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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.

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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 25 to 31 December 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.

Jesus or Zoroaster?

I am looking around for a church, and I've been visiting Episcopal churches near me, to see if Episcopal makes sense for me. There's always a sign that says "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You", though not a lot of them actually do anything to make me feel welcome. But that's OK. I don't mind being invisible while I'm exploring.

What I'm writing about is to ask a question. In one church that I visited a few weeks ago, I got the feeling that they were worshiping not God but fire. Everyone was totally fixated on the candles. This was especially noticeable at the end of the service, where the entire congregation stood frozen in time while the two people in robes used their hooks to put out the candles. As soon as the candles were put out, everyone acted like the service was over.

Who knew that fire worship was alive and well in an Episcopal church? Are many of them like this, or did I stumble across a pickled parish?

Roger Harkness
Bristol, Pennsylvania, USA
27 December 2006

(Ed: Pickled parish indeed. Did Peter Parson pick a peck of pickled prayerbooks? We recommend that you keep looking; there are many vibrant parishes near you, with ushers instead of docents.)

Yes, we have no cantatas

I grew up Anglican in Ontario but haven't joined a church since I moved to the USA. I read Anglicans Online from time to time and I wanted to tell you that I like AOL and it helps me deal with having no Episcopal church very close.

On Christmas eve I went to the late (not quite Midnight) service at the church that my parents have been attending since they retired and moved away. I can't think of any reason to tell you what that church is, but I wanted to tell you about my experiences and ask if this is what American Episcopal churches are like.

This was Christmas eve. The church was full of families. We were all loving singing Christmas carols. The program showed that during communion we would sing three carols ("verses as needed"). But instead some woman sang and sang and sang something that my parents said was the Christmas Cantata. I had never heard it. It was so long that when communion was over the priest sat down in a chair, looked at his watch, and waited for her to finish singing, which she eventually did.

This seems wrong. If I wanted to hear a 15-minute soprano solo of a song I've never heard before and that only says "Christmas" to people who have advanced degrees in musicology, I would attend concerts at the university. I went to church to participate in "corporate worship" and I felt that I was used as a captive audience for someone who wanted to perform.

I told my parents next year they should go to the Evangelical Lutheran church in the next town over on Christmas eve. Yes their services are 3 hours long, but they sure sing a log of Christmas songs during that time, and I know all of them. No cantatas.

Harold Quigson
Dixon, New Mexico, USA
31 December 2006

(Ed: Joy to the world, the saviour reigns! PS: we call ourselves AO, not AOL. The name AOL is taken by America Online.)

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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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