Readers write: September 27, 2021 issue

September 22, 2021 | Opinion | Volume 25 Issue 20
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

What if there had been no war in Afghanistan?

While it is water under the bridge, it is still worth pondering what would have happened if the United States and allies had not gone to war in Afghanistan some 20 years ago. What if the doves had won out and all that money (some two trillion dollars or $100 billion per year) had been given to Afghanistan’s poor? (Afghan per capita GDP is less than $2,000 per year, compared with Canada’s $55,000 and the more than $65,000 for the United States.) What we know is that if it could have been done, every Afghan resident would have doubled their income for 20 years and that includes all the Taliban poor as well.

Of course, this is useless pondering, but hopefully one day there will be a world where the world’s leading country will not continue to spend more than 10 times that of any other country (including China and Russia) on military expenditures.
—Peter A Dueck, Vancouver


Shameful to be associated with ‘anti-vax’ movement
“Will COVID-19 create lasting divisions in churches?” Sept. 13, page 20.

I want to offer plaudits for the excellent article by Will Braun on the thorny issue of COVID-19 vaccines and the divisive role they are playing in our families and churches. While opposition to vaccines first appeared in the early days of immunization for smallpox in the 18th century, the phenomenal historical success of vaccines in vanquishing so many infectious diseases makes it all the more shameful to be associated with the “anti-vax” movement. It feels akin to having survivors of the Titanic bobbing in the frigid waters of the Atlantic, proudly refusing to get into lifeboats as the crew of the Carpathia offered help.

I experience sharp jabs of deep disquietude that such sadly misguided attitudes are openly associated with the Christian church that ostensibly claims to care for others.
—Paul Thiessen, Vancouver
The writer is a medical doctor.


Readers respond to CM policy change on pronouns

On Aug. 31, Canadian Mennonite posted a statement on social media, indicating a change in policy to include “they” and “their” to designate individuals who use those pronouns. (See more at “Canadian Mennonite responds,” Sept. 13, page 8.) Here are selected responses:

Thank you for being open and honest! Thank you for the change in policy. —Chani Wiens, via Facebook

Thank you. It so underscores the fact that words matter, and the respect paid through our choice of words has a priceless effect on individuals throughout society. —Ruth Driedger, via Facebook

I’m thankful that @canmenno is taking these steps to prevent this from happening again. I do wish these had been made two years ago when the first article was written. —Timothy Wenger, via Twitter

As a pastor and parent raising a non-binary child in the Mennonite church, I am grateful to see this being acknowledged. I long for my child to see themself accepted and reflected in the broader Mennonite church. Would highly recommend further articles on gender, theology, and Christian community. It is an important growth area for the church. —Rachel Wallace, via Facebook

If you are determined to portray members of the LGBTQ+ community with understanding and respect, I dearly hope that also means there will be no more homophobic letters to the editor published ever again. —Shawn Klassen-Koop, via Facebook I affirm this decision. More discussion is needed and very valuable. —Jan Fretz, via Facebook

Thank you for this update. I am grateful for the policy change. —Christy Martens-Funk, via Facebook


Church community seems reluctant to speak of God
“Why don’t we talk about evangelism?” Aug. 16, page 10.

It is joy to hear that the 2022 Mennonite Church Canada conference has chosen “We Declare” as the theme. I am a product of the tent rallies and films of the 1940s and ‘50s when revival meetings proclaimed the coming of Christ, like in the next hour, and the other option would be separation from God in hell. A spectacular Chief White Feather in full feather regalia was the speaker I heard. Now, more than a half century later, I am not angry about this process. God accepted me. I became a follower of Jesus, which I understood at age 12, meant Christian service. That decision provided a clear goal in life and steered me clear of a lot of sinful activity. Evangelism is not a welcome word in many of our congregations. I find it difficult that even within the church community there is a reluctance to speak of God in our lives. Faith stories may even avoid any reference to God. This is in the believing body! At times mention is made of luck. At the same time, we know that Mennonites in southern countries both walk the talk and talk the walk. On the positive side, within the church we are more open to speak of being depressed, discouraged and disappointed.
—John Peters, Waterloo, Ont.

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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