Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Only Leave A Trace, Meditations by Roger Epp

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews



Meditations by Roger Epp
University of Alberta Press,
96 pages + 7 colour images
March, 2017. Paperback.
$19.95 CAD. $11.52 Kindle.
ISBN #978-1-77212-266-4.


Publisher’s Promo:

“Make yourself big when you enter a room, when you meet a bear in the woods. Make yourself big. Meet the eyes.”

Roger Epp’s poetic meditations about the best, the hardest, the loneliest times of leading a small university campus through significant change are depicted in a series of elegant yet understated prose pieces, alongside images by his life partner, Rhonda Harder Epp. Taking a candid look at the many challenges such a position brings, Roger Epp humanizes, scrutinizes, and upholds the integrity of academic administrative work.

Only Leave a Trace will resonate with those who work in universities,
hold leadership roles in them, or care about the connections between higher education, students, and place.


Author’s/Illustrator’s Bios:

Roger Epp is Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta. He served as founding Dean of the university’s Augustana Campus in Camrose from 2004 to 2011. He is author of We Are All Treaty People (UAP) and co-editor of Writing Off the Rural West (UAP). Rhonda Harder Epp is a painter whose work is held in private and institutional collections. Her work has been shown in galleries across western Canada. They live in Edmonton.


Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:
Like many other Canadians of half a century ago, I attended and graduated from a school of higher learning founded and supported by a Christian church – Catholic, Protestant, or other. When a great surge of post-war Canadian young people began entering these institutions during the 1950’s and 60’s it became impossible for the denominations to provide the financial and other resources to support these colleges and universities. In many cases, provincial governments provided the needed support. The trade-off was that in exchange for survival and new resources for future development, church schools became state institutions

When Waterloo Lutheran University evolved “under new management” to become Wilfrid Laurier, Dr. Flora Roy, professor of English Literature and the first women to head a university department in Canada (she began her career at Waterloo College, Waterloo Ontario in 1948) wrote two books to chronicle the development. They were entitled Recollections of Waterloo College and Recollections of Waterloo Lutheran University 1960-1973 (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2004 and 2006 respectively.) 

Thirty years later, something a bit different occurred when Camrose Lutheran College, then Augustana Lutheran University in Camrose Alberta, became The University of Alberta – Augustana, Campus.

Longtime supporters of both denominational schools had great fears that much would be lost in the transition. I look back to the transformation of my alma mater with much satisfaction. While some important values were inevitably lost, “my WLU” emerged to become one of the leading small universities of Canada. Much of what had been envisioned by the founders of my school was enhanced in the process.

After reflecting on Roger and Ronda Harder Epp’s beautiful new book of meditations, I can rest content that another successful transition took place as well for a Lutheran college in Alberta during my lifetime.

WLU is an urban university flourishing among many “big league” schools in Southern Ontario. Augustana evolves as a “town and country” partner to the province’s  largest and most established university – the University of Alberta in the central part of the province.

In both cases, academic substance was pursued while quality, well-rounded education, geared to a specialized student body, was provided.

Epp is a political scientist, and his sensitive way with words is apparent in many of the 71 meditations contained here. Harder-Epp’s art work really enhances her partner’s writing.

I especially liked “Those Who Build Bridges,” “A Curator of Tears” and “The Old Man in Winter” (thoughts on the famous Canadian diplomat, pastor and renaissance man Chester Ronning, who once headed Camrose Lutheran College). 

Many of us need to learn that the “Good News” (as we may have come to know it through ecclesiastical institutions) is greater and more eternal than any human establishment, however constituted. The Gospel survives and reveals itself in many forms, conveyed by a wide range of emissaries.

I was able to thank my English professor Dr. Flora Roy for her books before she died some decades ago. Through these words, I want to express contemporary appreciation to the Epps for their beautiful art piece as well.


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

Colleagues List, Vol. XII. No. 36, June 11, 2017


A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science and the Future of Our Planet

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

Spirituality, Science and the
Future of Our Planet,
by Nancy Ellen Abrams

Beacon Press. Paperback. 2016.
200 pages. $19.82 CAD.
ISBN # 978-0807073391.


Publisher’s Promo:

A paradigm-shifting blend of science, religion, and philosophy for agnostic, spiritual-but-not-religious, and scientifically minded readers

Many people are fed up with the way traditional religion alienates them: too easily it can perpetuate conflict, vilify science, and undermine reason. Nancy Abrams, a philosopher of science, lawyer, and lifelong atheist, is among them. And yet, when she turned to the recovery community to face a personal struggle, she found that imagining a higher power gave her a new freedom. Intellectually, this was quite surprising.

Meanwhile her husband, famed astrophysicist Joel Primack, was helping create a new theory of the universe based on dark matter and dark energy, and Abrams was collaborating with him on two books that put the new scientific picture into a social and political context. She wondered, “Could anything actually exist in this strange new universe that is worthy of the name ‘God?’”

In A God That Could Be Real, Abrams explores a radically new way of thinking about God. She dismantles several common assumptions about God and shows why an omniscient, omnipotent God that created the universe and plans what happens is incompatible with science—but that this doesn’t preclude a God that can comfort and empower us.

Moving away from traditional arguments for God, Abrams finds something worthy of the name “God” in the new science of emergence: just as a complex ant hill emerges from the collective behavior of individually clueless ants, and just as the global economy emerges from the interactions of billions of individuals’ choices, God, she argues, is an “emergent phenomenon” that arises from the staggering complexity of humanity’s collective aspirations and is in dialogue with every individual. This God did not create the universe—it created the meaning of the universe. It’s not universal—it’s planetary. It can’t change the world, but it helps us change the world. A God that could be real, Abrams shows us, is what humanity needs to inspire us to collectively cooperate to protect our warming planet and create a long-term civilization.

Author’s Bio:

Nancy Ellen Abrams is coauthor with Joel R. Primack, of The View from the Center of the Universe and The New Universe and the Human Future.

My Thoughts:

I have decided not to add my thoughts about this book because of
time constraints this week, and also because I do not feel adequate at this point to give it an honest appraisal.

However, a scientist-friend suggested I consider the book, and I plan to do so. In the meantime, I am offering a review made available on the website and hope you might consider it, since Bishop Desmond Tutu lends his support at the end of this selection.

Reviewed on the site by “the Dean Family” –

This is a difficult book to review. It is also a hard book to get through. The subject matter is both lofty and dense. If you are going to do more than skim it, you will probably have to read parts, put it aside, chew on it, and then return for another session. And if it is difficult to read and review, I can only imagine how terrifically much harder it must have been to write! For the effort alone, I would give it four stars. What a task to take on: to set out not only to define what God is, based on (the author’s grasp of) the most recent scientific understanding of the nature of the universe — and then to infuse this with her personal experience of a Higher Power encountered through her 12-Step program!

I found this read (and find, since I am not finished with it) to be stimulating, exasperating, disturbing, overwhelming, inspirational, headache-making, breakthrough, bewildering and finally (even grudgingly), elucidating.

I will say first, in case I lose you along the way, if you are serious in your contemplation of the nature of God, you will want to read Nancy Abrams’ book.

To begin, it helps to look at the roots on which the book grew. There are many, but four I find fundamental to understanding:

One: Nancy Abrams is the wife of cosmologist Joel Primack, one of the promulgators of the theory that our universe is not composed primarily of atoms, as you and I were taught, but instead, of invisible and mysterious “cold dark matter” and “dark energy.” Together, these two form the “double dark” theory, that, according to Nancy, are “the foundation of the modern picture of the universe.” Her idea of God had to fit, first and foremost, with that and the current take on the laws of physics and thermodynamics.

Two: when Nancy was 15, she told her rabbi, “God didn’t create us; we created God.” While she explains how she came to refine that immature idea, nevertheless, that the seed grew into her ultimate theory.

Three: Ms. Abrams was a successful intellectual, lawyer, and philosopher. Yet she developed an eating disorder that eventually drove her to a 12-Step Program (which, you may know, began when two alcoholics banded together in their attempt to remain sober. It was part of the Christian temperance movement of the 20th Century, and grew into a worldwide spiritual program of recovery for addicts of many kinds). Nancy believes that her Higher Power, or God, has a reality outside herself. God is not merely a projection, as many philosophers and theologians have said, of the better part of human nature. Nancy found a God who, unlike the title of her book, not only “Could Be Real” but Is.

The fourth key to Ms. Abrams’ concept of God is the Theory (or phenomenon) of “emergence.” Cells have individual life, but when billions are gathered together in a certain form, what emerges is greater than the sum of the parts: it is (or can be) a human being. Humans themselves have individual life, but when millions focus their efforts in certain ways, other realities emerge. One might be called “the stock market,” which exists and has definite rules and characteristics. Another is “the media,” and so on.

Therefore, Ms. Abrams tells us, God is an emergent phenomenon. He (or it) is not the omnipotent, omnipresent Creator of all things that many religions claim. Instead, she says, God is an emergent reality from humanity. However, God is not just a projection. God is a reality humans can know, pray to, hear, and embrace. Millions upon millions of the world’s inhabitants would reject Nancy Abrams’ version of God, of course. In some cultures today, she could be executed for blasphemy.

In more tolerant, reasonable systems, she would still be branded a heretic, or dismissed as a kook. The first possibility is a lot of what is wrong with our world today – a narrow and violent view of existence that would return humanity to some new version of the Dark Ages. Even the last two would do this deep thinker a disservice. I have thought about the nature of God and reality a lot in my life, but I approach the spiritual being and force that powers a universe with more of a sense of humility and awe, and the sense that the tiny human speck of awareness I am should not and cannot define a God within and behind all things. I am forced to admit, I have never approached the idea of God with Ms. Abrams’ rigor, or depth of research.

Reading her book has required me to question everything I held true about both science and God. I am not saying in the end that I agree with all or even most of what the author is so boldly willing to declare.

I stand with Desmond Tutu, who wrote one of the forewords to her book. “I do not agree with everything that Nancy Abrams says about the scientific understanding of God,” the Archbishop writes. But “..The God I believe in…wants us to keep learning and discovering and exploring every inch…of creation…. This book will help you clarify your own personal understanding of God…. I recommend it highly  to all, religious or secular, believer or atheist, who are ready to explore honestly their understanding of the divine in our beautiful, expanding universe.”

Amen, brother Tutu. And bravo, Nancy Abrams.

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

Colleagues List, Vol. XII. No. 33, May 21, 2017




The Spirituality of Wine: Embracing creation with body and soul

Posted on: May 19th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

By John Arkelian on May, 18 2017

The Spirituality of Wine
By Gisela H. Kreglinger
Eerdmans, 2016
300 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6789-6


As non-initiate into the world of wine, we approached Gisela Kreglinger’s new book, The Spirituality of Wine, with a combination of skepticism and uncertainty. Would a free-ranging examination of the spiritual utility of an intoxicant be persuasive? Would it hold the attention of a non-devotee of wine? The author, who grew up on a family winery in central Germany’s Franconia region, caught our interest with her Christian spiritualist perspective, one that “seeks to integrate faith into all spheres of life, including the material and the everyday.” Something there strikes a chord:  life abundant includes celebrating the “good creation” of “the generous and loving Creator who delights in bestowing gifts on his children, which make their hearts glad and their souls sing.” Ascetic strains of Christian theology emphasize the spiritual and the hereafter, while neglecting the here and now. But we are both body and soul, and we are called upon to take joy (and find fellowship) in God’s creation: “The mark of a decidedly Christian spirituality is not a flight from creation but a faith-filled embrace of it.”

For Kreglinger, wine has had a long and important role in the embracing of creation. She cites biblical chapter and verse to illustrate the association of natural bounty (including abundant grape vines) with the Promised Land; and she cites Christ’s first miracle—at the wedding feast in Cana, where he turns water into wine—as a key example of wine’s role in biblical imagery and Christian celebration. The author sees wine as a sign of God’s blessing, and, through the Eucharist, as a tangible reminder that Christ stepped into “the divine winepress,” shedding his blood for our sake. Taken in moderation, she says, wine is also a way to gladden the hearts of men through shared fellowship and feasting, as engagingly depicted in the film Babette’s Feast.

The book covers a great deal of territory, from the aforementioned theology of spirituality, to the cultural, economic and religious history of wine, to the close connection between the expansion of Christianity and that of viticulture across Europe (the role on monasteries being pivotal in the latter regard). There are chapters on the philosophy of winemaking and one on the abuse of alcohol. Some of that material may be a tad esoteric for the general reader. It’s not immediately obvious who the intended reader of this book is meant to be: scholar or lay person, wine aficionado or curious non-imbiber?

At moments, the author may wax over-lyrically about the benefits of “holy intoxication,” and she tends to reiterate points more often than may be necessary. Further, the book’s type-size is smaller than it comfortably ought to be.

But, Kreglinger brings conviction, a sure command of her material and an engaging writing style to what was, for this reader, unfamiliar terrain. One happy surprise came in the author’s brief preface, in which she alludes to her childhood on the winery: “I thought about the fields and vineyards, the sun and the rain…I thought about all the people who worked for us: their lives and sorrows…” It’s wonderfully evocative stuff that makes us yearn to read a memoir of the author’s childhood years.


Copyright © 2017 by John Arkelian.

About the Author

John Arkelian

John Arkelian is an award-winning author and journalist. Copyright © 2014 by John Arkelian.
Anglican Journal News, May 19, 2017

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation

Posted on: May 14th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

The Trinity and Your Transformation
by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell.

Whitaker House (2016) Hardcover.
220 pages. $29.46 CAD
ISBN #10: 1629117293

Trinity is supposed to be the central, foundational doctrine of our 
entire Christian belief system, yet we’re often told that we shouldn’t attempt to understand it because it is a “mystery”.

Should we presume to try to breach this mystery?

If we could, how would it transform our relationship with God and  renew our lives? The word Trinity is not found in the New Testament  – it wasn’t until the third century that early Christian father Tertullian  coined it – but the idea of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was present in  Jesus’ life and teachings and from the very beginning of the Christian  experience. In the pages of this book, internationally recognized teacher Richard Rohr circles around this most paradoxical idea as he explores the nature of God – circling around being an apt metaphor for this mystery we’re trying to apprehend. Early Christians who came to be known as the “Desert Mothers and Fathers” applied the Greek verb perichoresis to the mystery of the Trinity.

The best translation of this odd-sounding word is dancing.

Our word choreography comes from the same root. Although these early Christians gave us some highly conceptualized thinking on
the life of the Trinity, the best they could say, again and again, was, Whatever is going on in God is a flow – it’s like a dance.  But God is not a dancer – He is the dance itself.

That idea might sound novel, but it is about as traditional as you can get. God is the dance itself, and He invites you to be a part of that dance. Are you ready to join in?


About the Author

Fr. Richard Rohr is a globally recognized teacher and the founder of the  Center for Action and Contemplation ( in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodox practices of contemplation and self–emptying, expressing themselves in radical compassion, particularly for the socially marginalized. He is also the academic dean of the Living School for Action and Contemplation.

Drawing upon Christianity’s place within the Perennial Tradition, the  mission of the Living School is to produce compassionate and powerful learned individuals who will work for positive change in the world based on awareness of our common union with God and all created beings.

Fr. Richard is the author of numerous books, including Everything Belongs, Adam’s Return, The Naked Now, Breathing Under Water, Falling Upward, Immortal Diamond, and Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi.


Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:

As secularization continues to strongly influence our political, social and religious ethos in Canada, people of faith need to work hard at finding new language, imagery and experiences to help us grow in that faith. Many of the classic teachings need to be expressed in ways that can be understood by people today. Otherwise they are lost to them.

The Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is a case in point. I, for example, was formed spiritually in an environment where I regularly confessed my faith using the words of the ecumenical creeds (Nicene and Apostles). But as time and experience evolved for me, some of the hard-fought meanings in those words were lost to me – a situation I know very well. Probably you do too.

I began to learn from a notable Canadian philosopher like Charles Taylor of McGill, that a secular age prompts us to formulate new thoughts, models and expressions to help us live the classic Christian way in circumstances very different from the times when those traditional faith formulations were developed. God is very much a part of modernity, says Taylor, but we need to be creative in how we discover God today.

For one attempt to describe the development of the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity click: 

A helpful mentor and model for our quest for renewed meaning is the  author and our colleague Richard Rohr, an articulate and much-published Franciscan living in Arizona. His recent book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation is a case in point.

Here is a book infused with the kind of new awareness we very much need.

Choreography, rather than rational dogma, is a better way of describing the Trinity – the source of a well-lived Christian life, says Rohr, who seeks to liberate our understanding of the classic faith  while remaining orthodox and true to it.

A helpful way to read Rohr is to note the paradoxes to which he alludes. He links reason and mystery, action and contemplation, faith and real life – by transcending the meaning of both. His thoughts are clear-headed, provocative, inspiring, challenging and infused with the spirit.

Many years ago, as a graduate student in Europe, I first encountered a hymn that had just emerged.  It was entitled: Lord of the Dance.  Do you remember it? Rohr’s book enhances that hymn with new meaning and value for me as I sing it to myself now.

I think that reading The Divine Dance, might do the same for you.


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Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinate Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XII. No. 32, May 14, 2017


Laura Dunn: Seeing the world of Wendell Berry

Posted on: April 30th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

Illustration based on the “Look & See” movie poster, which features wood engraving by Wesley Bates and typography by Mark Melnick. Image courtesy of Two Birds Film


The director of ‘Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry’ says her film is an effort to transport viewers to the world of the Kentucky poet and farmer — his place — what he sees, and what he cares about.

A portrait is a likeness of someone, but there are many ways to draw a portrait, says Laura Dunn, the director, producer and editor of the documentary “Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry.”

Filmed in Henry County, Kentucky, and initially released in 2016, “Look & See” paints a portrait of Berry without his ever appearing on camera. After Berry made clear that he didn’t want to be filmed, Dunn decided to take another approach.

“He explained that he is his place,” Dunn said. “That he’s nothing but for the people around him — his family, his neighbors, his friends.

“That’s where I got the idea of a portrait. It’s the shape of him, but the frames of this portrait are his place — what he sees, and what he cares about.”

Laura Dunn

Dunn said she wanted the film to transport viewers to Berry’s world, one that is “so counter to the culture that we’re in.”

“When you walk into his world, it’s a respite from a world that feels more and more alien,” Dunn said.

After a re-edit last fall, “ Look & See (link is external)” was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Though the film is primarily focused on farming in Henry County, Dunn said it is relevant to both rural and urban dwellers, especially in America’s current political environment.

“If you’re going to ignore the entire heartland of America, if you are going to disregard rural communities — which our country has a long history of doing — that has political implications for everybody,” she said.

Dunn was at Duke earlier this year for a screening of the film, sponsored by the Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation and the Nicholas School of the Environment. She spoke about the film with Faith & Leadership. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: How did you decide to make a film about Wendell Berry?

My last film, “The Unforeseen,” was about development in Austin. I worked with Terrence Malick on that. We were looking at ways to contextualize the Austin story within a larger frame, and he said I should look at Wendell Berry.

I was aware of Wendell’s works since high school. But when Terry said to look again, I read a lot of Wendell’s poems, and found poems that resonated with what I was trying to say in “The Unforeseen.” In 2004, I wrote to Wendell and asked if he’d record a poem and let me use it in the film.

He graciously agreed. So I went and met with him, and he recorded the poem, and it was in the film.

The film toured all over the place, but I was surprised how few people seemed to know of Wendell Berry.

People would say, “Whose voice is that? Who’s that writer?”

And I would tell them, “Wendell Berry,” assuming everyone knew of him. I found that people either know who Wendell Berry is and he means a great deal to them or people have never heard of him.

I was surprised by that, and I thought I’d like to draw more attention to his work. That’s how it started.

I wrote letters back and forth with him, suggesting this idea. It was a bit of a song and dance, because he doesn’t want the attention.

His family told me that he’s had hundreds and hundreds of requests to make a film about him, and he’s declined every time. He said yes to me, and then he said no, and then yes, and then no. Ultimately, it was his wife, Tanya, who said, “I want you to come, and I want you to do this.” It was really through her that the film came about.

Q: This may seem like an obvious question, but what’s the movie about? The title is “Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry,” but the viewer never sees him, other than in old photographs, and only hears his voice on occasion.

I wanted to make a portrait. I didn’t want to do a sprawling issues piece. I had done that, and artistically, I was inspired by the idea of a portrait — something more intimate.

If you look at the definition of a portrait, it’s a likeness of someone. There are many different ways to draw a portrait.

When I got to know Wendell better, he made it clear that, first, he didn’t want to be on camera and, second, no story could be about him, because we live in a culture where people like to idolize people and put them up on a pedestal that’s not real.

He explained that he is his place, that he’s nothing but for the people around him — his family, his neighbors, his friends.

That’s where I got the idea of a portrait. It’s the shape of him, but the frames of this portrait are his place — what he sees, and what he cares about. It can’t be the likeness of his face, because that wouldn’t reflect the essence, just some piece of the essence of this person.

Q: In the film, he talks about frames, and at one point, he comments on the limitations of cameras — how it all depends on where you place the camera and how you frame the view.

Absolutely. He said to me on a number of occasions that film is a medium that contributes to illiteracy and numbs the imagination. He thinks that film and the visual culture we’re in are a negative thing.

I agree with him in a lot of ways. I use film as a medium because it’s what people pay attention to, and I’m trying to convey messages.

But I didn’t think a portrait of Wendell Berry could be a typical, traditional biopic. He is someone who’s always going against the grain, always bending the arc. If you ask him a question, he’ll come at it from a totally different place.

I wanted a film that gave some little piece of his world and of him. That’s what I was going for.

Q: Speak some to the irony of making a film about someone who’s so skeptical of film.

It’s a wonderful challenge, because I myself am skeptical of film. I tend to think in words more than images. The two parts of filmmaking I love the most are the interviews and the editing. I do all the editing, and my editing is definitely designed around the words.

Wendell Berry articulates and conveys a world that is so counter to the culture that we’re in. When you walk into his world, it’s a respite from a world that feels more and more alien — a world that’s fast-paced with a lack of community and destruction of nature and detachment from one another, detachment from meaning, detachment from our children, a disconnection from the land that sustains us.

All these things that bring my soul much comfort are rapidly disappearing. Wendell’s world represents a counter to that. I was trying to transport the viewer to this other world.

But certainly, there’s a tension there. I used to ask Wendell, “Could you make a film that makes people want to turn away from it?”

And he was asking, “What do people do after seeing the film?”

I’d say, “It would be great if they turn their TV off and go get a book or take a walk outside.”

Q: To some extent, the film is about Berry’s approach to farming and a different kind of agriculture. But what does the film have to say to urban dwellers or people who aren’t interested in farming and who may know nothing about him?

In this new political context, post-Trump election, there’s a relevance to the film no matter where you live. Because if you’re going to ignore the entire heartland of America, if you are going to disregard rural communities — which our country has a long history of doing — that has political implications for everybody.

That’s one argument — that you should pay attention. You should look at rural America and see that there’s complexity and beauty and struggle and a lot more dimension to the American story than has been relayed in the media for a long time.

But also, Wendell Berry isn’t just someone who writes nonfiction essays about agriculture. He’s written almost 60 books. His fiction is beautiful. He writes some of the most wonderful stories and poetry.

And his essays aren’t just about farming. He writes about economics; he writes about theology; he writes about major cultural issues. He’s a great thinker. It’s ideas that make me like Wendell Berry.

So it’s not just about farming. Wendell is a farmer, and he comes from a farming family, and he writes about farming as an art. It’s this fundamental and spiritual way of relating to the land that sustains us. It’s not what we made; it’s what we depend on. It’s where we come from. It’s where we return to.

It frames a kind of morality that he embraces and writes about. But the rural landscapes of this country are in absolute decay, and there are big consequences. It’s an economic picture that we’ve embraced, and an agricultural one too, and he talks about that.

It’s not just the ethos of land stewardship. It’s all the cultural values that go along with that, and it’s disappearing.

Q: Tell us about making the film. I read that you ended up with 100 hours of film.

In documentaries, you don’t start out with your whole funding. You get a little bit of funding, you go work, you have a show, you raise a little bit more money, and so it’s a process.

I started the concept about seven years ago, but I found myself pregnant with twins and paused for a bit, and then came back to it.

We started shooting in August 2012. I wanted to get all four seasons in Henry County, Kentucky. If I had been able to shoot straight through for four seasons, it would have been great, but I had two babies in the course of that, so it slowed me down a little.

The last shoot was in the summer of 2015. We covered three seasons over those three years. And then I edited.

We had about 100 hours of footage, and I edited it. I don’t have any assistants, and I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom, so I did it at night.

That was the most brutal part of this project, honestly. I home-school my kids; I really want to be with them. So it means you’re working two full-time jobs. On a personal level, by far the hardest part of this project was just exhaustion from doing two full-time jobs. But it was hopefully worth it.

Q: At one point last fall, you pulled the film and reworked it and changed the title. Tell us about that.

Wendell did not like the title. The original title was “The Seer,” which I thought was a good title. My husband and co-director, Jef Sewell, came up with it.

We were trying to solve this problem — it’s a film about a person, but you don’t see him. We were trying to have a title that would allude to that.

But “The Seer” is also kind of a prophetic person. Wendell wrote me that he was uncomfortable with it because it gave him more credit than he deserves or can deal with. We respected that, of course.

There’s a place in the film where his daughter talks about her parents, and how they always taught her to “look and see.”

“Look at the world around you. Notice this. This is good. This is beautiful. This is ugly. This is a scar.”

It’s such a basic concept, and yet all of us miss it — look and see the world around you. Also, it’s a command that Wendell is always telling us — look out at the world, rather than at ourselves, and notice things. So that was the title change.

Why did we pull it? We premiered it in March 2016, at South by Southwest. Later, we screened it in Kentucky for a week and got feedback from the Berrys. Tanya felt like the ending was too despairing. She wanted something more hopeful.

So we pulled it and worked on it.

In that time, Donald Trump was elected, and everyone all of a sudden started asking, “What’s going on for all of America?” and Sundance wanted to screen it. It re-emerged in a new way.

Q: Did making this film change you in any way?

I think it certainly changed me.

I did several audio interviews with Wendell. I told him from the beginning, “I’m not going to trick you and put you on camera. I respect that you don’t want to do that.”

But I did a lot of audio interviews. I would sit with him in his living room and ask him all sorts of questions and get him to read different selections.

I did that maybe four times, to the point where he was sick of me. Also, every time we would go to shoot, I would go and sit with him — and sometimes he’d give me a couple of hours — and talk with him.

In one of those interviews, Wendell asked me how I was changed by this. He said it was important to him that I was the product, not the film — that how I was affected and how I was changed mattered more than the film itself.

That stayed with me. I think the film is continuing to change me in a couple of ways.

One, it re-convicts me of my principles, because if you are trying to work against the grain and cultural trends, it takes a lot of commitment. Working with him and his wife and other people in Henry County is convicting, because you see this world where people aren’t caught up in fast-paced technology. There’s a different set of values.

It has reinforced that for me in my own life. Some of the choices we’re making for our own children, our own family, are very much influenced by being there. It’s a kind of conservatism in a really beautiful way, not trying to make as much money as you can or live as big and fast as you can. It’s a simple idea, but if you apply it to your own life, it has profound effects.

The other thing is that Tanya Berry has had a big influence on me as a woman who works but is also a mom. I went to Yale and I was raised by a very feminist mom, and I’m grateful for those opportunities. But you’re trying to be a mom and you’re straddling these worlds of work and motherhood. The domestic realm is not one that’s really elevated in our culture. But Tanya gave me this example of how those can be more integrated.

Q: In the film, she talked about recovering the notion that your art is your life and your life is your art.

Totally. Your home, your children, your space, your community — to imbue the domestic spirit with that artfulness, and inspiration, and dignity, and integration, is huge. Honestly, what probably changed me more than anything was her.


Faith & Leadership, Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, April 18, 2017

The Mythic Dimension

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

Selected Essays 1959-1987
by Joseph Campbell

Collected Works
New World Library, 2017
Hardcover. 348 pages. $18.35CAD
Paperback. 348 pages. $24.26CAD

(second paperback edition just released, March, 2017)


Publisher’s Promo:

These 12 eclectic essays explore myth and its fascinating context
in the human imagination – in the arts, literature, and culture, as
well as in everyday life.

The most recent title in New World Library’s Collected Works of
Joseph Campbell 11-volume series, this new paperback edition
features pieces that exhibit Campbell’s trademark thoughtfulness
and intelligence. These essays explore the topic for which Campbell

was best known: the many connections between myth and history,

psychology, and the daily world. Drawing from such varied sources
as Thomas Mann, the occult, Jungian and Freudian theory, and the
Grateful Dead, these dynamic writings elucidate the many ways in
which myth touches our lives, our psyches, and our relationship to
the world.

This second volume of Campbell’s essays (followingThe Flight of the
Wild Gander) brings together his uncollected writings from 1959 to 1987.

Written at the height of Campbell’s career – and showcasing
the lively intelligence that made him the twentieth century’s premier
writer on mythology – these essays investigate the profound links
between myth, the individual, and societies ancient and contemporary.



“Campbell has become one of the rarest of intellectuals in American

life: a serious thinker who has been embraced by the popular culture.”
“No one in our century—not Freud, not Thomas Mann, not Lévi-Strauss—has so brought the mythical sense of the world and its eternal figures back into our everyday consciousness.”
— James Hillman


“In our generation the mythographer who has had the fullest command of the huge scholarly literature, the analytic ability, the lucid prose, and the needed staying power has been Joseph Campbell.”

Joseph Campbell’s Words:


“Accordingly the vision and the visionary, though apparently separate, are one; and all the heavens, all the hells, all the gods and demons, all the figures of the mythic worlds, are within us as portions of ourselves – portions, that is to say, that are of our deepest, primary nature, and thus of our share in nature. They are out there as well as in here, yet, in this field of consciousness, without separation. Our personal dreams are our personal guides, therefore, to the ranges of myth and of the gods. Dreams are our personal myths; myths, the general dream.”

—  from The Mythic Dimension


Joseph Campbell Bio:

John Campbell (1904-1987) wrote, among other works, the classics The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Inner Reaches of Outer Space, and The Masks of God. A prolific writer, lecturer, and scholar of art, history, religion, and culture, he taught at Sarah Lawrence College.

(extensive Wikipedia bio):


Editor’s Words:

From 1959 until his death in 1987, Joseph Campbell wrote three
major works – “The Masks of God” “The Historical Atlas of World
Mythology” and “The Mythic Image”. These books were not just
books about mythology; they were books about all mythology,
or large-scale attempts to comprehend the religious expression
of the human species.

In them, Campbell introduced many facts, stories, images, and
ideas to serve his larger argument, only to let them go after they
had served their purpose… During these most productive years
of his career, however, Campbell did write about much of the
material that he only touched on in his major works. He lectured
prodigiously and wrote numerous essays that were either early
explorations or of mature reflections upon material that appeared
in his larger ventures. These essays were published in small-
circulation magazines and journals, or in introductions to chapters
in others’ books. The best of them are collected (in this book.)

(Campbell writes about the historical development of mythology
and the mythological themes dating from early times that inform
our lives today. This book contains many of those foundational
essays linking his major themes to inform us of how myth addresses
the universal concerns of human consciousness)…

(These essays help to tie together the themes of his major works,
as he wrote during the height of his powers and then during the
period of his life when he sought to integrate and emphasise the
key learnings of his unusual career.)


Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:

Joseph Campbell was a prolific and profound writer who was
always venturing into new subjects, then integrating what he
discovered into his earlier understandings.

This book is a reflection on the integrational aspect of his teaching,
and continues to stand out as new generations become aware
of his significant contribution to human understandings.

A review of the thematic contents page of this book reminds us
of the breadth of his learning and the way he continued to weave
new discoveries with older understandings.

In the first part of this book he writes of the expanding nature of

comparative mythology across global cultures; the historical development

of mythology, rituals that emerge from myths; and the goddess theme in myths.

In the second part of this book, he writes of mythology and the
arts – and of how myths are communicated verbally and symbolically.
His ability to understand this theme through creative literature
and art can help us to understand how myth is so much part
of the world of the arts in every era. He not only deals with myths
of the past, in other words, but with how myths continue to
be reconstituted in every era of human history, including our own.

The book contains an excellent index of themes appearing here,
and an extensive list of his writings.

The new paperback edition, just published, is an indication of
the timeliness and continuing appeal of Joseph Campbell for
new readers as well as veterans returning for another drink
from the well of one of the twentieth century’s great minds.


Buy the book from

Buy the book from New World Library:
Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinate Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XII. No. 30, April 30, 2017

The Souls Of China

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

The Return of Religion After Mao
by Ian Johnson

Random House Canada Pantheon
Publication date: April 11th, 2017
455 pages. Hardcover. $30.00 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-101-87005-2



Publisher’s Promo:

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, a revelatory portrait of religion in China today—its history, the spiritual traditions of its Eastern and Western faiths, and the ways in which it is influencing China’s future.

The Souls of China tells the story of one of the world’s great spiritual revivals.  Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches, and mosques – as well as cults, sects, and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty—over what it means to be Chinese and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is searching for new guideposts.

Ian Johnson first visited China in 1984; in the 1990s he helped run a charity to rebuild Daoist temples, and in 2001 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

While researching this book, he lived for extended periods with underground church members, rural Daoists, and Buddhist pilgrims. Along the way, he learned esoteric meditation techniques, visited a nonagenarian Confucian sage, and befriended government propagandists as they fashioned a remarkable embrace of traditional values. He has distilled these experiences into a cycle of festivals, births, deaths, detentions, and struggle—a great awakening of faith  that is shaping the soul of the world’s newest superpower.


Author’s Words:

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Chinese patriots … worried that their country was so backward that it would be torn  apart by foreign powers… Those who sought reform of China’s traditional culture, especially its systems of belief, (targeted) superstitious relics that dulled people to the potential of science and progress…

Out of these struggles for a new identity, based on the best of the past but also open to the future… is coming something more than the hyper-merchantilist, fragile superpower that we (currently) know. It is a country engaging in a global conversation that affects all of us: how to restore solidarity and values that have made economics the basis of most decisions. Perhaps because Chinese traditions were so savagely attacked over the past decades, and then replaced with such a naked form of capitalism, China might actually be at the forefront of this worldwide search for values.

These are universal aspirations, and like people elsewhere in the world, Chinese people feel that these hopes are supported by something more than a particular government or law. They are supported by heaven.

– from the introduction to “The Moon Year” and the Afterword


Author’s Bio:

Ian Johnson is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and The New York Times, and his work has also appeared in  The New Yorker and National Geographic. He is an advising editor for the Journal of Asian Studies, and teaches a course on religion in Beijing. He is the author of two other books that also focus on the intersection of politics and religion: Wild Grass: Three Stories of Change in China, and A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West. He lives in Beijing.

Christianity Today Interview of the Author (short):

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:

Like many  foreign observers of Chinese society today, I am both intrigued and baffled by what is going on there. The miracle of religious revival or of the growth of new faiths like Christianity, is simply amazing. At the same time, solid predictions are hard to come by and it is difficult to describe the future of that great nation. One thing is certain, what happens in China will have global ramifications.

I have tended to approach the subject of China’s souls from a religious perspective. But much of what lies at the heart of China’s people are spiritual traditions quite different from what we have experienced in the west. Why, for example, is there so much animus to the nation and spirituality of the little country of Tibet? Why the bitter resentment to such internal Chinese movements like Falun Gong?  

What is similar in all this are the common hopes and aspirations that influence and affect all humans.
We in the west are only beginning to scratch the surface of what is actually taking place in China today. People like me have been approaching the subject from a very limited perspective – such as more recent historical encounters through the prism of colonialism and modern missionary Christianity.

What we need right now are venturesome scouts and interpreters like Ian Johnson, who can provide a bigger picture and deeper awareness.

Thank God we are no longer dealing with the fears and biases that early guides like the Canadian Chester Ronning had to face fifty years ago! We now stand at a stage of serious human-to-human encounter that could not have happened before the era of the cold war or the ubiquitous, global presence of Chinese tourists!

Many more of us need to be reversing current behaviour and making China one of our personal travel goals. I have a number of friends who have done just that. Perhaps there is still time for me too!

“The Souls of China – The Return of Religion After Mao” is a book that will require attentiveness and concentration – as well as conversations with those Asian friends who may be in as much need for enlightenment about the real China today as non-Chinese might be.

There is much more to this book than a rich resource on the miraculous growth of Christianity in China. But that story is also present here as marvelous testimony to the role of religion in modern societies.

This book is one with shelf-life and would be well worth the investment – either now, or during the next few years – for those who take the future of our world, its people and spirituality seriously.

Buy the book from


Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinate Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XII. No. 27, April 9, 2017



Hidden Figures: An underdog story with heart

Posted on: April 10th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

By John Arkelian on March 30, 2017

Caption: Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, the African-American mathematician and physicist who helped NASA win the “Space Race” in the 1960s.
Photo: 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Hidden Figures
Directed by Theodore Melfi

127 minutes
Released January 2017
Rated PG (for thematic elements and some language)


What makes us root for the underdog? Why, it’s the strength of character and sheer determination that gets them to their destination. Based on a true story, Hidden Figures was a surprise hit—with critics and audiences alike—as it tells how three underdogs prevailed against twin obstacles: they are women and they are black, and in the Sixties, either of those facts was apt to be a handicap—a big one.

Katherine Johnson (the inimitable Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) are talented mathematicians, all of them employed by NASA as “computers” (that is, support staff entrusted with mathematical computations). Their rank and recognition are limited by the twin facts of gender and skin tone. They certainly aren’t insensible to that fact: “Every time we get a chance to get ahead, they move the finish line. Every time.”  But they don’t let it stop them, not for a minute.

They make utterly winning heroines: they are smart, funny, self-confident, admirably tenacious, and yes, beautiful, too. They win over doubters— including colleagues, a frosty HR manager (Kirsten Dunst), a husband in one case and a new wooer (Mahershala Ali) in another. They earn the trust and respect of everyone, from astronaut John Glenn to the program head played by Kevin Costner. And they do it all with irrepressible verve and good humour. The result is an upbeat story about overcoming obstacles. When Mary is asked, “If you were a white male, would you wish to be an engineer?” she replies without hesitation: “I wouldn’t have to. I’d already be one.” The secret of the story’s success lies primarily in the dauntless perseverance of its three heroines.

And the film has another thing going for it. The Sixties indisputably had its share of troubles and strife, racial and otherwise; but, in the rearview mirror of history, it feels like a sunnier, more optimistic time than the one we inhabit now, a time when JFK’s stirring words set lofty goals for mankind.

The space race may have been born of superpower rivalry, but it came to embody a nobler struggle—man’s determination to overcome daunting odds, to do what seemed impossible. Setting the goal (of putting an American in orbit, followed a few years later by putting a man on the moon) entailed a leap of faith: after that came the Herculean struggle to overcome overwhelming scientific and engineering challenges to make the dream a reality. And that’s what Hidden Figures is all about—making dreams a reality—be it the career aspirations of these three gifted women, or the symbolic weight their success had for others (women and African-Americans alike) or the space program’s immediate challenge of building hardware that would withstand the rigours of reentry into the atmosphere and cracking the mathematical code for the trajectory that would take the intrepid astronauts there and safely back again. Among its many nominations and awards, Hidden Figures was nominated for three Academy Awards, as Best Film, Supporting Actress (Spencer) and Adapted Screenplay.

About the Author

John Arkelian

John Arkelian is an award-winning author and journalist. Copyright © 2014 by John Arkelian.
Anglican Journal News, April 03, 2017

Days of Awe and Wonder

Posted on: March 31st, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

How To be a Christian
in the 21st Century
by Marcus Borg
Preface by Marianne Borg

HarperOne, Toronto, ON
March, 2017. 271 pages. $29.55 CAD.
ISBN #978-0-06-245733-2

Publishers Promo:

Showcasing some of his most enduring and insightful writings, including many previously unpublished works, a concise and illuminating introduction to Marcus J. Borg, the late spokesman for progressive Christianity and one of the most revered and influential theologians of our time.

In his acclaimed books, classics such as Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, Speaking Christian, and Convictions, Marcus J. Borg helped shape an enlightened modernist view of Christianity. A leading scholar of the historical Jesus acclaimed for his ability to speak about Christianity in the context of contemporary society, Borg offered profound wisdom and inspiration – a new way of seeing and living the Christian life – for believers, students, and lay readers. Ultimately, he taught that by forming a deeper understanding of Jesus and the New Testament, we can discover a more authentic way of being.

Yet Borg himself was always conscious of a greater truth beyond what he could explain: the wonder of God.
Now, two years after the liberal theologian’s death, comes  The Days of Awe and Wonder, a selection of his writing, including many never before published works, that explores the Christian faith and what it means to be a Christian in the twenty-first century. Provocative and uplifting, this anthology illuminates Borg’s explorations of the miraculous and wonderful, his understanding of conviction and fulfillment, and his contention that we must keep an open mind and question assumptions and certainties in all our religious journeys.

Authors Bio:
Marcus J. Borg (1942–2015) was a pioneering author and teacher whom the New York Times described as “a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars.” He was the Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, and he appeared on NBC’s The Today Show and Dateline, ABC’s World News, and NPR’s Fresh Air. His books have sold over a million copies, including the bestselling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Jesus, The Heart of Christianity, Evolution of the Word, Speaking Christian, and Convictions

Wikipedia Bio With Publications List:
Foreword by Marianne Borg:

For as long as there have been Christians there has been
considerable debate about what it means to be a Christian…

… the twenty-first century has seen even more dramatic change
for Christianity. Old assumptions about, and images of God no
longer hold. Christianity is no longer considered essential for
“salvation.” It no longer provides an unambiguous moral compass…
We are in a post-Christian era.

How important is Christianity in the twenty-first century. What
does it mean to follow Jesus across a terrain that is both trampled
and uncharted? Does being Christian really matter anymore? …
(We live in a time of doubt and of love.)

(I believe that out of our doubts and loves) Christianity is being
born again.

Marcus Borg’s journey reveals the fruit and labour of doubts and
loves. In this collection of thoughts and ideas, taken from a
diversity of sources – from his dissertation written at age twenty-
seven to his final book written at age seventy – you will find a
companion for your doubts and loves. And you may discover
what it means to be a Christian in the twenty-first century…

Marcus is arguably one of the clearest, most accessible, insightful
Jesus scholars and voices for Christianity in this century. He
addressed many of the current questions and helped us to fall
in love with Christianity again, as if for the first time.

This volume is an opportunity to meet Marcus. For some, it will
be chance to meet Marcus again, as if for the first time, and for
others it will truly be for the first time.

I would like to identify a few of the book’s themes:

Given all of life’s ambiguities… our existence is remarkable,
wondrous. It evokes awe and amazement… we need to pay
attention to the awe and wonder that fills our days…

Jesus is significant, then and now. He is the embodiment of
human possibility. He shows our capacity for “knowing God,”
our capacity for courage, loving-kindness and doing justice.

Context matters. (The first century world was fraught with
injustices) but Jesus dedicated his entire life to the welfare
of others… How do we respond to the complexities of the
context of our lives? What is real? How then shall we live?

There is a “way of life” that is sustainable… It is the way
of compassion. Compassion is at the heart of all the great
religious traditions. Each tradition is like a prism or lens
that gives us a distinctive perspective. We see only in part.
Together, we can find the way.

(Our age is a pivotal time… ours is one of awe and wonder,
of a magnitude not known before. But we also have an
unprecedented capacity for self-destruction. Not only of 
humanity but also the planet.)

Why be a Christian in the twenty-first century? Because it
gives us a vision. And a hope. And a way… Transformation –
individually and collectively – is the key ingredient for (our)
liberation. (Out of this) the kingdom of God will come. It
is up to us, and we are not alone.

This volume will explore the (above) themes and others.
May the discoveries give us hope, like the flowers of
spring that emerge from a season that looks to some
like death.

Marcus Borg’s doubts and loves plowed ground. His life
and work helped him to rediscover the heart of Christianity.
For himself, and for us. With new eyes and yes, a new
heart, being Christian in the twenty-first century can make
the world a better place.

– Marianne Borg, the Last Sunday in Epiphany, 2017.


Review by Dr. Wayne Holst 

My Thoughts:

Marcus Borg was, and continues to be, through his example
and his books, a pastor and a theologian. My own life sought
to be both, and I lived for some decades before encountering
a soul-mate like Marcus. I discovered that even though he
never was ordained, he was always very pastoral. As a
professional theologian, however, he always tried to be a
good communicator. For the many students he taught, and
the congregations before whom he preached, he worked
hard to be both a good thinker and a person of the heart.

Those gifts are rare. I have not encountered many like him
in my life, and that is why our friendship meant so much. I
believe that our mutual early formation in the Lutheran
Church played an important part. For both of us, theology
and the Bible were important. But applying the truths of
Holy Scripture (from cover to cover, and not selectively)
was something we both cherished.

We were both ‘former Lutherans’, as well. We found
community in other Christian churches. Marcus was a great
help in supporting me through a life-changing transition from
the community that nourished and formed me to the community
that gave me a place to stand and to serve.

As a pastor, he helped me move past resentments to a new
place and an acceptance of how my life evolved. As a teacher,
he kept me challenged to continue growing as a Christian when
I was tempted to lose patience with new partners in faith. He
taught me that life is a series of transformations, not just
one big one! “Bloom where you are planted, and don’t waste
time thinking about what might have been” – he would say.

Why am I making this introduction to his (last?) book so
personal?  Because that is what I believe you will also
discover by reading “Days of Awe and Wonder” for yourself.

Each of you has your own story of transformation to tell.
I do not assume that your life is like mine. But I do believe
that you will encounter both a pastor and a theologian in
the late Marcus Borg by reading this book.

So I highly recommend that you secure a copy.

Buy the book from

Borg Books Available from


Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinate Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XII. No. 26, April 2, 2017

True North Strong and Free: New Ways of Looking at Canada on the 150th Birthday of the Country

Posted on: March 21st, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

New Ways of Looking at Canada
on the 150th Birthday of the Country
by Brian Arthur Brown with
Maps Curated by Ward L. Kaiser

Printed by Marquis Imprimeur
Published by 3T Publishing
Available from Wood Lake Books
2017. $24.95 CAD. 136 pp.


Publisher’s Promo:

A Canadian author and an internationally renowned
map maker, both United Church of Canada ministers
team up with Canada’s National Chief of the Assembly
of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde; the leader of the
Green Party, Elizabeth May; David W. Parsons, Anglican
Bishop of the Arctic and other visionaries who want to
see the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (2015) accomplish some
real, tangible results.


About the Author:

Writing is a hobby that has never overshadowed
Brown’s professional ministry, and sometimes
contributed to it.

Noah’s Other Son: Bridging the Gap Between the Bible
and the Qur’an was the first to attract my attention
and I reviewed it for the Anglican Journal in 2009:

Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran (2012)
was written to encourage local three-way scripture
studies between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
See Anglican Continuing Education Project website
January 27th, 2013


More recently, Brown has published  Four Testaments:
Sacred Scriptures of Taoism, Confuscianism, Buddhism,
and Hinduism (2016) to encourage representatives of
the globe’s eastern religions living with us to join and
expand our studies to include their sacred scriptures.
Colleagues List Sept. 25/16


Brown has written the 2017 souvenir book,
True North, Strong and Free to contribute to Canada’s
sesquicentennial celebrations.


Author’s Prologue (edited extensively) –

Brown outlines how immigration to Canada began
with the arrival of refugees from many European nations.
Later, these were joined by many New Canadians from
the rest of the world. The spirit of hospitality, shown
a continuing flow of immigrants by the established First
Nations hosts at the beginning, continues today.

Blending newcomers has not been an easy adjustment and
there have been many sad stories we wish we could have
avoided. But most New Canadians were able to leave their
pasts behind them in order to create a hopeful future together.
Established Canadians needed only to remember what
their own ancestors had to endure, to accommodate.

How did we create what is the best country in the world
in ways that matter to us? How do we improve it? We
learn to be honest, in this souvenir book, about both
the good and the bad of our history.

The physical beauty of our country, the mutually
respectful and normally tolerant character of our people,
and Canada’s place in the world, are all to be claimed
and celebrated. It is quite amazing, when you consider it.

The final reconciliation with First Nations is a work
in progress in which the sesquicentennial could well
be a turning point.


Review by Dr. Wayne Holst 

My Thoughts:

Changing our perspective about ourselves and the
world seems to be a key intention of the author –
colleague Brian Arthur Brown – and those who helped
him write this book.

That is why mapping is so important. Simply looking
at a number of the first maps in this “souvenir” but
much more than a “coffee table” book, convinces
me that changing perspectives is central here.

As a northern nation looking south, then globally,
our perspective dramatically changes. We are not
simply an extension of the United States. While those
ties will always be there, we are a special nation in
the global family, and we have a unique, significant
contribution to make. History has been preparing us.

I have been used to thinking about Brown as a writer
and scholar who wants to bring our multi-cultural and
multi-faith nation together through sacred scripture
studies in local communities. This book takes us a
major step further and attempts to re-focus our
entire perspective as a people because our’s is more
than a multi-faith quest. Religion is only part of it.

Our experience as inheritors of First Nation traditions
upon which to build, and our attempts to be more
discriminating about European and American influences,
provide us with a unique opportunity to “give back” and
“go beyond” what we have seen ourselves doing in the past.

In the sixty years that I have travelled outside Canada,
first to the United States and then globally, I have been
able to claim an evolving Canadian identity.

Visiting recently in Egypt I was pleasantly surprized
that many of my Islamic hosts were quite familiar with
Canada. I was not an American in their eyes. That, I
took, as a compliment.

At this time in history, we are in a situation that will
make us an increasingly valuable member of the global
family. It could even be a gift to our American friends!

If you want to experience help in changing your
perspective about Canada, I encourage you to
obtain and spend time with this book; then talk
about your discoveries with others!


Buy from Wood Lake Books:


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 11,  Vol. XII. No. 23, March 12 , 2017