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This page last updated 29 January 2007
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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 22 to 28 January 2007

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.

More than just Nokia are excellent communicators in Finland

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for the referrals to the Fabulous Finns - especially during this Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity! As always, you have my prayers for the great work you do for us each week.

Peter Sanderson
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Davenport, Iowa, USA
22 January 2007

Time for another Reformation?

The Inquisition revisited, recently revived by Bishop Miller in Wisconsin, has achieved what the good Bishop wished. With unending church funds, along with whatever his true reasons were,the Bishop saw fit to ruin a wonderful human being and crack a church asunder.

I know Rev. Martha Ann Englert to be a person who lived true to her vows. A large number of us know her as kind, compassionate, highly intelligent woman dedicated to helping people. She was described to me personally by her former Bishop as "a holy woman".

Miller and his Star Chamber associate Mr. Srivner sought and dug up "witnesses" that would best be called questionable in the quest to rid himself of Englert. What have we come to when a conservative male Bishop brings out of gossip his ammunition funded by the Church, some of it highly questionable, some of it bordering on slander, to destroy a liberal female priest in a liberal church?

Grace Church is a wreck. Englert, whose home had to be sold, whose retirement funds had to be cashed, and who had to borrow money to defend herself against this charade, has been reduced to hopelessness. Undoubtedly the good old boy duo of Miller and Scrivner had some chortles amidst the back slapping when they heard Englert resigned. Who in their right mind would want to go on and on and on in the delay game the Bishop has ordered?

As a faithful Episcopalian, I have serious doubts about the upper level management of our Church when I see the travesty ordered by Bishop Miller. It was interesting to see that the presentment against him by a large group of people was tossed aside.

There was once a Reformation due to this type of thing. Maybe it is time for a repeat.

Michael Coughlin
Episcopal Cathedral of St. Luke
Cumberland Foreside, Maine, USA
24 January 2007

Whom are you calling a Trollope?

Kudos for using the political style buttons with the names from Barchester Towers. I find that a real laugh, which is something we need to have. Thank you.

Paul Willson
Victoria, BC, CANADA
25 January 2007

Ideology creating blindness

As we read the news of Archbishop Williams’ declaration of support for the Catholic Church’s “conscience based” refusal to place children with gay parents for adoption, I was struck by the quasi-Aristotelian thought that while sincerity and courage may be virtues, it is their application in practice that matters.

I have no doubt that many conservative Catholics are sincere in their beliefs that (1) homosexuality is an “objective disorder,” and that therefore (2) persons suffering from that “disorder” are unfit to be adoptive parents. I also have no doubt that Archbishop Williams believes that his stand against the tenor of majority UK belief, in this instance, was a courageous one. Unfortunately neither sincerity nor courage alone are sufficient bases for making sound moral judgments.

Sincerity is often contrasted with hypocrisy, since in both cases the issue is coherence between motive and expression. A hypocrite professes a given belief but acts or speaks in ways that contradict that belief. In a sincere individual, there is consistency between belief or motive on the one hand, and action and expression on the other. The problem is that one may sincerely believe and/or act upon beliefs that are either false or incoherent. A racist upholds the false belief that one “race” is inferior to another but is rarely willing to accept the treatment justified by that belief, in his own case (as when an individual raised to believe that she is a member of one ‘superior’ racial group discovers that she ‘really’ belongs to a group she had called ‘inferior’) . Those who believe homosexuality to be an “objective disorder” often do so on the basis of category confusions; either about links between statistical generalization and moral norms, or about the defining qualities of natural and cultural phenomena.

The same points can be made about courage. Archbishop Williams is undoubtedly a man with the courage of his convictions; although what those convictions are is sometimes difficult to ascertain. Given widespread public support for gay and lesbian couples as adoptive parents in the UK, opposing this position clearly requires courage; especially in a climate where "vox populi, vox Dei" has become the norm. But practical wisdom suggests that one should think carefully before selecting a specific popular belief for challenge. Failure to exercise that ability makes one likely to be seen, not as courageous, principled, or forthright, but as reactionary; an anti-egalitarian crank.

There is much to challenge among popular, contemporary beliefs. Blind faith in quick technological solutions to extensive environmental deterioration, rather than dedicated environmental stewardship, is certainly a belief worth questioning. Blind faith in profit maximization as the sole valid goal of public policy is another.

In both cases, ideology creates blindness to empirical reality. If revelation provides believers with anything, it is not a basis for blind confidence in simplistic propositions, but a way of seeing through ideological confusion - thanks to trust in God’s compassionate, creative and redemptive work. It is unfortunate that out of all of the possible places from which to confront unjustified confidence in majority wisdom, Archbishop Williams has selected one which is confused and, in the end, based on fear and hatred, rather than on faithful trust and compassion.

The Rev. David H Fisher
Trinity, Wheaton
Naperville, Illinois, USA
27 January 2007

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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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