Letters to the editor

Published September 1, 2001

Craig Travel repliesDear editor,

I read with interest the letter by Jan Devries (May 2001 Journal) concerning the tours and cruises that Craig Travel offers readers of the Anglican Journal. While I appreciate her point of view, I feel very strongly that we provide a valuable service for thousands of passengers who choose to travel to many exotic destinations around the world. Our primary goal in operating our world-wide program of tours and cruises is to provide people from all walks of life the opportunity to experience new and different cultures and to broaden their understanding of the world, while providing an environment that also ensures creature comforts. Generally, we do not operate “deluxe” tours, unless a specific destination requires such luxury. Rather we choose hotels that guarantee to be clean and comfortable and that will allow our guests to experience the differences that the world has to offer without having to worry about their personal health. Most Canadians do not have the time or the desire to immerse themselves in a foreign culture for extended periods of time. If, as Jan Devries suggests, these people were to immerse themselves in their chosen destination, living with the local population, in most cases they would suffer from both physical and culture shock. They would almost certainly become ill from the food and water or sanitation conditions and the whole purpose of their journey would become survival rather than spiritual growth or the development of a better understanding of the world. While I agree that cruises are a pampering experience, they also provide travelers with wonderful opportunities to experience new and different cultures. Most cruises are designed to provide passengers with day visits to exotic ports, accompanied by local guides and supported by onboard lectures that provide insights into the history and culture of those areas. For most Canadians, time for travel is limited, often to a period of two or three weeks. For these people, travel is a luxury that they want to enjoy and this involves avoiding sickness and the stress of culture shock. David Craig President, Craig Travel Toronto

Cruise was not sinister

Dear editor,

I am a Canadian Anglican priest serving in the parish of Tuen Mun, diocese of West Kowloon, Hong Kong. My wife Beverley and I have been in Hong Kong for six months now, and it has been a most rewarding time in our ministry. While the work is very rewarding, it is also rather taxing, especially when one is also adjusting to a new and exciting culture. Therefore, I am writing to take serious issue with the writer of the letter in your May issue which was quite critical of the Journal for running advertisement for cruises. “Reader objects to luxury tours.” Recently, Beverley and I returned home after a four-day cruise, which was wonderful and just what we needed. I know that people working and living in Canada are under stress, and that work in general is tiring, and that people deserve a break. How sad it is that someone can try to make others feel guilty about taking time out for rest and refreshment. I must also say very clearly that we saw nothing “sinister” about the ship, or about its crew, nor were we aware of any of the crew being treated unjustly. Rev. Duncan McLean Hong Kong

Human rites

Dear editor,

Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster apparently told General Synod that the blessing of same-sex unions is a pastoral issue. If so, and I think it is, then it is time we stopped treating it as a political fight. In fact this issue simply highlights a great pastoral deficiency in our church. When it comes to blessing and supporting healthy relationships of any kind we have scant resources. A liturgy for the blessing of a home is hardly sufficient for the pastoral needs of people living in Canada in the twenty-first century. It is time we developed and sanctioned liturgies that blessed and supported a variety of human relationships be they at our places of work, in our personal lives, or in society at large. Some might be sexual but most would not be. Our culture’s obsession with sex ought not to set the church’s agenda. Such liturgies would affirm the theological and spiritual values of our faith, call us to live them out more fully, and support us in our efforts to be faithful in all that we do. Granted, all of this is embodied in the baptismal liturgy but it would be pastorally helpful to many to expand and develop it in a flexible manner for use in particular relationships. General Synod adopted a policy of dignity, inclusion, and fair treatment. We need to embody this now in our governing structures and in our liturgies. Human rights need human rites, all of which are grounded in God’s love for us revealed in Jesus Christ. David Griffin Kelowna, B.C.

Just ‘Anglican’

Dear editor,

An article in May on the Essentials conference describes the Prayer Book Society of Canada as “Anglo-Catholic.” This is not accurate. The Prayer Book Society upholds the classic doctrine, teaching and liturgical tradition of Anglicanism. Our members come from across the entire spectrum of Anglicanism and include evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics, charismatics, and that large body of churchgoers who would not use any qualifying description for their church membership, being content to call themselves simply “Anglican.” Thank you for the opportunity to correct this misconception. Michael Edward Belfast, P.E.I.

Window to variety

Dear editor,

I have enjoyed the series of diocesan profiles published in the Journal over the last three years. I am sure that, for many people, these articles have been a window to a broader understanding of the wonderful variety within the Anglican Church of Canada. Jane Davidson made a sincere effort to capture the complexity and diversity of the Diocese of Toronto in the April issue, but, given the limitations of time and space, it is difficult to present a full and accurate picture. There is one point I would like to clarify. The article says of me, “although he admits that church attendance is down?” This is not what I said. I tried to be clear that, although the numbers on membership lists are down, the average Sunday attendance across the diocese is increasing. You may think this a minor point, but, given the secular media’s attempts to portray our church as a dying institution, I think it is an important and encouraging sign to your readers. Archbishop T. E. Finlay Toronto

Editor ignorant

Dear editor,

With regard to the article in your June issue “First-hand look at Israeli conflict” in which you come down on the Israelis for indiscriminate killing of Palestinians, it was distressing to read that not once did your writer, the editor, who should be better informed, mention the violent acts of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas, non-aligned fundamentalist Palestinians and young Palestinians who are counselled by their own parents to blow themselves and Israeli civilians up in order to become martyrs. Your editor is obviously ignorant of the complicated history of that entire region, not to even mention present day politics. Perhaps it’s time that the church steered clear of secular issues and devoted its considerable wealth, time and energy to matters concerning the hereafter. Bessie Luteyn Vancouver B.C.

Biased sampling

Dear editor,

I scanned your article, “First-hand look at Israeli conflict” soon after reading about the 20 Israeli youths, bent on an evening of dancing, who were slaughtered in a Palestinian suicide-bombing. I then reread the article, noting that the Canadian church leaders, initially in disagreement about the conflict in Israel, went on a five-day (!) visit, “experiencing that hopelessness first hand in meeting after meeting with Palestinian groups.” Only with Palestinians? Well, no, they did meet with an Israeli Jew who works for the rights of Palestinians. If this “biased sampling” is what it takes to achieve unanimity, I submit that their initial mutual disagreement was the healthier and more realistic state of their collective mind. Lloyd H. Strickland Ottawa

Uneven coverage

Dear editor,

I found your coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the June edition of the Anglican Journal to be extremely uneven. The headline of this piece – “First-hand look at Israeli conflict: Church leaders visit Middle East” – was misleading, in that it suggests church leaders made an effort to acquaint themselves with the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Such an endeavour presupposes investigating both sides of the current dispute. The content of the article makes clear, however, that the delegation expended little or no energy pursuing the Israeli side of the story. Not a single Israeli government official was quoted, whereas several Palestinian officials were quoted liberally. Additional examples of biases? The story’s author writes that under the leadership of current Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, “the Middle East situation is at its lowest ebb in memory.” The author fails to acknowledge that the breakdown in the peace process has occurred under Yasser Arafat’s leadership also. Indeed, the Mitchell committee report concluded that responsibility for the present cycle of violence lies with both sides. Similarly, the author also reports that the current uprising was triggered by Mr. Sharon’s September visit to Temple Mount, a contention rejected by the Mitchell Report. Another example? The author mentions attacks by the Israeli military on Palestinians, but fails to make any reference to the suicide bomb attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilian targets and the role this plays in perpetuating the violence. Please strive to achieve more balanced reporting. The misunderstanding and mistrust that characterizes this conflict are only worsened by such biased coverage. Marc Sheckter Winnipeg

Israel is the oppressor

Dear editor,

The report “First-hand look at Israeli conflict” (June 2001) confirmed for me what many other very objective reports and analyses have already made very clear, namely, that in this continuing conflict, Israel is the oppressor and the Palestinians are the oppressed. This is so despite the consistent efforts of powerful western media to characterize both the peaceful and the violent protests of Palestinians as only the work of madmen and terrorists. When I retired from work in December 1999, my wife and I were very keen to visit the Holy Land as soon as feasible. We have come to the sad conclusion that as long as the current conflict continues, we will not go. Only a small part of our decision is driven by concern for personal safety. We simply do not want, even indirectly, to support Israel until it makes some fundamental changes in the way it treats the Palestinian people. Now may I challenge the Anglican Journal not to run any more advertisements for tours or “pilgrimages” to the Holy Land until the horrific situation there gets better? Mathew Zachariah Calgary, Alta

A friend is lost

Dear editor,

In many ways, the vote in favour of same sex union in the diocese of New Westminster – my diocese – feels much like the loss of a friend. The Anglican Church, which once affirmed both people like myself and those who are trying to change their homosexual orientation, is now “kicking us in the face,” for I have been told, over and over, that a homosexual is mistaken in even wanting to change. As an ex-gay (i.e., a restored heterosexual who is happily married), I present this question: “Am I now mistakenly going against God’s Will and His creation if – as the Anglican church now seem to affirm – I was born homosexual?” In order to negate the existence of such a phenomenon as an “ex-gay,” many have told me that either (a) I was never really homosexual or (b) I am still a homosexual and am suppressing my true identity. Thus, such reasoning says that I have never really been “restored.” Neither is true. I know where I have been and I know where I am. Nothing that others say could ever change the truth. I was homosexual, and I am no longer homosexual. Have we as a church stopped believing that God can restore lives? Contrary to popular belief, there are thousands of ex-gays who can attest to what I say. Perhaps it is time for us to listen to the ex-gay voices for, truly, these are the people who are now being marginalized. Dawn McDonald Vancouver, B.C.

Nervous about culture

Dear editor,

At the recent General Synod we passed a resolution to commend the working document (Plan of Anglican work in support of a new partnership between indigenous and non-indigenous Anglicans – A New Agape) to dioceses for their study, reflection and action. The working document explores the possibility of the establishment of the office of a national indigenous bishop who will work in partnership with the national church and dioceses. If this happens, can we also expect the establishment of the office of a Chinese missionary bishop for the growing Chinese population of Canada? If we are going to develop indigenous forms of church government and decision making, is it better for indigenous Anglicans to form a new province, the fifth one in Canada? Personally I am nervous about issues regarding cultures and races. We should not let our cultural differences master us. Michael Li Grand Bank, Nfld.


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