Episcopal projectiles welcome here
In his comments regarding the consecration of two conservative American priests in Singapore (Consecrations Spark Outrage, March Journal), Primate Michael Peers says, ?Bishops are not intercontinental missiles, manufactured on one continent and fired into another as an act of aggression.? Many Canadian Anglicans who cherish Anglican tradition and catholic order would look upon the arrival of these episcopal projectiles into our ecclesiastical provinces as an act of encouragement rather than aggression.
Weary of a constant bombardment from our own hierarchy in the form of altered liturgy, women priests and now generic language, frustrated Anglicans would welcome the support of outside bishops who hold conservative views. To date the difficulties encountered in attempts to resist change have forced too many of our concerned Anglicans to abandon parishes and even the church.
Talk of ballistic missiles seems to usher in a technological era that may see a turning point in this exodus. May the force be with us!
William J. Holtham
Heed this advice
Regarding the Singapore consecrations: the people who are ?appalled? and ?outraged? at the action taken by ?foreign? primates would do well to heed some advice once given in not altogether dissimilar circumstances: ?And now I say to you, refrain from these men and leave them alone, for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it ? lest you even be found to fight against God.? (Acts 5: 38, 39)
Port Alberni, B.C.
Rejoicing at news
Your report on the reaction of the Anglican community to the Singapore consecrations is probably correct as far as it goes. However, there is yet a considerable sector of those, who once hailed the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials as a beacon that would draw our apostate institution back to the Apostolic faith, who now rejoice.
I regard this event as a work of the Holy Spirit in response to the prayerful cries of those who have discerned the conversion of the church by the culture. I would add to your editorial that what should matter to Canadians from Joe Batts Arm to Upper Skeena is recognition that collegiality and unity should not be embraced at the expense of truth ? it will eventually rock the boat.
Staff never abusive
A letter writer said she would like to hear from students who attended residential schools.
I was in the Chapleau Anglican Indian residential school for seven years, attended high school in the non-Native community (Chapleau) and completed my education in Ottawa. I worked in the federal government for 33 years.
During those seven years there was no abuse by staff members and many of us can attest to that for Chapleau. Any abuse that occurred was children against children.
We on this reserve were not forcefully removed from home. Our Protestant school closed, the Roman Catholic convent would not accept us and we went to Chapleau with my mother?s blessing.
Those who claim abuse should identify the residential schools they attended and prove abuse, and not speak for all residential school attendees.
Loving actions can still be racist
One cannot deny Bernice Logan?s experience, as reported in her letter (Missionaries not racist, February Letters), but I would argue with her understanding of what constitutes racism. Racism does not necessarily carry with it ?hatred and ill intent.? My edition of the Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as simply ?belief in the superiority of a particular race.? This attitude has in fact often carried with it love for the ?less superior? ones, and certainly many actions resulting from good intent. But, the consequences of service based on such an attitude are eventually devastating, and must be acknowledged as ?racist.?
Volunteering a privilege
I was happy to see in the Journal that the little-known Volunteers in Mission program was highlighted, (Wanted: Volunteers in Mission, March Journal)
However, as I read the article, I found that it stressed the negative to such a degree that I personally would have had no desire to enquire any further. And as the returned volunteer who was interviewed by phone, I would like to rectify that impression ? because negative, my two years were not!
I feel extremely privileged to have been a VIM. I think back to the welcome and acceptance into that third world community and of being able to walk with them on their journey, sharing their joys and frustrations.
I think particularly of the students ? some of the incredible discussions we had; the intense pride they had for their country; the journal writing with moving accounts of their childhood or vivid descriptions of the current drought, famine or flood in their home villages; I remember the feeling of sheer thankfulness that I was there and able to share in these experiences, thoughts and feelings.
I think also of the women ? the singing, fun, laughter, prayer, and their indomitable spirit as they work for their families, their church and to better the lot of women in general.
There are so many other great memories, but I will just confirm that the financial, emotional and spiritual support of my parish, and indeed diocese, was crucial; at times the prayer was almost tangible and I can?t thank them enough.
Finally, it?s a horrible cliché to say that I received far more than I gave, but it?s true.
This is a great program, and to be a volunteer in mission is a challenging and wonderful way to spend two years. I wouldn?t have missed it for anything and as I think of those 42 jobs waiting to be filled, I pray that Jill Cruse, the VIM co-ordinator, is inundated with enquiries!
Out of the cold and away from the bank
I have been contacted by many readers who read about the struggle of Anglicans in Inuvik to open a permanent church (New Church for Inuvik, March Journal).
Let?s send a message to the aboriginal people of Canada?s North that they are part of a larger Anglican community of faith. Where temperatures go down to 80 below zero, it is important that we have brought fellow Anglicans out of the cold. Now let?s finish the job and bring them out of the bank!
The Inuvik church?s address is:
The Church of the Ascension
194 MacKenzie Road, Box 1040
Inuvik, NT X0E 0T0.
Who needs Bible?
Re: Building Sacred Spaces Beyond the Church (March Journal.) Why don?t we just abolish the church and go new age entirely? Just think, no buildings to look after, no lawsuits, no 39 articles of faith, no prayer book, no God, no Christ, no Holy Spirit, no rectors. Who needs the Bible? Any spiritual book will do.
Just think, I can start my own sacred space at home. Lets see now, a little dirt from the garden, a few rusty nails, a couple of rocks from the driveway, a fur ball from the cat, an old hubcap from a ?59 Chevy, a book of new-age poems and I?m all set.
Avoid contact with pagan religions
I was quite disturbed by the prominent place that ancient aboriginal spirituality and Eastern religious activities were given in the development of the ?sacred spaces.?
Though I do not disagree with the concept of a special place within the home, or at work, for meditating on the word and worshipping our Lord, I do object to the promotion of acts that are directly related to the worship of other gods.
In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were warned to avoid all contact with the pagan religions practiced by the residents of the land. They ignored the warning, were seduced into worshipping other gods and as a result suffered the consequences for their disobedience.
This warning in Scripture has been provided so that we can learn from their error, and not be lured away from proper worship of the one true God. Dabbling in the practices of other religions is dangerous and can only lead to spiritual corruption and ruin.
Much to learn
Can one be a neo-pagan and a Christian? Can a Christian see God manifested in a towering redwood tree as much as in a cathedral? How generous and accepting is your God? These are questions that came to mind, upon reading your editorial, More Openness Needed in Dialogue with Other Faiths, February Journal.
It struck me that your editor?s God is indeed generous and open. The views he expressed demonstrate ?Christ consciousness? to me ? the essence of Jesus? teachings. Jesus taught through parables. He demonstrated in a way his listeners could absorb. He spoke in an accessible language. He came from acceptance and forgiveness and welcomed those whose diet, job or circumstances put them in default of the purity laws of the time.
He listened. To listen is not to agree, but to hear, to get to know. When I?m in conversation with someone who is open, accepting and secure in their belief, I hear that they?re not preaching but teaching and sharing. Not being on the defensive, I?ve got room to listen.
Active listening and discerning are Christian tools; so is meditation. If the church starts using and teaching them and is willing to have a conversation on why a significant number of people find the church has no soul, each side might find out how very similar they are and how much each may enrich the other.
As an Anglican and the co-ordinator for spiritual vitality at Toronto?s Church of the Messiah, I facilitated a labyrinth walk on the two days spanning the cusp of the millennium. My ability to do this was learned through years of studying Native Indian spirituality, world religions and philosophies as well as Christianity. Am I less of a Christian? It?s people like your editor that encourage me to dig deeper into Christianity, to feel welcome, to be inspired and encouraged.
The age of Pisces, the age of duality, is over; we are in the age of Aquarius, the age of unity. Conversation is the beginning of community. Let?s talk, we have much to learn together.
Religion upside down
?Maybe we should welcome some witches,? writes the editor. Ecumenism may be the greatest and most successful religious direction of the last century, and it has far to go yet, but the Archbishop of Cape Town and the Chief Rabbi of South Africa voice a concern about the presence of Wicca at the Parliament of the World?s Religions at Cape Town, that we should understand better before we call it misplaced.
Witches are attractive, especially in these do-it-yourself days, aware of God?s presence and power everywhere. There is much we can learn to our advantage but there is a difference between the fundamental approaches of prayer and spell. Our prayer (Thy Kingdom Come) puts us under the will of God, (Thy Will Be Done) whereas a spell puts God, or spiritual power, under the Wiccan will.
This is worth thinking about, because we are always asking God to fill our needs, and on occasion the most aggressive of us may ask God to change his will in our favour, meaning we are getting near the religious danger line. But when the Wiccan weaves a spell, is it upon the object of concern, or upon God, the source of power?
The most charming and impressive witches are the ones who radiate the confidence that God is in their pockets. Wiccan is all very well if you like your religion upside down.
Rev. Herbert Oldfield
Mill Bay, B.C.
Be quiet and listen
Your editorial on welcoming witches into our churches was refreshing and doubtless controversial. You ask why neo-pagan religions such as Wicca are so appealing in North America now. Certainly there is the novelty value and anti-establishment attraction. In my work as a university chaplain I come across many students who were raised as least nominally as Christian, but who experiment with neo-pagan groups as part of their testing the waters away from home.
But a more lasting appeal, and one which I believe we must ponder as Christians, is the way in which Wicca and other neo-pagan spiritualities affirm the sacredness of the natural world, the body, femaleness, sexuality and the divine feminine/the Goddess. These affirmations have long been missing in Christianity, which so easily slips into a dualistic stance where heaven, the spirit, maleness, asceticism and a Father God are elevated as supreme.
It is too patronizing to say that we should welcome some witches into our empty pews, and offer them the spiritual milk of a simplified Christianity. I doubt that there would be many takers! Rather, it is perhaps time for us to learn from the wisdom of traditions other than our own.
Sometimes in interfaith dialogue Christians have to learn to be quiet and listen.
Rev. Lucy Reid
Richer abort more
While there is much to disagree with in Eric Beresford?s negative assessment of fetal spina bifida surgery (Image of Tiny Hand Does Not Resolve Abortion Debate, March 2000), his assertion that the poor, powerless and marginalized rely more on abortion services flies in the face of repeated studies (including Statistics Canada until they stopped tracking abortion) that indicate that middle and upper class women abort in far greater numbers than the poor.
Richmond Hill, Ont.
Canon Beresford responds: I did not offer a negative assessment of spina bifida surgery. I stated that we need to be aware of the social context of such surgery and the disparities which people experience in access to this or any form of treatment.
The article does not claim ?the poor and marginalized rely more on abortion services,? only that the experience of marginalization was a factor for those who saw abortion as their only choice. Historically, marginalization has been the experience of women in our society in all classes. Middle and upper class women may have had more choices in how to respond to this experience, including improved access to abortion.
Up the garden path
Rev. George Porthan minces no words in his letter regarding the book, Suicide, by Rev. Marney Patterson (Who?s the Heretic?, February letters). Porthan?s theology that Christianity begins at the font is a church belief that has been around for so long that nobody knows where it came from. It is church believer (Porthan), versus Bible believer (Patterson). The trouble is that Porthanism prevails in the Anglican Church even today and has for generation after generation sent people up the garden path to an uncertain eternity.
If Porthan was a true believer in ?font? Christianity why doesn?t he take this salvation to the people where they live and stop using it as a recruitment tool for the church?