James Bond: Ready for a rip-roaring Bible study this winter?

FROM OUR MAN “008” IN ISTANBUL: You may have expected that this story would be a movie review, based on the European early release of the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. European journalists are calling the latest film a triumph and Americans are likely to flock to theaters when the movie finally debuts here on November 9.

But today our question is: Where in the world is our own resident James Bond expert? He’s not in the U.S. Rather, the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt is in Turkey. This is no joke. Dr. Pratt—author of our popular James Bond Bible study book—actually departed for Turkey last week. Of course, the eyes of all true Bond fans around the world are turning to Turkey at the moment, because some of the most eye-popping scenes in Skyfall were shot around landmarks in Istanbul. Dr. Pratt and his wife traveled to Turkey to see major landmarks, including ancient Christian settlements from biblical times. Still, we have to wonder—considering Dr. Pratt’s nickname among good friends, which is “008,” our question is: What is the intrepid Dr. Pratt uncovering in Turkey?


We know where Dr. Pratt will pop up when he returns from Istanbul. He is appearing in news reports nationwide about his latest book on caregiving. In addition to his literary scholarship, another of Dr. Pratt’s lifelong specialties is pastoral counseling and expertise in caregiving. So, don’t be surprised if you see or hear him soon in news reports over the next two months, talking about his Guide for Caregivers.

But back to Bond! Now is the time to organize a Bond Bible study group in your congregation. If you schedule your group in November-December, you will capitalize on the excitement of the Skyfall release. If you schedule for January, you’ll reap the interest of the families that wind up with the Bond 50th Anniversary boxed set of movies as a Christmas gift. If you schedule for Lent or spring, you’ll chime in with the millions of Americans awaiting a DVD, Bluray or Netflix release of Skyfall. (In fact, the big 50th anniversary set comes with an empty slot in the fancy box to place the Skyfall discs when they are released.)


Please visit Dr. Pratt’s author page and also visit the page packed with information about the book itself. Click on the various stories indexed on those pages. You will discover that the idea of organizing a James Bond Bible study is far from a pop-culture whim. Ian Fleming himself had a lifelong fascination with religious principles. Specifically, Fleming was deeply concerned with sin. That’s not to say Fleming was a sinful man himself. Rather, he was a prominent editor at the Times of London. In the post-World War II era, he convened some of Britain’s leading authors to write about the so-called Seven Deadly Sins. When planning his own James Bond novels, Fleming set out to explore seven even deadlier sins in our modern era.

Dr. Pratt’s James Bond Bible study book has been used successfully in congregations across the U.S. and as far away as New Zealand and Panama. In addition, U.S. military chaplains in Iraq used Dr. Pratt’s book with groups of soldiers in the field. All groups reported enthusiastic interest in such an unusual approach to Bible study. They also spotted an encouraging trend with this particular book: inactive church members and first-time-Bible-study students were attracted to this particular discussion.

Front and center in Fleming’s own life—and in Dr. Pratt’s book—is the New Testament book of James. The top story this week on the front page of our ReadTheSpirit magazine is an interview with Bible scholar Marcus Borg, who also discusses the importance of James. Organize a discussion group in your community now; order your James Bond Bible study books early; and—BANG! You’ll draw a crowd!

St Kateri Tekakwitha opens Native American spiritual vistas

The canonization of the first Native American saint by Pope Benedict XVI means that more than 1 billion Christians around the world now are encouraged to learn more about Native American spiritual vistas. These insights are poignant because this deep religious wisdom was opened to the world even as tribes were decimated by the collision of American and European cultures. Today, while millions of native men and women across the North American continent maintain only their ancient spiritual traditions, millions more blend both their ancient cultures and Christian spiritual traditions.

What St Kateri Tekakwitha’s Canonization Means

In declaring the sainthood of the 17th-century convert Kateri Tekakwitha, Benedict is telling all Catholics around the world that she is, indeed, a heroic saint worthy of spiritual reflection and inclusion in prayers of the saints in any congregation. Her influence also extends far beyond the Catholic church into other Christian communities and national cultures. Some criticism remains of ongoing Christian evangelism among Native populations, but St. Kateri’s canonization is widely celebrated as an honor for all Canadians and all Native Christians.
In his declaration, Benedict said: “Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer, and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. Saint Kateri, Protrectress of Canada and first Native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of faith in the First Nations and in all of North America! May God bless the First Nations!”

Bringing Native American spiritual wisdom into your congregation

One way to bring this discussion to your congregation is through the spiritual memoir of Odawa teacher Warren Petoskey, called Dancing My Dream. Visit the book page for Warren’s memoir to learn more about how Warren weaves his own deep American Indian traditions through his conversion to Christianity. You will come away from Warren’s story inspired and humbled by the tragedies his family suffered and the soaring spiritual insights he shares with all of us today.

Care to learn more about St. Kateri? You’ll enjoy Stephanie Fenton’s column about her, marking her saint’s feast day earlier this year.