By Phillip H. Wiebe
240 pages. $18
PHILLIP WIEBE’S interest in exploring visions of Jesus began when his
mother had one. This readable
collection of similar stories is the
result of years of research by this
professor of philosophy from Langley, B.C.
Wiebe begins by naming the elements that must be satisfied to make
such visitations plausible. He continues by listing Jesus’ post-resurrec-tion appearances starting with the
Bible and going through every era to
the present, including stories from
30 people he interviewed. He ends
with a discussion of images like the
Shroud of Turin.
The book is a fascinating collage
of visitations – from the stigmata of
medieval mystics to the extraordinary light, compelling gaze, physical
healing, and resulting motivation
to live differently that many moderns have experienced.
Wiebe’s carefully worded com-
ments let readers come to their own
conclusions. He articulates his pos-
ition at the end of one of the stories.
“The challenge ... is being neither
too gullible nor too critical.”
While most of these accounts
were out of my range of experience,
the sheer number of them brings
Wiebe to a conclusion that, by the
end of the book, is convincing –
“Finding so many independent ac-
counts of similar experiences
[makes] rejecting them all … un-
This is a book to bolster faith that
Jesus is alive, engaged, and could at
any moment peel back the veil of
earth-reality from any of our eyes.
–VIOLE T NESDOLY
A Brief History of Humankind
By Yuval Noah Harari
McClelland & Stewart, 2014.
443 pages. $18 (e-book $16)
YUVAL NOAH HARARI, a
professor at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, points us to prehistoric
handprints on cave walls in France and Argentina
and a bootprint on the moon as he contemplates
the stellar but also disquieting rise of the most
powerful creature on the planet – homo sapiens.
Consider that a mere 66 years passed
between the time a plane first took flight and
a man’s foot first touched the moon. That’s
amazing. At the same time, Harari writes, we
can link the rise and growth of sapiens to all
sorts of suffering – war, the extinction of other
creatures and, he thinks, a heartless meat
industry (among other things).
Harari’s view, in a book that is well informed,
but also flies at a high level of generality (and
thus slips in overstatement), is strictly secular.
This leads him to make unprovable assertions
such as “There are no gods in the universe.”
While he recognizes the great majority of people
who have lived would sense internally there is
something wrong with this outlook he, like other
provocative secularists, seems to place himself
above the herd – a kind of postmodern Moses
dispensing truth to the masses.
Aside from Harari’s sometimes irritating
omniscient tone, the book as a whole is
compelling. Perhaps the most interesting section
has to do with the theme of human contentment.
“Was Neil Armstrong, whose footprint remains
intact on the windless moon, happier than the
nameless hunter-gatherer who 30,000 years ago
left her handprint on a wall in Chauvet Cave?”
Harari thinks the answer is complicated. He
recognizes that the prosperity and freedom
Canadians enjoy has contributed to the
unravelling of the family and led to higher levels
of unhappiness. A degree of wealth makes us
happier – frazzled human relations don’t.
Christians will disagree with some – perhaps
much – of what Harari writes. But he sees what
they know. Sapiens are a mixed creature –
partly dust, the stuff of the natural world; partly
spirit, the image of God. Life is complicated.
found in towering
mists or crashing
light of hope
against the reality
of the brokenness
of life. They can
the essence of all
life, is integral to
Reading THE BES TSELLERS
An Indian Summer Afternoon (acrylic on canvas) by J. Douglas Thompson.