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Readers write: August 28, 2017 issue

Aug 23, 2017 | Volume 21 Issue 16

National church needs to continue leading the way to reconciliation
The following letter was originally written to Mennonite Church Canada’s Interim Council and is reprinted at the authors’ request.

As walkers on the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, we write to share our gratitude for the leadership and vision offered through MC Canada that made this walk possible. However, we also express our hope and concern for the future as the church continues to work towards reconciliation and just relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

We walked hundreds of kilometres supporting Bill C-262 and Canada’s full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation with indigenous peoples—where we are the transgressors—is vital work that the church body needs to continue pursuing if we are serious about living out the “the ministry of reconciliation” given to us by Christ and outlined in Article 22 of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.

We appreciate the vision and leadership MC Canada has offered, especially its involvement in the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process and the statements of lament and commitments made on our behalf. The national church has led the way, calling us to live into those commitments and the “94 Calls to Action” issued to the church by the TRC.

We are at a critical point in Canada’s history. How will the church respond to God’s call at this moment in time? As we look to the future direction of our church, how do we provide the needed national leadership and vision for walking alongside our indigenous kin? We pray for continued MC Canada leadership in walking the talk of indigenous-settler reconciliation together.

Josie Winterfeld, Sara Brubacher, Sue Klassen, Kitchener, Ont.

Kudos for ‘prayer’ editorial

Re: “Broadening our prayers,” June 19, page 2.
Thank you for your editorial. You challenged and encouraged us to pray for all of our sisters and brothers, and to listen carefully to their voices. In that way, you envisioned that we may find ways to support them as they strive to live faithfully for Christ in that troubled land.

Fran Schiller, Ottawa. She is a member of Ottawa Mennonite Church.

Reader enjoys CM, shares it with others

I really enjoy reading your magazine. I always pass it along to others in my building. Thank you.

Donna Armstrong, Stouffville, Ont.

Loss of status, influence and pride leads to ‘lonely death’

Re: “Reader seeks information about Mennonite settlers,” June 19, page 12.
It was the years 1924 to 1929 when a large group of Mennonite immigrants settled in the area southwest of Winnipeg.

By that time, most indigenous people had moved on to other areas in Manitoba. It helps to see the larger picture. Most indigenous people were hunters and trappers. The whole country was surveyed into ranges, townships and sections for the many settlers who came to find land for agriculture, like the many Mennonites who came to this area. So really there was a cultural difference.

When we came to this area in 1926, most land had been divided into sections. Now this system was foreign to the indigenous people, so that most of them could not adapt to the new system and simply lost control of the wider range for hunting and trapping.

When a sudden change takes place for some people, it does cause conflict. It was in the 1930s, as we brought my father some lunch in the field, he was talking to an indigenous man. He had been a chief in the Turtle Mountain area of southwestern Manitoba. In the change, he had lost his status, influence and pride. He died a lonely death in his cabin.

Jacob J. Unger, Boissevain, Man.

‘Let’s end the doubt about doubt’

Re: “Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 9),” June 19, page 14.
In this column, Troy Watson promotes the idea that “toxic doubt” represents a slippery slope, insofar as it disenfranchises faith and the church to the point where it is no longer transformative.

This interpretation is problematic because it misses the entire point of “toxic doubt”: It shatters traditional religion and morphs it into something ecstatic and new. As such, the (his)story of religion is replete with examples of “toxic doubt” as a catalyst for both religion and faith:

• Arguably, the “binding of Isaac” by Abraham is as much a story about faith in Yahweh as it is about doubting the practice of child sacrifice to the god Moloch. And for his faith—and doubt—Abraham is considered to be the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
• Jesus moved beyond the mentality of “an eye for an eye” when he doubted sections of the Torah, resulting in the salvation of a woman’s life.
• Paul doubted that humanity remained under the curse of the first Adam in order to make way for the blessing of the second Adam.
• Luther doubted that purchasing indulgences was a bona fide way to overcome anxiety about the uncertainty of death, thereby ushering in Protestantism.
• Anabaptism came about because Grebel, Manz and Blaurock doubted that Zwingli was up to speed on infant baptism, among other church practices.

The bugaboo of Watson’s premise is that it underestimates—and is suspicious of—the full potential of “toxic doubt” to undermine faith and overturn our churches. Understood through the lens of self-definition, however, “toxic doubt” is the twin sibling of faith in the ever-spiralling perichoresis (a term referring to the relationship of the three persons of the triune God to one another) of religion.

Let’s end the doubt about doubt, and have faith in its transubstantiating power.

Grant Sawatzky, Calgary. He attends Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary.


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