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This page last updated 15 May 2016  

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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 the week of 9-15 May 2016

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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Thy Mission High Fulfilling

The night Mary Ann Thomson saved my life: When I lived in Midtown Atlanta, Georgia I walked my dog Elvis a lot (more than he needed to go out). He seemed to like being outdoors and I let him lead the way on his leash to go where he wanted go. He usually liked Piedmont Park. One night he led me across Peachtree Street to Myrtle Avenue. There are no street lights on Myrtle Avenue; we were totally in the dark. A man approached us and when he got closer I could see he had a handgun. He demanded my wallet and he threatened to shoot me. We were at something of an impasse. I had very little money with me and I was not going to surrender my military identification card, my credit cards, etc. He kept demanding my wallet. I told him I wasn't afraid of him and that I imagined his mother and father would be very disappointed in him because he wasn't raised that way. Suddenly (and I am not sure why) I started loudly singing "O Zion Haste, Thy Mission High Fulfilling" by Mary Ann Thomson. I love this old hymn and have it completely memorized (the 1940 Hymnal version). By then the man had his pistol aimed at my face and was standing very close to me. Every time he demanded my wallet I told him I had yet another verse to sing. I kept on singing and finally he put the gun down and told me I was crazy. I invited him to church and he told me I was crazy (again). I told him I would pray for him right there on Myrtle Avenue. He told me — shaking his head and walking away — that I was totally crazy. He declined to pray with me that night and I told him that Jesus loved him.

Mark Friesland
Oborishte Street Anglican Fellowship
9 May 2016

Obeying our Lord's command

You wrote this week: "We wonder tonight, though, if 'sharing information' has not become a substitute of sorts for the reading, marking, and inwardly digesting to which we were called before the advent of constant connectivity."

Indeed. The ability to interpret the flood of data coming at each of us is not found on the myriad apps, clouds, search engines, digitized books, Scriptures, music, and liturgical rites available. Those who know me well are quite aware of my own use of technology, especially that named for a fruit often mistaken for that which our Mother Eve ate and offered to her feckless husband, our Father Adam. The MacBook Pro I am writing on, the new book by Rowan Williams I am reading on my iPad's Kindle app, the iPhone whose alarm awakened me an hour ago, and now the Watch that has just informed me of my exercise patterns last week — I am no Luddite, shall we say.

But I make my ordinands read books, hard ones, and printed on bound reams of paper. Who can learn to be a teacher of the faith without encountering first the height and the depth and the breadth of Holy Scripture? That requires some passing knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, at the very least, and in-depth familiarity with its contents. The ancient Fathers and Mothers, who shaped our creeds and orthodox theology; the brilliant Schoolmen, especially the Dumb Ox and Catherine of Siena; the Reformers, and especially our own Divines: Hooker, Taylor, et alias. And then the list goes on. Butler, Maurice, Gore, Underhill, Temple, Macquarrie and McGrath; Rahner, Lonergan, Johnson, Micks. Pickstock, Williams...

"Of the making of books, there is no end, and much study is weariness of the flesh." spake the Preacher, and 'tis surely true. Too bad. The "inward digestion" that fine teachers require of every student in any discipline is learning to think for oneself. No computer, not even one designed in Cupertino, can substitute for the hard, liberating work of hoisting one's mind and spirit to the giants of yesteryear and today.

In this labor, those preparing for Holy Orders will eventually become like the scribe who offers treasure from old and new. They will be obeying our Lord's command that we love God with all our mind. No microprocessor can do that, nor is it required to. All of us without exception, on the other hand, must.

Pierre Whalon
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe
9 May 2016

Looking for books

I am reading a book called The Faith of the Church by James A. Pike 1951. It is the 3rd book in a series of 6 books the Church Teachings under the department of Christian education of the protestant Episcopal Church and considered the on the adult level of the new curriculum. I am in need of the rest of the books. Under "Now Ready" The Holy Scriptures Volume 1, Chapters in Church History Volume 2.Under "In Preparation" The Worship of the Church Volume 4, Christian Living Volume 5 and last The Church at Work Volume 6. Thanks for your time and effort to locate these books. I don't need brand new ones any readable issues would be great. I don't want downloads of these I prefer hard copies. I will be happy to pay for the books and shipping.

Karolyn Armstrong
Light house of deliverance
915 West Miner Street Apt 13 Eureka, California 96097 USA
12 May 2016

I want to be 100% Anglican

The biblical witness of conflict in Matthew 9, persuades me that tensions and conflict are not accidental or situational.  Why does the Church, believing in a Messiah who broke bread with 'tax collectors and sinners,' continue to retain practices of exclusion and the quarantine of gated communities?  This fuels the tension between the Church and the LGBTQ community.

I see this particular dynamic of disgust psychology as regulating the exchange between the church and us.  How are we to draw the boundaries of exclusion and inclusion (who is 'in' and who is 'out') in the life of the church?  Sacrifice creates a zone of holiness, admitting the "clean" and expelling the "unclean".  Mercy, on the other hand, blurs the distinction, bringing clean and unclean into contact.  This erects boundaries.  We stand on opposite sides of psychological (clean versus unclean), social (inclusion versus exclusion) and theological (saints versus sinners) boundaries.

The Church may seem welcoming but does not affirm those who happen to be gay and seek covenantal relationships.  It claims to be welcoming LGBTQ covenanters to attend, tithe and volunteer but when it comes to leadership roles, or marriage, it turns them away. Or greets them with silence. We belong, not because of what we did or did not do or how we may fall short, but simply because God includes us. I simply feel invisible in the Church.

Everywhere we read "we continue the journey with our LGBTQ people";  "remove the barriers"; "how do we walk together without judging"; "we must support and encourage one another to stay in the circle and walk together".  I am no longer willing to accept "the church takes time, a long time."  We are well into the 21st Century and there is little hope that inclusion will be complete.

Frank Kajfes
St Luke's Anglican
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA
12 May 2016

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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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