from 3 April to 9 April 2006
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is not a heathen
your leader this week about the man of Arab descent you met at
a Roman Catholic funeral, I believe you erred in characterizing
him as a "heathen." Since this man is of Muslim descent, even
if not currently practicing, and by his own confession of faith
believes there is "no god but God" (i.e, the God of Abraham, Jesus
and Muhammad), then he should not be called a heathen. I would
be wary of using that term to refer to a believer of any kind,
but all the more of using it of a believer of Abrahamic heritage.
Revd James N. Lodwick
South Bend, Indiana, USA
3 April 2006
We took Fr Lodwick's advice and rephrased that paragraph not long after
our initial publication. We're publishing his letter as a form
of apology for what we originally wrote.)
to sort out
am very grateful for
Anglicans Online. It's my first Monday morning stop. Please keep
doing what you're doing. My letter is in response to your report
of meeting an Arab man following a funeral vigil and Mass. It
reminded me of an experience many years ago at a wedding. Before
the wedding, he asked if he could take Communion. He said he
was Jewish. I pointed out that only the Baptized should take
Communion. When he persisted, I said that if he presented himself
for Communion, I would not refuse him, but by taking Communion
he would be acknowledging that Jesus is the Messiah. He did take
Communion, that day. I don't know what was in his mind, his spirit,
or his heart. I always figured that was God's to sort out anyway.
you commented on not inviting your new-found friend because of
Lent and Easter, my response was, What better time? Thanks for
all you do. Cynthia remains in our prayers.
St. John's Church
Richmond, Virginia, USA
3 April 2006
from full participation
been reflecting on your editorial about your experience attending
a funeral mass and being told by the priest that only Roman Catholics
were welcome to receive communion. In the same issue there is a
link to a Church Times article quoting Bishop Langrish’s
remarks to the Bishops of the ECUSA, “any further consecration
of those in a same-sex relationship, any authorisation of any person
to undertake same-sex blessings, any state of intention not to
seriously engage with the Windsor report, will be read very widely
as a declaration not to stay with the Communion."
week I was on a diversity panel that included a male-to-female
transgendered person, a lesbian and myself, a gay man. An audience
member asked us about our religious views. The transgendered women
said that she was not comfortable calling herself a Christian because
of many negative experiences from people calling themselves Christian.
The lesbian identified as agnostic, although both of her children
attended Roman Catholic schools.
at our local community center serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender persons. In a city with hundreds of churches, a pitiful
handful welcome us to worship with them. Not one of them is from
the Anglican tradition. Nearly every group actively working to
marginalize us (Alliance Defense Fund, American Family Association,
American Vision, Chalcedon Foundation, Christian Action Network,
Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, Exodus, Family
Research Council, Family Research Institute, Focus on the Family,
Summit Ministries, Traditional Values Coalition, to name a few)
identifies as Christian.
upset in the Anglican Communion concerning Bishop Robinson’s
consecration continues to seethe, I increasingly feel as you did
at your friend’s funeral service—barred from full participation.
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
3 April 2006
but essential difference
you for your reflections on the God whom Christians and Muslims
worship. No doubt you will receive letters from those for whom
you wrote 'fighting words' as you put it.
the matter is more subtle, however, than either your editorial
or those who will disagree most strongly would express it. Jews,
Christians and Muslims all worship the God who created the universe
and continues to sustain all that exists. Nonetheless, how the
Creator interacts with creation — God's characteristics, God's
nature — are described differently by Jews and Christians on the
one hand and Muslims on the other.
example, where is God when the people of God suffer? Jews have
an understanding of the Lord being with the people of Israel, even
in the midst of greatest suffering. Thus, Elie Weisel, forced to
watch an execution in a Nazi concentration camp, says, 'God is
there, hanging on the wire'. Christians take this understanding
to its depths in the doctrine of the incarnation: the Creator actually
becomes creature in order to share in our sufferings and liberate
us from them.
concept of God sharing in human suffering is anathema to Muslims.
According to Islam, Allah would not even permit a true prophet
to suffer, hence Jesus was not crucified. In terms of interacting
with human suffering, Allah is markedly different to the God of
other examples could be given. So, while Jews, Christians and Muslims
all worship the One Creator of heaven and earth, if God truly is
as God does (as Karl Rahner put it), then the Judeo-Christian conception
of the Creator is not the same as the Muslim conception of the
(same, and only) Creator.
is a subtle point, but I think it is essential both for our proclamation
of the Gospel and also for honest dialogue with Muslims.
St Francis' Theological College
7 April 2006
We're not theologians, but we had always figured that seeming differences
like this were caused by our mortal inability to understand and not
by the fundamental nature of God. Thanks for the clarification.)
interesting to hear that your visit to an RC church came with the
priest confirming that only Roman Catholics could receive the host
at Communion. This seems to be more prevalent in North America
where the "Catholic Church" is quite keen to assert that non-RCs
must be "Protestants". You probably did the right thing by staying
put in the pew.
received communion in an RC church in England (with the blessing
of the priest) but felt unable to reveal I was an Anglican Catholic
to the congregation. I have since spoken to one and she said I
should not have been concerned. As someone attending Mass in the
Church of England (same liturgy as RCs) I feel that the hierarchy
in some places has memories and actions of a bygone period.
way, there was a book published, I believe in the 1920's, titled "Why
Anglo-Catholics are not catholics at all". Have you come across
this witty piece? I lost my copy and have been looking around for
St Agathas, Sparkbrook, Birmingham
9 April 2006
to the unity of the Communion
Palm Sunday: we
are on the road to a celebration! No, not just the road to Easter
joy — but the road to Jerusalem, to
Passover, to sleeping through it all despite our best intentions,
to abandonment, arrest, civil court, cannonical court, then back
to civil court, beatings and betrayals– a crown of thorns.
This is not exactly the road to the florist for lillies and bundle
of palm branches with maybe a stop on the way back for Easter “candy” — the
chocolate kind or the theological kind
Jerusalem with Jesus. Jerusalem was a popular place during Passover.
So much going on! People from all over the ancient world talked
about what it was like, or what it would be like to be in Jerusalem
at Passover. It was New Orleans at Mardis Gras! “Times Square” for
New Year’s Eve! Rio for Carneval! But the Passover of our
story would be different from all others. It would not only commemorate
God’s covenant with the children of Israel and their delivery
from captivity in Egypt — it would establish a new covenant — a
new Passover — a new Jerusalem. It would change the world.
people cried out “Hosanna to the son of David! (Words from
this day will echo in the mass — in the Sanctus — Holy
Lord, God of power and light, heaven and earth are full of your
glory, blessed is the one who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna
in the highest!) Jesus had become well known as a teacher, a leader,
a prophet. Some, like hippy cousin John the Baptist, were openly
saying that Jesus was the promised Messiah. That angered religious
authorities. That was stepping over the line. That was a threat
to the “unity of the communion” or the solidarity of
religious authority. Better to miss the real reign of God in order
to not break rank and challenge the power and authority of the
status quo. Can we still “miss” the Messiah if the
Messiah doesn’t arrive in our own image? Many had heard the
words of Jesus from his own mouth — things that spoke of
a new commandment of love — radical words of radical love,
radical notions of inclusion for all — despite race, gender, or
we are at the gates of Jerusalem today with many of the same issues.
We wave palm branches that read like placards: One says “Blessed
is the one who comes in the Name of the Lord.” Another says “Unity” — another “Reconcilliation” — another “Love
Thy Neighbor!” Others say “All Welcome!”—“Open,
Affirming, Inclusive.” But the human condition makes liars
of us all! We are not united — there are many and varied
stances on issues and attitudes. We still struggle to figure out
just who our neighbor is — or who the Samaritan or leper amongst
us is. If all are included– if all are welcome– some
are more welcome and included than others. There is definitely
a back door for some, a request for invisibility for others, a
margin and a mainstream. We use the word “inclusive” — but
it is clear that inclusivity and doing the right thing are open
for debate and even religious authorities have a hard time doing
the right thing if it is unpopular or a threat to the power or
economics of the church.
of our prancing and dancing and branching (with our palm placards)
do not take away what comes next in our story. Jesus — love
incarnate — who actually was and is reconciling, forgiving, and
inclusive was on his way to the cross. It was our “Hosannas” that
became “Crucify him!” We want to be self congratulatory
and have our Jerusalem to be like Pasadena for the Tournement of
Roses. But this tournement of roses has thorns. Our sins, our failings,
our ignorance, our arrogance are thorny enough for a whole crown.
This road leads to Calvary — not the big rock candy mountain.
Jesus doesn’t arrive in a stretch limo — but on a donkey.
It is not a red carpet entry — with Vera Wang vestments and
Ferragamo shoes. Jesus arrives in a motorcade– well, donkey-cade,
that almost mocks the hautiness of earthly power. He arrives to
die — and to rise again — that we might live. Blessed
is the one who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Los Angeles, California, USA
8 April 2006
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