Readers write: May 10, 2021 issue

May 5, 2021 | Opinion | Volume 25 Issue 10
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Venn diagram needs political domain
Avoiding an environmental shipwreck,” March 29, page 4.

Thanks for Tim Wiebe-Neufeld’s feature article. I applaud his call to both personal and congregational responsibility to make decisions based on environmental considerations.

While his colourful Venn diagram shows domains, all of them right and valid, that address a more responsible and environmentally sensitive lifestyle, I think he omits one important domain, that being political. I know that politics is ethically compro-mised and should never form part of an Anabaptist matrix but, in Canada at least, our politics is still responsive to the “body politic,” and our vote still counts for something.

Most of us Mennos still vote, and making our vote count for the environment ought to be part of that Venn diagram.
—Peter Andres, Chilliwack, B.C.


Keeping the main thing, the main thing
three articles in the March 29 issue.

I had several different thoughts go through my mind as I read Tim Wiebe-Neufeld’s feature, “Avoiding an environmental shipwreck,” on page 4. The most prominent was, where on the list of priorities does Mennonite Church Canada and its congregations rank the issue of the environment?

It seems to me that Canadian Mennonite has had many articles on this issue. But how important are other topics, such as worship, community ministries, faith, evangelism, discipleship and youth, and how are they ranked?

Then there was the Earth Day article, “What would Jesus think about factory farms?” on page 12. As important as these issues are—as we are called to be stewards of this earth—I think they pale in comparison to abortion, and the trafficking of women and children. These violations are most grievous.

Then I came upon the article of Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia, “A life-altering gospel and simple faith,” on page 20. Their determination to remain faithful and grow as individuals and as a church, even in the midst of persecution, is a testimony to them and a challenge to us. Their commitment to discipleship is what we need to learn here in Canada.

I recently heard a speaker state that we are more afraid of leaving our “secure” surroundings, and what we may encounter “out there,” than we are afraid of losing our Master’s approval of “well done.”

As Fanosie Legesse stated in the Ethiopian church article, “It made sense to give everything up and follow him to wherever he led me.”

Our calling is to keep the main thing, the main thing.
—Ken Bergen, Okotoks, Alta.

Controversial vaccine letter generates criticism
Reader calls on Mennonites to reject COVID-19 vaccines” letter, April 12, page 7.

In his letter to the editor regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the writer says, “I will refuse to accept this vaccine and pray that my choice will not lead to further restrictions of my fundamental human rights.”

It seems to me that those who focus on “my fundamental rights” tend to neglect the rights of other people, and the responsibility we all have to safeguard the well-being of each other.

If the writer wants to risk his own health by refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, I guess that is indeed his right. But he doesn’t have a right to endanger others with whom he might come in contact.

I trust that he will keep his vaccine-free body in complete isolation until the pandemic is totally over, many months from now.

As for his scriptural reference to our “fearfully and wonderfully made bodies,” there are also many Scriptures that affirm the frailty of our bodies, including, “He knows how we are formed, and he remembers that we are dust.”
—Mark Morton, Kitchener, Ont.

I am astonished that the writer would suggest that we should reject the COVID 19 vaccine.

I also have faith that God protects us. Having said that, I also know that God has provided the medical profession with the knowledge about how diseases spread and preventative measures that can be used to curb their spread.

At this moment as I am writing, we are experiencing the highest number of cases in Ontario and Canada since the pandemic began. Our hospitals are stressed to the point where intensive-care-unit beds are in short supply to treat COVID-19 patients. Some patients are having to be transferred to other hospitals simply because there is no bed available in their local hospital for incoming patients.

It would be foolhardy to ignore the advice of the medical experts and risk an unimaginable crisis in the coming weeks and months. Surely, by not ignoring the advice being given, we can show the world that we truly love our neighbours. Christ said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Would Christ deliberately ask or suggest that the advice meant to protect the general population be ignored and lead to thousands, even millions, of deaths? “Think on these things,” says the Lord!
—Stanley Cook, Kitchener, Ont.

I am very disappointed that Canadian Mennonite chose to publish a reader’s argument against getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

By publishing this letter, CM has given legitimacy to the ideas expressed and contributed to the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories and outright disinformation.

Vaccine hesitancy is a very real threat to our collective effort to end this pandemic.

We all know that ideas like this can be found in online comment sections in abundance, but a reputable media source does not need to propagate ideas that are so obviously harmful to society.

If a published letter like this leads even one vaccine-hesitant person away from taking the vaccine, it will have been a disservice to public health.
—Ben Plett, Winnipeg

A letter writer questions the legitimacy of the global pandemic and is urging us to reject all vaccines in the battle against the COVID-19 tragedy.

He states very emphatically that “our ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ bodies can give us a stronger and broader-based protection from every current virus and all future mutations.”

Can he please explain how the “fearfully and wonderfully made bodies” of three million global COVID-19 victims failed to protect them?
—Buddy Andres, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

At this time I am thankful for scientists, epidemiologists, doctors, and all health-care workers during this pandemic.

As a retired nurse, I recall that smallpox, polio, diphtheria and tuberculosis have mostly been eradicated because of vaccines. In the 1960s, I personally nursed patients with tuberculosis as they coughed and struggled to breathe. Even rubella-measles can cause severe complications, such as meningitis in children. Vaccines have greatly reduced incidences of that childhood disease.

In my opinion, following the protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health and getting the mRNA vaccine to reduce the risk of COVID-19 virus is only prudent and wise.

At least three people who are known to me have suffered seriously with this coronavirus infection. Recovery is a long slow road.

So “A duty to love our neighbour,” March 1, page 18, is surely to add a layer of protection to self and others, by getting vaccinated.
—Reta Derksen, Hanover, Ont.

As I read this letter, I found myself asking if I agreed with the writer on some level, and I must confess I did.

Psalm 91 is my crutch in life, and it says that if I call on God no plague shall enter my tent. And I still believe that to be true.

But as a truck driver who crossed provincial borders and the American border, I also know what people like myself experienced, with limited eateries, port-a-potties and lack of shower facilities, and I became very appreciative of the people who ran the take-out at truck stops, made the coffee at the fuel bar, cleaned the showers, and the list goes on. These are the frontline people no one talks about, and that is a shame.

I researched the AstraZeneca vaccine as best I could, and at the age I am, it is the only one available to me at this time, and I am going for my shot this week. I am going because, if I love my neighbour as myself and want to thank those who have been there for me on the road over the last year, then I think that, as a follower of Jesus, I must not worry about fundamental rights, but act in thankfulness and love.
—Rob Martin, Elmira, Ont.

Although I am not a proponent of censorship, I was disappointed that CM published the letter that rejected vaccines.

His comments question the reality of the pandemic and its severity, and attempt to raise doubt about the efficacy and safety of approved vaccines. His comments border on promoting harmful conspiracy theories, and I expect more from my church publication.
—Dan Bergen (online comment)

What two Mennonite farmers think about factory farms

Re: “What would Jesus think about factory farms?” March 29, page 12.

It seems that many readers of Canadian Mennonite are only a generation or two away from growing up on a farm. Why did they flee to the cities for an education and a better life?

When no one wanted to inherit unprofitable small family farms, bigger farmers bought them up. Now some wheat farmers own a township, and egg, milk and broiler farms have become huge enterprises. About 8 percent of us feed the rest of the country.

In Canada, stringent guidelines rule the industry and a farmer’s profit depends on them treating animals well.

We have become used to inexpensive food. Without factory farms, how would we feed the people who live in cities? The grocery shelves might well be empty.

—Helen Rose Pauls, Chilliwack, B.C.
The writer is a partner in a broiler farm.

As a farmer and a Mennonite I find this article troubling.

I have grown up in agriculture all of my life and have worked with large-scale pig, chicken and dairy operations. Most of my best friends are tied to animal agriculture in some form or another, and they are very proud to be so.

In all of my years in agriculture, I have yet to meet a farmer who is intentionally cruel to livestock in any way, shape or form. We take pride in the health and well-being of our animals while they are put in our care. Every step we take is for the benefit of the animals we care for.

The so-called “factory farms” are not what people see in the hyped-up videos; 98 percent of farms are still family owned and operated by hard-working families who love what they do.

So I ask, before we lay judgment on farms and the families who operate them, have a conversation with them. We are passionate about what we do and how we do it. We take pride in feeding our community and world.
—Karl Dirks (online comment)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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