Anglicans Online
 Worldwide Anglicanism    Anglican Dioceses and Parishes
Home News Centre A to Z Start Here The Anglican Communion Africa Australia Canada England
New this Week News Archives Events Anglicans Believe... In Full Communion Europe Ireland Japan New Zealand
Awards, Staff Newspapers Online B The Prayer Book Not in the Communion Scotland USA Wales World
Search Official Publications B The Bible B B B B B
This page last updated 16 May 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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 9 to 15 May 2005

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters are the opinions of the 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.

Not understanded of the people

Bravo! Your editorial in defence of the sensible use and interpretation of language reflects the consistently high standard of your editorials in general. How much more difficult for us living in 2005 to understand writing translated and transposed in time if we can't even understand messages expressed in our own language and time.

Long may you editorialise! Yours is the consistent voice of reason and compassion in an increasingly unreasonable and compassionless world. I look forward to it every week.

Julianne Horsfield
St Luke's Anglican, Toowoomba
Toowoomba, AUSTRALIA
11 May 2005

The sound of one dog barking

A word about fortune telling: a desire to peek at the future is in our human nature. Whether it is weather prognostication, medical and genetic pre-disposition to diseases, financial expectations, crop production, volcanic and earthquake predictions, or for other practical reasons, we humans want to know what is going to happen. Tarot, Kabala, I Ching, numerology, phrenology, palmistry, astrology, and tea-leaf reading to name a few methods of divining, are not anti-Christian. Our dog tells us the future because she knows before we do that visitors are coming. She barks.

Some would have us believe that only through prayer are we to know what God wants us to know. Sometimes God answers prayers with "NO".

Mike Lawler
Christ Church, Kealakekua
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
9 May 2005

Missing the point

What a shame that so many seemed to have missed the point of your editorial letter which displayed a picture of the ouija board -- I don't believe I read that you condoned its use! However, trying not to be too judgemental, when it comes to listening objectively humans don't have a great record; add religious certainty and . . .

I enjoy and admire your objective approach.

Alex Anderson
Episcopal Church of Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland
10 May 2005

'Revere reading'

Your response to complaints about the ouija board illustration was wonderful. Your penultimate paragraph is simply superb as a stimulus to continue to revere reading as an art that must not be lost. Thanks.

Donald Rogan (retired, priest and professor)
Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit
Gambier, Ohio, USA
9 May 2005

Do words matter?

Your comments about the decline of literacy, and declining use of language, helped me discern some of the problems I have with trends in my home parish in particular, and the ECUSA in general.

Over the past few years, we have, from time to time, experimented with alternative liturgies, 'family liturgies,' 'special liturgies,' and other variations from the Book of Common Prayer. Two problems arise.

The first is related to your observations. Too many people are sufficiently tone-deaf to the subtleties of language that they forget that a change in language will almost always effect a change in meaning. How we say something almost always has some impact on what we are saying. For example, if one substitutes 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit' with 'Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier,' one loses something of the relationship that the first formula implies among the Persons of the Trinity. This may or may not be something that those who crafted the second formula considered. However, I suspect that many in the pews do not appreciate that such a switch changes theology, as well as language. Worse, I fear that, if they were aware, they would not care.

The second problem arises when the Book of Common Prayer ceases to be common to all ECUSA churches. If we lose the particular forms and expressions that are a significant part of our Anglican heritage, one has to wonder if there is any point in maintaining the ECUSA as a separate denomination. If there is little by which we can say, 'We follow a somewhat different tradition than our brothers and sisters in the Lutheran, Reformed or other traditions,' is there any point in maintaining a separate hierarchy and administrative structure? Shouldn't the mandate for Christian unity require comity and respect, but actual merger?

E. P. Gale
Church of the Ascension, Clearwater
Seminole, Florida, USA
13 May 2005

But candles were once banned...

In your response to my letter and in your Editorial this week you now add insult to injury! I did indeed read your May 1st letter. The argument itself was good and as usual provocative in the proper sense of that word.

But you chose to use as an example the casual use of an instrument that has had devastating results in people's lives. You flippantly suggest in your editorial reply that you will not use candles as images because they are used by Satanists. This is beside the point. Candles have a long tradition of use in Christian liturgy and prayer. I do not think the same applies to the use of Ouija Boards!

Paul Richardson
All Saints
9 May 2005

Brittle piety

What I've noticed, sadly, is the dumbing down of American thinking and perceiving. That so many Christians, even amongst Episcopalians, more or less subscribe to a simplistic evangelic, literalistic world view where science, literacy, and the appreciation of prose, poetry, rhetoric, and certainly logic is fading, makes me wonder whether we've crossed a bridge not to the 21st century but to the 14th!

I mean, this absurd business in Kansas where the whole Scopes Monkey trial is being replayed is certainly my case in point.Then, of course, the rancour and divisiveness of the issues of gays place in the community, Church and temporal. Where did Christ have anything to say about that!?

Intellectually (I use the word tentatively) and spiritually Christian thought and piety is as brittle as much of fundamentalist Islam.

H. Todd Messinger
St. Mary's Church
Eugene, Oregon, USA
13 May 2005

Earlier letters

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


This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2007 Society of Archbishop Justus