Readers write: June 22, 2020 issue

June 17, 2020 | Opinion | Volume 24 Issue 13
Various Contributors |
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

‘A wise investment’ in the future of church camps
“Testing the ties that bind,” April 27, page 2.

It hit me when I read in the editorial that the financial fallout from COVID-19 may well mean the possible closure of some of our church camps, since they rely on revenues generated from programs that they run.

I have fond memories of our time volunteering at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp in Sauble Beach, Ont., and listening to our grandchildren’s enthusiastic recounting of their camp experience as we ferried them home from camp. But more than that, I firmly believe our church camps are vital in faith formation for our children and youth. We must think creatively of ways to sustain our camps through this financial crisis, so that they can survive to serve us in the future.

I just called Camp Valaqua in Water Valley, Alta., to pay for my granddaughter’s camping fee (in the form of a donation for this year), just as I have for the past few years. I have budgeted for it, so why not pay that fee to the camp regardless of whether it will be running this summer or not. Perhaps if we all do that, our camps can be sustained. I consider it a wise investment for the future.
—Barbara Martens, Leamington, Ont.


Point: From the indulgence of hubris
Open to us a door,” May 25, page 4.

Doug Klassen, executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada, comments on the effect of COVID-19 on MC Canada churches, revealing and lamenting how “ ‘worship-focused’ western churches are at the expense of being missional communities.”

He has come to see our pandemic experience as an opportunity to open our doors to our neighbours, to be a part of a community in ways we had not anticipated before, to function much like a parish might function, as opposed to continuing the current model of parachute churches whereby congregants drop in from far and wide.

He sees COVID-19 as a missional opportunity, identifying the euphoria of being “overwhelmed by God’s presence, mystery and goodness,” and wanting that same thing for the “neighbours and strangers who live around me as well.”

But he neglects to speculate on what these neighbours and strangers might have to offer him. The goodness is strictly a one-way street. Perhaps his neighbour is of Muslim belief, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or American Indian. Then what? Perhaps all would choose to coexist without the blatant proselytizing evident in Klassen’s discourse. That would be refreshing indeed.

Seems to me that Jesus was “fully human,” and that he set an example of what that might entail at its best. I think it would be better placed if MC Canada would focus on what it might mean to be better human beings (in the Jesus “life well lived” sense), and less focused on conversion therapies and opportunities for an afterlife with the gods. 

We are not gods, we are gifted with humanity. The time we have now, COVID-19 or not, is a marvellous opportunity to become as fully human as possible. Seems probable that this is what Jesus might do.
—Peter Reimer (online comment)

Counterpoint: ‘I have received as much as I have given’
In reading your response, I feel as though my words have been amplified to mean something that I did not intend.

As one who has spoken at two Muslim/Christian dialogues, and was the organizer of an ongoing Indigenous/Settler book-study group, I assure you that I have received as much as I have given. I have engaged in these activities with precisely the understanding of human flourishing that you suggest.

Conversion therapies or escape-to-the-afterlife offers are not part of who I am, nor the gospel that I embrace.
—Doug Klassen (online comment)


What’s going on with climate change?
This pandemic isolation has encouraged most of us to become somewhat creative in how we entertain ourselves. I’ve been reading more about what’s going on with climate change.

My opinion is that cyclical changes in the tilt of the Earth’s axis to the sun is the main force affecting climate change. The sun is the main driver of climate, and the angle that those rays hit the Earth strongly affects climate on Earth. These regular changes, called Milankovitch cycles, cannot be affected by humankind.

Other secondary forces, like large volcanic eruptions, can affect climate globally for several years. It is thought that’s what wiped out the dinosaurs.

There are some climate-change factors that can be affected by human activity. Increased CO2 levels that cause the greenhouse effect (global warming) are partially caused by industrialization, and further exasperated by eliminating a large number of CO2-breathing trees.

Climate has always changed, is changing now and will change in the future. Our job (to borrow a new popular phrase) is to “flatten the curve.” Here are some suggestions of what we can do:

  • Stop arguing about climate change and start talking about the prudent use of the Earth’s resources.
  • Implement strong family-planning programs, especially in the developing countries, to slow down the ever-increasing conveyor belt of new humanity.
  • Through technology, encourage the use of non-fossil means to generate energy.  
  • Slow down our deforestation activities and ensure there is a strongly enforced reforestation program carried out by those who cut down the trees.
  • Encourage diet changes that include non-meat as a protein source. Meat is the least efficient way of producing protein.
  • Adjust the curriculum in our schools to include subjects on ethics and behaviour. This will create and encourage an electorate who can be counted on to make rational choices at the voting booth; that will eventually enhance the common good for all of us, thus preserving our democratic way of life.

—Richard Penner, Saskatoon


‘Be well and be blessed’
To death’s door and back,” May 25, page 29.

Thank you to Vic Winter so much for sharing this. It is important for people to hear your story, both of your deeply personal experience and of your recovery. And to know that you felt held and supported. We need to remember that it can happen to any one of us. Be well and be blessed, for you are that.
—Barbara Andrew, Guelph, Ont. (online comment)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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