Readers write: April 24, 2017 issue

April 19, 2017 | Viewpoints | Volume 21 Issue 9

‘Apocalyptic threshold’ is more than a few degrees

Re: “Are we living in the last millennium?” Dec. 12, 2016, page 8,

Phil Wagler’s column is a reminder that apocalyptic predictions are still out there after a history of more than 2,500 years. Sadly for the would-be prophets, to date every one of them has been dead wrong.  

Now, apocalyptic predictions tend to be environmental in nature. By focussing on dire environmental prophecies, some current trends are ominous. The bad news is that our human exploitation of ecosystems may cause an environmental apocalypse. The good news is that many of us are now trying to find ways to ease generating negative reactions.

Real ecological science teaches us that the environment functions as a set of self-organizing adaptive systems. An adaptive system has built-in processes that adjust to disturbances and eventually return it to near its original state. When disturbance is so severe that a system cannot do that, it may slide into disarray or chaos. But in nature, such a state never lasts, as a variety of potential new system orders then arise spontaneously, of which one eventually dominates, and a new system order is established.

Some scientists fear that several degrees C of atmospheric warming may occur due to human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions, possibly initiating an unpredictable climate-system state. But such a rise in temperature actually occurred 6,000 years ago, and the result was adaptation and shifting ecosystems, not chaos and loss of system functions.

The apocalyptic threshold, then, likely is higher than a few degrees rise in temperature. The future can be predicted only statistically, but to many of us it seems better to err on the conservative side than to take needless chances. We need to act, but not in panic.

Henry Epp, Calgary


When people ‘can’t digest what we are serving’

Re: “A new recipe for church” feature, Feb. 13, page 4.

Sometimes it helps to have an important concept presented in a refreshing way to stir our imagination. This can help us to see light where there was darkness, and to focus on one another instead of our differences.

We are all invited to the banquet. So what is the problem?

Carol Penner writes: “But what if the problem is not with the people walking away, but with the people preparing the meal? What if we are continually cooking noodles for the gluten intolerant or meat for vegetarians? What if they just can’t digest what we are serving?”

Restaurants and schools are becoming aware of peanuts and other ingredients that are deadly for some, and taking it seriously. What about the church?

There are many who struggle with a variety of issues beyond their control, including mental illness and poverty. Unless we get to know them and truly care about them, we will continue to serve toxic doses of blame and shame.

In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about how our caring for the neglected and rejected reflects on our relationship with him.

Enos Kipfer, London, Ont.


Women marched ‘in the service of justice’

Re: “Marching in the aftermath of inauguration,” Feb. 13, page 18, and “Women marchers appropriated church logo” letter, March 13, page. 10.

Thank you to the women and men who represented Mennonites at the Women’s March on Washington! In the face of violence and prejudice coming from an elected leader who boasts of assaulting women and becoming rich at the expense of others, the marchers joined together in peaceful action, with joy and purpose, in the service of justice.

I was so grateful to the D.C. marchers who carried the Mennonite church logo, who sang hymns and witnessed to their faith by their very presence. They joined their voices with those of other churches and faiths, and people who don’t profess faith but work with us. With so many things that divide us, what a joy to find common cause with more than 2.5 million people around the world of all beliefs, races, genders, orientations and political stances.  

The threatening letter to the editor in the March 13 issue focussed on rude and violent comments by one celebrity, but made no mention of the long list of speakers calling for love, respect, kindness and justice for all and from all.

Six-year-old D.C. speaker Sophie Cruz represented the march so well, as she stood in front of her brave undocumented parents, saying: “We are here together to make a chain of love to protect our families. Let us fight with love, faith and courage, so our families will not be destroyed. I also want to tell the children not to be afraid, because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love.
. . . Let’s keep together and fight for the rights.  God is with us.”

Kristen Mathies, Waterloo, Ont.


Reader sorry to lose Phil Wagler’s ‘deep insight’

I am truly sorry that Phil Wagler has written his last column for Canadian Mennonite. It was a column worth reading, and I never missed reading it.

With a rare and deep insight, he gauged the spiritual temperature of the body of Mennonite Church Canada and he tried to help. In a loving and humble tone, he urged and urged us on to align ourselves with the teachings of the Bible and to stand firm on them.

Reach back a few issues and read again: “Are we missing the mark?” (July 4, 2016); “Learning to follow the Jesus way” (Oct. 10, 2016); “Are we living in the last millennium?” (Dec. 12, 2016); and “Strengthen what remains” (Jan. 16, 2017). This final column is a last lament to us, saying that we have lost what we had in the beginning. “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:29).

Thank you, Phil, for your columns. I will miss them. God bless you.

Helen Redekopp, Winnipeg


Is the church on the road to extinction?

Re: “Women marchers misappropriated church logo” letter by Steve Hoeppner, March 13, p. 10.

I know I do not share the same Anabaptist values as some, but my hope with this letter is to open a broader conversation about unity in the church, humanity and the environment.   

Hoeppner writes, “In the church context, such behaviour should be appropriately disciplined to that prescribed in the New Testament. . . . Will history record that Mennonites proudly lent their name and logo to such things?”

As Anabaptist believers, we affirm our faith in the Trinity: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are three distinct aspects of the mystery of God.

Let us remember that God created all of creation. And in that universe, a very small, tiny speck exists, and on that speck we have the Earth with its chemical, mineral, plant and animal complexes. If we fail to see God in all of creation, we limit our vision and scope of God. We begin to follow shallow interpretations and, in essence, we become blind. We turn our focus to the rules of the Bible, not the relationships that Jesus built with the poor and oppressed, “the least of my brothers and sisters.”

Anabaptists are a diverse group of believers, and right now the church is evolving, just as it did 500 years ago. And as the church grows, so does our understanding of our world and our brothers and sisters of different faiths. Dare I bring up evolution? The species that didn’t adapt to the changes of their environments, their ecosystems became extinct.

Peter Tiessen, Niverville, Man.

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While it may not be wrong to repudiate a Doctrine of Discovery, it is wise to realize that we cannot repudiate history. There is no doubt that Europeans discovered and changed the Americas... the North American natives did not change Europe. Within North America, the natives may not have had a doctrine of discovery, but they certainly had a doctrine of power. This is evidenced as late as the battle between the Cree and the Blackfoot tribes in southern Alberta.
In trying to repudiate history, such as the Doctrine of Discovery, which included the ideas of racial, religious, and cultural superiority, we need to be careful that the very validity of our repudiation is not denied in the process. Racial superiority is not valid, and cultural superiority is all about preferences. But if our faith is not superior, then we have no foundation on which to place our repudiation. And no reason to proclaim Christ.

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