Readers write

February 15, 2012 | Viewpoints | Number 4

Climate change is happening

Climate change is one of the most serious problems to face humanity right now, a long slow process that will hit the most vulnerable human populations more than those that contributed to the problem. Where once only God Almighty could create and destroy on a global scale, humanity has made itself like God in that destructive capacity. Therefore, it was with great disappointment to read how a recent article began (“Metzger’s address on climate justice warmly received,” Dec. 19, 2011). The opening gave license to doubt our best scientific knowledge. While science isn’t perfect, the uncontested bulk of research shows that global climate change is happening and that humans are contributing to it. And the social science shows how a tiny and generally well-funded special interest group that seeks to raise doubts about climate change (references available upon request!). Those special interests have had an effect far in excess of the accuracy of their claims.

 The follow-up article, (“People of Faith must call for climate justice,” Jan. 9, 2012) on Willard Metzger’s visit to the international climate negotiations was also much appreciated. It is exciting to hear that Mennonite Church Canada asserts we must do something to address climate change. Yet that article also illustrates a need for careful journalism.

Smack in the centre of the article, reference was made to Canada’s Environment Minister. That he suggested the public wasn’t concerned about climate change flies in the face of all the survey data. This minister also withdrew Canada from the Kyoto Protocol during that very same international climate meeting Metzger attended. He has effectively dissembled about such environmental travesties as climate change, and the “ethical oil” of the oilsands, and has overseen gutting Environment Canada’s capacity to research and monitor climate-related changes.

If such charges seem “political” it is because caretaking God’s creation forces such action. The article should have pointed out that governments have responsibilities. Addressing serious international issues simply cannot be the role of faith groups, even if we also transcend national boundaries. Climate justice requires action beyond the churches.

Most importantly, we simply MUST wean ourselves from the fossil-fuelishness [sic] of our profligate energy use and the types of carbon-intensive energy that we use. With peaking oil production, the energy return on investment is declining. Carbon emissions provoke atmospheric changes. We are avoiding climate policies, creating new pipelines, exploiting oil sands and fracking for natural gas. The main consequence of such projects is to keep us going down the same profligate path. Better would be to use our God-given creativity to innovate new energy and social systems that can also maintain high quality of life without such devastating impacts on the rest of creation.

Randolph Haluza-DeLay, PhD,

Associate Professor, Sociology and Environmental Studies, The King’s University College, Edmonton, Alta.

New finance minister for MC Manitoba suggested

Re: “Hard numbers to consider” article, Dec. 19, page 18.

I find it very odd and very hard to believe what I see in this article. I grew up to be a thrifty Mennonite, but I see that Mennonite Church Manitoba has been budgeting way over the actual giving it receives from 2005 till 2011. Maybe it should get a new finance minister.

Irvin Jantzi, Wellesley, Ont.

Bible only one sacred text among many

Re: “Learn from the Bible, not cults or other religions,” Jan. 9, page, 8.

Fran Klassen rightly points out the positive values that are communicated in Christian scripture. However, I disagree with her dismissal of the ethical teachings that are found in the sacred scriptures of other religions: “All cults/religions contain teaching that mirrors the Christian faith, but this does not make them examples that Christians should be following.”

I think that the holy texts of Islam, Judaism and other faiths often provide ethical guidance in areas where the Christian Bible says little or nothing. In the Islamic Qur’an and Hadith, there are many passages in which Mohammed exhorts people to treat animals with dignity: “Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, God will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment” (Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1108); “Fear God in your treatment of animals” (Abu Dawud, Kitab-ul Jihad); “There is not a moving creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you” (Quran 6:38). I don’t think there is anything comparable in the Christian Bible that so explicitly and passionately counsels humans to treat animals with respect.

To my mind, the sacred texts of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are different lenses for apprehending the same creator. If so, then we can learn something from all of them.

Mark Morton, Kitchener, Ont.

Info sought on ‘ashes to ashes’ phrase

In the last three months I have attended the funeral of two of my wife’s brothers, Menno H. and Rudi Epp.

I noted that during the committal services the traditional phrase, “dust to dust and ashes to ashes,” was quoted. The “dust to dust” I can understand, as it is quite biblical. However, I am at a loss to understand the “ashes to ashes.” Although through cremation some bodies are reduced to ashes, they certainly were not created Phoenix-like from ashes.

When my parents died a few decades back, I requested the officiating ministers at both funerals to omit that confusing phrase, and would be far from surprised if others have had that same objection.

I would appreciate some explanation or other responses to this conundrum via e-mail at

Les Friesen, Abbotsford, B.C.

Church members should be queried on sexuality statement

Since, in 1984-85, the congregations of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada empowered its delegates to request the General Board to develop a Bible-based resolution on human sexuality, I suggest querying these same congregations to determine whether they want or need to change  the resolution.

This should be an integral part of the “Being a Faithful Church 3,” representing proper protocol. A comprehensive survey, referendum or plebiscite could be used to query every individual member of Mennonite Church Canada with an answer to the simple question:  “Does the Saskatoon Resolution accurately represent your position on a biblical statement regarding human sexuality?”

Then, and only then, can we begin to deal with this issue with a reasonable degree of honesty and openness.

Armin Ens, Reinland, Man.

Thankful for Rudy Wiebe’s “truth”

I was too young when the stirring happened in response to Rudy Wiebe’s book, Peace Shall Destroy Many. When I read this book as an adult it blessed my heart because it articulated so well my experiences and questions as a boy growing up in the northern Alberta community of La Crete. I felt understood.  

As a young boy I could not understand how we could live side by side with the native people and view them as less than us, and why we spoke about them as “half breeds.” I recall witnessing many good interactions between my people and the native people.

Children don’t make the same distinctions as adults do, and while going to school, friendships with native people developed and a few even learned to speak Low German. I will never forget one Friday night while the women were doing the shopping and the men were standing around smoking and in discussion. When my friends and I entered the store some of the men (who would be in church on Sunday) started to speak in disrespect about my native friend in their mother tongue. Our native friend spoke back to them in Low German and the silence was deafening.  

Experiences shape us and can challenge us. I’m often asking myself, what kind of advocate am I? Do I have the courage to speak up when needed and to be silent when appropriate? Sadly I have to confess that many times I have abdicated my responsibility and the circle of hurt has been enlarged.

I concluded at the young age of 12-14 that if this is the kind of people God wanted his people to be, then I didn’t want any part of that kind of God.  

Thank God for the revelation in Jesus Christ as to what kind of people He wants us to be! I’m thankful for people like Rudy Wiebe.

George Goertzen, New Westminster, BC

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