Letters to the Editor, May 2017

Image: Vladwell/Shutterstock
Published May 26, 2017

Why do apparently good people do bad things?

It is because we don’t take seriously the teachings of Jesus in his call to discipleship. One example of these is, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). As disciples of Jesus, we are called to travel two journeys: the journey inwards and the journey outwards. Apparently, good people can be so into their own goodness that they fail to be aware of the “log” part of themselves. When we don’t see the “log” in our own eye, we scapegoat onto others that which is really in us.

We, as Anglicans, are struggling with the effects of the horrors of what we did to Indigenous young people in residential schools. We are called to participate in truth and reconciliation. Part of the “truth” is to ask ourselves this question: why was this done by apparently well-meaning people? We are to become aware and acknowledge how we project the “log,” the shadow, within us onto other people. Being a Christian is not to limit ourselves to adhering to certain doctrinal statements. It also includes being aware and acknowledging the inner secrets of our hearts.

Why did we want to obliterate Indigenous culture? Arguably, it was because they were being true to themselves as human beings, and were living intimately in nature. Whereas we have, in our Western technological culture, lost our intimate relationship with nature through our abuse of it. This was felt to be intolerable to us, so we decided to kill their culture through their children. Our unconscious “log” was projected onto them. We need to be aware and acknowledge this. We need to decide what action we will take. Truth and reconciliation is a beginning. We need to learn from our Indigenous brothers and sisters how to be present in creation.

The journey inwards includes at least three dimensions. One is engagement with oneself. It is asking ourselves such questions as: why did I react as I did? Am I in touch with my real motives? Am I, are we, projecting my/our inner “log” onto someone, or a group of people? It is becoming aware of the self-knowledge that comes through dreams. Do I have a good sense of self-worth? Or, am I trying to get it from another person, or others? Or, do we strip them of their sense of self-worth by bringing them down to our level, by stripping them of their cultural identity?

Another part of the inner journey is engagement with God. We allow ourselves to become aware of the all-seeing light of God’s love and truth. What is hidden in the basement of our lives is illuminated. Our “log” is exposed. We address God as the one to whom “all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden” (Penitential Order, Book of Alternative Services, p. 216).

Another part of the inner journey is how we react to other people. We need to be especially vigilant when it is a negative reaction. It often tells us more about ourselves than the other person or group.

So the journey inwards enables us to respond in the actions of the journey outwards in more of a kingdom of God way. This is whether it is in response to a person, a group, another culture or the world. The following could be our slogan: Inwardly Aware And Outwardly Focused.

John Serjeantson
Cowansville, Que.


Who is my neighbour?

In wake of the U.S ban on Muslim im- migrants and the killings in a mosque in Canada, we are challenged by the age-old question: who is my neighbour?

St Martin-in-the-Fields is a well-known church next to Trafalgar Square in London. Last year, the parish organized a lecture series, Who is my neighbour? e rst lec- ture, on the ethics of global relationships, was given by Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Williams began with e Parable of the Good Samaritan. In responding to a ques- tion from a lawyer, Who is my neighbour?, Jesus did not give a direct answer. Instead, he told a story. He usually refused to “give answers.” Rather, he wanted people to dis- cover the “truth” themselves. In this case, an answer would probably not make any di erence: it was probably an academic or trap question. Jesus uses another approach. He turns the question around, by confront- ing his audience with the question: when are you a neighbour to the other?

Williams contends that Jesus invites us to be neighbours, and we do so by our involvement in the life of another. To be a neighbour is to give life to another. I am a neighbour any time I give life to another. I fail to be a neighbour when I withhold or withdraw life from another. My decision to ignore, neglect or harm another is based on suspicion, fear and prejudice: I see the other as a threat, a stranger, an enemy.

To be a neighbour is another narrative. It is about sharing, serving, welcoming and including the other in my life: it is an act of compassion.

You can hear these talks as podcasts on  the website of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Everett Hobbs
Conception Bay South, Nfld.

Don’t call him ‘Father’

Today, one of our wardens read a letter from our bishop. We have a new rector, a man. Perhaps it’s time to consider the issue of calling male clergy “Father.”

My dad was an Anglican priest. He never wanted to be called “Father.”

Calling a priest “Father” sets him apart from his congregation. I don’t accept the notion that my rector is my father. Also, it sets him apart from other clergy in the community; from the broader secular community; and from other Anglican clergy who don’t want to be called “Father”… or who may be women. Is it a patriarchal device intended to set women clergy apart from the men? Perhaps our women clergy should start saying, “I want you to call me Father.” (I doubt many want to be called “Father,” but it would highlight the issue!)

When [my mother] was in her 80s— before there was any sign of dementia—I asked her, “Mum, if you had a chance to live your life over, would you change anything?” Without hesitation, she answered, “I would like to have been ordained.” I’d never thought of that possibility! But, at that moment, I said to myself, “Of course!”

She had accepted her “supporting role” as the wife of a clergyman. But, any parish would’ve been lucky to have had her as their rector. She was very intelligent and very well-educated. She was, perhaps, the most balanced, Christ-like person I ever met. Were my parents alive, and in their youth today, I’m certain my mum would say to my dad, “I want to be ordained. It’s not negotiable!” And, ordained, she would’ve been any clergyman’s equal.

Calling our male clergy “Father” puts up walls. It creates unwelcome, anachronistic “us/them” dynamics. Regardless of the rationale, it’s time for a change.

David Puxley 
Mahone Bay, N.S.


Another book on the Camino

I read, with interest, the Camino de Santia- go article that Tali Folkins wrote (Pack light, and be open to the road, March 2017, p. 3).

I object to some of the comments that were written, however. Jane Christmas is not the only Canadian Anglican writer that has written a book on the Camino. I am an Anglican who has been a lay reader since the 1980s. I submitted my book, Hiking the Spanish, Portuguese and French Caminos: A Soulful Journey, to see if you would be interested in doing a review on it since I have received the Anglican Journal for many years. During my pilgrimages, I have led grace many times before a meal and have taken part in services, etc. in all three countries that I hiked.

Phil Riggs
Glovertown, Nfld.  


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