Friday, February 26, 2016

Colleagues List, February 28th, 2016

Vol. XI.  No. 27



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 Colleagues:

This week I have two short books to

The first is a devotional booklet that
attempts to integrate scripture and
modern culture. It is entitled:

"With Us Always - Daily Devotions
  Framed by the Movies."

The second is a self-published book of
poetry written by a long-standing Calgary
friend, with the title of "Elsewhere."

Please scroll down to read the background
for both and my comments about them.

I hope you will enjoy both books.


Colleague Contributions -

Jim Taylor (Okanagan BC) writes about:
"Zika Virus, Contraception and Mortal Sin"


Martin Marty (Chicago IL) takes on:
"Closing and Re-opening Sanctuaries" 


Ron Rolheiser (San Antonio TX) reflects:
"Mourning Our Barrenness"

For more detail, scroll down.
Thanks to the three of you.


Net Notes - items from the www that
caught my attention this week:

"Migrants Tell of Horrors Left Behind" -
 Asylum Seekers Tell Their Stories after
 leaving tragic experiences in Syria, etc
 (The Tablet, UK)


"Can We Survive the Modern Visual Tsunami?" -
  an article on struggling to cope with 'image-
  overload' today (Christianity Today)


"What Worked Ten Years Ago No Longer Works" -
  here is a Canadian Evangelical perspective on
  what no longer works in a typical congregation
  (Christian Week Online)


"If Condoms are OK for Zika, What About for AIDS?" -
  following after Jim Taylor's comments (above)
  here is a plea to Pope Francis from the popular press
  (The Guardian, UK)


"Priest's Memoir Shows Man of Great Faith, Humility" -
  a book by one of the great Latin American liberation 
  theologians, Fr. Fernando Cardenal SJ, is reviewed by
  (National Catholic Reporter)


"American Evangelicals are Embarrassing Themselves" -
  the primaries debacle playing itself out in the USA
  is only exacerbated by the behaviour of many white
  evangelical Christians, says evangelical Jim Wallis
  (Sojourners Online)


"Religious Intolerance Growing in the Asia-Pacific
  Region" - this week, Amnesty International posted
  a report on the state of religious persecution in
  various parts of that region of the world
  (UCA News) (and)

  "Report Reveals Persecution of Christians
    in Chinese Christian 'Heartland'
    (Christian Post)


"Christians Concerned as India Debates Hindu
  Nationalism" - an extension of the story above,
  with a focus on India specifically. The impartial
  stance of India's secular government, standing
  above the religious fray, is jeopardized
  (UCA News)


"Major American Jewish Leader Does Amazing
  Turn on Israel" - progressive rabbi  Michael
  Lerner, reports this week on an American
  Jewish leader's change of heart on Israel


"Canadian Government Fully Restores Refugee
  Heathcare Benefits" - encouraging news from
  the Liberal government on support for new
  refugees entering the country. Church groups
  had been advocating this for a long time
  (CBC News)


Wisdom of the Week - comes to us from the
usual sources - Sojourners and the Bruderhof
online, and are written by the following:

Aung San Suu Kyi. Toyohiko Kagawa,
Martin Luther King Jr., Inge Scholl,
Thomas Merton, Oscar Romero and Jim Wallis.

Please scroll down to read their insights.


On This Day - from the archives of the
                       New York Times:

"First Mass Inoculation of Salk Polio Vaccine"

"Bomb Explodes in World Trade Center, New York"


Closing Thought - Thomas Merton

Please scroll to the end of the blog to read him.


For Those Interested - here is a presentation
of our adult ministry offerings as we move
toward the end of our program year:

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



Book Notices for:

Daily Devotions
Framed by the Movies.
Edited by Aldia Smith, 2015.

United Church Publishing House, Toronto.
Paperback, E-book and Kindle editions
$12.95, $9.26 and $7.95 CAD
ISBN #978-1-55134-235-1.


Zooming in on key scenes from popular movies
and finding parallels in the biblical narrative,
this book of devotions demonstrates how our
faith journey can be explored and energized
through popular culture. Using lectionary
readings, the weekly themes remind us that
God is with us in every situation.

These devotions can be used at any time
of the year.

About the author:

Alydia Smith serves as program coordinator for
Worship, Music and Spirituality for the United
Church of Canada. She holds degrees from the
University of Western Ontario, London ON; the
Atlantic School of Theology, Halifax NS: and
Drew University in Madison NJ.

She is also a movie buff.


Author's Words:

I love the idea of being an Easter people, that
is, a people who live by the Easter message (in
The United Church of Canada's) A New Creed
that "in life, in death, in life beyond death, God
is with us, we are not alone," and act accordingly.

(What does being an Easter person look like in
your daily life?)

Since at least the fourth century, wrestling with
these questions and discerning whether or not
one would like to be an Easter person has been
the purpose of the Lenten journey.  How people
wrestle with these questions varies, but the goal
is always to recommit to, and develop a deeper
relationship with God, to develop and strengthen
a theology (or understanding of God) that one
can live by.

(There are many tools to help us do this - one of
which is paying attention to the world around us) popular culture - the music that haunts, the
movies that we love to watch, and the images that
we share on social media. These things help us do
our theology - struggling with theological questions
like "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
"Will I ever find love?" "Does my life have meaning?"
"Does evil exist, and how does evil work in the world?" 
and "Is there a God and how does God work in the

These are theological questions, questions that we
wrestle with to develop a deeper understanding of

I hope the reflections in this devotional will be one
aid among many that will help you look for God
in all things.

- from the Foreword.


My Thoughts:

Any attempts to blend the Holy Scriptures and
lections with modern culture can be problematic.
Alydia Smith does a good job of avoiding shallow
associations simply to be trendy.

I do appreciate her attempts to avoid becoming
lost in either the scriptures or the movie subjects
she works with in these 41 reflections. Usually,
she makes it easy to move from one source to
the other, resulting in mutual enrichment.

The material the author provides is suitable for
a Lenten devotional study series, but is not
confined to Lenten use. Contemporary cultural
influences are with us all the time. They don't
have to be fitted neatly into church year seasons!

The reflections are organized into seven parts,
for possible use during Lent, Holy Week and
Easter. Her daily readings include a special
passage of scripture plus commentary. Then
the categories of "Watch" - a video clip or a
movie; "Reflect" - questions for group use
based on what has been viewed; "Pray" - a
spiritual meditation based on the day's theme;
and finally "Sing" - hymns or songs to draw the
total experience together into meaningful closure. 

Guidance for discussion groups is included.

Instructions are provided for how to rent certain
movies, while much of the internet sources are
free and require only appropriate viewing equipment.

Many of the themes Smith addresses are timeless
and don't depend on the suggested video or movie
sources. Creativity may be required when a particular 
item is not available. That said, the author has done
a thoughtful piece of work for each day and the
process probably works best when her proposed
resources are utilized.

The project was developed as a congregational
activity, but it can also be attempted, with adaptation, 
for personal use or for groups without a church

I am particularly pleased to see a series like
this emerging from a mainstream (more liberal)
denominational base. E-book/Kindle editions
assure group leaders that the resulting study
will not be expensive for participants.

Thanks a lot, Alydia, for your work on this.

Buy the Paperback from
United Church Publishing House

Buy the Kindle Edition from

By S. Noel Rea

2014.  $15.00 CAD.
ISBN #978-0-9938762-0-2.
Typeset by Deepdene, SpicaBook Design.

Noel Rea was born and grew up in Belfast,
Northern Ireland. which he left with his
wife Elisabeth, and son, Ken, to live in
Canada in 1977. His daughter, Fiona, was
born in 1978. Noel was educated in Methodist
College, Belfast and Queen's University,
Belfast, graduating in Law in 1965. He
qualified as a solicitor in 1968. The greater
part of Noel's career in Canada was spent
as a lawyer in the oil and gas industry, all
but two years of which were spent in Calgary,
Alberta. He then worked until his retirement
in 2009 as a counsel to a national law firm,
focusing on appropriate dispute resolution.

Though adapting to his new country and being
adopted by it, Ireland's influences have remained
strong. Many in this collection of poems reflect
those influences.


Author's Words:

I am indebted to the many people who have
encouraged me to assemble this collection
and to publish it.  I owe much to the members
of the two poetry groups of which I have been
part and to the Calgary Irish Cultural Society.

- from the Acknowledgements


My Thoughts:

The author of these poems has been a friend
for a quarter century and I admit to personal
bias in sharing this 78 page collection of about
50 short poems. These are divided in groupings
under "People" "Places" and "Touching and
Concerning" (personal thoughts and reflections).

As I have come to know Noel over the years
I discover that what he reveals in these poems
is very authentic, so that others might come
to better know him too.

He was raised in Ulster, of strong Protestant
family stock. His education continued to influence
those values in him. And yet, he was deeply
affected by "The Troubles" and that caused him
to reflect deeply on the beliefs and behaviours
of many of his Northern Irish co-religionists.

He has also reflected on his family's move to
Canada and the inner struggle that caused.

I would like to share in full one of these poems
as an example of the richness contained in the

Any Regrets?

Do you have any regrets?
Regrets in leaving Ireland,
emigrating to Canada?

Countless times I am asked
this question. Countless times
I pause before responding.

How I have worked
to succeed in this change,
to integrate and play my part.

Years have passed and those I love,
both here and in Ireland
have changed and grown older, some died.

Twenty one years of greying,
years in which to ponder,
recurringly wonder.

Was my choice the right one?
What were my other choices?
Which would have been the lesser cost?

The cost has been considerable,
years away from those I love,
whose influence helped me grow.

Though Canada offers
much to those who come, work and adapt
to its new ways and challenges.

Though Canada has great beauty
and is peopled by those who have
come as I have, looking for change.

This great country has much in common
with that sad, bloodied little island
which is inescapably mine.

Intolerance is increasing.
Trust is diminishing.
Violence is a possibility.

Yes. For violence is ever close,
so close to the surface.
Peace is a porous veneer.

Ireland's violence saddens me.
Once more young and old die,
killers choose random victims.

I do not share the goals
of those who destroy
what I once tried to build.

Distant events channeled
to a Calgary hearer
prompt a Belfast response.

Deep within I have feelings
of an inescapable link,
an insatiable yearning.

I feel as many before,
a citizen of two countries,
each one pulling me to itself,

unable to yield to either -
a creature of the mid-Atlantic.


To discuss the book with the author or
to request a personal copy of it contact:

Noel Rea
4 Varslea Place NW
Calgary, AB. T3A 0C9



Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
February 21st, 2016

"Zika Virus, Contraception and Mortal Sin"


Martin Marty,
Chicago, IL

February 22nd, 2016

"Closing and Re-opening Sanctuaries"

Ron Rolheiser
San Antonio,TX
Personal Web Site
February 22nd, 2016

"Mourning Our Barrenness"



Special www.Stories from the Past Week

Asylum Seekers Tell Their Stories

The Tablet, UK
February 20th, 2016

Coping With Image-Overload
in Today's Culture

Christianity Today
February 17th, 2016


A Canadian Evangelical Perspective

Christian Week Online
February 22nd, 2016

Appeal to Pope Francis

The Guardian, UK
February 21st, 2016


Fr. Fernando Cardenal SJ

National Catholic Reporter,
February 24th, 2016
Election Anything but 'Good News'
by Jim Wallis

Sojourners Online
February 25th, 2016


Amnesty International Report

UCA News
February 25th, 2016

"Report Reveals Persecution of Christians
  in Chinese Christian 'Heartland'

Christian Post
February 23rd, 2016


Secular Government Stance Jeopardized

UCA News
February 25th, 2016

He Can No Longer Support It's Policies

February 22nd, 2016

Which were Withdrawn by Previous Government

CBC News
February 18th, 2016



Provided by Sojourners
and the Bruderhof online:

By helping others, you will
learn how to help yourselves.

- Aung San Suu Kyi


Science  books are letters from God,
telling how he runs his universe.

- Toyohiko Kagawa


Philanthropy is commendable, but it must
not cause the philanthropist to overlook the
circumstances of economic injustice which
make philanthropy necessary.

- Martin Luther King Jr.


It is more difficult to stand up for a worthy
cause when there is no general enthusiasm
and thus no obligation; when, in short, one
risks one’s life on one’s own. Perhaps genuine
heroism lies in deciding to stubbornly defend
the everyday and the immediate, after having
been bombarded with so much oratory about
great deeds.

- Inge Scholl


All sin starts from the assumption that my
false self, the self that exists only in my own
egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality
of life to which everything else in the universe
is ordered... And I wind experiences around
myself and cover myself with pleasures and
glory like bandages in order to make myself
perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I
were an invisible body that could only become
visible when something visible covered its surface.

- Thomas Merton


Those who, in the biblical phrase,
would save their lives – that is, those
who want to get along, who don’t want
commitments, who don’t want to get
into problems, who want to stay outside
of a situation that demands the involvement
of all of us – they will lose their lives.

But those who for love of Christ uproot
themselves and accompany the people
and go with the poor in their suffering and
become incarnated and feel as their own
the pain and the abuse – they will secure
their lives, because the Father will reward

- Oscar Romero


As long as we do not pray for our enemies,
we continue to see only our own point of view –
our own righteousness – and to ignore their
perspective. Prayer breaks down the distinctions
between us and them. To do violence to others,
you must make them enemies. Prayer, on the
other hand, makes enemies into friends. When
we have brought our enemies into our hearts in
prayer, it becomes difficult to maintain the hostility
necessary for violence. In bringing them close to
us, prayer even serves to protect our enemies.

Thus prayer undermines the propaganda and
policies designed to make us hate and fear our
enemies. By softening our hearts towards our
adversaries, prayer can even become treasonous.
Fervent prayer for our enemies is a great obstacle
to war and the feelings that lead to war.

- Jim Wallis



From the archives of the New York Times:

"First Mass Inoculation of Salk Polio Vaccine"

"Bomb Explodes in World Trade Center, New York"



Music is pleasing not only because of the
sound but because of the silence that is in
it: without the alternation of sound and
silence there would be no rhythm.

If we strive to be happy by filling all the
silences of life with sound, productive by
turning all of life’s leisure into work, and
real by turning all our being into doing, we
will only succeed in producing a hell on
earth. If we have no silence, God is not
heard in our music.

If we have no rest, God does not bless our
work. If we twist our lives out of shape in
order to fill every corner of them with action
and experience, God will silently withdraw
from our hearts and leave us empty.

- Thomas Merton



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


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 made available for sale: 33.
All sets have now been sold.

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

Course design:

Check our complete archives
for all 46 book studies:



Theme: The Book of JONAH and other
Hebrew Bible themes of justice and
the universal nature of God beyond
our own faith communities.

Five sessions 10-11 AM
Gathering at 9:30AM
In the St. David's TM Room
January 28th - February 25th.

No charge.

Study resource -

The DK Complete Bible Handbook

(copy available in our church library)

The Bible Study Group provided the
service reflection Sunday, Jan. 17th, 2016
and it was well received.



Something to Anticipate This Year

Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre
Cochrane, Alberta

Mark your calendars!

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

Theme: "Opening the Jubilee Door:
A Focus on the Ecological Spirituality
of St. Francis of Assisi"

Registration, including lunch and
refreshments during the day - $35.00

Reflections will be led by Susan Campbell
enthusiastic, qualified and new MSF director;
and will include a nature walk.

23 paid registrations. to date.



Coming Soon - our "Memories Project" --
Sight and Sound Packet contributed by those
taking the "Jerusalem and the Lands of Three
Great Faiths" tour last October and produced
by Jock McTavish. 12,000 pictures were offered
and processed.

Available free to all 29 people who took our tour
with additional packets at a modest price for those


New Project Later This Winter --

"Where Would You Like to Travel Next?"

Beginning our process to find a destination
for a trip somewhere in the world in 2017.