‘Open table’ needed
Dear editor, I was disappointed to read of the Toronto bishops’ decision described in the article Toronto Puts Controls on Eucharistic Hospitality (March Journal). Though I understand that our bishops have a responsibility to safeguard the sacramental integrity and eucharistic traditions of the Anglican Church, I nevertheless wonder whether either concern is applicable to the open table issue. Many young people and adults have been raised in post-’60s homes which spurned baptism and church attendance. As a result they drift into our buildings and participate in our liturgy while searching for an indefinable “something” that is missing from their lives. Enabling these persons to explore the eucharistic mystery on their own terms neither demeans nor dilutes the sacrament. On the contrary, it welcomes these newcomers as members of the body of Christ in a much more powerful way than handshakes, mugs of coffee, and information on the next baptismal preparation course. Many of us at some time have felt isolated and even resentful when denied the sacrament by our Roman Catholic brothers during an otherwise meaningful service. Let us not emulate that unwelcoming behaviour. Joan Bubbs Kelowna, B.C.
Dear editor, It would seem that the bishops of the Diocese of Toronto have given full support to the norm of baptism as a qualification for admission to communion (March Journal). The danger is that they are also opening the door to other possibilities. As concerned Anglicans are well aware, this same door has swung back on other occasions to permit changes such as the ordination of women and use of generic language, the Book of Alternative Services, and a new hymnal. As part of this growing “open table,” we now see clergy administering communion to unbaptized persons on a regular basis, and a whole parish granted permission by a bishop to deviate from the baptismal requirement for communion. Future renovations within the Anglican household may well eliminate the necessity for doors. William J. Holtham Toronto
War a necessary evil
Dear editor, I am writing regarding Christians Must Renounce Wars (March letters). War is horrible. There is no other way of putting it. But to state that Christians must renounce war is hopelessly shortsighted and even naive. As long as any state, or political organization, utilizes violence to achieve its aims, there will remain the need for standing military forces. No one would advocate the disbanding of police forces, and the military is merely policing on a larger, albeit more violent, scale. Though it may be politically correct, who could possibly advocate leaving people helpless against aggressors? General Sir John Hacket stated that the purpose of the armed forces was to support the political aims of the legally constituted civilian government outside national borders in normal times, and to support the government within national borders in abnormal times. The Canadian Forces have proven to be very good at both missions. If Christians renounce war, where will that leave the world? Will nations refuse to defend their interests against aggressors? Will nations fail to defend their citizens against the acts of sociopaths who carry out acts of terrorism? In my family, every adult male for five centuries has served the Crown. I enrolled in Her Majesty’s Canadian Forces in 1981 and have served in many interesting places. I recognize the necessity, responsibilities and horrors associated with that duty. With respect to the on-going conflict with Iraq, the Gulf War is not over. Had it been brought to the necessary conclusion in 1991, the situation would be different today. A lack of political backbone then is the reason air strikes continue today. In any military action, there is a probability of civilian casualties. This is regrettable, especially when women and children are involved, but the true blame resides in the regime that rules Iraq. It remains, however, that appeasement is not a viable, or sane, alternative. Unfortunately, neither is assassination. Until someone comes up with a better way of doing things, there will always be men and women like me in uniform. William P. Sparling, Sr.Master Seaman Canadian Forces (via e-mail)
Dear editor, The church has a strong, bright, shiny side of good works and working for justice, like the bright side of the moon. The church also has a shadow side. A symptom of this is rewarding those of us who are workaholics. We seem to have chosen Martha as our patron saint. We are busy, anxious and troubled about many things. For the most part, Mary comes a distant second. Yet Jesus said that she chose the good portion which shall not be taken away from her. In our anxiety-ridden age perhaps we, with Mary, need to spend more time sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to him. Then we can be calm in his “non-anxious presence” in this frantic, fast moving, anxious, busy world. Our Aboriginal brothers and sisters can teach us about these things. It seems that the church has more to learn about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Rev. John Serjeantson Brome, Que.
Bishop Spong garners brickbats …
Dear editor, In his attack on Bishop Fitzsimmons Allison (March letters), Bishop John Spong writes, “Heresy hunters are always destructive and distorted people.” Perhaps, although, where Bishop Spong is concerned, little actual hunting is required. His views are right out there for everyone to see in all the books he has written. That gullible people are taken in by him is the greatest act of cruelty. That he uses a bishop’s chair to promulgate his views is one of the greatest ironies. Rev. Ross Gill Listowel, Ont.(via e-mail)
… and bouquets
Dear editor, I read with interest Colin Proudman’s review of Bishop Spong’s latest book Why Christianity Must Change or Die (March Journal). Though the review was very eloquent, it did seem to go off on several tangents and fails to get across Bishop Spong’s radical assertions that the historical Jesus did not die to save us from our sins, and that the whole New Testament picture of Christ the Saviour is a “theistic myth,” and “pre-Darwinian superstition and post Darwinian nonsense.” Bishop Spong’s heading for Chapter 6, Jesus as Rescuer: an Image That Has to Go, certainly sets out his challenge to a church trapped by that image in its liturgy, church year, hymns, Scripture and creeds. What is also missing in the review is Bishop Spong’s effort not to throw out the baby with the bath water – the historical Jesus with the theological Christ. Jim Riesberry Brockville, Ont.
End blasphemous talks
Dear editor, I read with great consternation your February front-page article, Amber Light for Same-sex Blessings. To even be discussing the blessing of same-sex unions is nothing short of blasphemy and cannot be tolerated any longer. I have no bias with respect to people who wish to carry on this alternative lifestyle. I do have a great deal of concern when I read that a bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada is proposing to approve of such unions formally within the context of our Christian ministry. One must question aloud when the continual dismantling of the historical Christian beliefs of our church will cease to exist. Unfortunately my belief is that this situation will continue until all of the rites, beliefs and canons as we know them will be long gone, and we will be left with an institution with no historical value and even less moral commitment to the Holy Bible and its teachings. Donald L. Murray Hamilton, Ont.
Dear editor, In the February letter section, Sheila Welbergen of Winnipeg raises a point that is becoming abundantly and painfully clear, that our bishops have waffled on the subject of same-sex unions. This indecisive behaviour carried through at Lambeth. Though I don’t think Ms. Welbergen and I see eye to eye on what the final outcome ought to be, it is quite clear in both the BCP and the BAS just who should be blessed in an Anglican marriage union. If this ancient Christian teaching is no longer relevant, one would have to suspect that any and all Christian teachings (as practised by Canadian Anglicans) might also be irrelevant. Apparently there is now a mechanism in place whereby the bishops can get rid of troublesome priests. Perhaps it is now time for a mechanism whereby the laity can get rid of dithering bishops. Paul H. Tuckwell North Saanich, B.C.
Dear editor, So Archibald Crail (March letters) thinks we are all created for heterosexuality, and that anyone who doesn’t like or want it is guilty of “shortcomings” and should be shelved (mandatory celibacy) or re-educated. With an ungraceful wave of his hetero-sexist pen, he dismisses the entire monastic traditions of East and West, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, St. John of the Cross, St. Paul and Jesus. Can you say “sexual idolatry,” Mr. Crail? Mayne Ellis Victoria, B.C. (via e-mail)
Bible condemns homosexuality
Dear editor, I just finished reading Amber Light for Same-Sex Blessings. I find it difficult to believe anyone in the hierarchy of the Anglican Church is even considering it. If the church believes it will lose members of the homosexual community by saying “no,” without a doubt it will lose by saying “yes.” We are in dire need of someone with backbone to stand up for what is right. Many people become bewildered as to what to believe if our leaders are not sure. I believe it is time that true Christians take a stand and not let our church continue in error. I am very disheartened with our leaders who fear to adhere to the teachings of the Holy Bible. I pray that the church will see the light before it is too late. Doreen Perry Gagetown, N.B.
Jesus favoured inclusiveness
Dear editor, I read the February issue with great interest. The lead story was about Bishop Michael Ingham’s Amber Light on Same-sex Blessings for committed same-sex relationships. Two letters to the editor dealt with the common cup. It seems the Anglican Church is in some danger of becoming rather more exclusive than inclusive, a place where literal-minded readings of the most figurative, evocative and truth-dealing text (the Bible) in the Western world threaten to turn communion into a paranoid experience, where a person’s sexual preference becomes either a key or a stone when trying to enter the pearly gates, where deeply spiritual, emotional, wise and intellectual clergy such as Bishop Ingham have to exercise caution simply because Anglicans are not willing to open their hearts to brethren on the basis of their choice of spouse. Everyone can quote Scripture it seems, but Jesus’ word in the New Testament is one of inclusiveness. As for the Old Testament, even there the vengeful God and his fairly rigid followers were admonished thus in Ecclesiastes: “Be not righteous overmuch.” Jim Tobler Vancouver (via e-mail)
Dear editor, I am very disturbed about blessing same-sex unions. Jesus calls us to love, but do we compromise and not heed the Word of God? I pray Bishop Ingham searches his heart, but most of all the Word of God concerning homosexual marriages. Why have Scripture if we do not listen to what it says? We end up changing it to suit our purposes. We are called to love the persons, not condone all human behaviour. Anne Lyon Mountain, Ont.
Dear editor, Regarding William McArton’s letter (March Journal) please be advised that Mr. McArton’s views and opinions, as he no doubt would agree, are his own and do not reflect those of Trinity Church, Parry Sound. Almighty God, I believe, is keenly interested in the music of praise we offer and the spirit in which we offer it. The issues of use of hymnals, and the kind and style of music, are ones that unfortunately can be divisive. Only through gracious dialogue and a sincere desire to assist all in offering worthy praise will the kind of harmony I believe God wishes to hear be manifested. Here at Trinity, as elsewhere no doubt, we continue to struggle to achieve such harmony. Rev. Michael Hutt Parry Sound, Ont.