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Hallo again to all.

As we write this, it is the evening of Pentecost, often called 'the birthday of the church'. We commemorate the day that the disciples began their astonishing task of carrying the message of Christ everywhere they went, all round the world.

We note that they neither emailed the message of Christ nor restricted themselves to writing it on scrolls; they carried it and spoke it. Whilst the letters from Paul to various Christian groups are an important part of the Bible, the real work of telling the world about Jesus was all done face to face, not letter to letter.

In recent weeks we've seen a blizzard of letters, press releases, statements, position papers, and out-and-out attacks, all on the topic of homosexuality and the church. These emails run the gamut of human expression: love, hate, anger, understanding, and perplexity; often combinations of those.

In casual conversation it's common to characterize people by describing the magazines or newspapers they read. 'He reads the National Review. She takes the New Statesman.' Some rare folk are such eclectic readers that they will read and compare all sides of an issue before forming an opinion, but most people appear to adjust their reading material to their opinions—not the other way round.

So we mused on the vast torrent of angry writing that's been through our mailbox. We rather suspect that, like all such angry writing, it is fated to change no one's mind. The internet has brought us columnists and reporters who maintain what we shall call a fixed point of view. Most of their publications preach to the choir of their own subscribers and when a chorister forwards a column to people who hold an opposing point of view, nothing useful happens. Email is not good at changing opinions.

Anglicans Online is no exception. We doubt we'll change your mind about anything except perhaps the intrinsic value of reliable online resources. If you want to change someone's mind, alter someone's behaviour, bring someone the Word, we recommend that you walk over and talk to her, rather than forwarding her and hundreds of her friends a statement from an indignant bishop or a position paper from some righteous organisation. (If you must write, do make it sound like conversation. Try reading it aloud and see if it passes that test.)

On this Pentecost day, perhaps we should all resolve to act like the original disciples, and carry our message, as often as possible, in person. Do our best to influence people by how we act and by what honour and credibility we bring to the message. Just imagine meeting An Original Disciple and, after getting to know him, thinking 'I wish I were more like this person!' Alas, we can't imagine reading a statement forwarded from an irate bishop and thinking 'I wish I were more like that person.'

See you next week, and in all the Sundays after Pentecost.

Brian Reidís signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 8 June 2003

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