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Letters to the Editor

  • A justice issue and a matter of theology

    June 2016 issue

    Thank you for publishing the article about Jen Warren and myself and why we brought the motion to amend the marriage canon (Resolution C003: The inside story, June 2016, p.9). I was pleased at the interest and generally happy with the article. There is just one thing I would like to correct.

    Although I am nearly finished my MDiv. and hoping to be ordained soon, and although I would be in the invidious position of having to choose between my conscience and my ordination vows if this change does not happen, that was never my motivation. It was never actually about me. As a matter of fact, when I first launched this process, a call to ordained ministry wasn't even on my radar.

    I brought the motion to change the marriage canon because I believe that homosexuality is an integral part of God's good creation, intended by God from the beginning. It grieves me deeply, more than I can say, that lifelong members of the Anglican church are excluded from the sacrament of marriage. I wanted to redress this, which I see as a justice issue and much more than a justice issue, a matter of the theology of the church as the body of Christ. I wanted to enable full inclusion for my LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) brothers and sisters in the church. That was my motivation.

    Michelle Bull
    Nova Scotia 

     

    Words of wisdom from an unlikely source 

    The most pithy response I can imagine to your story, Order of Bishops unlikely to support gay marriage (April 2016, p.1), comes from an unlikely source: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, six-time NBA champion.

    In the March 28, 2016 issue of Time Magazine, he writes, “We fear change so much that we fight it, even when change reflects our founding principles. We just have to push against the pushing. Only harder.”

    Jean Gower
    Kingston, Ont.

    Unsustainable consumption 

    Two letters in the March 2016 issue (Why the silence? and The plank in the eye, p. 4), which defend the value of fossil fuels and the benefits accruing from associated industries, accuse both the Anglican Journal and church leadership of hypocrisy. The actual sin is not hypocrisy, but misconception. 

    The facts (and there are enough facts) demonstrate unequivocally that something is happening, reversibly or irreversibly, to the world’s climate, through causes that may be either natural or induced, or a mixture of both. But it is not simply a tussle between different sources of whatever are the interfering anthropogenic agents; to see it that way is to miss the essential point that it is the amounts of natural resources being used rather than their types and sources.

    Two factors are working in tandem to exacerbate the situation. World population has increased relentlessly, while at the same time the “developed” world has unfortunately learned to confuse “want” with “need.” Those who believe they need to use tap water for gardens or other outdoor tasks, who need to run lights all night or who need to make frequent car trips when public transport is available, should practise replacing that word “need” with “want.” We all have planks in our eyes. Between us, we are using up resources at more than a sustainable rate, and that is the whole crux of the matter. The onus is on us to reduce how much of irreplaceable resources we use. 

    Elizabeth Griffin
    Royal Oak, Victoria

     

    Change and compassion

    The experience of my own family has given me pause when I considered the ongoing discussion of proposed changes to the marriage canon. 

    My mother divorced my father in the 1930s, a time when divorce was not as commonplace as it is today, nor as easily obtained. Thirty years later, she met a man with whom she fell in love and wished to marry. This was obviously not the carefree whim of a young girl. My future stepfather, in keeping with the custom of the time, asked my permission to marry her. This, I joyfully granted. But it was a great shock for us all when we were informed that, on account of her divorce, my mother could not be married in the Anglican church. 

    Lifelong Anglicans, my mother and future stepfather had met while singing in the choir I directed at St. Paul’s Runnymede. In any event, a minister of the United Church married them in a private home.

    Despite this experience, I have remained steadfast in my love for and loyalty to my church. My youngest son, born at the time of which I write, was baptized at St. Paul’s Runnymede, the same church that refused to marry my mother. 

    As I have entered my 90th year, I am willing to concede that I hold many of the views and occasional prejudices of my generation. But when I remember the experience of my mother, I cannot help but reflect that there are no doubt many Anglicans who, from personal experience or the knowledge of that of family and friends, have reason to be grateful that our church’s position on the marriage canon has not, in fact, been immutable. Rather, that position has allowed for change and growth, not simply in response to changes in social mores, but in order to answer that call to love and compassion that Christ requires of us all.

    Roma Page Lynde
    Toronto

    It's time for Anglicans to consider Plan B: Repeal the marriage canon 

    I write in support of a wise letter by Anton Lovink (God’s time, April 2016, p. 4), who wrote, “The difference between our [same-sex] civil marriage having been blessed, compared to being married in the church building, is not enough cause for dividing our Communion.”

    After the wedding and blessing of my son and his wife the same way in 2014, I couldn’t agree more. On the other hand, homosexuals have not been treated well by the church, and so I also sympathize with those who prefer to improve our evenhandedness. 

    In view of the bishops’ statement in February that they have multiple sympathies, what is needed is a Plan B. It is time for public discussion of the simplest and most obvious Plan B I have heard of: instead of amending the marriage canon, which is misnamed and is actually a wedding canon, it must be repealed. That would, I’m told, have the effect of making church weddings, but not blessings, unavailable to heterosexuals, as they are unavailable to homosexuals. Evenhandedness is achieved without offending the opponents of same-sex weddings either in Canada or abroad. 

    As this is a matter of policy and not of doctrine, it could be made effective at any chosen date, presumably exempting weddings already arranged. 

    Robert Thomas   
    Winnipeg

     

    A better path forward

    Roy Fletcher writes, “I consider fossil fuels to be a gift to humanity…fossil fuels have enabled billions in the developed world to escape abject poverty and continue to do so in the developing world” (The plank in the eye, Letters, March 2016, p. 4). 

    He makes an important point, but let’s think a bit further about the use of gifts. Alcohol could be thought of as a gift. I like a glass of cold beer on a summer’s evening. The church uses wine in its central ritual. But used in excess, alcohol can become a curse. 

    Fossil fuel has been good for humanity. Fossil fuel heats my family’s home and allows us to drive our cars. But used carelessly and in excess, it can do much damage. We know about smog and acid rain, and now, climate change due to the greenhouse gas effect of great amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

    Climate change is likely to bring extreme weather: floods, droughts and heat waves. Rich countries like Canada can deal with climate change and nobody is likely to starve if it brings global food shortages. It is the poorest who will suffer the most.

    It could be that much of the known reserves of coal and oil and gas will have to be left in place for a long time to come. We  have to be willing to assist people and communities who depend on the fossil fuel industry and are anxious because jobs are disappearing and may not come back. 

    As for abject poverty at home and in the world, equitable sharing and wise stewardship of the world’s wealth seems a better path forward than uncontrolled burning of fossil fuel.

    Garth van der Kamp
    Saskatoon 

     


  • Letters to the Editor, March 2016


    Photo: Iuril/Shutterstock.


    Why the silence?

    Here’s my response to the announcement that [the] dioceses [of Ottawa and Montreal] have made the decision to not invest their funds in the oil industry (Synods divest from fossil fuels, Jan. 2016, p. 1): I want you to remember that there are thousands of people whose employment revolves around the production of oil in northern Alberta.

    Since the downturn in oil revenues, 53,000 oil-related jobs have been eliminated, and that number is still rising. The silence from our political leadership in Ottawa has been both deafening and extremely disappointing. Those who have worked for many years in the oil patch deserve better. The results of their labour—until the downturn—has been the source of funding for social programs and facilities all across Canada. Yet we hear nothing! What would be the response of governments if this magnitude of layoffs had occurred in Ontario or Quebec?

    Both Syncrude and Suncor are the biggest employers of First Nations people anywhere in Canada. As one First Nations person said at a public meeting held at All Saints’ Anglican Church, Fort McMurray, Alta., “What right have you to take away the pride and lifestyle my family is finally beginning to enjoy?”

    Unfortunately, there has been no vocal concern from any of the church leaders in Canada, which is even more tragic because the churches above all are in the people business. When any group makes political decisions, there are people who are directly affected.

    Leadership demands presence and action—otherwise, it is just words!

    The Most Rev. John R. Clarke
    Peace River, Alta.

     

    The plank in the eye

    It is clear from Scripture how our Lord regards hypocrisy. Yet, it appears that the Anglican Journal, and perhaps the Anglican church itself, is complicit in taking a gratuitous, adversarial position against the fossil fuel industry, placing it amongst such undesirables as “pornography,” whereas most of a fuel’s carbon footprint by far results from its end use. Is it not hypocritical to point a finger at the speck in the industry’s eye while ignoring the log in the consumer’s eye (all of us who drive, fly, use plastics, etc.)?

    I worked my entire career professionally in the oil industry, in many disciplines, and with several companies. Since most of my income derives from my company pension, I wonder if the church is comfortable accepting contributions from such supposedly ill-gotten gains. How about the PWRDF? Should I discontinue giving?

    I am comforted, though, knowing our Lord exhibited an affinity toward sinners, perhaps even more so than to the self-righteous.

    I have followed the climate change debate closely over the years, and am of the opinion that the issue is wildly overhyped. I challenge anyone truly interested in the subject to read a recently published book titled Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change by Canadian professor Michael Hart. The author wonders, as do I, why some churches are so against fossil fuels when over the years they have enabled billions in the developed world to escape abject poverty and continue to do so in the developing world.

    I consider fossil fuels to be a gift to humanity, and am grateful for them.

    Roy Fletcher
    Hampton, N.B.

     

    Taking action

    The recent decisions by the synods of Montreal and Ottawa to divest from fossil fuels are typical of an Anglican church that confuses fine words with real action.

    If they really wanted to take action on global warming, they could perhaps have set about ensuring that their buildings are energy efficient, encouraging their parishioners to walk, car-pool or take public transit to church, and grounding their globetrotting clergy and administrators.  But no, such actions are too mundane, costly and inconvenient and might not even be reported in the Anglican Journal; far better to divest from fossil fuels, an action that allows the synods to hold up their heads among progressive circles without inconveniencing anyone.

    David Allen
    Edmonton

     

    The benefit of state aid

    If U.S. Catholic theologian William T. Cavanaugh is being quoted correctly in context, he’s wrong (A church with little political clout? ‘Thanks be to God,’ Dec. 2015, p. 1).

    State aid to the disadvantaged does not “immunize the wealthier classes from the messy and potentially life-altering encounter with actual people who suffer.” State aid is social justice and dignity. It is the antithesis of handouts from the wealthy that is degrading.

    Michael Valpy
    Bognor, Ont.

     

    “Would if I could”

    I found the article by the Rev. Daniel Graves interesting and confusing (Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground, Jan. 2016, p. 3). He  indicates a church can close if it is irrelevant. I don’t think churchgoers would ever call their place of worship irrelevant.

    I remember a Journal story on Back to Church Sunday. My church had been closed just prior to the special Sunday call, even though I was told finances were healthy. I remember thinking, “would if I could” attend Back to Church Sunday.

    It is true our congregation was aging, but we were a tightknit family under God’s roof.

    Bruce Kirkpatrick
    Victoria


  • Letters to the Editor, February 2016

     

    Illustration: Batshevs/Shutterstock


    (These letters first appeared in the February 2016 issue of the Anglican Journal.)

    Church must be ‘nimble and flexible’ about lay presidency

    Re: Bishops address concerns about ‘lay presidency’ (Dec. 2015, p. 1): In response to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s decision to allow lay persons to officiate at the eucharist in extraordinary circumstances, the Canadian House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada took a firm stand against such practice—however, it seems, without firm footing. “For a lot of Anglicans, this is a no-go,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, which is hardly a good reason to disallow the contemplation of such a change.

    Archbishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson goes even further in suggesting that he discourages Anglicans from participating in services where a layperson is presiding at the eucharist. Really? Is he saying that four years at a theological school followed by ordination somehow changes the effectiveness of the remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice?

    I rather like the fact that Canadian and American Lutherans and The (American) Episcopal Church have adopted a more flexible stance on the issue. As our primate noted, “in spite of Anglican angst…this issue has not been detrimental to the full communion relationship between TEC and the ELCA.” One would hope that the Canadian bishops might muster the courage to express themselves with a bit more thought and in-depth analysis without worrying too much about a “departure from the small  ‘c’ catholic order of the church.”

    Willem Hart
    Toronto

     

    Overcome obstacles

    “Lay presidency ‘not an option’ for Anglicans”…“For a lot of Anglicans, this is a no-go”…“It’s just not in keeping with our understanding of sacrament and ordained ministry” are quotes from the Anglican Journal, Dec. 2015, p. 1 article, Bishops address concerns about ‘lay presidency.’

    I find this stance a tad hypocritical. In the past 50 years or so, a number of changes have been made not in keeping with our traditional understanding.

    The Five Marks of Mission are the criteria we have chosen to guide us. “To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom” is the first. This was Jesus’ focal proclamation. What elements in our Anglican way are hindrances to promoting the Kingdom as manifest in Jesus? Is lay presidency one of them or not?

    John Serjeantson
    Cowansville, Que.

     

    What about the homeless?

    Tell me something, Canadian Anglican bishops: are you going to talk/push/force the prime minister of Canada to spend as much on the homeless of Canada as they are going to spend on refugees?

    Honestly, I don’t think so, as I haven’t seen/heard a word from any of them or the head of the Anglican church.

    I challenge all you bishops to speak up and be heard!

    Warren Thwing
    Kingston, Ont.

     

    A blessing

    I am writing to express appreciation for the column Walking Together by Bishop Mark MacDonald.

    His monthly reflections on both the anguish and the healing joy in the journey of faith are profound. He is helping me, and our whole church, to understand what it means to be reconciled and reconciling—particularly as we deepen our understanding of walking together in the implementation of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    We are privileged to have a national Indigenous bishop whose wisdom and vision are such a blessing to us all.

    Diane  Marshall
    Toronto

     

    What ‘unconditional  love’?

    Robert Wild claims that Jesus “affirmed the unconditional divine loving for everyone” (Letters, ‘Radical revision’ of church’s traditional missionary theology is needed, Dec. 2015, p. 4). I don’t know where he gets his image of Jesus. It certainly does not square with the one I find in the gospels: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete it shall be measured unto you: and more shall be given unto you. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath” (Mark 4:24-5). “For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:27). 

    Does that sound like “unconditional love”? The meaning is quite clear to me. God loves only those who do his will and keep his commandments. He shows no love to unrepentant sinners. “For judgement is without mercy to him that hath shewed no mercy” (James 2:13).

    It is high time that clergy and Christians in general stopped rabbiting on about God’s “unconditional love.”

    William Cooke
    Toronto 


  • Letters to the Editor, January 2016


    Photo: Aleutie/Shutterstock


    Has the church been neighbour to the mentally ill?

    A heartfelt thanks for publishing the article Out of the shadows and into the light, by Tali Folkins (Nov. 2015, p. 3). I am a Christian man who has lived with a bipolar disorder for 40 years. During these years I have often been saddened, and sometimes angered, by the church’s silence concerning the lives of the mentally ill.  It is as if the church were unaware of the terrifying pain that we endure.

    A majority of those who commit suicide were living with mental illness. There are too many of us to ignore. One in every five Canadians experiences a mental disorder in any given year. Yet, for the most part, the church has remained silent. Are we invisible? Are we unworthy? Doesn’t the church hear our cries?

    The church, like the rest of society, has seemed to turn away from us, thus reinforcing the powerful stigma associated with mental illness. We have not been looked upon with the eyes of Christ. This is a tragedy because the words and deeds of Jesus would console our broken hearts. The church has hidden the light of Christ under a bushel basket. I am reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan, where a priest and a Levite both passed by the man in the ditch. They were not “neighbour” to the man. Has the church been neighbour to the mentally ill?   

    The publication of Out of the shadows and into the light is a sign of hope that we who live with mental illness will be embraced by the compassionate arms of the church. There is no time to delay. Remember the words of Christ: As long as you did not do this to the least of my sisters and brothers, you did not do it to me.

    Joseph Corcoran
    London. Ont.

     

    Light in darkness

    Thank you for the superb article on mental health problems and spirituality (Out of the shadows and into the light, Nov. 2015, p. 3), as well as thanks to Melanie Delva and the Rev. Claire Miller, who shared their personal stories.

    The article will hopefully encourage Anglicans who struggle with mental health issues, giving assurance that God is with them, even in the darkness.

    The Rev. Timothy Kuhlmann
    Chaplain, Kingston General Hospital, Ont.

     

    Despair and hope

    The November issue illustrated my hope and despair for our Anglican Communion. Jean Gower’s letter on same-sex marriage, Jesus must weep at our lack of Christian charity and inclusiveness (Letters, p. 5), reminded me of how our timidity and weakness have trumped love and compassion.

    The Commission on the Marriage Canon report added to my despair with its “theologically possible” but not necessarily “theologically desirable” approach, and its prescription of “discerning God’s will,” which has been a convenient, bureaucratic excuse for inaction for many years on this and other issues. 

    I found hope in Bishop Mark MacDonald’s article (Our agenda, as we wake up, p. 5)  on moving from institutional membership to communion. I, too, would like to “live together in a community of moral imagination—rethinking our lives in the light of the gospel.”

    I have recently retreated from institutional membership, while I ponder the possibilities—and opportunities.

    John McWilliams
    Calgary

     

    Agape and eros

    Regarding the upcoming General Synod, is the Anglican Journal going to endorse either the traditionalist or the modernist understanding of marriage in the church?

    I hope that the church might resolve this issue, following more closely the model identified in the essay, “On Ceremonies” (Book of Common Prayer), where “it was thought expedient, not so much to have respect how to please and satisfy either of these parties, as how to please God, and profit them both.”

     I’d like to believe that the Journal is presenting a perspective that is as objective as is possible, but your editorial bias seems very much pro-change. At least it felt that way in the February and the November 2015 editorials.

    Paul, in his Letter to the Corinthians, includes adultery and homosexual relations among the practices that prevent the practitioner from inheriting the Kingdom of God. What does this mean, “to inherit the Kingdom of God”?

    The state already provides for secular marriage. Maybe all a homosexual union would require in order to be consistent with Scripture would be a ceremony that includes a vow of lifelong celibacy. We could get over this confusion between love as agape and love as eros.

    I’d like to see some outreach (especially in this newspaper) to regain the trust of those Christians who left the Anglican Church of Canada over this issue.

    Ian Poole
    Nanaimo, B.C.

     

    Life and Jesus

    I was pleased to see the article: New words for the old service (Nov. 2015, p. 13). It represents the reason why we have waited for 30 years before bringing out a new book since the Book of Alternative Services. It seems to say that the church’s worship and life should be about linking all life with Jesus—not pushing the outdated theology of the early church that is not faithful to what Jesus was about and taught.

    When I retired as an Anglican priest,I soon wrote my own service, which is about the former. My wife and I use it every Sunday at home, but we miss the church community.

    Jim Riesberry
    Brockville, Ont. 


  • September 2015 Letters to the Editor



    One rule for readers and another for contributors?

    I refer to your editorial and the statement re: letters (Dear editor…, June 2015, p. 4): “A surefire formula for not getting published? Resort to name-calling…”

    I was very surprised to read, in the same issue [page 14], the article (Christian Zionism a ‘heresy,’ says Anglican priest) by Neale Adams concerning Canon Naim Ateek, and wondered why you do not apply the same principle to people you quote in articles.

    I am a life-long Anglican of some 74 years (in both U.K. and Canada). I do know there is “Jews for Jesus” (which meets on Mount Pleasant Rd., Toronto), but I have never heard of “Christian Zionism.”

    Ateek’s references to Christian heresy, tribalism and racial exclusivity all seem to me to be name-calling at the very least.

    Is this one law for readers and another for contributors?

    John Dalton
    Toronto 

    One-sided

    I’ve read many letters and articles calling for sanctions against Israel. What struck me about the letter by Cheryl-Ann Archibald [Anti-Zionism doesn’t mean anti-Semitism, Jan. 2015, p. 5] was her continued emphasis that her views were not anti-Semitic and that anti-Zionism does not necessarily equate with anti-Semitism.

    I accept Ms. Archibald’s statement that she is not anti-Semitic, but that doesn’t justify what is a one-sided and biased view of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

    It is a complex situation, a tragic one for both Israelis and Palestinians, with faults on both sides. However, any discussion needs to reflect all of the issues.

    Despite the Jewish people’s having been inhabitants of Palestine since biblical times, and the State of Israel’s having been legally established after the Second World War, many of the Arab nations and Palestinian leaders have refused to accept the right of the Jewish people and the State of Israel to exist. After the establishment of Israel, the Arab nations attacked Israel on all sides. They were defeated and that is why the boundaries of Israel now extend beyond the initially agreed-upon lines.  Many of the Arabs and Palestinians are still calling for the destruction of Israel.

    Similarly, referring to the destruction that took place in Gaza and the crackdown on Palestinian protestors, Ms. Archibald neglects to mention the continual firing of rockets, the building of tunnels over several years by Hamas and the recent murder of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinians.

    Ms. Archibald’s call for action against businesses participating in “illegal” settlements is similarly one-sided. Why no action against Arab states and Hamas, who are calling for the destruction of Israel?

    The only way to resolve this situation for both Israelis and the Palestinians is a two-state solution. Unfortunately, until the Palestinians and their Arab supporters are prepared to drop their calls for the elimination of the Israeli state, it’s hard to see how progress can be made.

    M.C. Barnard
    Toronto

    Armenian-Canadian finds sanctuary (and then some) at Anglican church 

    Re: What brought you here today? (Voices, Andrew Stephens-Rennie, June 2015, p. 18). I came to the Anglican church from the Armenian Apostolic Church. I wanted to learn more about God. I went for the sermons, then the guest speakers, Christian education courses and women’s retreats. In the 15 years since, I have learned a lot about God and am still an eager student and believer.

    For a long time, I double-churched, going to the Anglican church at 9:15 a.m., then the twice-monthly Armenian church services at 1 p.m. I also started a Bible study group and a newsletter (written for each service) in order to share what I’d learned with my fellow Armenians. The parish priest insisted Bible study could not take place without him. After a few meetings, he cancelled it because he had a friend coming to visit. The Bible study never happened again.

    After six years, when I stopped doing the newsletter, all the parish council cared about was the lost advertising money. It made me sad.  

    I am grateful for the quiet sanctuary and warm welcome I receive at the Anglican church. I believe it doesn’t matter to God where you seek him, as long as you seek him.

    Annie Shalvardjian
    Mississauga, Ont.

    Where is compassion?

    Thirty years ago, I stood by my mother’s bedside as she endured the pain of terminal cancer and was denied all but minimal morphine, given only at specified times.

    Last year, after my husband of 58 years received the devastating diagnosis of advanced ALS, he signed a release asking that he not be kept alive by artificial means; he was kept pain-free and chose to refuse all food, hastening his demise.

    Surely, saying you are a Christian does not rule out compassion and give one the right to decide the fate of others, even if they may differ from one’s rigid beliefs. Threatening to “not set [one’s] foot in a church again” (Life everlasting, Letters, June 2015, p. 4) speaks for itself.

    Bernice Hathaway
    Parksville, B.C.

    Do what Jesus did

    I am not a Christian, but as a reader of the Anglican Journal, I feel compelled to reply to Leave Canon 21 Alone (Letters, June 2015, p. 4).  

    This letter seems to epitomize the bigotry and intransigence of some members of the Anglican church.

    Surely the followers of Jesus should be showing the same acceptance and love of all members of society as demonstrated by his example and teachings.

    John Lucas
    West Kelowna, B.C.


  • Two St. Luke’s

    In regard to the article, Knitting nonagenarian, April 2015 [p. 7], please be advised that there are two St. Luke’s Anglican churches in London, Ont. 

    Mary McDonald is a member of St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Crumlin, and we are proud to have her as one of our members. 

    Barbara Dow
    London, Ont. 


  • ‘Do we respect the dignity of every human being or just some of them?’

    In the Feb. 2015 Anglican Journal, prominence is given to an article regarding the urging of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) that the Anglican Church of Canada not amend the marriage canon regarding the marriage of same-sex couples (Don’t change canon, says commission, p.1.) 

    The article points out that for some in the commission, “the question of same-sex marriage is almost incomprehensible, let alone welcome.” It also says that “according to a principle in the proposed Anglican Covenant, churches consult with each other before taking any step which might be considered controversial.” A reference to the proposed Anglican Covenant fails to mention that it has been rejected in many parts of the Anglican Communion.

    Where does this leave the gay people who form part of our Canadian church? It is amazing that any remain, considering how they have been treated, and seemingly continue to be, as second-class Christians. 

    If the same criteria had been applied 35 years ago, women would not have been ordained in the Canadian church and possibly still would not be. 

    The emphasis on this article as front-page news and in the editorial would lead one to think that gay people in loving relationships are yet again to be treated as unworthy and unwanted, by some at least. Why does the church always seem to lag so far behind? If it is for the sake of the Communion, we should first consider that putting this issue on the back burner will not make any real difference to those for whom the subject is anathema, and that, in the end, the church—the body of Christ—is people, and [the church] is called to care for people. Some of those people are our gay brothers and sisters in the pews and in the pulpit. Do we respect the dignity of every human being, or just some of them?

    The Rev. Canon Roger Young
    Kanata, Ont.

     


  • Life everlasting

    Re: Dying well (Letters, Feb. 2015, p. 4). Could somebody, a fellow Christian, explain to me what “dying well” is? 

    Is it possible that a Christian could even be thinking of assisted suicide, or euthanasia, or whatever the euphemism is, when we, Sunday after Sunday, offer the Apostles’ Creed to God, saying, “…I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” 

    Nowhere does anyone seem to wonder what will happen to him, or the doctor who stabs the needle, after the deed. No one ever thinks of the massive guilt that would follow such a breach of a commandment by God, for the doctor, the patient and the family. 

    It seems to me that real faith is not so shallow, so self-centred, and the race for the infamy of such a death is being rushed ahead without any spiritual thought of consequence at all. 

    There is a time to live and a time to die, timed by the Almighty, and if the church wraps [its] consent in a silken veil of words, I shall leave and never set foot in a church again. 

    Jean Parkin
    Nanaimo, B.C. 


  • Low wages, ‘unrealistic’ wants at the heart of poverty

    I liked the article on the need to press the government to develop better plans for dealing with poverty here in Canada (Faith groups back anti-poverty campaign, April 2015, p. 1).  So often we focus on those far away, forgetting the suffering near us.

    However, I would like to see proposals to include providing realistic jobs with realistic wages. A large part of the problem is the unrealistically low minimum wage, which is not a real living wage.

    People also have unrealistic expectations: two cars, more than one TV, phone, etc. People should also have decent, modest housing closer to work and with better transportation. All of us need to pull in our expectations and ask ourselves, “What do we actually need?”—not, “I want, I want.”

    The dominance of large multinational corporations, such as McDonald’s and Walmart, is also a factor. Our local people are being pushed out of work.  To correct this, we will likely have to pay more for what we get, but if we can get quality items instead of cheap ones that are soon obsolete or broken, that should even out. If the money stayed in the country, we could afford to address our own issues. 

    Margaret Sugawara
    Nipigon, Ont.


  • May 2015 Letters to the Editor


    (These letters were first published in the May 2015 issue of the Anglican Journal.) 

    Hospice volunteer gives new meaning to dying well

    Colin Proudman (Dying Well, Letters, Feb. 2015, p. 4) correctly points out that the root meaning of the word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek, meaning “dying well” (sometimes translated “good death”). And “who would not wish” that?

    He also correctly points out that euthanasia has commonly come to mean terminating life or assisted suicide. Here are some other definitions:

    Hospice: a guesthouse for travellers, from French and Latin roots hospitium, hospes (a stranger treated as a guest).

    Palliative: to alleviate symptoms of a disease without curing.

    I volunteer on a hospice unit alongside nursing staff and other specially trained volunteers. A highlight of the week is the weekly tea party. Tablecloths and bone china cups are brought out, cookies are donated, and tea and coffee made ready for our guests: family, friends and patients well enough to participate.

    Strangers who have become friends and “family” return to remember a loved one who died several years ago, sharing tears and laughter, hugs and a deep joy that a loved one “died well.”

    Maureen Bedford
    Edmonton

     

    Beautiful hymn

    Thanks to the primate for telling us about the inspiration he has received from the beautiful hymn by Henry Ernest Hardy—not Handy, as in the typo in the article itself (‘O Dearest Lord,’ March 2015, p. 5). The hymn is notable for having integrated into modern Anglicanism a modest level of devotion to the Sacred Heart (verse 4).

    Hardy is better known as Father Andrew, SDC (Society of the Divine Compassion)—the first Franciscan community to be founded (in 1894) among Anglicans since the Reformation. He wrote many popular books of spirituality, and was respected as an outstanding spiritual director.

    I heard about the SDC from my dear colleague, Mark Kemp, at different times a parish priest in Ontario, Michigan and British Columbia, where we worked together in Trail, in the diocese of Kootenay. Mark (his Franciscan name—his birth name was Eric Nelson Kemp) was the last novice in the SDC.

    The spiritual energy of the SDC, which closed mid-20th century, has been taken up into the Society of St. Francis, now a vigorous Franciscan presence in the Anglican Communion, with many members of its Third Order living in Canada.

    Donald Grayston
    Vancouver

    Indigenous people appreciated God ‘from their interaction with the world’

    I appreciated the views on freedom of expression between the various religious leaders of different faiths (Freedom of expression versus religious sensibilities: What’s the balance? March 2015, p. 3).

    Bishop Michael Ingham put all in perspective when he said, “There is no unlimited right to freedom of speech and no absolute right to freedom...democracy requires a consensus...” This was one basic belief of many of our tribes on Turtle Island before contact.

    Many hurtful things have been said, written and glorified regarding the traditional beliefs and way of life of my Aboriginal ancestors. Obviously, much damage has been done and there needs to be a lot of work and understanding to bring change to these views and those things that demonized my people. Dialogue as such brings understanding to this issue, and the fact that many peoples share the hurt on the issue of racism.

    Bishop Mark MacDonald’s column (An Indigenous teaching that may surprise, March 2015, p. 5) gives light to the much-needed harmony in the understanding of Indigenous conceptions of God and who He is. As we can see, there are many such different conceptions on how we interpret the Creator of the universe. My own “search” for the true God has been long and full of setbacks, including racism. [The scripture] I read in my search, that brings some...peace of mind and takes away 500 years of propaganda, is Romans 1:18–19, which states that we are shown the face of the Creator with the creation of the world around us. My people based their life on this concept and knew the Creator of the universe since time [immemorial]. It was something they knew and appreciated from their interaction with the world around them.

    Carl McCorrister
    Peguis First Nation        

    In praise of restraint

    I would like to praise most English Canadian media for their restraint in [not]creating a potential backlash against people of Muslim faith. It is vitally important that we strengthen our interfaith relations at this trying time, when we could easily be tempted to abandon mutual respect and peaceful dialogue. I am a member of one of our Christian denominations, and the onus is on all of us to maintain our traditions of peaceful dialogue. 

    The Rev. Fletcher Stewart
    Winnipeg

     

    Journeys of life 

    I am not surprised that someone can belong to the church and go off the rails, blow their top, have a nervous breakdown, even commit suicide, because of intolerable inner pain. The church, for the most part, appears to be a group, a society for religious and social extrovert activists.

    In practice, so often, the shoulds, musts, oughts, law and judgmentalism come before grace. The inner life, the dark night of the senses, is not acknowledged, just projected.

    We need to make the journey inwards, as well as the journey outwards.

    John Serjeantson
    Cowansville, Que.

     

     

     


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