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Letters, Jan. 13

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Walk in another’s shoes Re: ‘A lifetime of healing’ (Jan. 7)

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Opinion

Walk in another’s shoes

Re: ‘A lifetime of healing’ (Jan. 7)

The interviews with Tim Barron, Glen Hondz, Josephine Harper, Jeremy Raven and Terrence Morin should be required reading for every Winnipegger who has never seen the inside of a jail or a youth centre.

When asked what he wishes people in Winnipeg knew about people with criminal records, Terrence Morin responded, “I wish I could go out with a couple of guys from Woodhaven or one of those big neighbourhoods way out there by Waverley, and say, ‘These are my shoes, go walk in them for a whole day and see how it is.’”

Terrence Morin, thank you for the lessons your interview give us all. Most of us have a hard time breaking simple bad habits. You and the other four people interviewed have summoned unbelievable strength to undo the overwhelming negative effects of an entire lifetime of bad circumstances. I have great admiration for you and I am in awe of your willpower.

Good luck and best wishes to all of you, and others in your shoes, in continuing to try to make good lives for yourselves and those around you.

Christina López

Winnipeg

Faith, and suffering

John Longhurst’s recent article, There are no guarantees in life (Dec. 31), resonated with me in several ways.

Firstly, we knew the Fontaines for many years before Leon became pastor of Springs Church. My parents were good friends of his parents. But we were never attracted to the prosperity gospel that attracted hundreds of followers.

Here’s part of the reason. In 1945 my little sister, Merle, was born with a serious malfunction in her abdomen. She was born without a rectum, and the bowel contents had to exit through her vagina. Needless to say, she suffered a lot, my parents were stressed, and after many doctors’ visits, faced a depleted bank account.

My parents were quite religious, so they took her to a faith healer in Winnipeg. The faith healer scarcely looked at her, owing to the press from the crowd. They returned home disappointed. In two years, Merle had grown a lot, was very musical and intelligent. The doctors in St. Boniface Hospital assured my parents they could fix her problem, so an operation was scheduled. She suffered greatly, begging for a drink of water, and on Oct.31, 1947, she died.

We were devastated. Some Christian friends told my parents they didn’t have enough faith, and others said it must have been God’s will. And that she is in a better place now.

In 1963, my favourite aunt died from pancreatic cancer. She was in her early 50s. My uncle was a Pentecostal preacher who believed and preached “divine healing.” In spite of his pleading with God to heal her, and the best of care from her daughter, a registered nurse, she wasted away to a skeleton, suffering greatly to the end. Death was a release, but a terrible blow to my uncle.

In later years, I was told God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and beneficent. Once I learned what these big words meant, I began to reflect on how caring God was, when he allowed so much suffering. Did he care, or did he lack the power to do anything about it? Is it fair to blame God?

When I see the commercial for St. Jude’s Hospital, soliciting funds to treat the hundreds of children with cancer, some of whom they save, and some they don’t, I think of God’s beneficence, or lack thereof. Or the Shriners Hospital, caring for children born with all manner of deformities.

A few years ago, hurricane Katrina drowned hundreds of people clinging to their rooftops. Many of these were fervent believers in God, while others who survived thanked God for saving them. Well, we don’t have to look far to see how life seems unfair at times.

Perhaps we are better off if we accept the fact we are part of the natural world, with all its uncertainties, rather than pinning our hopes on a gospel of prosperity and perfect health.

Kenn Green

Winnipeg

Well done, coach

Kudos to Jets coach Rick Bowness on a job well done so far. He has made believers out of the Winnipeg Jets, something former coach Paul Maurice couldn’t achieve.

What a turnaround from last year — the excitement around the team is long overdue.

Fans are responding by coming to watch them play and filling the arena. Congrats, Rick!

Roland Monkman

Selkirk

A little touch of Harry, er, everywhere

It is interesting to note that Prince Harry, with the launch of his book Spare on Tuesday, has appeared on many talk shows, done interviews with journalists and has appeared in numerous media posts, as well as participated in a docuseries on Netflix about his life.

I do not doubt these situations took place, but I wonder if the same media he claims was responsible for his mother’s tragic demise and the horrendous treatment of his wife are now who he is turning to in an effort to present his life’s story.

His public descriptions of his personal interactions with his brother and the rest of his family do not bode well for a reconciliation with his family.

I do wish him well, but I think he has put himself on a very slippery slope.

Alice French

Winnipeg

Honk if you like honking

Unfortunately, the “freedom convoy” remains a news item. I was relieved to hear they cancelled their invasion of Winnipeg, because nobody needs their blaring horns and blockades that have already caused enough disruption to the people of Ottawa and our economy.

They wanted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign, using the vaccine mandate as a smokescreen. The new Conservative leader wants us to empathize with their anger, saying, “They just want to be heard.”

We heard them! But maybe Pierre Poilievre hasn’t heard enough himself, and would welcome the convoy outside his home.

Nettie Lamb

Carman

Pontiff’s legacy

Re: Archbishop of Winnipeg recalls meeting Benedict (Jan. 6)

Free Press faith writer John Longhurst opens his article writing of Pope Benedict being known as “God’s Rottweiler,” and later quotes the Archbishop of Winnipeg as saying he was a “very gentle man.”

My reading of church history reveals Cardinal Ratzinger was as fierce as a Rottweiler breed of dog can be. As head of the modern-day inquisition, he attacked priests who dared to express a theological position that was not in line with dogmatic church orthodoxy.

For example, Father Matthew Fox wrote books such as Original Blessing, and on creation spirituality and inter-faith teachings. The cardinal silenced him for a year and later Fox was defrocked and became an Episcopalian/Anglican priest.

I treasure having a photo of Fox and me chatting when he was in Winnipeg in May 1993 sharing his liberal, inclusive and expansive insights into spirituality that inspired me, then a United Church minister, and many other people to grow beyond divisive creeds to embrace a universal consciousness.

The two images — one of a dog trained to be aggressive and the other of a “gentle man” — seem to be contradictory. Perhaps the Winnipeg Archbishop is being selective in his understanding of church history.

I wonder if he would comment on the accusations against Ratzinger that when he was an archbishop, he, like many others around the world, covered up abuse by pedophile priests and merely transferred them to another parish to carry on their sexual abuse of children.

Benedict did not confess any faults, but he did ask for forgiveness. Maybe we could all do with a dose of forgiveness for our shortcomings and failure to always be on the target of honesty and integrity.

John Wesley Oldham

Winnipeg

History

Updated on Friday, January 13, 2023 7:34 AM CST: Adds links, adds tile photo

Updated on Friday, January 13, 2023 9:11 AM CST: Amends publication reference

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