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Letters
Episcopal Life welcomes letters and will give preference to those in response to stories. Letters should be no longer than 250 words and must include the writer’s name, address, phone number for verification. Pictures are welcome. Send to Letters, Episcopal Life , 815 Second Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017; or e-mail to letters@episcopal-life.org. All letters will be edited for brevity and clarity.

Episcopal Church welcomed him
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I don’t know what I was doing looking at Episcopal Life online, but I caught your article on 20-somethings in the church (“Our church’s young adults: Are they subversive or substantial?,” October), and I have to say it was dead-on. I'm a 26-year-old architecture student in New York City and have always seen Christianity to be a scary, hateful cult that required suspension of  intelligence, critical thinking skills and a sentence to life in a vacuum for its believers. 

The Episcopal Church has proven me wrong.  The curate at Grace Church on Broadway, where I go, is about my age and has helped me to understand the church to be not only relevant, but also absolutely vital to life in the real world.  By addressing contemporary culture and issues while understanding and respecting deeper sacred truths and traditions, the church bridges my daily experience of life in New York City with higher ideas of  meaning and God.  I've even been inspired to apply some of my precious critical-thinking skills to explore theology and Biblical history, which in turn inspires more and more compassion in my daily life.  That's a pretty sweet deal.

Caleb Todd
Brooklyn, N.Y.


Ancient rituals appreciated
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I was encouraged when I read the article about St. Bart's reaching out to career-age folks in their 20s and 30s   It was especially cool that they reached out and made the ancient worship forums more accessible.   This should be happening everywhere in the Episcopal Church. Many in my age group crave the depth of the ancient worship rituals.

Young people raised in post-Christian society are starving for real connection with God.  The pastor of my home Episcopal Church is fond of saying, "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water."  I think this is especially true when it comes to re-embracing the ancient worship methods.  Instead of chucking them in favor of contemporary music and guitars, let's learn how to really invite the spirit to be with us when we celebrate our liturgy.

Attending an emergent church plant in addition to my regular Episcopal Church has made me have a much deeper appreciation for the liturgy. Hopefully, the Episcopal Church will be more proactive in the future about making the worship of the ancient church more available to more people. When we really say the words in the liturgy with our whole hearts, the liturgy comes alive and truly becomes a "work of the people."

Tina Grubbe
Aptos, Calif.


Laity need support, too
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I was very touched by Jane Tully's article regarding her son's coming-out.  This is the type of support group that I need, which addresses my spiritual belief and also addresses the love I have for my son, who is gay.

I am uplifted to hear that she and her husband, William, a rector, have started the Clergy Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.  Is this support group only available to clergy, or to the lay people of the church as well?  I certainly could use the support of my Episcopal family.

When I learned of my son being gay, I looked for support from my parish priest and was told, "Of course you know, it is a choice!"  As I have known there was something different about my son from the time he was 8 years old, I also knew that I would not be getting support from my clergy.

Christine Hill
Sacramento, Calif.


Sabeel sought balance
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PB Speaks at the Final Press Conference
  

 

“I am deeply distressed” that Bishop Edward Little complained about unbalanced coverage of the Sabeel Conference (Letters, September).  Sabeel participants were striving for peace, justice, understanding and balanced attention for Palestinians.  Contrary to Bishop Little’s concern, it is the Palestinians who suffer from severe neglect by the press.  “Balance” is never shown when stories about Israel and Zionist ideas are run.

The Israel-Palestine issues are complex because we make them so.  We in the United States especially have been shamed into accepting guilt for the crimes of the Nazis.  We have avoided a dispassionate look at the facts.  Complexity arises due to the profound emotional content of the many rationalizations for a safe and secure homeland for Jews.

Zionism is a racist and evil worldview.  Most of the world sees Israel as a criminal state not because most of the world is anti-Semitic but because most of the world sees the truth.  The Presbyterians have recognized the criminality and have called for an economic boycott.  Perhaps our church leaders could learn from them and follow the lead of our brothers and sisters in Christ rather than whine about how a criminal nation is being maligned.

Lyle Horn
Watsontown, Pa.


Peace would follow recognition
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I have read in two different places today that the Presbyterians are going to divest themselves of some investments in companies that do business in Israel and that some members of the Anglican Communion are contemplating doing the same. What a waste. And how counterproductive.

If you want to relieve the misery of the Palestinians, pressure them and their Muslim neighbors to recognize Israel for the sovereign nation she is and accept her as a permanent presence. Peace would ensue immediately, and differences could then be addressed by equals.

John W. Martin
Arlington, Va.


Doctrine, not translation trouble
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Prof. Ian T. Douglas' account of the various worldwide terms for Anglican in your October issue somewhat misses the point in commenting on the Chinese and Japanese terms.  They arose not because  "'Anglican' does not communicate in translation," but rather because Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, bishop of Shanghai (remembered in our calendar on Oct. 15), was making a doctrinal statement when he took the bold step of translating not "Anglican" but "Holy Catholic Church" literally into Chinese as Sheng (holy) Kung (catholic)  Hui (church). This in turn was taken over in Japanese pronunciation as Sei Ko Kai, by the Japanese in 1887.

Unfortunately, at the same time the Japanese decided to add "Nippon" to the title (at the time probably only to distinguish it from its Chinese original), but in the process ended up with an oxymoron (Japanese Holy Catholic Church), almost as self-defeating as the better known and more familiar oxymoron "Roman Catholic Church."

Roy Andrew Miller
Honolulu


Further parsing definitions
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The article by the Rev Ian Douglas, which attempted to define the differences between the Anglican and Episcopal Churches, was correct for defining the Anglican side. The Episcopal Church is still "The Protestant Episcopal Church of America," although Protestant was dropped for check-signing purposes, too lengthy to write.

As a Protestant Episcopalian, I am compelled to remind us that Lambeth is our home, not Rome, and for my ecumenical friends, "Long live the Queen!"

Susan J. Zimmerman
Elgin, Ill.


Don't abandon literal reading
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It is reported in the October 2004 Episcopal Life that presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold told the BBC, "If Scripture can only be read literally, classical Anglicanism is dead."  If indeed classical Anglicanism prevents the literal reading of Scripture, then it needs to die.

The Rev. Christopher T. Hayes III
Rixeyville,  Va.


Use money for pensions
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A number of years ago, I was in a focus group sponsored by the Church Pension Fund asking how the fund could best spend extra money it had accumulated.  CREDO (“Oath to care for oneself,” October) was one of the projects mentioned. I and others said the extra money should be paid only into the pensions of retired clergy.

CREDO may be a valuable program for clergy wellness.  However, it is paid for by monies put into the Church Pension Fund by parishes and missions for pensions for retired clergy, not for working-clergy perks. I believe the CRDEO program should be stopped and the funds spent for what they were intended.

The Rev. Robert Warren Cromey
San Francisco


War support disheartening
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I am disheartened to read the many letters from Anglicans supporting U.S. actions in Iraq.  I feel I must be reading a different gospel.  When did our faith become about safety and toughness and retribution, rather than agape sacrifice and forgiveness and grace?  Jesus seems quite clear on this subject.

One writer states, "It is not the United States that is carrying out the bombings." Doctors at Iraqi hospitals would be quite surprised by this assertion. Apparently in the eyes of many, anything that a U.S. warplane does is somehow exempt from the Ten Commandments and from Jesus' insistence on turning the other cheek, while anything done by an Iraqi or Muslim is beyond all possible forgiveness. 
This won't wash. 

Jesus could have called all the legions of the Father, could have raised every stone to save his body, but he laid down his precious life for you and for me.  This is the example we are called to follow.

Kenneth Hymes
Charlottesville Va.


Chose allegiance carefully
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I read with interest the article titled “Tear Down This Wall” (October). While the authors' intentions may be well-meaning, they are sorely lacking in historical perspective. This wall was created in desperation by the Israelis after years of terrorism and suicide bombings perpetrated by the Palestinians. The conditions that the Palestinians live under has been created by their own fanatical desire to wipe out the state of Israel and all Jews in general.

I find it disturbing that the Episcopal Church is so quick to take the side of a culture that glorifies suicide bombers and promises paradise to those who commit these crimes.  Are these Episcopal values?  Israel has a right to protect itself and its citizens. Withdrawing the church's investments in Israel, as has been threatened by some of our church leadership, is sending the wrong message to terrorists. The Episcopal Church needs to be careful where it places its allegiance.

Sandra Cornelia
Hockessin, Del.


Wall issue complex
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I was greatly surprised to read an article about the Israeli barrier ("Tear down this wall," October) that did not mention anything about suicide bombings or terrorists.  The authors ask rhetorically, "Is this wall truly about 'security,' as we so often hear?"

Since this article did not address any of Israel's security concerns about suicide bombers, readers have no choice but to believe that the barrier has nothing to do with security.  I do not question the motives of Father and Mrs. Tobin, as they are working to bring about peace and understanding -- but the issue is much more complex than the article leads readers to believe.

John Drobnicki
Flushing, N.Y.


Leaders should build unity
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I have been a church-going Christian for 41 years, and I have been watching the church become increasingly politicized and congregations polarized.

Religious leaders have zealously taken politics to the pulpit.  Political strategists have accessed church membership lists.  What is most damaging is the ever-widening divide in this country between people of different religious beliefs and even between peoples within the same religious communities. If we expect to have God ever “heal our land,” as it states in II Chronicles 7:14, we must build God’s kingdom by facilitating the healing process. I challenge churches to provide leadership in building unity within our communities.

Our churches should be guiding the community in embracing the viewpoints of others and working collectively toward a stronger nation.  We have the opportunity to see and be the face of God in everyone and to everyone.  We can be a people of peace.  We can embrace the intelligence and free will of all our neighbors, whether liberal or conservative.  We can show patience, hopefulness and grace in living in and living out our faith.

As a spiritual leader in our community, please help to begin the healing process.

Rita Ferrandino
Sarasota, Fla.


Wall still necessary
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While part of me agrees with the Tobins about the message sent by the wall (“Tear down this wall,” October), another part (the stronger) sees the need for such a wall.  If the Palestinians were ready to abandon their leader, if they were ready to accept compromise and work with less-militant means to change their relationship with Israel, I might agree with you.

As I see it, the Israelis are offered the unpleasant choice of sacrificing their own people so that their neighbors may visit their elderly grandmother or tend their olive trees or attend school etc.  Until the Palestinians are willing to and can control their own people and are ready to accept the leadership of more moderate men, then they must live with the wall, and so must the rest of us.

Jean Ellston
Jaffrey, N.H.


Disagreeing with Tobins
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I am a regular reader of Episcopal Life, having been an officer of the Church Pension Group for 10 years before retiring in 2003.  I also happen to be a secular Jew living in the Diocese of Massachusetts, where Bob Tobin served as a priest.  I am not a Zionist, but I strongly object (and have done so for several years) to the Tobins' views on Israeli Jews.

I, too, believe that Israel should "tear down this wall," but not for the same reasons as the Tobins.  Everyone should oppose the barrier, not just the Christians to whom this article is directed.

It is ironic that I have never read or heard of the Tobins objecting to the British treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland; nor have I read or heard of them objecting to Palestinian suicide bombers who target civilians rather than military personnel.  They have the audacity to quote Israeli human rights activist Gila Svirsky, with whom I tend to agree, only because it serves their anti-Israeli-Jew agenda.

The Tobins are justifiably concerned for the Christian Palestinians who comprise only a small minority of Israel's population; but they show only little concern for the majority Muslim Palestinians.  And, as so-called "advocates for a just peace," where is the Tobins' concern for the hundreds of Israeli Jewish civilians who have been targeted by Palestinian radicals.  Shame on them!

Marvin A. Sezak
Brockton, Mass.


Inclusion the answer
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The Rev. Martha Giltinan’s opinion piece (“Banns in Boston,” July/August) is an illustration of the heartbreaking disconnection from real life that rigid and unchanging interpretations of Scripture inevitably and deliberately cause.  It dramatizes the theological dichotomy between two world views: God as tribal, exclusive, wrathful, temperamental, intractable, meter of punishment in an honor-and-shame paradigm versus what Jesus taught and showed us so that we could see the face of God.

How can she support civil rights for same-sex friends while denying the humanity of their relationships?  “Love the sinner but hate the sin” justifies exclusion, rather than dealing with life using Jesus’ method: inclusion.

The good news of God in Christ is not proclaimed by pronouncing that those who can’t pretend to be straight can’t enter into the loving relationships that their genes have determined.  Most Americans won’t tolerate the church or state trying to prevent gay individuals from self-actualization.

Warren A. Carlson
Altamonte Springs, Fla.


See suffering in both sides
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I read with sadness the moving article by Bob and Maurine Tobin concerning the construction of a barrier separating Palestinian territory from the State of Israel that also separates many Palestinians from their land. This barrier is one of many outcomes of this bitter conflict that causes pain.

It seems fully appropriate for Christians to witness against such suffering, and the suffering of the Palestinians is real and terrible. But it is striking that neither Bob nor Maurine seemed to notice the suffering of Israelis who have been murdered in terrorist attacks and who feel protected by this barrier. Until Christians, Muslims and Jews recognize the suffering on both sides, the blindness of seeing only through one eye distorts our vision.  Until we see the pain from all those engulfed in this conflict, our one-sided attacks exacerbate the conflict and give hope to the extremists on both sides.

I hope that on their next trip, Maurine and Bob, and all people of faith, will try to comfort all those who are suffering.  It would make their witness more powerful and more blessed. Such caring for all human beings in pain is the best way to shorten the path from Bethany to Jerusalem.

Dr. David Elcott
U.S. director, Interreligious Affairs
The American Jewish Committee
New York


In response to “Organ Donation Worthwhile” and “A Grateful Recipient”
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How wonderful to stir people up!  I was glad to see responses to my organ-donation letter but saddened that they took what I said and twisted my words.

I am well aware that liver failure is caused by other things besides alcoholism or IV-drug abusers -- I am a Registered Nurse and work with people every day in a radiology department who have numerous liver ailments as well as other organ problems. I am truly very happy that Ms. Ramsay has had a successful liver transplant and that her life is going well for her and that her children have their mom.  That is terrific!

I am so glad Ms. Lauk could make sense of her sister’s death and be comforted by donating a part of her to help other people, who seem to being doing so well now. I think both women should be commended for their bravery in such difficult times in their lives.
However, the point of my letter was to encourage the organ-donation programs to tell the whole story.  No one except the organ recipient is told of the costs, the constant doctor’s visits, the changes in lifestyle, etc.  I wonder how many of them are told the actual facts.  I have had too many patients tell me, “If they had just told me I was going to have to live on all these pills and be so tired, I never would have done this.”

All of us know the organ-donor family has no cost, but no consumer is ever told what is in store for the recipient in all the cheery ads placed in the papers. Be honest with consumers is all I want!  Just be up-front and honest and tell the whole story, please.
I also never said no one should donate; it is a personal matter, and I am well aware of that.  I said I would not be an organ donor or a recipient and place my family in a financial bind. For me, there is a time to live and a time to die, and when my body gives out, it will be time for me to leave this wonderful earth.  Period.

Minou Sutton, RN
Sand Springs, Okla.


Build, don't destroy
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Many years ago, I, too, read Family Heart (“Mom, Dad, I am gay”) while coming to terms with the homosexuality of two of my three children. It was difficult, but it was something I had known in my heart long before my mind could address it.

Many years have passed, and now it seems perfectly natural to me and to my husband.  They are both wonderful people -- bright, hard-working, kind, very attentive to their parents and in long-term relationships with people we think very highly of.  If I had turned my back on them I would have been the loser, much more than they.  It is no secret that they are gay, and if the situation warrants it, I tell people.  My feeling is that if some cannot handle it, they are the ones who lose.  I also feel this is a small way in which I can help educate others -- because people do need educating on this subject.

This is why I, as a cradle Episcopalian, am very concerned about the faction that has grown in opposition to the ordination of Bishop Robinson.  I find this an example of mean-spirited Christianity.  This is a situation where our "love for one another" should shine, but it almost seems like "hate for one another."

I can only pray that this faction withers away.  We should be in the business of building up the church, not tearing it down.

Elizabeth B. Connelly
Jamestown, R.I.