God Did What?
Ilia Delio’s “Faith and the Cosmos” (4/4) reminds me, as I work on my Ph.D. in historical theology at a Catholic university, that few of my colleagues are capable of doing much in regard to science and evolution. The biggest obstacle is not lack of desire, let alone an anti-scientific viewpoint, but the Herculean task of trying to be competent in theology, ancient and modern languages, philosophy and science. In spite of these barriers, faith and science is a recurring theme in the introductory theology course I teach, including a special unit on Genesis 1-3 and evolution. Unfortunately, almost none of my students understand methodology, the distinction between theory and opinion and the cultural relativism that says “everybody is entitled to their opinion.” It is an embarrassment that the general population is anti-evolution when so many of the ministers, Catholic and Protestant, are not.
Silver Spring, Md.
No Original Sin
Re “Faith and the Cosmos” (4/4): One problem with the church’s approach to science is that it refuses to give scientific findings due status vis-à-vis theology if science indicates a need to modify its interpretation of a revealed truth. Consider, for example, the scientific evidence against Adam and Eve being actual historical individuals. Without them the concept of original sin and the Fall requires considerable revision. The Vatican will have none of it. The theologian John Haught’s concept replaces the “fallen nature” tradition with one of constant becoming. Thus humankind’s propensity to sin is a consequence of its evolutionary contingency, not some single moment of turning away from God in a garden. And Christ’s redeeming act is not so much to wipe away original sin as to continue humans more accurately on spiritual growth. There are more examples, but until the Vatican gives to science the status it needs to influence theology, the problem will remain.
Los Alamos, N.M.
The article “Good Counsel,” by Fran Hezel, S.J. (Faith in Focus, 3/28), is full of down-to-earth perspectives, perhaps based in part on his time spent in a multicultural milieu, to which I can relate. The older I get, the less seriously I take myself and the more time I try to devote to laughter. But I take seriously using my gray hairs and experience to speak up and speak out for those young people around me who cannot do so, mostly out of fear. As Janis Joplin once sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Craig B. McKee
‘Hi! I’m Fran’
Francis X. Hezel, S.J., seems to think we should adopt the cultural norms of the people in Micronesia (Of Many Things, 3/28). Why? If we go to Micronesia, yes, we should observe their cultural norms. But if they come here, no. They should adapt. Further-more, what is “curt” about saying, “Hello, my name is George?” Is Father Hezel unable to respond, “My name is Father Hezel. Nice to meet you. How do you happen to be at this event?”
But the author’s story is an effective attention-grabber leading into what I suspect is the real point of his article: a description of the people of Micronesia, which is quite interesting.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Allen Hubbard Jr.’s “A Recurring Vision” (3/28) about St. Teresa reminds us that in mysticism Christ is to the Christian what Sisyphus is to Albert Camus: a figure who bears pains similar to ours and provides a symbol of identification. Otherwise it is easy for people to turn away from religion that they perceive as revolving around salvation, when the immediate vantage point of life affirms that suffering is and will always be an essential component. I am impressed by this essay.
St. Teresa is my favorite saint. A mystic, a practical woman, compassionate, smart and shrewd. With the Inquisition still out and about in her day, she had to deal carefully with church powers, but she remained focused on Christ and the care of her sisters in faith.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Write About It Later
“A Recurring Vision,” by Allen Hubbard Jr. (3/28), reminds me of the saying “You can know all things and know nothing in the right way.” The author, an undergraduate in religious studies, states that he was required to read St. Teresa of ávila. He then quotes Carl Sagan, an atheist, and analyzes Sagan’s statement comparing God’s covenant as symbolic of God’s enduring interest in and attention to humanity. But God’s covenant is one of love, not “interest.” He then compares the relationship of Christ to the Christian to that of Sisyphus to Camus. But the task of Sisyphus is to do nothing but the same task over and over.
The task of the Christian is to seek Christ in prayer to achieve union. Since Mr. Hubbard admits he has not experienced spiritual rapture, he would do well to leave writing about it to St. Teresa, John of the Cross and contemporaries like John Padberg, S.J., and the late David Fleming, S.J., to name only a few.
St. Louis, Mo.
Out of Date?
Reading Gary L. Chamberlain’s “Nursing Shift” (3/28), I had to turn back to the cover to check the date. Was I reading a copy that had been lost in the mail? Although I agree there are serious ethical issues related to the practice of recruiting professionals from other countries, there does not seem to be a nursing shortage at this time. The hospital with which I am associated has had R.N. graduates working as dietary aids since their graduation last spring while they wait for a nursing position to open up. A niece of mine had to go 2,000 miles away from home to find a nursing job after graduation. And this is only a part-time job. A good article. But is it timely?
Elizabeth A. Gavula
Priests and Nurses, Stay Home
With regard to “Nursing Shift,” (3/28), for ten 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 married men and women; but I have wondered who is preaching to their own people. 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.
5 Too Old To Confess To Young Priests
Fr. Frank Moan’s “Bless Me, Father . . .” (4/4) reminds me that I have not been in the confessional for decades and it is unlikely that I ever will be. 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 with the patois of the 19th century following Vatican I. None grasp the relation of the social problems of today — poverty, disaster, corporate sin and war — to the weekly 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.
8 The Irish Aren’t Stupid
In “The Irish Question” (Current Comment, 4/4) it appears that the America editors agree with Fintan O’Toole in calling the Irish stupid. Nice that. But the facts are different from how you present them and the 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 US president to task. Nor should you. If he avoided the depression, how is that different from the Irish government? Populism is popular in the short run, but meets with reality sooner or later.
9 Pope Meets Copts
Thank you for Signs of the Times’ “Copts Confront New Reality” (3/28). Despite being persecuted over the centuries, the Copts have contributed remarkably to the welfare and prosperity of Egypt and will be a moderating influence as that society moves toward democracy. We were staying on the island of Zamalek near St. Mark’s (Coptic) Cathedral when Pope John Paul II visited Cairo in his Middle East tour of 2000. The Copts refused to allow him to enter St. Mark’s, and he was consigned to kneeling on a pine prie dieu outside the main entrance behind a construction fence erected around the cathedral. Good for them!
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
98 Future Writer
Allen Hubbard’s “A Recurring Vision” (3/28) gives evidence that he has a great future as a writer. This is one of the most exciting and moving pieces of spiritual writing I have come across in a long time. Well done, America.