rapid succession, dozens of paintings on
various subjects, nearing his last days, and
his life ended tragically.

There is no doubt that artists like van Gogh
see and feel deeply. He had a spiritual sense
that many of us seem to lack, or fail to
cultivate. I believe the reason for this is
that many of us realize that to live on this
level of spiritual awareness can be extremely

Henri Nouwen, I believe, lived that same
spiritual intensity, and it took its toll on him
too. Still, he became a wonderful interpreter
of van Gogh for many moderns.


The book uses primary sources - his letters -
to chart the various stages of Van Gogh's life.
His rural beginnings. His early immersion in
the world of art where he used religion as a
refuge from his difficult life. He tried several
professions - for example gospel preaching -
but was ill-suited for the role.

It was in art that he found his mission, but even
there he did not settle down easily. He tried
to paint in The Hague, but big city life did not
appeal to him. He preferred the smaller Dutch
regions of Drenthe and Nuenen. He want to
Paris, perhaps the art capital of Europe, but
here again he was unhappy. Arles, in southern
France was no doubt the place he "liked"
most, but he spent a lot of his time in a
mental health institution (asylum) in the
town of Saint-Remy. His last paintings were
done in that region of France where he
mastered the contrast of light and darkness.

Read this excellent spiritual study of an
artist if you, like me, are only beginners
in the world of art appreciation. Read the
book also, if you seek the guidance of
a modern spiritual master who was a
major influence on Henri Nouwen himself.


Buy the book from


Mathew Zachariah,
Calgary, AB

December 22nd, 2015


I hope you will share my request below:

"God said to them: Be fruitful and multiply,
fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion
over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the
air and over every living thing that moves upon
the earth... (Genesis 1- 28).

How are we to view this proclamation in view
of the recent Paris Climate Agreement and other
efforts to control and minimize disastrous
climate change?

This is a request to scholarly commentators
who are knowledgeable about up-to-date
biblical interpretations.




Marjorie Gibson,
Vancouver BC

'Marjorie Remembers' Blog
January 7th, 2016

"Who is Belle?"


Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Weblog
January 3rd, 2016

"Lessons from a Few Snowflakes"

January 6th, 2016

"From Improbable Beginnings, Big Results"


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
January 4th, 2016

"My Ten Top Books for 2015" (and)

December 28th, 2015

"Only in Silence"

Myanmar Interfaith Marriage

UCA News Video
January 6th, 2016

Lags in Japanese Religion

January 7th, 2016


Caught by Traffic Camera
January 7th, 2016


Why Does it Keep Winning?

The Atlantic Online
January 9th, 2016

Current Orthodoxy Divided

The Tablet, UK
January 7th, 2016


Image of What Modernity Means

The Christian Century
December 30th, 2015


Most Significant Discoveries in 2015

Christianity Today
December 30th, 2015

She was Tenured, but Now Suspended

The Christian Post
January 7th, 2016


In 'The Letters' There is
a Profound Loneliness

UCA News Video
January 4th, 2016


Modernity Not Church-Friendly for Many

Christian Week Online
January 4th, 2016


"Jesus is the Greatest"

The Christian Post
January 4th, 2016

Provided by Sojourners and Bruderhof online:

The coming of Incarnate God to all people,
especially to those of us who are Gentiles,
is the bridge from birth into life, the event
that makes Easter possible for most of us.
The light of the Epiphany illuminates the
church’s year as it illuminates the human
race from whom the kings came.

- Phyliss Tickle


It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance.

- St. Jerome


The Gospel takes away our right forever to
discriminate between the deserving and the
undeserving poor.

- Dorothy Day


For Christians above all men are forbidden
to correct the stumblings of sinners by force.

- John Chrysostom


Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to
prepare our children for what they have to meet,
and, hopefully, we shall overcome.

- Rosa Parks


When Jesus Christ asked little children to come
to him, he didn't say only rich children, or White
children, or children with two-parent families,
or children who didn't have a mental or physical

He said, ‘Let all children come unto me.’

- Marian Wright Edelman


I am glad, brothers and sisters, that our church
is persecuted precisely for its preferential option
for the poor and for trying to become incarnate
in the interest of the poor and for saying to all
the people, to rulers, to the rich and powerful:
unless you become poor, unless you have a
concern for the poverty of our people as though
they were your own family, you will not be able
to save society.

- Oscar Romero


This very moment belongs to all living [people]
as it belongs to me. We share time; we own space.
Through my ownership of space, I am a rival of all
other beings; through my living in time, I am a
contemporary of all other beings.

- Abraham Joshua Heschel


Jesus calls us to recognize that gladness and
sadness are never separate, that joy and sorrow
really belong together, and that mourning and
dancing are part of the same movement. That
is why Jesus calls us to be grateful for every
moment that we have lived, and to claim our
unique journey as God’s way to mold our
hearts to greater conformity with God’s own.

The cross is the main symbol of our faith, and
it invites us to find hope where we see pain,
and to reaffirm the resurrection where we see
death. The call to be grateful is a call to trust
that every moment of our life can be claimed
as the way of the cross that leads us to new life.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen



From the Archives of  the New York Times

"Henry Ford Introduces $5.00 Minimum Wage"

"Castro Takes Power in Cuba"

"US Stops Heavy Bombing of Vietnam"

"Germany Begins London Bombing in WWII"



"I think what motivates people is not great hate,
but great love for other people."



Beginning Our Program Season -
Winter 2016 Adult Spiritual Development
ACTS Ministry at St. David's
United Church,


Theme: "The Other Two Religions of Jerusalem"
                Judaism and Islam

Books: "Chosen? Reading the Bible
              Amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict"
              by Walter Brueggemann

             "Islam: A Short History"
               by Karen Armstrong
A  ten-week investigation into the religious 
sources of modern global unrest centered
in the Mid-East:

Ten Monday evenings, 7-9PM
In the St. David's TM Room
January 18th - March 21st, 2015
Including Monday of Family Weekend

Books and Registration/Hospitality - $60.00
Books only - $35.00

Total book sets available for sale: 30.

Now beginning seventeen years
of Monday Night Studies
Our thirty-second series of
(usually) ten week sessions!

Course design to appear here soon.

Check our complete archives
for all 46 book studies:



Theme: Winter Study Series to
             be determined in January

Ten sessions 10-11 AM
Gathering at 9:30AM
In the St. David's TM Room
January 21st - March 24th.

No charge.

Preparation Session,
Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Study resource -

The DK Complete Bible Handbook

(copy available in our church library)

The Bible Study Group will provide the
service reflection Sunday, Jan. 17th, 2016




Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre
Cochrane, Alberta

Mark your calendars!

Sunday February 28th
11:30 AM - 4:00 PM

John Griffith is on sabbatical this year.
Reflections will be led by a Franciscan on staff.


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