Has the church been neighbour to the mentally ill?
A heartfelt thanks for publishing the article Out of the shadows and into the light, by Tali Folkins (Nov. 2015, p. 3). I am a Christian man who has lived with a bipolar disorder for 40 years. During these years I have often been saddened, and sometimes angered, by the church’s silence concerning the lives of the mentally ill. It is as if the church were unaware of the terrifying pain that we endure.
A majority of those who commit suicide were living with mental illness. There are too many of us to ignore. One in every five Canadians experiences a mental disorder in any given year. Yet, for the most part, the church has remained silent. Are we invisible? Are we unworthy? Doesn’t the church hear our cries?
The church, like the rest of society, has seemed to turn away from us, thus reinforcing the powerful stigma associated with mental illness. We have not been looked upon with the eyes of Christ. This is a tragedy because the words and deeds of Jesus would console our broken hearts. The church has hidden the light of Christ under a bushel basket. I am reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan, where a priest and a Levite both passed by the man in the ditch. They were not “neighbour” to the man. Has the church been neighbour to the mentally ill?
The publication of Out of the shadows and into the light is a sign of hope that we who live with mental illness will be embraced by the compassionate arms of the church. There is no time to delay. Remember the words of Christ: As long as you did not do this to the least of my sisters and brothers, you did not do it to me.
Light in darkness
Thank you for the superb article on mental health problems and spirituality (Out of the shadows and into the light, Nov. 2015, p. 3), as well as thanks to Melanie Delva and the Rev. Claire Miller, who shared their personal stories.
The article will hopefully encourage Anglicans who struggle with mental health issues, giving assurance that God is with them, even in the darkness.
The Rev. Timothy Kuhlmann
Chaplain, Kingston General Hospital, Ont.
Despair and hope
The November issue illustrated my hope and despair for our Anglican Communion. Jean Gower’s letter on same-sex marriage, Jesus must weep at our lack of Christian charity and inclusiveness (Letters, p. 5), reminded me of how our timidity and weakness have trumped love and compassion.
The Commission on the Marriage Canon report added to my despair with its “theologically possible” but not necessarily “theologically desirable” approach, and its prescription of “discerning God’s will,” which has been a convenient, bureaucratic excuse for inaction for many years on this and other issues.
I found hope in Bishop Mark MacDonald’s article (Our agenda, as we wake up, p. 5) on moving from institutional membership to communion. I, too, would like to “live together in a community of moral imagination—rethinking our lives in the light of the gospel.”
I have recently retreated from institutional membership, while I ponder the possibilities—and opportunities.
Agape and eros
Regarding the upcoming General Synod, is the Anglican Journal going to endorse either the traditionalist or the modernist understanding of marriage in the church?
I hope that the church might resolve this issue, following more closely the model identified in the essay, “On Ceremonies” (Book of Common Prayer), where “it was thought expedient, not so much to have respect how to please and satisfy either of these parties, as how to please God, and profit them both.”
I’d like to believe that the Journal is presenting a perspective that is as objective as is possible, but your editorial bias seems very much pro-change. At least it felt that way in the February and the November 2015 editorials.
Paul, in his Letter to the Corinthians, includes adultery and homosexual relations among the practices that prevent the practitioner from inheriting the Kingdom of God. What does this mean, “to inherit the Kingdom of God”?
The state already provides for secular marriage. Maybe all a homosexual union would require in order to be consistent with Scripture would be a ceremony that includes a vow of lifelong celibacy. We could get over this confusion between love as agape and love as eros.
I’d like to see some outreach (especially in this newspaper) to regain the trust of those Christians who left the Anglican Church of Canada over this issue.
Life and Jesus
I was pleased to see the article: New words for the old service (Nov. 2015, p. 13). It represents the reason why we have waited for 30 years before bringing out a new book since the Book of Alternative Services. It seems to say that the church’s worship and life should be about linking all life with Jesus—not pushing the outdated theology of the early church that is not faithful to what Jesus was about and taught.
When I retired as an Anglican priest,I soon wrote my own service, which is about the former. My wife and I use it every Sunday at home, but we miss the church community.
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