May 2015 Letters to the Editor

Published April 23, 2015

(These letters were first published in the May 2015 issue of the Anglican Journal.)

Hospice volunteer gives new meaning to dying well

Colin Proudman (Dying Well, Letters, Feb. 2015, p. 4) correctly points out that the root meaning of the word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek, meaning “dying well” (sometimes translated “good death”). And “who would not wish” that?

He also correctly points out that euthanasia has commonly come to mean terminating life or assisted suicide. Here are some other definitions:

Hospice: a guesthouse for travellers, from French and Latin roots hospitium, hospes (a stranger treated as a guest).

Palliative: to alleviate symptoms of a disease without curing.

I volunteer on a hospice unit alongside nursing staff and other specially trained volunteers. A highlight of the week is the weekly tea party. Tablecloths and bone china cups are brought out, cookies are donated, and tea and coffee made ready for our guests: family, friends and patients well enough to participate.

Strangers who have become friends and “family” return to remember a loved one who died several years ago, sharing tears and laughter, hugs and a deep joy that a loved one “died well.”

Maureen Bedford


Beautiful hymn

Thanks to the primate for telling us about the inspiration he has received from the beautiful hymn by Henry Ernest Hardy-not Handy, as in the typo in the article itself (‘O Dearest Lord,’ March 2015, p. 5). The hymn is notable for having integrated into modern Anglicanism a modest level of devotion to the Sacred Heart (verse 4).

Hardy is better known as Father Andrew, SDC (Society of the Divine Compassion)-the first Franciscan community to be founded (in 1894) among Anglicans since the Reformation. He wrote many popular books of spirituality, and was respected as an outstanding spiritual director.

I heard about the SDC from my dear colleague, Mark Kemp, at different times a parish priest in Ontario, Michigan and British Columbia, where we worked together in Trail, in the diocese of Kootenay. Mark (his Franciscan name-his birth name was Eric Nelson Kemp) was the last novice in the SDC.

The spiritual energy of the SDC, which closed mid-20th century, has been taken up into the Society of St. Francis, now a vigorous Franciscan presence in the Anglican Communion, with many members of its Third Order living in Canada.

Donald Grayston

Indigenous people appreciated God ‘from their interaction with the world’

I appreciated the views on freedom of expression between the various religious leaders of different faiths (Freedom of expression versus religious sensibilities: What’s the balance? March 2015, p. 3).

Bishop Michael Ingham put all in perspective when he said, “There is no unlimited right to freedom of speech and no absolute right to freedom…democracy requires a consensus…” This was one basic belief of many of our tribes on Turtle Island before contact.

Many hurtful things have been said, written and glorified regarding the traditional beliefs and way of life of my Aboriginal ancestors. Obviously, much damage has been done and there needs to be a lot of work and understanding to bring change to these views and those things that demonized my people. Dialogue as such brings understanding to this issue, and the fact that many peoples share the hurt on the issue of racism.

Bishop Mark MacDonald’s column (An Indigenous teaching that may surprise, March 2015, p. 5) gives light to the much-needed harmony in the understanding of Indigenous conceptions of God and who He is. As we can see, there are many such different conceptions on how we interpret the Creator of the universe. My own “search” for the true God has been long and full of setbacks, including racism. [The scripture] I read in my search, that brings some…peace of mind and takes away 500 years of propaganda, is Romans 1:18-19, which states that we are shown the face of the Creator with the creation of the world around us. My people based their life on this concept and knew the Creator of the universe since time [immemorial]. It was something they knew and appreciated from their interaction with the world around them.

Carl McCorrister
Peguis First Nation

In praise of restraint

I would like to praise most English Canadian media for their restraint in [not]creating a potential backlash against people of Muslim faith. It is vitally important that we strengthen our interfaith relations at this trying time, when we could easily be tempted to abandon mutual respect and peaceful dialogue. I am a member of one of our Christian denominations, and the onus is on all of us to maintain our traditions of peaceful dialogue.

The Rev. Fletcher Stewart


Journeys of life

I am not surprised that someone can belong to the church and go off the rails, blow their top, have a nervous breakdown, even commit suicide, because of intolerable inner pain. The church, for the most part, appears to be a group, a society for religious and social extrovert activists.

In practice, so often, the shoulds, musts, oughts, law and judgmentalism come before grace. The inner life, the dark night of the senses, is not acknowledged, just projected.

We need to make the journey inwards, as well as the journey outwards.

John Serjeantson
Cowansville, Que.




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