Archive - Dec 2009 - Oct 2016

Friday 13 October 2017

Colleagues List, October 15th, 2017

Vol. XIII No. 17 


Wayne A. Holst, Editor
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Dear Friends:

My Special Item this week focuses on Gary Wills, an author we have frequently recommended over the years. This time he has a new book just published this month - "What the Qur'an Meant and Why It Matters." I see this study as an important contribution to both religion and politics in our time.

Please enjoy the other parts of Colleagues List as well. I do try to locate articles and other items that you might appreciate and enjoy.





Book Notice -

And Why It Matters
by Gary Wills

Viking Press, Toronto
October, 2017. 226 pp. $28.50 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-101-98102-3


Publisher's Promo:

Garry Wills has spent a lifetime thinking and writing about Christianity. In What the Qur’an Meant, Wills invites readers to join him as he embarks on a timely, necessary reconsideration of the Qur’an, leading us through perplexing passages with insight and erudition. What does the Qur’an actually say about veiling women? Does it justify religious war?

There was a time when ordinary Americans did not have to know much about Islam. That is no longer the case. We blundered into the longest war in our history without knowing basic facts about the Islamic civilization with which we were dealing. We are constantly fed false information about Islam - claims that it is essentially a religion of violence, that its sacred book is a handbook for terrorists. There is no way to assess these claims unless we have at least some knowledge of the Qur’an.

In this book Wills, as a non-Muslim with an open mind, reads the Qur’an with sympathy but with rigor, trying to discover why other non-Muslims - such as Pope Francis - find it an inspiring book, worthy to guide people down through the centuries. There are many traditions that add to and distort and blunt the actual words of the text. What Wills does resembles the work of art restorers cleaning away accumulated layers of dust to find the original meaning. He compares the Qur’an with other sacred books, the Old Testament and the New Testament, to show many parallels between them. There are also parallel difficulties of interpretation, which call for patient exploration - and which offer some thrills of discovery. What the Qur’an Meant is the opening of a conversation on one of the world’s most practiced religions.

Author's Words:

Carnegie Council Website Interview (video)
October 3rd, 2017


Author's Bio:

Garry Wills is a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and the author of The New York Times bestsellers What Jesus Meant, Papal Sin, Why I Am a Catholic, and Why Priests?, among others. He studied for the priesthood, took his doctorate in the classics, and taught ancient and New Testament Greek at Johns Hopkins University. Professor of history emeritus at Northwestern University, he lives in Evanston, Illinois.

Wikipedia -


My Thoughts:

One of the challenges we non-Americans face when reading American authors like Gary Wills is that they write from a growingly different context than we do. For many years I have found myself - when reading books emanating from south of the border - having to use a kind of automatic translation system in my head. In essence that means being able to identify with a different yet somewhat similar political ethos than my own, and having a relatively accurate understanding of it. At the same time, I try to apply the basic principles to my national context.

That process (not always resulting in an accurate interpretation of the material) helps me to benefit from a treasure trove of learning from America. It also helps me to continue to learn about a subject not yet accurately tackled in my country.

Canadians should be proud they have in their ranks Islamic and inter-faith dialogue scholars like Brian Arthur Brown whose writings have been introduced and promoted here over the years. (If you are interested, Google "Colleagues List Brian Arthur Brown" and a number of his inter-faith sacred scripture studies like "Three Testaments" will turn up.)

Will's current book emerges from the context of the American empire and, as such, we are likely to hear a different perspective than we might from Brown. That's not bad, mind you. But it is important to realize that is happening.

I would like to believe that there is not the inherent bias against Islam here in Canada as seems to exist in the USA. At the same time, I would not assume that the same tensions do not exist here also. We just don't have the same "in your face" approach to it as at least some Americans do. Dare I call it more civilized? Let us not grow weary in well-doing.

Could a Franklin Graham emerge in Canada? Might a Donald Trump ever become Prime Minister? Most Canadians would shudder and hope not. We simply find the take on Islam by these two as frightening.

That being said, I return to the book under consideration and suggest several reasons why it is an important one for non-Americans to consider what Wills has to say.

First, we all live under the strong influence of America and just as Wills says we need to understand Islam and the Qur'an - we need to understand the context of the author as well as his subject.

Second, Wills is a wise scholar who has covered many important religious themes in his career as well as a number of key political subjects.  (See all his books in the Wiki-bio, above). The author's broad perspectives and erudition continue to be worth tackling.

Third, as we move more deeply into the twenty-first century, it is becoming growingly apparent that we in the West have a major learning curve ahead of us when it comes to understanding Islam and its people. This is not only a global challenge, but also a national requirement. It is not going away within or beyond our nation.

Gary Wills has clarified many significant topics over the years. This book is a worthy addition to that collection.

Please listen to the wonderful Carnegie Interview (link noted above) and seriously consider buying the book as well.


Buy the book from



Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
October 9th, 2017

"A Crash Course in Recent Religions"

Martin Marty,
Chicago, IL

October 9th, 2017

"Souls and the Guns of America"


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
October 9th, 2017

"Language as Opening or Closing Our Minds"



Growing Split Between Young and Old

Christian Science Moniter
October 10th, 2017


500 Years of Influence

Anglian Journal
October 12th, 2017


American Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Battle It Out

Religion New Service
October 3rd, 2017



Englewood Review of Books
October 11th, 2017


Evangelical Writer Promotes Thought

Religion News Service,
October 11th, 2017


Impacts Story of American Indigenous Peoples

Atlantic Online
October, 2017


They Hope for a Visit from Pope Francis

Catholic Register, Toronto
October 3rd, 2017


'We Worshipped in a Hole'

Christian Week,
October 6th, 2017

In North Korea, cult trumps compromise

Globe and Mail,
Oct. 11th, 2017

“North Korean nationalism, with its cult of self-reliance known as Juche, is as religious as it is political. Defending the Kim dynasty, built up as a symbol of Korean resistance to foreign powers, is a sacred task. And when the sacred takes over politics, compromise becomes almost impossible. People can negotiate over conflicting interests, but not over matters that are considered holy.”

- Ian Buruma, editor of The New York Review of Books



Globe and Mail
October 10th, 2017

The Globe’s Africa Correspondent Geoffrey York reports:

Bullets trump ballots as political attacks spread in South Africa

“I think I need a calculator, because I’ve been shot more than 10 times,” Mthembeni Majola, an elected councillor in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa says. While Mr. Majola survived the attacks, other politicians haven’t been as lucky as a lethal wave of violence has swept over the region, with more than 40 people dead due to politically related attacks since the start of 2016. An inquiry investigating the deaths said that they are mainly linked to internal disputes for control over resources.

What About that Other Abuser?

Globe and Mail
October 12th, 2017

Weinstein is on the way to extinction, but what of his fellow dinosaurs?

“...[Harvey] Weinstein has fallen not because he had abused his power but because he was already losing his power. … So what happens to the self-styled boardroom Lotharios who are still at the height of their professional powers? Well, look no further than the Oval Office, where a chief executive who has been caught on tape admitting that he used his position as a television celebrity to assault women can apparently just ignore a string of similar accusations because he's the dude who got himself elected to the presidency.” – Kate Taylor



It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.
- Eleanor Roosevelt


Never, “for the sake of peace and quiet,” deny your own experience or convictions. The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others. Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for. Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top.
Then you will see how low it was.

- Dag Hammarskjöld


Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more. Be happy now, and if you show through your actions that you love others – including those who are poorer than you – you’ll give them happiness, too. It doesn’t take much; it can be just giving a smile. The world would be a much better place if everyone smiled more. So smile, be cheerful, and be joyous that God loves you.

- Mother Teresa


Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering, or hew ill give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart has trusted in him and I am helped. He is not only with me, but in me, and I in him.”

- St. Francis de Sales


... deeds are done which appear so evil to us and people suffer such terrible evils that it does not seem as though any good will ever come of them; and we consider this, sorrowing and grieving over it so that we cannot find peace in the blessed contemplation of God as we should do; and this is why: our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple, that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of the Holy Trinity. And this is what he means where he says, “You shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well”, as if he said, “Pay attention to this now, faithfully and confidently, and at the end of time you will truly see it in the fullness of joy.

 - Julian of Norwich



Globe and Mail
October 9th, 2017

Chicago’s Sunday bustle

Oct. 9, 1867: In early October, 1867, a correspondent from The Globe, who happened to be in Chicago on a Sunday, reported breathlessly about the widespread commercial activity in that city. “The shop windows are not obscured by sombre blinds, but display their wares as temptingly as on a secular day.” It was a big contrast to Toronto and other Canadian cities, where Sunday was a day of rest and almost everything was closed up tight.
In Chicago, however, “the business streets are guiltless of any appearance of recognition of the Sabbath,” The Globe’s staff writer wrote. And there was no religious restraint: “At about the hour for people to congregate in the churches, an industrious farmer might be seen driving along with a load of hay, evidently looking upon this day as the one for doing odd jobs. Groceries, groggeries and saloons all seemed to be in full blast.”

– Richard Blackwell


Globe and Mail
October 12th, 2017

Edith Cavell is executed by Germans

Oct. 12, 1915: The snow-capped slab of Mount Edith Cavell in Alberta’s Jasper National Park is just one of the many memorials across the Commonwealth to “the woman the Germans shot.” That phrase, given to an early film about the storied English nurse, hints at the reason for her lionization: The daughter of a country vicar was operating a clinic in Brussels during the First World War when she was arrested and executed by the occupying German forces for her role in smuggling Allied soldiers out of Belgium. The Germans said she was a spy,the killing of a latter-day Florence Nightingale stirred outrage in Britain, where Cavell was hailed as a martyr. Only recently has her likely connection to a wartime spy ring come to light, complicating the popular image of an innocent nurse murdered in cold blood.  .

– Eric Andrew-Gee


CLOSING THOUGHT - Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.



For Those Interested -


A Ten Week Series September 18th - November 27th, 2017
Monday Evenings, TM Room 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

"CONVICTIONS - How I Learned What Matters Most"

Author: Marcus Borg
Registration/Hospitality and Book: $60.00.
Book only: $20.00

40 copies of the book have been sold.

Classes have now begun with strong attendences.
 Read my background information on the study book:

Check our entire archives for all 49 books studied since 2000: 


During the 2016-2017 two session-term -
Total class registrations: 70
Total books sold: 75

Our best year ever, since 1998!



Ten Sessions September 21st - November 30th, 2017

Biblical book(s) to be studied this autumn were determined

by the class at the first session of the term, Thursday, Sept. 21st.
A Study of Similarities and Differences

Ten sessions 10-11 AM
Gathering at 9:30 AM in the St. David's TM Room.

No charge

Study resource -

"The DK Complete Bible Handbook"
  Edited by John Bowker



South Africa has been chosen as our destination!
We plan a nineteen-day tour that combines a focus
on spirituality, social justice, culture, and nature,
and it will run October 21st thru November 8th.

A beautiful brochure with trip cost, itinerary, and
many helpful travel hints has been published.

Twenty-five persons have registered and paid

in full to take the trip. This will be our tour group.
All together,  thirty-two persons made deposits
but some had to withdraw for health or other
We have activated a South Africa Spiritual Travelers
discussion list group to begin building community
amongst the participants, and to share news and

We hope to name a tour reporter who will notify
back home each day's activities so everyone can
enjoy the experience, at least indirectly.

In about three weeks from now we leave for South Africa!

Contact Rostad Tours:

Follow these notices for weekly updates.



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