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Hallo again to all.

Shovels in the sandBefore heading off to Divine Service this morning we happened to have a radio switched on. Whilst drinking our morning coffee we heard an interviewer questioning the American theologian Martin Marty, asking him if the current roils in the church could be fairly divided into liberal and conservative positions. No, countered Marty, who said that he saw the world more usefully categorised into the 'mean' and the 'non-mean': 'There are mean conservatives and mean liberals and there are the non-mean liberals and conservatives'.

It's easy to see this classification as naive, something more appropriate for children squabbling in a sandbox: 'You're mean! Stop it!' 'I was playing nice and you weren't'. But looking a little deeper, it uncovers a truth about human beings and the way we reflect the opinions, ideas, and beliefs we hold. To be mean suggests to us small-mindedness, a snarky attitude, and a general pettiness; a tendency to find fault, to be critical, carping, and uncharitable. To be 'non-mean' seems to imply an intellectual generosity, a largeness of heart, and a willingness to think the best of someone who holds differing opinions. Why do so many of the discussions, arguments, and roils in the church seem to be carried on by those who seem, in their words and behaviour, to put themselves into the 'mean' camp?

We believe that wit, intelligence, and large-heartedness in religious discourse, argument, and writing can stand on their own, distinct from jaded cynicism and pungent bitterness. If we didn't think that, we couldn't do this every Sunday night! And we've been doing it every Sunday night for a long time now. On a winter's night in British Columbia in 1994, a gifted 20-something young man began a website called Anglicans Online. With three links to its name, it was one of the earliest sites on the Web. On the 27th of December 2004, Anglicans Online will celebrate its tenth anniversary as an independent, all-volunteer, non-advert-carrying website: a milestone achieved by very few websites. Through its decade of online life, AO has carried on the task of bringing to the world Anglican news, resources, and links in a spirit we try hard to keep 'non-mean'. Occasionally, being human, we might be a little cranky in a comment to a letter or in our description of a news story, but we generally catch ourselves and apologise, publicly or privately. Mostly we try to mind our manners here in print -- and in our lives as best we can.

In the run-up to our tenth anniversary, we'd like to ask something of our readers: Tell us something of how you make use of AO in your life. Have you found a link to a resource that's helped you in your ministry? Did we help you locate an Anglican church in Rio de Janeiro? Was there a poem, letter, or image that inspired you? Have we made you smile through some Anglican silliness? Did we point you to a news story you might otherwise have missed? In our tenth anniversary issue, which we'll publish two weeks from today, on 26 December, we'll publish a selection of the letters we receive. We can't think of any better way to celebrate than to combine your words with ours.

See you next week. In the mean time, play nice.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 12 December 2004

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