Archive for the ‘Books’ 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

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

The moral complexity of war

Posted on: November 9th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

By Ben Graves on October 31, 2016

 

Faith Under Fire
Fredrick G. Scott, Canada’s Extraordinary Chaplain of the Great War
By Alan Hustak
Véhicule Press, 2014
144 pages
ISBN 978-1-55065-375-5

 

American historian David A. Bell once cautioned that “few subjects are more dangerous than war to discuss in a dry, abstract manner, without a sense of the human costs involved—without hearing the screams, seeing the bodies, and smelling the powder and the blood.” Faith Under Fire, journalist Alan Hustak’s unflinching account of Canadian Canon Frederick G. Scott’s frontline chaplaincy during the First World War, takes this caution to heart; its pages are replete with eyewitness tales of the horror of the war that was to end all wars.

Faith Under Fire is particularly notable because of the unique perspective and circumstances of Scott himself. Throughout Hustak’s narrative, Scott is revealed as a steadfast Anglo-Catholic, possessed of a love of poetry and a disarmingly self-deprecating sense of humour. (On more than one occasion over the course of his wartime chaplaincy, Scott suggested misbehaving soldiers be made to sit through the recitation of his poetry as punishment for their misdeeds.) The father of six children—three of whom would serve with him in the war, one of whom would not live to see the end of it—Scott maintained an unswerving loyalty both to Canada, the country of his birth, and the British Empire, of which it was a part. Scott, says Hustak, “was a product of his times…in which military conquest in the Queen’s name was equal to spiritual conquest in Christ’s name.” It was this belief in the right and righteousness of the British Empire, combined with a genuine conviction that it was his Christian duty to offer comfort and encouragement to the troops, that propelled Scott to volunteer as a chaplain in the Canadian Forces at the age of 53 in 1914.

Hustak is especially skilled at presenting Scott’s story free from the critique or judgment often made easily available by hindsight. In this way, the reader is able to form their own opinion of Scott’s actions as a husband, father, patriot and decorated military chaplain. It behooves us all to remember that war is not always simply the product of evil-minded individuals, but of the mistakes and misjudgments of otherwise good men and women. The impression of Scott created by Faith Under Fire is that of an admirable, courageous and thoroughly decent man who served his country and his fellow soldiers with dignity and grace, but a man whose mindset prior to the war nonetheless exemplified exactly the type of thinking that led to that catastrophic conflict in the first place.

Scott’s firsthand experience of the carnage of war left him a changed man. Says Hustak: “It made him sensitive to disability, injustice, poverty, and grief, and it made him angry.” Where once Scott had viewed war as a righteous crucible through which a nation’s true mettle might be revealed, he now “denounced the monstrous futility of war as a test of national greatness.” But on returning home to Canada, Scott did not lose the faith or idealism that had once propelled his bellicose patriotism. Instead, he channelled it into tireless support of veterans, workers—one of his sons, F.R. Scott, would go on to help found the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation — and various other causes of social justice.

In this, Faith Under Fire and the life of Frederick G. Scott serves to remind us of the good of which people are capable, even after having experienced such inhumanity. It also offers a poignant warning of just how easy it can be for those same people to contribute to that inhumanity in service of entrenched and unquestioned beliefs—a lesson that we can ill afford to forget.

About the Author

Ben Graves

Ben Graves

Ben Graves worked as an intern for the Anglican Journal until August 2015. 
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Anglican Journal News, November 02, 2016

Cardinal Walter Casper: Spiritual Writings, Selected

Posted on: October 11th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

CARDINAL WALTER CASPER

Spiritual Writings, Selected

with an Introduction by

Patricia C. Bellm and Robert A Krieg

Modern Spiritual Masters Series

Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York

$30.00 CAD/22.00 US. 173 pages. 2016

ISBN #978-1-62698-191-1.

 

 

“Mercy is the new Christian awareness.

Mercy gives a foretaste and an anticipation

of what we hope for, the coming of the

heavenly Jerusalem. . . One beam of mercy

makes the world warmer and brighter for

all people.”

– Cardinal Walter Kasper

 

Wikipedia Bio:

http://tinyurl.com/jyyv8m9

 

 

 

Publisher’s Promo:

Walter Kasper, a German bishop and

theologian, has long been regarded as

a vital expositor of the gospel and one

of the leading voices of church renewal

and reform. Named a cardinal in 2001,

Kasper served as president of the

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian

Unity and represented the Church in

advancing Jewish-Christian relations.

 

He assumed an especially important

role under Pope Francis, who publicly

endorsed Kasper’s book on Mercy, thus

signaling a principle theme of his papacy.

 

This volume reflects the major themes of

Kasper’s long career. Given the breadth

of his work, the selections here on God,

Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church,

Ecumenism, and Christian Hope, represent

a veritable introduction to the Christian faith. —

 

 

The Editors:

Patricia C. Bellm – is co-director of the

Science and Religion Initiative with

Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life.

 

Robert A. Krieg – a professor of theology

at Notre Dame, is co-editor of Cardinal

Walter Kasper: Speaking Truth in Love

(Liturgical), and editor of the Orbis book

Romano Guardini: Spiritual Writings.

 

 

Introductory Comments:

(I am now completing sixty years of priestly ministry). The desire to become a priest was placed in my heart at an early age…

(After ordination) my priestly ministry soon took me into academic theology. This path led me later to the office of bishop and eventually to Rome in the service of the world church and the unity of all Christians. I dedicated my ordination as a bishop to “truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

Thus, ministry for the “Joy of the Gospel” has accompanied me every step of the way.  For this reason, and along with my strictly theological presentations, numerous spiritual texts have come about over the years from my sermons and meditations. In this time of so many significant changes, these writings are meant to contribute “to giving an account of the hope that is in us” (1 Peter 3:1-5).

Faith is Jesus Christ is a gift to be passed on. Therefore, I owe Patricia C. Bellm and Robert A Kreig for taking the trouble to select some of the texts written since 1972 and for making them accessible in English to a wider public.

I hope that this gift for the jubilee of my priesthood will become a gift for as many readers as possible.

Walter Cardinal Kasper,

Rome, 2016.

 

 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:

Bellm and Krieg, the editors of Kasper’s spiritual work, say this about him in their introduction:

“In four ways, this book probes the depth of the treasure in Kasper’s writings.

“First, it includes selections from Kasper’s memoir “Where the Heart Faith Beats” – that probes Anselm of Canterbury’s idea that theology is “faith seeking understanding” – the resulting fruit of Kasper’s faith evidenced here.

“Second, the depth of Kasper’s own thought comes to light in relation to the documents of the Second Vatican Council. He sought to elucidate the council’s teachings. His future development as a theologian was grounded in the renewing work of that council for the whole church.

“Third, in his writings, Kasper continually calls attention to the fact that true Christian faith and theology are oriented to mystery – the mystery of being human, of Christ and of the triune God. Also, the mystery of the church and of salvation.

“Lastly, this book conveys the spirit with which Kasper shares the treasure of the Christian faith. It does this simply because its texts radiate Kasper’s genuine approach to life in light of the Gospel. All this is done with a deep sense of joy.” (these lines have been edited by me.)

I am grateful for this book because it offers the refined thought of a strong influence in the Catholic Church today. He has truly influenced others too.

Walter Kasper is known and loved as a person by many ecumenists – both Catholic and non-Catholic – who have worked with him over the years.

The Spirit of God in Christ permeates his life and influence. I would say that – even while he is still among us – his impact is unusually significant.

 

Buy the book from Orbis:

http://tinyurl.com/zv3qa8r

 

Buy the book from Amazon.ca:

http://tinyurl.com/jgu5eof

 

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. 09,  October 02, 2016

Atheists can be spiritual beings, book argues

Posted on: September 18th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

By Michael McAteer on September, 16 2016


Theology for Atheists
By Gerald Robinson
168 pages
Nisbet House, 2016
ISBN 978-0-9950218-0-8
Available at U of T Bookstore, 214 College St., Toronto, ON M5T 3A1
Or order online: [email protected]

 

Award-winning Toronto architect Gerald Robinson is an adjunct professor of theology, in the divinity faculty at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College.

He’s a member of the Anglican congregation that worships in Trinity College Chapel and regularly attends services in the chapel. He calls it his parish church, his “go-to” place to worship. So what is he doing socializing with atheists in Scallywags, a Toronto pub?

Robinson is also an atheist who describes himself as an Anglican/Atheist/Christian—a description that must raise many eyebrows. Some will dismiss it as contradictory, incomprehensible.

No conflict or contradiction here, Robinson says. He explains why in Theology for Atheists, described by a reviewer as “the most fun serious work” she has ever read. He calls it an “outrageous book,” and it’s liable to outrage some people.

In his 168-page book, Robinson addresses such subjects as heavenly warfare, faith or reason, and miracles. He raises such questions as: Can atheists have a theology? Do atheists have souls? Can an atheist be a Christian if he or she denies the divinity of Jesus?

He answers with an emphatic “yes.”

Robinson says Jesus never claimed to be God, that nowhere in the gospels does he make that claim. Free Jesus from the doctrinal cluttering, and he is still the “greatest teacher the world has ever known,” whose message of peace, love and tolerance is sorely  needed by a troubled world.

Much of Robinson’s book is devoted to an examination of the gulf between people of faith and non-believers. Atheism is an attitude, a form of mind that “looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as part of nature.” With no supporting evidence, people of faith assert that their faith is the right faith, and their path is the one true path, providing them with a comfort zone in which they bask.

But surely, in a world of numerous religions and gods, it follows that that all others are wrong, resulting in bloody religious wars for supremacy.

Originally, most of the tenets of permanent truth were seen as a reasonable explanation of the cosmos and the human society within it, but with the advancement of science, “the logic of those continuing to adhere to absolute truth became more strained.”

While some people of faith may find it difficult to accept, Robinson says atheists can be spiritual beings. He promotes a common ground where non-believers can join in the celebrations of a religious community, to share their rituals and devotions without having to adopt their beliefs; a common ground where atheists can offer explanations for sacred mysteries, while revering them as myths.

Noting the significant increase in non-believers and the plummeting decrease in church membership, Robinson says it’s imperative for non-believers and faith communities—many of whom are engaged in social action and have concerns about human rights and environmental issues—to join forces. He says it’s time for a partnership in which we can all worship the beauty and wonder the world has to offer while helping to save the planet.

As an Anglican, he suggests that the Anglican/Episcopal Church makes the lowest demands for conformity of belief and could lead the way.

 

Michael McAteer is a retired Toronto Star religion editor and one-time interim editor of the Anglican Journal.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anglican Journal News, September 16, 2016

No Greater Love: Commemorative Edition

Posted on: September 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews





NO GREATER LOVE
Commemorative Edition
by Mother Teresa
Foreword by Thomas Moore

New World Library, Aug. 15th, 2016
Commemorative Edition $22.00 US
ISBN #978-1-60868-446-5.

Original Edition 2002 (still available)
Hardcover. 224 pages. $16.50 CAD.


 

 

Publisher’s Promo:

“No Greater Love” is the essential wisdom
of Mother Teresa – the most accessible,
intimate, and inspiring book of her
teachings.

Thematically arranged to present her
revolutionary vision of Christianity in its
graceful simplicity, the book features her
thoughts on love, generosity, forgiveness,
prayer, service, and what it means to be
a Christian. A passionate testament to
deep hope and abiding faith in God, “No
Greater Love” celebrates the life and work
of one of the world’s most revered spiritual
teachers.

 

Preface by Thomas Moore:

Mother Teresa has caught the imagination of
the world not because she is a great writer
or theologian, but because she is a person of
immense compassion and openness…

(In) her undefended state, she feels the
suffering of the world, of the old and the
very young and those between. She knows
firsthand the meaning of empathy and
more so the profundity of pathos.

In the intimate reflections published in this
book, we learn some of the secrets of this
person… her particular kind of Christianity,
with its spiritual vision, methods of prayer,
and inspiring figure of Jesus (she tells us)
keeps her personal spirits and unlimited
compassion high.

To a sophisticated modern reader, some of her
ideas and language, especially her piety, may
seem naïve and unnecessarily self-denying…
but modern psychology has yet to discover
what the religions have taught for millennia –
that loss of self leads to the discovery of soul.
As I read her words, I try to hear them, not
as naïve, but as sophisticated in a way that
is largely foreign to modern taste.

Rather than avoiding suffering, she becomes
intimate with it. Rather than heroically trying
to overcome death, in the style of modern
Western medical philosophy, she focuses on
a person’s emotional state and sense of meaning
in the last moments. She is acutely attentive, too,
to the feelings of children, a strong sign, in my
estimation, of a person profoundly initiated in
the ways of the soul…

Beneath Mother Teresa’s straightforward faith
and personal honesty lies a subtle knowledge
of human motivation.

(She avoids a focus on the mental aspects of
faith because) when religion is largely mental,
spiritual attitudes may never get translated
into compassionate attention and action in
the world community.

What is absent in these passionate words
of Mother Teresa is any attempt to convert
us to her beliefs. She simply describes her
strong faith and tells us about her work
among the poor and the sick… Her words
simply demonstrate how human beings,
when given the most basic kinds of love and
attention, find significant transformation and
discover their humanity, dignity and at least
momentary happiness…

(With her recent canonization we can formally
declare Mother Teresa a saint)… but the
reflections in this book could show us, as she
says, that we can all be saints.

– from the Foreword



Wikipedia Bio:
http://tinyurl.com/hlztqj9


 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

 

My Comments:

The overarching theme of Mother Teresa’s
book is missiological. By that, I mean that
the newly declared saint, like all saints who
preceded her, had a mission in the world.

But Mother Teresa’s purpose as a Christian
is not to try to convert the world to her faith.

Her purpose is to demonstrate what her faith
means to her in the way she serves God and
her fellow human beings.

Any “conversions” to her faith (and there
are many) are not her responsibility. She
leaves that to God’s Holy Spirit. Her task
is to witness to what God enables her to do.

The model for mission, personified by
Mother Teresa, emerged out of the reality
of a multi-faith, impoverished Indian culture.

That same model speaks to a secular world,
especially in the West, that tends to denigrate
all religion as self-serving and violent.

Far from viewing Mother Teresa as a vestige
of traditional Catholic piety, her witness,
to my mind, puts her in a teaching role for
many of us who try to be faithful Christians
in a rapidly changing world.

What is our mission?

Teresa demonstrates a mission to compassion
and caring. Some of us have a special vocation
for justice-seeking, and Teresa only indirectly
appeals to that dimension of Christian mission.

She has been criticized for ignoring justice
and focusing primarily on band aid work.
I believe she knows injustice only too well,
but her primary task is mercy.

I found this re-encounter with the major
treatise of the newly minted saint to be a
healthy counter to one-sided missiological
thinking. 

My life must reflect a dual mission – to act justly
and to be merciful.



Buy New Edition from New World Library:
http://tinyurl.com/zc6479j

Buy Original Edition from Amazon.ca:
http://tinyurl.com/gm24xla

 

 

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. 06,  September 11, 2016