As the Anglican Journal marks its 130th anniversary, we would like to hear from readers: what were your favourite stories and features? What has the newspaper meant to you as an Anglican? In the coming issues, we will feature some of your recollections. Please write to [email protected] or Letters, Anglican Journal, 80 Hayden St., Toronto ON, M4Y 3G2.
I have just completed a public memoir, Picnics on the Volcano, about how profoundly the column I wrote 20 years for the Anglican Journal affected my church-driven existence. Little things creep now and then into our lives that we never think for a moment will disrupt all that we are and ever may be.
The Journal column was like that, allowing me to write once a month to all the Anglicans in Canada about whatever was on my mind at the moment.
My mandate was to write about the world outside the church with colour, humour and perspective. I came in at the height of the hippie movement, a time of change and confusion. The way I earned my living, running a group home for street teens, a vibrant downtown bookshop, working in a prison, all had an impact on what I wrote.
At last, like Frodo with the ring, I discovered, one awful spring, the responsibility that came with the column and what I must do. Because of it, I was thrown into the hardest battle of my life. If it had not been for the column I might have walked away from picketing a cathedral but I owed too much for the privilege of having been able to say what I needed to say all those years.
And that, of course, was the end of my association with the Journal. This is, in short form, what it has just taken me 375 pages to say in greater detail, about how a small monthly writing assignment can have consequences that affect you forever.
Perhaps we all have such sacred trusts in our lives, resting lightly in our pockets as we go about our business in the world until one day, the account comes due. I was privileged to have been part of something glorious. I shall always be grateful.
Good, yet unsettling
The Anglican Journal has kept me aware of what is going on in other parts of the Anglican Church of Canada, and in other Anglican churches worldwide. This is good, but also unsettling. The good part is the uplifting feeling of being part of a huge body of believers. The unsettling part is that frequently, the church I see depicted bears little resemblance to the congregation I belong to, or to what I think the Anglican church is. Sometimes I see things I wish were happening here; often I am puzzled or disturbed by what other Anglicans are saying and doing.