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This page last updated 14 September 2009
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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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 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.

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Letters from 7 to 13 September 2009

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.

Start with conversation before conversion

A social research agency found Sydney, Australia residents thought denominational Christian churches were a damaged brand — exclusive, inaccessible and divisive. It also found that Jesus was the best, most unifying and positive figure for a six-week campaign designed to stir debate about God. Fewer than 12 per cent of Sydneysiders were deemed to be warm to an invitation to re-engage with churches, and nearly half of all parents registered antagonism to the faith and said they would not give their children an understanding of Christianity. The research also showed that the global financial crisis could present an opportunity for churches to reconnect with people as they reviewed their family values and finances.

The findings supported a humorous campaign with a subtle message that did not oversell Christianity or the church; one that created an environment for conversation rather than instant conversion. From Monday, billboards across New South Wales, most of them near churches, will host colourful photos with captions, reminiscent of Christian email chain letters, thanking Jesus for ordinary moments in life. One image shows a parrot with the caption 'Thank you, Jesus, for birds that look like they're wearing pants'. More sobering is the prayer message above a tombstone: ''Thank you, Jesus, for looking after my mum now that I can't'.

The campaign involves 1500 churches from 15 Christian denominations and will culminate on September 27 with the launch of a TV commercial designed for the Sydney market that claims Jesus has the answers to loneliness, impatience and materialism.

Mick O'Shane
St Paul's Church, Canterbury
10 September 2009

Mysteries still

A while ago you asked if anyone knew of any current fiction featuring the Episcopal / Anglican church as a context or Episcopalians / Anglicans as protagonists. Let me point to two authors/series.

Diane Mott Davidson is the author of a culinary mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Goldy Korman Schultz, a caterer divorced from an abusive doctor and now married to a police detective. Some of the series books have more Episcopal references than others, but usually at some point some of the characters end up at the local Episcopal church in what is a fictional version of Evergreen, Colorado.

Goldy is a sometime Sunday school teacher and at one point ends up on the diocesan theological examination board (like our author, according to her web site). One books in the series features the murder of her parish priest and Goldy ends up [SPOILER ALERT!] discovering that the culprit is none other than a canon of the diocese. Unlike the Miss Marple type of mystery, we get involved in Goldy's home life: the frustrations of raising a teenager, her emotional reactions to her ex and to her new beau, etc.

The other author is Julia Spencer-Fleming and her series is the Clare Fergusson / Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries. I just discovered this today so I haven't read any of them. The series opener introduces us to the Reverend Clare Fergusson, newly-ordained female Episcopal priest assigned to a small, conservative parish in the Adirondacks. Russ Van Alstyne is local police chief.

Clare is not just a female priest, but also a former Army helicopter pilot. I'm thinking Miss Marple crossed with the Vicar of Dibley? Spencer-Fleming's website hints at wanting to be more than simply an entertaining read.

P.S. My surf board just happened to catch this wave of a site. It lists quite a few more Episcopal/Anglican sleuths.

Carl Chan
St. James' Church, Monterey
Monterey, California, USA
10 September 2009 s

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



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