If he could see things from the perspective of the Middle East, Gerard F. Powers (Our Moral Duty in Iraq, 2/18), might conclude that we have a moral obligation to leave Iraq now.
In the view from afar, were not the solution for Iraq, but part of the problem. Consider that while we see our military as young persons of noble resolve, the Mideast sees uniforms, guns, tanks and planes as evidence of an occupying power.
The Mideast has a hatred, born of experience, of military occupations, such as that of the Israelis in the Palestinian Territories.
We should also never underestimate the deep patriotism of the Iraqis. Despite doomsday scenarios, Iraq has never had a civil war. Sunnis and Shiites have coexisted. If we left Iraq tomorrow, they could transcend their differences and build a viable Iraqi nation.
(Rev.) George P. Carlin
Harper, Tex.Passive Participation
While Thomas A. Shannon claims to shun physical reductionism, a form of materialism (At the End of Life, 2/18), he ignores the viewpoint of a patient as subject, leaving him or her in effect a mere object. Even his remark that the limit of what can be done for such a patient...is to maintain the biological signs of life speaks only to externals, to what registers to an objectifying, sympathy-free observer.
There is something scandalous in the way the crucial factor of subjective consciousness is so commonly ignored even in ostensibly Catholic treatments of the problem of unplugging. It is the ruthlessly materialist culture of capitalism, of course, that makes full personhood contingent on the capability of manifesting itself in external action, preferably productive action. It is one of the strengths of Catholic thinking that prayer, silent contemplation and even the passive act of listening to music are full-fledged actions, quite as worthy as any external action to qualify a person for first-class human status.
New York, N.Y.Our Move
Thank you for your editorial Cuba Sí, Castro No! (3/10). A good first step toward improved relations with Cuba would be closing and returning our military base at Guantánamo Bay. That would remove our presence militarily from the island and also be a gesture of goodwill to the entire Caribbean area. In this day and age, it is hard to imagine we need such a base only 90 miles from our border. It would also resolve the many issues surrounding the imprisonment without any civil rights of all the current Gitmo inmates.
(Deacon) Mike Evans
Anderson, Calif.Modern Times
Maurice Timothy Reidys article, An Ordinary Mystic (2/11), describing some of the works of the artist Alfonse Borysewicz, provided me with good Lenten fare. As Reidy says, while parishes have experimented with modern music, architecture, even dance, they seem less willing to embrace modern visual art.
This article is the first I have read that presents Catholic faith with contemporary artistic sensibilities. An Ordinary Mystic helps me to do just that. Should I be in Brooklyn, I will include a visit to the private chapel of the Oratory Church of St. Boniface.
Ellen Roach, C.S.J.
Westminster, Colo.Diversity in Unity
Lessons From an Extraordinary Era, by Roger Haight, S.J. (3/17) was an exciting reading experience. The diverse theological applications he presents offer a way into the many and varied contexts of our church. As a priest in a diocese of both rural and urban parishes, I am often struck by how much social research that reaches the popular reader is quantitative. The larger quantity of the population is in the cities. Often what are characterized as universal trends are, in fact, urban trends. Haights sampling of theology provides options for theological application in both urban and rural contexts.
As we all know, we have many groups in our church: lay, clergy, religious, groups and movements, societies and associations. Some are more theological in nature; others are driven more by devotional or even practical interests. Haights article offers theological insights that could speak to this diversity both for such groups themselves and for an understanding that holds all this diversity in unity.
(Rev.) Simon Falk
Murrumburrah, N.S.W., AustraliaLost Treasure
Thank you for the reflection on William F. Buckley Jr. (Erudite and Exuberant, Current Comment, 3/17). When I was in high school, I became acquainted with Buckley on his PBS program Firing Line. When I was a teenager, he really helped me to start thinking about politics and the wider world. By the time I was out of college, I was much more liberal in my outlook, but I continued to enjoy hearing what Buckley brought to the conversation.
Regardless of how much one may have agreed or disagreed, one cannot help remembering Buckley fondly. He was a treasure who will truly be missed.