Readers write

June 18, 2013 | Viewpoints | Number 13

Reference to age of the cosmos distracts from editorial’s main point

Re: “Sabbath” editorial, May 13, page 2.

I’m not one to pick on little things, but your editorial has me doing just that for one simple reason: By including the reference that the cosmos is 13 billion years old and the soil is 4.5 billion years old, my focus was taken away from your main point.

It was redirected to the “evolutionary” thought that a scientific assumption had been stated as a fact. No one can say how old the cosmos or earth actually is. The earth could be billions, millions or even thousands of years old depending on which criteria you use to prove your theory.

As a family, we vacationed at Mt. St. Helens, Wash., about eight years after its May 1980 eruption. Life was beginning to creep out of the soil again, but Spirit Lake was still covered with a lot of logs and mud. I felt like I was at the beginning of Genesis. Now a mere 33 years after its eruption, it appears that specific waterways have been determined and that there are canyons and layers in the sides of the valley just as if they had eroded over thousands of years.

I agree that, regardless of the world’s age, even just from the perspective of today’s vast universe and diversity “makes me a speck in the scheme of things.” And you have nailed it by then asking, “Have I created a legacy or just a memoir?” because just your editorials often inspire, encourage, uplift and enlighten me. That’s leaving a legacy even if only from a fragment of who you are in life. Keep living a good story on the rest of your journey and your legacy is sure to grow with it.

Maria Siemens Matty, Abbotsford, B.C.

Columnist’s language scrapes bottom of the barrel

Re: “A tale of two speakers,” May 13, page 11.

Does this represent where the church wants to go in its language to one another? As a long-time church journalist and Mennonite editor, I found this article very troubling. To use such disrespectful language about a church leader, as New Order Voice writer Aiden Enns employs, sets a bottom threshold one seldom sees. It’s pretty difficult to be a church leader when privileged columnists use such language about them.

Harold Jantz, Winnipeg

Word and Spirit both meant to ‘guide us on our way’

Re: “Christian living in the ‘Age of Spirit,’ ” May 27, page 14.

Troy Watson draws an engaging and compelling picture of life in the Holy Spirit, where “Christ is all and in all.” At the same time, I am surprised by the conclusion he draws from I Corinthians 2, that “the person filled with the Holy Spirit will be taught by the Spirit, with or without the Bible.”

Why set the Spirit apart from the Word? Don’t we need both? Can we ever put the Bible away? I am amused to see that Watson bases his point on a scriptural passage (I Corinthians 2), even while claiming that his spiritual life would thrive if he “never read the Bible again.”

I also notice that he was drawn back to faith from agnosticism by the writings of the mystics. Is it not more than likely that these mystics were themselves steeped in the Scriptures?

How do any of us learn that there is a Holy Spirit apart from the Bible? And how do we test the outworking of the Spirit in our lives unless we are immersed in the guidelines given in the Scriptures?

The features of the divine life—which are Watson’s goals of love, peace, unceasing prayer—are they not introduced to us from the Scriptures?

Watson reminds us how destructively Christians have used the Bible. Is it not equally true that Christians have done grievous things in the name of the Spirit?

Given our wayward sinful nature, surely we will always need the ongoing light of both Word and Spirit to guide us on our way.

Joyce Gladwell. Elmira, Ont.

Religion statistics of latest census called into question

Re: “The good of bad news” editorial, May 27, page 2.

In your editorial you looked at some trends in those affiliated with a Christian denomination. You used the census results from 1991 and 2001, and compared them to the results of the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). Because of the large number of people who did not respond to the NHS—the overall response rate was 70 percent compared to response rates in the high 90th percentile for the census—the results are not comparable.

The problem can be illustrated by a study that Statistics Canada put on the web and then removed a few weeks ago after the release of the NHS. It took the pattern of non-response in 2011 and applied it to the long-form census of 2006 in three cities of very different sizes: Toronto (five million), Winnipeg (680,000), and Bathurst, N.B. (31,000).

Had the NHS been run in 2006, it would have underestimated the size of the total population with aboriginal identity by 6 percent to 7 percent in Toronto and Winnipeg, and overestimated it by nearly 15 percent in Bathurst. Similarly, the total size of the Chinese community would have been overestimated by nearly 18 percent in Toronto, but underestimated by over 4 percent in Winnipeg and 75 percent in Bathurst.

In some smaller communities across Canada, in 2011 everyone responded to the NHS; but in other communities, no one responded. As a result, in many cases the NHS is an unreliable source of information about Canadian communities.

Great care must be taken in the interpretation of NHS data. Your report of 26 percent of Canadians with no religious affiliation may be inaccurate, and possibly wildly inaccurate.

David Bellhouse, London, Ont.
David Bellhouse is a statistician in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences at the University of Western Ontario, London.

Is loss of penny a sign of the end times?

In Revelation 13:15-16, a beast makes everyone take a mark on their right hand or their forehead; without the mark, no one can buy or sell, as there will be no cash. So, when Canada ended the use of pennies, is this the beginning of no cash? I would like to know what other people think of this.

P.J. Rempel, Rosthern, Sask.

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