from 28 March to 4 April 2004
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Carey on Islam
ONE WONDERS, CAN LORD CAREY have
been thinking? Or more to the point, what did he
hope to gain? It is tempting to invoke Robertson
dismissal of Salman Rushdie’s fatwah problems:
'he was trailing his coat and asking for trouble.'
Or to resort the contemporary (and useful) cliché,
'Don’t go there.'
that preachers of the Gospel impliedly do 'go there'
every time they enter the pulpit — the critical
qualifier fortunately being in most cases, 'impliedly.'
Dean Jensen of Sydney Cathedral and now, it seems
Lord Carey, would have it that it is relativism,
it is a compromise of Christianity, to allow that
others are entitled to their beliefs. (Remember the
old and mostly outdated joke? The fellow who died
and went to heaven and was being shown around: 'That
meadow is where the Lutherans are; that glade is
where the Baptists are….' 'And who’s
inside that wall?' 'Oh that’s the Catholics:
they think they’re the only ones here.')
aside the non sequitur that Muslim countries — actually,
surely it is obvious, all economically undeveloped
countries — have been relatively lacking in
technological and other innovation and in individual
liberties, we have much to lose by resorting to medieval
name-calling and much to gain by seeking to understand
and find common ground. And notwithstanding the aforesaid
joke, this doesn’t at all mean thinking that
every creed is right; only that in matters of faith
every creed is entitled to believe itself to be right.
group of law students in Pakistan once asked me in
genuine puzzlement, 'Why does President Bush hate
us Muslims? Why does he only listen to the Jews?'
Tricky question to answer both satisfactorily and
diplomatically in a Muslim country, but I said, 'I
don’t agree that he only listens to the Jews,
but I do think that Muslims could do a better job
of communicating their position.' It was a fairly
feeble response, and when I reported to a considerably
more cosmopolitan Muslim friend he facetiously asked,
'Oh, throwing bombs isn’t good PR?'
Lord Carey, no, it isn’t.
Holy Trinity (occasionally)
3 April 2004
OBSERVATION OF THE CONTROVERSY is
that when one side claims the issue is actually power,
it really is meant as an accusation. They don't mean
that they themselves are concerning about grabbing
or maintaining power. They believe that their opponents
are very concerned about this, and that this is their
primary concern. I've heard prominent figures on
one side of the debate claim, 'It's all about power,'
and they're not talking about their own position.
is a particular term for attacking the motivations
and character of one's opponent rather than addressing
his or her arguments and objections. We call that
an "argumentum ad hominem," which many of us will
remember is a logical fallacy. Truthfully, I hear
both liberals and conservatives doing this, and I
hear it a lot. It seems to be one of the primary
arguments used in the debate. I consider this to
be very destructive. Not only is it stupid (and bluntly,
it is), it also makes reconciliation much more difficult.
Who wants to sit at the table with someone who has
labeled you a power-monger, a bigot, a heretic, etc.
(or someone you consider these things)?
I hear arguments like this (especially from leaders
within the church), my hope for the continued unity
of the Episcopal Church greatly diminishes. I hope,
at some point, rationality will return to the discussion
— which people may discover, is closely tied to
St Matthew's Episcopal Church
Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
2 April 2004
YOU for — week
by week — keeping me sane! I read
of the cavortings of those who seek truth (apparently)
and those who seek power (apparently) and then I
read the considered, wise, and loving editorials
you bring to us weekly and I thank God for your confident
God for you both!
Holy Trinity, South Wimbledon
Wimbledon, UNITED KINGDOM
31 March 2004
beyond the literal text'
GAY AND LESBIAN COMMUNITY has
a wonderful gift to offer the Church: the opportunity
to free ourselves from hatred and bigotry. Historically
the Church has used the Bible to support public policy
that degraded the dignity of human beings. In its
pages one finds textual support for slavery, physical
abuse of children, denigration of women and genocide
of entire races and nations. The Bible has been used
to rationalize hatred towards Roman Catholics, Protestants,
Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, people of different color
or social status and tribal identity.
time a legalized form of discrimination is threatened
religious folk claim that we are violating the 'Word
of God.' Yet, when Jesus was questioned about
why he routinely broke Sabbath ritual, he replied
'Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'
In other words, our faith is to help us become more
loving and grace-filled, not more judgmental and
us take this moment, offered to us by gay and lesbian
people who are no longer willing to be counted as
less than human, and live beyond the literal text
of our scriptures which were written by men who thought
the earth was flat, that the sun rotated around the
earth, that disease was caused by evil spirits, and
that anyone who disagreed with the majority could
be put to death. Then we will be people of the good
Very Reverend David C. James
St John's Episcopal Church
Olympia, Washington, USA
30 March 2004
laws, God-made scripture?
REFERENCE TO Arthur
of 28 March, what I don’t
understand is this: Why are people more upset
about bishops breaking manmade canon laws, then
about breaking God’s clearly revealed will
in Holy Scripture?
Reverend Mark Calder
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
29 March 2004
KNOW IT'S STILL LENT — but
'Hallelujah!' for your
letter last week! Thank you
for reminding us that it's all about Christ and not
Trinity Episcopal Church, Iowa City
Iowa City, Iowa, USA
29 March 2004
IN A NAME? I was bemused to see the first listing
in the What's New section: 'Anglican
As much as I can tell, far from being 'mainstream',
the organisations linked and the comments made seem
to actually be reactionary and conservative. My understanding
of Anglican mainstream is the recognition of diverse
viewpoints and tolerance of differences of opinion
an emphasis. This website seems to promote the narrowest
of Anglican agendas. The mainstream of Anglicanism,
it seems to me, would be to recognise that we are
a broad rather than a narrow church.
I feel as if I have been gazumped again. When will
someone take these people to court for misleading
All Hallows' and St John's Churches
Blackwood, South Australia, AUSTRALIA
29 March 2004
A QUESTION OF STYLE, please. Why do you say the royal 'we' etc ('we wrinkled
our brow') all the time in your editorials? I would
have thought that usage would have gone out with
dame schools. If you mean 'I', why not say that?
Stoke on Trent, England
29 March 2004
because there are two of us?
our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our
letters are in our