Letters: Episcopal Life August 2008

August 1, 2008

Episcopal Life welcomes letters, especially those with pictures, and will give preference to those in response to stories. Letters should be no longer than 250 words and must include the writer's name, address and phone number for verification. Send to Letters, Episcopal Life, 815 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017; or email to letters@episcopal-life.org. All letters will be edited for brevity and clarity.

As an Air Force veteran, I was disgusted and disappointed to see the Rev. Cromey's labeling of America's military as "trained killers" in the June issue regarding an American military Easter service on Tulagi in World War II. Those "trained killers," many of whom rest in American military cemeteries around the world, are why this biased cleric, whose remarks contribute to diminishing Episcopal membership, still has his free church.

Many of the military I and others served with are and were some of most devout folks I have known. His remarks are a disservice to our nation's military.

Don Gulliford
Mercer Island, Washington

Subject: Re: "Story glorified the Military" by the Rev Robert Cromey

The Rev. Cromey may have missed the real point of the story of the Tulagi Easter Service in 1943. Most of those who may have attended may have been those who were generally in harm's way. Some of them may not have made it home to their families.

The occasion offered them a chance for "love, peace, compassion, community" and also hope and some measure of spirituality in a "broken and sinful world" in the name of Jesus. This event was hardly a glorification of the military.

I would recommend that the Rev. Cromey and all who wish to obtain and read the book Khaki Parish, Our War, Our Love by the Rev. Canon Cook and Helen Cook. The canon was a wartime British chaplain in North Africa, Italy and Austria. During the Italian campaign, some 1,500 British troopers sought Confirmation and 15 studied for ordination.

Martin Newkom
Yuba City, California

Re: "Story glorified the military" (Letters, June) by the Rev. Robert Warren Cromey

As the daughter of a "trained killer" who served in WWII, I must express my surprise and offense at the Rev. Cromey's characterization of all the men and women who served, who gave their all, to alter the course of events during that time. The "trained killer" who was my father went to war as a young man, leaving behind a wife and two small children. Like most, he had no desire to go.

In the course of his trek through Europe with the 95th Infantry Division, he was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Soldier's Medal. It may come as a revelation to the Rev. Cromey that one of those medals was awarded for saving lives.

At the age of 25, he was made military governor of a town in Northern Germany, where his task was to restore civil order and help direct the population in its journey toward normalcy. Never in his life did he allude to any of the citations he received, teaching us instead that war is not glorious and that killing is terrible.

I am sorry that the Rev. Cromey feels that men and women like him don't meet the standards of political correctness currently espoused by the Episcopal Church and that it's okay to label them and dismiss them as "trained killers." I, for one, am humbly grateful to those men and women who turned the tide of history when it seemed as if civilization itself was going down into the dark.

Irene A. Heimberg,
Amherst New Hampshire

I take exception with the letter titled "Story glorified the military" (June). The letter states the only purpose of the military is to kill. It goes on to say soldiers, sailors and Marines are trained killers.

The Rev. Robert Warren Cromey from San Francisco felt the story of the 1943 Easter service on Tulagi for the military was wrong for Episcopal Life. I would like to state as a veteran and Episcopalian, I disagreed.

We in this county have been the most blessed. We have managed to live in the greatest time in history in the greatest country that has ever been. But none of it would have been possible without the tremendous sacrifices of our Armed Forces. Others have made contributions. A frank assessment would indicate those contributions would not have been possible without the warriors who made the path safe to travel.

Since we still have not been smart enough to "beat our swords into plowshares," warriors remain a requirement. There are many forces out there that would try to take away the very great freedoms we have come to enjoy. There are some among us who do not yet realize those freedoms, such as the right to free speech and worship as you choose, must be defended to the death.

The story of the 1943 Easter service on Tulagi for the military was not a glorification of the military in the guise of worshiping at Easter time but a testament of the military men and women expressing a covenant between man and God.

Michael W. Dormer
Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania.

Where did Anne Burke (Letters, June) get the idea that in Communion we are "literally or representationally...devouring the body tissues of Jesus and drinking his blood? We slaughter his body upon the altar."

The Eucharist is a liturgical representation of an unrepeatable sacrifice that happened almost 2,000 years ago. Jesus is not sacrificed on the altar. The sacrifice we offer is the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving that commemorates the event. We do not devour Jesus' body tissues and drink his blood. No church teaches such an idea. To paraphrase St. Thomas Aquinas: In the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, Christ the presence of Christ's body is not to be understood as physical or local ("pinned down to a spot").

"Real presence" means truly present, but noncorporeally. We are not cannibals, as Burke seems to think. Think of the consecrated bread and wine as a means by which Jesus communicates divine grace, forgiveness, the pledge of redemption, food for our pilgrimage and by which, as his instruments, he carries out his work in the world.

The Rev. L. Edward Alexander Franks

In response to the Rev. John Beverley Butcher's letter "Creed is a speed bump" (June), I would like to point out that recitation of the creed is called for by the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer. If the Rev. Butcher is advocating that rubrics are suggestions only, and that the true criteria for inclusion or exclusion of parts of the liturgy is "the flow," then might I thereby opt to delete the Scripture lessons, exchange of the peace, prayers of the people or even the sermon if I find they break the flow of our congregation's liturgy? Or may I even return to using Latin (used for more centuries than English!) if I feel it makes the liturgy "flow" better?

The Rev. Paul J. Andersen
Christchurch, Virginia

I picked up a copy of Episcopal Life, which was included with Cathedral Connection, when I paid my yearly visit to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio. [The newspaper] gives a completely different view of the church compared with our Canadian church newspapers, the Anglican Journal, the Anglican and the Anglican Planet.

I question the ad for the Anglican Use Society. With all the division these days in our Anglican/Episcopalian churches, I wonder how any self-respecting Episcopalian/Anglican would want to go back to Rome with its all-male priesthood and its hypocrisy etc. As a catholic Anglican, I can see some of this as a good thing, like the respect for our Anglican heritage of liturgy, hymnody and spirituality.

Why is this only possible in the United States and not the United Kingdom or Canada?

I usually receive Communion in the Roman Catholic [church] when I am traveling in Catholic countries, as there are no Anglican churches, and, as an Anglo-Catholic, Roman Catholicism is very close to our practice.

It is interesting that this pastoral provision would preserve the prayer book tradition, which has largely disappeared from the Episcopal Church USA today. It is mostly Rite 2 instead of Rite 1 now in the Episcopal Church.

I've been asked by Roman Catholics if I believe in the pope and the "real presence" as criteria to receive Communion in the Church of Rome.

Peter Iveson
Toronto, Canada

To Rebecca St. James, 2008 Religion News Service

I was so touched by the article "Net gains" in the July issue of Episcopal Life.

I am going to donate to this worthy cause. I have always wanted to give something back to society for all the blessings I have.

My heart goes out to these regions.

I have never gone online before to see what our church does. I know from walk-a-thons that we do so much in our own area and country, but this article and going online to see the worldwide help we give was very touching to me, and made me want to be part of it.

Thanks to all the hard work that goes into all these projects.

Kathleen Eyre
San Mateo, California

Comments: (Radical ecumenism, June).

As a retired Episcopal priest who served (at different times) two small Episcopal churches in the same city and, at the same time, staffed ecumenical organizations at the state, regional and national levels, I could not agree more. Our arrogance as Episcopalians in thinking we have the whole Christian message and ethos within our denomination is an indication of how insulated we are from other Christian bodies like the Amish.

Radical ecumenism would mean our repentance from such arrogance and working in each congregation to develop an ongoing relationship with other Christians in our respective communities. It only takes two like-minded and determined individuals to seek out that relationship that would challenge a vestry to pursue it. Over time that would change the image of the Episcopal Church and transform all those involved.

The Rev. K. Gordon White
Sabattus, Maine

Perhaps you have noticed that the creeds speak of the birth of Jesus and then of his death. There is no mention of the life of Jesus, no mention of the teachings of Jesus, no mention of the healing power of Jesus.

The heart of the gospel is missing. The creeds are defective and need to be taken out of service. Instead, let us proclaim clearly the gospel of the Resurrected Jesus, "The seed of true humanity is within you. Follow it!" Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) 4:5.

The Rev. John Beverley Butcher
Pescadero, California

I take exception to the comment ("Top-level dialogue: Rowan Williams, Pope Benedict meet to discuss ecumenical, Muslim-Christian relations," June) that the cause of "difficulties and obstacles" to the goal of "full visible communion in the truth of Christ" has to do with "new developments within the Anglican Communion." It is my opinion that the sinful nature of all humanity is the problem; and that would include both Anglican and Roman Catholic hierarchy.

Anita Stone
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

I agree totally with the lawyer from California who stated that, other than [for] religious reasons (which in my mind should be basically sufficient to disallow gay marriages), most heterosexuals just do not want to be in the "same group" as homosexuals with regards to marriage. All one has to do is just check the dictionary for the most basic and simple definition of marriage and find out it just occurs between men and women. Also check out the marriage rite section of the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer. How can anyone, any court, any law change a definition?

Currently gays and lesbians identify themselves as belonging to the "Rainbow Coalition." Heterosexuals are not allowed to belong to this Rainbow Coalition. Thus, gays have already established themselves as a separate, unique group. Thus, why wouldn't they be equally happy establishing for themselves a unique partnership defined as a "Rainbow Union," in lieu of gay marriage? This would result in two separate and unique groups: marriage for heterosexuals; rainbow union for gays.

Jim Harrick
Hornell, New York

In regard to the writer in the June issue who is upset over the atonement expiatory/sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist, this will not bring comfort, but it's something that needs to be said to put our Lord's death and the Eucharist into proper perspective.

I maintain that Jesus is the culmination, epitome and encapsulation of human and cosmic history, hope, understanding and belief in that within his incarnate self is the essence and reality of the earth and cosmos. The point is that nothing lives without something dying. For me to live, something must die, even if I am a vegetarian/herbivore, for as I separate an orange from a tree, grapes from a vine, corn from a stalk or spinach from the ground, they have been cut off from their life support, the earth, and they die. I don't need to spell it out for carnivores. The earth lives because the sun radiates energy to it, giving of itself to the point that in a few billion years it, the sun, will burn itself out and die.

So, then, my very life, spiritual as well as physical, is lived because of the death of Jesus Christ. It is not a pretty picture, but it is the law of the universe and Jesus fulfills it, and I do thanksgiving/Eucharist for the gift.

The Rev. James H. Hall
Antioch, Tennessee