Letters from 28 June to 4 July
Like all letters to the editor everywhere,
these letters express 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.
Online has been contemplating
the closing of our Letters to AO section. It appears to
us that all of the energy that once went into writing well-reasoned
and thoughtful letters to editors is now being put into semi-literate
rants in the 'comments' section of blogs and on Facebook walls.
For at least a year now we have, every week, received more cash
donations than letters to the editor. If you think we're wrong,
then prove it by finding something that you care about enough to
write to us.
We are heartened by the letters
you sent in response to our contemplation, but we're reminded of the famous 1973 magazine
cover of the National Lampoon, which we've plagiarized at the right on this page. If we keep
getting letters, we'll keep this section of AO. If we have to threaten to shut down in order
to get letters, we'll probably just quietly shut down.
We knew you were out there somewhere
Please don't close down the letters
page of Anglicans Online. I may have only written to you a handful of times down the years,
but it is the page I turn to first after reading your front page essay.
Robert W. M. Greaves
All Saints Anglican Church, Jakarta
28 June 2010
I hope you keep your letter section
going. It is one of the few places where we readers who only have a Plebian e-mail address can
respond. Most blogs require a blog identity for their respondents.
On another note...
Most of the time I sing in a cathedral
choir in a semi-large church in an urban setting. Our music program is good and keeps me fed for
most of the year. I could go on and on about how much I have learned from singing in the the choir,
of scripture and devotion, and how much this has shaped my personal devotion.
My husband, who does not sing,
got tired of sitting by himself for months, and years on end and now goes to a smaller Episcopal
church nearby. When I have occasion to go with him, it is always to the early (7:30am) service,
Rite 1, (Elizabethan language).
It calls me back, back to the time before
the 'new' 1979 BCP, when I was a newly minted convert, looking for a purpose in my life. I found
that purpose in a small Episcopal church holding services of Morning Prayer and Holy Communion
on alternating Sundays. I fell in love with the language, and Anglican Chant, that no one ever
explained, you were just expected to pick it up. And there was a woman in the congregation who
sang with a loud slightly off key voice; there has to be one in every congregation. But I knew
in my gut that this was what the kingdom of heaven is all about, even though I had just decided
that God is real.
34 years later, as I go with my husband
to this small church with no choir at all, I think, each time I am there, of Anglican's Online,
and all your readers, who over the years have contributed a small amount of 'technical' theological
knowledge in their letters, but have offered a huge amount of experience of the 'atmosphere' of
what this Anglican world is all about, big churches and lttle churches, all around the world. .
Anglicans Online is the only place
I can find a letter from someone in Ghana or Australia. Your website and the letters from the
readers help us to bind together. Whether we 'acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and
wickedness' or hear 'from the primal elements you brought forth the human race and blessed
us with memory, reason and skill' Anglicans Online and the readers' letters help us all stay
communicated and connected.
Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento
Elk Grove, California, USA
28 June 2010
Oh no! Please don’t.
I am a far too frequent correspondent
and the prodigiousness of my contributions to your letter page embarrasses me. I quite (in the
North American sense of “absolutely”, not the UK sense of “rather”)* deliberately
reserve comment till at least 24 hours after assorted amusing, learned, vexatious, just nice or
otherwise provocative items and observations that you serve forth every single week move me to
offer pensées, aperçus and obiter dicta. One doesn’t like to blather on, you
see. Often the very thought I had, I rightly anticipate someone else will also have and take the
time to write about. Equally as often, my mooted contribution is mere pedantry — though in
fact I love the pedantry you often offer on the front page leader —or would properly be signed, “Disgusted
of Tonbridge Wells.”
Here are a few matters that I was tempted
to write about in recent weeks.
(a) Brian’s (I am sure!) acid
comment about the Coptic Pope. Yes, the Patriarch of Alexandria is indeed the Pope (he’s
also the Patriarch of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches and indeed till 1959 all bishops
in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church had to be Egyptian. So, indeed, is the spiritual leader of the
Bohri Muslims. But I see that another reader commented on this as I would have done.
(b) Week by week, assorted costive pedantries of mine, sometimes involving your earnest attempt to
use international rather than US English. I assure you, the Canadian Press and Australian Press style
sheets are often confused; British papers for that matter often equally so. That “license” is
a verb and “licence” is a noun appears a particular bugbear, and “honourary” creeps
in with hair-raising frequency.
(c) This week, as to the sad demise
of the English eccentric in Anglican clericalism, the odd case of Bishop Michael Hough, soon to
be late of the Australian Diocese of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, my reflections (having met
him from time to time in Papua New Guinea when he was a bishop there). He was a bearded, barefoot
preacher, a former RC priest who fell in love and decided to marry and de-Pope, as ‘twere.
But his eccentric (and assuredly dictatorial ways, which may have been effective in Papua New Guinea),
apparently ran afoul of Australian indisposition to be told how to behave. Especially by an Englishman.
Even in a diocese which took him on precisely because he disapproved of female clergy.
(d) My correspondence with Bishop Nazir-Ali,
late of the English diocese of Rochester, a propos of his recent retirement as a diocesan bishop
and his new ministry as director of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue — but
more particularly as to his thoughts on the dire situation of Anglican Pakistanis (a subject of
some importance to me). He’s a fascinating character: progressive in some Anglican causes
of current moment; reactionary in some others. And also an Anglican clerical eccentric.
(e) The recent election of a new Anglican
Primate of Papua New Guinea and the perils of expatriate missionaries becoming bishops in somewhat
laissez-faire, not to say somnolent jurisdictions and attempting to light fires in extremely wet
(f) The issue of female clergy in cultures
where they are putatively a cultural no-no. I arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1977 bearing a letter
of introduction and congratulation from the then Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land to the then-newly
constituted Anglican Province of Papua New Guinea. In the 1970s female clergy was the issue of
the day. I wondered of my host, Archbishop David Hand, about this. He had done his homework as
to liberal Canadians and said, “Oh, it’s a cultural matter, you know. Our people need
church leaders who conform to traditional leadership patterns.” I of course accepted his
writ as sacred: he must know what he was talking about, eh. Then I arrived in South Bougainville
and the first question was, “Well, Sunday is coming up; we go to church. Are you coming to
the United Church or the Catholic Church?” I chose the former, since that was the orientation
of my inquirer. The minister of the pastoral charge wore a dress and her name was Eunice. Ah. Yeah,
(g) Further as to the recent snarky
comment about the Pope of Alexandria, my recent encounter with Oriental Orthodoxy a propos of one
of my sons and his Ethiopian best friend’s contested child custody and access dispute. (I’ve
encountered Oriental Orthodoxy as to the Armenians and Ethiopians in Jerusalem, the Indian Orthodox
in – surprise – India – and the Egyptians in Brisbane.) I thought it a good idea
to take the fellow to church to back up his contention that native culture is important to him;
the liturgy was five (!) hours long and involved serious longeurs: every word chanted in a musica
Holy Trinity Fortitude Valley (occasonally)
Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA
28 June 2010
But abuse and controversy attract attention
and letters to the editor
Though I rarely
writing to your efforts, AOL is unfailingly my first visit on Monday morning. I always find something
to think about, pray about and be challenged by and I am grateful. Your helpful influence came
to mind this morning while writing a weekly reflection on the upcoming Sunday Gospel, in this
case, the sending of the 70 (or 72).
I don't mind if you decide to publish
this or not. I simply want you to know that you are deeply appreciated for all that you do.
One of the most valuable resources on the Internet, in my humble opinion, is Anglicans Online, found
at http://anglicansonline.org/. A dedicated, unpaid group of people, they keep up with and offer
links to news and events from around the Anglican Communion, provide links to every Anglican
connected website and resource they can find, offer a forum for thoughtful discussion and generally
use the Internet as an incredibly effective tool for open communication. One of the most refreshing
features of this website is their refusal to be dragged into battles or to take sides. When the
usual fires flare up about the issues of the day, when Christians who should know better are
speaking and acting in ways that do not reflect the love of Christ, the AOL team refuses to weigh
in. As part of their service, they’ll tell where to find more information for those who
really want it, but they keep calling us back to basics of being Christians in the best of the
Anglican traditions. As Jesus taught, they model traveling lightly.
Jesus sent 70 (or 72, depending on which
source you read) people out to tell others about him. He told them not to weigh themselves down
with luggage, not to get caught up needless chatter with others they met on the road, and, above
all, not to fret over the outcome of their mission. They were to carry their prayers for others
to be about sharing the same good news they carried. They were to speak gently and peacefully,
but, if rejected, they weren’t to chew on it and weigh themselves down with either self-recrimination
or anger against those who could not hear. They were to let it go, to travel lightly. Everything
else was God’s concern.
We can misuse Jesus’ teaching
as an excuse to judge and reject others. Alternatively, we can receive it as deep wisdom that reminds
us that we don’t need to hang on to hurts and resentments, we don’t need to bear the
weight of others’ choices to refuse what we offer or even to reject us. Yes it hurts terribly
when that happens. However, we are free, in Christ, to acknowledge their choices and prayerfully
shake off the rejection as we would shake off from our shoes whatever we pick up from being outside.
As with the 70 (or 72), the rest is God’s concern.
Sister Diana Doncaster, C.T.
Community of the Transfiguration
Eureka, California, USA
28 June 2010
(Editor: Thank you for your kind
comments. And thank you for writing.)
Close encounters of the Triune kind
Quirky clergy are not all gone, though
one more is dead.
Voila Father Paul, "otherwise known as Lieutenant-Commander the Reverend Paul
Inglesby, who has died aged 94, held unconventional views on the origin of Unidentified Flying
Objects (UFOs) and once tried to stop the Queen watching Steven Spielberg's alien film Close Encounters
of the Third Kind, claiming it was a satanic plot to seize control of her mind."
Vallejo, California, USA
28 June 2010
Dear Friends, I
read this week's essay on the lack of the eccentric and whimsical.
A project I'm working on now is
a challenge to myself: to write a series of poems, based on a box of postcards. Each card has a
picture on the front, and each poem's title must be suggested by the picture. Here is the one I
wrote based on "Name."
Genesis 2:19--"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl
of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called
every living creature, that was the name thereof."
We learned in Vacation Bible School
God gave Adam his first job, that of
"Middle Management Trainee, with opportunity for advancement.
Dress code casual. We are a no sinning office."
No college degree was required, and the
High school diploma was waived, although
I'm assuming Adam had already received
Creation's equivalent of a G.E.D.
Obviously he was clever, but since
He had yet to eat of the Good and Evil Knowledge Tree,
He hadn't figured out the need for figleaves
Stiched with elastic vines into boxers or briefs.
Adam just had to sit in his ergonomically correct chair
Created for him out of living tree branches,
With smooth bark that wouldn't chafe a naked butt,
While God lined up all the air's fowl and the field's beasts,
And passed them by to receive a perfect Adamic name
On an Edenic assembly line that stretched
All the way back to Vienna's city limits,
If indeed Vienna had been a city back then.
I wonder if Adam ever got bored
And named the peacock Ednamae and the wombat Bozo,
Just to relieve the paradisical monotony?
After all, the peacock was prissy and the wombat bit his finger
And he could see no end in sight to the line
Of walking and crawling and hopping and slithering and running and flying
Poop factories, all demanding his attention, waiting
To be classified, collated, named, and entered into the System.
His vacation was still being negotiated.
Would God, after reviewing the day's work on his
Celestial clipboard pull these out of the "Done" column
And put them back on the line to send them through again for Renaming,
And give Adam a Written Warning, with a copy filed in his Permanent Record?
From what I hear of God sometimes, I don't think
He would countenance the sin of whimsy,
Which although not deadly, is probably still a Class B Felony
Since it's viewed as a mockerial equivalent
By most perfectionist deities.
Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
29 June 2010
Your front page letter about the current
lack of eccentric clergymen reminded me of my father's war stories.
During World War II Dad spent three
years at RAF Gaza, where his duties included visiting the nearby monastery to buy wine. Some odd
types ended up there, including the chaplain, "Durban Dick," a well-travelled man who was known
to enjoy a drink. When he received orders posting him away from Gaza, after his farewell party
he sat down in front of the train he was to board and refused to move, so had to be picked up bodily
and placed on it.
I'm not sure Dad ever again met so congenial
St. John's Episcopal Church, Youngstown
Youngstown, Ohio, USA
29 June 2010
Wasn't there a book about this?
sure cure for
Anglican Communion blues is to rent The Barchester Chronicles,
a 1982 BBC series now on DVD. Here's the blurb from Amazon:
Alan Rickman, in one of his first film
or television roles, turns in a tour de force of oily ambition. Geraldine McEwan's ferocious machinations
are downright terrifying, while the sputtering Nigel Hawthorne (The Madness of King George) seems
constantly in danger of bursting a vein. At the center of it all is Donald Pleasence. Making goodness
compelling has always been difficult, since wickedness is always more dramatic; but Pleasence brings
a deep and stirring passion to his role that proves as engaging as all the back-biting that surrounds
him. And these are just the more familiar faces; a host of lesser-known actors give equally superb
performances. The final episode (of seven) will have you on pins and needles.
Without too much effort, one can imagine
contemporary versions of these 19th century Anglican characters. . . .
David H Fisher
Emmanuel Episcopal, LaGrange, Illinois
Naperville, Illinois, USA
3 July 2010
We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11
May 2003. All published letters are in our archives.