The Common Good
Re “The Political Gets Personal” (Editorial, 3/6): Seeking the common good has been largely forgotten in politics lately. The Republican refusal to participate in governing during the Obama administration was a prime example. Not all purchases have a political aim, but in the current worship of money, boycotting products and companies is a way of refusing to worship at a particular altar. Sometimes that is the only way to be heard.
Sympathizing With the Skittish
Re “Hate Confession?” by James Martin, S.J. (Last Take, 3/6): I totally sympathize with the skittish. I didn’t go to confession at all for at least 25 years, and now I go twice a year and that is plenty for me. I try to do everything right—that is, prepare ahead of time—but I still get terrified. This is no fault of the priests—so far they have all been kind and have said moderately helpful things. Here’s my advice for the reluctant: Don’t expect to feel better, or to get advice on solving your problems, or to be unburdened. Just do it because you can. Confession is an opportunity for an encounter with Christ that is unlike any other, and if you believe in the sacrament you know you are forgiven, even if you aren’t feeling anything. I think that’s plenty. (And many times, you do end up feeling better—if not right away—and you do get some good advice. But those things are a bonus.)
Persuasive and Telling
Re “Social Studies,” by Gus Hardy (3/6): What a profoundly insightful, touching and honest piece. I worked in education and special education for 45 years, the vast majority of those in a school that specialized in teaching and treating children with a variety of challenges, including those on the autism spectrum. The author avoided the clinical lingo of “theory of mind” and “circumscribed interests” that often dominates the professional literature on autism. Instead he goes right to the heart of it all and acknowledges his personal struggle and how he deals with it—and he does it magnificently. I have always found first-person descriptions of autism to be the most persuasive and telling, but few capture the condition as Mr. Hardy has, with such determination. It is disappointing that he still encounters people who are simultaneously insensitive and oblivious to his challenges. What is uplifting, however, is that such encounters only spur Mr. Hardy on. Spectacular!
Charles P. Conroy
Niche in the Church
We need more authors like Mr. Hardy; he gives a positive perspective to something that is not discussed in the church. I can’t tell you how this article helped me. Like Mr. Hardy, I have a form of autism and have struggled to find my niche in the church.
A Natural Synergy
Re “Kanye, Kendrick, Chance & the Surprising Christian Language of Rap,” by Zac Davis (3/6): I think early hip-hop and religion always had a natural synergy, which stemmed from the origins of hip-hop and rap as anti-oppression and anti-establishment, constantly seeking escape, release, salvation from earthly struggles. In the late ’90s the middle class was bootstrapped, grew more affluent and became more entranced by materialism and commercialism, and the music reflected that. With the new sociopolitical movements like Black Lives Matter, I guess hip-hop is just finding its way back home.
Charles Arinze Okonkwo
The Big “Why?”
Re “Inside the Changing Catholic Church,” by Leah Libresco (3/6): This piece does not ask the big “Why?” about changing demographics. There has been a loss of faith in traditional Catholic population centers, and the rise of immigrant populations elsewhere bring their cultural influences with them. Who is to say that those new residents will not also lose their faith eventually? The polls show a rise in “nones” and a monumental decrease in priests since the 1960s. Perhaps more traditional priests will recapture the loss of faith across the country, and their practice model will spur a rise in seminarians.