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Our readersMarch 04, 2014

Football Is Immoral

Fairness in Football” (Current Comment, 2/10) evoked a huge reaction in me. I have often questioned why Americans not only love football, but idolize it. It is our country’s favorite sport and religion.

I have asked myself if viewing a football game is an acceptable way for the American public to experience—vicariously, of course—angry, even violent, feelings hidden deep within. Football involves violent, brutal attacks of the players upon one another. Medical experts are suddenly expressing great alarm about concussions, but they haven’t even begun to talk about internal injuries, which often appear years later in the lives of husbands and fathers.

For all of these reasons, football is immoral.

I feel embarrassed and defensive in saying all these things, but have you ever held a conviction that, in essence, contradicts the beliefs and feelings of the multitude? It isn’t comfortable, I assure you. But it is a matter of principle for me to say the things that must be said, despite the threat of public lynching.

Mary Ann Foy, R.S.C.J.
Redwood City, Calif.

Boxing Senators

Re “Fairness in Football”: Over 50 years ago, Sports Illustrated asked Richard McCormick, S.J., to write about prize fighting (“Is Professional Boxing Immoral?” 11/05/1962). The key issue was brain damage due to the battering and bashing of the head. It is worth reading. Father McCormick, my moral theology professor from 1966 to 1967, was brilliant and influential.

Boston University’s research into traumatic brain injuries of football players is simply repeating what we have known for years, but with graphic details.

With all the head-butting that Senators Harry Reid and John McCain have done over the years in Congress, they now want to fund research in safety for boxers. Ironic. We already know there isn’t any safety in boxing, so they should use our tax money for other causes.

Maurice Vanderpot
Enfield, N.H.

Spreading Democracy

Much as I hate to agree with “A War of Ambition,” by Andrew J. Bacevich (2/10), I had hoped that the Bush doctrine would spread democracy throughout the Islamic world. I thought that U.S. bombs and missiles could do the trick in Iraq and then other places. The Arab Spring produced just the opposite, however. We are in more danger today than on Sept. 11 because we instigated the jihad that, if not dead, had at least been quiescent.

The one thing Professor Bacevich did not mention is the violence on Christians throughout the Islamic world. Thousands have been murdered, exiled and imprisoned in Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Nigeria and so on. See The Global War on Christians, by John L. Allen Jr. I am uncertain where all this will lead, but it is a disaster.

Peter J. Riga
Houston, Tex.

Before 9/11

Professor Bacevich makes it sound as if the Iraq War came together “overnight” in the wake of 9/11. Actually, the war was well scripted at least five years in advance by the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, which called for the reckless use of American power. Regrettably, there were significant contributions made by Catholics to the drafting and promulgating of the project. One can only wonder how Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi somehow went missing from their Catholic education.

Robert E. Ulanowicz
Gainesville, Fla.

Failure of Democracy

Thank you for “A War of Ambition.” The Iraq War shows us how right Plato was to put democracy near the bottom of the pyramid when ranking governments. Our system is obviously very broken when one man, George W. Bush, can have a ridiculous idea and can convince the Congress and the public that he is right.

“Shock and awe” has turned into horror for us all. I wonder that any of us can sleep at night because of it.

Steven R. Bettlach
St. Louis, Mo.

Not Worthy of Applause

Thanks for “What We Wrought,” by Cathy Breen (2/10), and “A War of Ambition.” Right after the 9/11 attacks a Guatemalan Indian woman named Rigoberta Menchú, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, wrote to President George W. Bush expressing the general sympathy and solidarity of the Latin American people. In her letter she cautioned Mr. Bush not to react vindictively since such a course would only make matters worse.

Very soon thereafter I watched Mr. Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress that was attended by special guests including high ranking prelates of the Catholic Church. The president’s words were openly vindictive and the audience repeatedly endorsed his words with standing applause. Enough said. The rest is history.

(Msgr.) David A. Ratermann
St. Louis, Mo.

Cancel My Subscription

The Feb. 10 issue of America disappoints deeply. How could you stoop to print “A War of Ambition”? The diatribe by Professor Bacevich is destructive propaganda at its worst. “Of Many Things,” by Matt Malone, S.J., and “What We Wrought” follow close behind.

I thought Jesuit thinking strode higher paths. Your intellectual sloppiness embarrasses this Catholic. Cancel my subscription and refund any balance of my $38 that your policies may provide.

Charles A. Byrne
Newport, R.I.
The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force.

Tears and Blood

I finished reading the Feb. 10 issue of America with tears on my cheeks and blood on my hands. What distressing articles on Iraq and Honduras! These stories are sad enough, without the added knowledge that our beloved country is deeply implicated in all of this. I would like to declare myself “not guilty,” but that does not seem possible. Many of us, even millions around the world, protested loudly and publicly when President George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq. But to no avail.

And yet, in many ways, as long as we are citizens of this country and enjoy the many privileges we have as American citizens, we are a part of the oppression.  Like Lady Macbeth, I can’t get the blood off my hands.

Lucy Fuchs
Brandon, Fla.

Experience and Tradition 

Thank you to the Rev. J. Michael Byron for his insightful article, “A Faith That Works” (2/3). I couldn’t agree more with his premise and his emphasis on the importance—though often not realized by the individual—of an underlying theological method.

The method I have found most useful is the one espoused by the wise Richard Rohr, O.F.M. He makes it clear and succinct in the first chapter of his recent book, Yes, And…: Daily Meditations: “Scripture as validated by experience and experience as validated by tradition are good scales for one’s spiritual worldview.” I highly recommend reading that chapter (and the whole book).

Douglas Rush
Cambridge, Ohio

Blog Talk

The following is an excerpt from “Jesuitical Confusion,” by Mark Tooley, published in The American Spectator (2/13). The article is in response to “What We Wrought,” by Cathy Breen (Am. 2/10).

For many there will never be any statute of limitations on American culpability for Iraq’s travails. This anti-American narrative omits almost all history prior to the Persian Gulf War, which the America piece briefly cites without explaining what precipitated it, which of course would distract from the article’s polemical goal. What prompted such focused American attention on Iraq across two decades is never detailed.

The answer of course is that Iraq’s murderous Baathist regime, under Saddam Hussein for over 25 years, not only terrorized its own nation but made itself a regional and international menace. Besides hundreds of thousands of murdered Iraqis, and countless more brutalized, raped, imprisoned and tortured, Saddam’s Iraq supported international terror and invaded two of its neighbors….

Praying and working for wise policies that mitigate the worst evils while seeking an approximate peace when possible are worthy goals. Demonizing America and portraying nearly everyone else as innocent victims is a spiritual and historical falsehood.

Mark Tooley
The American Spectator
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Andrew Di Liddo
8 years 5 months ago
in response to Sister Mary Ann's letter above about football: Sister Mary Ann: I wanted to write to you in response to your letter to "America" magazine about football. As a younger man, I was an avid fan. Over the years, my ongoing conversion spiritually has led me also to many of the conclusions you expressed in your letter. My wife and I are academicians and we have witnessed first hand how football "worship" has ruined more than one institution of higher learning. To travel through the "Happy Valley" in Pennsylvania which we have done and see this modern day Sodom catastrophe at Penn State tears at the heart to see how this corruption has wreaked havoc on an entire community. Moreover, as administrators in academics and professors, learning, knowledge, truth and education have been trumped by too many athletic programs in too many places. Over and over again we see that professional athletes are no longer sound role models for our children. Your letter did not go far enough. We need to form an organization and formalize a place on line where people like you and me can go and try to speak out about this. However, the primary reason for me attempting to contact you during this Lent is to reassure you (charitably) that you are not alone and encourage you that you should in no way feel way like you are a lone wolf crying out in the wilderness risking lynching as you expressed in your letter. Many, many people are coming to your point of view and you should not feel this way. Please continue to speak out about this. Designing a better helmet is not the answer either. There are a lot deeper things going on that are bereft and counter to what we believe. I wanted to contact you about this and this was the only way I could find to get in touch with you.

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