Readers write: October 27 issue

October 22, 2014 | Viewpoints | Number 21

Communitas follows in the footsteps of L’Arche founder

Re: “Good work” and “Differently gifted,” Sept. 1, pages 4 and 8.

I am writing to thank you for your recent articles by Jason Reimer Greig and Will Braun.

Jean Vanier has been an inspiration and mentor to many, including the staff and board at Communitas Supportive Care Society in Abbotsford, B.C. His philosophy of person-centred care and inclusion has guided our organization as we support families and people living with developmental and intellectual disabilities, mental health challenges and acquired brain injuries.

Braun indicated he had “found no evidence of church groups speaking out on this topic.” Communitas was, in fact, founded 40 years ago because of pastors who responded to families in their congregations who asked, “Who will care for our children?” Their vision of faith-based, non-institutionalized care for their children has informed our vision to be “communities of fully human, interdependent citizens.”

One of my colleagues recently said that if we are truly modelling our lives after Jesus, then our churches should have a population of people living with disabilities disproportionate to the rest of society. The church has an opportunity to be a place where there can be abundant life for people of all abilities.

We recognize that there are congregations who embrace this opportunity. Our prayer is that we can all experience the grace of which Reimer Greig writes, and we are grateful that your magazine has created space to tell these stories.

Karyn Santiago, Abbotsford, B.C.
Karyn Santiago is chief executive officer of Communitas Supportive Care Society.

Those who feel impulse to rape need to find help

Re: “End rape culture: a Mennonite perspective,” Sept. 1, page 36, and “Talk of ‘rape culture’ forces men to deal with their lust” letter, Sept. 15, page 13.

Thank you to Rachel Bergen for bringing up this important topic, for sharing her own experiences of sexual harassment and for giving other women an opportunity to do so as well. We need to listen to these stories.

It’s important for me, as a man, to recognize that I am part of rape culture simply by virtue of being male in a society in which sexual violence against women is frequently normalized and excused.

I also applaud Marcus Rempel’s honesty in acknowledging his complicity in rape culture and his willingness to be part of the solution.

But I think that the comment made by Rempel’s co-worker in the letter reinforces a false belief. I agree with Rempel that the majority of heterosexual men experience sexual attraction towards women and that it’s our responsibility to figure out how to channel that energy in ways that are positive and, above all, respectful towards women. But I don’t believe there’s anything natural about the impulse to act violently or coercively towards women.

To suggest that sexual violence is a natural male impulse perpetuates the myth that sexually stimulated men don’t have full control over their actions—“boys will be boys”—and that the onus is on women to protect themselves from unwanted sexual attention.

Sexual desire is natural; sexual violence is not. Any male who feels an impulse to, in the words of Rempel’s co-worker, “rape every attractive female [he sees],” needs to find help.

Josiah Neufeld (online comment)

Reader inspired by Mennonite ministries, service agencies

I was inspired once again as I was reading about the many ways in which the Mennonite church is involved in its various ministries/agencies, both in Canada and around the world. Thank you for providing these examples via Canadian Mennonite.

Marge Unger, Cambridge, Ont.

Gender equality needed if we are to talk about rape

Re: “Talk of ‘rape culture’ forces men to deal with their lust” letter, Sept. 15, page 13.

First, there is a huge difference between lust and rape. Both men and women experience lust, but as we mature we have learned not to “get carried away.” Rape is something different. Rape is about anger and power.  

Second, I take issue with Marcus Rempel’s patronizing tone. He refers to women as “ladies,” and then in the next sentence he refers to “us boys,” as if boys will be boys and just can’t help themselves.

If we are going to have a conversation about lust or rape, there needs to be equality.  Please refer to mature females as women and mature males as men.

Virginia Reimer, Toronto

Generational, gender shifts good for Conrad Grebel

Re: “Generational shift at Conrad Grebel University College,” Sept. 29, page 29.

Six men and one woman replaced by three men and four women: that’s a positive sign also, indicating that not only is a generational shift occurring, but so is a balancing of genders. Good for Conrad Grebel.

The next step might be a shift towards a faculty that tries to represent global Anabaptism, and by that I do not mean to assume anything by the last names listed in the article.

Randolph Haluza-DeLay (online comment)

The church is alive around the world

Re: “Where are we headed?” editorial, Sept. 15, page 2.

There is no question that the church is changing. As I travel around the world, the Christian church and our beloved Mennonite church are alive. I often feel so blessed to participate in worship services in Ethiopia, Vietnam or Peru. The church is alive. I feel the Spirit of Christ. As I said to another tour member at a worship service in Vietnam, “Do you feel the Spirit of Christ in this place?”

We in Canada and North America have much to learn from our brothers and sisters in the global church. For many of them, their energy is used in facing persecution, harassment and imprisonment by their governments, or caring for other members of their church family who struggle for survival.  

I grieve that our church in North America is spending so much energy on keeping members of our church family out, rather than focussing on welcoming them, as Ryan Dueck outlined so well in his feature, “Are we one?” on page 2 of the same issue.  

Wilmer Martin, Waterloo, Ont.

--Posted Oct. 22, 2010

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