Letters to the editor

Published February 1, 2008

The Anglican Journal welcomes letters to the editor. Preference is given to letters under 200 words. All letters are subject to editing for length, grammar and clarity. Please include a mailing address with all letters.

What was the bishop doing at the consecration?

Dear editor,

Re: No episcopal act (January letters). With regard to Archbishop John Clarke’s assertion that ex-bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada Donald Harvey “did no episcopal act” in the “irregular consecrations of bishops abroad” – I ask: what then was he doing? 

The photography of the schismatic consecration in Kenya clearly shows Bishop Harvey as part of the circle at the imposition of hands – not staying passively in his place. Bishop Harvey, like Saul in the martyrdom of St. Stephen “was consenting.” (Acts 8.1, King James) Also, like Saul in Acts 8.3, Bishop Harvey now is making “havock of the church.” 
Canon William Portman

Church’s failure

Dear editor,

Re: Canada calls on Canterbury to intervene (January Anglican Journal). I find it distressing that the house of bishops and Council of General Synod have publicly condemned Don Harvey, retired bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, for causing the schism now engulfing the Anglican church.

If these groups would truthfully examine the history of the difficulty, they would realize that the current schism in the Anglican Church of Canada was precipitated by the bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, who unilaterally decided to allow within his diocese, the blessing of same-sex relationships and marriage. His action was contrary to Anglican church canon.

The dispute should have been settled immediately by prudent dismissal of the perpetrators of such illegal action. Today the Anglican Communion is in deep turmoil over the failure to deal expeditiously with this crucial matter of faith and doctrine.
Alan N. MacGowan
Red Bank, N.B


Dear editor,

Why does the Anglican Journal continue to blame the disaffection of the latest batch of Anglican separatists on their conservative view of homosexuality? Many Anglicans hold conservative views but are committed to staying in our church, believing that homosexuality is an issue about which Anglicans can disagree in good conscience – it is not an issue of core doctrine.

The separatists disagree, but they also rationalize their actions more broadly. Former Canadian bishop Don Harvey calls it “a fundamental theological dispute – not merely a disagreement about sexuality. Issues of sexuality are merely symptoms of much deeper disagreements – namely the authority of Holy Scripture and the divinity of Christ.”

Whether or not a convincing argument for these “deeper disagreements” has been made, that’s our playing field. The current crisis is not about one’s view of homosexuality but about whether this question is of creedal importance. Separatists like Bishop Harvey say it’s “fundamental;” General Synod disagrees.

So let’s stop framing this as conservative versus liberal and name it for what it is: separatist fundamentalism against everyone else.
Steve Schuh

Dissidents welcome

Dear editor,

Re: True dissidents (December letters). The letter writer, F.C. Potter provides a valid definition for “dissident” as “one who disputes the doctrine or authority of an established church.”

Some people appear to be uncomfortable with the label “dissident” applied to them and in truth, by his definition, they should not wear it. There is, however, another definition of dissident, “one who openly disagrees with a prevailing system that is intolerant of opposition.”

It is interesting to consider which “system” within this discussion is intolerant.

To wear the label “dissident,” by either definition, is to be in good company; in fact, it is essential for a Christian with integrity. Jesus was a dissident, progressive and evolutionary within Judaism. Christianity at its heart is dissident, being within community yet anti-establishment, pro-justice and anti-status quo.

Mr. Potter’s assertion that the majority of Anglicans are now “true dissidents” is good news. Dissidents are part of community; they provide vital argument for discerning the Spirit. Dissidents challenge both novelty and tradition that is perceived to be, or not to be, from the Spirit. Dissidents of both stripes are welcome.

So who is causing this (potential) schism? If not the dissident, maybe it is the church that became establishment and yearns for a return to Christendom. Or maybe it is people who cannot envision a more just relationship, or maybe it is people who are comfortable in their pew.
Dale Sparkes
Thunder Bay, Ont.

Tolerance and charity

Dear editor,

I hesitate to accuse Archdeacon Peter Hannen of naivete (Glass houses, December letters), but if he really thinks the age of hypocrisy has just dawned, he’d better “wake up and smell the coffee.” We’re all hypocrites, and always have been. (And perhaps it’s not hard to excuse a little hypocrisy when it acts as a lubricant in human relations).

It is not our failure to denounce hypocrisy that has caused or is perpetuating a rift in our approach to this vexed sexuality question, it is our failure to engage charity to help us to solve it.

Lobbing more stones at Nigeria or the West Indies is futile. Perhaps tolerance of the hypocrisy, combined with a little charity, while we wait for the Holy Spirit to prevail, might be the better course.
Jim Green
West Vancouver, B.C.

News can be slanted by the media

Dear editor,

I have read, with interest and concern, your December editorial, Communication must be transparent, timely and accurate.

I have some concern about the role of the media in shaping events around us these days. For example, there is a CTV ad regarding its program Mike Duffy Reports, which closes with him stating, “Someone’s got to keep them on their toes!”

In this day and age of increased access to communications throughout the world, I wonder if the media has moved from reporting the news to creating it. In the case of Mr. Duffy and others like him, who asked them to speak for us?

In the case of the house of bishops who desire to hold in camera meetings, they are responsible to our Lord, as guided by Holy Scripture. Perhaps their communications would be better done directly by their own hand, rather than being filtered through the media. You speak of a “responsible” media, but often news can be and has been slanted by this same media.

I believe that the church would be best served by communications which come directly from the house of bishops, using communicators who will accurately report their finding. Then the media can take over.
Rev. Tom Martin 
Great Whale River, Que.

Vital principle

Dear editor,

Congratulations on December’s editorial and its call. For a free church in a free country, this vital principle must be fiercely protected. Communications must be transparent, timely and accurate not only in bishops’ enclaves where policy is propagated, but also all the way down the Anglican hierarchy to parish grassroots.

Universal as it is becoming, e-mail is clearly the medium of choice (to supplement, not replace our august Anglican Journal). Fortunately, the church’s national office is well served by www.anglican.ca with its e-mail notifications of news and new items and the Toronto diocesan Web site. However, individual parishes are not so lucky. Internet and e-mail access is spotty, parishioners who use the Web for business or pleasure often don’t use it to pursue, or at least keep up-to-date on, their faith.

Dioceses could help here by providing their parishes with a standard Web site platform that includes typical facilities like e-mail broadcasting. Then a notice in the parish bulletin would draw parishioners’ attention to available e-mail feeds.
Peter Holleley

Ridley replies

Dear editor,

Re: Ashamed (January letters). According to his letter, Jack McLeod has deduced, from the article about Ridley College in the November issue, that “the college and its chaplain are ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of the doctrines and great traditions of Anglicanism.” As an Anglican priest and as a teacher for 28 years at Ridley, I disagree with Mr. McLeod’s assumptions.

Ridley’s Anglicanism welcomes students and teachers of all faiths and people of all races to an interfaith dialogue that is inclusive and respectful. When graduates return to the campus, the chapel is often the first place they visit. It is the spiritual centre of the campus.

The Ridley Chapel inspires all its members to be better people. The parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son are frequently read at the weekly worship service. In addition, daily morning devotions, monthly eucharists, annual confirmations and frequent baptisms, weddings and funerals indicate a vibrant and caring worshipping community.

Mr. McLeod’s experience of Ridley College is sadly outdated. If the school and the church were to operate as they did 70 years ago, as he implies they should, both school and church would be unable to function effectively today; all institutions change and, hopefully, grow. Mr. McLeod seems unwilling to see the positive sides to Ridley’s progressive changes. I invite him to visit the campus soon, so that he may see for himself.
Rev. W. Wayne Fraser
St. Catharines, Ont.


Dear editor,

Thank you for the article, Church prepares for truth commission (December Journal).

I am one of the 300 applicants to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and I’m in the final stages of submitting my doctoral dissertation on Ts’msyen ancestral law as a resource for transforming our suffering. As I continue to look intimately at our suffering as indigenous peoples, I am less satisfied with employment that will not assist in transforming that suffering.
Patricia Vickers
Terrace, B.C.


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