Informed scientists agree global warming is man-made
Stephen Kennel’s letter in the May 26 issue of Canadian Mennonite unwisely attacks editor Benner for suggesting Mennonites divest in fossil fuel industries. Benner is certainly correct in pronouncing the climate change problem urgent enough for us to try to reduce our carbon emissions.
Kennel points to the U.S. Senate Minority report on Climate Change of 2008, available on the internet, as a worthwhile source of information. That report is a collection of statements by scientists of all sorts who wish to voice objections to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclusion that global warming is a significant threat and that it is generated by our industrial society. These statements are merely opinions by scientists whose expertise is not climate science and who have not submitted their conclusions to the rigors of peer-reviewed publication.
The American Geophysical Union in their 20 January 2009 issue of EOS, our professional newsletter, published results of a study designed to measure the strength of the consensus that global warming is significantly affected by human activity. Their invitation went to institutions that employ geoscientists of any stripe, and they received over 3000 responses. To the question of whether global warming is man-made, 82% said “Yes.” The general public’s response to the same question according to a Gallup poll had only 58% agreement. The study found that the closer a scientist’s expertise is to climate change the more likely he/she is to agree, so that among scientists whose recent peer-reviewed publications were on climate change, 97% agreed that global warming is man-made. Thus the informed scientific consensus is almost complete.
So what about the 16 years without global warming that Kennel mentions? And what about this cold winter we just had? The vast U.S. network of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims on its public internet offering that this past April was the 46th warmest April on record in the contiguous U.S., and that Canada may have been colder. No warming there. Nevertheless, this same April ties with that of 2010 for the warmest on record globally. The reason is that Siberia, for example , was unusually warm. We have to keep a global perspective in this debate.
I sympathize with Kennel that the only prominent Americans interested in evidence-based decisions are Democrats, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. I’m glad that Benner, independent of party, has also chosen to follow the hard science.
Rudy Wiens, Toronto
Rudy Wiens has a PhD in space physics and a 19-year career with a NASA satellite.
Reader’s commitment to BFC process ‘waning’
Being a Faith Church (BFC) 5 was a process to obtain specific responses from congregations on human sexuality. On the basis of this consultation at the local level, we were promised the Mennonite Church Canada Board would formulate a question that would inform assembly deliberations in July. Instead, we received BFC 5.1 (“Between horizons,” May 12, page 26). And in the “All ‘church’ is local” editorial on page 2 of the same issue, Dick Benner seeks to find a hopeful sign—the Board is drawing in local congregations—in BFC 5.1.
For this initiative to be truly local, the Board would need to permit diversity among congregations. Currently, this is not the case on issues related to human sexuality. The Board continues to bow to a subset of congregations that requires disciplinary action against other congregations that do not agree with it. To be local, a commitment to continued dialogue needs to replace calls for disciplinary action.
I had a strong commitment to the BFC process, but was disappointed in the decision in Vancouver to place the process in neutral for two years. With BFC 5.1, my enthusiasm has waned. I now see the BFC process as a nice, comfortable rocking chair. It gives me something to do, but it gets me nowhere.
Henry Rempel, Winnipeg
‘Pretty girl’ an inappropriate term for biblical reflection
Re: “Getting back on track,” May 12, page 37.
Although Young Voices co-editor Aaron Epp does say he went on a date with a woman, he uses the term “pretty girl” three times in his reflection.
This is problematic for two reasons. One, if an adult is trying to impress women because he/she is interested in dating them, the person should refer to them as women, as they are adults, not girls. Two, why the qualifier “pretty”? Why not intelligent, knowledgeable, well-read or interesting? These adjectives seem more pertinent to the issue of knowing the Bible well, more respectful and more important for building relationships.
Zoe Cressman, Winnipeg
Reader supports magazine’s ‘open policy’
After reading the May 12 issue of Canadian Mennonite, I want to write to say I disagree with several of the letters. I especially want you to know that there are many of us who appreciate what you are doing, your frankness, your willingness to show every side of an issue, your challenges to us all to think deeply and to risk thinking in new ways.
I do not agree that the magazine is going down the wrong path, nor do I feel irritated and alienated after reading it. I support your open policy. We do need to learn to listen to each other!
I really enjoy and always appreciate Young Voices.
We continue to pray for you and wish you well as you try to help us to be a faithful and caring church with an open mind.
Renata Klassen, Saskatoon
Arguments against same-sex relationships are ‘flimsy’ proof texts
Re: “Christians must continue to call all sins ‘sin,’” May 12, page 9.
Pastor Arthur Esau argues passionately that as a church we must have the courage of our convictions when it comes to naming lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered/queer (LGBTQ) relationships as sin. I want to challenge his thinking on several fronts:
• First, he argues that support for LGBTQ relationships is an act of politically correct acquiescence that puts us at risk of becoming friends with the world and enemies with God. I strongly disagree with this analysis. My support for LGBTQ relationships has nothing to do with winning points with “the world” and much to do with Christ’s vision of equality and respect. I fail to see how loving, same-sex relationships are anything other than a boon to our church and the world.
I’ve carefully considered the arguments of fellow Christians against same-sex relationships and I consider them flimsy. I view them as a series of proof-texted admonishments plucked from across many contexts and centuries, and tacked together to serve an agenda that is ultimately rooted in a fear.
• Second, I see these arguments over sexual dogma putting our faith community in much greater peril than any gay wedding or Pride parade. Just like the Pharisees two millennia ago, our dogmatic arguments drown out Christ’s clear call to a much larger mission: the pursuit of social and economic justice.
Until we make sure that everyone has adequate food, housing and water, why are we arguing about a handful of passages that some interpret as the definition of sexual morality? Until we’ve done everything in our power to end the wars that maim children and displace millions of refugees, why are we still debating over a few lines of Levitical Code?
If satanic powers truly are at work in the world, they couldn’t design a better diversion of the church’s energy than an interminable debate on sexual morals. We need to refocus on the heart of the gospels where Jesus clearly defines our mission as a church. Love one another, love your enemies, feed the hungry, pursue peace. These are our clear, unequivocal instructions.
The greatest sins of our time are our greed and lust for power that fuel war and poverty. Those are sins that we must name and uproot from everyone’s hearts—and it certainly will not make us many friends in this world. This is the mission we must carry out together.
Scott Morton Ninomiya,
St. John’s, N.L.
Nostalgia and ‘cutting edge’ both miss the musical point
Re: “The great music debate,” May 12, page 34.
I was raised in the Mennonite church until I left at the age of 17. I became a Christian at age 19 and joined a non-denominational church.
While I hear the opinions expressed in this Young Voices article, I would point out that some of the friends of my childhood who continue to embrace hymns sung in traditional ways are also those who embrace and enjoy the culture of the Mennonite church, but do not necessarily profess a faith or devotion to Jesus.
This may seem like a harsh critique, but when nostalgia or culture is just as much of a motivator as being “cutting edge,” we’re still missing the point that musical worship is supposed to be about Jesus.
Corrie Vander Ploeg
Altruistic young person ‘taken in by propaganda’
Re: “A constant, terrifying threat,” May 26, page 36.
While I do not dispute Chloe Bergen’s description of the injustice done to Palestinian families, I must challenge her view of the history of the region. Israel is a the result of the Holocaust in Europe. The world chose to ignore the plight of the Jews of Europe from the rise of Nazism onward. Second World War death-camp survivors came home to find their families and their communities annihilated.
When the infant State of Israel was attacked by 13 Arab nations in 1948, there was no wailing about the unfairness of it. The Palestinians who became refugees were victims of propaganda, and were told they would be killed if they stayed. In fact, the Arabs who stayed are citizens of Israel with full rights.
While Bergen is not the first altruistic young person to be taken in by propaganda, finding a long-term solution to the problems there requires a balanced and truthful accounting of what happened in the past.
George Satory, Cambridge, Ont. George Satory is a member of Wanner Mennonite Church, Cambridge.
--Posted June 18, 2014