Letters are subject to editing.
Colonized thinking insidious within prayer books
I was really grateful for the articles on decolonization (May 2019). I believe we need to be very careful about what we speak and pray in this regard. The removal of the prayer for the conversion of the Jews is an overt and obvious example of change that needs to occur.
However, there are assumptions in our prayers that are more insidious.
For example, underlying much of our prayer and liturgy, especially in the Book of Common Prayer, is the assumption that Christianity is the only true religion and British culture the best way to live. The Good Friday prayers in the Book of Alternative Services are, for me, equally offensive: “We pray for all who have not received the gospel of Christ.” Many people who have not received the gospel of Christ have lived happy, fulfilled and meaningful lives. We might argue that they knew the gospel without calling it that, [but that] seems somewhat disingenuous. Christianity is a religion with a very checkered history and one among many ways to find God. We need to acknowledge that with care and consideration.
We love who we love—and aren’t just a headline
I would like to cancel my subscription to the Anglican Journal. I am a practicing Anglo-Catholic lesbian who is tired of reading about how much we are not welcome in the Anglican community. I am happy with my parish for its open recognition of myself and my wife. I love the Eucharist and the liturgy as a whole.
However, after being reminded each issue at some point, whether headlines or letters to the editor, of how terrible we are for loving who we love, I have decided not to read these Journals. So, to help save a tree and the paper it makes, please cancel my subscription.
Cow Bay, N.S.
Changes within the church overdue
The thoughtful letter from the Rev. Brian Pearson (“Diocesan bishops create islands of polite dissent,” March 2019, p. 5) raises another nagging concern within the Anglican Church in Canada that is long overdue for action. Our rules, procedures and governance were designed to function well in the social environment of the day when the church was expanding over a huge and sometimes unknown territory and where communication was primitive by modern standards. The bishop was rightly a central authority for his region.
Not so today. Our problem is not new; as a church we have not kept up with the times and operate under an outdated set of canons. Currently the average Anglican is better educated, well-informed and is usually mobile, moving to several parishes over a lifetime. The “authority” of a bishop today is open to challenge, and he or she can be the cause of dissent and sometimes justified criticism. Unlike any successful organization that can change its leadership, we have no mechanism for replacing an underperforming or divisive bishop—at some cost to the church in several ways.
My hope is that as a church we can make some overdue changes in our governance to bring us into the 21st century, with some sense of urgency, before it is too late. We have too much to lose if we lack the resolve to act.
Just as I am
On reading the Anglican Journal, I am finding the church is becoming increasingly strange and alien to me. Yet if I am honest, not strange and alien, for the most part, to the Kingdom as proclaimed in and by Jesus. One can still feel an outsider even when it is within the mandate of its founder.
My non-“at homeness” simply shews my lack of inclusiveness demonstrated by Jesus, and what flows from him. In some ways, he was very exclusive—yet not in many ways. This is why one of my favourite and hopeful hymns reads:
Just as I am—without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me….
Beware of ignorance of Indigenous peoples
While reading the interview with John Borrows (“Love needs to be part of our action,” May 2019, p. 3), I was very taken with his statement that “we’d still be lacking if the human heart does not respond to the hearts of our brothers and sisters….”
I had recently experienced my own “heart” experience while attending a blanket exercise at my local public library. The blanket exercise is an interactive, educational program that teaches the history of Canadian Indigenous people. Prior to attending the session, although I had never specifically studied Indigenous history, I thought I knew the key points about the history of our country. My experience was soon to open both my mind and my heart to the extent of my profound ignorance of the history of my fellow Indigenous Canadians.
Given that you need to bring along a blanket, I felt perhaps that we would sit on the floor on the blankets to hear the presentation. Instead, the blankets became symbols; first of the wide open and wonderous setting of nature that was “Turtle Island,” as Canada (really, all of North America) was called by aboriginal people before the coming of Europeans.
In addition to the blankets, items for trade (fur, tobacco, rope), aboriginal baby dolls and colored cards were used within the telling of the history. Participants were given larger cards with text that were read in order, supplementing the history being told by the facilitators.
At the end of the program, I had a strong vision of the Ghost of Christmas Present from A Christmas Carol, with the two poor children at his feet. The Ghost of Christmas Present tells Scrooge:
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.
My reaction is that as a 60-year-old Canadian educated in this country, the lack of education I received about the true history of my aboriginal brothers and sisters has contributed to my own ignorance. And my own attention to the history has been limited to a television documentary or reading a news article or hearing a radio program here and there; these actions have been hardly sufficient to educate me to the truths. I was angry at my country for not ensuring I had the education and angry at myself for not paying more than a passing attention.
In the Christian faith, it is important to love our neighbors as ourselves. But loving my aboriginal brothers and sisters as myself is really still showing ignorance; their history and experiences are not mine. To truly love them, I need also to learn and understand the history that has resulted in the present situation of the aboriginal people in Canada. And for the sake of preventing the “Doom” the Ghost of Christmas Present warns of, I believe the blanket exercise should be run in every social gathering place in this country: every school, church, seniors’ center, youth group, etc. I believe this experience, as John Borrows states, is the first step to enable our ability to respond to our aboriginal brothers and sisters “heart to heart.”
St. Albert, Alta.
This letter broke my heart
I write re: ‘“Gender Gap’ missed legitimate concerns about ordination of women,” (Letters, May 2019, p. 4).
All I can say about this letter is it broke my heart. Still, we have to read letters like this. It is too much.
The Rev. Canon Barbara Stewart
The First Nations’ side of history needs to be shared
Your article on the Doctrine of Discovery: Stolen Lands, Strong Hearts documentary (“Documentary unveils colonial legacies,” May 2019, p. 1) is interesting and comes at a time where we—and all Canadians—need to be part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action on this very important issue.
There still are many people who do not understand what happened with settlement by Europeans, and that much of the truth has not been told of our past. As we see, there are two sides to the narrative, and the First Nations’ side needs to be shared. We did not write the history books, so only one side has been recorded and told.
Since the Calls to Action have started, there has been an awareness—and through the circles, more people are coming to see that change is needed. We must continue to write, document and research for the truth on the shared history of this country; only then can we all bring change in the relationship for all Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.
Peguis First Nation
Re: “Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops,” April 2019, p. 1
I was extremely disappointed to read that the same-sex spouses of two bishops will not be invited to the Lambeth Conference next year. I believed that the Anglican Church had reached the point of being open and inclusive to all, which apparently is not the case, as evidenced by this article. The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to rethink this position and, bravely, do the right thing by including all spouses at the conference. We are either all welcome and included, without conditions, at every level of the church, or we are not. It is really quite simple.
Although I am not a practicing Anglican, I read with great interest each edition of the Anglican Journal. I do this to keep abreast of the issues a “big-tent” and socially conscious church grapples with.
I was very disappointed to read of the decision [Archbishop of Canterbury] Justin Welby made regarding same-sex partners not being invited to Lambeth. I was further disheartened by the rationale for this decision. Welby states that the decision was made in accordance with Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and he has “support” from the Anglican Communion. This support seems to come in the form of a threat—invite same-sex spouses and we will not attend.
I became curious as to what Resolution 1.10 is, so I looked it up. It reads in part “…upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union….” It appears that the people who have used this as a rationale are doing some serious cherry picking, as I did not read where Welby or [Secretary General] Josiah Idowu-Fearon of the Anglican Communion are concerned with the bishops who are divorced or—heaven forbid—have engaged in premarital sexual activity. No, only the homosexual is excluded. This seems to be a classic example of the old saw, “If you want to beat a dog, you’ll find a stick.”
In closing, I wish the conference well as they strive to live up to their theme of “being God’s people for God’s world.” The irony is inescapable!