Her own personal JesusDear editor,
After four months of not attending church I was surprised and pleased when the priest of my former church phoned to ask about me. I said I would return to the church. No less than two weeks later, I received a letter from the church office, asking why I hadn?t been giving money to the church for the year of 2003. So here I go again. I left the church originally because: (a) I didn?t get anything out of the services, especially the Communion, (particularly now, because of SARS there is no way I am going to share a cup with others); (b) I have more in common with the actors on Coronation Street than with the man who puts his hat and coat on at church and leaves and doesn?t say hello to me. We just apparently worshipped together and he can?t give me the time of day. Finally, (c) I am on a pension and I just plain old can?t afford to go to church. So I return to the church that I have created, the Common Sense Church. In this church, no money is raised, given or discussed. We don?t even have any priests. We just worship God, within reason of course. So far this is just a parish of my cats and me and the virtual parish of Coronation Street. Mary Cassells Toronto
Now time to move forward on same-sex marriage
Unlike the writers in the last Journal (June 2003), I was deeply moved by Bishop Terry Brown’s reflection on same-sex relationships, by his courage, and by his theological comments.
Matters are moving fast in civil society with acknowledging the rights of gays and lesbians to marry.
I hope that the Anglican church will move forward on this issue. I acknowledge that instead of being painful and hidden, the disunity on this issue will be painful and more open if the church recognizes gay and lesbian marriage with its blessing. Why are those opposed so adamant? There is no suggestion that those who do not accept that gays and lesbians have the right to seek marriage will be forced to perform such weddings.
Caricatures not helpful
It is an old strategy to demonize one?s opponents. After all, if they can be shown to be evil, mindless, and otherwise less than human, then we do not have to take their views seriously. Bishop Terry Brown (?Something is very wrong here,? May 2003) comes very closer to demonizing those who disagree with him. He says that such people: (a) do not know grace; (b) ?totally condemn? all homosexuals; (c) universalize their own personal experience; (d) oppose all forms of physical pleasure; (e) have an unsophisticated view of Paul; (f) believe Christianity is about law rather than freedom, and (g) do not understand that love is the only rule in the Christian life.
Among opponents of same-sex blessings, there may be some who fit his parody. (I suppose there may be some on the other side who fit the opposite caricature.) But many conservatives are thoughtful and gracious people, simply trying to do what is loving and right and faithful to our story, as I presume Bishop Brown is.
The conversation on homosexuality and the blessing of same-sex unions has already generated far more heat than light. If progress is to be made, each side needs to demonstrate that it sympathetically understands the other. Bishop Brown?s caricatures only serve to make things worse.
I question the rationality of your headline: ?Saint Paul makes it clear: homosexuality is not acceptable? (June 2003). In St. Paul?s time the church?s position on sexual relations was that it was for the purpose of reproduction only.
In St. Paul?s day homosexuality was a sin; today it is merely another aspect of our much more liberal views on all aspects of sexuality. If sexual activity is mainly for pleasure, then why is homosexual behaviour any different or any more reprehensible than recreational heterosexual activity?
Where?s the problem?
I read the letters section ?Saint Paul makes it clear?? with interest, and can say, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, that I will embrace Essentials teaching on human sexuality willingly when the Anglican Church of Canada: 1. stops ordaining women (1 Timothy 2: 8-15); 2. abolishes diocesan marriage commissions and reinstitutes the prohibition of remarriage of divorced persons (Mark 10: 10-12); and 3. reintroduces the word ?obey? in a woman?s marriage vow (Ephesians 5: 22-24).
Paul spilled a whole lot more ink over the role of women in marriage and in the church than he did over homosexuals. If we got over one hurdle, that of women not being men but persons fully integrated into ministry and society despite Scripture, then where?s the problem with gay men and lesbians?
William T. Blizzard
In your May edition we hear the narrative of Bishop Michael Ingham, who strongly asserts episcopal authority and canon law in order to crack down on dissent within his diocese over his intention to make New Westminster the first Anglican diocese in the world formally to recognize same-sex blessings. In the opinion piece by Bishop Terry Brown, we hear an argument that dispenses with the authority of the Christian tradition in ethics, the Lambeth Conference, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Canadian house of bishops and, for good measure, the Roman Catholic catechism, the early St. Paul and the Old Testament, in order to defend the position held by Bishop Ingham.
The formidable authority being wielded by Bishop Ingham may only be supported in this case by dispensing with the authority of the Christian and the Anglican tradition, as in the argument of Bishop Brown. Bishops Ingham and Brown assert a newly minted interpretation of the Gospel virtues under the ancient mantle of their office. But if the one kind of authority is passé, then so is the other. Then on what basis is the authority of Bishop Ingham, or of any other bishop, founded?
I hope that it derives from the authority of the Gospel itself. I fear, however, that this authority that dispenses with authority actually has no deeper basis than the one to which Bishop Brown himself appeals: ?my experience of death and resurrection, my experience of Christian friendship, my experience of growth, my experience of prayer;? or ?a relationship, a touching, an intimacy ? which is experienced by me (or you) as grace-giving and filled with love.? Although this sounds warm and cozy, I can think of no foundation for authority that is more chilling.
Mark T. Mealey
More on authority
As well as debating same-sex blessings, next year?s General Synod should also have a fresh look at authority in our church. It is astonishing that a bishop can with impunity authorize same-sex blessings, thereby thumbing his episcopal nose at the guidance of his national church, the House of Bishops of which he is a member, the pronouncement of the decennial Lambeth meeting of our communion?s bishops, the sensitive counsel of two Archbishops of Canterbury and, indeed, at our entire communion. Why should lay persons or clergy, especially the breakaways in his diocese, pay any attention to such a bishop?
Not half-way faithful
I admire Gerald Hipperson?s courage and openness in writing to the Journal (June 2003). I do not feel that I have the freedom to be that open, as I fear the loss of my lay ministry work and my ability to pursue my studies if I were to be openly lesbian.
Like Gerald, I was raised and confirmed in the Anglican Church. I was a faithful but lonely youth in the church. I struggled with the question of my damnation, always aware of my lesbian orientation. I married wrongfully. I lived a celibate and lonely decade. I struggle with ?coming out? as a Christian in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. I?m tired of the attitude that homosexuals are only half-way faithful.
Can it be so wrong to bless our marriages, and leave it to God as to whether we are to be damned with every other Christian who does not marry a member of the opposite sex as a virgin and remain faithful to their partner until death?
Name withheld by request
There is a major crisis on the doorstep of our Anglican Communion.
The blessing of same-sex persons is not the issue but a mere manifestation or a symptom of the deeper problem. Our denomination unless drawn together will in the not too distant future consist of two streams.
There are those who believe Jesus when he said, ?I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to my father but through me.?
Then there are those of the interfaith movement who believe God lives on a mountain and that there are many ways to get to him besides through Christ.
If only there was unity on this point all other issues would rapidly disappear.
Now that the Anglican church has to pay $25 million and the Presbyterian church has to pay $2 million in the residential schools settlement, when will the government make a settlement with the United and Roman Catholic churches? They also ran schools, and we cannot believe that only the Anglican and Presbyterian missionaries were ?cruel and abusive.?
on behalf of the Association of Former Indian Residential Schools Staff
A few questions
To date, I along with many others in the church, have been given only two items of information pertaining to the residential schools settlement.
Has the government prepared definitions for sexual and physical abuse? Are there degrees of abuse within these two categories? Have financial amounts been assigned to the various degrees of abuse?
Who is the final arbitrator concerning the claim of the plaintiff? What constitutes proof? Assuming the plaintiff is successful, does he receive two cheques ? one from the government and one from the church? What is the minimum and maximum amount a plaintiff may receive?
Finally, who pays the legal fees of the plaintiff?
Port Lambton, Ont.
Board of inquiry
How gratifying to see a letter regarding native residential schools (June 2003) that defends the many caring employees who worked tirelessly and courageously. The vast majority of these employees gave nothing but love and care to the children. The Anglican church has failed its finest servants and has acted in a cowardly manner. A board of inquiry made up of laypersons should sort out the misadministration by lawyers, the churches and the federal government so that a cloud of false accusations may be lifted from those Christian persons who worked in the residential school system.
R. H. Eldredge
Close Church House
At a time when big corporations are trimming costs, I wonder why we are dumping so much money into Church House and supporting a primate who seems to have no real authority or useful function to the church. Archbishop Michael Peers seems to spend a lot of time and ink telling us what he?s not responsible for and what he has no authority to do (the same-sex debacle in New Westminster is but one example). Now the primate is retiring. Let?s not appoint a new one. Let?s shut down an expensive Anglican church headquarters and spend that money on something useful and truly accountable.
Men in dresses
The article on vestments (?What the church is wearing,? May 2003) has put me in mind of an incident during the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the local Roman Catholic bishop?s elevation to that dignity. As several bishops and other dignitaries, complete with mitres, copes and crosiers, walked the mid-October festival from the palace to the cathedral, a crowd assembled reverently. One onlooker yelled out ?Hey fellas, Halloween is next week!? To their credit, several of the prelates joined in the resulting laughter.
I write to a number of men and women in prison around the world. Many are Anglican. I would like to send them a copy of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). If any churches have copies of the BCP they may be mailed to me at: