Saturday, March 23, 2013




That's the conventional wisdom, but the issue of the Blyth Standard of September 10, 1980 tackled all three topics.

I guess this was a reflection of the topics of the day.

The United Church of Canada was in the process of opening up a discussion on matters of sex, marriage, and inclusion.

Public schools were noting a declining enrolment without suggesting that the rise of schools based on fundamentalist religious preferences.

The danger of radical fundamental religions in the Middle East and the divisive attitudes of the Ayatollah Khomeini were compared to the fervent religious commitment of Mother Theresa in a column written by Keith Roulston, publisher of the Citizen today. Religions have both positive and negative effects on our world.

A local church group was engaged in the study of Japan, from the standpoint of missionary work based on the assumption that traditional Japanese religions are inferior to the Christian brand. Missionary work had long been looked upon as a great cause, but is increasingly seen as self-righteous interference with other cultures and belief systems.

Rhea Hamilton's regular Standard column in this issue was all about "welcoming". It deals initially with welcoming shoppers into our community and our business places, but also accepting them and treating them as equals and persons of value. She alludes to people in our communities who are not completely welcoming to people who are "from away", not one of us, not speakers of our language, or colour, or culture.
The discussions of these topics indicate that the trends were not equally appreciated or understood by all.

The United Church article shows the complete rejection of the national United Church body even thinking about ordaining homosexual clergy men or women, and the thought of what we today refer to as gay marriages. The speaker posits a totally biblical opposition to these issues, and does not recognize this topic as a matter of exclusion, of equality of rights and freedoms. These aspects are not even considered. The approach by this speaker is more characteristic of the fundamentalist, evangelical groups, as opposed to the more liberal framework that has long been the major thrust of United Church thinking.

The rise of religious based education in this area was significant in this issue of the paper - not in terms of what was written about it, but by the fact that it was not discussed at all. My personal view is that part of the drift away from the public schools is the decline that has been taking place in the Ontario Ministry of Education's leadership in the field of education, and the alienation that has taken place from communities as the areas of administration get larger and larger and consequently less accountable to the students, parents, and community. Of course, the growing move towards fundamentalist religions is also a factor as people seek simplistic answers to the complex issues of our times.

An increasing number of people are urging the creation of a single, public education system with no religious affiliation allowed. That would be my preference, but I do not expect to see this happen.

Inclusiveness is a very important basic requirement for a harmonious and peaceful world and community.

Our local paper from September 1980 was documenting a critical period of time from the perspective of a small Ontario village.

If you are interested in seeing these articles for yourself, just send me a note by email and I will send you a .pdf file of that entire 16 page issue of the Blyth Standard of September 9, 1980.

Brock Vodden

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