Spirit and science can indeed co-exist

Thank God for Evolution! by Michael Dowd (Council Oak books: San Francisco, 2007), 358 pages, $31.50. Reviewed By David Findley-Price, Church of the Holy Spirit, Whonnock

Have you ever wondered in this century if there was a place where spirituality and good evolutionary science could be brought together? Have you longed for a simple explanation of some of its key tenets?

Thank God for Evolution! may just answer your questions. Subtitled "How the marriage of science and religion will transform your life and our world," it's by Michael Dowd, an ordained clergyman in the Disciples of Christ. As John Mather, NASA chief scientist and 2006 Nobel Prize winner in physics, notes, "the universe took 13.7 billion years to produce this amazing book."

The book jacket proclaims that "drawing upon cutting edge astrophysics, geology, biology, anthropology, and evolutionary brain science, this book presents the history of the universe as an epic drama where our generation has a critical role to play."

I found this book giving me an accurate understanding of the current evidence of evolution from a scientific perspective in clear language. The book demonstrated that we are indeed created of star dust from exploding supernovas.

Dowd takes the reader on a transformative spiritual journey to get beyond second century Flat Earth theology and culture, moving instead to a theological understanding which recognizes that God is God of the Universe who has created and speaks to us through the evidence and fingerprint of our own evolutionarily created 13.7 billion year old world. He explores the roots of the diversity of theology, personality, sexual attraction and abilities within the human species as a natural part of life centered in God.

There are problems. His dependence upon charismatic conservative evangelical theological spirituality flies in the face of all his scientific exploration. However, his struggle with his cultural roots is an honest snapshot of his efforts to break away from the flat earth religious culture and is reflective of my own journey in faith.

People known to readers in this diocese have contributed to the book. These include Matthew Fox, Diarmuid O'Murchu, John Spong, and Sally McFague among many others.

I commend Thank God for Evolution! for personal and parish study as it gives the reader insight into who we are as evolutionarily created beings living connectively together on this small environmentally sensitive planet Earth.


This gem joins the reviewer's poetry bookshelf

Life Lines, poems by Robert Pynn (CooperBlack Publishing, Calgary), 83 pages, $15. Reviewed By Lesley Godwin, Christ Church Cathedral

It's timely that we now have this collection of poems by Bob Pynn, former Dean of Calgary and priest in this diocese, to enjoy now the Lenten reading disciplines are finished...and what a little gem it is. We are the beneficiaries of a well balanced and carefully selected collection.

The cover painting is arresting-takes one into the forests of one's youth-where towering trees form a canopy overhead but your eyes are drawn to the enormous tangled roots delving deep into the sustaining nourishing earth. You sense with excitement that what you will discover in the pages ahead will be gift. A poem by Rumi at the start gives a clue-'come to the root of the root of your Self' and his influence can be seen in some poems, but Bob's poetry is very much his own, forged from his life and experiences.

The author has been careful to make the collection readable to everyone, not just your average Anglican Sunday churchgoer. There are indeed spiritual poems, but there are also poems of self knowledge, love and friendship, showing us a passionate, thoughtful and caring man and the subtle intertwining of divine love and the human. This is a man who cherishes and appreciates the gift of friendship with its challenges and sometimes pain and the author is able to express this brilliantly.

Given his impressive biography, his deep intellectualism and his areas of involvement, I hadn't expected such gentleness and tenderness in his poetry, but it's there. As he reveals his innermost thoughts, the poems draw one in and demand our attention and our own searching into an intimate meeting between you and the poem, where experiences are shared yet made new. These poems say take heart-do not fear-have courage-you are not alone-trust.

The more I read the poems the more they wind their way into my heart; in fact it was hard to put down due to the deadline for submitting this review. This is a great collection and I highly recommend it.

I have a small anthology of best loved poems garnered over the years - he will now join my latest bookshelf with Mary Oliver, RS Thomas & Amy Lewin. Let's savour this little collection for a while then hope for a sequel.