Saturday, March 26, 2016

Colleagues List, March 27th, 2016

Vol. XI.  No. 31

*****


GLOBAL AND ECUMENICAL IN SCOPE
CANADIAN IN PERSPECTIVE


EASTER EDITION

Wayne A. Holst, Editor
My E-Mail Address:
waholst@telus.net

Colleagues List Web Site:

http://colleagueslist.blogspot.com


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.

Therefore I want to:

- remove the duplication
- improve the reading flow (and)
- sharpen the focus, of all material

Please let me know how I'm doing.

--

Introducing this issue:

Two colleagues have written me with good
things to share with the rest of you.

I am pleased to introduce Douglas John Hall
and Isabel Gibson. Please scroll down past this
letter to begin reading their thoughts.

My Special Item this week is a response to the
Maclean's (Canadian newsmagazine) article
for Easter Week 2016. It is entitled:

"Did Jesus Really Exist?"

I discuss contemporary historical Jesus studies
(with links for your further research) in my
comments.

Colleague Contributions this week are from:
Ron Rolheiser, Lorna Dueck, Beth Porter, and
Jim Taylor. Thanks to all four of you.

Net Notes follows. Here are eleven news items
that got my attention from the web.

Wisdom of the Week - is provided by seven
contributors. Enjoy their thoughts!

The New York Times provides four news
reports from this week in history, written
as it happened.

Closing Thought - is offered by Frederick
Buechner, and you may wish to sign up
to his daily missives.

--

The blog ends with a listing of our adult
spiritual development programs, now
coming to a close for the season, at
St. David's United Church, Calgary.

--

May you value the best of the meaning
this season of Christian Easter, offers you.

Wayne

***

COLLEAGUE COMMENT

Douglas John Hall
Montreal, QC

March 23rd, 2016

Dear Wayne:

I became 88 this week.  
I attach a little half-serious poem
that I wrote for the occasion.  

Cheers -

- Doug.

--

Today I am eighty-and-eight.
I fear I am challenging fate!
But it’s great.

‘Tis fash’nable now to berate
Old age as a natural state.
I debate!

According to me and my mate,
It’s better to stay very late
than vacate.

For now, we feel heaven can wait--
And wait and wait and wait.
And wait.

It’s likely at some later date
We’ll beg them to open the gate—
We’ll be sate[d].

But meanwhile we’ll luxuriate
In this place le bon Dieu did create.
Such a fete![1]

djh

[1] But please un-invite Donald Trump!

--

Isabel Gibson
Ottawa, ON


March 24th, 2016

Wayne:

I almost never see something that
relates to your blog, but here's one!
Enjoy.

Isabel

Library of Congress Website:

"God Says Yes to Me"
  by Kaylin Haught

http://tinyurl.com/7oj4l9m


 
***

SPECIAL ITEM

An Easter Reflection -

CONTENDING WITH POP THEOLOGY

A Response to the Maclean's Article
Easter, 2016 Canadian Edition:

"Did Jesus Really Exist?"

After reading Brian Bethune's cover-
story article in this week's Maclean's -
the Canadian newsmagazine - I am
no clearer about the author's answer
to his posed question than I was before.

His attempt at a popularized version
of a pivotal issue in modern Jesus
scholarship fails, it seems to me. 

This leads me to conclude that the real
purpose behind his effort has little to
do with theological and historical
substance. But it has a lot to do with 
effect. He appeals to human emotions
and little else.

Unfortunately for Bethune, his efforts to
get my attention leave me cold and quite
confused by the time I reach his rather 
vague conclusion.

As usual, Macleans wants to attract
readers with a snappy title, then
tends to fall flat in terms of substance.
So, I must conclude after reading the
article - Macleans seeks attention to
sell magazines. The quest for historical
Jesus truth falls victim to sensationalism.

But, read the article yourself, if you
have not already done so, and come
to your own conclusions:

Macleans Article - April 4th, 2016
http://tinyurl.com/zeg8zq9

---

Here are a few thoughts to possibly
help you with your reflections.

The quest for the Jesus of history is not
by any means modern. You can trace the
process in theological studies for at
least two hundred years. Please see:

"The Quest for the Historical Jesus"
(A survey until the pre-current debate)

http://tinyurl.com/z9zd7jh

--

In many ways, the contemporary quest
covers a broad spectrum of historical
Jesus perspectives. There are many
variations on the theme. Here are a few
representative points of view to consider:

Bart Ehrman comes out of Protestant
fundamentalist background. He considers
himself an agnostic who has a profound
love for Jesus as a historical figure, but
does not consider him Saviour and Lord.
Here is information on the book that plays
the central role in the Macleans article:
 
"Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument
  for Jesus of Nazareth"

http://tinyurl.com/zx7afwr

Ehrman Bio: http://tinyurl.com/jf3fhcs

--

Richard Carrier, whose book is also mentioned, 
is a historian and a new atheist. He denies
that Jesus ever existed and is certainly not
a believer.

"On the Historicity of Jesus:
  Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt"

http://tinyurl.com/zbj9xqq

Carrier bio: http://tinyurl.com/md4znvp

--

N.T. Wright is a well-known biblical scholar
who believes in the historical Jesus and his
actual resurrection from the dead. He is a
leading British evangelical Anglican but
challenges traditional thinking when it
contradicts a reasonable faith.

http://tinyurl.com/jo4flj7

--
 
Tom Harpur is a Canadian, a former
Anglican priest and theological educator.
For many years he was the religion editor
for the Toronto Star. His central study on
the historical Jesus is:

"The Pagan Christ"

Harpur believes that Jesus is essentially
a mythological figure, but worthy of belief.
He would not share Wright's view of Jesus
as Lord, however, and does not need to have
Jesus as a historical figure to make him
believable.

Click this link and scroll down a bit to read
my review of his book.

http://tinyurl.com/jobs3k4

--

Marcus Borg, who is my age and shares a
similar denominational background, died
recently.

He has spent a lifetime studying the Bible,
and Jesus in particular. Borg, for me, is the
most important theologian of the group.

I was fortunate to experience a long and
productive friendship with him. He helped
me to remain a Christian and church member
when I might have fallen away as a believer.

Borg suggests that those who are seeking a
meaningful understanding of Jesus should
dance warily around confessed church doctrines
about Jesus (what the gospels and the churches
say about him) and "seek a relationship with Jesus
as the Spirit of God."

His primary summary of this philosophy is:

"Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings
  and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary"

http://tinyurl.com/zlcyt2q

--

Concluding Thoughts

At Easter, the highest festival in the Christian
Year, I am still a proud believer, but one who
has been shaped by all the opinions noted
above (and many others on the subject.)

Here is a quick summary of what I mean:

I believe that Jesus was a figure of history,
but that a lot of mythological embellishment
was added to his basic story and beliefs about
him. He was a Jewish seer and visionary who
taught people a way to God that did not depend
on religious systems but did not disparage them
either.

I am not convinced by the "Jesus as pure-myth"
approach, but neither am I dependant on a
"Jesus of history or the traditions of the church."

At this same time, I am a product of church
tradition, and believe it is important to honour 
if not accept all of it, with all its wrongs, warts
and weaknesses.
 
I am not one who says "I am spiritual, but not
religious." For my spirituality to remain vital
I must continue to be part of a real - not
imagined - religious community and I work
hard at that, because it is not always easy!

I do not believe that Jesus is the only way
to eternal life, but he is my way.

I continue to be open to the sincere
influence of other Christians, non-Christians,
and non-believers.

So that is my mini-manifesto at Easter.

As such, I rejoice to say:

"The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed!"

***

COLLEAGUE CONTRIBUTIONS

Ron Rolheiser
San Antonio, TX

Personal Website
March 21st, 2016

"The Understanding and
  Compassion of Good Friday"

http://tinyurl.com/h2oppb5

--


Lorna Dueck
Toronto, ON

Context
March 24th, 2016

"Three Spiritual Disciplines
  for a Meaningful Easter"

http://tinyurl.com/zfzahp6

--
 
Beth Porter
Richmond Hill, ON

L'Arche Canada
A Human Future - Webpage
Spring, 2016

"Social Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship"
  An Interiew with Al Etmanski

http://tinyurl.com/hlqmlke

--

Jim Taylor
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
March 20th, 2016

"A Eulogy for Disappearing Trees"

http://tinyurl.com/hqon5yd

March 23rd, 2016

"Games that Shape Our Later Lives"

http://tinyurl.com/gvank8y
 
***

NET NOTES

EASTER'S EMPTY TOMB
Real Story Outdoes Hollywood

Sightings,
March 24th, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/jvbxfhg

--

IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME
A Poem for Holy Thursday

Sojourners
March 24th, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/zxq85jy

--

TERRORISM WILL ALWAYS FAIL
It is Weakness, not Strength

The Tablet, UK
March 23rd, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/jdehfcj

--

DENY THE TERRORISTS THEIR VICTORY
Here's How to do it, by Jim Wallis

Sojourners
March 24th, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/hhzlg6e

--

WE CAN'T FORCE OUR POLITICAL AGENDA
Wise Canadian Evangelical Insight

Christian Week
March 22nd, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/h53chnw

--

WAS THE LAST SUPPER
A PASSOVER SEDER?
Some Scholars Object -
Say it was Misinterpreted

Religion News Service
March 24th, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/zbe4qdn

--

MOSAIC RESTORATION
AN INTERFAITH EFFORT
Jerusalem Church Project
at Church of the Nativity

Religion News Service
March 25th, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/zl9ubf5


--

MEN AND WOMEN DIVIDE
ON MATTERS OF RELIGION
World-Wide Inter-faith Survey

Religion News Service
March 22nd, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/gp42g68

--

15 CHARACTERISTICS OF
TODAY'S UNCHURCHED PERSON
Some Surprizes Noted Here

Christian Week Online
March 21st, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/jxfyttg

--

SOCIETY TO PROVIDE
1 MILLION BIBLES TO CUBA
An Opportunity for Canadians

Christian Week
March 23rd, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/heuampn

--

AMERICAN EVANGELICALS
NOT VOTING FOR TRUMP
Contrary to Assumptions

Christianity Today
March 18th, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/h3d36r8

Mormons Don't Like Trump
Would Vote for a Democrat

Religion News Service
March 21st, 2016

http://tinyurl.com/hwufqvm

***

WISDOM OF THE WEEK

From the websites of Sojourners and
the Bruderhof:

To love is to accept dependency on love.

- Fran├žois Varillon

--

For me, forgiveness and compassion are
always linked: how do we hold people
accountable for wrongdoing and yet at
the same time remain in touch with their
humanity enough to believe in their
capacity to be transformed? 

- bell hooks

--

The heart is stretched through suffering,
and enlarged. But O the agony of this
enlarging of the heart, that one may be
prepared to enter into the anguish of
others!…


The cross as dogma is painless speculation;
the cross as lived suffering is anguish and

glory. Yet God, out of the pattern of his own
heart, has planted the cross along the road
of holy obedience. And he enacts in the
hearts of those he loves the miracle of
willingness to welcome suffering and to
know it for what it is – the final seal of
his gracious love.

- Thomas R. Kelly

--

The image Jesus left with the world,
the cross, the most common image in
the Christian religion, is proof that God
cares about our suffering and pain.


He died of it. Today the image is coated
with gold and worn around the necks of
beautiful girls, a symbol of how far we can
stray from the reality of history. But it

stands, unique among all religions of the
world. Many of them have gods. But only
one has a God who cared enough to
become a man and to die.

- Philip Yancey

--

Forget the "titles" of Jesus, at least for
a moment... Focus, instead, on a young
Jewish prophet telling a story about
YHWH returning to Zion as judge and
redeemer, and then embodying it by
riding into the city in tears, symbolizing
the Temple's destruction, and celebrating
the final exodus.

- N.T. Wright

--

One must learn to make the transition
from “let this cup pass from me” to
“nevertheless, not my will, but thy will
be done.” And God grant that as you face
life with all of its decision – as you face
the bitter cup which you will inevitably
face from day to day – God grant that

you will learn this one thing and that is
to make the transition from “this cup”
to “nevertheless”.…This, you see, is the
thing that determines whether you go

through life devoted to an eternal cause
or whether you go through life depending
on your own finite answers, which really
turn out to be no answers.

This is the thing that determines
whether you can rise out of your egocentric
predicament to devotion to a higher cause.
This is what Jesus was able to do and this
is the lesson that he presents to us today.

- Martin Luther King Jr.

--

If we are honest, we have to say that
we cannot reach the goal. We cannot
become what we ought to become,
true men and women. Many let the
matter rest there; they confess it, but
take no action. They make themselves
satisfied with half because they cannot
have the whole. God demands all, not
just half. And this “all” we are not capable
of giving. What is impossible for us is

what God wants – all love to him and t
o our fellow humans.

If this is true, it would seem that we

can have no good conscience, no
trusting relationship with God, no
inner peace, and no freedom of the
soul. But God has in his mercy shown
us a different way. “You cannot come
up to me, so I will come down to you.”

And God descends to us human beings.
This act of becoming one of us begins
at Christmas and ends on Good Friday.


- Emil Brunner

***

ON THIS DAY

From the Archives of the New York Times

"Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Off Alaska Coast"
  http://tinyurl.com/c3kf4w

"MLK Begins Selma to Montgomery Walk"
  http://tinyurl.com/ygklbx6

"MLK Arrives in Montgomery"
  http://tinyurl.com/yffs6fb

"Begin and Sadat Sign Peace Accord"
  http://tinyurl.com/7h4hd57
 
***

CLOSING THOUGHT - Frederick Buechner

http://www.frederickbuechner.com/

Sign up for regular Buecner quotes.
(end)

*****

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

WINTER 2016 MONDAY NIGHT STUDY

THIS SERIES HAS BEEN COMPLETED

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
              
http://tinyurl.com/jzbybmj
http://tinyurl.com/hr4ohvd
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:
http://chosen.stdavidscalgary.net/

Check our complete archives
for all 46 book studies:
http://tinyurl.com/q3bw6dh

***

THURSDAY MORNING BIBLE STUDY

Theme: The Books of JOB and DANIEL
Hebrew Bible Wisdom and Apocalyptic
literature have meanings for our time.

Five sessions 10-11 AM
Gathering at 9:30AM
In the St. David's TM Room
March 10th - April 14th.

No charge.

Study resource -

The DK Complete Bible Handbook
http://tinyurl.com/odxlv7q

(copy available in our church library)

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

*****

ACTS LENTEN RETREAT, 2016

THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN COMPLETED

A Good Experience Again This Year

Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre
Cochrane, Alberta
http://www.mountstfrancis.ca/


Took place:
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 were led by Susan Campbell
enthusiastic, qualified and new MSF director;
included a nature walk.


26 paid registrations. 24 attended

***


ST. DAVID'S SPIRITUAL TRAVELERS

Our "Memories Project"  the Sight and Sound
Packet was supplied by persons who took the
"Jerusalem and the Lands of Three Great Faiths"
tour last October, and produced by Jock McTavish.
12,000+ pictures were offered and processed into
various electronic presentations.

Distributed free to all 29 people who participated
in our tour with additional packets available at
a modest price for those interested.

--

New Project Beginning this Spring--

"Where Would You Like to Travel Next?"

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

*****