Divinity of Christ

December 29 1997


Divinity of Christ

December 29 1997



Divinity of Christ

So what else is new? Another liberal religious leader like United Church moderator Bill Phipps trying to find significance in “conversation” and “dialogue” as opposed to canon (“Is Jesus really God?” Cover, Dec. 15). He forgets that without a historical resurrection, Christianity is just a quaint excursion into history and literature, like reading Shakespeare. His approach is typical of those stuck in the vacuum of modern higher criticism. His ideas are intended to lead us to think of scripture as incoherent, unclear and limited to the individual conscience, rather than coherent, clear and universal in every conscience.

Dennis Bevilacqua, Thunder Bay, Ont. HI

I am personally grateful to the Rev. Bill Phipps for his honesty and openness. As a United Church minister, my experience has

paralleled that of Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham, who you quote as saying: “I have received many calls and letters from people saying, ‘If the church is going to open up, I am going to come back.’ ” I believe that an essential key to the survival of Christianity as a faith, and in its institutional forms, is to show respect for the intellect and the questions that people inside and outside the church bring to the dialogue. Does anyone honestly believe that any human institution has all the answers?

Rev. Darrow Woods, Windsor, Ont. HI

Your cover asks the question “Is Jesus really God?” Neither Jesus nor his closest followers claimed or held that belief. Ironically, their position on this matter would have been branded as heretical by subsequent generations of so-called Christians.

Joel Thorp, Mississauga, Ont. HI

As a first-year master of divinity student, I think it is great that there is a debate about who was this Jesus guy anyway? What should not be lost is: why is it that we follow this guy? Why do we love him so much? What has he taught us that makes us want to be Christians? For me, the answer lies in Jesus having some kind of special relationship with God. And that, with the Holy Spirit, he healed people and performed other “miracles.” Our challenge is to live by his example; to love instead of hate, to give instead of take. Christianity’s goal cannot be to convert people, to believe we hold some sort of skeleton key; a secret handshake that passes us through heavenly gates. We need to recognize that the power of Jesus was in his love for everyone, not just those who followed him. Whether he was God or worked with God does not abrogate the importance of his life, both today and yesterday.

Shawn Lucas,

Toronto HI

The controversy over Rev. Bill Phipps and his statements on Jesus may be a historic point for his church and all of Christianity. God is the universe, unknown and mysterious. Jesus embodies a living interpretation of this spirit, a message to us. But Jesus was just one of us, that is the power of the message. There has always seemed to be a great gulf between belief in a god and belief in a religion. Religions divide believers into discreet sets of faith, each with the subtle belief that if they are right, then the others must be wrong. It can only lead to conflict. I have never felt comfortable within organized religion,

Canada's cuts to aid

You reported that Canada recently shelled out $50 million to host the profit-mongers who wallowed at the APEC trough (“A summit engulfed by crisis,” World, Dec. 8). Simultaneously—in the name of budget cutting—we are slashing basic international healthcare programs that save thousands of lives. Immunization is the most recent and saddest casualty of Canadian aid cuts. On Sept. 30, Canada declined to renew a $6-mi 11 ion annual contribution to an international immunization program that the Canadian Public Health Association says prevents as many as 3.2 million deaths a year. Our APEC party would have funded child immunization for more than eight years.

Karen Hodgson, Victoria Hi

but if we can cast off the petty differences that make us Anglican, Roman Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, and just be spiritual human beings, I will find my way back to church.

Don McDonald, Clear Lake, Man. HI

We applaud Rev. Bill Phipps for his honesty in expressing his views. It is reassuring to know that there are others at the United Church who have the same beliefs. It is true that biblical stories are hard to believe when reduced to a literal fact, but when viewed in a different way still do evoke wonder, awe and majesty. These stories were written for a people of a different time and when looked at with our 20th-century eyes they can lose their effect. But Phipps, in his skilful way, can show that one can still believe that Jesus is divine without equating him to God.

Alvin and Noreen Eyolfson, Camrose, Alta. HI

Maclean’s has missed the mark on this one. The stories focus on a dying and irrelevant faction of God’s church, the United Church of Canada. You fully outline how this church has lost 18 per cent of its membership during a 10-year period. May I suggest that their losses may have nothing to do with contemporary views on God/Jesus but with their lack of any doctrine and principles? Given the obvious decay in that church, and the great growth on the evangelical side, where is the interview or report with a representative from one of the more successful churches of today? When I look at my own evangelical church congregation, almost a third have come from a United Church background. Need I say more?

Ralph Troschke, Fort McMurray, Alta. HI

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR should be addressed to: Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 HI E-mail: letters@macleans.ca Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.

Dressing the rich

Do you think if we bought more Corel software, its chief executive, Michael Cowpland, could afford to buy his missus a dress with a front (“Cowpland’s market measures,” Opening Notes, Nov. 10) and we’d all be spared yet more unattractive views of Marlen Cowpland’s overblown, middle-aged flesh? Maybe Santa will bring good-taste transplants for the ill-guided troika of Ms. Cowpland, the dress designer and the Maclean’s editor who decided to publish the photo.

Harriett Hardman, Carmel Valley, Calif. Ill

'A tragic suicide'

Your article “A tearful farewell,” on the life and tragic suicide of Martin Kruze (Canada, Nov. 17), contains an alarming and disappointing concluding sentence: “The only consolation, perhaps, is that Martin Kruze is finally resting in peace.” This statement forces me to the conclusion that Maclean’s has some specific insights into death that have escaped humanity, or is reporting as fact something that it cannot know. But most tragic is that the article discusses the failure of the system to support someone who needed help to deal with psychological problems, yet feeds the myth that suicide is an answer to give peace to the troubled. That does no service to those among us dealing with suicidal tendencies.

Jim Hargrave, Abbotsford, B. C. Ill

On being a teenager

While lamenting how Canadian kids become “slaves to artificial desire” by buying designer brands, Peter Dalglish doesn’t mention many symptoms (“Checking the spread of affluenza,” The Road Ahead, Nov. 10). Do kids who wear Reeboks do poorer in schools than children who wear hand-me-downs? Is an adolescent who can afford a Sony Walkman less dynamic than a poor kid from Cairo who can’t afford it? His cure for “affluenza” can be summed up in three words: parents must control. Parents must control what their kids do with their free time. Parents must control what kids watch on TV and read. These measures will make the kids more “dynamic” all right—dynamically rebellious. Good citizenship cannot be rammed down someone’s throat. Let teens be teens, instead of trying to force them into being adult activists. They’ll choose what causes to follow on their own, in time, because they want to, not because “Dad made me work at a food bank.”

Michael J. Gallagher, Cortland, N.Y. ¡Ml

Population explosion

Bobbi McCaughey, the mother of the septuplets, claims: “God gave us those kids.” No, Bobbi, if God had anything to do with it, it was to make you infertile; it was science that gave you seven babies (“Baby boom in Iowa,” World, Dec. 1). The only “miracle” I see is that your belly didn’t burst.

I find it odd that religious people credit God for saving them from disasters and other negative situations, but never hold Him responsible for causing those disasters and situations in the first place.

Jerry Steinberg, Vancouver HI

What will it take? Do we have to be suffocating on greenhouse emission gases, drowning under a mountain of disposable diapers, or warring for the last bit of arable land or potable water before our political, religious and media leaders will finally consider the problem of the crushing human population and have the courage to address it? The multiple births of the McCaughey family are not a miracle or a blessing. They are an abomination. Millions of children go hungry, homeless and unloved while science labors to produce more babies. Our selfish and egocentric attempts to re-create our own image endanger the very future we owe the next generation.

Maggie Bolitho, Sydney, Australia HI

Women and violence

We are writing in response to the media attention given to the recent tragic murder of Reena Virk and the escalation of violence perpetrated by young women. As professional counsellors who serve young women, we are disturbed by society’s understanding of this phenomenon (“Bad girls,” Cover, Dec. 8). In our work with young women, they have taught us that their experience of the world is that power is

stolen by those more powerful. Every time a child is hit, assaulted, demeaned, neglected or told they are not worthy by words and/or actions, it hurts and damages the core of their being. Every time a teacher says he is distracted because he can see a young woman’s belly button; every time a young man tells a young woman she is fat; every time a father turns on Baywatch\ every time the image of a sexualized young woman is used to sell a car, cigarettes, liquor and a way of life; every time the community allows sex shops to operate; every time we fund male sports rather than female sports; and every time the legal system fails to prosecute an adult for having intercourse with a 14-year-old girl, we are, as a society, reaffirming that young women have no power, no value, and it hurts. These hurting women go in search of power and find it in the same way they have been taught: take power by demeaning, damaging, scapegoating and assaulting people more vulnerable than themselves, usually other women. Thus, the cycle of violence is perpetuated. To be sure, it is essential for society to hold responsible for their actions those young women who assault. At the same time, it is imperative that we listen and support them in their efforts to stand up to oppression. When city councils grant licences to sex shops, strip clubs or a Hooters-style restaurant, we can protest and use our voting privileges to make our point, and when the legal system fails young women, we need to speak out to our communities and government, demanding change.

Jennifer Trunbrook and Karen O’Brien, Vancouver

In response to your article “Bad girls,” I would like to say a word or two in defence of rap music. You write about “Niggers with Attitude, Public Enemy, and Ice T, whose narcotic-like chants and rhythms masked the malevolence of their lyrics. Their songs were paeans to violence, to killing police and degrading women.” In fact, Public Enemy does not perform what has come to be called

“gangsta” rap, and they never have. Public Enemy’s message has always been about social inequality and positive change. Ice T, as well, has a very clear message of peace. Yes, he does rap about violence, but as any writer will tell you, you write what you know. I don’t deny that some rap is irresponsible and puerile, but to characterize all rap this way is unfair and inaccurate. Violent kids are going to be violent, regardless of their sound track.

Glen McQuestion, Tokuyama, Japan El

No responsibility

Like most Maclean’s readers, I always turn to the back page first to get a few laughs from Allan Fotheringham’s column. But his Dec. 15 column was not very funny (“The ‘stupidity’ of the Westray tragedy”). In fact, it was deadly serious. The essay exposed the fundamental problem with Canadian leadership, in government and in business: no individual is willing to take responsibility and admit to his or her mistakes, errors and sins of the past. We are indeed a very smug lot. It was Fotheringham’s best column yet.

Howard Mednick, Thornhill, Ont. HI

Red Cross president

Your special report on the Krever inquiry refers to Gene Durnin, president of the Canadian Red Cross Society, as the successor to Douglas Lindores (“A harsh rebuke,” Dec. 8). For the record, Mr. Lindores is the former secretary general and chief executive officer of the society. His successor is Dr. Pierre Duplessis. As president of the society, Mr. Durnin is a volunteer elected by representatives of Red Cross regions and zones across Canada.

Dennis Orchard, National director of public affairs, The Canadian Red Cross Society, Ottawa

Fighting depression

A little more than a year ago, I was in the grip of a catastrophic depression. I owe my survival, if not to a higher being, then certainly to my partner, my ex-wife, a few close friends, and a long-suffering psychiatrist who accomplished more than she knows. That, I think, was what’s missing in your commendable examination of depression: the enormously important role played by people who are close to those suffering from this horrifying disease (“Depression,” Cover, Dec. 1). Zoloft, the medication prescribed to combat my depression, might have helped, but I do know that the unselfish caring and support of people I trusted were absolutely paramount to restoring my zest for life. After my recovery, I read William Styron’s Darkness Visible, a beautifully written, if harrowing, account of the author’s near-fatal fight with depression. I was encouraged by his revelation that he, too, owed his life to those who were closest to him and by his hopeful conclusion and the immense gratitude he felt at being spared an untimely death.

W John Bowles, Toronto

I would like to stress that while many individuals benefit from taking antidepressant drugs, the actual number who truly and fully recover to their pre-depressive state is very few. Too often these drugs are touted as being able to bring the sunshine back into an individual’s life—sadly, for those of us afflicted with this illness, this is way too often not the case. As a 26-year-old male recently afflicted with a depressive episode, I have found the reality is that individuals like myself usually have to go through a few, if not many, different drugs to achieve an acceptable state of well-being again. We need much better drugs and more research into the causes of this dreadful illness. Happiness cannot be bought in a pill.

Karim Ismail, Toronto 111

Not 'battered'

Your photo caption regarding our flagship property, “Barrick’s Betze-Post mine in Nevada: battered” (“Gone is the glitter,” Business, Dec. 22) was misleading. This model mine has always been a consistent performer and its operating costs are about $160 (U.S.) per ounce of gold, a full $100 under the average world cost. While all goldmining stocks have been battered recently, this mine is best distinguished as the basis for Barrick’s A credit rating, the only gold company with that ranking.

Vince Borg,

Vice-president, Barrick Gold Corp., Toronto