Aug 3, 2001
Letter to The Daily Telegraph
As an ex-pat Briton and occasional on-line Telegraph reader living in Ottawa, I'm disturbed that the paper seems to have no regular place for Christianity, or even religion. I gather the stats for church attendance in UK are now about 7% of the population (compared with 23% in Canada and 48% in USA). As a believer, I can't see that there is anything more important than God in the world, yet if the press acts as a follower of trends rather than a leader, people may be living whole lives without hearing about Him. To me, that is a trajedy on the scale of many holocausts. When I lived and worked in UK I remember the antipathy from co-workers and even relatives. In Ottawa, most people will willingly join in a conversation on faith.
And yet, despite all this, we in Canada are faithful champions of the Alpha course, a British invention (though perhaps inspired by the Toronto Blessing).
Oct 7, 2001
Dear Dr (Allen) Churchill:
You invite listeners to "Good News in the Morning" to tell you why they listen. This morning's program prompts me to actually do this!
I listen (not every week) because I have never heard one of your programs where you did not neatly encapsulate a series of great truths, always from the Bible, and explain them in a context for today. Some of these truths are mighty complex for the average person like me to understand, yet you show what God meant when he inspired them, and you are always totally logical and not reliant on drama, hype or emotionalism to get your point across in words I can understand.
This morning you showed how the founding pillars of our faith are so exciting, so relevant, and never changing. You contrasted this with a recent statement by an Australian minister calling for an update to liturgy, relavance etc, etc. It could as well have been John Shelby Spong.
Spong was in Kanata this week, speaking at Kanata United Church. He went on to lead a retreat at Stewart House. The evening was introduced by Eleanor Archer, who heads up Stewart House and appears to have taken the initiative to invite him to Kanata, with Peter Lougheed's full cooperation. Interesting that he wasn't speaking in any Anglican churches here. (Do I detect Peter Coffin's influence?)
Spong's thesis is that unless we update Christianity, and move away from the myths of miraculous happenings such as virgin births and resurrection as facts we are doomed. He had 350 converts there with him. About 50 were from the KUC congregation, one from GCUC (I), and the rest from across Ottawa. The questions asked at the end were intelligent, well conceived, and entirely supportive. On several of his themes I am with him, such as the appalling attitude of the Anglican church in supporting segregation in the American South where he grew up, in the miserable treatment of women because (he suggested) they are not made in the image of a male God), and on homosexuality. I think most United Church people would accept his stance in these.
At no point in the two hour session was there any prayer, certainly not from Spong, but there were a couple of hymns at the start. At the end he autographed books for his fans.
So, there we had a post-modernist Anglican speaking in a United church and promising that in his retreat he would expound on the more controversial elements (eg the myth of the resurrection).
Contrast this with today's "Good News in the Morning" - a United Church minister affirming that to consider updating Christianity is to miss the incredibly vital and relevant truths that the life and death of Jesus brough us, all 100% relevant to all of us, an in absolutely no need of revision.
Do I make my point? Do you see why setting the alarm for 6:30 am is so rewarding, and gets me thinking?
And, adding to all this, you gave a great endorsement to Alpha and the Conference.