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This page last updated 5 February 2007
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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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 29 January to 4 February 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.

Monthly to weekly in the blink of an eye

I enjoyed your essay this week, although it did make me feel old, historically speaking, since I have seen the transition from monthly communion (itself still perceived as an innovation) to weekly communion in my own lifetime. And I am only 55! We have come a long way in the last 40 years, and so much of it is so positive, in terms of our commitment to the sacraments. But one thing you did not mention that I think also very positive is a growing understanding of the importance of adult Christian education — we've learned no longer to think Christian ed stops with confirmation classes, and to provide opportunities to learn and to grow in our faith for adults. That too seems to me to be worth celebrating.

Abigail Ann Young
Church of the Redeemer
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
29 January 2007

They did indeed brighten our day (but about those packs of hounds...)

I hope these observations brighten your day and are useful to ponder. Re: editorial of 28 Jan 07. Good (oblique) approach to commenting on contemporary distresses.

'Here's to the good health of our Lord Jesus Christ'. More authentic than our pious habits now, being more "to the point". What do we think about holy communion in 1970 with coke and frito lay chips? Radical and cool then, as I recall.

Maybe paying people to come to communion would improve the stats on attendance, and create a critical mass of public opinion that, really, everyone else is doing it....

Just think how easy it would be to baptise people if we could spit on them

Who wants to go to church in the rain? And Ash Wednesday is depressing. (Christians are pretty much just happy people now, right?)

More radical than the Oxford Movement was the (earlier) Simeonite evangelicals, who bought up advowsons and appointed reformers. Hmm.

Bishops of Bristol were notoriously penurious. (The great Bishop Butler was one). Telling ordinands to write an essay was probably not a bad idea. They were probably better than the things turned out by ordinands today. (I speak from experience.)

Churchyards were let to graze animals. If this were in 1450, would you think this was an example of how the church was integrated into the community or an example of corruption?

Do not forget that Sydney Smith was one of the great wits (and reformers) of the age, and that his observations cannot be taken quite at face value. I say this as an original member of the Sydney Smith Society.

Sorry—was there something morally wrong with keeping a pack of hounds? Hunting is an important part of the rural community in England (and in many parts of America and France, and among the native peoples of Canada, and in Germany, and in Hungary....) and (especially in John Peel country, in Cumbria) it is not just for toffs. There is a legitimate discussion to be had here.

It is a bit of a give-away that "high-chuch heroes" are referred to. Were they "principled", or were they—a bit like some characters floating around the church now—focussed on power and force? Would one want to see evangelicals as "heroes" for standing up for what they believe in? (A plague on both their houses, when it comes to the war that is being fought presently.) Battling for more historically correct ecclesiatical vesture? Should this be upheld as a model of faith? A bit eccentric in my view.

Finally, theological tracts were best-sellers in the 17th and 18th centuries, so if this is a mark of a great movement, perhaps the Victorians ought not to be so greatly praised. The Tracts for the Times were the first example of Christianity moving toward the margins, not recovering the centre of society.

Life is better now? What? Now that no one seems to give a fart about the faith? Funny standard to measure it by.

On second thought, you might not find so much inspiration and amusement in what I have written. But there we are. There is a historical metanarrative that is pretty hard to dislodge in the church — that things have been getting better. Historians call this "whig" history and it has been discredited for several generations.

Anyway, carry on. We all live in hope that our alma mater the Anglican communion will survive, and your site is important.

Neil Hitchin, PhD (Cantab.), FRSA, FRAS
Ely, Cambridgeshire, ENGLAND
3 February 2007

Occasionally we scratch when we only meant to tickle

For the several years during which I have been a faithful reader of Anglicans Online I have particularly appreciated the even-handed tone with which divisive issues are reported and explained. I have recommended AO to those who have general questions about Anglicanism, and have carried a link to AO on my parish website. You have done an enormous service to the entire Anglican world, as there is nothing even remotely equivalent to what you do anywhere else.

I was therefore disappointed by the editorializing embedded in the News Centre report (28 January edition) on the Archbishop of Canterbury's invitations to Bishops Duncan and McPherson to make an appearance at the Primates' Meeting. The use of the label "neo-Puritan" was especially unhelpful. Perhaps I have mistaken the mission of AO, but I would hate to see a polemical slant come to consistently permeate even the reporting of news. This would compromise your usefulness to the diverse community that makes up Anglican Christianity.

The Reverend Daniel Martins
St John the Evangelist
Stockton, California USA
29 January 2007

(Ed: Your News Centre editor pleads guilty to the use of divisive language. 'Twas intended to be in the service of brevity, not rancour, and we'll try to do better in the future. It's not hard to be the least slanted source of Anglican news on today's internet, but we strive to be upright, not 'least slanted'.)

Evil living and cross dressing in the early 18th century

In view of your letter this week, I thought you might enjoy this, from a long historical essay I wrote about John Talbot (consecrated "bishop" by a non-juror in London and returned to New Jersey, the first "bishop" in America).

On John Talbot's return from England, he arrived in Boston in 1707 and unexpectedly met the Reverend Thoroughgood Moore whom he had left in charge of his parish of St. Mary’s Church in Burlington (New Jersey).

Moore, it seems, had been arrested and imprisoned at Fort Anne by Lord Cornbury, governor of New York and New Jersey for three offenses:

(1) he had administered Holy Communion every fortnight rather than monthly (which the governor preferred),

(2) he had refused Communion to the Lieutenant Governor as a known 'evil liver', and

(3) he had reproved the governor for 'the scandalous practice of arraying himself in female attire, and publicly parading in this shameful guise along the ramparts of the fort'.

And we think things are tough these days!

John-Julian Swanson, OJN
The Order of Julian of Norwich
Hartland, Wisconsin, USA
30 January 2007

Only 25?

There are 25 quotations attributed to the Reverend Sydney Smith in my edition of the Penguin Book of Quotations, including yours about creation. But my own favourite (with which I am much in sypathy, except that I would have added a glass of Château d'Yquem) is:

'Sydney Smith's idea of heaven is eating pâté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets'.

John Griffith
St Andrew's Church
West Kirby (Chester), ENGLAND
1 February 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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