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This page last updated 20 June 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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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.

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Letters from 5 June to 12 June 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.

On Canon as a brand of camera

The Japanese 'Canon' was adopted from a curious origin of Asian religious adoration, and the subsequent discovery that 'canon' was viewed to be an English word adopted in Europe that a Japanese precision designer/inventor interpreted as a term meaning, 'standard for judgement or biblical scriptures'! A designer/inventor, adored 'Kwanon' the 'Goddess of Mercy' and adopted her name that he attached to a precision camera he designed.

When I served for a decade in Japan I came upon two massive figures of the 'Canon' in widely divergent areas. The one in Okinawa was a large lacquered feminine figure housed in a huge white building in the Peace Park. The designer and artisan insisted that the figure was 'an Asian symbol' and not an image of deification and therefore suitable for the Peace Park dedicated as a memorial to all, friend and foe, who died in the Battle of Okinawa 1945.

In the last two years I served in NE Japan, in the Diocese of Touhoku. The see city of the diocese is Sendai. Towering over much of that city is a prominent white figure of the 'Canon' that is so huge that people can climb to dizzying heights within it and gaze down on the city through portals open through the eyes of the figure.

Despite the non-religious description I heard in Okinawa of 'Canon' as 'an Asian symbol', I noted the description of the figure as the 'Goddess of Mercy'. The latter description influenced the adoption of the name for the camera.

Canon had been developed from 'Kwanon', the original transliteration. The word, 'canon' was discovered by the Japanese designer/inventor who found it to mean 'standard for judgement or biblical scriptures'. The industry maintained an emphasis on precision inspired from the meaning of the term! The mechanical marvel designed in the 1930's continues into the 21st century as a digital marvel of electronic technology conjoined with precision lenses.

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

You forgot the Roman canon

I'm surprised that in your treatment of the word "Canon" you missed one of the most important — Eucharistic Prayer I of the Roman Missal — the Roman Canon — a prayer not unknown to those of us who are "very 'igh". I was pleased to see that Cardinal Ratzinger used the Roman Canon at the funeral of the late Pope, and then used it again in his inaugural Mass as Pope Benedict XVI.

Incidentally - the Japanese company's name is an irregular transliteration of the female name "Kannon" - the goddess of light in the Shinto pantheon, and presumably responsible for making cameras work.

Alan Harrison
St Mary the Virgin, Hayes, Diocese of London
Uxbridge, UK
13 June 2005

Where does the Episcopal Church stand?

I am considering the Episcopal Church but am somewhat confused as to where it stands, especially when I read various ecumenical agreements it (of the C of E has signed). There have been a number of agreements with the RC Church that confirm traditional Catholic views on the ordained ministry, bishops, apostolic succession, the real presence in the eucharist, etc. But then the Episcopal has also signed agreedments with churches such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, accepting as valid their clergy though they lack now epicsocpal ordination in historical succession. The C of E is about to sign an agreement with the British Methodist Church, acknowledging the proper administration of its sacraments, yet that church permits the presiding of lay (not ordained) members at holy communion. Them agreements seem to be mutually contradictory. Where does the Episcopal Church stand?

Henry York
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
13 June 2005

(Ed: if any readers have comments for Mr York, you can send them to us, and we will forward them to him.)

Not just a sensible handshake

David Crowther's letter (June 12) expressed the feelings of discomfort shared by many Anglicans during the passing of the peace. If I may correct David — gently, I hope — the passing of the peace was not "originally a sensible handshake". It was a kiss of peace, and the practice was universal in the primitive church. When the passing of the peace — in action as well as words — was re-introduced in the latter part of the 20th century, the suggestion of "the sensible handshake" was made to allay the discomfort of those for whom an embrace and a kiss is not felt to be appropriate. (I've had people tell me that "one can pick up all sorts of germs during the peace." These are the same people who are averse to the common cup!)

I can understand David's reference to "a nightmare", having been subjected on occasion to rib-crushing bear hugs, or meaningless chat during the passing of the peace. Such behaviour, usually more appropriate to a rugby scrum, merely indicates that the perpetrators have been ill-taught about what we are actually doing at this time in the worship service.

It has been my practice, when sharing the peace with people I do not know, to first ask if he/she is a a hugger or a shaker. I exchange the peace with them according to their response. Perhaps David could adopt this approach. Better yet, perhaps he could ask his priest to teach the congregation why we share the peace, how we share the peace, and whose peace we are sharing.

Rene Jamieson
St. John's Cathedral
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
13 June 2005

The measure of mathematical music

On musical canons... yes, there is a connection with all the definitions made in today's issue.

In writing a canon, a very strict form of musical counterpoint, the composer must adhere to a srict routine, measure by measure, to progress the part writing, be it at unison (like most rounds), or at the octave or another interval. So we can talk on canon two in one, three in one, and so on.

It can be a highly complex, mathematical form of music, as in the works of J S Bach, and in the hands of lesser composers can be very dull indeed. The Canon has a long history dating from the Middle Ages.

Gillian Lander
St John the Baptist, Northcote
Northcote, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
14 June 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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