Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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

James Martin Essential Writings: Selected With an Introduction by James T. Keane

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

JAMES MARTIN Essential Writings

Selected  With  an  Introduction

by  James  T.  Keane

Modern  Spiritual  Masters  Series


Orbis  Books, Maryknoll,  NY

2017, 245 pages. $22.00 US/

$29.00 CAD. Kindle $12.00 CAD

ISBN #978-1-62698-213-0


Publisher’s Promo:

Gathered here together for the first time are

selections from the writings of James Martin, S.J.,

the nation’s most well-known Catholic priest and

spiritual writer. Sources include his numerous best-

selling books, his articles for America, and his essays

from sources as diverse as the Huffington Post and

Portland Magazine.


This famous Jesuit offers reflections and insights on

everything from prayer to depression to sexuality to

finding one’s individual path to holiness; along the

way he introduces the reader to saints and sages

ranging from Thomas Merton to Mother Teresa to

his wise nephew Charles.
James Martin Bio:

James Martin, SJ is a Jesuit priest, editor-at-large of America, and bestselling author of numerous books, including Jesus: A Pilgrimage and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. He has written for many publications, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and is a regular commentator in the national and international media, as well as having served as the “official chaplain to The Colbert Report.”


Edited from the Introduction by James T. Keane:

The unfortunate restrictions on a volume off essential writings from a scribe as prolific as James Martin are necessarily ones of scope and depth… the difficult job of pruning becomes a monumental task.

I do not deny that some healthy branches have been cut away… and that ultimately some good fruit had to be cut. This meant favoring Martin’s shorter, more journalistic selections over long passages from his books. …

In all this I did seek to find a balance between breadth and depth.

He might prefer this book be recast in terms of that all-important term in  Ignatian  spirituality:  discernment.

Regardless of the terminology, it is my hope that the selections that follow give the broadest and deepest appreciation of James Martin possible and truly present the essential insights of a modern spiritual master.


Review by Dr. Wayne Holst 

My Thoughts:

James Martin has written insightfully on a wide range of topics over the years, but a central focus of his writings is the Catholic  faith.

I would ask those who are not Catholic to allow him some slack, since at the heart of his work is a profound ecumenical awareness.

It was through his association with America Magazine, a high quality journal of the Jesuits of New York City, that I have come to know him over the years. Like many of his confreres, he has ventured and challenged the papacy and other authorities, but he remains a loyal Catholic. That is an important understanding to take with you as you engage his work.

The Jesuits have always had a teaching  charism  since their founding by the Spaniard Ignatius of Loyola and I have admired the fact that they have established a great many institutions of higher learning and media centers around the world. Martin models his order at its best.

(Pope Francis was trained and served as a Jesuit for many years – and he carried on a love-hate relationship with his order until the time of his election to the papacy.)

Martin has tended to avoid conflict with his order, but his gifts as a teacher and writer have often been tested – and for the better of the church, his order, and himself.

He writes with depth, simplicity, clarity and compassion. With these gifts he has taken on some big issues like the clergy abuse scandal and other major crises plaguing the Catholic Church today.

Friends of Martin praise him for his friendliness, intellect, wit and practical accessible spirituality.

He knows the art of communication and has honed his capacity to use modern media to spread his insights.

His book “Jesus – A Pilgrimage” (2014) is an excellent study that shows his mastery of both the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith

I am pleased to introduce or re-introduce this modern spiritual guide to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Martin adds a fresh perspective to our understanding of what it means to be Christian today.


Buy the book from Orbis:

Buy the book from


Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List 11,  Vol. XII. No. 22, March 5 , 2017

Talk Sex Today: What Kids Need to Know and How Adults Can Teach Them

Posted on: March 20th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

What Kids Need to Know and
How Adults Can Teach Them,
by Saleema Noon and Meg Hickling,

Wood Lake Books, Kelowna BC
2016. 320 Pages. Paper.
$24.00 CAD. Kindle $10.00 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-77064–8135


Publishers Promo:

Not sure what – or how much – information to
share with children and teens regarding sex and
sexual health? Do you fear what they might ask?
Or how to respond to their questions? Or whether
you even know the “answers” yourself?

Saleema Noon knows all about these fears and
concerns. An expert in sexual health education
and stepparent to two teenage daughters herself,
she understands the challenges adults face when
addressing sensitive topics with their kids.

In Talk Sex Today, Noon delivers an intelligent
and sensible blend of current, inclusive, and
practical information for children and teens –
and the adults who love them. Noon builds on
the foundational work of iconic sexual health
educator Meg Hickling and her bestselling
Speaking of Sex books to offer adults a break-
through guide on teaching “body science.”

Together, with a combined 40 years of experience,
Noon and Hickling broach a host of topics including:

  • gender identity and stereotypes
  • sexual diversity 
  • sexual consent
  • bullying and harassment
  • fostering healthy body image 
  • internet safety
  • managing media influence
  • pornography
  • sexual decision-making
  • sexual health for children and special needs teens

Not afraid of controversy and firm in her belief that
knowledge is power, Noon’s broadly inclusive approach
shines with the affirmation that every person –
regardless of race, religion, age, ability, gender
identity, gender expression and sexual attraction –
deserves respect and the information that will keep
them safe.

This is the ultimate guide to teaching children about
sexual health and is ideal for educators and parents alike.


Author Bios:

Saleema Noon  – earned her Bachelor of Arts degree
in Family Sciences at UBC. She then researched the
quality of sexual health education in B.C. high schools,
earning her a Master of Arts degree in sexual health
education in 1997, also from UBC.

Since then, Saleema has been teaching not only in
the field of sexual health, but also in the areas of
assertiveness training, internet safety, healthy
relationships, body image and self-esteem.

Respected by the media as a sexual health expert,
Saleema has appeared frequently.

Meg Hickling – is a retired registered nurse and
an award-winning educator and author who has
been instilling knowledge of sexual health in
children and adults for over 30 years. She is
British Columbia’s leading advocate in educating
children about human reproduction. Meg believes
that knowledge brings about empowerment.
Sensitive to her young audiences and their parents,
she delivers her message on sexuality and abuse
prevention with empathy, warmth and a gentle
Her ability to convey difficult and controversial
material with sensitivity and warmth distinguishes
her as a remarkable teacher and role model.


Author’s Words:

I think my passion for educating children and their
parents arose from my nursing experience. I was
appalled by my patient’s lack of knowledge about
their bodies and sexual health. Sometimes that
lack of knowledge resulted in every serious
consequences, even death. I was determined to
teach my own children about their bodies in their
pre-school years. Of course, they took that
knowledge into the community and soon other
parents were asking how they could make their
own children as comfortable and knowledgeable
as mine.

I began teaching sexual health in 1974 when the
(flower children generation) were beginning
parents. They were more open to the questions
of their children, but had no role models to follow.
Parents of the previous generations had either
not heard the questions, had ignored them, or
had given erroneous answers. You might say that
I was at the right place and the right time!

Today, parents and children have some of the
same gaps in their knowledge, but there are
also some totally new areas of concern, and
many, many more questions.

In the early 1970s there was no internet, virtually
no access to pornography, no cell phones, no AIDS,
and no real awareness of child sexual abuse.

Times have changed!

I am so pleased that Saleema Noon has agreed
to revise “Speaking of Sex” and its sequels.
Saleema was first my student and then my
colleague. She is a first-rate educator (and 
has helped me extend the field well beyond
the vision I had in 1974.)

(Reading this new edition) you will learn a lot,
I believe, and be much more sexually mature
by the time you reach the end…

– from the Preface by Meg Hickling



Review by Dr. Wayne Holst 

My Thoughts:

I have followed the evolution of Meg Hickling’s
several editions of “Speaking of Sex” books 
over the years and would say that, in terms of
layout, content and reader-awareness, this is
surely the best of the lot. Saleema Noon’s help
in this project is apparent.  

Of course, the audience tests represented by
the questions the authors are hearing and
responding to – are much more sophisticated
and nuanced as well.

One of he blessings of the internet, for example,
is that in spite of the problems it introduces to
our homes, the resourcefulness to deal with
such problems is also much more extensive.

The experience and complementing gifts of
the authors as educators really shows. They
are not simply writing from  the confines of
their studies. They are dealing with real-life
questions presented to them in groups and
class-rooms. This has always been Meg’s
approach, but it achieves new heights here.

The social sciences continue to provide
the authors with much improved tools. 

I admit to be a child of my era (the 40s
thru 60s) but I am also a person that
keeps wanting to change and to grow –
into my eighth decade. A book like this
helps me to do just that.

I was taught to avoid or deal euphemistically
with awkward and difficult matters pertaining
to sex. The problem with that approach is that –
in our times – such handling of the matter
can rightly be judged as dishonest.

A book like this uses candor, and calls a spade
a spade. And so it should. But that is done with
experience, finesse and delightful humour.

We are not only talking about anatomy and
physical beauty, here. We are dealing with
healthy human relations and what we can all
learn from each other regardless of age,
gender, religion or other background.

I was also taught to avoid certain topics when
“ladies” were present. Through this book I am
discovering two competent and mature women
who can teach me a good deal about things I
simply do not yet understand very well.

If you are a relative, parent, or grandparent
of young people entering a world with many
more sexual challenges than you ever faced,
I encourage you to buy this book for yourself,
and those whose sexual health and well-being 
you care about.


Buy the book 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. 21, February 26 , 2017

Embracing the Body, Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone

Posted on: March 20th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

Faith Today Review, by Wayne Holst

Our Flesh and Bone, by Tara M. Owens,
Inter Varsity Press, 2015, 254 pages.
$16.79, e-book $9.99.


Canadian-born author Tara Owens believes
there is a much more worthy alternative to
the destructive body-worship and porn so
dominant in contemporary culture. She sees
in a reaction to this a constructive outcome,
and encourages modern Christians to come
to know their own bodies and those of others
in healing and celebrative ways.

Owens asserts that while traditional Christianity
has often been a poor teacher by denigrating the
human body at the expense of the spirit – there
is to be found in better Christian theological
and spiritual traditions the source of a new
appreciation for flesh and bone. Indeed, God
is to be found there.

Our bodies have been the cause of much
shame and guilt, as well as of false pride –  
yet our bodies have much to teach us about
divinity. The author unpacks this thesis in a
series of well-designed chapters clarifying
such themes as fear and impulse, celebration
and connectivity.

The author has a strong command of biblical
and liturgical theology, and she directs that skill
in penetrating and healing ways. Sexuality, she
maintains, is beyond all else, ‘good-focused.’  
Our bodies are not something negative, Rather,
they have been beautifully created by God. This
awareness can guide us positively into becoming
more complete individuals and relational beings.

Incarnation and resurrection – God in Jesus,
both human and divine – are at the core of our
understanding of being Christian. We can rejoice
in both carnality and divinity and explore the
great potential entailed in that powerful reality.


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. 17, January 29 , 2017

Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis

Posted on: March 20th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

My Search for
the Real Pope Francis,
by Mark K. Shriver

Random House Canada, Toronto
December, 2016. $33.00 CAD.
ISBN #978-0-8129-982-3.


Publisher’s Promo:

A down-to-earth and deeply intimate
portrait of Pope Francis and his faith,
based on interviews with the men and
women who knew him simply as Jorge
Mario Bergoglio

Early on the evening of March 13, 2013,
the newly elected Pope Francis stepped
out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica
and did something remarkable: Before he
imparted his blessing to the crowd, he
asked the crowd to bless him, then bowed
low to receive this grace. In the days that
followed, Mark K. Shriver—along with the

rest of the world -was astonished to see a
pope who paid his own hotel bill, eschewed
limousines, and made his home in a suite
of austere rooms in a Vatican guesthouse
rather than the grand papal apartment in
the Apostolic Palace.

By setting an example of humility and
accessibility, Francis breathed new life
into the Catholic Church, attracting the
admiration of Catholics and non-Catholics

In “Pilgrimage” Shriver retraces Francis’s
personal journey, revealing the origins of
his open, unpretentious style and explaining
how it revitalized Shriver’s own faith and
renewed his commitment to the Church.

To help us understand how Jorge Mario
Bergoglio became Pope Francis, Shriver
travels to Bergoglio’s native Argentina to
meet with the people who knew him as a
child, as a young Jesuit priest, and as a
reformist bishop. Shriver visits the
confessional where Bergoglio first felt
called to a faith-based life and takes us to
the humble parish where the future pontiff’s
pastoral career began: in a church created
from a converted vegetable shed in an area
just outside the city of Buenos Aires. In
these impoverished surroundings, Bergoglio
answered Christ’s call to feed the hungry,
clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless,
following the example set by his papal

namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.

In this deeply reported yet highly personal
book, Mark K. Shriver explores how Francis’s
commitment has struck a chord in the hearts
of millions who long to make faith, love,
humility, and mercy part of their lives as they
go out into the world to serve and learn from
the most marginalized.


Author’s Words:

(The Jesuits, the order to which Bergoglio, or
later pope Francis belonged, did innovative and
courageous missionary work in Latin America,
and it was from that ethos that the current pope
emerged in Argentina.)

They were as comfortable working with the poor
and marginalized as with the wealthy and well-
connected; often earning the jealousy and
suspicion of religious and political authorities.

I longed to apply my Catholic notions about
social justice through politics (as evidenced
through a Jesuit-turned-pope like Francis.)

Like many of my friends, I had been yearning
for a church I could believe in again (following
great disillusionment following corruption and 
priest scandals of the past decades.)
This was the personal context in which Pope
Francis entered my consciousness: skeptical,
disillusioned, and uncertain whether the church
remained a force for good in the world…

We need a spiritual leader who restores the
gospel’s message to feed the hungry, to clothe
the naked, to shelter the homeless. We all,
regardless of our religion, long for an authentic
leader who reaches out and helps others, who
truly believes in the Jewish call of Tikkun Olam,
to repair the world, or the Islamic call to Islah,
to improve, to better the world, to make peace.
And we want that leader to be warm, accessible
and hopeful…

(I was not easily convinced that he was ‘the
real deal.’)

But two recurrent themes kept uplifting me —
humility and mercy. I started to succumb to
a third way of thinking, seeing and living —
and that was — joy. I also learned that joy
was something new in his life too…

Pope Francis seemed like the right messenger
with the right message, a man of substance
with an enduring style…

(Then I got a call suggesting that I write a book
about him, and how his background shapes his

(An in-depth look into his formation and
priestly experience has helped me understand
the man we see today)…

He is whole-heartedly committed to the Jesuit
founder Ignatius’s call to “go forth and set the
world on fire for the Lord.”

But he is still human, he is still a Jesuit, but one
whose talents may require a step outside the
order in which he was trained and has flourished.

(This is the story of what has evolved for Francis
and for us and I want to share it with you.)

– from the Prologue


Review by Dr. Wayne Holst 

My Thoughts:

Mark K. Shriver has strong American Catholic
credentials and that may both appeal to and
discourage people from reading his book.

He is part of the Kennedy clan – well-connected
but also committed to social justice. He sees
links and patterns in the story of Francis with 
how his own life has developed. Of course,
Shriver is not a member of any order of clergy,
or an academic. He is an intelligent writer and
Catholic layman. What he brings to this work
is a deep faith and commitment to service in the
world – just like he sees in the pope.

I like the way Shriver’s investigation provides
many insights to his own life. That could also
be said for those who may read this book.

While he is a deeply committed Catholic, I like
the way Shriver writes with an ecumenical and
inter-faith (broadly human) perspective.

The author is not hesitant to point out the
flaws and missteps he has discovered in
Bergoglio’s background. Shriver questions
some of the earlier political stances he took
as a Jesuit leader. But Shriver is also helpful
in showing how that early churchman was
able to change his mind and see his heart
evolve in response to the challenging
circumstances within which he served.

The humility, mercy and joy reflected in the
papal ministry of Francis seems to have come
from some negative experience, and this has
rubbed off on Shriver.

It could also rub off on you from reading this
book. I am happy to include it in my library.


New York Times Review:

Buy the book from

Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List 11,  Vol. XII. No. 17, January 29 , 2017

Book launch of “Out of the Depths – Hope in Times of Suffering”

Posted on: March 13th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

Posted on: February 28, 2017

Out of the Depths Book Launch, l-r: Stuart Buchanan, Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings, Bp Michael Ipgrave, Abp Michael Jackson, Abp Josiah Idowu-Fearon

[ACNS] A new book, designed as a theological resource to help those who are undergoing persecution – and to develop a wider understanding of the issue – has been published by the Anglican Inter Faith Network. At the launch, at the Anglican Communion Office in London,  one of its authors, Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin said it was “significantly needed”  because there are communities of Christians being disappeared worldwide; they feel their voice is not being heard. This book is timely because we live in a period of persecution which is almost becoming acceptable and therefore for people of faith to be part of the structure of a theological understanding of their experience is important. Also the fact that they have held on to significant places of faith is important for the rest of us to honour.”  Co-author, Bishop Michael Ipgrave of Lichfield said; “Theology means turning to God: so what is it in our faith that equips us to face trial and difficulty? I hope the book will give some hope as people remember that deep in the story of our faith is a story of suffering; “Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord.” He is with us through everything.”

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said the issue of persecution was something close to his heart because of the religious violence in his native Nigeria. He said his prayer was that the book would challenge, inspire and encourage.

Writing a commendation at the start of the book, Archbishop Justin Welby said  ;”At a crucial time in world history, when religious persecution and violence are on the rise, both God’s world and Christ’s body, the Church, face enormous pain and suffering. We are encouraged, through engaging with this welcome resource, to renew our commitment to prayer, Scripture, reason and tradition and to be reminded of the true hope in Jesus Christ from whom all comfort, courage, and peace can be found.

The introduction sets out the context in which the book was written. “We are living in an unprecedented time of religious persecution and martyrdom in the modern world. There were more recognised martyrs in the 20th century than in the whole of previous Christian history” it says. “There are some books on the demography and phenomenology of persecution, but currently a lack of theological resources to help those who are undergoing persecution.”

“‘Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord’ is the beginning of Psalm 130:1. Facing the threat of being overwhelmed by the waters of chaos, the Psalmist cries out for help from the depths of his heart. The authors write “ Our title, ‘Out of the Depths – Hope in a time of suffering’, draws on that Psalm and also on Psalm 42:7: “Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts: all your waves and billows have gone over me.” The Psalmist again uses the image of water for being pounded in the midst of trouble and woe, and cries out for help.”

The book outlines the global context through case studies from India, Nigeria, Malaysia, Syria, Sweden and the United States. It has separate chapters looking at scripture, tradition and reason, within which the report explores “how diverse theologies have resourced Christians under pressure through the centuries” and also considers “how people of other faiths have drawn on their own theological resources.” There is also a chapter focusing on worship.

In the case study from Malaysia, the book says that the country’s traditional inclusive approach to religion changed in 2001 when the government declared that Islam was the state religion. “It is not just the non-Islamic minorities that feel persecuted, but also some of the more liberal Muslims,” the book says. “This has led to migration from the country; as the more open and academic Muslims have left, the situation has become more extreme.”

Insensitive activity by visiting missionaries is identified as a source of attacks on local Christians. “There are examples of churches being destroyed after missionaries, from other parts of India, have demonised Hinduism either through the testimonies of recent converts or through distributing pamphlets that demonise Hindu gods,” the report says. “The missionaries doing this then leave the area and don’t suffer any consequences themselves.”

In Syria, the book says that “What was suffered under [Daesh] was horrible, but Muslim neighbours, betraying Christians to [them], was worse. The Nazarene sign, meaning a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, was put on houses. This meant the occupier could be killed and property taken; there is the need to start building trust again.”

The book also looks at persecution in the West; and gives an example from Sweden. While acknowledging that Jews and Muslims face far more serious problems in the country because of “widespread anti-Semitism and Islamophobia”, it says that “If you are religious at all in Sweden, many people tend to think that you are a bit daft. This will mean that children can be bullied at school if they are openly Christian; not only by their peers, but sometimes even by teachers. This, however, is slowly changing as more children with an immigrant background are proud to be Muslims or Christians, and the schools realise that they have to take religion more seriously.”

The authors stress the ecumenical context of their work and highlight “three occasions . . . of particular importance” that took place in 2015: the 50th anniversary of Dignitatis Humanae, the decree on Religious Freedom of Vatican II; the Global Christian Forum’s consultation on persecution in November 2015, in Tirana, Albania; and the centenary of the Armenian Genocide.

Readers are encouraged to reflect on the issues raised; commit to exploring issues more deeply; consider how Christians in other traditions or other parts of the world will have different viewpoints and consider what it means to be part of the suffering Body of Christ.

“I found ‘Out of the Depths’ to be a wonderful resource for the Church worldwide as she tries to respond to those who suffer. I highly recommend it.” The Most Revd Mouneer Anis, Archbishop of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

The book is available to purchase via the Anglican Communion website at £7.96 in the UK, £11.10 in Europe and £13.60 in the rest of the world.


Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Tuesday 28 February

Face-to-face with the Triune God

Posted on: March 13th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

By John Arkelian on March, 08 2017

Avraham Aviv Alush, Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer and Sumire Matsubara star in The Shack.
Photo: Jake Giles Netter/Lionsgate Films

The Shack
Directed by Stuart Hazeldine
132 minutes
Released March 2017
Rated PG-13

The Shack is the film adaptation of the novel by William Paul Young about a man who is stricken with grievous pain over the sudden loss of his child. He descends into what he calls “The Great Sadness,” and its dark pall threatens to unravel his family and his faith. How can we reconcile the worst things in life with our faith in a loving God? Life inevitably brings with it bitter losses: they cause us pain, and sometimes it feels unbearable. It’s bad enough if illness or accident steals a loved one from us; but what if human evil does so? It’s a question as old as man’s inhumanity to man, a question that was doubtless murmured in the death camps of the Holocaust, in the killing fields of Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia, and in the misery of today’s Syria, Iraq, Yemen and South Sudan. And not just in far-away lands: violence, abuse and neglect are as close as our own communities. Wherever man’s wickedness causes torment, enslavement, injury or death to another, we cry out: How can God allow this? Why does he not intervene on behalf of the oppressed and victimized? 

In The Shack, a family is robbed of their youngest daughter when she is taken from a campground. The pain that [her disappearance] causes her family closes them off from love and hope. As the child’s father, Mackenzie (Sam Worthington) blames himself for failing to protect her. A cryptic note draws him back to the mountain shack, where the crime occurred. The note is signed “Papa,” the affectionate term Mackenzie’s wife, Nan (Radha Mitchell), uses to refer to God. Something—is it a glimmer of hope or the last gasp of despair—takes Mackenzie back to the mountain. Winter suddenly turns to summer, a dilapidated ruin becomes a spacious home made of hewn logs, and nature is in full bloom. There he meets “Papa,” in the form of a jolly black woman (Octavia Spencer); her son (Avraham Aviv Alush), a Jewish carpenter who greets the newcomer as a long-lost friend; and an ethereal young woman (Sumire Matsubara). They are, in fact, the film’s depiction of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And their purpose is to help Mackenzie free himself from the sadness, anger, guilt and grief that threaten to drown him.

Their revelations are as gentle as their welcome is warm. How refreshing to see God presented as our loving parent (and, through Jesus Christ, also as our sibling)—a parent who loves each and every one of us unconditionally, respecting our free will while seeking to share his love. The film asks why bad things happen to good people. Its answers to that mystery may not be complete. Neither may its homey portrayal of God be all there is about God: majesty, awe and reverence are put aside in favour of companionship and the ultimate familial bond. But there is food for thought here, and considerable comfort—in bringing God down to earth in a way that makes him accessible and familiar. The film’s awkward moments pale in comparison to its touching ones—and in its warm depiction of the God of love.


John Arkelian is an award-winning author and journalist.

Copyright © 2017 by John Arkelian.


Anglican Journal News, March 09, 2017


The little-known ‘greatest stained glass artist of our time’

Posted on: March 8th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

By Patricia Robertson on February, 27 2017

The memorial window in St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, Ottawa,  the only work to be found in Canada by Irish stained glass artist Wilhelmina Geddes, is widely regarded as her masterpiece. Photo: Wilhelmina Geddes: Life and Work, Four Courts Dublin Press

Wilhelmina Geddes: Life and Work

By Nicola Gordon Bowe
Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2015
508 pages
ISBN 978-1-84682-532-3

In November 1919, a magnificent memorial window was unveiled in the east wall of the Church of St. Bartholomew (Anglican) in Ottawa. Commissioned by the Duke of Connaught—governor general of Canada from 1911 to 1916—to commemorate the 10 officers on his Canadian staff who had been killed in the First World War, it created a sensation when it was exhibited in London before being shipped to Canada. “Nowhere in modern glass,” said the American stained glass artist and writer Charles J. Connick, “is there a more striking example of a courageous adventure in the medium.”

The adventurer was a relatively unknown 32-year-old glass artist from Northern Ireland, Wilhelmina Geddes, and the window—her only work to be found in Canada—is now widely regarded as her masterpiece.

Gordon Bowe’s comprehensive new biography, lavishly illustrated with Geddes’ work, will generate new interest in the life of a woman who was described at her death as “the greatest stained glass artist of our time.”

Shy, chronically ill and lacking in confidence, Geddes might have been an unlikely candidate for such a prestigious commission. That she was chosen was a testament to her abilities and to the persistence and support of Sarah Purser, herself a well-known painter and visionary, who was determined to foster modern stained glass-making in Ireland. Purser founded a studio in Dublin (An Túr Gloine, or Tower of Glass) that was to become famous for the quality of the work it produced, and recruited Geddes, then an impoverished graduate of the Belfast School of Art. Here Geddes began working on her first commissions, including her first memorial window for a church in Fermanagh, as well as travelling with Purser on study visits to London and Paris.

The St. Bart’s window took Geddes four years to design and execute, with many delays because of requested changes and Geddes’ health. Her father had died some months before, her mother was frail, and she told Purser she’d been “badly run down for a long while…I can’t stand for long without feeling ill…” Her letters outline her rationale for her design choices as well as irreverent comments about her subject matter: “[I] meant to make the Deaders [the newly dead soldiers arriving in Paradise] stand—but they looked too like batches of German prisoners in a cinematograph.”

In its final version, the window is a dazzling triptych in reds, golds, greens and blues, depicting a slain soldier being welcomed in heaven by the Archangels Raphael and Gabriel. “Clean-shaven, ashen-faced, newly risen from the dead,” writes Gordon Bowe of the soldier, “he is distinguishable from the archangelic figures guiding him by his empty black eye sockets.” An assembly of soldier saints, champions and angels provide a kind of courtly retinue.

The window reflects Geddes’ obsessive attention to accurate detail, down to the gold crown of St. Edmund, 9th-century warrior king of the East Angles, which is “embossed with tiny wolves howling in the moonlit forest where his dismembered head was protected between the paws of a grey she-wolf until safely restored to his body and buried.”

Given her talent, why is Geddes so little known today? Her gender, her reclusiveness, her relatively low productivity—she was to fight depression and ill health all her life—and her choice of medium all contributed to it. One of her glass-making colleagues wrote that at the end of her life, she was “just as honest, just as exacting, just as pure an artist as she had been in her brilliant youth. Such integrity is rare…It is as a great person, as well as a great artist that I salute her memory.”


About the Author

Patricia Robertson

Patricia Robertson is a writer, editor and adjunct instructor in creative writing at the University of Winnipeg. Her most recent book is The Goldfish Dancer: Stories and Novellas.


Anglican Journal News, March 03, 2017