Letters: Did Jesus really exist? Readers say yes.

Maclean's readers write letters to the editor

Jesus is risen . . . and very real

I find it offensive that exactly at Easter time Maclean’s decides to include an article expressing doubts about some fundamental Christian beliefs (“Did Jesus really exist?” Society, April 4). I do not recall seeing anything similar in Maclean’s with regard to other religions at the times of year special to them. Perhaps you assume that adherents to other faiths would protest forcefully (and I think justifiably so), whereas Christians would just “turn the other cheek” and so their sensitivities could be ignored.

Inka Fikart, Port Moody, B.C.

So this “science” of new memory research is supposed to shed light on how folks remembered in the first century? In the first century folks passed on information verbally. Accuracy in such transmissions was highly valued. Today we don’t tax our memories. Recall is simply pushing buttons on electronic devices and voila, there it is. Historical evidence does exist for Jesus, for example in the writings of first-century historian, Josephus. But Brian Bethune says there were no pagan witnesses and refers to Paul’s lack of interest in details of Jesus’s life as “bizarre.” Obviously, Paul did not have to retell Jesus’s story. His readers already knew the Gospels.

Arnold L. Stauffer, Three Hills, Alta.

Your cover headline announces, “The science is in.” As a research scientist, I can tell you that the phrasing “the science is in” implies a consensus opinion of researchers in a given field who, due to new information, now clearly support a certain idea. It is entirely misleading to your readers to make this claim and then present a cover story that, at best, can be described as an opinion piece by one source. When that idea questions the existence of the person of Jesus Christ, considered by many to have been the most important person to have ever lived, and the article is published a few days before Easter, one is absolutely stunned by the level of irresponsibility.

Basil D. Favis, Professor of Chemical Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Montreal

Memory is not as dire as suggested by the studies you cite. I have the privilege of speaking often with my 92 year-old father-in-law, who likes to tell stories about his youth in Poland, and his young adulthood as a gunner on a German minesweeper. His recollection of geographic relationships, when one needed to cross the river, the river’s width, the time necessary to get from one place to another, are all correct, almost 75 years after he stopped living there. So are his details about the size of gun he fired during Second World War, the sequence of different shots, and the mechanism by which the ship cut mines. The canonical Gospels were written before that much time had passed. Of course “the Gospels’ history is awfully hard to prove.” Jesus didn’t raise armies and kill people. That would have been memorable in terms of history.

Sybille Stahl, Dundas, Ont.

At least two billion people believe in Jesus. For those who believe in Jesus, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in Jesus, no explanation is possible.

Maria Jacob, Mississauga, Ont.

This typically academic exercise likely could have saved a lot of valuable research by just looking at the First Nations and Aboriginal oral histories to answer this question. For example, it was Inuit oral tradition and testimony that established the location of Franklin’s ship, the Erebus, not to mention the fate of the crew.

Robert Moore, Victoria

II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God breathed.” The Bible is not a collection of stories, fables, myths, or merely human ideas about God. It is not a human book. Through the Holy Spirit, God revealed his person and plan to certain believers, who wrote down his message for his people. Although they used their own minds, talents, language, and style, they wrote what God wanted them to write. Scripture is completely trustworthy because God was in control of its writing.

Dorian Harvey, Surrey, B.C.

Jesus went willingly to a horrible death, forsaken even by His closest friends. For generations to follow, those carried on with His message were mostly persecuted and killed. Why face that? If Jesus was non-existent, surely some of those who schlepped around on arduous journeys preaching His gospels, despite dangers and hardships, would have had to know that it was all a big fake, perhaps the most difficult conspiracy of all time. It makes absolutely no sense, regardless of how many academics play parlour games with memory retention.

Roger Stone, Carp, Ont.

I guess we better throw away all court judgments in history, since there seems to be no such thing as a credible witness.

Deborah Stupple, Montreal

One Easter in Maclean’s Jesus was gay, another Easter he was married to Mary Magdalene, and before that someone decided he didn’t really say most of what is recorded in the Bible. I can hardly wait till next Easter! Will scientists discover Jesus was actually an alien from another galaxy?

Bas Abbink, St. Thomas, Ont.

U.S. trainers are trainwrecks

I wish to take issue with the letter writer who asks, about Canadian troops training Syrian soldiers, “What makes the Liberals think they can out-train the most experienced military in the world?” (Good Point, Letters, March 21.) I occasionally worked with U.S. military personnel during my military service, and found them to be a fine bunch of people and pretty serious about their mission. However, they are the world’s worst trainers. American trainers never accept that the soldiers, air personnel, or sailors, of any other nation, including Canada, can possibly be of any real use. They train others to a minimum combat standard and then send them out on impossible missions. The truth of this is exemplified by the inability of the U.S.-trained Iraqi army to stand up to ISIS in their earliest encounters. It has always been the method of Canadian training staff to accept the soldiers of other nations as potential fighters with trainable skills who can become equals. The greatest skill of Canadian military personnel is that they are put through a system that demands self-discipline above an imposed discipline. It is their mission in life to use their abilities, and leadership skills, to do their best to make it a safer world for others.

Gregory A. Milne, Vernon, B.C.

Not a seed solution

Chris Sorensen states that, in the 1990s, “agri-giant Monsanto introduced varieties of canola, corn, cotton and soybean genetically engineered to be resistant to its Roundup brand of herbicide” (“In praise of Frankenfood,” Economy, March 21). Would it not have been more logical to modify its Roundup herbicide than to tamper with the world’s food supply? Less lucrative, I suppose. And it’s too late now.

Kathleen Dunn, Montreal

The real cost of high fashion

$350 shorts? $500 sweatpants (“A hoodie so comfy it’s worth the $400,” Bazaar, April 4)? Where were these ultra-expensive clothes made? In the unregulated, dangerous, fire-prone sweatshops of India, China, Vietnam and Bangladesh? Where workers face routine sexual harassment, beatings, corporal punishment and imprisonment on false charges? Where their wages are 16 cents an hour? Where children as young as 10 work from dawn until dusk? These statistics may mean nothing to the ultra-rich Kanye Wests and Kylie Jenners of the First World as they cram their crowded wardrobes with yet more clothes. Please give us the facts about the true cost of these ultra-expensive clothes, not the carefully edited and blanched version.

Jancis M. Andrews, Sechelt, B.C.

Jesus makes it better

Reading the latest issue, I quickly became discouraged and depressed by the articles within: non-reciprocal oral sex (The Interview), horrific rape and abuse in Syria (“Escaped,” International), the ineffectiveness of the UN to stop the rampant sexual violence in South Sudan (“Why the UN fails where it matters most,” Scott Gilmore, April 4), and increasingly disturbing views south of the border (“I pledge allegiance to this shiny flag,” Feschuk, April 4). How will I explain all this to my three young daughters? As I threw down the magazine in despair, the cover caught my eye and I laughed with relief: Jesus! Although it may not have been your intention, the puzzle analogy made me realize that only He can put all the broken pieces of the world together. I was smiling on my way to church on Easter Sunday. Thanks, Maclean’s!

Lisa Pardys, Kitchener, Ont.

Rape during wartime

I feel for Scott Gilmore, as I do for women, with respect to rape as a weapon of war (“Why the UN fails where it matters most,” April 4). Who doesn’t? But I don’t blame the UN for something that has been going on for roughly 6.5 million years. I also don’t blame it for not ending all war.

R.P.D. Vanderkam, Ottawa

Nurses working together

Recently, Maclean’s published an article about our research exploring the benefits of joint education sessions between college and degree nursing students. Typically, degree and diploma nursing students rarely interact during their education programs, yet upon graduation they often work together. Sorting out the differences between each designation of nurse can ensure that each patient has the type of nursing expertise they require. As part of the research study, college and degree students were brought together to learn how to collaborate. They developed stronger communication skills and respect for each other’s contributions to patient care, and addressed myths and misconceptions about the other designation. The findings from this study provide insights on how education can promote a better working relationship between RNs and RPN/LPNs, and contest situations where a degree is used to elevate one group over another.

Jacqueline Limoges, Ph.D., RN, and Kim Jagos, M.Sc.N., RN, Practical Nursing Program, Georgian College, Barrie, Ont.