Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Testament to a life thoughtfully lived

Posted on: January 12th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

By Ben Graves on January 09, 2017

BOOK REVIEW It Happened at the Cathedral Letters of Bishop R.F. Shepherd, 1948 to 2012By Mary Shepherd
48 Hour Books, 2015
242 pages
ISBN 978-0-9880816-6-6 

As a student first of history and now of library and archival science, I am acutely aware of an existential crisis currently ongoing in both fields.

Nobody writes letters anymore.

That’s something of an exaggeration, of course, but nowadays letter writing almost certainly qualifies as a lost art. Letters, which throughout history have given us rare glimpses into the inner workings of world-shaping events and the minds of great and not-so-great men and women alike, have been largely replaced with emails, text messages and chat. And while these forms of communication are sufficient in terms of delivering content, they often fail to convey the intimacy inherent in writing a letter.

It is this intimacy that makes It Happened at the Cathedral, a compendium consisting of personal missives, pastoral newsletters and poetry penned by the late Anglican Bishop Ronald Francis Shepherd, such a valuable and rewarding read. Shepherd’s writings, curated here by his daughter, Mary, span from 1948 to 2012, and serve as a threefold historical resource, allowing for detailed insights into his personal history, the history of the Anglican Church of Canada and the social history of Canada itself.

It Happened at the Cathedral begins, appropriately enough, with Shepherd’s personal account of his conversion experience in England, as told through a letter to his then-fiancée, Ann. (Ann, still in Canada at the time, must have been somewhat shocked to learn that her partner’s erstwhile academic career had veered sharply into theology.)

The book proceeds to run the gamut of Shepherd’s career, and includes colourful anecdotes ranging from tales of “Middle-earth,” the Edmonton-based church hall-turned-youth centre he helped run in the summer of 1968, which hosted “rock bands, dances (complete with strobe lights), movies, and dramatic plays,” and aimed to “bring the youth of our city to Jesus via a language they [could] understand”; to the sight of “gun-toting soldiers” outside of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Montreal during the October crisis, when members of the radical separatist group Front de libération du Québec kidnapped provincial cabinet minister Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross; to his experience taking women’s studies courses through Concordia University at the height of second-wave feminism in the 1970s.

Mary Shepherd deserves special credit here for her work in curating this collection. There must be some measure of temptation, especially when writing about one’s family, to gloss over or even edit out life’s darker periods. But hard times are visible here amidst the good, and the book is all the richer for it: particularly moving is a section detailing a momentary crisis of faith later in Shepherd’s life. Collages made up of old photographs and original artwork, along with an appendix providing further context for each letter, are also most welcome additions that aid in fleshing out and personalizing Shepherd’s life and work.

In all, It Happened at the Cathedral stands as a testament to a life thoughtfully and thoroughly lived. Rich in personal detail and church and societal history, it serves to remind us of a not-so-distant past, and allows us to  appreciate the perhaps soon-to-be-lost art of the letter.

The book can be ordered by contacting Mary Shepherd at: [email protected] or (514) 487-0126

About the Author

Ben Graves

Ben Graves

Ben Graves worked as an intern for the Anglican Journal until August 2015. 
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Anglican Journal News, January 11, 2017

Shane Lopez: Hope is an ancient virtue

Posted on: January 11th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

Making Hope Happen

The author of “Making Hope Happen” says that hope can be cultivated and shared.

Shane Lopez studies hope. What he has found is that hopeful people are more successful, healthier and happier than those who lack hope.

And the good news is that hopefulness isn’t an inborn trait, he said. People can cultivate hopefulness and share it with others.

“The revelation for me over all these years of doing this research is that hope is contagious,” he said. “The intriguing part of that ‘hope is shared’ message is that if you’re around hopeful people, you become more hopeful in time.”

Lopez is a leading researcher in the field of positive psychology and is a Gallup Senior Scientist and the research director of Gallup’s Clifton Strengths Institute. He is the chief architect of the Gallup Student Poll (link is external), a measure of hope, engagement and well-being of U.S. public school students.

Lopez spoke to Faith & Leadership about the implications of his research for individuals, organizations and leaders. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: In your book you have four messages about hope: hope matters, hope is a choice, hope can be learned, and hope can be shared with others. Can you give us a summary of those ideas?

Hope is this ancient virtue that is celebrated across cultures, across religions. Instinctually and intuitively, we believe that it matters, but when you start asking people in a town or a school or a business to really invest in hope, one of their first questions to you is, “Well, does it really matter?”

And I want to say, “You know what? You’ve been honoring hope your whole life. Part of your spiritual life is about hope; we all believe in hope, especially in America.” They still want to know the data. They want to know how hope really plays a role in their daily lives, so we’ve done a ton of studies to demonstrate the extent to which hope matters.

Hope is a choice in that we have this capacity to think about the future that’s unique to human beings, and we build that capacity over time. It’s really a personal choice that is made to either invest in this thinking about the future and your expectations about what might happen or to let each day go by passively without really becoming an active agent in your own life.

Sometimes that choice is made by an individual over time, and sometimes it’s made in the blink of an eye.

Hope can be learned: we have this innate sensibility to think about the future early on, and over time we get better and better and better at it if we’re given the right reinforcement by the right people and we have the right kind of success.

What we truly need to learn over time is that flexible, creative thinking that fills the gaps between where we are today and where we want to be down the road. It fills up the gaps between point A and point B. So that “pathways thinking” is what most people really need to spend their time learning.

But the revelation for me over all these years of doing this research is that hope is contagious. The intriguing part of that “hope is shared” message is that if you’re around hopeful people, you become more hopeful in time. If you’re around hopeless people, you become hopeless over time.

Work is being done by epidemiologists that demonstrates that positive and negative emotions and mindsets are contagious to the third degree. So in other words, my hopefulness spreads to you; you go home and you share it with someone else; and then that someone else sits with a neighbor and shares it with another person.

So it’s moving in a very predictable/meaningful way, but the same is true about hopelessness. So that’s how we temper that message — that hope is shared. You can give it away, but you can also be an agent of despair. So you have to be cautious about how you act each day and what you tend to share with others.

Q: What is the difference between optimism and hope?

Optimism is half of hope. Think about hope as the belief that the future will be better than the present, combined with the belief that you have some power to make it so.

That first belief — that the future will be better than the present — is optimism. Hope adds agency to that optimism.

Agency is this word that we toss around a lot in psychology. It’s really that belief that you can write your own script, that belief that you are the hero in your own journey.

When you attach that to optimism, you’re more self-determined. You are more inclined to create a lot of strategies to get where you want to go in life. You have a greater tendency to connect with people that really can help you get the support and instruction that you need. You look for opportunities that will help you. You look for opportunities to help others.

The agency combines with optimism to give you that sense of action that’s inherent to hope.

Q: Your book focuses largely on personal goals and an individual sense of hope, but I wonder how those goals relate to larger organizational or missional goals.

In the work we’ve done at Gallup, we found that followers need four things from leaders. Stability, trust, compassion and hope are four followers’ needs, so any leader in any organization needs to keep those four needs in mind.

Followers need stability, a stable person who’s true to their word and sense of self. Trust relates to stability but is more of that emotional feeling you get when you’re around someone who is stable and is moving you in a positive direction. Compassion — maybe it’s delivered as tough love, but the love definitely has to be there.

Then the last thing we need is hope.

We’ve done some studies of great bosses. We need hopeful leaders who create excitement about the future, who get rid of any obstacles that are in our way and then celebrate our accomplishments as we make progress and reach our goals.

Q: What can be done to teach people to see and to act upon multiple pathways?

To teach “pathways thinking,” you can stand up in front of a room as a leader and say, “Here’s where we are; here’s where we need to be; here are the four routes that we could take.”

That’s OK, but that doesn’t really teach people how to come up with their own pathways. You just did all the work for them, but when you’re pursuing the goal for the organization and you bump into obstacles, that’s the moment. That’s the teachable moment.

When you feel like, “Hey, here’s our first failure,” that’s really your first opportunity to say, “OK guys, where’s our next pathway? We did not anticipate this. We’re stuck. We need multiple ideas for how to get unstuck.”

So those teachable moments, that’s when you really call upon people to think about pathways, and it’s often best done in a group setting. You know, two, three, 20 people, however many people are around, so that you can really generate this ping-pong of ideas, you know, people throwing ideas out, and then they go back and forth, and they get bigger and better, and other people in that mix realize, “Oh, there are lots of good ideas here. There’s way more than one pathway. There’s way more than one way to get things done.”

So I would say, let’s rely more on show than tell, and when we face obstacles, view those as teachable moments, those opportunities to pull people in and get talking about the different pathways that you can take.

The last thing that I want to emphasize is that pathways thinking is best taught in the context of working on something real. When you’re working on something real, when you have a real project and there are real outcomes that are dependent on you coming up with pathways, and real time lost and real money lost if you don’t figure this out, then the urgency of it all, the excitement of it all, helps you really learn how to do this in the moment.

Q: Having to come up with multiple pathways means you’ve failed in your first attempt, right? What role does hope have in dealing with failure?

Very hopeful people see failure as another opportunity to try. I think everyone can be taught to see failure as another opportunity to try something new, and you have to start by doing that in low-risk situations.

You can’t say, “Hey, you’re going to college now, and you’re going to fail a whole bunch of times, and life will be grand.”

You have to do it when they’re young and there’s not a lot of risk. I think we need to help people get comfortable with failing in low-risk situations but then emphasize that trying is really what gets people to that finish line, not necessarily failing repeatedly.

Q: The goal isn’t failure.

Right. They’ve turned failure into a goal — they’ll tell you these stories: Bill Gates failed so many times, and Michael Jordan got kicked off the team.

So you have to remind people that trying is really the thing that drives us to our success. Don’t celebrate every failure like you’re one step closer to the outcome you desire. It’s really that trying that we can instill in kids and adults that will get you to that outcome.

Q: In some ways, it sounds like what you’re talking about is resilience, the ability to regroup and try again. Do you think resilience is crucial to developing that mindset of multiple pathways?

I would flip that. If you look at all the research on resilience, you can only determine if someone’s resilient after the fact.

So you can only tell the story of resilience if they have bounced back from that thing that they’ve been struggling with, and then when you unpack it, you say, OK, what made them resilient?

If you read any ancient text, they will not celebrate the ancient virtue of resilience. It is not an ancient human characteristic. They’ll celebrate hope. They’ll celebrate faith. They’ll celebrate love.

Those things work together, and we use them strategically to become resilient in the end. So they are intertwined, but I see someone becoming hopeful and dealing with the circumstances of life so that when they get knocked down, they can get back up again and show the world their resilience.

Q: What role does storytelling play?

I think storytelling has a huge role, and not just in developing hope, but this idea of the future and this idea that you’re the hero in your own story.

It really shapes up when you’re 2, 3 years old and starting to think about tomorrow. Tomorrow’s fascinating to a little kid. What will we do tomorrow? Tomorrow really is magical.

So you start telling stories about what I will do tomorrow, and that is the first set of hope stories that you tell in your life. That’s exciting, and most people hold on to that storytelling capacity across their lifetimes.

If you keep yourself at the center of the story, chances are you’re a very hopeful creature. If you see yourself as the guy who’s always getting downed in an argument or you always lose out in a contest or you never get the prize you want in life, chances are you’re not so hopeful.

Q: On a personal and on an institutional/organizational level, storytelling is so powerful.

That reminds me of this company that was going through some big changes, and they were trying to get rid of the old script and start with the new, and one of their organizational development people said, “We’re going to burn the scripts.”

She said, “I mean, literally. Bring whatever document you think represents the old company and what we were doing that we shouldn’t have been doing. Bring that, and we’re going to burn them in a barrel.”

And she did exactly that, and she said, “Now, we need to write the new story.”

I’ve done that with students. I brought in a bunch of flat river stones to college freshmen, and I gave them a Sharpie and I said, “Write the name of the teacher in your lifetime that made you doubt that you could succeed.”

And they wrote the name on the river stone, and at the end of class, we went to the lake in the middle of campus and we threw the stones in and we said, “OK, you no longer need to worry about that person. Now you get to write a story without that person as a character, because they’re not at college. They’re in high school. They were in middle school. They’re behind you. Now you have a clean slate. New time. New story.”

Q: Has your faith influenced your work?

Yes. We’re Catholic. We’ve been Catholic forever. Lopez is Spanish, but most of my people are French Acadian, Cajun, and we were exiled from France, and then we came to Canada.

We were exiled because of our religion again, and then we ended up in south Louisiana, and the place I’m from, New Iberia, is 85 percent Catholic. So being Catholic is a sign of resilience.

We fought to be Catholic. We had to leave two homes to be Catholic, my ancestors did. So that for us represents a story of strength and a story of hope and a story of resilience. So that story for us is part of our overall faith.

So for me, being Cajun and being Catholic means that I’m from a long line of hopeful people who have practiced a religion that we valued so much over the years that we continue to fight for the right to do so, and it’s part of who we are.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, January 11, 2017

L. Gregory Jones: Achieving organizational breakthroughs in the face of daunting constraints

Posted on: January 9th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

In holding together scarcity and abundance, leaning into constraints even as we focus on bolder ambitions, we will discover the greatest opportunities for transformation, writes the executive vice president and provost at Baylor University.

Nonprofit institutions are often constrained by size, funding, staffing and the immensity of the challenges they are trying to address. This has been even more acutely felt in the years since the 2008 economic meltdown, which exposed the fragility of these institutions and intensified their fractures. Christian institutions seem to be especially constrained.

The leader of one Christian institution that supports the work of other Christian institutions recently told me, “Our attendance at our annual meeting and our membership started dropping off in 2008, and neither has recovered. It is as if the organizations we support have shifted into survival mode, and they have difficulty still seeing the larger horizons that we are trying to address.”

The constraints are exacerbated by deep trends that are causing even large Christian institutions to suffer, and their leaders to feel discouraged.

Yet could it be that the ways we are responding to these constraints are actually making things worse? Might the constraints themselves also be blessings that could enable us, and require us, to find generative solutions to the wicked problems we are addressing?

The authors of “A Beautiful Constraint: How to Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business” (link is external) offer affirmative answers to these sorts of questions. They suggest that the key difference between people who provide transformational leadership and those who don’t is their “core relationship with constraints.” They observe: “While we may see constraints as punitive, restrictive, and to be avoided, they see constraints as necessary, beneficial, and to be embraced.”

They observe that constraints come in multiple forms and vary in intensity: there are constraints of “foundation” (something that is basic to the enterprise, such as a building); of “resource” (funds, people or expertise); of “time” (the ability to control and meet a deadline); and of “method” (possible ways of accomplishing something given the organization’s capabilities and requirements). Often, the constraints we face combine two or more of these forms, and the intensity can seem overwhelming.

The authors’ key insight is in delineating the ways we tend to respond to constraints: as victims, neutralizers or transformers. They point out that these are not so much personality traits as they are reactions we all tend to have at one time or another. We are thus able to shift from responding as victims or neutralizers to acting as transformers (though we can also lapse from a transformational approach back to feeling like a victim). Victims lower their ambitions in the face of constraints, allowing the constraints to defeat them. Neutralizers don’t lower their ambitions but develop workarounds to try to deal with constraints. Transformers see constraints as opportunities to approach things in a fresh way, perhaps even increasing their ambitions along the way.

As these descriptions suggest, a crucial element of seeing constraints as beautiful is our ability to become even more, rather than less, ambitious in what we think is important and possible for our organizations to accomplish. We need to see constraints and ambitions as opposable rather than oppositional. Our organizations’ ambitions can be for growth, or impact, or quality, or superiority, or delivering a specific experience — or, typically, some combination of those. When we hold “bold ambitions” and “significant constraints” together in opposable tension, we can discover breakthrough opportunities.

We discovered this at Duke Divinity School in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. Having stumbled across a wonderful distinction by James Surowiecki (building on the work of Peter Dickson and Joseph Giglierano) between organizations that seek to avoid “sinking the boat” (link is external) and those that seek to avoid “missing the boat” in the face of crisis, we focused on the latter. We worked together to double down on our ambitions to be a resource for equipping the kind of leaders the church needs in the 21st century.

We took seriously the constraints we faced, and they were daunting. I moved through many days feeling like a victim of external forces and constraints, and occasionally I worked myself into a space where I felt like maybe we could be neutralizers. But we also stumbled together into a conviction that perhaps our constraints were an opportunity to transform our situation by developing breakthroughs in how we thought about our foundations, resources, time and methods. We held together, opposably, our significant constraints and our bold ambitions. We launched several major new initiatives, including new degree programs, that we might not otherwise have undertaken.

“A Beautiful Constraint” incisively describes key activities an organization needs to undertake to cultivate a transformative approach:

  • “break path dependence” by questioning the givenness of “the way we do things around here”;
  • “ask propelling questions” that bind a bold ambition to a significant constraint;
  • find solutions through “can-if” modes of thinking;
  • “create abundance” by discovering assets in our own organizations, among key stakeholders and partners, and perhaps even in competitors that can move us forward; and
  • “activate emotions” that help us persevere, including both negative emotions (such as fear and frustration) and positive ones (such as excitement and desire).

The authors also note that we need to hold scarcity and abundance in opposable tension; simply to oppose them, as I have often done, can come across as naive. This is particularly important for Christian institutions. We know Jesus’ words and actions that embody abundance, and often preach and teach with a focus on abundance (the fourth step in transformation above). But the important insight here is that it is in holding together scarcity and abundance — leaning into constraints even as we focus on bolder ambitions — that we will discover the greatest opportunities for transformation.

Christian institutions are well-positioned to see constraints as beautiful and to lean into the activities that could make us transformers. After all, whatever our constraints, we are called to bear witness to God’s reign and to trust that the future is guided by God rather than us. With our focus on God, we can afford to be even more experimental and bold in our ambitions. And we can lean into both constraints and ambitions, because we are called to embody hope, the virtue that prevents us from lapsing into either pessimism or optimism.

These convictions, though, require Christian leaders to become even better storytellers. We need to be able to help others in our organizations remember the larger horizons of our purpose, our “Why?” in relation to God’s story. We need to tell these stories in ways that cultivate traditioned innovation, drawing our attention to both past and future in ways that enliven the present as a time of hope.

The final chapter of “A Beautiful Constraint” takes up “leadership and the future of constraints.” Based on their study of organizations that were able to transform their constraints and discover breakthroughs, the authors list the following characteristics of leaders who are effective in finding “beauty in constraint”:

  • They believe transformers are made, not born.
  • They steer their organization toward constraints, not away from them.
  • They set a high level of ambition alongside the constraint, and legitimize that ambition.
  • They know when to reject compromise of that ambition.
  • They get people to believe that a solution is possible.
  • They use tension and storytelling to generate a longer-term emotional commitment.
  • They encourage and enable their teams to challenge current routines and assumptions.
  • They know how to manage the transformation threshold.

These sound like characteristics that ought to be “natural” for Christians, given the story we are called to inhabit and the God we serve. Why, then, do we so often allow ourselves to live into either a “victim” or a “neutralizer” mentality?

The authors observe that in order to be transformers, we need to have high levels of investment in our mindset, our method and our motivation. Our mindset addresses the question, “Do I believe it is possible?” Our method asks, “Do I know how to start?” Our motivation considers, “How much do I want to do it?”

As Christians, our mindset and our motivation ought both to be high if we are truly living into the horizons created by the Holy Spirit. But we often haven’t known how to start; our methods have actually dragged down our mindsets and our motivation into the realm of victims and neutralizers. The activities described in “A Beautiful Constraint” can help us rediscover how to start. As we do so, we will begin to see that constraints and ambitions, held together opposably, can help us achieve breakthroughs for our organizations, and a more faithful and effective witness to the God who is making all things new.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, December 07, 2016

Governor General celebrates New Year’s Day at Anglican cathedral

Posted on: January 7th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Art Babych on January, 04 2017

Bishop John Chapman greets Governor General David Johnston on his arrival at Christ Church Cathedral on New Year’s Day. Photo: Art Babych 


Anglicans at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa rang in the New Year along with Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, Sharon, at a noon Choral Eucharist Jan. 1. It was an unofficial visit for Johnston, an Anglican, who gave the first reading at the service and later visited informally with guests at the annual New Year’s Day Levee in the new cathedral hall.

Cathedral Dean Shane Parker and diocese of Ottawa Bishop John Chapman greeted the couple on their arrival. Johnston then added his signature to a special guest book for dignitaries that was first signed by the Queen Mother and former governor general Vincent Massey during the royal visit to the cathedral in 1954.

Before the service began, Chapman delivered a pastoral address to the congregation in which he said the global community “is in crisis,” with world leaders not behaving as they ought to. He called attention to “tens of thousands of Christians murdered, climate change, terrorism, war,” and said, “We must not be spectators, commentators or passive critics of a time we wish was otherwise.”

The clarion call voiced by the prophets, Jesus and the prophetic voices in contemporary society resound today even louder, he said. “It is the call of God to deep prayers, compassionate outreach amongst the marginalized and disenfranchised.” The call is also to “seek peace, faithful adherence to the Truth and Reconciliation [Commission of Canada’s] directives, and sensible, thoughtful and articulate teaching that reflects not just our longing and work toward a civil society, but more important, the mission of God,” Chapman said.

David Selzer, executive archdeacon of the diocese of Ottawa, gave the sermon, asking, “If we claim the Prince of Peace as our saviour, what are we going to do about peacemaking in our world that so absolutely, desperately needs it?”

He also wondered where Anglicans stand when it comes to truth and reconciliation “not only with our Aboriginal sisters and brothers, but with those we despise or ridicule or see as less than who we are?

“Where are we in terms of justice, dignity for all people so that no one goes hungry, and lacks shelter and medical care?” he asked.

God is not just for a select group of people, but for all humanity, said Selzer, as he urged the faithful not just to see God on Sunday mornings “when we’re feeling pious.”

Following the service, members of the cathedral choirs presented the governor general with the gift of a CD showcasing their musical talents.

Guests at the levee said they were surprised but pleased that the governor general and his wife broke from their schedule to visit with them in the cathedral hall for almost an hour, chatting, shaking hands and posing for photos with children and adults alike. Other guests included Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, the Pope’s representative as Apostolic Nuncio in Canada.

Accompanying the couple throughout the Johnstons’ visit was an RCMP security team.

Traditionally, the Canadian primate preaches at the cathedral of Canada’s capital on January 1. But this year the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and his spouse, Lynne Samways Hiltz, travelled to Corner Brook, Nfld., for a family wedding.

In a note December 21 advising of his plans, Hiltz said he and his wife have enjoyed the nine New Year’s Day celebrations at the Ottawa cathedral. “Please receive our very best wishes for a year that for our Church is marked by numerous anniversaries and for our country the 150th of Confederation,” he wrote. “May you enjoy good health and happiness this year and God willing we will see you on New Year’s Day in 2018.”

A copy of the note was sent to the levee hosts, Bishop John and Catherine Chapman, and Cathedral Dean Shane Parker and his wife, Katherine Shadbolt Parker.

About the Author

Art Babych

Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.
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Anglican Journal News, January 04, 2017

From souq to shopping mall

Posted on: January 7th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Wayne Holst on January, 06 2017

Omani boy at a traditional cattle souq in Nizwa, Oman. Photo: clicksahead/Shutterstock


 

We have spent the last three weeks visiting family in Oman, a busy, modern sultanate located on a peninsula, with Saudi Arabia to the west and the Gulf of Oman and Iran to the north. During this time, I have reflected on images that might help me describe my experience here.

I have observed how Oman, with a rich Islamic heritage and an embracing society, is learning how to combine its proud heritage and identity with a highly educated and globally inclusive workforce.

Helping Oman achieve some remarkable social and economic goals over the past 50 years is its beloved, Western-educated sultan, Qaboos bin Said, who seems to be the best kind of benevolent dictator.

Oman offers a unique opportunity to engage the Arab world, without the distortion of opulence in neighbouring countries like Dubai. The nation’s ability to integrate traditional Bedouin desert values with some of the best of global culture is remarkable. This can be discovered through visits to local souqs—traditional Arabic marketplaces similar to bazaars—where goats, fish, produce, spices and souvenirs are featured. At the same time, Muscat’s Avenues Mall, the largest mall in Oman, is a shopping complex not inferior to any found in Canada.

The first thing I noticed about Oman was the warmth and authenticity of its people. Decorum between persons, especially between the sexes, is respected, but that does not prevent high-level, authentic, interpersonal exchange that seems so sadly lacking in the West, and our Trump-infected times.

Omanis go out of their way to take you to a required destination, as happened when we asked—at a gas station near Nizwa—for directions to some local camel races. Ordinary people provide an interesting study in human behaviour. When a casual group of five young women, a few with children, piled into one car after an outing, they were a picture of maturity in the way they treated one other.

All religions are allowed to practise in Oman. Adherents must refrain from proselytizing, however. We happened to live near a Christian cemetery and admired the way it was respectfully maintained. Christian groups from many parts of the world worship freely here, though they must avoid attempting to make converts.

Islam is the dominant faith in Oman. Mosques and minarets (call-to-prayer towers) are to be found wherever people live and gather. The attitude toward non-Muslims is exemplary. That might be summed up in a statement from Naima Ali, whom we met at the state-of-the-art Grand Mosque of Muscat, built less than 20 years ago by Sultan Qaboos:

“I am so glad to receive your mail. I remember the beautiful time spent with your lovely family. Hope they are all well. God bless them. In future, it is my utmost pleasure to be able to receive your emails and answer your questions. Please feel free anytime to contact me. Give my love to your family and keep in touch.”

About the Author

Wayne Holst

 Wayne A. Holst was a Lutheran pastor (ELCIC) for 25 years. He taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary for a quarter century and co-ordinates adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church, Calgary.

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Anglican Journal News, January 06, 2017

Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life

Posted on: December 21st, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

LOVE, HENRI
Letters on the Spiritual Life,
by Henri J. M. Nouwen

With contributions by
Garbrielle Earnshaw, Rene Brown
and Sue Mosteller.  

Convergent Press, 
Penguin/Random House, New York
October, 2016. $30.00 CAD
Hardcover, 351 pages.
ISBN #978110190635-4

 

 

Publisher’s Promo:

Seven million copies of his books in print! 
This collection of over 100 unpublished letters 
from the bestselling author of such spiritual 
classics as The Return of the Prodigal Son 
and The Wounded Healer offers deep spiritual 
insight into human experience, intimacy, 
brokeness, and mercy.

Over the course of his life, Henri Nouwen wrote
thousands of letters to friends, acquaintances, 
parishioners, students, and readers of his work 
all around the world. He corresponded in English, 
Dutch, German, French, and Spanish, and took 
great care to store and archive the letters decade 
after decade. He believed that a thoughtful letter 
written in love could truly change someone’s life. 
Many people looked to Nouwen as a long distance 
spiritual advisor.

Love, Henri consists of over a hundred letters
that stretch from the earliest years of Henri’s 
career up through his last 10 years at L’Arche 
Daybreak. Rich in spiritual insights the letters 
highlight a number themes that emerged in both 
Henri’s work over the years, including vocation, 
solitude, prayer, suffering, and perseverance in 
difficult times. These deeply spiritual letters, 
sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, ulimately 
demonstrate the rich value of communicating 
with God through others. 

Foreword (edited):

Like love itself, Henri’s letters are demanding and
generous… but I did not want to study him, I 
wanted to be in connection with him…

I agree with Henri that “we have no time.” No time
for prayer. No time to write letters. No time to be
still.
  
Listening has also become a challenge… The world 
is so much louder than it used to be (even when
he was with us.)… To survive the constant 
barrage of noise, we’ve stopped listening.

The combination of time scarcity and not listening
has made being present with God, ourselves, and
each other almost impossible

Henri wrote: “We should live in the present where
love can touch us”…

 

Closing:

Henri, your timeless words and loving spirit are
quiet prayers that will forever live in my heart. 

– from the Preface by Gabrielle Earnshaw 


 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst 

My Thoughts:

The letters in this collection cover a period
in Henri Nouwen’s life from 1973 to 1996 –
23 years.

Over his lifetime, in addition to his many
books and articles, Henri received more
than 16,000 letters. He kept every bit of
written communication he received, and
responded to every one of them.

This collection (divided into three periods
of his life – 1973-85, 1986-89, 1990-96 –
when he died) – contains some of his most
significant exchanges. 
 
They have been saved and edited 
by people close to him like our mutual 
friend, Sue Mosteller.  

I knew Henri best during the period of 
those last six years while he was still 
living at Daybreak, near Richmond Hill 
Ontario. I had several personal encounters
with him while I was going through some 
of the most difficult times of my life.

Even though I never knew many of 
the people to whom he wrote in this
special collection, I can quite often 
identify with him during the times 
that he wrote.

I will be ever grateful to L’Arche for
bringing Henri and Sue into my life
and for the lasting impression for
good that this provided.

Henri lived a frenetic life. He also
carried much pain with him; especially
due to his homosexuality. His ceaseless
activity was known to me; his sexual
orientation was not.

When I think back on all that now, I
am just so sorry that he suffered the
way he did. He did not let his problems
get in the way of helping me with mine.

But, out of that suffering came many
glorious gifts of advice and example.
That is one of the benefits we have
in living through our own difficulties, 
rather than trying to escape them.
We can help others in spite of our 
own pain.

No one reading this book will feel that
Henri does not touch on personal issues
in his/her own life and that is one of
the reasons this volume is so valuable.

There have been many good biographies
of Henri Nouwen since he died 20 years
ago. But this book of letters is real Henri.  
He did not write it in order for it to become 
a book, but – thanks to some of his closest 
friends – that is what it has became.

Probably his very last at that.                               

 

 

Reviewed by Religion News Service:
Nouwen Letters Shed Light on
Religion of the Heart:
http://tinyurl.com/h5s8nk2 
  

 

Buy the book from Amazon.ca: 
http://tinyurl.com/glsz8a2

 

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 II, Vol. XII. No. 13,  December  04 , 2016

Prayers For All Seasons Year A

Posted on: December 21st, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

PRAYERS FOR ALL SEASONS Year A
Based on the Revised Common Lectionary,
Edited by Ellen Turnbull. 2016.

Wood lake Publishing Inc., Kelowna, BC
$19.95 CAD. paper. $9.99 CAD Kindle.
226 pages. ISBN #978-1-77064-809-8

 

Publisher’s Promo:

The Prayers for All Seasons series offers
weekly prayers that complement the
readings from the Revised Common
Lectionary.

This Year A addition to the collection
completes the set of three lectionary
years, providing a complete, handy,
and valuable resource.

Each volume contains an entire year’s
worth of prayers. Use as a weekly
resource, or dip into it as needed.

Prayers for All Seasons includes selections
from the Seasons of the Spirit lectionary-
based Christian education curriculum –
one which is embraced by thousands of
congregations around the world. Prayers
from the collection can be used in various
ways and at various times during worship
or outside of the worship setting.

Each book  features a variety of prayer
formats, including responsive prayers,
breath prayers, and prayers with actions.
A scripture index provides easy reference.



Editor’s Profile:

Ellen Turnbull’s professional background
includes arts and financial administration
in Canada, Australia, and England. She
discovered a perfect fit with editing, and
worked in-house at Wood Lake for 11 years.
She currently freelance edits from home in
the Okanagan, where she also loves to hike,
ski, and bake.



Review by Dr. Wayne Holst    

My Thoughts:

Wood lake has been providing group worship
and personal spiritual resource materials for
thirty years, and continues to do so as its
reputation has expanded from interior British
Columbia to a global audience in the English-
speaking world.

I have been reading, reviewing and endorsing
books and other items from this publisher
since founders and colleagues Ralph Milton
and Jim Taylor began their venture on a wing
and a prayer three decades ago.

I am always impressed by the quality of the
writing and editorial work that this house has
always produced — as well as the number
of publications they are able to mount.

This particular title is one third of a set of
common lectionary prayers that seeks to
be grounded in Canadian experience as well
as global and ecumenical in appeal.

Every Sunday of the church year in a three-
year cycle (as well as extra services such as
“Blue Sunday” for lonely people at Christmas)
is covered here.

Each service has a seasonal focus with
lectionary reading indexes referencing both
Hebrew and Christian Bibles; as well as formal
prayers and transitional sequences plus helpful
textual explanations to support the liturgical
planner or worshipper.

A few scriptural segments, like the Minor
Prophets and the Book of Revelation are not
to be found in this particular book. Those that
plan and worship with this material, however, 
are exposed to most of the Bible annually,
as a result.

The material can stand alone in less formal
worship orders, as well as fitted into more
established, classical liturgies.


As I have often done in the past, I heartily
recommend a book like this for personal and
corporate usage, and I thank Woodlake once
more for creating a fine resource.


Buy the book from Wood lake Press:
http://tinyurl.com/zvhvomc

Buy the book from Amazon.ca:
http://tinyurl.com/zuplh84

 

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. XII, No. 10,  October 16 , 2016

The Face of the Other

Posted on: December 21st, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

THE FACE OF THE OTHER
by Clara Joseph,
Interactive Press,
Carindale, Queensland, Australia 
2016. 70 pages.  $11.50 CAD
ISBN #978-1-925-23135-9

 

Publishers Promo:

An evocative and thought-provoking collection 
of poetry that reveals more to the reader with 
each reread. Clara Joseph covers a wide range of 
themes and ideas whilst tying them all together 
under the repeating image of the face, seen from 
many different angles and in different guises.  

The author seamlessly transitions between personal 
poems of change, transition, or personal philosophizing, 
to more public issues of justice and injustice, violation 
and destruction, all the while returning – unblinking – 
to the perception of the other within the world.  

Ultimately, this book is about what it means to meet 
the other person. 

 

Intelligent, thoughtful, and provocative, this sensual 
work ranges from the sacred to the profane in language 
that mixes the philosophical and the vernacular. With 
“The Face of the Other,” the well published Clara Joseph 
makes a stunning debut as a poet.

– Ken McGoogan, author of Lady Franklin’s Revenge

 

 

Authors Bio:

Clara A. B. Joseph was born in Kerala State, India
and she earned a PhD. in English from York University,
Toronto, ON. She is an associate professor of English
and an adjunct associate professor of Religious Studies 
at the University of Calgary.

 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst    

My Thoughts:

I attended the launch for this book in Calgary some
weeks ago at the author‘s invitation. The experience 
was both enticing and troubling for me.

Clara Joseph has been a friend for twenty years and
I thought I knew her quite well. But the poems in 
this attractive book of 70 pages brought to my 
attention another side of her. The lines reveal
things about Clara I had not appreciated previously.

Reading her poetry is like attending a gallery of
impressionist paintings. Only in this case, the
imagery is verbal.

The settings for these reflections cover a range of
territory in her mind and through her pen, even as
the events that prompted them come from many
places.

I was particularly attracted to those settings I 
suspect were from her native India. Even though
Clara is quite thoroughly Canadian, she has not
lost appealing characteristics of her native 
formation.

She writes of her perception of “the other” within 
the world. In the end her book is about what it 
means to meet that person. Sometimes, that
discovery is attractive, and sometime scary.
Much depends on that is going on in one‘s own
mind at the time, it seems.

Enjoy an untitled example: 

The air is eager though all too wet
when stubborn fig trees spread their skirts
this side of the highway wall. I watch in awe

yet cannot speak to you who own this wonderland.
The wind is scolding when all was still
until some pleats are pushed off this side of
the highway wall; the trains that warmed

those trims now pass us both; they pass us by.
The silence has spread, the pines have pierced
the contours of our mutual fear, have turned
to dust for wind and air both sides of the highway wall,
I lick my lips with your fame. Do you know

                                                      my name ?   

I found that what was happening to Clara drew
me into the ambiguities of my own mind and heart
when encountering other people – some of whom
I am drawn to; and others who repulsed me.

Here are poems you will return to, and each time
you will experience something new and different.

Thanks for this gift, Clara.

—  

On a somewhat similar theme, but differently focused,
I recall a prose book by another colleague,  written 
five years ago:     

“The Other Face of God,” by Mary Jo Leddy 
http://tinyurl.com/zluv4q5

 

Buy the book from Amazon.ca:
http://tinyurl.com/hzt6noz

 

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 II, Vol. XII, No. 12,  November 27 , 2016

In Vancouver, 850 attend event for newly renovated cathedral

Posted on: December 20th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Tali Folkins on December 16, 2016  

Nearly three times as many people as expected attended an event marking the end of 18 months of renovation work at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver—including the addition of a new stained-glass bell spire. Photo: Randy Murray


It was standing-room-only for some at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, as a celebration of the end of major building work November 17 drew nearly three times the number of people organizers expected.

“It went very, very, well—beyond our expectations, in terms of the number of people who came, the excitement,” said Dean Peter Elliott. “We’re thrilled.”

Organizers had planned for 300 people to attend the event, marking the end of the latest phase of a 20-year repair and renovation project, Elliott said, but 850 showed up.

The event was to begin at 4:30 p.m., but the church’s nave, which can hold 500-550 people, was already almost full by 4 p.m., reported Topic, the newspaper of the diocese of New Westminster. By the time the ceremony began, many were standing wherever they could find space.


Peter Elliott , dean and rector of Christ Church Cathedral, gives an opening address. Photo: Randy Murray


Audrey Siegl, a young woman from the Musqueam First Nation, began the event by formally welcoming participants to traditional Musqueam territory. Siegl, Elliott said, told the gathering that it felt like Christmas morning in the church because of the sense of excitement and anticipation.

With a cost of $9 million, the latest 18-month phase is one of the most important elements of the decades-long project, which has a total budget of $20 million.

One of the main goals of the project, a “seismic upgrade” meant to make the building more resistant to earthquake damage, is now complete. But there were many other important elements of the work on the cathedral, a Vancouver landmark since 1894. The old shingle roof has now been replaced with a zinc one, and the kitchen was more than doubled in size, to allow the church to better serve about 100 homeless people it feeds every day, Elliott said.

The most recent phase also saw the construction of a new bell spire of stained glass, containing four bronze bells custom-cast in France—to the knowledge of church officials, the only stained-glass bell spire in the world, Elliott said.

Asked by a CBC reporter about what the bells would be used for, Elliott said, they will ring each day at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. before church services. But, he said, the cathedral will seek out its “interfaith neighbours” about the possibility of ringing them out at the beginning of Ramadan, Diwali, Rosh Hashanah and other religious celebrations “to show we’re a peaceful city and we respect each other.”


Audrey Siegl, of the Musqueam First Nation, on whose traditional territory Vancouver sits, performs a song of the Coast Salish people. Photo: Randy Murray


The event began with a one-hour service featuring reflections by, among others, former cathedral dean Canon Herbert O’Driscoll and former B.C. minister of finance Carol Taylor, who reminded guests that the cathedral narrowly escaped being demolished and replaced by a new church and office tower in the 1970s. Taylor reminded people that “the perseverance of many Vancouverites outside of the membership of Christ Church Cathedral” helped to ensure that “[the church] is here for the community.”

There was choral music and Bible readings, followed by a blessing and dedication by Melissa Skelton, bishop of the diocese of New Westminster.

Attendees then stepped outside to view the new bell spire, lit from within by 200 lights, Elliott said. They cheered as each new bell was rung in turn, then returned inside for a champagne reception.

 

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anglican Journal News, December 16, 2016

Deep roots

Posted on: December 9th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Deep roots

Posted By Stephanie Taylor

29 November 2016

Stephanie Taylor, the information and knowledge manager at the Anglican Communion Office, reflects on the recent biennial meeting of Anglican diocesan archivists in Canada.


I have recently returned from Canada where I had the privilege of joining the Anglican diocesan archivists for their biennial meeting. It was an opportunity as fellow practitioners to come together and share knowledge and experience. It was also so much more than that. For me it was an inspirational gathering affirming the life-changing value of records and archives and ultimately of the need to learn from the past, inform the present and build a better future. That’s what archives are about and in many ways that is what faith and discipleship is about.

The evening before the meeting began the archivists gathered alongside the Canadian Church Historical Society and it was my privilege to address the gathering along with Mark Duffy, canonical crchivist of the US-based Episcopal Church. I shared with the gathering my experience of working to restore the Anglican Communion Office archive. I drew on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon at ACC-16 in Lusaka, Zambia earlier this year when he said:

“The higher a tree grows, the more likely it is to need deep roots. When the storms come, only the roots make a difference. The older a society or nation becomes, the more it needs to tell its story; so that in each generation we renew the sense of who we are and why we are here now.”

I told the gathering that as archivists we are so often the stewards of stories, of memory, and that is both a vital and challenging task. The archivists in the Anglican Church of Canada knew that only too well for they had played a crucial role as part of the Church’s participation in and response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The TRC, which released its final report late last year along with a series of Calls to Action, was mandated with informing all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools and documenting the truth of survivors and anyone personally affected. The TRC was a powerful example of the importance, and the pain of individuals having the opportunity to “tell their own story”, and the Calls to Action and the Church’s response are the beginnings of the hope of building for a better future.

The role of the archives and archivists within this was significant. Archivists attended numerous TRC sessions and met with survivors and relatives. As stewards of archives they had been able to provide survivors with “evidence” of their attendance at a residential school. In her homily, at a Eucharist presided over by Bishop-elect, the Revd Riscylla Walsh Shaw, General Synod archivist Nancy Hurn, shared powerfully of an occasion when she had been able to help a woman find out what had happened to her brother who had died whilst a pupil of a residential school. I personally have never come across a more powerful illustration of the value of records to give an account of, and help learn from the past.

In Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll wrote: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.” In other words memories and accounts are important for many reasons, not least in their ability to help us learn from the past to actively shape the future together and build a better world for all God’s children.

I also had the great honour of meeting Bishop Mark MacDonald, who since 2007 has served as the Anglican Church of Canada’s first National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. Bishop Mark joined the meeting fresh from the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota and spent an hour with the archivists before joining another Standing Rock action in Toronto that afternoon. That Bishop Mark took time out of his schedule amidst the events of that week spoke volumes to me. Bishop Mark told me: “During the TRC, we began to see how important archivists are to our past, present, and future. They were foundational to the search for justice.”

We are called to be salt and light in a dark and confusing world. I left Toronto with a powerful sense of how so many in Canada are doing just that.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Tuesday 29 November 2016