Letters to the editor

Published June 1, 1999

Open table a scandal

Dear editor, Canon Harold Percy needs to rethink his understanding of communion (May Journal). To paraphrase St. Paul, is it not a means of sharing in the body (and blood) of Christ (I Corinthians 9:16)? Does Canon Percy really think that people who have not first become members of Christ by committing themselves in baptism can truly eat and drink discerning the body (I Corinthians 11:29) in penitence and faith? Canon Percy does right to bemoan the loss to our churches of so many who were baptized into Christ and the ignorance of so many who do come about what it really means to be a Christian. But confining the Holy Communion to the duly initiated did not cause these problems and the “open table” won’t cure them. The ignorance stems from the abolition of the old standard Sunday school curriculum and the low standard of teaching that has widely prevailed in our Christian education for the past quarter century. The defection stems from the kind of worship we offer – or rather the kind we mostly don’t offer any more. The real problem that the advocates of the “open table” are trying to address is that non-Christians or Anglicans lapsed since childhood come to our worship and feel left out if they cannot join in its central act. This would be no real problem if more churches offered other services on Sunday besides the Eucharist. What will bring more people into our churches is more prayer, praise and proclamation of the Word – not instead of the Sunday Eucharist, but in addition to it. William Cooke vice president Prayer Book Society of Canada Toronto Branch Toronto

Shootings our fault

Dear editor, While everyone is quick to lay the blame on everyone else for the current rash of student killings in North America, it is time we all took responsibility for contributing to this tragic loss of life, for failing each other on a regular basis. It is also time that the news media and movie industry took serious stock of their contribution to violence and crimes among the youth as a result of excessive reporting and glorification of such events. The issues of abuse and violence in society will never be resolved until we all recognize our roles in these social problems through verbal put-downs, insinuations, character assassination and power- and ego-tripping that goes on in our homes, churches, schools and places of work. Adults are guilty of doing this and young people simply reflect what they see or are subjected to. Parents and older relatives need to spend more quality time with young people. We need to take time to listen to each other, to encourage each other be more compassionate to others’ hurts and pains and take a little extra time in showing others that we care. If we treat our children with kindness, love, firmness, understanding and goodness this will be returned two-fold; if we treat our children in the reverse, the destruction that follows never fades or goes away. David A. Blackman Ottawa, Ont.

Renounce war

Dear editor, In his April letter, William Sparling wrote: “Until someone comes up with a better way of doing things (than war), there will always be men and women like me in uniform.” The early Christians had a better way. As Justin Martyr said: “We who used to kill one another, do not make war on our enemies. We have changed our instruments of war, our swords into ploughshares.” As Bishop Desmond Tutu once said: “We’ve got to get down to the business of training as many people as possible in non-violent action and its spirituality.” The mainline churches support only one institution to deal with its international enemies: the institution of war. The church will never regain its moral force till it renounces war and begins to build the structures needed to support the force of truth and love (“non-violence”). Leonard Desroches Toronto

Ignore naysayers

Dear editor, I enjoyed Michael McAteer’s article Council Airs Varying Views on Journal (April issue) and wholeheartedly agree with Rev. Baxter Park: “I want a newspaper not a newsletter.” You address issues in a fair and balanced way. Last year I chaired our Stewardship, Education and Development Committee. One of the first things I needed to overcome was the perceived comfort of the status quo. The campaign was a success. From the experience I learned two things: God does speak to us, and the newest person through the church doors has as much right to speak as the parishioner who has been attending for 75 years. Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading the Journal. Ignore the naysayers. Bruce Mowat Oakville, Ont. (via e-mail)

Coverage valued

Dear editor, I want to express my appreciation to the Anglican Journal for its excellent articles, its gathering and sharing of ecumenical information, its stimulating opinion and its coverage of theological and religious happenings, both within the Anglican Communion and around the world. As an ecumenical partner representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, I found the Anglican Journal helpful to me in fulfilling my role as an ecumenical partner. Rev. Dr. Jon Fogleman Lutheran Partner St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Guelph, Ont. Editor’s note: Dr. Fogleman is an ecumenical delegate to the Council of General Synod.

Man bites editor

Dear editor, In contrast to the tantalizing front-page headline Lawsuits Threaten Church’s Future (April Journal) it was intriguing to find an exceptionally mundane but informative story on page 10, especially as the story was about yourself addressing, among other topics, why the Journal sensationalizes. The striking irony resides in the unique standards of charity and clarity achieved in a story about the Journal in the Journal, in light of the editor’s reasoning for a general lack of such standards. At a 1988 conference on Lebanon (addressed by the Primate), a prominent national media personality stated, “we report accurately, but we don’t report truthfully.” The difference lay largely in how facts were presented, and he provided examples of news stories that were accurate but wilfully misleading. Witness NATO propaganda in Kosovo coverage. Reading between the lines in your story, from the critics of the Journal there was accurate “news” screaming for the sensational front-page headline: Man Bites Editor. To improve quality, you might now ponder what warrants mundane but truthful reportage in a story about yourself, yet so often not for others. Rev. Robert C. Assaly Rector of Winchester, Chesterville, Crysler and South Mountain Winchester, Ont. (via e-mail)

Primate inspires ?

Dear editor, Looking for an encouraging and insightful start to my day, I sat down this morning with my cup of coffee and the Journal. I began with the editorials – short articles to prod my brain into wakefulness. Much of what I read, though, was disheartening and somewhat appalling. There was very little to help me in my Christian walk. Instead I was amazed at the number of my “fellow Anglicans” who so easily pick up and throw stones in judgement of others. Thank heavens for articles such as Patrick Augustine’s, West Has Much to Learn From Third World Believers (April Journal), and the Primate’s Grace Notes. It is in these articles that I find inspiration and hope – hope for a world where hatred and judgement are common, welcome and forgiveness a rarity. Carolyn Foard-McPhail Calgary, Alta. (via e-mail)

? and annoys

Dear editor, I am astonished and saddened by the tone of Michael Peers’ March column, Everyone Created Good by God. In particular, I am offended by his repeated use of the pejorative word “fundamentalist” to describe people whose views differ from his own. Such emotive language has no place in serious discussion. Peter Featherstone Burnaby, B.C.

Medley books sought

Dear editor, Bishop John Medley, bishop of Fredericton from 1845 to 1892, possessed one of the most important private libraries of 19th century New Brunswick. An effort is underway to reconstruct that library. The 1904 issue of the Fredericton Gleaner said that Mrs. Medley had decided to donate volumes from the bishop’s library to each of the then six deaneries in New Brunswick. Mrs. Medley personally inserted in each volume a bookplate that reads: From the Library of the late Most Rev. John Medley, D.D., Bishop of Fredericton and Metropolitan of Canada. Presented to ? By Mrs. Medley. A substantial part of the bishop’s music collection had already been given to the cathedral collection. Other books were given earlier to the cathedral as well as to relatives and friends. The archives department of the government of New Brunswick would like to obtain as many of these books as possible. If you have books with this bookplate or know of any such books, I would like to hear from you. Our preference is for the return of these books, though it would be helpful even to learn of the existence of such books, as our hope is to produce a catalogue of the Medley Collection. In addition to theology, the collection contained books on literature, travel, music, architecture, in several languages. Please contact me at: (506) 453-2338; fax (506) 444-5889; e-mail [email protected]. Books can be mailed to the Legislative Library, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1. Eric L. Swanick director, New Brunswick Legislative Library Fredericton, N.B.

Moore for less Spong

Dear editor, If there is ever a time that the Anglican Church of Canada gets bleary-eyed and deferential, it’s when it looks south of the border and gushes over the latest critique of orthodox Christianity by some American writer. This time the Journal (March edition) features a review of John Spong’s book Why Christianity Must Change or Die. While mildly critical, the reviews hail Bishop Spong as “convincing,” “moving” and “brave.” On top of this, the Journal publishes an unabashed ad hominem attack by Bishop Spong on a fellow bishop (February letters, Fitzsimons Allison, retired of South Carolina) who dared to point out that Bishop Spong’s arguments were not orthodox. Bishop Spong dismisses him as “old,” claims that his writing is “destructive” and “distorted,” and says that he thinks God is his servant. Moreover Bishop Spong takes as a sign of his own theological superiority to Bishop Allison the fact that the former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church kept Bishop Spong on his theology committee while removing Bishop Allison. Bishop Allison taught with great distinction at three U.S. Episcopal seminaries and is a theologian and historian of international repute, earned not by denying the faith but by deep intellectual work. Moreover, the churches Bishop Allison pastored flourished, and under his leadership his diocese grew and became a vibrant expression of classical Anglicanism. Bishop Spong’s Diocese of Newark shrank during his tenure by nearly half. Given the bishop’s iconoclastic style and novel conclusions, it is puzzling to read that he cannot possibly be a heretic because heresy is a matter of the will, not the mind. On that score, Arius himself could not have been a heretic, which would have been news to Athanasius. Bishop Spong has made it clear that he is in no sense a Christian believer as almost any Christian has ever understood the faith. His 12 Theses, published last spring on the Internet, deny theism, the deity of Christ, the Resurrection and the idea that God hears and answers prayer. Ten scholars, including two Canadians, one of whom is a member of the Primate’s Theological Commission, challenged him last spring with a book I edited entitled Can a Bishop Be Wrong? (Morehouse). Might the Anglican Journal review a book that puts the case for the other side? Rev. Dr. Peter C. Moore Dean and President, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry Pittsburgh, Penn.

Just more Spong

Dear editor, Three cheers for Bishop John Shelby Spong, and others like him. Though I do not in all details agree with the bishop, I believe he is on the right track. The church must change. For too long we have been trying to keep the new wine of the Gospels in wineskins retained from the Middle Ages and earlier but which have been leaking like sieves for decades. We are now in the post-modern age, but the church ties its thought and practice to outdated and outmoded ideas and concepts. The cause of our decline and loss of influence is not that we have abandoned our traditions, but that we have clung to them, as to a security blanket, for far too long. John Marriott Burnaby, B.C.


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