Come to the defence of ‘God’s great gift’
In the beginning—13.7 billion years ago—God created the heavens, also known as the universe; 4.5 billion years ago God created our planet, Earth. Life began on Earth some 700,000 years later, with human beings—homo sapiens—appearing in Africa some 70,000 to 100,000 years ago.
Down through these millennia humans have increased in number, expanded their geographic range, and increased in knowledge and technical competence. The invention of the steam engine some 250 years ago gave birth to the Industrial Revolution and the burning of fossil fuels on a massive scale. This has led to the atmospheric concentration of green house gasses, and the consequent global warming. This man-made phenomenon, if unchecked, will render Earth uninhabitable, ending this part of God’s creative works.
God certainly did not command humanity to exploit or harm Earth, much less destroy it. As children of our Heavenly Father, we are to be custodians of God’s planetary gift. We are to seek its well-being, and we are to oppose those individuals, corporations and nations that are putting at risk the very existence of Earth as a living planet.
Worshippers should come to the defence of God’s great gift. A great deal of energy has gone into promoting and advancing the Mennonite peace position. It is time to mount a similar, if not greater, effort at ending this assault on our planet, since the time frame within which to do so lies within the life expectancy of some of today’s children.
Bill Bryson, Toronto, Ont.
Menno, Jesus would be ‘green’ if they lived today
Many Mennonites vote Conservative federally and for the Saskatchewan Party here in Saskatchewan. Both are the least green. Few vote Green Party, which has many of the best ideas. I dearly wish people would support and develop this party, or push eco-ideas elsewhere. Sanity lies in new direction.
People like other things about un-green parties, but the possibility of an extinct humanity on a dead planet might be considered something of a priority. Yet there is no demand from supporters of un-green parties that they shape up. Just vote them in, pat them on the back and look the other way.
We’re addicted to dirty money, even though a clean, green economy is a wealthier option. Germany and other nations are leading the way. A well-planned transition is a happy, exciting, economy-stimulating, job-producing thing, not a drag. Scheming politicians discredit it, but even if it is difficult, we have no choice.
Mennonites are a people of the land, so some are green. Mennonites are also a people of charity. What greater gift to the poor than helping prevent and repair damage to the planet? Soon, we likely won’t have anything else to give them, anyway, as increasing eco-problems and unsustainable economies will cause hard times here as well.
Christianity and Mennonitism began by countering the types of unwholesome things which many Christians and Mennonites now embrace. Does a negative fundamentalism now dominate, or what is at work? In any case, revival is needed. Lack of environmentalism isn’t the only issue, but maybe the revival tents should be green—for health, life, ecology, vitality and the growth of new wisdom, which, of course, is often simply old wisdom.
I think Menno Simons would be a staunch and devoted environmentalist, preaching respect for, and harmony with, the natural world as practical, compassionate and an honour to God. I’m certain Jesus would. To believe otherwise is misinterpretation of his beautiful teachings. So, in addition to poor attitudes from individuals, why do many Mennonite organizations not emphasize the environmental imperative?
Howard Boldt, Saskatoon, Sask.
Our healing is within us
Recently Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art, did an episode on hospital parking, or lack of it. He was inundated with stories about people’s complaints.
Another perspective would be that there are too many people going to the hospital who shouldn’t have to: namely, Christian churchgoers who should be aware of the fact that it is the church’s mandate to heal the sick. James 5:13-16 says, “Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. . . . Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up.”
In his book Your Healing is Within You, Jim Glennon writes, “So the first point for us to note about the prayer of faith is that we must know what God has promised to give us. The second, is that we are to believe that we receive these promises so that we have no doubt in our heart.”
The prayer of faith may direct someone to see a doctor or specialist. Churches bring in specialists for everything else, so why not bring in herbalists, iridologists, people with knowledge of nutrition and supplements, and naturopaths who can teach about the importance of detoxification and a healthy immune system? Acting on these principles of health would go a long way to reducing the number of visits to a hospital. There is a lot of free parking at most churches.
In III John, John writes, “Dear friend [Gaius], I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” We must become more proactive when it comes to our health.
Wes Epp, Calgary, Alta.
Time to set the record straight
In the Larry Miller story of Jan. 9, it was noted that Miller and the MWC “inherited a created deficit” that came as a result of the then General Secretary presenting projected numbers for registrants and visitors that was completely at odds with what the Winnipeg Canadian Office of MWC had provided to him. We (the Director and the Organizing Committee) had put together a very realistic projection and budget and were confident in the numbers. The final numbers proved that our numbers were accurate and should not have been changed. Since 1990 the impression has always been left that the deficit was our fault. We had a team of professionals with expertise in many areas and it is time to set the record straight.
Neil Heinrichs, Winnipeg
Mennonite storyteller wows Toronto audience
On Nov. 19, an appreciative audience filled the meeting room of St. Clair-O’Connor Community in Toronto, Ont., to hear stories by Jack Dueck. Although his talents are well known, this was the first opportunity for a Toronto audience to hear him in person. His performance, sponsored by the Mennonite Centre Heritage Club, was entitled “Growing up Russian Mennonite: Humour as grace.”
Dueck set the stage for his stories by reviewing the history of the Russian Mennonites who arrived in Canada in the 1920s, giving credit to the role of Swiss Mennonites and Mennonite Central Committee in their rescue and settlement, often on isolated Prairie farms. Soon, economic depression and drought brought despair. Violent dust storms required lamps to be lit during the day. To prove that humour has its place even in these circumstances, Dueck recited to great effect some of Paul Hiebert’s comical poems starring Sarah Binks, the “sweet songstress of Saskatchewan.”
Although his stories take their inspiration from Mennonite life on the Prairies, his performance proved that they can captivate those of all ages and backgrounds. We were soon mesmerized as Dueck, with expressive gestures, sound effects and masterful evocation of images, launched into his stories about growing up in his home town of Coaldale, Alta.
In particular, his convoluted and hilarious telling of the five horses of the apocalypse had us in stitches. Who knew that Clydesdale horses and strategically placed hot potatoes could have such epochal consequences! Some of the stories were not without pathos. Throughout, he demonstrated a generosity of spirit and compassion towards the colourful characters that populate his stories.
Leona Wiebe Gislason, Toronto, Ont.
Leona Wiebe Gislason, formerly from Coaldale, is a member of the Mennonite Centre Heritage Club.
Christians should resist ‘demonizing’ stereotypes
In response to “Can ‘free’ speech be ‘hate’ speech?’”, Oct. 31, 2011, page 21, it seems that Christians are missing the point.
Most articles so far are presenting this issue as one that pits Christian beliefs against free speech rights, when, in reality, this is mistaken. According to Canadian law, free speech is allowed until it degenerates into hate. This means that it’s not what William Whatcott was saying—homosexuality is wrong—that’s the issue; it’s the degree, language and means he chose to express himself that arguably crossed the line.
Whatcott’s flyers contained headings such as “The sodomite agenda,” which implies some sort of conspiracy among homosexuals, or the intent to harm or manipulate, and they referred to LGTB people as “dirty,” “filthy,” “degenerate” and pedophiles.
Whatcott’s literature went beyond expressing his religious beliefs. He referred to homosexual people in derogatory terms and wantonly associated them with pedophilia, which is an abusive crime and a demonizing stereotype. His flyers were not about encouraging a genuine—if uncomfortable—debate on a sensitive issue; it was about disrespecting and degrading a specific group of people.
If Whatcott had simply worn his “Homosexuality is a sin” T-shirt and publicly argued his beliefs against homosexuality from a biblical perspective, he would not have been charged with a criminal action.
Whatcott and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) seem intent on spinning it so that every Christian feels bound to support him, even though the EFC itself admits that it doesn’t “necessarily condone the language Mr. Whatcott used.”
In this situation, Christians can—and I would argue, should—reject Whatcott’s methods no matter where they fall in the homosexuality debate. As we remember that we are all children of God and so deserve love and respect, let’s keep in mind what this issue is really about.
Kelsey Hutton, Winnipeg, Man.
Delight in the reading and hearing of Scripture
Re: “A Bible meant to be read with your ears,” Dec. 17, 2011, page 4.
A year ago this past December, my colleague and I challenged each other to read the “King James Only” in 2011 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the KJV. It was the first version I read and memorized in the 1960s and ’70s, but since the plethora of modern English versions came out I have only referred to it on occasion for comparison.
I did not read the whole thing last year, but read representative books of varying genres from both Old and New testaments, and ended the year reading the red letters in the gospels. I have to confess that it was not always a pleasurable experience. On the whole, I struggled to find meaning in the exercise, even with the Psalms.
After reading Christine Longhurst’s article, I now understand why. I was reading it silently and privately! As an orator and poet, I should have known better, but the habit is so ingrained. My family may not appreciate me belting out the KJV in the silence of the mornings, but the idea is tantalizing enough to attempt to make some space for it.
This past year I was in England and learned that actors read the entire KJV around the clock at the Globe Theatre during Passion Week. An “out loud” reading of the whole—or at least a large part—Bible was done at a Mennonite assembly some years ago and could be attempted again sometime.
Interpretation and discernment of what Scripture says about controversial issues, such as homosexuality, are important processes, but I think the first step is simply to delight in the reading and hearing of Scripture.
Gareth Brandt, Abbotsford, B.C