Friday, May 27, 2016

Colleagues List, May 29th, 2016

Vol. XI.  No. 40



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

Colleagues List Web Site:

Dear Colleagues:

Enhancing your reading experience is very
important to me. I am currently involved in
up-grading the layout and presentation of
Colleagues List, so please bear with me.

I am attempting to reduce the length, but
not the content and quality, of each issue.

Please let me know how I'm doing.


My first feature in this issue of Colleagues
List is a poem written by Sarah Lukan
of Slave Lake, Northern Alberta. It is
dedicated to her husband Ronnie - one
of the "first responder firefighters" when
the Fort McMurray conflagration first began
some weeks ago. It is a joy to be able to 
present two of our family members here.

You may recall that I mention I interviewed 
Sarah for an Anglican Journal column entitled 
"Armageddon" which  appeared in Colleagues 
List last week:

Sarah's poem, for which we thank her,
is entitled:

"To All of Our First Responders
  To the Fort McMurray Wildfires"
Please scroll past this letter to read the
remainder of this issue.


My Special Item this week is a book notice
on the theme of:

"Jacques Ellul: Essential Spiritual Writings"

I hope you find this piece worthwhile.


Colleague Contributions this week are from
Martin Marty, Ron Rolheiser and Jim Taylor -
three of our regulars.

Net Notes is a selection of ten special articles
that caught my eye on the World Wide Web
this week.

Wisdom of the Week gives insights from
six spiritual guides to help us on our way.


The archives of the New York Times provide
two historic events reported in that paper.

Closing Thought - is from Nelson Mandela.


Thanks for joining me again - or for the
first time - this week. I hope you return.




Book Notice:

Essential Spiritual Writings
Selected, with an Introduction
by Jacob E. Van Vleet

Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY
2016. 183 pp. $32.00 CAD
$22.00 US, Kindle $12.21 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-62698-183-6.

Publisher's Promo:

Thomas Merton is one of many who were 
deeply influenced by the work of Jacques 
Ellul (1912-1994), a French philosopher 
and lay theologian. 

A remarkable thinker and prophet of the 20th 
century, he wrote over fifty titles on a range 
of topics: law, history, sociology, theology, 
even poetry. 

"Jacques Ellul: Essential Spiritual Writings" 
is the first anthology of his work and provides 
an ideal work for those encountering Ellul for 
the first time as well as those already familiar 
with his thought. Throughout his writings Ellul 
spoke out against the "idols and myths" of 
the modern age, including technology, politics, 
materialism, and violence. 

His prophetic critique of modern civilization 
won an appreciative audience far beyond 
Christian circles. Yet this was only one half 
of a project that drew deeply on his Christian 
faith. For nearly every sociological book he 
wrote, Ellul would write a theological or 
spiritual counterpart. And yet this other 
half of his work has received relatively 
little attention. This volume corrects the 
balance, highlighting spiritual gems on 
prayer, hope, and universal salvation. 

His call to reject the worship of the state 
and to embrace nonviolent activism has an 
abiding relevance and urgency, particularly 
in these times of protracted war and violence, 
gaping economic inequality, and enormous 


Book Introduction:

Jacob E. Van Vleet is a lecturer in humanities 
and philosophy at Diablo Valley College, 
Pleasant Hill, CA, and serves on the Board
of Directors of the International Jacques Ellul 
Society. He is author of Dialectical Theology 
and Jacques Ellul (Fortress Press, 2014)


Subject's Bio:

Jacques Ellul was a French philosopher, law 
professor, sociologist, lay theologian, and 
Christian anarchist. 

Ellul was a longtime Professor of History and 
the Sociology of Institutions on the Faculty of 
Law and Economic Sciences at the University 
of Bordeaux. A prolific writer, he authored 58 
books and more than a thousand articles over 
his lifetime, many of which discussed topics 
like propaganda, the impact of technology on 
society, and the interaction between religion 
and politics. The dominant theme of his work 
proved to be the threat to human freedom and 
religion created by modern technology. 

Among his most influential books are -- 
"The Technological Society" and 
"Propaganda:The Formation of Men's Attitudes"

Wiki Bio:


Editor's Words:

Many leading thinkers have been influenced 
by Jacques Ellul. From Christians to atheists, 
anarchists to politicians, artists to activists,
the array includes such figures as: 

William Stringfellow, John Howard Yoder, 
Ivan Illich, Ursula Franklin and others...

While some of these names may at first seem
surprising, together they signal Ellul's truly
dialectical and interdisciplinary world view
which is embodied in his own canon...

Of the over fifty books he wrote in his
lifetime, most were either sociological or
theological. Ellul referred to these as "two
rails of a train track," both moving in the
same direction but separate and distinct.
For nearly every  sociological book he
wrote, Ellul would write a theological or
spiritual counterpart...

While acknowledgment of this contrast
is vital to understanding Ellul, this book
is a compilation of writings from his
spiritual side. Rich with uncommon and
remarkable wisdom, this portion of
Ellul's volumes is undeniably timeless;
yet is especially apt in today's landscape.
Of course, this collection is by no means
exhaustive, but its selections reflect
Ellul's essential and imperative message:
one of profound spiritual observation
and ultimately of hope...

Ellul was involved in the French Reformed
Church to a greater or lesser degree
throughout his life. Early on, Ellul was
active in local Reformed organizations
and societies. In the late 1960's, however,
he became increasingly skeptical of
anything institutional, including any
denominational churches and other 
establishments. This attitude primarily 
grew from Ellul's distaste of modern
politics, which he believed to be mirrored
in many religious institutions.

One of the last straws came in 1973 when
Ellul campaigned for the French Reformed
Church to encourage and support those
who were conscientious objectors and
promote a complete rejection of military
power and control. Ellul's proposition was
refused, confirming his conviction that the
church was no longer motivated by the
authentic gospel, but rather by its own
political interests.

Though Ellul was skeptical and critical
of institutional Christianity, he was a
strong advocate of personal and group 
Bible studies and home churches... 

Ellul believed that a more genuine and 
personal type of Christianity could be 
embraced and propagated in this way: 
an organic and grassroots community 
of faith, rather than hierarchical, 
top-down religion...

(Ellul was strongly influenced by the
Danish philosopher S. Kierkegaard and
the Swiss-German theologian K. Barth.
Though he remained within the French
Reformed tradition, Ellul was not confined
to it. He was influenced quite strongly by
Christian existentialism and a theology
committed to the "wholly otherness" of
God which the organized church could
not contain or control. He also believed
in living out one's faith as the "presence 
of God's kingdom here on earth.")...

(I have collected many of Ellul's key 
theological tenets for presentation in 
this book, and not his sociological or 
political writings.)

- from the Introduction


My Thoughts:

To engage the thought of Jacques Ellul
today is to take me back fifty years when
I first studied him during my 1960's 
seminary days and graduate studies.

Fortunately, I spent some very productive 
time at the Graduate School of Ecumenical
Studies (located near Geneva, in Bossey, 
Switzerland) sponsored by the World 
Council of Churches.

(By the way, Bossey is about to celebrate
its seventieth anniversary in 2017 and it 
has distinguished itself in the training of
ecumenical leaders for the world church).

An emerging reality during my time at
Bossey was "secularization." We were
on the cutting edge of trying to come 
to terms with a significant, long-term 
development in the history of religion 
that continues to strongly influence the 
churches and faith traditions into our 
own times.

Jacques Ellul was a natural guest of
the WCC and its assembly planners
in those days, but illness prevented him
from attending a speaking engagement
with our student body while I was there.
We did, however, hear lectures about
him and read his books. Ellul continued
to teach and write into the 1980's and
I followed his thought well into my
early career. 

Van Vleet collects his material around 
half a dozen central themes of Ellul's
thought - God and Jesus; the Role of
the Christian; Myths, Idols and the
Demonic; Christian Ethics; the Dialectic
of Christian Realism; and the New City
and Universal Salvation.

These themes became the life-long
scholarship of many modern theologians
who continue influencing contemporary 
theology and spirituality.

Reading these selections will serve as
a worthy reminder for those who first
knew Ellul as a contemporary, or for
those who now read him in historical
perspective. For all of us, it is helpful
to learn that visionaries like Ellul were
seminal advocates for both the classic
biblical/theological tradition of the
church and some directions that Christian
thought needed to take into the future.

I am grateful that Orbis Books, Jacob E. 
Van Vleet and colleague Robert Ellsberg, 
the Orbis editorial director, have made
this book available to a wide readership.


Buy the book from:

Orbis Books:



Martin Marty,
Chicago, IL

May 24th, 2016

"Living Longer"


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
May 23rd, 2016

"Faith and Fear"


Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
May 25th, 2016

"Top Down or Bottom Up?"


A Move to Control Christian Growth

New York Times
May 21st, 2016


Pluses and Minuses of
Leading in the Real World
(American Jesuit Perspective)

America Magazine
June 6th, 2016


Global Influence has

Positives to Contribute

Higher Education
May 25th, 2016


"From Where I Stand"
  Column by Joan Chittister

National Catholic Reporter
May 25th, 2016


A Breakthrough Development

Religion News Service
May 23rd, 2016


In England/Wales Survey

The Guardian, UK
May 23rd, 2016


Encountering Those Who
Reject Classic Christian Themes

Christian Week Online
May 24th, 2016



May 26th, 2016


Church Don't Accept SSM for Priests

Religion News Service
May 24th, 2016


Face of  Ministry Continues to Evolve

Religion News Service
May 26th, 2016



From Sojourners and the Bruderhof online:

There are two ways to get enough. 

One is to continue to accumulate 
more and more. 

The other is to desire less. 

- G.K. Chesterton


You, eternal Trinity, are a deep sea. 

The more I enter you, the more I discover, 
and the more I discover, the more I seek you. 

- St. Catherine of Siena


Let the mouth also fast from disgraceful speeches
and railings. For what does it profit if we abstain 
from fish and fowl and yet bite and devour our 
brothers and sisters? 

- John Chrysostom


Adoration, as it more deeply possesses us,
inevitably leads on to self-offering. Charity
is the live wire along which the power of God,
indwelling our finite spirits, can and does act
on other souls and other things, rescuing,
healing, giving support and light. Such
secret intercessory prayer ought to penetrate
and accompany all our active work. It is the
supreme expression of the spiritual life on earth.

- Evelyn Underhill


We have to cross the infinite thickness 
of time and space – and God has to do it 
first, because he comes to us first. Of the 
links between God and man, love is the 
greatest. It is as great as the distance to 
be crossed. So that the love may be as 
great as possible, the distance is as great 
as possible. That is why evil can extend to 
the extreme limit beyond which the very 
possibility of good disappears. Evil is 
permitted to touch this limit. It sometimes 
seems as though it overpassed it.

- Simone Weil


Our faith begins at the point where atheists 
suppose it must be at an end. Our faith begins 
with the bleakness and power which is the night 
of the cross, abandonment, temptation, and doubt 
about everything that exists! Our faith must be 
born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality; 
it must be born of nothingness, it must taste this
nothingness and be given it to taste in a way 
that no philosophy of nihilism can imagine.

- H. J. Iwand



From the Archives of the New York Times:

"John T. Scopes Indicted in Tennessee
  for Teaching Evolution"

"India's First Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, died"


CLOSING THOUGHT - Nelson Mandela

There is a universal respect and even admiration
for those who are humble and simple by nature,
and who have absolute confidence in all human
beings irrespective of their social status.



For Those Interested:

Beginning a New Program Year - 2016-17
Adult Spiritual Development/ACTS Ministry 
at St. David's United  Church, Calgary


The Planning Cycle Begins With a Question:

"Where Would You Like to Travel Next?"

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

Travel Destination to be determined in June.


No comments:

Post a Comment