The review of “Slumdog Millionaire,” by Richard Leonard, S.J. (“Cashing In,” 2/23) was the only one to put into words the reasons I left that movie after watching 35 minutes of brutality. I went to see the movie because my acquaintances raved about it; not one of them understood my point of view, so I was happy to read Leonard’s criticisms of the film.
Newport Beach, Calif.
Back to Our Roots
Finally! I have been waiting for years for someone in this magazine to admit there is a connection between war and abortion. James R. Kelly’s call for the pro-life movement to return to its roots (“Finding Renewal,” 2/16) is really about returning to the teachings of Jesus.
We all know that the majority of people killed in modern warfare are innocent. In modern times, we have a concept of just war that is at least a step in the right direction. But where were the demonstrating Catholics when the church said the invasion of Iraq did not meet the criteria for a just war?
I agree that we need to get “back to our roots.” We need to ask ourselves what it is that makes Christianity different from all the other religions of the world. And here is a more difficult question: “Was Jesus a pacifist?” Do we have the courage to face these questions honestly?
John Bruce Turnbull
East Lansing, Mich.
Your editorial on “The Roots of Terrorism” (1/19) missed the tap root of international terrorism: respect. Or, it should be said, the lack of respect by all parties (religious, political and ethnic) for each other manifests itself in the international terrorism that we fear. Sincere respect for the traditions, values and culture of others is the only path that will lead all parties out of the current Mideast quagmire.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
Thank you to Patrick J. McDonald and Claudette McDonald for their article on couples practicing lectio divina together (“The Word Between Us,” 3/9). I am in my 80s and am blessed that my husband is still with me. But I always wondered why we went our own ways spiritually. Now that we have grown old together and have more time for silence and the children are gone, I am going to be less selfish when I practice lectio divina in hopes that we may both experience God’s love as we near his presence.
As a Catholic lay woman serving in ministry, I feel compelled to respond to “The Glass Ceiling” (Letters, 2/16), in which the writer bemoans the fact that a young woman considering religious life “will be limiting her opportunities to be a leader and power player in the church because she is a woman.”
I would argue that this point of view in no way represents anything remotely resembling Christianity. Whether women or men, we are called to wash feet, to decrease so that the Lord might increase in us—not to strive as “church professionals” to be “leaders and power players,” however enticing such goals might seem.
Harbingers of Hostility
How could anyone take offense at Greg Kandra’s essay on blogging (“A Virtual Church,” 2/9), which expresses such an open-minded, compassionate and, yes, “catholic” viewpoint? I too take no offense. But neither am I persuaded to be quietly Catholic. Sadly, many Christians are succumbing to the pressures of a popular online culture that seeks to minimize the public expression of their beliefs. While such a middle-of-the-road and lukewarm mindset might bring about a more “catholic” secular community, it will not bring about a more Christian community.
By lauding and coaxing a “go along to get along” type of passivity, online culture is effectively proselytizing for a new religion that is universal and secularist.
There are many enemies out there; it has always been so. If we are foolhardy enough to minimize, ignore or deny the existence of those enemies (subliminal though they may be), we are surely missing the furtive harbingers of hostility lurking in many of the streets and alleyways throughout our virtual neighborhoods. Even though the inside of our virtual church may feel friendly and comfortable, the reality remains that its doors are securely locked and its outer walls covered with the profane graffiti of a world that despises its existence here.
Harold A. Fischer
Virginia Beach, Va.
Blessing in Disguise
Thank you for publishing “Finally, God’s Voice,” by Frank Moan, S.J., and the review by William A. Barry, S.J., of Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire (“Confounding the Strong,”) in your 2/9 issue. The two go together so closely and so appealingly because one suggests a problem and the other a solution.
The problem is that mentioned by Barry: the “nearly 50 years of darkness in prayer” experienced by Mother Teresa, in spite of and yet mysteriously because of her love of God and devotion to God’s poor in Calcutta. The solution is that proposed by Moan, in terms of the equally mysterious way in which “God never stops speaking to me.” Maybe if Mother Teresa had heard God’s voice speaking to her all the time in prayer, she would have dissolved in tears and would never have been strong enough to serve God in his poor.
Peter Milward, S.J.
Grateful thanks to Michael V. Tueth, S.J., for his review of the film “Milk” (“San Francisco Giant,” 2/23). I found myself inspired both by Father Tueth’s insights and by the fact that this magazine would publish the piece. Harvey Milk was until the end a “man for others.” For an American Catholic publication to reflect positively on this openly gay man’s place in our history gives hope to the whole human family.
With God in Winter
In his reflections on wintertime, Stephen Martin (“In Praise of Winter,” 2/23) refers to a “rather obscure book with a clunky title,” He Leadeth Me, by Walter Ciszek, S.J. I could not agree more with his endorsement of the book as the “best how-to manual on prayer I have ever read.” A shoe salesman recommended this work to me some years ago when I was searching for a comfortable pair of dress shoes. As much as I love the insights of Augustine, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich and more recent writers, none compares with the impact of Ciszek on my own spiritual journey. Thanks to Stephen Martin for his lovely reflection and for bringing this wonderful book to the fore.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Hunt at Work
How wonderful to see George Hunt, S.J., in the pages of America again (“Updike at Rest,” 2/16). His commentary on the life and work of John Updike brought back so many pleasant memories of Hunt’s Of Many Things columns when he was editor in chief.
The guy can still write—with his eloquent simplicity in full march. With all due respect, comparing Hunt to you young chaps is like comparing Beethoven to Bobby Vinton. Oh well—God bless the lot of you and thanks for the treat.
F. E. Schlax
Buffalo Grove, Ill.
In “Real Americans, Real Catholics” (2/16), Vincent D. Rougeau makes some valid points about persons of color being “made to understand that we are invisible to many of our fellow U.S. Catholics,” among other points. But regardless of the social goods that any one political candidate may represent, such “progress” can never be supported if that candidate supports the legal destruction of human beings not yet delivered (many of whom are persons of color).
I myself am a Latino, and I support all people in their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of their age after conception. For a Catholic professor of law to support a political candidate on the grounds of social and cultural goods while ignoring this inherent truth is nothing less than incredible.
(Rev.) Cecilio Reyna