Letters to the editor

Published September 1, 2009

The Anglican Journal

What did Jesus look like? No one knows

“Jesus wept!” is the shortest sentence in the Bible. The fact that Jesus cried
is proof that He was fully human as well as divine. Life in Biblical times was, no doubt, very hard, Still, there must have been times when Jesus took time out from preaching and teaching to have a little fun.

No one, of course, knows what Jesus looked like. The pictures of Jesus we have in our minds were put there by ancient artists who used their imagination to depict Him in great works of art such as The Last Supper and the Pieta. The adult Jesus is usually pictured as a tall, auburn-haired serious fellow, while the baby Jesus is invariably blond and blue-eyed. The fact that Jesus was a Semite means he was, in all likelihood, swarthy, with dark hair and eyes.

However, it’s not the physical appearance of Jesus that matters. What matters is that the ancient artists always portrayed him as either serious or suffering. It’s true that Jesus was a serious person who suffered greatly, and the artists of yore were merely putting the words of the Bible into visual form, though why they never portrayed him in a rage is hard to understand. After all, Jesus must have been as mad as a hornet when he drove the money-changers from the temple.

And even though the Bible never mentions a laughing Jesus, that’s no reason why the Old Masters couldn’t have used a little common sense and shown him smiling in a few scenes. And, by never showing Jesus in a joyful mood, clerics down the ages have felt compelled to condemn many, and in some cases any forms of human entertainment as sinful.

By changing water into wine at the Cana wedding, Jesus showed he was no party-pooper, and before that wedding feast was over he must, surely, have had a good laugh at something or other. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, et al would have given us a much happier vision of the human condition if only they had shown us the other side of the coin: that Jesus, being human, was capable of laughing, as well as crying.

As for the biblical scribes, all they had to do, was add one more short sentence to the scriptures: “Jesus laughed!”
William Bedford

Urban myth, not fact

Linda Wilkins Parker (Letters, June) should be advised there is little likelihood of infection from a eucharistic chalice. The alcohol would eliminate risk of contagion; the chalice is also rotated and wiped repeatedly during communion. In every respect, a chalice would be infinitely preferable to the potentially unsanitary use of paper cups to which Ms. Parker refers! Ms. Parker’s anxieties are more typical of urban myth than medical fact.
K. Corey Keeble

Editor’s note: Dioceses are responsible for issuing their own guidelines to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus in their parishes and congregations, confirms Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada. Dioceses such as Toronto, Huron, Niagara, and New Westminster have made their Influenza Pandemic Response Plans available on their diocesan Web sites.

Negative views unwelcome

An article regarding the decision to permit same-sex blessings in the diocese of Niagara, Deep divide over sexuality continues, quotes the negative views of Bishop Don Harvey, Executive Archdeacon Charles Masters and Bishop Bill Anderson. As a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada and Diocese of Ottawa for almost 35 years, I find this upsetting.

I recognize that the Journal has editorial independence, but perhaps it is time to consider that many parishes and clergy feel unsupported, if not actually hurt, by this type of reporting.
Canon Roger A. Young

New conservative denomination cause for sadness

Re: The birth of a new, conservative denomination (Editorial, June)

It fills me with profound sadness, and not respect, that the centuries-old communion of Anglican saints is being torn apart. How we must grieve the Holy One with our petty fights, prideful power struggles and lack of love and forgiveness. What an example we are showing to the citizens of Canada and the world. What a waste of time, energy and money that could be better used to love and support others, and to help the poor, sick, and others suffering from injustice.

My prayer is that all of us, conservatives and liberals alike, be brought back to the core of our faith: God and love. May the Creator forgive us, and help us to [find] love, peace and unity.
Terry Vatrt

Covenant’s authority

RE: Future shape of Anglican Communion uncertain, says Archbishop of Canterbury

How can we be sure that the covenant idea has merit? I said from the outset that we should look to Canada’s experience with its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While hailed by many, a lot of court-practicing lawyers will disagree and point out the countless hours and costs in criminal courts. The bottom line may be very questionable. Now the Archbishop of Canterbury appears to be saying “sign” or divide further. I respectfully disagree.
Peter Swan
Kingston, Ont.

Hope for us yet

Re: Diocese of Niagara to offer same-sex blessings (Journal Web site) Good for the Diocese of Niagara.There is hope for the Anglican Church when people act with justice, courage and the compassion of Jesus!
William and Mary Duff

Lots in common

With all the discussion, controversy and disagreement within the Anglican Communion, we need to remember we have certain things in common. We believe in God as revealed in Jesus. We are following Jesus as his disciples. We adhere to and express our Christian faith within the ethos of the Anglican way, with its strength and weaknesses. We do have something in common.
John Serjeantion
Bolton, Que.

Amend the canon

Shame, shame, triple shame on every member of the Council of General Synod for not requesting General Synod 2010 to amend the marriage canon to allow gay, lesbian and transgenders to participate fully in the Anglican Church by allowing us to partake of the sacrament of marriage.

It is days like today that make me ashamed to say I belong to the Anglican Church of Canada.
Boyce H. Rice
Halifax, N.S.

Falling apart

The Anglican Church of Canada is falling apart. When institutional Christianity seeks to establish a kingdom on earth by preaching a gospel of scientific materialism whose goal is the pursuit of individual happiness with sexual gratification, it is hard to hear the voice of our Lord.
Karl L. Erdman

Misleading, confusing

Your June article regarding the New Westminster trial contains several misleading and confusing statements. The parishes and priests did not vote to split from the Anglican Church of Canada; they voted to re-align with more scripturally-based Anglicans.
Gary T. English
Woodbridge, Ont.

Not perfect

The Anglican Church of Canada has been in decline since 1966 and very few congregations can reverse this. We should be more concerned with the Kingdom of God than the institutional church.
Michael Li
Cobourg, Ont.

Good out of evil

Re: I want to tell you why I lost my arms (May).

Like many Anglicans who read the story of the young woman whose brother-in-law cut off her arms, I was shaken to the core. I also was challenged to do something and donate to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). Perhaps if enough of us give, this young woman will get the help she so desperately needs.
Patricia Purdy
Grand Forks, B.C.

Not one bad word

That was a wonderful gesture of William Woodford to give his settlement money to a homeless shelter in Winnipeg.

I am sorry he has bad memories of Elkhorn Indian residential school (IRS). In Harry Miller’s book The Spirit Lives On, the story of the 1990 school reunion, not one former student had anything bad to say about Elkhorn IRS. Many of the former students had become very successful (e.g. Dr. Abel Spence, Canon Danny Umperville).

When former students say they were abused and are not willing to say who abused them then we former staff have doubts about the truth of it all.
Bernice Logan
Tangier, N.S.


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