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December 07, 2009

More Than Disagreeing

Thank you for the excellent commentary (“Slandering the President,” by John Kavanaugh,S.J., 11/23). I’ve been waiting for the Catholic hierarchy to make similar statements about these sins of slander, calumny and libel. No matter what the side and what the reason, to undermine our political leaders as Beck, Limbaugh and others are doing is wrong. To disagree is one thing, to slander is another. I too receive much of this nonsense by e-mail, and I always reply that I don’t want to be part of it.

I have lost some friends by telling them not to send me this junk. I have been told that Limbaugh, Beck and conservative talk radio in general are the only ways people get the truth. What a shame that our media stoop so low, and too many are listening and reading! Your article reminds me to preach again about such sins and to avoid lowering myself by like criticism of those with whom I disagree.

(Rev.) John Mudd

Washington, D.C.

Understanding the Fear

Thank you for Father Kavanaugh’s column, and I am delighted to see it run in a Catholic magazine. Fortunately I do not get the kinds of e-mail Father Kavanaugh seems to be prey to—my sheltered life, I guess. How do we deal with the kind of ignorance and fear that the views of Beck, Limbaugh and their disciples batten on?

I do think the fear is important, and as Christians, we must try to understand that fear and do what we can to assuage it. It would certainly help if more Catholic leaders were willing to speak out against the poison that undermines our society and encourages the kind of polarization we see all too often, not only in our politics, but in our church.

Nicholas Clifford

New Haven, Vt.

Grass-Roots Conversation

The United States has a proud tradition of vicious political campaigning, starting with the race between Vice-President Thomas Jefferson against his president, John Adams. What is happening on the radio and in campaigns is not so much a concern to me as the declining level of conversation among common people like myself. Robert Putman documented this in his book Bowling Alone a few years ago.

At about the same time, Chris Phillips wrote his book called Socrates Cafe. After I read both books, a few of us started Socrates Cafe meetings here in Denver, and small groups like it are springing up all around the country. And we have been trying to encourage common people to take a turn on the soapbox at what we are calling Denver Speakers Corner, which meets each Sunday afternoon at Civic Center park.

Our best hope for sane politics is a restoration of the grass roots, people in small groups having good conversation. It seems to me that the Internet is helping to bring that about. Being critical of the offenders may just play into their hands and increase their audience. It might be better just to focus on encouraging Catholics to become more engaged in civic dialogue with diverse groups in a reasonable way, maybe even calling in to talk radio shows to be witnesses for truth as each of us sees it.

John Wren

Denver, Colo.

Watching the Web

Re “Monastic Analysis,” by Matt Nannery (11/23): I bought a subscription to the Web version of America in order to read this article. It was well worth it! Thank you.

Beth Cioffeletti

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Hat(s) Off to the Bishops

Re “High Stakes Success on Health Care for U.S.C.C.B.” (Signs of the Times, 11/23): Only the Catholic bishops stood between public funding of abortion and the status quo, which does not permit it except in cases of rape and the mother’s physical peril. We could all have hoped that the nation as a whole would have chosen to affirm the first right of our founding fathers, but that is not the case. My hat is off to the bishops for being consistent with themselves and the moral values of the church on this issue. It may not have been a widely popular position to hold, but it does take a small and just step in the direction of limiting the slaughter of the millions of innocent, sentient, unborn children in our nation.

Walter Mattingly

Jacksonville, Fla.

Associates Also Inspired

To the “other voices” Sister Doris Gottemoeller (“A Visitor’s Guide,” 11/23) identifies as significant to any assessment of contemporary religious—students, co-workers, recipients of care—I would add the numerous associates attracted to the lives of prayer and service sisters provide. These lay women and men experience a welcome in religious communities whose charisms they support and whose prayer life inspires them.

Most important, in my view, is Sister Gottemoeller’s criticism of the lack of transparency in which the Vatican investigation is mired. Few things are more offensive than the web of secrecy that prevents us from knowing how our efforts to live the Gospel are being interpreted to a culture so foreign to our own.

Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M.

Glendale, N.Y.

Insight and Example

On the recommendation of my spiritual director, I read this beautiful story of forgiveness (“A Survivor’s Story,” by George Anderson, S.J., 11/23) while camping in New Hampshire. It helped me realize that all hatefulness and mean-spiritedness is expressed because people have a deep-seated agenda that they cannot let go of. It helped me reach out with a positive response or just a listening ear to those who express their negative views. Immaculée Ilibagaza is a beautiful person, who should be an example to all.

Rita Peters

Miami Shores, Fla.

Ahead of Her Times

Re “Our Brothers, the Jews,” by Dorothy Day (11/9): Thank you for printing the manuscript by Dorothy Day. We would, respectfully, like to make one correction. The editorial note by Charles B. Gallagher, S.J., stated that the manuscript was submitted in 1933, “more than five years before Dorothy Day’s views on Jewish matters became widely known.”

Her position with regard to the prejudice toward the Jewish people was made plain in The Catholic Worker as early as 1933. In that year an article appeared under the headline “Denver Bishop Scores Un-American Immoral Persecution of Jews,” and in March 1934, in her own column, Dorothy wrote of “feeling rather pessimistic of Gentile attitudes towards Jews” expressed in some of the letters to The Catholic Worker. By May 1934 there was a front-page article lamenting the “quiet insidious persecution of Hitler’s brown shirts” and lauding Cardinal Faulhaber’s courageous public attacks against “Hitler’s persecution of the Jews.” In October 1934 a reflection on the mystical body of Christ stated that Christians “may not hate Negroes, Jews and Communists. When they are guilty of prejudice, they are injuring the body of Christ.”

Perhaps this does not constitute her views being “widely known,” but they were certainly as widely and consistently distributed as any of the other ideas and positions of the Catholic Worker movement.

The Editors the Catholic Worker

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lLetha Chamberlain
14 years 6 months ago

Re: vigorous debate... it seems as a culture, with the amount of violent crime and distrust of others, we have become very "allergic" to the expression of intense emotion; often we call it "mental illness" (a term this graduate-educated retired psychiatric nurse now reviles).  Somehow in there, instead, we have become fearful or sarcastic about those who are passionate.  Whatever happened to "inspiration" and the "artistic temperament," or simply feeling strongly?  We see that type as perverted... when it is out of intense feeling that comes so much good (art, music, the will to be heroic...).  When will we learn to absorb those words of Jesus, "fear not", and simply listen to the Limbaugh's of this world and get a good laugh/learn from it.

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