The Anglican Journal
Silence deafening over issues of peace and justice
My heartfelt thanks to Ruth Klaasen for her inspiring letter (The church has been too accepting of war, March Journal). Indeed, the church must engage in a public discussion of the role of Christians as peace activists. Of the five top major producers and distributors of small arms and heavy weapons, four (France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States) are from the Christianized West, while the fifth, China, is a nation with a long, ethnically rich history.
Peace is mentioned at least 90 times in the New Testament, and at least as frequently in the Hebrew Scripture. Arms and armed conflict are a chief source of human rights violations. Ursula Franklin, a Quaker, wrote: “Peace is not the absence of war, it is the presence of justice.” Recently, Desmond Tutu wrote of Darfur: “There is no peace…because there has been no justice.”
Secular institutions cannot ensure peace without the support of religious bodies, nor can the church attain peace without the work of secular bodies. Each must support the peace activists of the other.
On the same page, Keith Knight (A vibrant youth ministry essential for today’s church, March Journal ), writes of “young people… for whom church seems irrelevant.” For those who may end up fighting or dying in future armed conflicts, oughtn’t there be an open discussion of such profound moral issues as human rights, peace and social justice? So far, our silence has been resounding.
Hoping for a miracle
I have been a member of our church council for several years and last year attended a program directed by a consultant focusing on ideas to help stimulate growth in our churches. Unfortunately, after several months of dialogue, and a year later, we are no further ahead.
Your March editorial sparked my interest and I was hoping for a miracle. You seem to appreciate the need for a vibrant youth ministry. Do you have further thoughts or advice on that?
Our congregation, like so many, consists of (I don’t mean this harshly) a dying generation. We have a very willing and active senior membership. (I am 66.)
Approximately 20 per cent of our congregation is under 50. Of these, we have 15 to 20 young children under 10 years of age, and only about four to six teens.
Our neighbouring Baptist and United churches have very vibrant ministries with over 900 people in their congregations. We need help!
Fall River, N.S.
Archivists and youth
I found it deeply distressing to read the statement made in your March editorial comparing the work of youth ministry and the work of diocesan archivists.
It was not entirely clear whether the final comment, “Are we a church more interested in the past than the future,” was a reporting of the down-sized youth minister or words of the editor of this paper. Nevertheless, its inclusion in the editorial demonstrated a simplistic notion of the comparative value of certain types of ministry.
While many Anglicans may wrongly undervalue the work of youth ministers, and while we may deplore the loss of such positions, is it fair to take a swipe at the ministry of other individuals carried out so diligently and faithfully?
In my experience of working with archivists at the diocesan and national levels, I have met individuals who deeply care not only about the sacred trust of being stewards of our churches’ documentary heritage. I have experienced people whose work deeply assists in the working through of current issues in the life of the church (especially with respect to making right our legacy over residential schools, disputes of property) and who are deeply concerned with how stewardship of the knowledge of our past will direct us faithfully in our proclamation of the gospel to future generations.
Both our archivists and our youth ministers are to be commended, thanked, and upheld in our prayers, not played off against each other as scapegoats. The body of Christ has many members each with their own unique gifts and purpose.
I was keenly disappointed at the lack of the Cryptic Crossword in your March edition. I look forward to it and usually spend more time attempting to complete it than I care to admit.
I hope this feature will be re-instated.
Editor’s note: Due to budget constraints and space limitations, the crossword appears every other month.
There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the war between Israel and the Hamas Palestinians of Gaza is horrible beyond all understanding, but let us not turn the table on the real truth of the issue of the cause of civilian casualties.
The Anglican Journal in the February issue has done much harm in playing up the very one-sided stand taken by Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada when she blames Israel for the devastation of Gaza and ignoring completely the fact that children and civilians have been killed, not because they were targeted by the Israelis, but because the Hamas Palestinians used these innocents as human shields.
The world has been plagued by “Jew bashing” for many, many centuries, and the current push by many is revitalizing this trend. The Journal has not helped.
Aid for the victims of this war, and many other wars around the world, is certainly very much needed and warranted, but we do not need another era of the purging of the Jewish people.
Fabian W. Hugh
As world leaders gathered in England to discuss the economic crisis, expectations were low. This was to be expected as they looked to solve a new problem using old assumptions.
The present “recession” is not like recessions of the past. Traditional economics is based on expansion. Today, little room remains on our finite planet for continuous growth. Long-term well-being will not be secured through the economics of expansion.
On a subtle level, we all know this. We entered this downturn following the potent “one, two” experience of awakening to climate change, followed by high oil prices, highlighting the diminishing nature of that resource. Both these issues reflect real limits and the need for an approach to mutual provision (the economy) that acknowledges such limits.
Recognition that the human family has grown up – and that it is time to adopt a mature approach to providing for our needs – is necessary to assure a future for our grandchildren. If the G-20 fathomed this change, they could be more hopeful about finding effective solutions.
My congratulations and total support to Bishop Ronald Ferris (Bishop Ferris joins ANiC, March Journal) for standing by his convictions. I would like to believe (as in dream) that if there were more with his strength we would not have this division among us.
Elliot Lake, Ont.
Give a toonie or a loonie
Re: Amazing Grace: The Sequel (April editorial). Yes, we can ask or imagine. As a former chair of the outreach and mission standing committee and also of the enabling of the social outreach grants committee of the diocese of Montreal, I am well aware of the exemplary and extraordinary work being accomplished year after year by the Council of the North.
This is a part of the mission of our church that we should undertake with all earnestness, enthusiasm, energy and long term commitment.
The implied suggestion to make use of the First Nations Sunday to raise the necessary funds for this important work has great potential. I would suggest that we encourage our members to make a toonie/loonie contribution.
All our leaders at the national, diocesan, deanery and parish levels need to get involved actively in publicizing this effort. What God wants us to do is clear. Shall we boldly and prayerfully seek “more than we can ask or imagine?”
David J. Daniel
William Bedford of Toronto raised three questions in his letter (Three questions, March Journal).
First, regarding baptism. John the Baptist proclaimed a baptism of repentance with a ritual washing symbolizing God’s forgiveness of sin. Yet Jesus was without sin, so this type of baptism would not be appropriate (see Matthew 3: 13-15). Jesus made his baptism a ritual of commitment to obey God’s will and expects his followers to follow his example. For us sinners both aspects are appropriate.
Secondly, when you assume both a male and a female are required to produce a son, the Son of God, you are giving God human limitations. Life in God’s kingdom of heaven does not abide by human standards. Jesus explained this to the Sadducees in Matthew 22: 15 – 33. Jesus said there is no marriage in heaven. Presumably, God, who created the universe when he spoke, could also create a spiritual person. If not, who created the angels? Thirdly, yes, Jesus was fully human and fully divine (Articles of Religion in the Book of Common Prayer No. 2,4 and 15). Jesus called himself the Son of man. Christians call him the Son of God.
Ear Falls, Ont.
It is written
In response to C.P.S. Taylor’s question, Suppose Sadducees and Pharisees brought a gay person before Jesus (April letters). Jesus most likely would have said, “Where are your accusers?”
“None here, Lord,” might have been the reply. “Then go and sin no more, for it is written in the Book of Moses what your sin is. Read it for yourself, believe and repent.”
It is reported that Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality. But 13 times, he said, “It is written.”
The fire death rate for Canadians is 1.25 per 100,000 people. But for Canadians on a First Nations reserve, the fire death rate is 7.44 per 100,000.
We are 2,000 homes short in Manitoba and 87,000 short across Canada, so a single home will have 12 or more residents. The homes are built with substandard materials and without plumbing.
There is simply no excuse for the federal government to be playing the role of slum landlord while these people are living in appalling conditions and dying at a rate six times that of their mainstream neighbours.