Readers write: June 24, 2019 issue

June 19, 2019 | Opinion | Volume 23 Issue 13
Various Contributors |


Where is the ‘just and redemptive path forward’ for Dalton Jantzi?
Re:MC Eastern Canada apologizes for causing pain to abuse survivors,” May 13, page 16.

It appears to me that this article is all about Mennonite Church Eastern Canada protecting itself due to its publication errors and not about the victim or Dalton Jantzi’s efforts to follow what was required of him.

Most publications and organizations would have apologized to the individuals concerned and their families, and put a small retraction notice in the magazine. I noted that both the victim and Jantzi refused to comment, so why sensationalize something “that dates back more than 30 years”? 

I question the integrity of the Mennonite Abuse Prevention (MAP) List. There were no apologies to Jantzi when incorrect information was posted on this site. I also noted that the efforts on Jantzi’s part over the past 30 years have not been acknowledged anywhere on the MAP List. Why would Canadian Mennonite give MAP List a platform to publish unfounded claims?

It appears that MAP List is taking credit for Jantzi stepping away from his volunteer position. I know that the two organizations he volunteered at did not want him to leave, but he didn’t want to bring any negative attention to the organizations. As the previous chair of one of those organizations, I know that his committed time and effort will be the organization’s loss.

Where is MC Eastern Canada’s articulated “just and redemptive path forward” in dealing with this situation? What more does Jantzi have to do to receive forgiveness?
—Bonnie Wright, Toronto

What will be next?
Re: “‘Queer and quirky and profoundly worthy of wonder,’” and “Creating space to work towards inclusion,” April 29, pages 14 and 15, respectively.

Waterloo North Mennonite Church hosted a worship/workshop event to address barriers in the treatment of those who identify as LGBTQ+. But if the words “quirky, queer and wonderful” were interchanged for a phrase in a hymn in a worship service, I would leave running. As minds get more confused about sexual identity and queer theology, what will be next?
—LeEtta Erb, Ste. Agathe, Man.

Pitfalls to making religious practices more meaningful
Periodically, Canadian Mennonite documents efforts to make religious practices more meaningful (“Ramping up the rituals,” March 4, page. 20; “Bringing diverse voices together,” April 1, page 26; and “Come to the table,” April 15, page 16). For me, that is both commendable and raises red flags.

I am increasingly aware that Jesus came to restore relationships between us and God, and us and all humanity. To that end, Jesus was obliged to “end” religion in his day and in ours. The Apostle Paul was equally adamant about this in Colossians 2.

 Despite our Anabaptist spiritual heritage, I have observed that we allow buildings, rituals, rules, ordinances, worship styles, music, cultural differences and many other religious practices—all originating with noble intent—to become divisive, ends in themselves or idolized.

We barely follow the example of Jesus in baptism, and Christians have ritualized the memory of Jesus. Jesus and Paul did not intend that a symbolic remembrance of God’s reconciling act in Jesus’ life and death were to become liturgies or sacraments. John’s gospel and Paul remind us that remembering the life and death of Jesus points to loving relationships. In the early church, communion meals were actual meals together. Never were they to be occasions for division (I Corinthians 11:17).

The Lord’s Supper, on one hand, is for Jesus’ disciples to proclaim and remember the divine mystery of God-in-Jesus offering us a reconciled relationship with God. Koinonia (Greek) and “communion” (English) point to Jesus’ invitation for loving relationships among all people. Can we combine these emphases into one practice or ritual? New Testament writings suggest that both can happen during a communal “love feast.”

Let’s focus on the practical implications of our practices rather than be distracted by fine-tuning the ritual. It is important for ourselves, our children and for those still unsure about Jesus and the Way.
—Ivan Unger, Cambridge, Ont.

Test the spirits: highly principled or holier than thou?
Re:Murky lessons from a political firestorm,” May 27, page 17.

Congratulations to Will Braun on his deft handling of a controversial subject.

It would appear that the emphasis on the SNC Lavalin file was a mere sidebar to the real core of the issue: How does a body deal with internal conflicting views and forces without destroying itself?

What troubled me most was the emergence of an almost exclusive emphasis on the moral courage and highly principled positions and actions of Jodi Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. One might therefore be tempted to view their fellow caucus members as spineless, cowardly and unprincipled.


The very public posture the former ministers project suggests to me a whiff of “holier than thou.” For us, it would seem that the scriptural injunction to believers to “test the spirits” requires more than a superficial judgment call.

The cautious and measured comments of former Mennonite politicians Berny Wiens and Ray Funk were appreciated.
—Frederic Wieler, Oakville, Ont.

Voices Together should restore the words of revered hymn

While singing from the new Voices Together hymnal sampler, I came across the new, much-altered version of “This is My Father’s World.”

I grew up with this hymn, and the images of Maltbie Babcock’s poem are dear to me, especially the image of a benevolent God walking in nature and his “wind” moving the “rustling grass” in verse two. That whole line is now replaced.

And the removal of the very natural phrase “lily white,” to be replaced by “the dark of night” in the same verse, just ruins the hymn. It is an example of political correctness narrowly applied to an historical, classic hymn. Instead of making the poem more inclusive, the changes just make it exclusive in a different way, and the sampler’s editors just assume that the author had some bias, which he most surely didn’t have. It also is a mark of disrespect to the author, who is long dead and who has left us one of the great hymns.

The changes in verse 2 of the hymn also alter the whole viewpoint of the poem. In the original, the human is only watching and listening, not “roaming”—not affecting creation, but just learning.

The first line—the title line—also made me realize that we humans don’t own nature, Mother Earth. We only live out our short lives here. But that has been changed to “This is God’s Wondrous World.” I agree that “God” should not have a pronoun, but in 1901 the term “Father” was pretty common. 

Babcock’s poem is deeper than it seems, and the original version needs to be restored. Or, if the hymn editors want a different hymn, they should write their own and not ruin someone else’s.
—Peter Voth, Ajax, Ont.

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