Letters to the Editor

Published March 1, 2001

The abominable oyster

Dear editor,

P. Broadbent reminds us that “homosexuality is an abomination.” (No gay disciple, Jan., 2001.)

According to my King James Version of the Bible, Leviticus 11:10-12, so are shrimp and oysters.

Henry Troup
Munster, Ont.

Charitable givings secure

Dear editor,

I was saddened to hear that many donors to the Anglican Appeal are saying “I’m sorry, we will be giving our money elsewhere this year.” We must get the message out loud and clear: designated charitable givings are secure. And the ministries they support will still be going on and still need support.

The costs of litigation are a threat to our work in the future, but our own lack of confidence is already undermining our work in the present. We can renew and reinvigorate our church by rising to the challenge, or we can let our church wither away because of a failure of nerve.

Fletcher Stewart
The Pas, Man.

Closed meeting defended

Dear editor,

I write first, as one who shares your convictions on the importance of protecting the democratic nature of our institution and the maintenance of transparency, and second, as the individual who proposed the resolution to Council of General Synod (CoGS) to meet “”in camera”” for a portion of its November meeting.

The first should need no further explanation. There may be some, in addition to you, who fail to see how that could lead to the second. Allow me to share some reasons.

I proposed that resolution as a member of the planning and agenda team after a lengthy and heated debate within the team on the subject. Such a decision is profoundly difficult to make. Never is it chosen as a first course. In this case, the proposal was made because of the sensitive nature of ongoing negotiations with the Government of Canada.

Michael Butler, our consultant in these negotiations, was present. The proposal was made to give him the widest freedom possible in sharing information about the present status of those negotiations. In addition, we felt the proposal could allow council members freedom to ask full and complete questions and to raise sensitive issues arising from their home diocese.

You say in the editorial, “”What CoGS did was to exclude you. ?”” In fact, the very opposite was intended. The decision was made to open to the gathering of elected representatives from each diocese the fullest possible disclosure of our present situation in a manner that would not jeopardize our ongoing negotiations.

Those elected to “”…develop policy and direction, to give guidance to staff, to approve budgets, to vision about the future…”” need the very best information about the issues to help them do that.

As you mentioned, the decisions from the “”in camera”” session were made a matter of public record. In addition a press conference was held to respond to any questions journalists had.

I hope this explanation helps in understanding the issue.

Canon T. Allen Box


Program a service

Dear editor,

It was good to read of the involvement of the Stevensons in Labrador. News reports made it clear that the publicity was at the request of the chief but apparently the actions of Rev. Stevenson sparked the fire! I hope we will hear more of what changes have taken place as a result of this publicity. It is the personal involvement of people such as the Stevensons that make the long-term difference.

But publicity is a two-edged sword. It is sickening to hear of those who see this as an opportunity to make money.

However, I am concerned about the implication that the involvement of 100 Huntley St. was motivated by the desire to “”do a show.”” The reporter made it clear that her intent was to support the desire of the chief to bring this to public attention – no plea for money and no exaltation of the work of 100 Huntley St. Her report increased the exposure of this sorrowful scene to viewers all across Canada.

100 Huntley Street has done us a service in bringing this deeply respectful coverage to our attention.

Marian Barry

Oliver, B.C.

‘Peace’ is not pagan

Dear editor,

The opinion of your correspondent (Mark Levesley, February 2001) that the Peace is a pagan greeting imported into Christian worship cannot go unchallenged. What we call “”The Peace”” is the remnant of a more demonstrative greeting kiss that is commanded several times in the epistles of the New Testament (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14).

Since those letters were probably written, for the most part, to be read in the assembly of the church, we may assume that the greeting to which they refer also took place in the gathered community. Justin Martyr, writing about 150 c.e., says quite clearly that the greeting kiss comes between the prayers and the presentation of bread and wine.

In the course of time the greeting kiss was formalized in various ways. In some traditions it became a rather stiff embrace and was restricted to the clergy. In many places in medieval Europe the priest kissed a board, which was then passed around for everyone to kiss. Today we try to recover the personal exchange it reflects in ways that are appropriate to our own culture-in our case, a handshake.

The Peace, in whatever form it takes, is in fact an aspect of holy communion, reminding us that our participation in Christ is corporate and not merely individual and that our mutual acceptance is preparation and condition for receiving the bread and wine.

The Peace appears in the Book of Common Prayer (1962) on p. 83. Unfortunately, no reference is made to the gesture that traditionally accompanied it. Its position in the BCP, after the eucharistic prayer instead of before the preparation of the gifts, reflects a change made in Rome by the early 5th century. In the Book of Alternative Services it has been restored to its original location.

Paul Gibson

Ad ‘offensive’

Dear editor,

This letter is written to protest the offensive half-page ad by Greenpeace on page 3 of the January 2001 Anglican Journal, for two important reasons.

Firstly, the ad is emotional and intended to incite anger against clear-cut logging in British Columbia. The policy of Greenpeace is to establish ever more wilderness regardless of the social and financial cost to the families and communities who depend upon our natural resources for their livelihood. This purpose is in contradiction to Christian values.

Secondly, it is a deceiving ad because it implies that clear-cut logging is permanent destruction of the forest landscape and of wildlife habitat. It shows only pictures that exaggerate the most recent clear-cuts, but none of the vigorous new forests 10 to 20 years later. Prompt reforestation is the law in British Columbia. Patches of young forest dispersed through the old forest greatly enhance the bio-diversity of the larger ecosystem and provide improved habitat for nearly all forms of wildlife, especially bears that thrive on the lush new vegetation.

Greenpeace deserves neither the credibility nor the space to promote its unworthy cause in a Christian newspaper.

Hugh Goodman
Quesnel, B.C.

A generous act

Dear editor,

The late Bishop Kenneth Maguire’s legacy to the retired priests in the Montreal diocese was a remarkably generous act and the announcement of it has stirred my memory about his tenure in Montreal.

I was on the board of directors of the Julia Drummond Residence that contained a small chapel that served the spiritual needs of several generations of young working women who lived there. When it came time to close the residence, as it had outlived its purpose, the board asked Bishop Maguire to hold a “”de-consecration”” service to mark the end of its existence. Bishop Maguire readily agreed although he could find no procedure in the Book of Common Prayer that covered de-consecrations!

We duly gathered in the chapel after our final meeting and the bishop led us through some prayers and a brief homily lamenting the closing of the residence. The ecclesiastical fittings were removed in due course and distributed through the diocese where needed. The building was pulled down, replaced by the underpass that goes under René Lévesque Boulevard at St. Mark Street and the money from the sale of the property was transferred to the general funds of the diocese.

I thought your readers might be interested in this brief story of days long passed in Montreal.

Patrick McG. Stoker
Westmount, Que.

People not at fault

Dear editor,

I read with great interest the Anglican Journal and The Anglican.

It is reported that residential lawsuits by the Indians are cleaning out the coffers.

It is not the greed of the Indians that is so offensive, we are used to greed in all places, but what is offensive is the weak ineffectual stand of the Anglican church leaders.

They would pillage the assets and sell off trust funds to pay damages for which they are in no way responsible. Certainly their parishioners are not responsible.

As has been pointed out in a number of letters, the Canadian government would be the body that laid down the rules for the residential schools and oversaw their running.

Anglicans have no responsibility for these few bad apples. The government decidedly did have a responsibility.

Should my wife and I consider withholding our offerings at collection time? After all, we did not abuse any Indians, did we?

What the abusive worker did was wrong. What the Indians are doing is wrong. Taking innocent people’s donations is an abuse of their trust and is wrong.

Harold Rathlou
Mississauga, Ont.

To the primate

Dear editor,

An Open Letter to the Primate:

I have read with appreciation both your column in the January Journal and your message in MinistryMatters about General Synod 2001: “”What Must We Do?””

In your column, you conclude by mentioning “”our participation in the natural order.””

Yet in neither of these otherwise excellent statements is there any recognition of the destruction of the natural order which is now ongoing.

“”Unless humanity stabilizes the global atmosphere that we have been steadily altering for more than a century, virtually every ecosystem on earth will be at risk.”” That was the judgment of Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute.

While overpopulation and the growth economy eats away at the earth’s resources, a largely unregulated chemical pollution has already affected every human being and most other species. Our indigenous people are particularly vulnerable.

What must we do? Can our church wrench its gaze away from its own entrails long enough to acknowledge – and effectively resist – the grave harms now engulfing fellow humans and other species?

A.F. Thompson
Nobel, Ont.

Chilling effect

Dear editor,

The new hymnal is a blending of new and old hymns to be sure. However, the editing, and gender neutralizing has a very chilling effect.

In this past Christmas season I noted that many of the hymns and carols that used man/men had person inserted instead. That I would think is poor taste especially as the carols or hymns were written with the understanding that men referred to humankind. This makes many of the hymns and carols almost unsingable. The new additions are good, yes, but need to be introduced to congregations bit by bit.

In congregations like the one I am part of rapid change brings rapid reaction that being a drop in attendance. Also I have to wonder just how long this book will last.

Are we expending money to develop and print a book that will be dated in 25 years time, I wonder?

Paul Willson

God is blameless

Dear editor,

Rene Jamieson is suggesting that God is forcing the church to change, to die and be resurrected. (God forcing changes, January Letters.) I do not think we can lay the blame on God for our poor research of the past and for what happens now to the church.

My Anglican church should not be nonchalantly preparing for bankruptcy. Obviously there were some perverts in the Indian residential school system, but this does not mean that all staff were dysfunctional. My church should have found that out before apologizing so profusely about the past.

I would want to talk to Ms. Jamieson’s two friends who went to a residential school. I do not believe it is true that they were beaten for speaking Cree. I would want to know the name of the missionary who did that, and the name of the one who called their traditions “”satanic.”” Perhaps Satan is having a field day now, knowing that he has brought the church to its knees.

It was not the policy of the schools to punish children for speaking their native languages. Nor was it the policy of the schools to call native traditions satanic. Missionaries today would not do that, and neither did the missionaries of the past.

As long as falsehoods about the residential schools are being spread around the world, it will be very difficult to prevent these lawsuits from succeeding, and the church from going bankrupt.

Bernice Logan
Tangier, N.S.

Freedom’s results

Dear editor,

Although I do not hold Rev. Paul Gibson’s noteworthy credentials, I question how far he is willing to liberate, transform and change God’s word. (November, 2000.) Adam and Eve had first crack at exercising man’s freedom to question God’s intended (ergo literal) meaning and where did their trust in their own understanding get them? Us?

This editorial page could quickly be filled with the numerous references from the Bible, where God revealed his divine instruction regarding the various types of sexual immorality.

The article says Mr. Gibson noted that “”Jesus Christ, as far as we know, said nothing about homosexuality.”” I am not willing to “”liberate”” Jesus from the Trinity. Must Jesus be directly quoted for us to know He unquestioningly agreed with His Father’s repeated and specific instruction throughout scripture to abstain from sexually immoral acts and behavior? God’s instructions don’t require validation through direct quotes from His Son.

Jesus, as far as I know, also never specifically addressed incest. Thank God the courts still have a “”fixed and traditional”” point of view of incest.

I respectfully admit I would prefer to spend my future free time reading scripture and interpreting God literally so please cancel future issues of the Anglican Journal.

Wendy Mullin
Sarnia, Ont.


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