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This page last updated 7 April 2004
Anglicans Online last updated 20 August 2000

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to English orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

Letters from 28 March to 4 April 2004

If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

Lord Carey on Islam

WHAT, 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 Davies’ grumpy 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.'

Except 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 (Remember the old and mostly outdated joke?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.')

Leaving 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.

A 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?'

Well, Lord Carey, no, it isn’t.

Mac Robb
Holy Trinity (occasionally)
3 April 2004

Whose power?

MY 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.

There 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)?

Whenever 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 cordiality.

Russ Booton
St Matthew's Episcopal Church
Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
2 April 2004

We're blushing

THANK 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 humility. Praise God for you both!

Richard Hopper
Holy Trinity, South Wimbledon
31 March 2004

'Live beyond the literal text'

THE 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.

Each 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 exclusionary.

Let 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 news.

The Very Reverend David C. James
St John's Episcopal Church
Olympia, Washington, USA
30 March 2004

Man-made laws, God-made scripture?

IN REFERENCE TO Arthur Callaham's letter 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?

That is sad.

The Reverend Mark Calder
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
29 March 2004

Non nobis

I 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 about us!

Peter Sanderson
Trinity Episcopal Church, Iowa City
Iowa City, Iowa, USA
29 March 2004

'Gazumped again'?

WHAT'S IN A NAME? I was bemused to see the first listing in the What's New section: 'Anglican Mainstream'. 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.

So I feel as if I have been gazumped again. When will someone take these people to court for misleading advertising?

Stephen Clark
All Hallows' and St John's Churches
Blackwood, South Australia, AUSTRALIA
29 March 2004

We are two

JUST 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?

J. B. Kelly
Stoke on Trent, England
29 March 2004

Um, because there are two of us?

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.


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