Readers write

July 24, 2013 | Viewpoints

Columnist offers apology for Metzger character assessment

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

I regret that when I used the words “fancy” and “ostentatious” to describe Willard Metzger. I appear to have misjudged his character.

As a New Order Voice columnist, I used those words to refer to his salary, which is likely more than $40,000 per year; the high position he holds as the most-senior employee of a well-respected national body; and the importance conveyed by the fact that he commutes from his home in Ontario to do work in Manitoba.

A few people have written to assure me that he is a likeable and down-to-earth person. This I do not doubt and apologize if I conveyed the contrary. I expect he and I would very much enjoy making a meal together and sparring over the propriety of middle-class norms.

Aiden Enns, Winnipeg

Just who is a ‘partner’?

Re: “Eating mindfully,” June 10, page 11.

In this delightfully challenging essay, columnist Katie Doke Sawatzky refers to someone in her home as her “partner.” Has “partner” become a 21st-century substitute for the time-honoured word “husband”?

Henry and Ellie Ewert, Surrey, B.C.

Columnist explains use of ‘partner’

Thanks for reading the column and for your question.

I can’t make any proclamations about word substitution, but I can explain why I use the word “partner,” instead of wife or husband.

“Partner” describes the relationship I have with my spouse in a way that does not lock either of us into the stereotypical roles that I find immediately come to mind with the words “wife” or “husband.” I also like the way that “partner” describes the kind of relationship I have with my spouse: we are life partners, supporting and partnering equally through life together.

I also recognize that “wife” and “husband” are also quite heterosexual. By saying “partner,” I’m trying to be sensitive to other kinds of relationships.

Katie Doke Sawatzky, Winnipeg

Re: “Fighting against ourselves,” Nov. 26, 2012, page 44.

Having read Scott Bergen’s article, I feel that I must come to the defence of my people and my church. Bergen claims that, after the Reformation, Anabaptist men became violent, refused to allow women to preach, practised the ban, and were responsible for displacing natives from Prussia, Paraguay and Canada.

We are obviously not reading the same history books. As I understand it, every time our people moved, they were seeking freedom or fleeing for their very lives. Our people went where they were welcomed and accepted. In places like Paraguay and northern Saskatchewan, their suffering, hardship and poverty continued for quite a few more years.

My parents, as well as my family, have worked hard to pay for our land. If it was illegally owned before us, then that must be on someone else’s conscience. In the final analysis, all of us foreigners, including Bergen, are immigrants, and should be good citizens and thankful for the peace and freedom and prosperity we enjoy today.

As for our past leaders that I have known and read about—Mennonite martyrs, for example—I know that they took their faith and their belief that the Bible was the infallible Word of God very seriously (II Timothy 3:16). Their belief that they should practise the ban came from the very words of Jesus in Matthew 18 and from St. Paul in Galatians 6:1.

When my father was ordained to the ministry in Einlage, Ukraine, in 1925 at the age of 25 years, he was the only one in a large church to accept this responsibility. We know he did so with fear and trembling, knowing that, besides feeling very inadequate, he was in effect signing his death warrant had he not been able to emigrate.

As for the church, I have been a member of the same one for 63 years. As far as I know, we have never excluded or refused a person baptism or church membership when they came with a sincere desire to renounce sin and become followers of our Lord Jesus.

Rather than splitting, we have leaders and committees that are working hard to unite and worship with other Christian denominations in our community.

Cornie Martens Rabbit Lake, Sask.

‘You can’t have one without the other’

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

I have very much appreciated Troy Watson’s Life in the Postmodern Shift.

However, I consider one statement in this article most unfortunate: “I’m confident my faith and relationship with God would continue to thrive if I never read the Bible again.”

I know in its context the statement has some legitimacy, but I fear the quotation will be highlighted and exclusively remembered by those who already are prone to diminish the value or reliability of Scripture.

The statement distracts from the thrust of the article. I wonder whether his absence of reading the Bible would also include not hearing the reading and exposition of Scripture in Sunday worship. I shudder to think of weekly pulpit babble without any scriptural basis.

I suspect that, over the years, Watson has so immersed himself in Scripture that it is now part of his spiritual DNA, as is evidenced by his liberal quoting of specific passages in support of his thesis. But that is not the reality for most of us. I think it is unhelpful to appear to downgrade the importance of Scripture in our personal lives of prayer and meditation.

In an earlier article he reminded us that the Anabaptist community hermeneutic developed from its rejection of “Sola Scriptura,” preferring instead, “Scripture and Spirit together.” So why does he now give credence to the unwholesome dichotomy of Bible reading versus communion with the Spirit of Christ? It is my understanding that the two go together like the proverbial horse and carriage. You can’t have one without the other.

Henry Klippenstein, North Vancouver, B.C.

Keep speaking out

Over the past couple years, I’ve really appreciated Dick Benner’s editorials. I haven’t written often enough to acknowledge and affirm his insight and willingness to put sticky issues on the table. I’m glad you have been able to write about abuse in the church, creation care and aboriginal issues in particular.

Re: “Creating a village” guest editorial by Doreen Martens, April 15, I was thrilled to see a woman on page 2 for once. She mentioned the board’s suggestion “to focus on a multi-voiced style for the magazine.” I hope she and our other committed women and men on the board may get more frequent opportunities to appear on page 2, putting legs to that suggestion.

Please don’t be afraid to speak to the heart of issues that you see the church facing. May you continue to write and live with faith, hope and love.

Michael Turman, Kitchener, Ont.

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