Readers write: January 4, 2016 issue

December 23, 2015 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 1

Lolita fashion article ‘marks a significant shift’ in church discussions

Re: “Solace in a subculture,” Nov. 9, 2015, page 28.

I want to express appreciation for Katrina Brooks’s article. Not only did it educate me in a cultural expression I was unaware of, but in so doing allowed me to approach the realities of gender, sexuality, cultural standards and faith in a way that puts some distance from our often-fatigued and over-rehearsed approaches to these topics as a church. This piece marks a significant shift both in what we discuss as a church body and in how we can go about discussing it.

David Driedger, Winnipeg
David Driedger is associate minister of First Mennonite Church, Winnipeg.


A troubled reader responds

Re: “Ready to listen, learn and love,” Nov. 9, 2015, page 9.

It is rare that I read an article that troubles me as deeply as this. To hear that someone raised in the church does not “want [her son] to grow up thinking he needs to tell other people about Christ” should cause some significant soul-searching.

Having personally lived in intercultural contexts for many years, I am acutely aware of the harm that has been perpetrated in the name of Christ, and yet how can we keep the reconciling message of the cross and resurrection to ourselves?

Every day we are reminded that our world is broken, divided and filled with violence. Millions in the Middle East and Europe are crying out for peace. If ever there was a time for Anabaptist Mennonites to step forward in word and action, it is now. We have a “good news” message: Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, is also the Prince of Peace.

I am not advocating evangelism that is devoid of the material, social and political demonstrations of love and care so necessary for those fleeing the violence of the Middle East. But if we love people, and desire they experience true peace in every aspect of life, then we are compelled to share the gospel of Jesus
(2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

Mission is birthed in hearts filled with compassion. Jesus’ life bears this out: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’ ” (Matthew 9:36-37).

We are called to engage the world as Jesus’ disciples, servants and witnesses. May his Spirit empower us to do so filled with his love.

Bryan Born, Abbotsford, B.C.


Couple prays for peace for Vernon Leis’s family and his accuser

We are very disappointed to read of the Vernon Leis story that was released by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada to the Waterloo Region Record and Canadian Mennonite about his alleged sexual misconduct. We are not sure what the reason was for doing this, since he has been deceased for 21 years.

Our prayers go out to Arvilla and her family for the pain they have had to endure these last couple months.

We are also praying that the person who brought this accusation would be able to experience the peace and healing of Jesus Christ.

Lucille and Bill Jantzi, Petersburg, Ont.


A wonderful discovery for whom?

Re: “These records are unique,” Nov. 23, 2015, page 14.

What a wonderful discovery for Mennonites to find an old letter of invitation somewhere in a basement in Steinbach, Man., my hometown. But I invite all Mennonites to pause and reflect on what happened when the Dominion of Canada “cleared” that Manitoba land of “indigenous inhabitants.” We might discover some unclear things in the basements of our hearts.

I invite us all to come up with some creative ways to continue learning our history, to understand and face up to its complexities, and to renew our hope and faith in a God of peace.  

Tim Reimer, Toronto
Tim Reimer is pastor of Danforth Mennonite Church, Toronto.


Editorial misrepresents Remembrance Day and the poppy

Re: “Peace more than pacifism,” Nov. 23, page 2.

Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of the First World War, to remember the members of their armed forces who died in the line of duty. It is not a “ritual that celebrates violence,” as Dick Benner states. And the poppy has been used since 1921 to commemorate fallen military personnel, not as a symbol of “celebrating war,” as he suggests.

Remarks such as “celebrating war, rather than witnessing to peace as the better alternative,” and “patriotic rituals,” are inaccurate and insulting to those who wear a poppy and observe Remembrance Day.

I do not agree with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) peace button campaign. I wear a poppy, not a peace button.  The peace button is seen as a competitor to the poppy; for this reason, peace buttons have become offensive and tend to disparage people who wear poppies.

Right or wrong, MCC’s peace button campaign is perceived as being sanctimonious; it is divisive and hurtful to others. I urge MCC to end its campaign of promoting the peace button.

Mennonites should be thankful for the special treatment afforded them during the Second World War, as non-Mennonite conscientious objectors weren’t so lucky.

I am thankful that Canada has a 100 percent volunteer armed forces now and that conscription is a thing of the past. I am thankful for the sacrifices made by men and women who have served in Canada’s armed forces. I am thankful to live in a country where we are free to practise the religion of our choice.

Brian Jutzi, Tavistock, Ont.


Foster family feels ‘disgraced and shamed’ by article

Re: “Mennonites have yet to reckon with their role in ‘sixties scoop,’” Sept. 14, page 20.

The comments in your paper are disturbing. We grew up in this same home. These children quoted were the same age as our own and we got to know them well.

We find it interesting that there is pride in being “fluent in Low German,” but the writer then says, “the circumstances that brought it about are anything but humorous.” Our parents made certain their needs were met and that they were not at a disadvantage to others. No mention is made of the heartaches and sacrifices made and the advantages some of them took of our parents even after leaving the home.

The article mentions being “a family in Altona with as many as 26 children in their foster care at a time.” It was physically impossible to have 26 kids there at one time. Simply not true. Most of the time there were four to six.

Claims of “hoeing beets in the hot sun,” “belt or yardstick,” and “starlight tour” are not realistic. Our parents’ desire would have been for these children to become responsible contributors to society. Work and responsibility never hurt anyone.

The system may have failed them. Coming from homes that could not care for them, these new homes provided security and opportunities they otherwise would not have had. Valuable life lessons were taught and learned. Some gratefulness could still be acknowledged in this unfortunate experience. Our parents made many sacrifices, often at the expense of their own families.

The writer of the article could have done more research to verify the comments before publishing. Our family, including our parents who have long passed on, have been unjustly disgraced and shamed by it.

Lawrence Klassen, Morden, Man.
Ruth Froese, Altona, Man.
Alvina Rempel, Elm Creek, Man.

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This article is typical of the journalism that is polarizing the church on the issues surrounding the same sex marriage debate. Why does Canadian Mennonite continue to portray this issue as one sided and never a voice from the many who have a differing view. Doug Klassen uses great scripture and a powerful story from our history. [See "Clean or Unclean?" at] It's just that neither have anything to do with the issue he addresses. Peter's encounter with the sheet was simply the Lord releasing the transforming gospel to go outside the Jewish world to the Gentile world. Klassen is correct in stating that its about bringing down walls but there's no pretense in this event at defining how Gentiles who follow Christ would live. Klassen is fair in defining this issue as either a disputable matter (i.e. Romans 14) or a sin issue. If this issue is a disputable matter then there should at least be recognition of and hearing of the dispute. Not painting the other side as unthinking bigots. If it falls into the sin category, along with gossip, gluttony, and greed as the author suggests then it still begs for an answer as to what we believe about sin and what it means to live holy lives. I suggest we get Jesus perspective from Revelation 22:14-15 and then answer the excellent questions listed in this article from the Voskamp blog and the "for discussion questions" at the end of the article.
Ken Funk
Thunder Bay

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