Archive - Dec 2009 - Oct 2016

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Colleagues List, May 6th, 2018

Vol. XIII No. 44 


Wayne A. Holst, Editor
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Dear Friends: 

My Special Item this week promotes a second book by colleague Dennis Gruending on the subject of rhetoric or speech-making. I appreciate his continuing attempts to link matters of Canadian politics and faith through the discipline of verbal communication.

The other themes of this issue of Colleagues List follow a familiar pattern, but always, the material is new.

Happy reading!




Book Notice:

By Dennis Gruending

Fitzhenry & Whiteside,
Markham, ON and Brighton, MA
May, 2018. 270 pages. $27.95 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-55455-112-5

Publisher's Promo:

Author and former MP Dennis Gruending has chosen dramatic speeches from 10 of Canada's finest political orators, beginning with John A Macdonald's arguing Confederation into being in 1865 and ending with Pierre Trudeau's 'No' to Quebec separatism during the 1980 referendum campaign. The book also contains Louis Riel's speech to the jury; Wilfrid Laurier's warning the Catholic clergy to stay out of politics; Nellie McClung's demand that women receive the vote; Agnes Macphail's call for both political reforms and the full equality of women; Arthur Meighen's divisive speech on military conscription; Richard Bennett's attempt to give Canada a New Deal during the Depression; Tommy Douglas introducing medicare; and Lester Pearson's epic debates with John Diefenbaker over a new flag for Canada. Gruending is the author of Great Canadian Speeches, a best-selling, wide-ranging anthology that contains 68 edited selections. In this new book he focuses on only 10 speeches. For each speech Gruending:
  • Describes in detail the rich historical context in which each speech was delivered,
  • Pays close attention to both the content of each speech and rhetorical techniques employed by the orators, and
  • Examines the speech's immediate and long term impact upon Canada and Canadians.
Macdonald's speech established him as the drafter and dealmaker of Confederation and he was to remain the dominant presence in Canadian politics for many years. Riel's failure to convince a jury to spare his life created fault lines in Canada which persist to this day. McClung's withering satire in a 1914 speech paved the way for women's getting the vote; and Trudeau's speech shortly before the Quebec referendum in 1980 is widely believed to have ensured victory for the 'No' side in the referendum on separation.

This book will be a welcome companion to anyone interested in Canadian history, politics, literature and rhetoric. It will also be a useful source and guide for those who write speeches or deliver them.


Author's Words:

A good speech is a literary work but it also aims at persuading an audience to do something.

There is something basic and enduring about the relationship between a speaker and an audience and the best orators continue to move us for better or worse.

(to demonstrate his point, the author writes of the speeches of Hitler, Lincoln, Roosevelt, King, Kennedy, Mandela and Havel.)

The enthusiasm generated by Barack Obama's speech-making in the United States in this decade proves there is still a receptive audience for well-crafted messages that offer hope and vision.

Canadians have been just as eager to be moved and persuaded, and this book provides examples of such oratory drawn from our history... Our story in Canada is not as dramatic as that of nations born in revolution or in which violence reigns in the streets, but it is if anything more admirable... Where others have used bullets and  bombs, our projectiles have been words. They are the essence of all politics and negotiation. Words are incomparably better than artillery or marching armies.

(At this point, the author writes of John A. MacDonald, Wilfrid Laurier, Louis Riel, Nellie McClung, Arthur Meighen, Agnes Macphail, Tommy Douglas, Lester Pearson, R.B. Bennett, Pierre Trudeau, and Chief Joseph Gosnell of the Nisga'a First Nation.)

(For each of these speechmakers) I explore the speech, the persona chosen by the speaker and the speech's lasting impact upon Canada and Canadians. I also pay close attention to the speech itself and analyse the rhetorical techniques employed by the speaker to win over his or here audience.

This book will be of interest to those who love Canadian history... and those who write and deliver speeches... also for those who want to become more skilled at analysing the words spoken by others.

- edited and interpreted from the Introduction


Author's Bio:

Dennis Gruending is a former Member of Parliament from Saskatchewan. A journalist by profession, he has worked for three newspapers and as a producer and host for CBC Radio in western Canada. His previous books include Great Canadian Speeches, The Middle of Nowhere, and biographies of Emmett Hall and Allan Blakeney. His articles, stories, and poems have appeared in NeWest Review, The Canadian Forum, New Internationalist, Maclean's, and Reader's Digest. Dennis lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Colleagues List Background to Dennis Gruending -                        February 25th, 2012


My Thoughts:

Earlier this year on Colleagues List (January 28th, 2018) I presented my thoughts on another of Gruending's books on the subject of rhetoric. It was entitled Great Canadian Speeches. Here is that notice:

This book builds on that one and is helpful, not only for Canadian historical perspective and leaders who used words to convince their fellow-country persons to follow certain courses of action, but also for the study of the meaning and technique of rhetoric.

When I read this book I couldn't help but think of my training as a pastor fifty years ago. My theological seminary chose wisely in its selection of those who taught homiletics (the science of proclamation). I will always be grateful for the coaching I received from a specialist in rhetoric from a nearby college. The skills he taught our class have stayed with me all my life. Even today, I tend to critique homilies based on the guidance received half a century ago. 

Encountering this volume made me aware that rhetoric today has suffered considerably from the advent of radio, TV, movies and social media. I mourn the loss of meaningful words and well-shaped phrases.

I despair of the crassness of modern communications. 

Conversational, humour-based and off-handed preaching do not cut it with me. I am still of the school which taught that if your subject matter is important, you must work to convey the message in a high-quality manner.

I am also grateful to the author for providing me with examples of rhetoric from pivotal points in the history of Canada. Most Canadians will recall the speeches of Hitler, Lincoln, Roosevelt, King and Mandela.

But what about MacDonald, Laurier, Riel, McClung, Douglas, Pearson, Trudeau, and Gosnell of the Nisga'a First Nation?

Including a member of a Canadian First Nation in this collection is admirable. But it is only the beginning of coming to understand our history more completely. Add to that the fact that Indigenous Canadians possess pre-literary skills that surpass many of us trained with books.

I hope that colleague Dennis Gruending continues to add to this series. Now, more than ever, we need to counter the cheapness of words appearing in the modern media.

Rhetoric is a classic discipline, and its importance continues, in spite of whatever so many seem to be doing with words today.

Do you agree or differ from me on this topic?


Buy the book from


Adrian Leske,
Edmonton. AB.

May 4th, 2018

Dear Wayne:

Thank you so much for your insightful comments on my book...
Colleagues List April 29th, 2018 -

I am presently recovering from an allergic reaction to a chemo drug for blood cancer and want to thank you for featuring my book and doing it in such an insightful way. God's blessing on all your work.



Isabel Gibson,
Ottawa, ON.

Traditional Iconoclast
April 29th, 2018

"Pretty in Pink" (video)


Elfrieda Schroeder
Winnipeg, MB.

In Transit
April 30th, 2018



Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Web Log,
May 2nd. 2018

"How to Respond to Tragedy"


John Stackhouse Jr.
Moncton, NB

April 28th, 2018

"Blessed are the Merciful"

Martin Marty,
Chicago, IL.

April 30th, 2018

"Apologies to Native People"


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
April 30th, 2018

"Poverty, Chastity and Obedience in a Secular Age"


"i Was Part of the Problem" He Admits

La Croix International
My 3rd, 2018


Pentecostalist Leader Likely Killed by Maoists

UCA News.
May 2ne, 2018


Challenge to Former FBI Director

The Christian Century,
April 23rd, 018


Sex Abuse Claims a Key Reason

La Croix International
April 30th, 2018


By Hardline Jewish Settlers

The Guardian UK
May 1st, 2018


RULE OR BUST - Couples Guard
Marriage Yet Maintain Friendships

Christianity Today,
April 27th, 2018


Supporting It is Worth the Risk

United Church of Canada Site
April 27th, 2018


Mental Illness May Be Too Easy a Rationale

America Magazine,
May 2nd, 2018


An American Perspective

May 2nd, 2018

Religion News Service,
April 27th, 2018

"James Cone Obituary"



From Sojourners and the Bruderhof online:

So, here you are. Too foreign for home. Too foreign
for here. Never enough for both.

- Ijeoma Umebinyuo


Don't be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled.
How do you think the trees feel these days, or the
whales, or, for that matter, most humans?

- Daniel Berrigan


Jesus was not a bird with broken wings. He was a
raging tempest who broke all crooked wings. He
feared not his persecutors nor his enemies. Free
and brave and daring he was. He defied all despots
and oppressors. He saw the contagious pustules
and amputated them. He mutedEvil and he crushed
Falsehood and he choked Treachery.

- Kahlil Gibran


Prayer leads you to see new paths and to hear new
melodies in the air. Prayer is the breath of your life
which gives you the freedom to go and to stay where
you wish and to find the many signs which point out
the way to a new land. Praying is not simply some
necessary compartment in the daily schedule of a
Christian or a source of support in a time or need,
nor is it restricted to Sunday mornings or mealtimes...
Praying is living.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen


I knew before that God gave life to humankind and
desires that they should live; now I understand more
than that. I understand that God does not wish people
to live apart, and therefore he does not reveal to them
what each one needs for himself; but he wishes them
to live united, and therefore reveals to each of them
what is necessary for all. I now understand that though
 it seems to people that they live by care for themselves,
in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has
love is in God, and God is in him, for God is love.

- Leo Tolstoy


Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round
yourself and watch yourself, and see that your image
is a seemly one. You pass by a little child, you pass
by with ugly and spiteful words, with wrathful heart;
you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen
you, and your image, revolting and godless, may
remain in his defenseless heart. You don’t know it,
but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it
may grow, all because you were not careful before
the child, because you did not foster in yourself a
careful, actively benevolent love. Love is a teacher;
but one must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to
acquire, it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by long
labor. For we must love not only occasionally, for a
moment, but forever.

- Fyoder Dostoyevsky



Nothing is so beautiful as spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins


MOMENT IN TIME - May 3rd, 2016

The fire was spotted on May 1st, 2016.

By May 3, all of Fort McMurray, Alta., and many
surrounding communities were under mandatory
evacuation orders. Some people had only 30
minutes warning. The Fort McMurray fire forced
80,000 people out of the northern city that day –
it was the largest fire evacuation in Alberta’s history.
Ash fell from the sky. A gas station exploded. Those
who headed north were trapped for days. Highway
881 was canned as a southern escape route.

Vehicles ran out of gas and were abandoned on
Highway 63, a two-lane artery which quickly became
the only route out of the city. Even evacuation centres
were evacuated. Cassie White, who evacuated with
her boyfriend, was 19 years old then. “It almost looks
like a zombie apocalypse,” she said at the time. “I
didn’t know if I was going to make it out.” The first
wave of residents was eventually permitted to return
on June 1. Still, the physical risks were sweeping and
included toxic air, contaminated water and dangerous
debris. The risk of mental-health problems was severe
and potentially long-lasting. The economic damage was
measured in billions and compounded by struggles in
the energy industry. Not everyone returned. Not every
neighbourhood can be rebuilt, even now.

– Carrie Tait

Of Related Interest:

My Anglican Journal column for May 16th, 2016:



CLOSING THOUGHT - Septima Poinsette Clark ​​​​​

I have a great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos,
it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift.




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