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This page last updated 23 March 2006
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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 13 March to 19 March 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.

Keep it up

I'm writing again after a couple of years to say I love your website. I just emailed something from this site to the priest-in-charge in my parish!

I come to your site every Sunday to read the new column and browse the new information and links that have been posted. There's always more than I can ever read and/or click on. Keep up your good, even fantastic work.

I'm sorry to hear that Cynthia McFarland has atypical lymphoma. Prayers and good wishes for her and her husband.

Katherine McEwen
St. Andrew's Episcopal, Seattle
Seattle, Washington, USA
13 March 2006

Men in black gowns

With regard to your "muggled" experience: in my last year of seminary, I was pleased to be the exchange student from Seabury-Western in Evanston, IL, to Westcott House in Cambridge, England. A clergy friend took me to visit Walsingham, and I saw all these men walking around in their black cassocks. There was a flock of them in the garden of a pub, still wearing their cassocks. It felt weird and oppressive.

My friend quoted Wm. Blake's poem "The Garden of Love", which I reproduce here:

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And "Thou shalt not" writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore,
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.
(Penguin Poetry Library, 1988)

The poem could have been written that very day in Walsingham, it was so apt.

Then my friend took me into a tat shop (a place where one can buy churchy stuff) and into the used vestments room. I was not yet ordained, but he loudly and intentionally started fitting me with stoles and chasubles. The black gowned men fled.

As a woman priest, for whom your story is very distressing, of lay people being referred to as muggles, I pray to God there were no women clergy joining in this shameful behavior. We were ordained, in part, to change this sort of thing.

God Bless your work. God send healing for Her faithful ones. God sustain you always.

Lois Keen
St. Martin's
Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, USA
13 March 2006

No contempt here in France

I was revolted to learn that some clergy use the term "muggles" to refer to laypeople. Certainly I have never heard the word used that way. I would never allow our clergy here to speak thus. In any event I cannot imagine any of our priests here in Europe speaking so contemptuously of the people who do the real work of the Church. We know better.

Bishop Pierre Whalon
Convocation of American Churches in Europe
13 March 2006

The order of the Laity

Thank you for your essay on clericalism, as reflected on the use of the word "muggle," in a conference with many clerics.

Our rector, who is a wonderful individual, falls into something of the same error. At baptisms, especially of infants, he often pronounces something to the effect that the person may, with God's grace, become a priest, or even a bishop, as though holy orders were the fullest and best expression of God's calling.

I have known lay people who are far better Christians than many priests I have met. I have even known lay people who have a sounder grasp of theology, a greater appreciation of the liturgy, and greater pastoral abilities than some priests I have known.

Perhaps the best expression of vocation I know comes from the prayer said over every baptized person, asking God to grant that person an enquiring mind, discerning heart, the courage to will and persevere, and "the gift of joy and wonder in all your works." That is a vocation that laity and those who bear a collar can share in equal measure.

Ted Gale
Calvary Episcopal (Indian Rocks Beach, Florida)
Seminole, Florida, USA
13 March 2006

Baptism, not ordination

Pity that clericalism exists. Though ordained a deacon, I've always felt that it was baptism that gave me my special place in the Kingdom as a child of God. Ordination simply conferred on me a specified task within the body of Christ. Without lay ministers who, praytell would carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth: bishops, priests and deacons? Hardly. There aren't enough of us to accomplish the task. We are all one in the Body and in God's world I'm certain that there is no room for such elitism. May God bless all lay ministers with reinsurance that they indeed count!

Raymond M. Frazier
St. Mark's Episcopal
Tampa, Florida, USA
14 March 2006


All I can say about your article on muggles is Amen- and thank you. I do want you to know that Cynthia and Frederic are in our daily prayers, individual, parish and diocese.

Mmay the Lord continue to bless all of you at Anglicans Online -- you are not only thought provoking, but a great source of information and, may I add, much needed reassurance.

Paula Sutcliffe
St Lukes
Saranac Lake, New York, USA
16 March 2006

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Earlier letters

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


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