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This page last updated 3 June 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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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.

If you'd like to respond to a letter whose author does not list an email, you can send your response to Anglicans Online and we'll forward it to the writer.

Letters from 23 to 30 May 2004

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

Present and accounted for

Thank you for your reminder that 'the church is only one generation away from extinction'. Humans have a tendency to think that it must have been better in the past, or will be better in the future — for some reason, we don't want to live in the present, to 'be present' to our existence as it is, and that is as true in our personal lives as our corporate and church lives.

I always enjoy having a look at AO. There is much here to stimulate thought, and there isn't too much of a northern hemisphere bias!

Blessings on your work and your ways,

Robyn Parkin, N/TSSF
Anglican Church of St James, Lower Hutt
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
26 May 2004

As it wasn't and is now

Loved the 'front page' essay last week. It reminds me of a scene in 'I, Claudius', in which an actor and an ex-actor are discussing the dismal state of things in their profession. The ex-actor says, 'Well, the theatre isn't what it was'. The actor responds, 'That's true, but you know, it never was what it was'.

Chuck Chace
St John's Church, Jamaica Plain
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
28 May 2004

The sounds of life

Once again, your weekly letter was uplifting. The stats you cite emphasize that the Church has always 'lived on the edge', and that while today's turmoil may be focused on the issue of sexuality, it is no more troubling than was the issue of the ordination of women, the revisions of prayer books down through the years, the admission of children to Communion, and a hundred other eruptions and boils that have marred the body of Christ almost from its beginnings. And yet, this Church we love has survived, albeit sometimes in a fractured state. All this proves to me that the Holy Spirit is at work.

Years ago, when I was in some distress over a major disagreement in my own parish (not the parish I now attend) a friend of mine, a priest of the Anglican Church, said wisely, 'A parish where there is no sign of turmoil is dead. The fact that people care enough to wrangle indicates that the Spirit is stirring them up!' I've never forgotten that, and it is my belief that the Spirit is stirring the worldwide Church vigorously at present! I wonder what the statisticians in 2104 will make of all this as they ponder the fate of the Church in their time.

Blessings on you, you wonderfully sane people!

Rene Jamieson
The Cathedral Parish of St John
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
24 May 2004

A 'frequent-affirmation' option in the States

Liz Callison wrote last week, 'I decided that this conscious and public reaffirmation would be an infrequent and regular practice of mine going forward — with me using the process to engage more deeply and with intent on what I do each and every Sunday in some form. For no really good reason, I decided on 10-year increments, so in two years' time, I will be up there with the confirmands reaffirming my own commitment'.

Reaffirmation of baptismal vows doesn't take place only at confirmation services. At every baptism as well, each person in the congregation publicly reaffirms his or her own vows.

Like many parishes, we routinely do baptisms at our Sunday services. For a variety of reasons, not least that I have a teen-aged daughter , I'm starting to wish that weddings, too, could be conducted as modest but joyous congregational events celebrated at the regular Sunday services. But I digress...

Anyway, at yesterday's 9 a.m. service, a parish family presented their new baby to be baptized. In due course, we all recited the promises of the baptismal covenant. For some reason, I started pondering the words I've recited dozens of times. Suddenly the words started to sink in; it occurred to me that those promises really are worth committing one's life to.

So Liz Callison doesn't need to wait two more years if she doesn't want to — she can simply be part of the priesthood of all believers at the next baptism in her parish.

D. C. Toedt
St John the Divine Church
Houston, Texas, USA
24 May 2004

War, truth, and the gospel

I regret that Robin Bridges was distressed by my comments concerning my reflections of U.S. President Richard Nixon as it relates to current events. I would not want to engage in a debate with anyone about the ethics of governments to tell the truth, because history has already given us an indication that the nature of government itself is basically secrecy and misinformation to its governed. My major concern about all that is going on in the world is the justification of war or wars in the Name of God.

God deplores war or any activity of humankind that turns us from the Gospel of Love proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth. It is so easy for some people to sing praises to God on the one hand and then ignore all the teaching of Jesus on the other. I suppose that is the paradox of faith. However, among the great treasurers of Jesus' teaching is one about 'truth'. He said: 'You will know the truth and the truth will set you free'. It would seem logical that 'truth' has a liberating effect on the human soul. If we claim to follow Jesus then we are to be truth-tellers. Some years ago at a national meeting of one of our sister denominations a resolution was passed by their legislative assembly directing the church leadership to 'tell the truth.' That action amazed me that the church should have to be reminded to do that to begin with.

If we hold that the standards of the gospel are to be lived daily by persons of faith then it is expected of those persons to tell the truth at all times and in all places. The credibility of the Gospel itself becomes an issue. Now when one talks of the effect of this on persons of faith from other religious traditions not Christian, it becomes an even more important practice to be truth-tellers for the followers of Jesus.

Nations rise and fall in the eyes of world opinion, including the United States of America. However, this is the nature of world politics. It is when the Christ's Gospel begins the downward spiral in the world it is a sign that Christians have forsaken a life of truth living, as well as truth telling. I often try to imagine what if for over 2,000 years all who followed Christ were like those first disciples what kind of world would we live in today.

September 11 was a dark day for Americans. I lost some good friends that day. It changed the way we think about security and safety in our great country. However, there was a dark day for the world on a day when God's only Son was crucified on a cross for a world He loved so very much. I hope the cross will always overshadow such days as September 11. The souls who were lost on that day were not alone; God was with them because of the cross. The Christ of the cross overcame death that we all might live with God forever.

I truly apologize for the offense I caused to Robin, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for anyone. Thank the Lord for the openness of the Anglican Communion and this website.

William A. Flint, M.Div., Ph.D.
St. Columbs Episcopal Church, Ridgeland
Jackson, Mississippi, USA
25 May 2004

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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