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Olympic complicity

Re “Jack O’Halloran’s Olympic passion” (P & E, April). I would encourage Christians (especially around Vancouver and Whistler) to look more critically at what the Olympics are really about. More Than Gold is an honest and heartfelt initiative, but the 2010 Olympics, and the Olympic industry in general, are causing deeply negative impacts such as increase in homelessness, more than 100,000 trees cut down to build highway infrastructure, the ruin of entire ecosystems, and the trafficking of women. We need to be standing against the Olympics, not coming alongside and using it for our own purposes. I realize it is difficult to go against the grain of society but that is precisely what Jesus did. He stood up to the powers of injustice and inequality and demanded we live differently. It’s time for More Than Gold, its sponsors, and Christians everywhere to reconsider our current complicity.



Literalist ammunition

Re “On the legacy of Charles Darwin” (Viewpoint, April). Here, as is often the case, people discussing contributions by great figures comment on what others have said about them rather than on what the personalities themselves have to say. Darwin said, in The Origin of Species: “I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one,” and, “There is grandeur in this view of life…having been originally breathed by the Creator…”

Far from denying God, Darwin argued against a hyper-literalist interpretation of the Genesis record in vogue at the time. As with Galileo, church authorities felt themselves under attack by Darwin and fired back. And the firing hasn’t stopped yet.

That there is change in nature cannot be denied. How much change there is, is for us to discover. Nature is God’s creation; the Bible is God’s Word. And the two cannot disagree. If there’s disagreement, there must be a lack of understanding in one or the other, most probably
in both.

I doubt if evolution is the real issue; the battle is between a secular and a spiritual worldview. And the longer we insist on a narrowly literalist interpretation of Genesis, the longer we provide atheists like Dawkins with ammunition to malign our faith – and God.  We must be careful lest, like Job’s friends, we are found not to have “spoken of [God] what is right”
(Job 42:7).



No plausible mechanism

Re “On the legacy of Charles Darwin” (Viewpoint, April). I would caution against jumping on the evolutionary bandwagon before carefully examining the evidence in support of such a position. In spite of vast advances in biology, scientists have yet to come up with a plausible mechanism for macroevolution, not to mention explain the origin of the simplest life forms from the original “primordial soup.” Evolutionists still point to the “Miller experiment” as a major step in the synthesis of the first cell, but that step is as far removed from the evolution of a cell as the discovery of iron is to the development of the car.

What is hailed as evolution, including the evolution of the Galapagos finches, is nothing more than microevolution and/or speciation at the same level of complexity. If scientists  are still “light years” away from synthesizing a cell in the lab, how can the author of [the comment] “Pointing to Love” come up with, “…we can see the faithfulness of God in the evolution of the cell even by natural selection.”

As for intelligent design, why should Christians not see it as a bridge linking biology to the much broader scope of life that includes both the physical and spiritual domains? Could it be that the term intelligent design is banned from the vocabulary of the intellectual, scientific establishment (save in its anathema context) because it is such a powerful, convincing argument for the ultimate cause?



Mystery and miracles

Re “On the legacy of Charles Darwin” (Viewpoint, April). I question how a believer can say [as in “Pointing to love”] that the realm of mystery and miracle is premature. The Bible record is full of mystery and miracles that a faithful God has allowed for us to accept in faith, the resurrection of Jesus Christ being the greatest miracle of all. I cannot assume that God wants the world to be intelligible by the plausible story of how we have come to exist. The theory of the evolution of the cell by natural selection must be accepted by faith as is the theory of creation called intelligent design.



A credible alternative

I was pleased to see the Viewpoint column on Charles Darwin, especially given the public focus on the 150th anniversary of The Origin of Species. I would note several things.

We are not called to give “positive appreciation” to ideas, but rather to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Attending the University of Western Ontario last year, I was struck by how this verse applies to both personal thoughts and contemporary ideas.

All three viewpoints tend to confuse natural selection, which is acknowledged by
evolutionists and creationists alike, with material-to-man evolution. We were not there to observe what went on in the past. We all look at the same evidence. Interpretations differ because our beliefs about the past, our worldviews, differ.

Further, you conspicuously fail to present the viewpoint that, perhaps, a literal reading of
Genesis with God’s direct creation, death only after Adam’s sin, a worldwide flood, and genealogies that point to a short timeframe, may describe what actually happened. Schooled in sciences and arts, I found that Darwin was a direct challenge to Christian faith. However, there is a credible alternative to Darwin’s theory given to us by the Creator.



Seniors serving seniors

Re “Advice to the pig in the python” (Features, May). This definitely caught my attention. How could it not, since I heard about “swine flu” and since I also crossed the 55-year mark with the province now officially calling me a senior. I am part of the baby boomer generation that has no choice but to learn to creatively celebrate this emerging “season” in my life.

Robert Suderman challenges us to honour emerging seniors in church life but he also challenges us soon-to-be-seniors to engage with the church in productive ways, to remain engaged with the younger and next generation.

May I join in his challenge, with even more? Many of us as rapidly arriving seniors once felt the tug of Jesus on our own hearts to be engaged in mission. We simply cannot turn over this challenge to another generation too quickly.

Recently I walked through doors opened to me in a Manitoba housing complex for seniors in the Elmwood area of Winnipeg. In this location alone there is visible abuse and desperation, and senior suicide. Many of those I met were so lonely.

Yes, we may understand our responsibility to our own aging parents, to “honour your father and mother.” But what happens to those in a seniors complex like the one in Elmwood when there is no one left to “honour” them?

Let us who are in the “python” continue to lead the way as the number of days of others disappears.



Not too early to learn about aging





Familiar journey

Re “Abuse of power” (Letters, May). This response to David Wiebe’s article, “The sins of sex, money, and power” describes a familiar journey, one we have been on the past five years. We too have experienced leadership’s destructive abuse of power, resulting in having to leave the denomination because of no other MB church in our city. I agree that there is a desperate need for a forum to address issues within MB churches. However I personally take great comfort in Ezekiel 34.


A timely theme

Thank you for choosing the timely theme of reaching our Native people for Christ (March). It’s so important that we include Natives in our home missions, and I’m always happy to hear of those who care about them. [My husband] David is with the Lord now, but I plan to carry on as long as the Lord gives me health to do it. We learned to love the Native kids and teens who came to the Bible camp where we served when we lived in Prince Albert, Sask.



Coming alongside

The phrase “it’s us coming alongside,” from the interview with Ewald Unruh (Interview, April) struck a note with me. It will be 3 years in July that a Sikh couple moved into our  condo building. There was a lot of contact between them and me. Me, not a respected widow but a divorcee (distasteful to both religions). Me, a schizophrenic, on anti-psychotic drugs for the past 36 years. One night, she invited me in. I poured my heart out, telling her my story.

Recently [I learned that] she was in hospital with a heart attack. Four days later, I responded to a knock. There was the woman and her husband and one of their daughters. She is a proud woman, but we both put out our arms for a warm embrace. She continued to cling to me. I would say that she, a Sikh, and I, a Mennonite, had achieved a “coming alongside” in the years we have been neighbours.



Thrilled with passion

Re “No superhumans for hire” (Letters, April). I am thrilled at the passion of Christopher Morton about young pastors’ recruitment into the churches, where search teams behave like corporate officials. Experienced shepherds need to nurture people with passion for God’s ministry with all the love and support they can provide. Make this a call to all churches. Our prayers for Christopher will continue as he seeks to not only drive but lead the fleet behind him. Bravo!



A request for forgiveness

To my brothers and sisters in Canada and the USA:

I am writing to express my deep sorrow and sadness over the pain and hurt I have caused to the Mennonite Brethren conference, to the churches, to you, my sisters and brothers, and to the ministry of the kingdom by my actions while serving as president of the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary. I have broken your trust in me, and have betrayed so many of you who were friends of mine and supporters of the seminary. I am saddened beyond words by my actions.

While serving in this position, which had been entrusted to me by the church, I became involved in the sin of adultery, which led to separation from God and from my marriage.  After some time of concealing that sinful activity, I felt compelled by what I believe was the Spirit of God to confess my sin. This led to my termination at the seminary and a subsequent period of brokenness and the beginning of the path of restoration.

Gordon MacDonald, in his book Rebuilding Your Broken World, refers to people like me as broken-world people. Certainly that describes my state. I have been broken in several ways, including in my spiritual life, my marriage, and my ministry.

I have confessed my sin to God, to my wife and family, to my colleagues, and to the leadership of my church. I have asked for forgiveness from each of them and now I want to ask for forgiveness from you, my friends and fellow-pilgrims in the MB church. My actions have hurt you, and have hurt the ministry of the seminary and our denomination.

The person betrayed most of all has been my precious wife Shirley. The hurt and pain I have brought to her are indescribable. I have violated our love and broken the trust which had sustained us for all of our marriage. The grief I have brought into her life and the sadness which she now experiences are beyond words. She had entrusted her life to me and that trust has been torn apart. I cannot undo what I have done. I pray that God will rebuild our relationship. Each of us has sought counselling and we look to God for healing in our marriage. Our prayer is that by the hand of God our union will emerge strengthened. Shirley has been beautifully grace-filled as she has ministered the Spirit of Christ to me in her forgiveness of me and her commitment to work at the restoration of our marriage. I am so grateful for her love and encouragement to me. She truly is a treasure.

I have made myself accountable to a group of men who walk this path of recovery and restoration with me and who guide me in the process of moving forward. I am deeply thankful for their grace as well. They have been appointed by the board of faith and life of the Pacific District conference. I meet with this group regularly for reflection, guidance, and accountability.

The road to recovery is long and very difficult, but by the grace of God I hope to move forward. I am grateful for the prayers and expressions of support I have received from many of you. Thank you.

I write to ask for your forgiveness, if you can feel the freedom to give it. You need not communicate with me personally. I don’t expect that. But I want you to know of my repentance and of my desire to please the Lord.

In Christ,
Jim Holm

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