Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Politics and Faith: Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich at Union Seminary in New York

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

 

 

‘Politics and Faith: Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich at Union Seminary in New York’: theologians as postwar pastors

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: How two theologians helped the West process the events of World War II and the Cold War.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, June 24, 2014

Glimpses of Anglican unity

Posted on: June 17th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

By Suzanne Rumsey

“How do indigneous values come to shape the church?” author Jesse Zinks asks, after a visit to a Quichua community in Ecuador.  Photo: Courtesy Jesse Zink


 

This book review first appeared in the June issue of the Anglican Journal.

You won’t find much in the way of backpacking stories in Backpacking through the Anglican Communion: A Search for Unity. Nor will you encounter the “had my passport stolen in…” or “lost my insides after that meal in…” stories, which one usually finds in the accounts of world travellers. In fact, no backpack ever appears, making the title something of a misnomer. But what you will find in the book are the impressions, insights, learnings and questions of Jesse Zink, a young Anglican seminarian/priest from the United States as he meets and engages with other Anglicans, mainly in Africa, but also in China, Ecuador and North America.

For Anglicans and non-Anglicans alike who have become inured to the seemingly endless debates and strife—mostly recently focused on sexuality—between various members of the leadership of the Anglican Communion, Zink’s anecdotes offer the reader a series of refreshing glimpses into a church that is vital and growing in some places but faces tremendous social, political and developmental challenges in others.

In the South Sudanese diocese of Aweil, for example, Zink accompanies a young priest and the local bishop as they deliver relief supplies to the priest’s impoverished, war-ravaged community. “I never learned anything about disaster relief in seminary. Did you?” Jesse asks the priest, who shakes his head. “It might actually be something useful,” says Jesse. The priest smiles briefly and turns back to his work.

It is such stories, found throughout the book, that captured this reader’s imagination—for their descriptions of the pivitol role that the church and people of faith play in meeting basic human needs and addressing injustice, and for affirming the faith and commitment of individuals and communities at the local level. But this anecdote—and others like it that speak to the urgency of the situation facing the local church in so many places—raise for Zink and for this reader questions about the role of the almost entirely male (as Zink points out) leadership of the Anglican Communion, which at times appears to be fiddling while the Romes of today’s world (South Sudan, Syria and other crisis points) burn.

The book is not an exhaustive examination of the Anglican Communion throughout the world, and it suffers from a lack of women’s voices. Early on, Zink acknowledges that, as a man, in some places he was not able to have some of the conversations he would have liked to have had with women, who form the backbone of the church at the local level.

Zink is also unable to offer fresh insights or a way forward for the sexuality debate. Many of his conversations on the issue are with fellow seminarians—people (again, mostly men) who one would hope could offer thoughtful perspectives and new understandings. Instead, Zink repeatedly concludes the well-worn debates by affirming what could be described as little more than “We’re the same but different and that’s okay.”

In spite of these shortcomings, the book is an accessible account of one Anglican’s efforts to understand  “unity, not uniformity”—and to explore what faithful witness looks like in a number of parts of the Anglican Communion.

SUZANNE RUMSEY is the public engagement program co-ordinator for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. An Anglican layperson, she backpacked around the world 30 years ago, meeting other Christians and people of many other faiths.

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Anglican Journal News, June 17, 2014

 

Xi Lian: Let go, and let the church develop in its own way

Posted on: May 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

Xi Lian: Let go, and let the church develop in its own way

Missionaries have often tried to recreate their version of church abroad. But for Christianity to flourish in another land, it must adapt in its own way, says a scholar on Christianity in China.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, May 1, 2014

 

 

Jonathan Scott Holloway: Telling the stories of African-American lives

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

 

 

In his book “Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America since 1940,” a historian examines the stories that black people have told about themselves, and how memory and history are related. Read more »

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Faith & Leadership, May 6, 2014

 

 

The Diary of Anne Frank

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

“The Diary of Anne Frank”
   Rosebud Theatre
   Rosebud Alberta

 

Review By Wayne A. Holst


Particularly worthwhile for us during Holy Week,
Marlene and I drove to Rosebud, Alberta, a
small community 90 minutes east of Calgary
on the way to Drumheller, to see the Rosebud
Theatre production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

We had visited Anne Frankhaus in Amsterdam
in 2008 where we learned much more of the
story and have pondered it since.

This drama has been around since 1955 when it
opened on Broadway and has had several 
reproductions and revivals since. It has won a
number of coveted awards, and was particularly
recognized, early on, when it played to several 
German cities and before Queen Juliana of the 
Netherlands.

A more recent edition opened on Broadway in
1997, serving as the source of this production.

 

The Story

The drama is based on the life of Anne Frank
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Frank
and the diary is a book of writings from the
Dutch language diary that this young girl kept
while she was hiding for two years with her
family during the Nazi occupation of the
Netherlands in WWII.

The family’s hideout was discovered and
eight people in all were apprehended in
1944. Anne died of typhus in the Bergen-
Belsen  concentration camp. Most of the
people who lived with Anne also died in
the war camps.

The diary was retrieved by Miep Gies,
a Dutch friend of Anne’s, who gave it
to her father, Otto, the only family member
who survived. The diary has now been
published in more than 60 different languages
and the book has sold more that 31 million
copies. The play and a movie based on the 
play have been seen by many people around 
the world over the past 60 years.

The book:
http://tinyurl.com/2k66ud

The play:
http://tinyurl.com/7cxkjq8



Artistic Director’s Words:

We’re all here because we’ve been drawn
towards this particular story. How can
there be such light in the midst of such a
dark time? That is a compelling mystery
to me. There’s a Bruce Cockburn lyric
that talks about “kicking out the darkness
till it bleeds daylight.” Here in Rosebud,
we stubbornly believe that can indeed be
true. And there’s proof! The diary of a
young woman locked away in a dark time
has shown us it can be done.

- Morris Ertman



Director’s Words:

We were talking in rehearsal about how
foreign it is for so many of us to understand
what it means to be a minority and to be
persecuted. Most of us are so very
privileged that we cannot fully comprehend
what it meant to be Jewish in Europe during
WWII. However, that same kind of persecution
is happening today in many parts of the world.
I think about Syria, the Ukraine, and of course
in very recent memory, Rwanda and Bosnia/
Herzegovina. 

Anne’s diary is a testament to the power of
Story. The persecution of the Jews in WWII
being witnessed through the eyes of a young
girl has held inestimable value for us for 70
years, and I’m certain it will for centuries
to come.

Through Anne’s eyes, we get a picture of
real people, mothers, fathers, sons and
daughters, living day to day, fearing for
their very lives, not knowing when the
end would come, hanging on to hope with
everything they’ve got. We see our very
human selves in them, our strengths, and
our shortcomings. We are reminded then,
when we are in complete and utter crisis,
all the extremes of the human condition
come to the surface. We can be our very
best, and we can be our very worst.

In the wake of WWII, the world needed
to hear Anne’s story. We needed to believe
that in spite of all the atrocities of that dark
time, there was still light and life and hope,
and that somehow goodness was tenacious
enough to still be present in the midst of
it all. We needed to believe that the strength
and courage of the human spirit would
prevail…

I want to believe that virtues like love, 
hope and courage are stronger than fear
and hatred. Anne’s story makes me
believe that they are.

- Paul F. Muir



My Thoughts:

We have long believed that great drama
has a way of drawing people deeply into 
the lives and circumstances of those who
are being portrayed. 

The Greeks dramatists and thespians 
knew this, and many of the world’s
great societies have believed this as
well. Perhaps we too are growing in
stature as a Canadian culture because of 
our own growing interest and investment
in dramatic arts and plays like this in
many diverse communities like Rosebud.

There was a special irony for us in viewing
“The Diary” during Holy Week. Many of
us have listened to passages of scripture
being read this past week that conveyed
the distinct impression that it was “the Jews”
who were responsible for the death of Christ.
Here, before our eyes, was an unfolding
drama that cast Christian Germans in the
role of being responsible for the holocaust
deaths of millions of innocent Jews. From
their tradition killing Jews for killing Christ
was not all the unthinkable.

How could such evil occur? How could the
people who grieved the death of Christ
at the proverbial “hands of the Jews”
not be moved by the pending deaths
of these Jews at the “hands of Christians.”

Another point to be made has to do with
minorities. Not all persecution of minorities
has been taking place “somewhere else.”
In our own lifetimes and in our own nation,
we have been becoming more aware of
what Euro-Canadian Christians did to the 
First Nations and what many Christians 
have actively or passively done to gay,
lesbian and transgendered people.

It would be a great tragedy if all our
animus were turned against “those
evil Nazis” when the “log in our own
eye” (to quote Jesus) is so great.

The death and resurrection of Jesus, 
and its potential meaning for everyone - 
including Jew and Christian alike – must 
no longer be seen in exclusive terms. 
It must be seen in universal terms. 

The power of evil transcends us all, 
and we all need to be freed from it. 
We Christians have a lot of thinking
to do regarding the universal meaning 
of the death of Jesus – freeing that death
from narrow religious confinement.

This play portrays in profound fashion
that the survival of truth, beauty and
goodness is not the purview of any
one religion or culture or people. It
is, rather, something to which all true
religious and humanist values point 
and to which we humans must all
struggle to champion for each other.

It was special to see “The Diary of
Anne Frank” during Holy Week 2014.
If you live within driving distance,
the play continues through May 17th.
Why not go to see it, or see it at a
location near you when it appears.

http://tinyurl.com/p6oa8be


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.

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Colleagues List, Vol. IX, No. 34,  April 20th, 2014

 

How God Became Jesus

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

HOW GOD BECAME JESUS
The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature.
Essays by Bird, Evans, Gathercole, Hill and Tilling

Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI. 2014.
$21.00 CAD. Kindle $11.00 CAD. 336 pp. Paper.
ISBN #978-0-310-51959-1.

 

 

A critique of Bart Ehrman’s book “How Jesus
Became God.” That book was presented on
Colleagues List, April 13th,2014.
http://tinyurl.com/nbdhb7a

 

Review By Wayne A. Holst

 

Editor’s Comment:

The purpose of this volume is to offer a critical response
to Bart Ehrman’s book.

Ehrman is something of a celebrity skeptic. The media
attraction is easy to understand. Ehrman has a famous
deconversion story from being a fundamentalist
Christian to becoming “a happy agnostic.” He’s a
New York Times bestselling author, having written
several books about the Bible, Jesus and God with a
view to debunking widely held religious beliefs as based
on a mixture of bad history, deception and myth. He’s
a publicist’s dream since in talk shows and in live debates
he knows how to stir a crowd through hefty criticism,
dry wit, on the spot recall of historical facts and rhetorical
hyperbole. He also has a global audience.

For conservative Christians, Ehrmam is a bit of a 
bogeyman… constantly pressing an attack on their
long-held beliefs… Conservatives buy his books if only
to keep their disgust at him fresh and to find out what
America’s favorite skeptic is up to now. For secularists,
the emerging generation of “nones” (who claim no
religion, even if they are not committed to atheism 
or agnosticism) Ehrman is a godsend. He provides
succor and solace that one need not take Jesus too
seriously, confirming that Jesus is the opiate of the
masses and that the whole God thing might be just
a big mistake.

In any event, Ehrman is worth addressing, since his
skill as a textual critic is widely acknowledged and his
showmanship as a public intellectual can hardly be
denied. Such a pity that he is almost always wrong!

In the recent book “How Jesus Became God”  Ehrman
proffers the view that belief in Jesus divinity emerged
gradually in a messy process that ebbed and flowed
from exaltation to incarnation. If this is so, recognition
of Jesus as God was not so much a process of divine
revelation  as it was a human process, a process that
struggled for legitimacy even within the church.

We (the contributors to this collection of essays) do
not dispute that christological development took place
and the theological controversies  that followed were
indeed messy. We dispute, however, whether 
Ehrman’s account and explanation for this development
is historically accurate.

Not everything Ehrman says about the origins of 
belief about Jesus’ divinity is wrong. Some things are
quite true, some things we’d agree with but say
differently, some things we’d suggest need better
nuance, and other things we contend are just plain
out of sync with the evidence. While Ehrman offers
a creative and accessible account of the origins of
Jesus’ divinity in Christian belief, at the end of the
day, we believe that his overall case is … not
convincing at all.

But you’ll have to read the rest of this book to find
out why!

 

My Thoughts:

We can’t deny that Ehrman is a kind of a celebrity
skeptic and a media darling. We don’t also deny that
he seems to like debunking widely held religious 
beliefs, claiming them to be based on a mixture of 
“bad history, deception and myth.” It is clear that 
he can claim a global audience for his work.

That, in itself is no reason to dismiss Ehrman!

The contributors to this book claim that Ehrman 
provides succor and solace that one need not take 
Jesus too seriously, suggesting that Jesus is the 
opiate of the masses and that the whole God thing 
might be just a big mistake.

There is obviously good reason, based on history,
to concede that Ehrman may indeed be right.

Ehrman states that recognition of Jesus as God 
through the early stages of Christian development
was not so much a process of divine revelation  
as it was a human process, a process that
struggled for legitimacy even within the church. 

Here, I believe, is the core reason for the debate
between the contributors to this book, and Bart
Ehrman. They believe in divine revelation as
a process that originates with God from a realm 
beyond the human, while Ehrman believes that 
this “revelation” is essentially of human origin.

A key issue, it seems to me, centers on what we 
mean by divine revelation and where we locate
its source. Viewing it as a human process does
not trouble me. Ehrman’s position does not 
present a faith problem even though I don’t 
share his agnosticism.

I believe that revelation transcends human
understanding, but it is also something that 
emerges essentially through human experience.

I am not impressed by the editor’s comments 
that may be construed as a case of academic 
envy. Ehrman appears to be more popular and 
probably sells more books that all of these 
writers combined!

What I do value, however, is their stated 
attempt to debate whether Ehrman’s account 
of the emergence of Jesus as God is historically 
accurate.

Too many of us who were formed by – and who
still deeply respect – classic Christianity, tend
to become defensive and resort to ad hominems 
in the discussion (i.e. criticizing Ehrman as a 
person rather than criticizing his ideas.)

I have encountered the same dynamics with 
the reception of much of what Bishop Spong
has written. Serious Christians are inclined
to be threatened by what Spong has to say, 
and the way he says it, rather than to debate
him on the level of ideas.

The  contributions of both Ehrman and Spong 
can become important means to one’s growth 
in faith. We can enjoy engaging both of them 
even when they might ‘hit below the belt’ 
from time to time.

I heartily recommend you secure and read
this critique of Ehrman, just as I would again
encourage you to secure and read Ehrman
himself. Do this with a group of open-minded 
thinkers who do not have to defend God or 
the orthodox tradition of the church in the
process!

The end result, I suspect, will be the discovery 
that you grow as a person and enhance your 
understanding. 

 

A Conservative Review
of Bart Ehrman’s book 
from the Christian Post
April 24th, 2014:

http://tinyurl.com/px332bm

 

A correction from the book’s contributors:
dated April 25, 2014

An article on April 24, 2014, attributed comments 
describing Bart Ehrman’s work in How Jesus Became 
God as “populist conspiracy theories and sloppy 
history” to authors Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, 
Simon Gathercole, Charles E. Hill and Chris Tilling. 
The attribution was incorrect. The remark was 
made by a reviewer of Ehrman’s book.

 

Buy the Book from Amazon.ca:
http://tinyurl.com/m9ypfqw

 

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.

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Colleagues List, Vol. IX, No. 35,  April 27th, 2014

Shane Lopez: Hope is an ancient virtue

Posted on: April 25th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

 

Q&A: Health & Well-being

Shane Lopez: Hope is an ancient virtue

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

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Faith & Leadership Newsletter, April 22, 2014

A Call to Action

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

 

A CALL TO ACTION
Women, Religion,
Violence and Power
by Jimmy Carter

Simon & Schuster Canada 
Released, March 25th, 2014
Hardcover, 211 pages.
$34.00 CAD. $18.00 CAD Kindle
ISBN #978-1-4767-7395-7

 

Review By Wayne A. Holst

 



Author’s Words:


I saw the ravages of racial prejudice as I grew 
up in the Deep South when for a century the U.S.
Supreme Court and all other political and social
authorities (in America) accepted the premise
that black people were, in some basic ways, 
inferior to white people… 

Even those in the dominant class who disagreed
with this presumption remained relatively quiet
and enjoyed the benefits of the prevailing system.

Carefully selected Holy Scriptures were quoted 
to justify this discrimination in the name of God.

There is a similar system of discrimination, 
extending far beyond a small geographical
region to the entire globe; it touches every
nation, perpetuating and expanding the
trafficking in human slaves, bodily mutilation,
and even legitimized murder on a massive scale.

This system is based on the assumption that
men and boys are superior to women and girls,
and is supported by some male religious leaders
who distort the Holy Bible, the Koran, and other
sacred texts to perpetuate their claim that
females are, in some basic ways, inferior to 
them, unqualified to serve God on equal terms.

Many men disagree, but remain quiet in order
to enjoy the benefits of their dominant status.
Some men even cite this premise to justify
physical punishment of women and girls.

(There is too much justification for violence,
today) and in to many cases we use violence
as a first, rather than a last resort, so that
even deadly violence has become commonplace.

There is a pervasive denial of equal rights to
women, more than half of all human beings,
and this discrimination results in tangible harm
to all of us, male and female.

Although economic disparity is a great and
growing problem, at home and around the
world, I have become convinced that the
most serious and un-addressed worldwide
challenge is the deprivation and abuse of
women and girls, largely caused by a 
false interpretation of carefully selected
religious texts.

In addition to this… there is a devastating
effect on economic prosperity caused by
the loss of contribution of at least half 
the human beings on earth.

This is not just a woman’s issue. It is not
confined to the poorest countries.

It affects us all.

I was asked to address the Parliament of
World’s Religions in Australia, December, 2009.
My remarks represented the personal views
of a Christian layman and a Bible teacher for
more than seventy years, and a former 
political leader. I reminded them that 
selected scriptures from all the world’s sacred
scriptures are interpreted, almost exclusively,
by powerful male religious leaders, to
proclaim the lower status of women and
girls. This claim to inferiority spreads to the
secular world (as well) to justify… acts of 
discrimination and violence against women.

This includes rape, and other sexual abuse,
infanticide of newborn girls, and abortion of
female fetuses, a worldwide trafficking in
women and girls, and so-called honor killings
of innocent women who are raped … as well
as less violent but harmful practices of lower
pay and fewer promotions for women and
greater political advantages for men.

In Australia, I called upon believers, whether
Protestant, Catholic, Coptic, Jew. Muslim,
Buddhist, Hindu, or tribal, to study these
violations and to take corrective action.

(In the following pages I will share discoveries 
I have continued to make since then.)

I will explore the links between religion-based
assertions of male dominance over women, as
well as the ways that our “culture of violence”
contributes to the denial of women’s rights.

(There has always been violence in the world)
but there is a difference today. We have 
visionary standards adopted by the global
community that espouse peace and human
rights, and global communications of violations
has become much more extensive and effective.)

Pope Francis stated in August of 2013 -
“Faith and violence are incompatible.” 

This powerful statement exalting peace and 
compassion is one in which all faiths can agree.

In this book, I want to include the statements 
of many others who will offer a rich array of
ideas and perspectives on the subject.


My Thoughts:

I have collected, read and reviewed many of
Jimmy Carter’s books over the years and am
grateful that, even in his eighties, Carter can
continue to write and speak with such clarity
and relevance. 

Will this be his last testament? I hope not.
But even if it is, this book – dedicated to the
theme of human rights which has been
the subject of many of his books – will be
worthy of his enduring legacy.

Few American presidents have added to
the literature of life and liberty that Carter
has accomplished in his post-presidency.

Of particular value in this book is the
author’s study of sacred scripture, beginning
but not confined, to his own Christian Bible.
Carter knows his Christian scriptures, as
he is a Baptist, and has taught Sunday
School for decades. Over the years, however,
he has read the Hebrew and Islamic scriptures
as well. He has studied them in the context
of inter-faith dialogue and study.

He expanded his scriptural vision to many
Eastern religious writings to add breadth
and depth to this study. There are few
political leaders around the world with
Carter’s grasp of the Bible and the other
sacred writings of humanity.

Another benefit of reading this book is
the fact that he is not politically naive -
even though he has a spiritual heart.
Carter has been on the world political
stage at various levels for many decades.
He had dealt with many serious problems,
made his share of mistakes, and most
importantly – he has tried to learn from 
them. How many ex-politicians can be 
likewise credited?

Carter’s book is also evidence that a
person living in the “higher decades
of life” can still make a valuable
contribution to everyone. Not only
does he possess the wisdom of the
years, but also the refinement of
that wisdom as he continues to stay
engaged with issues that matter.

I need now to just begin to say that this 
is a  book I will treasure, try to understand,
and integrate into my behavior as a male.
Male or female, I hope you might too.



Buy the book from Amazon.ca:
http://tinyurl.com/mrp8duv

 

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.

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Colleagues List, Vol. IX, No. 32,  April 6th, 2014

 

 

‘Grapes of Wrath’ is 75, but its depictions of poverty are timeless

Posted on: April 15th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

‘Grapes of Wrath’ is 75, but its depictions of poverty are timeless

Seventy-five years later, The Grapes of Wrath still isn’t universally loved — it remains one of the most frequently banned books in this country. But, as NPR reports, it’s also a powerful reminder of a past that no one really wants to see repeated.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, April 15, 2014

Secular story, religious themes

Posted on: April 5th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

 

By Colin R. Johnson

 

(This book review was first published in the April 2014 issue of the Anglican Journal.)


 

THE WINTER VAULT
By Anne Michaels
McClelland & Stewart, 2009
ISBN 9780771058905
352 pages

 

It takes time for the “winter vault” to appear in Anne Michaels’ novel (over 240 pages in), but it is an apt title for this beautifully crafted story of dispossession and adaptation, of loss and hard-won hope, of the creative capacity of story to open the way to reconciliation and the power of love to realize redemption.

If you were raised some years ago in a small town or in the countryside, as I was, you will know what a winter vault is. Before the days of mechanical diggers and ground thawers, there were no burials once the ground froze. The coffins of those who died during winter were placed in a stone mausoleum, awaiting spring burial—a winter vault. It was unfinished business, grief prolonged.

This story begins 50 years ago on the Nile, where a young Avery, joined by his wife, Jean, works as an engineer on the relocation of Pharaoh Ramses’ magnificent tomb, about to be swallowed in the waters rising behind the new Aswan Dam. He had met his botanist wife in a small Ontario village while he was working on its relocation, as the construction of the new St. Lawrence Seaway buried old communities under a moved river. These miracles of modern engineering also brought systematic destruction and “counterfeit reconstruction” to make it look as if everything was the same—it wouldn’t be. The impact on people’s lives of these still amazing feats of human construction has destructive consequences. There is collateral damage: ecological, social, political, personal.

Michaels’ writing is eloquent. Not surprisingly, she is an award-winning poet, and her liquid prose resonates with the lyrical word play of poetry. This is not a book that all will like. Like poetry, the precision of the language evokes meaning rather than defining action, suggestively connecting ideas, people and events that previously seemed separate, leaving the reader to interpret nuances and emotions. It is not a simple book. It is one to be read reflectively, savouring the images, delighting in the descriptive phrases and pondering their wisdom. Those wanting a fast-paced narrative or rollicking adventure will need to look elsewhere.

When we read a beautifully written novel, it reverberates in the contexts of our lives: the environmental dislocation, the loss of ancestral lands and cultural roots, the corrosive effects of grief and distance in relationships, the tentative possibilities of reconciliation at the place of deepest pain. In the end, new life is found at a tomb.

We are in the season of Easter, where the waters of baptism create a new identity, where betrayal and loss are reconciled and healed, where the tomb—the winter vault—leads not to final burial but to resurrection.

Water, location, identity, death, resurrection…The Winter Vault, a book about hope, invites us to consider these essentially religious themes in an outwardly secular story.

ARCHBISHOP COLIN JOHNSON is the archbishop of the diocese of Toronto and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario.

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Anglican Journal News,  April 2, 2014