Letters

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Not respectable

Dear editor,

I was taken aback to read, in October’s Anglican Journal, that “the wedding (of Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul) “could hardly have been more respectable since the vice-regal couple’s nuptials were solemnized by the head of the Anglican Church in Canada ?.”

Article 26 of the 39 Articles tells us that the unworthiness of the ministers does not hinder the effect of the sacrament. If this is indeed the case, it is hard to see how the “worthiness” or high rank of the minister makes any rite of the church more effective or “respectable.” It certainly cannot give Ms. Clarkson’s and Mr. Ralston Saul’s marriage the “respectability” it would have enjoyed had they been married from the outset of their liaison.

Or perhaps the reference to “respectability” was meant to conjure up the faded glories of the family compact, when the Anglican Church of Canada was truly the establishment. Quite apart from the fact that this is no longer the case in our pluralistic society, we may ask ourselves whether it is the mission of Christ’s church ? in any era ? to lend respectability to the famous and the powerful if they lack it themselves.

G. E. Goulden
Toronto
(by e-mail)

God help us

Dear editor,
I was delighted to read that Archbishop Tay of Singapore did not attend the meeting of the primates’ standing committee in Scotland last month (Bishop of Singapore Slams Other Provinces for ‘Departing from the Faith.’)

It is good to know that there is at least one bishop left in the Anglican Communion who is prepared to stand up and be counted against “the increasing number of bishops and primates who are deliberately going against the Lambeth resolutions on biblical authority and morality.”

Primus Richard Holloway has written some helpful material in the past. Perhaps his least helpful is given in his statement that “we contain among ourselves the complete range of views that characterize the Anglican family?” I was not aware that heresy and immorality were included in that complete range.

Given the so-called “inclusivity” of which Richard Holloway wrote, one wonders if there is any belief or practice that would exclude a person from holding office within the Anglican Communion.

God help us if we are called to celebrate differences and disagreements that come down to nothing other than a denial of Christ and his gospel.

Bryan Hardman
Toronto

Inappropriate use

Dear editor,
I was appalled to read Fr. David Curry’s comments comparing efforts at liturgical revision to “ethnic cleansing.”

The outrageous use of this term is most inappropriate and I object to it in the strongest terms. As we have seen in recent months in Kosovo, “ethnic cleansing” is a deliberate and brutal campaign of rape, torture, arson and murder whose aim is to drive a specific ethnic group from their homes.

Have Book of Common Prayer churches been set ablaze? Have BCP-supporting clergy been beaten or tortured or raped for their views? Clearly not. The use of the term ethnic cleansing to describe discussions about the next incarnation of a prayer book in Canada constitutes a fear-mongering propaganda campaign whose intent is to stir up paranoid and violent emotions. The use of this term is offensive to the sensibilities of any compassionate human being who has been following news reports of the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and other parts of the former Yugoslavia. It is offensive to the memory of those who have died in these genocidal campaigns, and to those who have survived the brutality. It has no place in the discourse of the Anglican Church of Canada, and especially from the mouth of a priest of the church.

I am also deeply concerned about the reported statement attributed to Bishop Burton, who seems to be tying support for liturgical revision to a probable financial crisis. Surely a bishop is not resorting to financial threats in this discussion? I trust we will read a correction or retraction of these unfortunate comments in a future issue.

Rev. Alan T. Perry
Pierrefonds, Que.
(by e-mail)

Important qualifier

Dear editor,
As editors know, headlines catch people’s attention. They also excite reactions. In response to your letter writers, clearly words do matter. Words such as “like” and “kind of” signal metaphors which do not claim an identity but some degree or other of similarity. In this case they are the important qualifiers to the words “ethnic cleansing.” Without them, the use of the phrase would be more than flippant and demeaning. But without metaphors, our discourse would be banal and colourless, dull and sanitized.

The contemporary debates in political philosophy between communitarians and liberals at the very least point to the question of the place of religion in public life and culture. They call for a re-appreciation of the integrity of our spiritual traditions in the face of the angry emptiness and the anxious fearfulness of contemporary culture. But beyond the communitarians’ “belief in believing” and the liberals’ desire for “moralizing stories,” surely the church should be the voice for the substance of belief and morality. For Anglicans that might mean a renewed confidence in the “fullness of the faith” as we have received it in our claim to be “an integral portion” within the “fellowship of the one holy Catholic and apostolic church.” But that would mean honouring our spiritual derivations. It is in the wilful forgetting of our roots that we face, I dared to say, “a kind of ethnic cleansing.”

Rev. David Curry
Windsor, NS
(by e-mail)

Staying home

Dear editor,
Congratulations to Bishop Anthony Burton who has the wisdom and understanding to warn his fellow bishops about attempts to abolish our traditional Book of Common Prayer.

As a businessman, I could not successfully operate our company the way the Anglican Church of Canada has been operating over the past several years. Quite frankly, I would be bankrupt. The last thing a business should do is alienate their loyal customers.

Unfortunately, many of the Anglican Church hierarchy and priests under their direction not only lack business experience but also good public relations skills. The ruthless imposition of the Book of Alternative Services on unwilling congregations, often in total disregard to the wishes of the people in the pews, has upset large numbers of loyal Anglicans. Many bishops have reputedly taken the view that they can turn a blind eye to the needs of their own people.

What the bishops have forgotten is that many Anglicans have somewhere else to go ? they are staying at home in increasing numbers, withdrawing their money and support.

Repeated attempts to “modernize” and whip congregants into shape have only worsened the situation leaving many previously faithful Anglicans feeling resentful at the treatment shown to them. If the hierarchy manoeuvre to abolish the Book of Common Prayer at the next General Synod the consequences will be devastating to the Anglican Church.

Thomas A. Wardle Jr.
Toronto

Well above average

Dear editor,
Permit me to congratulate you on two excellent articles in the June edition, both by Vianney Carriere, The Primate Abroad, and Traveller’s Notebook. Not only is the material interesting, but the writing is also excellent. One does not see a lot of good writing these days, although the Anglican Journal is well above the average in this regard. Thank you.

Rev. James C. Thompson
Richmond, Va.

Don’t blame Clarke

Dear editor,
Having lived my entire life in the Diocese of Edmonton until a year ago, it was with interest that I read the September article, Edmonton Churches Face Challenges. The tale of financially struggling parishes, isolation, and feelings of abandonment within the rural congregations is not new. Bishop Matthews is to be commended for her determined efforts to rectify these problems.

Conversely, I was totally dumbfounded by the insertion of a paragraph that had absolutely no bearing on the issues at hand. I refer to, “part of the problem was that the then bishop, Kent Clarke, who was the region’s archbishop, was forced to resign in 1987 because of alcoholism.” This statement clearly implies that many of the diocese’s woes can be blamed on Archbishop Clarke. Common sense would dictate that the state of the Anglican church is determined by a number of factors and that blaming one man is unfair and unrealistic.

As a minister’s daughter, I am no stranger to church politics. When Archbishop Clarke resigned, it came as a great shock to many within our diocese. Sadly, instead of being given a chance to say goodbye and to offer our support to Archbishop Clarke and his family at what must have been a most difficult time, the announcement of his resignation was given (without explanation), and the implication was that his name was henceforth not to be mentioned. Twelve years after, to lay the blame on his shoulders seems at the very least unkind, and more pointedly, unChristian and malicious.

If the Anglican church is to solve its problems and move into the next millennium as a viable presence within the Christian community, the first step should be not to cast stones and open old wounds. Rather, we could begin by offering forgiveness and compassion to those in need (starting within our own ranks).

I would hope that in future articles, both reporters and interviewees would be more sensitive to the damage that ill-conceived comments can cause.

Jane Carruthers,
Weyburn, Sask.

Mean-spirited

Dear editor,
The parenthesized observation midway through the article on the Diocese of Edmonton has given me new insights into gratuitous journalistic mean-spiritedness. It was indeed a freelancer’s free lance.

If, as it was reported “About five years ago the diocese hit the wall financially?” and again, “It took us about three years to get back on our feet financially?”; why then, a few lines later, insert in to the article this pointless, irrelevant and profoundly hurtful allegation against a very good man from 12 years ago?

An apology is owed to your readers and in particular to the Rt. Rev. Kent Clarke, retired.

Tom Matthews
North Hartley, Que.

One class only

Dear editor,
We assume that the Canadian church will be unable to respond to the request of the church in Guyana for the recruitment of male Canadian priests (Guyana Church Looking to Recruit Canadian Priests, October Journal.)

The Canadian church, of course, does not have two classes of priests—women and men. We can offer the gift of our experience in recognizing the full humanity of women and the contribution that women clergy have been making in the Anglican Church of Canada for over 20 years.

Marjorie Powles
Vancouver
(by e-mail)

One book no solution

Dear editor,
Re: One Church—One Book by Reginald Stackhouse (September Journal).

Dr. Stackhouse would like to see an end to the “liturgical cold war” in the Anglican Church. Many Anglicans share his dream.

His proposed solution, a new book “that will incorporate the main services of worship in both traditional and contemporary forms,” will not, I fear, achieve his dream.

His proposal will create an additional book. We will then have three books and three parties, the BCP, the BAS and the new book and as a consequence further theological and liturgical debate and division. Can we afford the time and the energy for this? Can we afford further alienation of loyal Anglicans?

Dr. Stackhouse sees part of the problem as a reluctance of “most bishops and clergy” to use the book which is still “authorized by the law of General Synod, the church’s highest legislative authority on worship.”

His combined book will not solve that. The clergy will only continue to use the services, which they prefer and ignore the ones which they don’t prefer. And the supporters of the BCP will not readily accept the abolition of the BCP which his proposal entails.

It is important to remember that this is both a theological and a liturgical debate and a solution must address both issues. Dr. Stackhouse’s proposal only addresses liturgical issues.

Rev. S. C. Sharman
St. Andrew’s, Man.

Unity at stake

Dear editor,
I write to endorse heartily the opinion of Dr. Reginald Stackhouse that the Canadian church would be better off with one prayer book rather than two books: the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services.

I was brought up on the BCP and am still attached to such things as the canticles and the requirement that every priest and deacon are to say daily morning and evening prayer.

The BAS also has much to commend it, especially the funeral and matrimonial services, but it lacks a catechism, a most woeful omission.

We would be much better off if the Canadian church would produce one prayer book on the model of the Episcopal Church, U.S.A. The unity of our church is at stake!

Canon John Paterson-Smyth (retired)
Toronto

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