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Ross on why not

30 January 2015


From Mr David Harries

Sir, - I am glad that the Revd Tim Gunter (Letters, 23 January) has found his 41 years in the ordained ministry a satisfying spiritual experience. The Church needs dedicated parish priests like him. But, having read the Back Page Interview with Maggie Ross (16 January), I can see that for someone of her temperament, ordination would indeed have been "spiritual suicide".

St Paul is clear that ministry can take many forms. Maggie Ross has chosen, or been called, to an unusual one. From of her self-imposed seclusion and undistracted by parochial duties, she has written an impressive number of books on spiritual topics which have given encouragement to those who wish to lead a contemplative life.

There is no conflict between the spiritual life led by Mr Gunter and that led by Maggie Ross. They are both expressions of the Holy Spirit working through their individual temperaments. I hope that in the future the Anglican Church will give encouragement to those who, like Maggie Ross, wish to lead lives of seclusion, meditation and prayer.

59 Prospect Road, Hythe CT21 5NL

From Canon Peter Mullins

Sir, - I suspect that when Maggie Ross spoke of "the spiritual suicide of ordination" she was being more poetic than provocative - and certainly less extreme than the Revd Tim Gunter in his choice of the words "negative and idiosyncratic rubbish" about her.

A meditation by Lord Williams on some Desert Fathers' strenuous attempts to avoid ordination includes "exercising a public role in the Church's worship involves standing in the furnace of divine action which unites earth and heaven; if we can't see that this is a dangerous place, we have missed something," and continues: "the ordained person may be at risk because of the spiritually intense place where they must stand, but they are also at risk from the more prosaic, but still spiritually damaging, effects of hierarchy and deference." This is creative and mainstream wisdom.

That Mr Gunter and I are willing to engage in the self-harm of writing letters to the press rubbishing other Christians may mean that neither of us is quite as spiritually unscathed by many years in the priesthood as we might like to tell ourselves.

23 Littlecoates Road, Grimsby DN34 4NG

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