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This page last updated 23 January 2006
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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.

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Letters from 16 to 22 January 2006

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.

"Take my camel, dear," said my aunt Dot

Many thanks for your attention to Anglican fiction, which I've followed for many years. I think it's John Henry Shorthouse, not "Joseph." And my Duke colleague Reynolds Price is not an Episcopalian, so far as I've heard, but Presbyterianish. As for the novels of Dr./Fr./Professor John Rathbone Oliver, I have a pretty complete collection of his first editions: it would be good to have these, or some of them, revived. Had I entered Johns Hopkins a couple of decades earlier, I would have met him when he was "Warden" of the graduate dorm I lived in for a year, and we could have traveled together on Sundays down to Mount Calvary, where he served as priest. And what good news that "Heathen Valley" has been reprinted: see Peter Anson's beautiful account of the revival of Anglican monasticism at Valle Crucis in his "The Call of the Cloister." But how could you have failed to mention my/our beloved "Towers of Trebizond"?

Keith Stanley
Transitional, from Episcopalian towards Moravianism
Durham, North Carolina, USA
16 January 200

You left out some of my favourites

Thank you for your article about Anglican literary works. I have noticed, for a while now, how much of my reading and praying and believing has been shaped by these authors and works (some since my childhood), and I am very grateful for them. Other authors that you didn't mention who have been important to me have been Madeleine L'Engle, Charles Williams, and Elizabeth Goudge (among others). I don't know if Laurie R. King, with her two mystery series featuring Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes and the other a modern day police detective in San Franciso, qualifies for your list. King has a degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, but I don't know if she is a practicing Episcopalian. Certainly there are themes in her books that are of a spiritual nature and raise theological questions and are consistent with a nuanced Anglican approach to faith and life.

I was glad you highlighted "I Heard the Owl Call My Name." We just finished reading it with our parish book group. I had read it first for my Sacraments and Pastoral offices class in seminary. I found myself in tears both times I read it, as the author described the generous love and trust of the relationship between priest and people and the life they share -- in a very quiet and important way this is a description of parish life at its best.

(The Rev.) Victoria Geer McGrath
All Saints', Millington
Chatham, New Jersey, USA
16 January 2006

All your list are belong to us

In a recent message, you speak glowingly of your readings in Anglican fiction, and many authors are mentioned. But I am greedy; I want the entire list. I teach a class in Anglican Studies; each year one assignment is for students to read a novel in which Anglican/Episcopal institutions and characters play significant roles. I would like to compare my list with yours to see what I've missed. Thanks so much.

John Wall
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
17 January 2006

(Ed: Yes. Soon.)

We prefer beer batter, and haddock

On the subject of Anglican fiction.

This is a vile and shameless self-promotion. Eight months ago, Turnstone Press of Winnipeg -- a secular publisher of fiction and poetry -- surprised itself by bringing out a novel that celebrates a loving and vibrant Anglicanism. That novel, Battered Soles: Lakefield's Multicultural Pilgrimage, is also, against all odds, funny. Here is one of several favorable reviews.

While Battered Soles is available in bricks-and-mortar bookstores across Canada, the best way of securing a copy in the rest of the world is through an online bookseller --,, etc.

Paul Nicholas Mason
St. John the Baptist Anglican in the Village of Lakefield
Peterborough, Ontario, CANADA
20 January 2006

(Ed: As long as you promise us it's a good book, we'll publish your letter.)

In the bishops' den

My initial reaction to the "Book of Daniel" was anger at what seemed to me a deliberate attempt to discredit the Episcopal Church, which is still reeling from the Robinson brouhaha. But after seeing the next two episodes, and especially after hearing the producer Jack Kenny interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air," I have changed my mind. Kenny conceived the show "in order to get a job," he said, and was astonished to find it in production. So there was no "intentionality" here. True, it is hard to imagine that one man, priest or not, could possibly have so many dysfunctional family members, but the only character I find completely unbelievable is his bishop, who seems to have nothing else to do but to hover around his parish. I'd be happier if the two bishops made an early exit on some pretext or other.

Unlike the "conservatives," I find the character of Jesus completely "in character" as Daniel's mental companion. It's the way many Christians do--and all should--"talk" to Him, as the fellow human that He is, rather than only as a transcendent Being. Unfortunately, the show is not likely to survive for long, as our society does not yet have the theological maturity to accept the thoughtful and generally compassionate point of view that "Daniel" presents. (A reminder: Gross's interview can be listened to on

Joan Falconer
Trinity Episcopa
Iowa City, Iowa, USA
22 January 2006

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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