Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Emerging Church

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

A Model for Change and Renewal
Revised and Expanded

by Bruce Sanguin

2014. 238 pages.
$21.95 CAD Paper $13.50 CAD Kindle
ISBN #978-1-77064-679-7.

(originally published in 2008 and
  introduced on Colleagues List
  April 24th, 2010)

My Thoughts:

I have introduced here the original edition
of “The Emerging Church” more than four
years ago.

Now, I am re-introducing it to build on
the background already begun. I do
this because I am committed to renewal
in the old Canadian mainline churches.

In my first notice of this book I stated that
there were two things I liked about it.

First, the richness of the spiritual
resources inherent within the mainline
churches. This, in spite of the fact that
the ways we have come to reflect that
heritage has lost touch with many people
today. We need to mine our traditions
for richness but find better paradigms
or models, and creative new ways of
presenting them. 

Second, the ability of the author to be
conversant in the thought and paradigm
understandings of modern science. We
need new ways of integrating our
spirituality with modern science in order
to speak the language of many today.

Sanguin uses an evolutionary paradigm,
borrowed from modern science, to help
the church rediscover a meaningful message.

A third ingredient is added in this new
edition. Sanguin inserts a chapter (#11)
through which he adds principles of
practical operation in a congregation
to help bring about the renewal he

He advises that we listen for signs of
emergence and pay attention to our language
so that we share honestly the Word through
the words we use.

He suggests we work on exemplifying or
embodying the meaning we want to share,
build up various spaces – both internal and
external – that are there to be filled, be
willing to fail bravely and to learn from our
mistakes, to see crises as opportunities,
to take responsibility for our efforts and
to surrender to the grace we will be offered
as we venture forth.

Sangin writes well, if not always with
simplicity. But the subject matter is
meaty and worth the struggle.

Amazon Web Comment:

The author is a mainline United Church of
Canada minister with progressive views.
The book is about the change or ‘progress’
that has occurred and is occurring in
religious values over time. He also tells
how he became a coach for leaders at his
church. He understands the environmental
problem, which many do not.

Emerging Church – is a term used elsewhere

for changes in fundamentalist churches or
small group Christianity outside a main
building, hence the misleading title.

If you are interested in a new approach

and are coming from a mainline religious
tradition this is a recommended book for you.

Buy the book:

From the publisher:



Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Colleagues List, Vol. X, No. 11,  October 12th, 2014

120 Pioneers gather in Oxford to discuss mission spirituality and create poetry

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews



Photo Credit: CMS

[CMS] On Tuesday (14 October) 120 pioneers met at the Church Mission Society in Oxford for their second annual conversations day on pioneering.

This year the focus was on mission spirituality. The contributors represented a wide range of theological perspectives and included Catholic contextual theologian from Chicago Steve Bevans, Ordained Pioneer Minister in Portishead, Tina Hodgett, and author and poet, Michael Mitton.

The day began with Steve Bevans outlining spirituality as “a reservoir from which a person or a community can draw to motivate action, to keep on track, to bolster commitment and to avoid discouragement when times get rough.”

He suggested a number of ways in which this could be done which included identifying specific passages of scripture that might guide and inform one’s missionary endeavours, drawing inspiration from missionary heroes and heroines, becoming aware of the cultural assets and liabilities brought to pioneering in mission and developing spiritual practices that sustain.

There were workshops on St Francis of Assisi as a new monastic pioneer, how to nurture an active spirituality and exploring metaphor as a means of shaping community.

After lunch, Tina Hodgett used her experience of working with pregnant women to talk about a spirituality of birth and how this demonstrates major life changes are opportunities to engage people afresh with big questions of faith.

More workshops followed on reconciling being and doing, how the Eucharist can be used to rediscover and reimagine community and the gift African spirituality is to the individualistic and rationalistic West, led by Harvey Kwiyani of Missio Africanus.

Michael Mitton ended the sessions with an exposition of 1 Peter 3:18-19 and a picture of Christ preaching good news in Hades. He talked of pioneers needing to confront the shadows in their own souls, as Jesus did in the temptations, in order to take love and hope to the dark places of our world.

The conference concluded with worship and the performance of a poem that had been especially written from words submitted by attendees by Martin Daws, the young people’s laureate for Wales. About the miracle of newness being born out of desire, vulnerability and struggle, it perfectly encapsulated the many layers of pioneering spirituality that had been uncovered throughout the day.

Jonny Baker, director of mission education for CMS, said after the event, “It was a rich and diverse exploration and celebration of spirituality that fuels and sustains mission. It was a privilege to hear the wisdom and maturity of those who have followed Christ into alien cultures, which included students on the pioneer course here at CMS.”

Website: CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership Training


Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), October 21, 2014

Missing Church, Not Religion: Why I Read Marilynne Robinson

Posted on: October 19th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews


Returning to the incredible sensory memories of church — and the feel of religion without evangelism.



BuzzFeed Staff



Of apes and man (Film Review)

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews


By John Arkelian


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes imagines a war between humans and intelligent apes in the future and  gives us a parable about the dangers of tribalism in the present. Photo: Contributed


Andy Serkis, who plays the leader of intelligent apes in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, says that “the heart of the story is about…family, empathy, prejudice and tribalism.” And, he’s right. Those elements of the film—before it inevitably segues into the pyrotechnics that dominate all big-budget commercial movies nowadays—are what make it worth seeing.

Action films and computer-generated effects are a dime a dozen; but what really makes an impression are stories about the human condition. In effect, the 46-year-old Apes franchise divides the human condition into two (armed) camps: human beings and anthropomorphized apes. Here, apes have gained intelligence and a rudimentary grasp of human speech, as a byproduct of drug tests that aimed to find a treatment for Alzheimer’s and that instead spawned a lethal epidemic that has devastated human civilization.

Serkis’s character, named “Caesar” by the human who raised him, leads a society of apes in a redwood forest near San Francisco. Their overriding commandment is: “Apes not kill apes”; and their guiding philosophy is expressed in just three words: “Home, Family, Future”—words, surely, that encapsulate what’s most important in our lives, too. But fear, hatred, aggression, betrayal and violation of the injunction not to kill all follow hard on the return of humans (who want to reactivate a hydroelectric dam situated in the apes’ territory). Past contact between the species has been difficult, to say the least, so their reunion is fraught with everything from wariness to outright hostility. The result is a parable about tribalism, that ubiquitous human habit of dividing “us” from “them.” Once such dividing lines are drawn—on the basis of race, religion or nationality—those on the more powerful side of that insidious boundary have all the excuse they need to exploit, oppress or attack those deemed to be “other.”

In the movie, species is the line that divides the tribes; but it might just as easily be any other perceived difference. Once we postulate a “difference,” we legitimize a dichotomy—between how we want to be treated and how we treat others. So it has always been throughout human history, alas. But there are also differences between individuals in each camp. Caesar can get past his suspicion of outsiders and his instinctive protectiveness toward his own people; he can feel empathy for the struggling remnant of the human race.

But his decision to co-operate and try to live in peace with the human tribe is an anathema to his closest friend: as the past victim of human experimentation on animals, Koba is too full of rage, bitterness and the drive to return hurt for hurt to accept living in peace. Sound familiar? It’s the age-old human story of sectarian conflict—in places like Israel and the Occupied Territories. Few things are harder for us (man or apes) to overcome than our deeply ingrained prejudices. But unless we do, unless we prevail over the deep-seated habit of dividing “us” from “them,” we will never outgrow the brutal, cruel side of our nature in favour of a world in which the lamb can lie down next to the lion.


Anglican Journal News, October 16, 2014

Wrong Number, Right Message

Posted on: October 13th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


We’ve all done it. Inverted two numbers, tapped the wrong contact, and ended with a surprise when the ‘wrong’ person answered our phone call. Almost always, this is an unremarkable event, but in Peace River, Alberta a wrong number led to a very special Back to Church Sunday for the parishioners of St. James Anglican Cathedral.

In 2010, the parish decided to try Back to Church Sunday for the first time. This is a special Sunday where members of the community are encouraged to ask someone new to join them at church. Dean and rector of St. James, the Very Reverend Dr. Iain Luke, turned to those he knew would have an enthusiasm for this small mission. He called to mind one member of St. James who had “always been a keen inviter, so I was counting on her to be an example.” An example she was!

She prayed about it and then settled on who she’d like to invite for the inaugural Back to Church Sunday. When the spirited inviter phoned the person she had in mind, she—accidentally and providentially—dialed the wrong number.

As it happens in a town of 6,000, the parishioner recognized the voice at the other end of the line anyway. The two chatted away and then, remembering the original intent of her call, the parishioner extended the invitation she had set out to extend.

Those simple words of hospitality landed upon the right ears at the right time. The invited family had been away from church for some time and were trying to find a way back.

The family came on Back to Church Sunday. Then again the following week. They came for their third consecutive week, which fell on Thanksgiving weekend, at the insistence of their daughter who exclaimed, “But we’ve never missed!” Luke laughs and says, “I guess there’s some truth that in the church if you do something twice it becomes a tradition.”

The meeting of this family and the parish was meaningful for all. The new congregants brought with them great talents in music and drama, and new connections into the community where the church had none before. People in the parish saw the impact of invitation and were transformed as a result. “It’s become much more part of the DNA of our parish,” reflects Luke, “because we know what can happen if we do.”

Though St. James carefully prepared for that one special Sunday, the effect rippled throughout the liturgical year and lingers today. The spirit of a special day of invitation and hospitality is now something that permeates much of their life together. “It made us more focussed on who’s around us and how we can engage them in God and the faith in our lives,” says Luke, “This is about changing us. The purpose is to transform our own culture so that people can show up any time.”

Now, a few years out from this wrong-number tale, the leadership at St. James continues to nurture the fruits of this first Sunday. One way this work continues is by encouraging invitations to regular and special events at the church, like concerts or Holy Week liturgies.

One might wonder if in a town of just 6,000 people if invitations might quickly reach a saturation point. However, Luke notes that Peace River is a community of transition, with people and families coming for jobs and then moving on. In this kind of town, the church can offer stronger connections to the people around you, intergenerational bonds for families who have left grandparents behind, and spiritual wealth in the midst of the material comforts many in Peace River know.

In the midst of the anxiety around invitation and building community, Luke insists it’s not hard to reach out to others in this way. “It’s not the response that matters, but the asking. It is part of what the church needs to be now.”

The Back to Church Sunday initiative started in the United Kingdom ten years ago, as a way to encourage churchgoers to extend an invitation to others to attend church with them. As a result of the evolution of this ministry, 2014 saw resources emerge for the Season of Invitation, which seeks to extend the spirit of hospitality throughout the fall months . . . and beyond!


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 10. 2014

Toronto parish participates in Nuit Blanche

Posted on: October 13th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget


The Rev. Maggie Helwig reads from Dennis Lee’s poetry collection Testament while Kristin Ostensen sings as a part of a Nuit Blanche performance art installation at Toronto’s St. Stephen-in-the-Fields on Oct. 4.  Photo: André Forget

Midnight on Saturday is not a time many people would traditionally associate with poetry. But then, there was much that was not traditional about The Composition Engine, a performance art installation curated by Toronto’s Anglican Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields on Oct. 4 in conjunction with Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, an annual all-night arts festival that takes place across downtown Toronto.

The installation, first created by Peter Drobac (choir director at St. Silouan the Athonite Orthodox Mission Parish) and the Rev. Maggie Helwig (who is also a poet and novelist) in 2012, came from a simple question: what would you get if you had a recital or poetry reading where the audience could select and mix different pieces of music or text to create a living, evolving composition? Would it be beautiful, or would it just be a mess?

As it turns out, what you get is a transcendently beautiful mess. Walking into The Composition Engine at St. Stephen’s on Saturday night, audience members were surrounded by readers, singers and musicians positioned in various places around the sanctuary. Each performer stood next to a lamp, and audience members could activate the musicians or readers by turning on their lamps, or silence them by turning them off. The effect was powerful, as different melodies combined and were interwoven with echoing lines of poetry.

2014 is the first year that The Composition Engine has been held in St. Stephen’s Church (in past years, it was held at the chapel of Trinity College at the University of Toronto), and when asked about the changes that come with the new venue, Maggie Helwig, the priest-in-charge at St. Stephen’s, noted that people seemed more aware of the place’s sacred nature. “Trinity Chapel people seem to treat it just as space. Here, there is a little more of a sense of people being a little more nervous to move around.”

The way people interacted with what they were hearing was a little different as well.

Helwig acknowledged that The Composition Engine might challenge the assumptions of some audience members about what kind of poetry should be read in a church. “I’ve read through Dennis Lee’s Testament twice [so far tonight] and through most of Tim Lilburn’s Tourist to Ecstasy” she said, noting that while Dennis Lee is a practising Christian and that Tim Lilburn was a Jesuit when he wrote his book, “both of them also use a lot of erotic language—a lot of what would sound, I think, to most people, like sacrilegious or blasphemous language.”

Maggie Sulc, a Toronto playwright who attends St. Stephen’s Saturday night service and performed as a reader in the installation, also talked about the power of using texts not frequently heard in church; for example, American poet Carolyn Forché’s 1994 collection The Angel of History. “I didn’t expect it to, but it’s really affecting me emotionally. It’s all about the Holocaust and atomic bombs. Pain, death, and genocide…Even though it’s kind of odd to throw myself into that emotionally, I think it’s more effective and makes the whole Engine work better.”

Helwig, who estimates that around 500 people passed through the installation over the course of the evening, was eloquent about the importance of art as a way for churches to communicate with the wider world. “The church has been, and can still be, a space for artistic exploration which has real aesthetic credibility and isn’t just a devotional product; it means taking the risk of moving out of comfort zones on both sides, but that’s what both art and faith should be about, anyway.”

So, will The Composition Engine be coming back next year? Helwig was unsure. “Something will happen next year for sure. We’re still playing with this; we’re still looking for possibilities in this—so it may happen again next year, or we may come up with another idea.” _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Anglican Journal News, October 8, 2014

“Living Reconciliation can transform our world” – Abp Welby in new book

Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews


Not a churchy report, rather a lively and inspiring work on a crucial subject
Photo Credit: ACNS

From the Anglican Communion Office

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said he believes the subject of a new book called Living Reconciliation can help “transform our world”.

The book, written by two Anglican Communion Office staff, is designed to inspire ordinary people to live in a way that transforms their churches and their society. It is intended as a platform to enable people to engage with and live out the Archbishop of Canterbury’s thinking on ‘living reconciliation'; a subject he hopes will be the hallmark of Anglicanism.

Emerging from the life of the Anglican Communion and featuring stories from around the world, the book ustilises the theology and experience of Continuing Indaba – a project of the Anglican Consultative Council in response to the 2009 Primates’ Meeting.

It is not a report, rather a lively and inspiring work that challenges the reader to reflect deeply on Scripture and to apply it in their own context.

It is described by the Dean of Coventry John Witcombe as “a book [that] sets out vital principles, tells compelling stories, and inspires and challenges readers to live and make new stories of their own…An invitation not just to a way of thinking, but to a way of life.”

The Bible is central

Co-author the Revd Canon Dr Phil Groves said, “The Archbishop of Canterbury begins his foreword with the words ‘Reconciliation is God’s mission to the world in Christ; therefore it is our mission.’

“The book reflects the breadth of the Anglican Communion and is inspired by Anglicans working in their parishes and dioceses across the world. Underpinning every chapter is a belief that Christ came into the world to reconcile us to God and to one another.

“The Bible is central to the book, but the reader is often confronted with new ways of reading familiar texts. For example, they read the story of Sarah and Hagar through the eyes of a Kenyan woman theologian familiar with the conflicts inherent in polygamy.”

A book for all Anglicans

Archbishop Desmond Tutu says the book is a tool and encouragement for all to live a life of reconciliation. Many others with experience of working for reconciliation between Christian-Muslim communities and Roman Catholic-Protestant communities in Northern Ireland have echoed his commendation.

However, Canon Groves stressed this is not a book for “some rare breed of conflict negotiators”.

“It has been written in dialogue with a group of ordinary Christians with no formal theological training,” he said. “Some of the greatest enthusiasm for this book has come from those involved in assisting parishes in conflict.”

Coventry Cathedrals Canon for Reconciliation Sarah Hills describes it as “the resource they have been looking for” and Sandra Cobbin Sandra Cobbin who runs courses addressing church conflict says it is “an essential read”.

Canon Groves added, “The Archbishop of Canterbury has called us to be reconciled with one another to be reconcilers in the world. The book is not inward-looking; it challenges the reader to bring reconciliation to our world.

“This is emphasised in videos on the associated website that feature the Bishop Moses of Mbeere in Kenya and Canon Jesus of El Camino Real in California who speak of how reconciliation in the church has gone hand-in-hand with peacebuilding between warring clans, and with challenging gang culture where they live.

Living Reconciliation is both realistic about the challenges and positive about the hope we have in Christ. Those churches that live reconciliation are faithful in prayer and growing in disciples. This is a book aimed at transforming both church and world.”

Living Reconciliation is written by Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones, and is published by SPCK in the UK and Forward Movement in North America. The Living Reconciliation website can be found at


Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), September 30, 2014

Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines

Posted on: September 29th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews



by Patricia Monaghan

New World Library, 2014
$23.50  CAD. Kindle $16.71 CAD
432 pages. Paperback edition
ISBN #978-1-60868-217-1


Author Info:

Patricia Monaghan, PhD (1946–2012), was a
leader in the contemporary women’s spirituality
movement as well as an award-winning poet,
scholar, activist, and mentor. In 1979, she
published the first encyclopedia of female
divinities, a book that has remained in print
since then in various formats and that she
later expanded into the current volume.

Monaghan was a lifelong member of the
Society of Friends (Quakers) and also a
companion of the Fourth Order of Francis
and Clare, an interfaith religious organization.

Author’s Words:

In many cave paintings from around the world,
female figures appear with male figures. We do
not know if the female figures were considered
divinities but we do know that every culture since
the dawn of time has honored goddesses as well
as gods.

Then somewhere around 2,500 years ago,
monotheism emerged in the eastern
Mediterranean, first as a Hebrew tribal
religion, then as Christianity, and finally as
Islam. These related religions center their
worship on a single male divinity. In doing
so, they eliminate age-old reverence for
the divine female… No monotheistic goddess
religion has ever been found. It can also
be proven that patriarchy and monotheism
are not identical. One can exist without the

There is no question monotheism limits
women in religious situations. Only recently
have some Christian denominations permitted
women to serve as priests… There is little
question that boys are taught that ‘god’ looks
like them, but not like their mothers and
sisters. They grow up differently than girls
who are taught the opposite.

It is probably not surprizing that those
raised with such an orientation find it
difficult to believe that our forebears may
have honored divinity in female form…

There is no doubt that once written history
begins, we find goddesses sharing the
religious stage with gods, and they take
on many forms and kinds of behavior.

This volume shows the breadth of possibilities
associated with the female through many
ages and cultures. Some will be familiar,
others obscure. Not all will be called ‘goddeses’
since between such figures and mortal women
exists a category this work calls ‘heroines.’
These too exist in many forms.

No encyclopedia can list all the goddesses the
world has known. Many stories have been lost.
But an impressive amount of information still
remains… This encyclopedia attempts to bring
together many sources to offer an entry point
for further research.

Sources are not only scholarly but exist for
children. Some literary sources do not yet
appear in English. Folklore as well as literature
provides a source of information about ancient
goddess figures.


Review By Wayne A. Holst


My Thoughts:

Early this year I introduced a posthumous
publication by the late Joseph Campbell entitled:

“Goddesses – Mysteries of the Feminine Divine.”

It provided a collection of his essays on goddess
figures in the mythological traditions he had
studied and – at the time of his writing these
essays –  between 20-40 years ago – it was a
very unique and a rather novel subject for
public consideration (check out that issue of
Colleagues List on the Campbell book) -

Now, a work of even broader, more factual 
sweep appears at a time when the general
public seems much more open to consider
its feminine themes.

“The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines,”
provides extensive documentation of female
characters and feminine imagery from the
primal traditions,  all world religions, and all
corners of the globe.’

We learn that ‘from the beginning of recorded
history, goddesses reigned alongside their male
counterparts as figures of inspiration and awe.
Drawing on anthropology, folklore, literature,
and psychology, the author’s encyclopedia
‘covers female deities from Africa, the eastern
Mediterranean, Asia and Oceania, Europe, and
the Americas, as well as every major religious

Campbell’s book is an interpretive resource
while Monaghan’s is a research tool to help with
the investigation of goddesses and heroines from
a vast array of human sources.

Monaghan has made access to the information
very easy in the way she organizes the material
by various regional ‘pantheons.’ Each entry is
precise and well written. The bibliography and
index is exhaustive and this makes the book a
good first stop for further, more extensive
investigation of specific characters.

For those interested in goddess/heroine themes
that are carefully and clearly presented, this book
is a real gem.


Buy the Book from


Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city.


Colleagues List, Vol. X, No. 9,  September 28th, 2014

Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of St. Francis of Assisi

Posted on: September 29th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

The Alternative Way
of St. Francis of Assisi

by Richard Rohr, 2014


Franciscan Media, 294 pp.
Hardcover $24.00 CAD.
Kindle $9.99 CAD
ISBN #978-1-61636-701-5

Author’s Bio:

Richard Rohr is a globally recognised Catholic
and Christian teacher focusing on mystical and
transformational traditions and is the founder
and director of the Center for Action and
Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico,
home of the Rohr Institute.

He is the author of more than twenty books,
including Yes, And… Daily Meditations;
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self;
Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves
of Life; and Breathing Under Water: Spirituality
and the Twelve Steps.

Author’s Words:

Francis of Assisi was master of making room for
the new and letting go of the tired or empty. Much
of Francis’ genius was that he was ready for absolute
“newness” from God and could also trust fresh and
new attitudes in himself…(The visible world provides
a doorway to the invisible world.)

In this book, I want to share with you one of the
most attractive, appealing and accessible of all
frames and doorways to the divine. It is called the
Franciscan way after the man who first exemplified
it – Francis, who lived in Assisi, Italy, from 1182 to
1226 CE. Francis and Clare, (his female religious 
associate) – when overly romanticised – can be
“dismissed too easily” (as Francis was not what
he has been too lightly made out to be by would-be
followers, even in our own time.)

Church and world. He was totally at home in both.
He and Clare were both very eager to love both,
and they knew that dying to the old and unneeded
was an essential part of living this love at any depth.

You too can let Francis and Clare show you how to
die into your one and only life, the life you must
learn to love… (I try to help them do this in my

The Franciscan way is to view the Gospel not as
a fire insurance policy for the next world but a life
insurance policy for this world…

My hope and desire in writing this book is that
you can know heaven on your own too, and now!

- from the Preface (with editorial licence)



Review By Wayne A. Holst


My Thoughts:

(In the June 8th issue of Colleagues List
 I introduced the 90 page study guide -
“Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy:
 Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis”

In a way, the current book under consideration
and the “how to” guide just noted have appeared in
reverse order for whatever reason. At least now,
with the appearance of both volumes, we have 
from Rohr a spirituality that is both theoretical
and practical).


For those unfamiliar with Rohr’s writing what
we have in this book is an introduction to
mysticism – one of his specialties. The mystical
way of living the faith is common to all the
great religious traditions and is also one of the
key linkages between them.

Read what Rohr writes about this.

We used to say – in Christian ecumenical
circles – “doctrine divides, service unites”
and this helped us to work together for
social justice causes with many different
Christians as well as non-believers.

Now, we might say the same about the
phenomenon of mysticism, it seems to me.
“Doctrine divides, mysticism unites,”  – and
this helps us to find common spiritual cause
with people of many faiths or no faith.

What Rohr is able to share with us is really
nothing new. It is almost a thousand years
old, since the time of St. Francis.  And yet,
because of its nature, it can reflect a very
contemporary way of living.

Rohr describes the meaning of mysticism.
He suggests contemplation is reasonable
but not rational – a different way of knowing.
It is an integrative, rather than an exclusivist
way of understanding reality. It does not
focus on right vs. wrong, positive vs. negative
or male vs. female like so much of our inherited

Franciscan spirituality as interpreted by Rohr,
engages some important contemporary themes -
like atonement theory, eco-spirituality, the
Christ who existed before Christianity and the
Christ who will live beyond it, an approach to
Islam, and living like Jesus lived.

I continue to marvel at the way Rohr helps
us to see that there are within the Christian
tradition many untapped resources that
we did not know existed.

I recommend this book. Whether you are
new to Richard Rohr or a veteran of others
he has written, this title continues the
spiritual journey of a modern pilgrim – 
grounded in good tradition – who is not
afraid to confront challenges to Christianity
today, and very open to new ways the Spirit
is guiding us.


A Review Summary:

Rohr’s attempt is to deepen contemporary
spirituality by linking it to Christian mysticism
and the contemplative tradition.

In “Eager to Love” he reclaims the mysticism
inherent in the Franciscan legacy and offers
it as an alternative to the hierarchical,
patriarchal and authoritarian Christianity
that he suggests has primary responsibility
for so much contemporary agnosticism in the
West… He is building a bridge between the
Christian mystical tradition and estranged
seekers of every ilk.

The book contains Rohr’s reflections on the
best aspects of the Franciscan heritage as
lived out by its founder and its early worthies -
Clare, Bonaventure and Dun Scotus.

The message of Francis offers an alternative
way of life, a different way of knowing
and a pedagogy that teaches through living
rather than through creedal affirmation.

According to Rohr, the starting point for Francis
was not the reality of human sinfulness but
rather human suffering. The Franciscan way
is prophetic rather than priestly.

Rohr admits that he is not a scholar but a
popularizer who is laying out a different
approach to the inherited Christian tradition.
His treatment, he acknowledges, is not

Rohr both values the institutional church
and suggests ways to survive within it. He
admonishes Christians give priority to Jesus
and his message which we inherit through
Scripture and theological tools offered
through the church.

Francis was not a theologian, but a living
illumination of one open to the love of
God and eager to love God and all God’s
creation, especially the most lowly.

The church of the future will be mystical,
the author believes, and Rohr is attempting
to drive that message home.

- Dana Greene, National Catholic Reporter
  July 23rd, 2014


Buy the book from



Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city.


Colleagues List, Vol. X, No. 8,  September 21st, 2014