Both Call It Home
Rabbi Daniel E. Polish’s “A Spiritual Home” (4/11) puts in perspective the historical/spiritual roots of Judaism. As the author points out, there is much more than politics at work in Israel; but it appears to me that his argument could equally be made about the Palestinians. With both groups (along with Christians) laying claim to the land, I wonder how Jews, Palestinians and Christians (to a lesser degree) will resolve this morass. But the violence only perpetuates more violence, and another generation grows up feeling persecuted. May Jerusalem (Israel) find a true path to peace.
Both Off to a Bad Start
As an American citizen, I support an Israeli state. I do so realizing, as Rabbi Daniel F. Polish hints in “A Spiritual Home” (4/11), that I do not fully grasp the essential meaning of an Israeli state for the Jewish people. However, neither do I adhere to the anthropocentric view that God takes sides in military conflicts. The problem with the original, biblical Promised Land is that it was already occupied, requiring a military campaign of conquest and expansion.
But before we throw stones at the Israeli government, we should look at our own historical backyard. The idea of “manifest destiny” was used to exterminate the Native Americans and make room for us. Now the descendants of the original Native Americans are relegated to isolation and poverty. The beginnings of both Israel and the United States are mired in the concept of a God-given right to resort to military violence. The outcome is always short-lived and ineffective.
Not Much Choice
Signs of the Times (4/4) reports questions about the ethics of nuclear energy. Oil is finite, and burning it to produce electricity pollutes the air. Nuclear energy can irradiate the surrounding area and, to a lesser extent, the world. Natural gas might have to be mined by “fracking,” which you mention in the same issue’s editorial, and that contaminates water and air. Hydroelectric power involves a dam, and dams are bad because the artificial lakes created are shallow and heat up too easily, so the fish die.
Let’s face it—any other so-called benign forms of energy (solar, wind, whatever) are years if not decades off, even if the market were competitive. We will have to fine-tune and come up with better ways of using conventional energy sources for the time being. The alternative is to regress 100 years or more in destructive ways. Yes, safety and ethics should rule, just not to the point of paralysis.
Had we been doing this all along, in small, modest, well-reviewed bits, by now we would be in a much more energy-friendly environment and less dependent on foreign nations. So the foes of the current forms of energy should continue to point out the dangers honestly, but they should drop the ideological commitment many seem to have against them.
Peter M. Blascucci
North Baldwin, N.Y.
Priests and Nurses, Stay Home
With regard to “Nursing Shift,” (3/28): For 10 years I’ve been listening to foreign-born priests struggle to pray and preach in English. I know they are here in part to help the church avoid ordaining women and married men, but I have wondered who is preaching to their own people back home. Have we created a kind of spiritual brain drain from third world countries in an effort to fill our own pulpits? Meanwhile, qualified leaders sit in the pews. I welcome the cultural exchange and service to immigrant communities these priests represent, but I hope this will be balanced by the kind of recruitment Gary Chamberlain advocates for nurses. The developed countries should redouble their efforts to train priests and nurses of their own.
Too Old for Young Priests
“Bless Me, Father...” by Frank Moan, S.J. (4/4), reminds me that I have not been in the confessional for decades and it is unlikely that I ever will be. This is hubris, perhaps, or sins too great to acknowledge and share with anyone. And I am too old to speak to the young, conservative priests, who are all very provincial and speak in the patois of the 19th century following the First Vatican Council. None grasp the relation of the social problems of today—poverty, disaster, corporate sin and war—to the weekly Scripture lessons read rapidly without drama or persuasion by a select group of weak voices that never look up at the congregation. Presumption and despair!
Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Colonialism Is Back
Re “Air Campaign Broadens: Bishops Apprehensive” (Signs of the Times, 4/11): Europe and the United States are playing fast and loose with human rights issues that make military intervention and wide expansion of a U.N. resolution appear “humanitarian” in Libya but not in the rest of Africa or the Middle East. Certainly this will ultimately be seen—probably is already seen—as a neocolonialist approach and an attempt to establish an African beachhead. Shame!
The Irish Are Not Stupid
In “The Irish Question” (Current Comment, 4/4), it appears that America’s editors agree with Fintan O’Toole in calling the Irish stupid. Nice that. But the facts are different from the way you present them and people now imagine them. No bank held a gun to the head of anybody to make anybody take a loan. I have friends who have houses and paid over the odds. When I told them this, they laughed at me and called me a “scaremonger.” Now it is all the banks’ fault. But everybody is to blame, not just politicians and bankers. The Irish government took the same route as Obama; but I do not recall America taking the U.S. president to task. Nor should you. If he avoided the depression, how is that different from what the Irish government did? Populism is popular in the short run but meets with reality sooner or later.
Thank you for Christopher Pramuk’s “A Hidden Sorrow” (4/11), a tender, heartfelt and faith-filled reflection that is at once prayerful and poetic in the best sense of the word. As I read this and cried, I remembered my own mother sharing with me as a boy that she had lost a child before I was born. (He was stillborn at 5 months, misdiagnosed as a tumor.) When she lost him, my dad was in Germany during World War II. When I was 3 years old, my mother lost another child, a beautiful little girl born three months premature. It was 1949, and they could not save those babies then. My father remembered that little girl all his life, till his death at 81. Through my tears as I write this, I look forward to the Great Day, when we will all be reunited in the home where there is no more death.