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This page last updated 17 March 2005
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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 6 March to 12 March 2005

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters are the opinions of the letter writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

Return to Rome?

Most of us Episcopalians work forty-hour weeks, raise kids and puzzle over the machinations of the politicians we send to Washington. A lot of us worry about homeowners covenants and daily rush hour traffic. We attend church on Sundays to celebrate and to seek the respite and renewal offered by our church. Yet what is our church today? Can we can define it beyond the level of our parishes? Where is the direction, where is the comfort we expect from the greater body of our communion?

The Roman Catholic Church makes an amazing mistake by not promoting an Anglo-Catholic Rite. At a time when we Episcopalians need a firms doctrines by which to give meaning to our spiritual and worldly lives, we hear scarcely more than dissent — indeed rancor— from our bishops and those who surround them. Our lives are short, and we need the wisdom of church fathers now. The Roman Catholic Church, I believe today, offers what the Episcopalian Church has chosen to forego in pursuit of American discord, a brand of discord that is self-perpetuating.

Should we re-consider that indeed the Bishop of Rome is the rock upon whom Christ our Lord built His Church?

David Schulenburg
Trinity Church
Maryland, USA
7 March 2005

Remembering old prayer books

Thank you for sharing a contemporary, 'up-to-the-minute, moment of use' of a 1559 Booke of Common Prayer, printed in 1614, and used in the Year of Our Lord, 2005! That book, I think, is almost 400 years old! After reading this week's AO front page, several memories, spanning at least half a century, three continents and four countries, are streaming through my consciousness.

A 1926 'Ro-maji' edition of the Japanese Book of Common Prayer came into my hands — a rare book, used by Canadian Missionaries who worked among the people of Japan, and among the Japanese Canadians from the 1920's to the 1950's. 'Ro-maji' is a method of writing the Japanese language phonetically, using the alphabet, and read with Italian pronounciation — hence called 'Roma', and 'ji' - the Japanese for 'word'.

After I was invited to the Japanese-American congregation of St. Peter's in Seattle in 1966, I discovered a group of parishioners who had been denied the 'Sei San Shiki' (Holy Communion) in Japanese for about 10 years — the clergy assigned by the diocese ministering to them no longer had a knowledge of Japanese. I unpacked my books that I brought from Canada and found this 'Kitosho' (the 'Ro-maji' edition of the "Prayer Book") — the liturgy couched in classical Japanese, not ordinarily spoken in every-day speech, a 'thee's' and 'thou's' somewhat obscure language, as it were, used only in the Imperial Court — thought to be a language befitting devotional use in articulating our thoughts and words respectfully in prayer to Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, the King of kings and Lord of lords! Thus, it became my unique privilege to Celebrate the Holy Eucharist — in classical Japanese, and to have the pioneer 'Issei' (First Generation) Japanese American Episcopalians, worship 'in a language "understanded" of the People' — as the old saying goes (although the antiquarian form took an effort to 'understand', but perhaps it was better than in English!). The members used in their hands the 'hand-me-down' translation into Japanese of the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer of the 'Nippon Sei Ko Kai' (The Japan Holy Catholic Church) our sister Church in the Anglican Communion, in Japan.

I took my Romaji Prayer Book as a resource to Japan from 1991 to 2000 when I developed my own 'Ro-maji' version of the 1990 Services from Japan's new Book of Common Prayer — Morning and Evening Prayer, Holy Eucharist, Baptism, Confirmation, the multitude of Services for Burial (in the Japanese Church), and Holy Matrimony. I also rendered the readings of the Gospels each week in Romaji because I could not read them fast enough in the Services if I had to sound them out using the Japanese ideographs and phonetic 'katakana' and 'hiragana' scripts.

While in Okinawa, I had the privilege of perusing a small 'pocket-book-size' King James Version of the Bible bound together with the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. The leather covered Book hadlt edged pages — a Bible given to Dr. Bernard John Bettelheim by a fellow Jewish Christian convert in England in the early 1840's. Dr. Bettelheim was the first non-Roman Christian to preach the Gospel and to dispense Western Medicine in Okinawa, Japan (from 1846 to 1853) Dr. Bettelheim used this Bible (in the original tongues) to translate portions of the Scriptures into the Okinawa dialect — a remarkable feat, because Dr. Bettelheim used the phonetic Japanese 'Katakana' to develop a way of writing the Okinawan dialect which had not been developed hitherto into written form.

I am also reminded of learning about Bishop Bompas who crossed the far Canadian North, and while doing so, to invent a script of symbols to record on paper the hitherto unwritten Inuit language used by all the Native People scattered all across the wide Northern territorial expanse. His Book of Common Prayer and translation of the Bible were used from village to village across the Great Far North, in so many areas not reached by Missionaries. The devoted, dutiful, diligent and daily recitation of Morning and Evening Prayer and reading of the Scriptures by the Lay People — Converts to Christ — brought many People to a dynamic Faith in God made know through our Savior Jesus Christ whom they worshiped. This accounts for the many Anglican Christians among the Inuit — 'The People', as they are known.

The Reverend Timothy Makoto Nakayama
St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle - Diocese of Olympia
Seattle, Washington, USA
7 March 2005

Purple-vested princes

Perhaps there is some benefit for the Anglican Communion to establish doctrinal unity around the world, but one wonders what it would be. Applying tradition and reason in one part of the world may lead to one conclusion, while in another part of the world the conclusion may be different.

The emergence of relatively new instruments of unity, including the Primates' meetings, suggests that the traditional autonomy of the national churches will be set aside in favor of the rule of the purple-vested "princes of the church." In my view, it is best to continue the historic manner of meeting every decade at Lambeth, with the agenda to consist of spreading the Good News the way Anglicans are proud to do.

Ross Weeks Jr.
Tazewell, Virginia, USA
9 March 2005

Real separation better than mock unity?

Most formal Anglican beliefs (creeds, scriptures, etc.) were determined around 300 AD, as part of the beliefs of what was to become the Roman Catholic Church. The cynical might say that vested interests played as much a part in the process as the fire of the Holy Spirit.

The Reformation did amazingly little to change these beliefs, never challenging that the Old Testament might be no more than a set of fables that tribes in Israel invented for self-aggrandisement. There was not a new focus on the words and life of Jesus alone, expressing doubt that the definition of scripture a millennium earlier was wrong.

Yet, ask many Christians why they are such, and the answer is to the effect that it because Jesus lives in their hearts as a personal saviour, helping them to be loving, and guiding them between right and wrong.

It thus seems bizarre that in the current gay debate, some are still pouring through the Pentateuch for guidance, rather than simply relying on the way that Jesus speaks to them today. Obviously, he is speaking to some very differently about the issue than to others. Time and events have shown that any reconciliation on this issue is unlikely.

It must be time now, both internationally and nationally, to accept this, and go our separate ways with what we feel Jesus is putting into our hearts. There need be no rancour, but rather respect. This is surely better than any mock unity.

Michael Jackson
St Luke's, Slyne-with-Hest
Lancaster, United Kingdom
9 March 2005

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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