A Gift to New Mothers
Re “Life After Birth,” by Kerry Weber (5/23): Congratulations to Kerry Weber. My heart is with her. If only I had known, especially after my first child, that I was not alone. Indeed, it felt as though I was. My mother helped me, but she was not prepared to listen to my laments—many of which Ms. Weber eloquently describes in this column. After giving birth, I felt as if giving voice to the hardship meant I was not grateful for being a mother, which I was.
Now that I am looking forward to the birth of my first grandchild in September, I feel torn. I don’t want to sugarcoat the truth to my daughter, but I do not want to frighten her, as she is already apprehensive and worried. If my worries and difficulties had been validated as a new mother, it would have been such a relief. I hope that is a gift I can give to my daughter.
A Painful Beauty
Being an unmarried, celibate Catholic priest, I appreciated Kerry Weber’s reflections on life as a new mother very much. They reminded me of how much I enjoy watching “Call the Midwife,” a very involved British-produced television series set in East End London of the 1950s. By watching it I have come to appreciate the very many nuances, the beauty, pain and surprises of pregnancy, birthing and childbearing. Ms. Weber’s comments certainly fit into this multifaceted reality, the wonder and practicality of it all. Thanks so much for sharing. I hope she continues to enjoy the ride.
Thank you for publishing “Bridging the Racial Divide,” by Bishop Edward K. Braxton (5/16). I believe that our baptism calls us to act on the anointing we received to be “priest, prophet and king” in imitation of Jesus. This is the time for us to act on our prophetic call as members of the body of Christ and call for the gift of life to be affirmed through the Black Lives Matter movement. As an African-American Catholic, I believe it represents another moment in history, like the civil rights movement, when the church can stand as a beacon of light by joining in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. As Dr. Martin Luther King wrote in his book Why We Can’t Wait, “The bell of man’s inhumanity to man does not toll for any one man. It tolls for you, for me, for all of us.”
A Time for Action
While Bishop Edward Braxton is a superb writer and preacher, he engages us in a totally disconnected discussion of some hot-button church issues that do not seem to be in the domain of the Black Lives Matter movement at all. There is not a single concrete suggestion to move people to action to remedy the overall situation covered in this piece. There is a great deal of the sort of spiritual pablum that could not possibly be useful in a “hospital on the field of battle.” The wounds experienced by those injured by prejudice are not only spiritual in nature. Visit any impoverished school district in our land to see that the wounds are real, the sores are open, and the remedies are few and far between.
Pretense has no place in confronting the problems that exist when it comes to the racial divide in our country. What is known to help is for real persons of all races to come together and live together and work together to see to it that the words we actually use and the actions we take reflect our best nature and our fondest dreams. What does work are real communities, like those created in the Cristo Rey schools, where young men and women are nurtured and educated to be people for others. They serve as bridges we can all walk across with confidence.
In “Ship for the Rich” (Current Comment, 5/16), the editors raise concerns about the exclusive amenities available to high-paying customers aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s The Haven. There has never been a time in history or a place anywhere in the world that has not had social stratification. Some people live in large suburban homes with good suburban public schools and others live in cramped, substandard housing in areas with poor schools. Some suburbanites and urbanites send their children to public schools, and some send them to extremely pricey private schools. The tuition at the Jesuit school a few miles from my house is about $33,000/year, plus fees.
For those of us who travel fairly often, “social stratification” in transportation, accommodations and restaurant choices is a given, starting with the purgatory of airline travel. I would say that social stratification in education is a far bigger issue than is social stratification on a cruise line.
“The Rising Revisited” (4/25) reveals Pádraig Ó Tuama’s gift as poet and writer. He crafts together frontier words that invite broader application. His description of “remembering” is a mini-course on the Eucharist. It speaks to the sadness of our church’s “empty pew syndrome.” “To re-member is to re-present…something in the past is not gone; it is here and now.” When Mr. Ó Tuama writes, “We remember we are a people broken by ourselves and by our relations with our closest neighbors,” one can almost hear a Judean lawyer asking Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
“The Rising Revisited” could be a template for the church: “The falling revisited” is a story of the modern church, “alive and strong,” whose arrogance and power permitted unthinkable abuse and human violation. We may not have reached a time of commemoration, but we remain damned to limbo (and continue to fall) until we begin to remember in ways that truly measure the pain; and that happens by including the voices of those “who remember differently.” Where does that story begin?
The Roots of Incivility
In “Our Political Mandate” (4/25), John Carr writes “we need to return civility…to politics.” The root of today’s incivility, I often think, is economic insecurity. Scarcity makes us crazy, and since 2007 it has become impossible to ignore how many of us are terribly vulnerable. The bishops have focused so much on sexual ethics for the last quarter century that the moral implications of these economic realities have gone (mostly) unarticulated; today it is difficult for church leaders to find a way into the debate. The challenge is for the church to bring attention back to what Catholic social teaching tells us about our economic lives. Only that, I think, can lead us back to a politics that is focused on reality, one more susceptible to reason.
Education, Not Inflation
Re “Make Work Pay” (Editorial, 4/18): Is there any evidence that a $15 minimum wage will lift folks out of poverty? I think not. It might make the cost of hamburgers go from $3 to $5—so it is really not helping, since the higher minimum wage is a major factor in inflation.
The solution for poverty in most cases is education. In the United States our public education in poor areas remains poor, so the cycle remains unbroken. Programs like the Cristo Rey schools are proven methods of fighting poverty. Instead of mandating a minimum wage, the state or the federal government should make up the difference between the workers’ wages and $15. Use this wage subsidy to create a fund that a person can use for further education and job training.
There are exceptions, people who are not able to work, and we as a church, as well as the government, need to make sure that these exceptions do not fall between the cracks. No one should go to bed hungry.
White With Benefits
Re “It’s Been a Privilege,” by Daniel P. Horan (3/14): Anyone who denies that both overt and institutional racism still exist in America should spend some time getting to know African-Americans and other people of color. Go shopping with them. Try to catch a cab at night with them. Listen to their stories. Examine statistics on drug use among the different races and the percentage of people from each race who are incarcerated for drug use as opposed to having access to rehab. Institutions and laws are geared toward the benefit of white people. I am white, and I see it and experience it.
Leaders of white communities of faith need to be bold and blunt about the sin of racism when they preach and should develop ways to connect with black, Latino and other ethnic churches. Teachers need to foster cooperation and harmony between students of different ethnicities. And families need to seek out multiethnic neighborhoods and school districts in which to live and open their homes to guests from different ethnic groups.