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This page last updated 6 December 2010
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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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 29 November to 5 December 2010

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.

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The confounded Covenant

It is reassuring to know that I am not the only Anglican/Episcopalian who views the proposed Covenant with disdain and no small degree of alarm.

Canon Kenneth Kearon, the General Secretary of the ACC, addressed the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada on the subject in June 2010. While I would stop short of calling the Canon a bully, he dropped several hints that if the Canadian Church doesn't opt into the Covenant we could be facing dire consequences. Our Primate, a wise man, let it be known that the Canadian Church was not a colonial church taking orders from Canterbury (or Africa!) and it would come to its own conclusion regarding the Covenant, thank you very much, Canon Kearon. The Archbishop also let it be known that the Canadian Church cherishes its close ties to the Episcopalian Church of the US. (It should be noted that Canon Kearon addressed the Synod of the Canadian Church on the same day he had sent a letter to Bishop Jeffers Schori informing her that the ACC was kicking out the American representatives!)

Quite frankly, if the Communion is so severely fractured that it requires a legalistic document to hold it together, I say let it dissolve. The Holy Spirit is seemingly leading the North American Anglican Churches in a different direction to the that of some of the African, South-East Asian and South American (specifically the Southern Cone) Churches. Makes me glad that I live in North America!

Happy New (Church) Year to all at Anglicans Online.

Rene Jamieson
St. John's Cathedral
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
29 November 2010


Advent - the time of holy waiting. I really like that phrase.

A blessed Advent to you and yours at Anglicans Online. We too struggle to keep the Santas at bay.

Frank Nelson
Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
29 November 2010

Your editorial regarding premature Christmas greetings presents an opportunity for all Christians. As a hospital chaplain, I am in a unique position every Advent to explain to patients and nurses and staff that Christmastide starts on Christmas Day but ends with Epiphany. I also mention that the Advent Season is the beginning of the Church Year in the Western world and may add some explanation of seasonal colours. Much of this information, simple as it is to many of us, is completely new to my colleagues and is frequently received gratefully. Obviously the Church, meaning all of us, has a lot of basic teaching to do!

Unfortunately, I can't give all that information when getting my latte or buying Christmas cards. Then I simply say "thank you; I wish you a blessed Advent also".

And so I wish you also a blessed Advent in this troubled year of our world.

Stephen Bartlett-Re'
The Old Catholic Church, Province of the U.S.
San Francisco, California, USA
29 November 2010

My favorite Advent image is the single candle burning brightly in the darkness. It is the image that I meditate upon frequently over the season. As my faith has grown, I have become uneasy at the desperate materialism that marks the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I often picture that candle, still burning brightly but now in a room filled with distracting lights, loud music, animated reindeer and shiny new toys. Those who know to look for it will still find it, untouched by the brightness around it but less noticeable to those who don’t know to look for it. But it’s there, and it will always be there, no matter how much those uneasy with our faith try to obscure it with ever-brighter displays.

We love decorating our house with Christmas lights. We love keeping them up until the proper end of the season on Epiphany. But I light a candle every night in a dark corner of the yard. The Christmas lights go on by themselves on a timer, but I have to bundle up against the weather to go out and light the candle by hand. It is dimmer than the colored lights on the eaves and bushes, but the flame is a living thing that dances and flickers.

God is not only a light shining out in darkness, but also a light shining out amidst a million other lights all vying for your attention.

Sean Varney
St. Andrews Episcopal Church
Seattle, Washington, USA
29 November 2010

You asked how we deal with the conflict between Advent and the premature "Christmas" of the culture around us. I don't think of what the stores are doing as Christmas, but as "winter shopping season," which they choose to call "Christmas," but which is observed as a cultural holiday. If I am in a conversation with someone about the religious holiday of Christmas, I will explain about Advent, but if the context is the "winter shopping season," I don't bother.

Jaime Sanders
St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Woodburn, Oregon
Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA
1 December 2010

Re: your essay for Advent 1, 2010. I believe that so many people are so desperate for the special feeling that Christmas offers that they extend the season earlier and earlier every year. While this does benefit those who turn a profit from commercializing Christmas, Charles Dickens said we should keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts "all year through", which seems like pretty good advice. As much as I can, I like to give those who skip Advent and jump right into Christmas the benefit of the doubt.

Stewart Lauterbach
St Andrew Episcopal Church
Kokomo, Indiana, USA
2 December 2010

Goodbye to Colin Slee

I, along with many others who knew him, mourn the death of the Very Rev. Colin Slee, late Dean of Southwark, whose requiem Eucharist was celebrated today in the cathedral he nurtured and opened to a more inclusive community.

Dean Slee – Colin - for all his identification with liberal causes, was a true conservative. Nurtured on tradition, Colin cherished both the substance and the forms of tradition within church life, without worshiping or fetishizing them, and did so out of fearless love for God and God’s cause of love, peace, and justice.

He spoke boldly for an inclusive Church because he understood, as others do not, that Jesus’ spiritual legacy (whatever its 1st century, Palestinian Jewish origins) is one of hospitality to the stranger, of forgiveness for those turned away from God towards worship of an empty idol: the self and its fantastic narratives of power and dominance. Whatever else the Cross may have meant or mean, it surely means the tearing of veils of separation; veils that attempt to cordon off ways of life as “pure” vs. “impure”, “holy” vs. “profane”. Jesus died as a victim of imperial power, combined with religious zeal for such divisions as justification, and from that place of marginalization rose into our lives as the source of courage, love, and hope.

Colin believed strongly that the future of Anglicanism should not be held hostage to the hates and fears of contemporary, exclusivist zealots. It was not the political or fiscal costs of writing off the Episcopal Church to appease African and English reactionaries that concerned him. It was the spiritual cost of linking the Anglican community to worship of 19th century piety, hierarchical eclcesiology, and the practice of hypocrisy about sexuality.

My first encounter with Colin took place at the conclusion of an early morning Eucharist at Southwark. Colin had preached a tongue-in-cheek homily about I Corinthians 4:5 (“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”)

The story he used was of a phone call from Jeffrey John – an openly gay man in a celibate, same-sex relationship - asking for help in interpreting assembly instructions for an Ikea closet organizer! At the end, after I had introduced myself, I said “That was amazing. But what can be done about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lack of leadership on accepting same-sex unions?” Colin responded: “Some of us are trying to help him find his courage. He seems to have misplaced it.”

In last of the Sherlock Holmes stories, there is a poignant exchange between Holmes and Watson, as they await the police to arrest the German spy whom Holmes has foiled.

Watson: It's a lovely morning, Holmes.
Holmes: There's an East wind coming, Watson.
Watson: I don't think so. Looks like another warm day.
Holmes: Good old Watson. The one fixed point in a
changing age. But there's an East wind coming all the
same. Such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will
be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may
wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none
the less. And a greener, better, stronger land will be
in the sunshine when the wind is cleared.

I imagine Colin, in his anorak, feeling the coming wind of change and facing it confidently, believing that it is indeed God's own wind, none the less, and that a better, stronger church will be in the sunshine when the wind is cleared. I would encourage those who believe in a more open, more loving and less fearful church to stand with him facing that wind, in the Spirit.

The Revd David H Fisher
Professor of Philosophy, North Central College
Emmanuel Episcopal, LaGrange, IL
Naperville, Illinois, USA
5 December 2010

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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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