Letters to the editor

Published January 1, 1999

Northern eucharistDear editor,

About a year and a half ago, my wife and I moved to Grimshaw, a small town in northern Alberta in the Diocese of Athabasca. Although for many years we have been Baptists, we chose to attend St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church. The congregation and incumbent, Capt. C.H. Blanchet of the Church Army, welcomed us warmly. We are getting used to Anglican practices – most of which we appreciate and enjoy.There is, however, one particular issue which troubles us. Because Capt. Blanchet is not ordained, the Anglican tradition of celebrating the eucharist at least weekly was not followed. Archdeacon David Ashdown came from Peace River as often as possible: twice a month, if his busy schedule permitted. Now Mr. Ashdown has moved to the Diocese of Keewatin. Capt. Blanchett, incidentally, has already gone to Cambridge Bay in the Far North. Until another priest is found, local lay readers are holding the fort. The eucharist is infrequent. The question churches like ours face is this: Which is more important, that believers should regularly celebrate the eucharist, or that a priest should always need to be present before there can be such a celebration? I am aware of the alternative of a reserve sacrament, but I wonder if it is not time for fresh interpretation of ordination and priestliness – and of their relationship to the eucharist itself? Stuart Frayne

Grimshaw, Alta.

Cavalier reference

Dear editor,

It was with sadness and disappointment that I read the opening sentence in the article “Churchgoers Happier, Stats Show” (November Journal). As a drug taker, your reference to Prozac in such a cavalier manner (“Some people try Prozac, others pop Valium to get happy”) not only betrays the writer’s ignorance of Prozac’s medical purpose, but also advances the lingering misunderstanding and stigma associated with depression.

As one among millions of Canadians who suffers from clinical depression – an illness caused by a bio-chemical imbalance in the brain’s level of the neurotransmitter called serotonin – I suggest that the author of this otherwise interesting article educate herself about the real medical role of antidepressants. The disease most closely resembling depression may be diabetes. We do not hear anyone speak of “popping” or “shooting up” insulin for a happy time or to get “high.”

Antidepressants simply raise serotonin levels and thus bring chemical balance in the brain. Both diabetes and depression are a result of chemical imbalances.

Rev. David McKenzie

Langley, B.C.

Educate or retaliate?

Dear editor,

I write regarding “Searching for Meaning in Baby’s Death” (October Journal).

“From an Anglican point of view, from a spiritual point of view, I have felt called ever since Madeleine died to educate people.” Thus began an article describing one woman’s reaction to the unfortunate and possibly preventable death of her baby. The article indicates the mother and her husband “want it publicly acknowledged that an error was made, they want the doctor’s name and details of the case registered so patients have access to the information and they want the case published for other doctors to learn from.”

The death of a child is probably the most stressful thing that could happen to a person. The stress might be even greater if an involved person feels the death was preventable. I question, however, whether the mother’s insistence on having the involved doctor’s name published is necessary to “educate” people.

Christ urges people to turn the other cheek, and to love their enemies. On a societal level, the consequences of holding grudges for decades or generations can be devastating – Northern Ireland and Yugoslavia spring to mind. On a personal level, holding a grudge can be equally corrosive. One might feel initially that self-righteous anger can propel one to a position of leadership; in the long run it becomes a destructive rut to fall into, diverting energy from other, more productive pursuits.

Robert Shepherd, M.D.

Gatineau, Que.

The 21st century

Dear editor,

Mr. Kendall’s erroneous conclusion concerning the year 1999 is the result of incorrect counting (December letters).

Durations of time are counted as follows: Jan. 1, 1900, is the first day of the 20th century. The period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 1900, comprises the first year of the century.

The term 1901 refers to the fact that the first year has been completed. The time span Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 1901, is the second year of the century.

The year 1999 means that as of Jan. 1, 1999, 99 years of the 20th century have been completed. The period Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 1999, comprises the 100th year of the 20th century. It also comprises the 2000th year of the second millennium. On Jan. 1, 2000, 20 centuries will have been completed. It will be the first day of the 21st century and the first day of the third millennium. Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2000, will, thus, begin the 21st century and the third millennium.

T. E. Lee

Thunder Bay, Ont.

(via e-mail)

Extreme poverty

Dear editor,

I heard that Toronto and Ottawa have declared the plight of the homeless a national emergency and are opening armouries to give overnight shelter. While I was relieved to hear that, I also thought it is a national disgrace that this should be needed.

Across the land more and more people are living below the poverty line _ now called by Statistics Canada the low income cut-off or LICO. Statistics of those living well below the LICO in Alberta and in Edmonton indicate that in the last few years there are more living in absolute poverty, unable to provide for basic needs. Absolute poverty is defined as one half of the LICO. In 1995, nearly 25,000 children lived in absolute poverty in Edmonton.

I have written to members of the legislative assembly asking when they would raise the issues of homelessness and poverty. I have had no response. This is a matter of urgency as people will die sleeping on the streets when the iron fist of winter hits.

This Christmas may we become involved. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40).

Gwyneth Bell


Illegal Anglicans?

Dear editor,

The articles on the surveillance of church people involved in the APEC protests (“Anglicans Watched,” November issue) reminded me of two things first, we’re followers of Jesus, who also annoyed the authorities; and second, a lovely quip I found years ago in an Anglican pew leaflet. It said, “If Christianity were illegal would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Ina Roelants


Common cup conundrum continues

Dear editor,

The December letter by Ms. Thorneloe regarding the common cup raises her concerns about its usage. However, she points out that “Medical and scientific experts agree the risk is low…,” in spite of which she advocates intinction or individual cups. But her options are not biblical, nor do they fit with Anglican tradition.

All Gospel accounts of the Last Supper feature a common cup and that is the event we remember in the eucharist. Indeed, the only one to dip bread at that Last Supper is the one who will betray Jesus _ not a good role model.

On a more practical basis, many parishes use real bread as opposed to what my children referred to as Styrofoam – communion wafers. A disadvantage of bread is that it leaves crumbs in the cup. Also, I cannot see that unclean fingers dipping in the wine is less sanitary than sipping from the common cup.

We have been using the common cup for nearly 2,000 years. I believe we can safely continue to do so.

Bruce Williams


(via e-mail)

Debt forgiveness

Dear editor,

I consider the Jubilee 2000 Campaign to be a wonderful way for us to put our faith into action. I will be writing my member of Parliament in support of this initiative.

Could your readers help me with the following concern? Once the debt in one of the poor countries is forgiven, what assurance do we have that the benefits will reach the citizens and not be used to line the pockets of those in power?

Greg Lindsay

Fort St. John, B.C.

(via e-mail)

The NDP and debt forgiveness

Dear editor,

I was disappointed that the lead story of the November issue on the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative neglected to mention the support and participation of the NDP at the ceremony on Parliament Hill.

As one of two MPs who represented the NDP caucus at that ceremony, I want your readers to know that at least one political party shares the view of the churches on the need for debt relief in order to enable and encourage those countries now shackled with unpayable debts.

Rev. Bill Blaikie, MP

House Leader of the NewDemocratic Party


Absolute power

Dear editor,

Some correspondents have questioned the wisdom of the new canon on discipline: bishops can now remove clergy from their positions without explaining why, and without right to appeal.

In this diocese, the canons give rectors absolute power in such areas as education and services. When a new rector arrives, what happens on Sundays can be changed overnight, almost beyond recognition _ without any discussion with (let alone agreement of) the vestry, and without any appeal by the congregation (except by voting with one’s feet). And when arranging Jane’s wedding, or mum’s funeral, a parishioner is often subjected to the whims of the current rector (and sometimes a bishop’s orders) to use a particular liturgy.

With this power, rectors can close an ACW branch, or any other group in the parish _ again, without explaining why, and without any appeal. Clergy can hardly complain if someone has the same authority over them.

There is a second aspect: a parish is not there to help the rector fulfil his or her goals, ministry, or career; the rector’s ministry is to serve the parish, to help its members to fulfil their ministry.

The New Testament rarely focuses on any individual except Christ; it emphasizes the Body, and the call to build up the life of the corporate church. When any individuals (lay or ordained) see themselves as having all the right answers, they soon become a real menace.

Philip Ward

Tracy, N.B.

(via e-mail)

Canon 17

Dear editor,

Thank you for the story on our efforts concerning Canon 17 in the Diocese of Montreal (“Montreal Priests Want Licensing Canon Changed,” December Journal). Though generally accurate, the story requires two clarifications:

First, notwithstanding the fact that the mover and seconder of the motion to our diocesan synod are clergy, the issue is not one for priests only. We believe that the matter of clergy licensing is a matter of justice, and as such a question for the whole church _ bishops, priests, deacons and laity.

Second, the memorial referred to has been sent, not by two priests “with the backing of their diocesan synod” as mentioned in the article, but by the Synod of the Diocese of Montreal. A number of people, both clergy and laity, spoke in favour of the motion which called for the memorial to be sent. No one spoke against. The motion passed overwhelmingly, with only about a half dozen voting against it, out of some 280 delegates.

I hope this has begun a process of dialogue across the church. I invite other dioceses to send similar memorials, and to join the discussion. I have a page on my personal Web site which links to all the relevant texts including the canon, the diocesan motion and memorial text _ in both official languages _ and speeches given in support of the motion. I will gladly add other materials that anyone sends me. The page is www.total.net/~atperry/canon17.

Rev. Alan T. Perry

Lachute, Que.

(via e-mail)

The Holy Spirit says…

Dear editor,

If Bishop Ingham truly believes that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is “powerfully alive” in the Anglican Communion (November Journal) can he not agree that the fact that “liberalism is dead” may be because the Holy Spirit has decreed it to be so?

In any council of the church, be it Nicaea 325 or Lambeth 1998, the overwhelming adoption of a resolution has been attributed to the guidance of God through the Holy Spirit. Perhaps liberalism is not something central or vital to Anglicanism, and never was!

Mac Jones

Drummheller, Alta.

What am I?

Dear editor,

The October Journal quotes Bishop Ingham as being concerned about a “tendency to fundamentalism” in our church. I wonder if I am a fundamentalist if I believe that: Gen 1:11 and Joshua 10:12 – 13 are myth based on some historical events, on the one hand; but that Jesus’s body is (in some mysterious way) intact in heaven and that homosexual activities are sinful.

Some fundamentalists have called me liberal and some liberals have called me fundamentalist. It might be illuminating for a knowledgeable person to write an article for the Journal explaining what these terms mean and whether they are still useful today.

At the very least it would help me know what I am.

Bert Hopkins


(via e-mail)

Modern language

Dear editor,

They change those things which should not be changed.

They change not those things which should be changed.

Those lines of thought make me think of many of today’s Anglican leaders. The church had rules about not blessing same-sex unions and ordaining practising homosexuals. Today church leaders, in North America at least, seem to be falling over each other trying to be the first to change those old-fashioned rules.

Church language, it seems, is another matter. Over the seven decades I have known, our church leaders seem ever so slow to allow our church language to change.

Woulds’t thou, coulds’t thou, shoulds’t thou. Those sorts of words were instrumental in separating me from my church some 50 years ago. I remember someone from another church saying words to the effect of: “In our church we talk to God as our friend; we’d never think of talking to a friend the way you guys talk to God.” I agreed.

When I heard, in 1986, that the Anglican Church was starting to use modern language, my ears perked and I asked about it. Yes, a book was being tried which used modern language in talking to God. I’ve been back ever since. But…

Even though we’ve used the BAS consistently for more than 10 years, still we are asked to celebrate Prayer Book Sunday. And take home some literature on the Prayer Book Society. And give to it, if we can, and join it. The unwritten message, to me at least, is, you poor souls, repent and return to the old language.

Many have asked, many times, over many years, “Why is our church diminishing? Why aren’t the pews filled anymore?”

Rusty Wright

Creston, B.C.


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