Letters from 11
to 18 July 2004
write a letter of your own, click here.
'Please pray for Sri
AM AN AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST who is deeply concerned about
events this coming week that could affect the liberty of thousands
On Tuesday, July 20,
the Sri Lankan Parliament is expected to vote on a Bill that, if enacted,
will threaten freedom of thought and religious liberty in the beautiful island
nation off the southern tip of India. The anti-conversion law would effectively
stop Sri Lankan Buddhists, who make up about 80 per cent of the population,
from ever deciding to change to another religion.The
country's Catholic bishops and other Christians have condemed the Bill in
recent weeks and asked believers around the world to pray against it.
The Bill, among other
clauses, stipulates that anyone who changes his or her religion, as well
as the facilitator in the conversion, has to inform a designated local government
official before doing so. Failure to do this would be punishable by a prison
term of up to five years.
The law would also
jail people convicted of what it calls 'illegal conversion' -- using fraudulent
means to convert.
Legal sources in Sri
Lanka said this week that the Bill defines conversion in such a way that
any kind of motivation to convert -- even an invitation to a Buddhist to
visit a Christian's home -- could be illegal. The term 'fraudulent' includes
'misinterpretation'. Lawyers fear the state may construe a Christian's claim
that Jesus is the Son of God as a 'fraudulent' claim made to influence the
target of conversion.
The Bill could also
have the effect of banning all charitable work by Christians because they
may be deemed as 'bribes' to convert Buddhists. Buddhism in Sri Lanka is
closely linked with nationalism. Radical Buddhist clergy have been disturbed
by the recent decline of Buddhism and growth of Christian churches, particularly
in rural areas.
has risen in Sri Lanka in recent years. In the first six months of this year
alone there have been 48 reported attacks on churches, priests and congregations.
Christians form about seven per cent of the population, although their influence
is growing like a fire. There is a real revival going on.
Why should you care
about this? Because, as US lawyer Clarence Darrow said, you can only protect
your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom.
Please pray for Sri
Melbourne, Victoria. Australia.
17 July 2004
Not a disembodied reality
DID IT AGAIN! Your
meditation on your Sunday with your encounter with the Indian
women was very helpful. Our communion (which is in Christ) IS there, we just
need to accept it.
For those of us who
have lived overseas (wherever overseas may be from our homes) and worshipped
regularly in another part of the Anglican Communion, all of our current situation
is not a disembodied reality that won't have much effect on our home parishes,
but rather a reminder that our Communion is something to be lived, relationships
to be treasured, a model of hope that Christians can show the world a different
way to be and to act, even in the face of much division.
Isn't that what
Jesus was saying in this past Sunday's Gospel (Luke 10) when the lawyer
asked how to inherit eternal life and jesus replied with the story of the
Samaritan who was willing to cross boundaries to serve someone in need? I
don't think the injured man cared who came to his aid -- just glad not to
have been left bleeding by the roadside. And Jesus commanded the lawyer to
go and do as the Samritan had done.
The Reverend Victoria
All Saints', Millington, New Jersey
12 July 2004
Mixing it up and making
FEW YEARS AGO I ATTENDED Evensong
and Benediction at All Saints, Margaret Street, after having been to both
Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral for their renditions of the same
service. This may seem extreme, but I didn't want to return to my
home in the American Midwest with any regrets!
I was surprised to
discover that, much as I loved everything about the worship at
the first two churches, I found the music at Margaret Street to be the
most moving and satisfying -- despite the fact that they had
a 'mixed' choir, which would have been unthinkable at All Saints a century
ago. Part of the appeal
was the fact that they were willing to mix Anglo-Catholic ritual of the highest
order with canticles and anthems by people like Stanford and Howells,
most of whose sacred compositions had been written for those occupying the
more 'moderate' liturgical
camp of the English cathedral.
This seemed to be
a concrete expression of what you wrote about in the 27
June editorial essay:
blending what is old (ritual dating to the Middle Ages) with something newer
(music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries). But it doesn't stop
there. As an 'Affirming Anglican Catholicism' parish, All Saints demonstrates
that it sees nothing incompatible between maintaining a rich Catholic liturgical
tradition and being open to new insights from the Holy Spirit. To me, that
is the genius of Anglicanism. Long may it live.
St Paul's Church
Marinette, Wisconsin, USA
12 July 2004
'Tiny outposts of God's
YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTARY on
sanctuary. Your words reflect my own feelings about holy space as I have
traveled physically, or spiritually, from place to place. In my own parish,
we strive to create that kind of pilgrim's rest for our own people, as well
as those passing through.
We are an old parish,
with a wonderful old Gothic building. The neighborhood around us is in decay
and our membership travels miles to gather. We have chosen to remain in our
location regardless of the challenges of urban blight and white flight. We
maintain our gardens and our property, so that it is the very place you
mention. A place where anyone is welcome to stroll or sit, listen to the
voices of happy children at our school, or escape the world around them.
A place wherein people come to worship the God reflected in the beauty of
word and imagery around them.
As I reflect on our
Anglican and Episcopal churches dotting the globe, in context of your lovely
words, I am reminded of the old statement about being 'Tiny outposts of God's
Kingdom here on earth'. There is an invisible unity in that oneness of spirituality
and beauty of holiness which we share with all those in our communion --
and when all the preaching is done that is what will hold us together. Thank
you for giving it utterance for me.
The Reverend Van Windsor,
Trinity Episcopal Church
Pine Bluff, Arkansas, USA
13 July 2004
We launched our 'Letters
to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our