Robert Hudnut's article on Pelagianism (2/26) begins well but soon lapses into error. The analogy that likens having faith to falling in love is seriously flawed. Hudnut's claim that we do not have to accept the gift of faith, just as we do not accept the other person's love but rather "are in love," reduces human beings to passive automatons. While it is true that people do not choose to fall in love, it is equally true that they cannot simply bask indefinitely in the glow of warm feelings. Eventually they have to decide whether to commit themselves to one another permanently, thereby changing their lives in a radical way. The same is true when the gift of faith is offered. Many people reject the gift because they know that accepting it will mean making radical changes in their fives that they simply aren't prepared to make.
Hudnut's insistence that we are free to sin but that all credit has to be God's when we do not sin is equally objectionable because it implies that we are totally depraved, rather than wounded by original sin but still capable of cooperating with God's grace.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
No Fuel to the Fire
Thanks to James Martin, S.J., for his fine article "The Last Acceptable Prejudice?" (3/25). The topic of anti-Catholic bias in the United States is certainly important, and Martin deals with it in a most intelligent, insightful and balanced fashion. Nothing is gained by pretending that prejudice does not exist, but Catholic reactions should not add fuel to the fire.
(Rev.) Willard F. Jabusch
"To Be Reviled"
Congratulations to James Martin, S.J., on his recent article "The Last Acceptable Prejudice?" (3/25).
I was a bit surprised, however, that he didn't mention St. Ignatius' advice to his men: that they pray each day "to be reviled and treated like fools, without giving cause for it, to more perfectly imitate Christ." And this, of course, is the response of Christ himself with "the other cheek," "the cloak also" and "the extra mile."
Thomas M. Curran
Critique or Prejudice?
I found the article by James Martin, S.J., on anti-Catholicism timely and incisive (3/25). There are some strident voices speaking in the name of the church, and some of the "anti" feeling is brought on ourselves by legitimate criticism. Critique is easily misconstrued as prejudice. Why is it so difficult for us to admit we don't have all the answers and we're not perfect?
(Rev.) Anthony J. Schumacher
Pleasure Before Business
If I had to put art on the cover of the March 25 issue, I would have preferred a singularly Catholic cover of Sister Thea Bowman dancing with the Eucharist (covered with a bushel on p. 29) to the political cover on anti-Catholicism. Must business always come before pleasure?.
Oh to see that image done in mosaic or stained glass! Saints alive!
As graduate of a Jesuit high school and university, I have subscribed at times to America. I am pleased to receive this first edition (3/18) after some lapse. The piece by Jon Fuller, S.J., courageously addresses a grave issue in our church. When I saw media reports of The Kansas City Star series, I assumed unfairly that this publication had sensationalized the matter. Later, on the Internet, I read the entire six-piece series from The Star's archives and discovered very professional journalism. I intend to keep my America subscription current.
It was hard for me to keep a straight face as I read "God and Football in Texas," by Robert Drinan, S.J. (3/18). People in south Texas do take their high school football seriously, without a doubt. But do they really take their pre-football game prayer all that seriously? I doubt it. (Nor, incidentally, do people in Arizona, where your table of contents somehow or other managed to place the problem.) In any event, the Supreme Court (if it can keep a straight face while it considers the issues explored by Drinan) should have no difficulty reaching a decision. It will simply do for pre-game prayer what the courts have already done for the public school Christmas holiday: declare it to be a mere secular activity or observance, devoid of any intrinsic or cogent religious meaning or implication.
(Rev.) George F. Werner
Thank you for your recent editorial entitled "Death Penalty Moratoriums" (3/18). Texas, which leads the nation in capital punishment rarely goes a month without an execution. Sad to say, our governor, George W Bush, who claims to be compassionate, has seen no need to put a moratorium on the death penalty in Texas. .
It is my belief that Catholics have a strong history of working for social change and social justice. In keeping your readers up to date on death penalty issues, you allow them to decide for themselves if they want to take up the crusade to put an end to d-ds senseless killing. We who are already involved in this effort need all the help and prayers we can receive.
San Antonio, Tex.