Readers write: July 23, 2018 issue

July 18, 2018 | Viewpoints | Volume 22 Issue 15
Various Contributors |

Calling suicide selfish is uncharitable
Re: “Suicide may not be painless, but it is selfish,” July 2, 2018, page 7.

Victor Huebert writes that suicide “is a very selfish act and inconsiderate of family.” Really? Is it also selfish and inconsiderate to die of pancreatic cancer, a brain tumor, heart disease, or leukemia? Mental illness is no more a choice than a physical illness. Depression can result in death, just like any other disease. Calling it a selfish act is surely the most uncharitable thing that can be said about someone taking their own life.
—Mark Morton, Kitchener, Ont.


Need to recognize the reality of Israeli occupation
Re: “Let’s try talking to the ‘enemy,’” June 4, 2018, page 10.

Russel Snyder-Penner’s response to the open letter by the working group on Palestine (May 21, page 28) merits more discussion. In general his viewpoint makes extensive use of qualifiers such as, “can become,” “may seem,” “it appears,” “could be,” etc.  These obfuscate the responses to the reality of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine.

It is the occupier that defines the occupied as the “enemy.” Israeli organizations such as Rabbis for Human Rights, B’Tselem and Yesh Din and Palestinian groups such as Holy Land Trust, Wi’am and the Tent of Nations are adamant that, “We will not be enemies.” Rather than creating an “enemy,” the open letter is in keeping with Jesus’ approach to occupiers and their collaborators by “taking sides” with the oppressed and their nonviolent struggle.

Snyder-Penner overlooks the geopolitical events that created and maintain the occupation. While Zionists accepted the UN partition agreement in 1948, they ignored Resolution 181 Part B 10 (c) and (d), intended to restrain their ambitions. Clearly, the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians and taking by force another 23 percent of the land designated for a Palestinian state is a violation of the partition agreement.

Snyder-Penner’s suggestion of approaching the Jewish community is constructive because it recognizes that some Jews oppose the Zionist project, others are disturbed by the excesses of the occupation and yet others claim Palestinians have no legitimate claim to the land. I also suggest listening to Palestinians to help weigh the claims made by both parties.

Rajai Ghattas, a refugee from Jerusalem recently stated, “The Palestinian cause is lost. Palestinians have been abandoned by the international community.” Silence suggests complicity in Palestinian suffering. At the risk of being labeled an “enemy,” the open letter is an expression of MC Canada’s solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis in their nonviolent efforts for justice, peace and reconciliation.
—Johann Funk, Surrey, B.C.


Bible has stood the test of time
I recently returned from a business trip to Kenya. Whenever I go, I always spend a few days with Joseph Kiranto and his clan—and his cattle and goats. Joseph has a degree from a Canadian university, but he chooses to live in a traditional Masai way.

Joseph is a Christian and says he uses the life of Jesus and the Bible (as best he can) as his guide for life. After a few days I said to him: “Joseph, most of the people around you, especially outside of your clan, are not Christian. It seems to me, ‘the Masai way’ works pretty well. I notice they resolve their differences rather easily. Your people seem happy without the modern conveniences we enjoy in the West. Your parents were not Christian. Why would you suddenly decide to follow the teachings of a person from a completely different culture?”

He had to reflect a bit before saying, “It’s probably because of the Bible. I’m worried about the future as all our habits and culture are passed on by word of mouth and observation—rather fragile in the modern world. When Christian missionaries first came here, they brought Bibles in the Swahili language. We could read it for ourselves. What Jesus talked about was not much different from ‘the Masai way,’ so it made sense to accept this Christian way and better insure our future. Reading something in your hand might be more secure than what the old folks say, especially if they don’t live with us.”

Perhaps there is a message here for Mennonites. It was also the facility of reading his own Bible that provided the impetus for Menno Simons. The Bible has its faults, but its guidance (especially the New Testament) has stood the test of time.
—Richard Penner, Saskatoon


Information on pipeline protest available
On April 20, 2018, I was arrested for praying in solidarity with Indigenous peoples who are trying to protect their lands and our common home from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Many are wondering how I, Mennonite Church Canada’s Indigenous-Settler Relations director, came to be involved in this action. Some are concerned about how this decision was processed, and the potential implications it might have. To nurture greater understanding and conversation, I have crafted a Burnaby Mountain Prayer Witness: Background and FAQ paper. You can access it at

Grace, peace and continued courage to us all as we discern how to follow the Crucified in this time of global warming.
—Steve Heinrichs (online comment)

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