Anglicans Online News Basics Worldwide Anglicanism Anglican Dioceses and Parishes
Noted Recently News Archives Start Here The Anglican Communion Africa Australia BIPS Canada
Search, Archives Official Publications Anglicans Believe... In Full Communion England Europe Hong Kong Ireland
Resource directory   The Prayer Book Not in the Communion Japan New Zealand Nigeria Scotland
    The Bible B South Africa USA Wales WorldB
This page last updated 27 May 2007  

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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 Canadian 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 14 to 20 May 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.

A package deal for a minority niche?

It's unfortunate when churches close, but decline in religious practice is inevitable and won't be reversed by either "fresh expressions" or a return to some form of the "old time religion."

Historically, most people have looked to the Church to satisfy a variety of essentially secular needs: social contact, healing, material help and opportunities to provide material help to others, education, a sense of control over their social and physical environment, a body of wisdom literature, and a venue for communal celebrations and rites of passage. In affluent societies, where secular institutions meet these needs, religious participation declines — and there's nothing churches can or should do to change that. In poor countries, and amongst the lower classes in affluent countries, where secular institutions don't meet these needs, people look to the Church and religion flourishes.

There are, always have been and likely always will be, a minority who are interested in religion as such — in theology, mysticism, sacred art, music and literature, mythology and cultic practice, in churchiness as such. I'm one of these people — and the Church will always have that "niche market." But the Church will lose us if, in a futile attempt to create mass appeal, it jettisons everything that appeals to us, its core constituency.

This is a hard saying. It means that the Church should adopt a stance of real humility and recognize, for this first time in its history, that in what Bonhoeffer called a "World Come of Age," the Church does not possess "the whole faith for the whole world" but only a package of theology, mysticism, art, mythology and cultic practice that appeals to a minority of the population in traditionally Christian countries, perhaps five percent, who have the religious impulse and for whom Christianity is their culture religion. Secular people can live good, "meaningful" lives — they do not need the Church. There is no reason why they should engage in religious practice and no reason to believe that religious commitment is of any ethical significance. Secular societies that provide for the needs of their people by secular means are perfectly adequate.

However, that five percent of the population of Christendom who are interested in religion numbers in the millions. If the Church fails us, as it has, we have no viable alternatives and if the Church abandons us, as it has, in the interest of appealing to the majority of the population who are not interested in religion as such, it is doomed to failure.

H. E. Baber
University of San Diego
San Diego, California, USA
14 May 2007

Mind the gaps

Anyone seeking information at Wikipedia about Anglicanism in any of the 20 countries in Latin America would have no idea that there is an Anglican church anywhere in Central or South America. Although some of the information presented about religion on the various Latin American sites is accurate, much of it is not, and there is absolutely no mention of Anglican (or Presbyterian or Methodist) on any of these sites, although these churches are all thriving and growing in most Latin American counties.

If you have specific information about Anglicanism in any of the Latin American countries, please go to Wikipedia and add it.

The Reverend Peter Christiansen
South San Francisco, California, USA ss
14 May 2007

Horizontal rule
Earlier letters

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


This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©1997-2019 Society of Archbishop Justus