Thank you extremely for publishing such a well thought out editorial, with which I thoroughly agree (Sowing the Wind (8/14). I felt that you were expressing my very thoughts over the last few weeks. It makes me prouder to be a Jesuit who grew up in a Catholic environment in Jacksonville, Fla. with a large Maronite minority, and even a few Catholic Iraqi families. Please continue to be a voice in the wilderness.
Bert Mead, S.J.
New Orleans, La.
It’s been months since Drew Christiansen, S.J., wrote Yet even in midtown Manhattan spring stirs in my blood. The line appeared in America (4/17). Reaching under my bed for the Scrabble game last night, I pulled out the lost magazine, and because I am the standard compulsive readerother passengers’ newspapers, the tags on sweatshirts, backs of cereal boxesI read the column late last night. I hope some one else has long ago told you how good it is. It is beautifully written, a joy to read, fresh as the day you wrote it.
I live in a rare leafy enclave of Chicago, not far from the river, in the same house for 59 years. Long ago I wrote rather regularlyfor a womanfor your magazine. I thought of it recently when a writer asked permission to include an old America essay of mine (1956) in a book she is publishing. The title: The Man You Want Is the One You’ve Got (that’s her book, not my essay). Her letterhead identifies her as Paula Friedrichsen Ministries: Boldly Declaring the Goodness of God. We can’t argue with that, can we? Moreover, with that name, she could be a clansman of Father Christiansen’s.
My own experiences of spring are the pathetic hopefulness of this part of the world. Once when my plane was coming into O’Hare in a springtime snowstorm, the woman beside me asked, Do you live here? When I admitted I had been born in this place and lived here most of my life, she added, Deliberately?
Yet last night when I was walking around the block in great heat, greeting dogs and owners known to me, the wind changed, and suddenly it was no more than 75 degrees. Everyone, including a great dane, Ophelia, smiled at our brief good fortune. We ask for, and get, so little.
The Catholic hierarchy, from the pope on down, have given support to the laboring person and labor unions, but this does not seem to filter down into the pews. Gone, it seems, are the labor priests and the support of the parishes for labor unions. Perhaps this is because in the past the new immigrants coming in, a large majority of whom were Catholics, looked to the church for support and received it. In those days the parish priest was often not only the most educated person in a parish, but also the one who looked out for the needs of his parishioners, sometimes lost in a new and to them strange land.
Today it seems that there are too many Catholics, both parishioners and priests, who have become well ensconced in the good life that was once reserved for WASPs. Yet, ironically, we still have many working immigrants who are Catholics, now in large part Hispanics. I am aware of the statements of some bishops and some other Catholic groups supporting these immigrants, but they are not enough. The fight about immigrants, legal and illegal, that is going on right now in the United States is one that many Catholic leaders are afraid to enter. I applaud Msgr. Jerome Martinez of Santa Fe in his support of the living-wage campaign. One cannot worship God and oppress the workers.
As a tenured professor and a teacher who has worked in the trenches of the adjunct world, I read Robert N. Barger’s correspondence (8/28) regarding The Corporate University, by Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C., (7/31) with interest. I must take issue with his concluding remarks. He writes that adjunct faculty by definition are temporary faculty who supply some particular need not provided by regular faculty. This definition has long ceased to reflect the reality of the situation. Studies in The Chronicle of Higher Education as well as others conducted by the American Association of University Professors have demonstrated what adjuncts have long known. Adjuncts are being hired to teach an increasing percentage of required courses at universities and colleges and they are carrying increasingly higher loads (two or three courses per semester) as post-secondary institutions reduce the number of tenure-track positions, along with the salaries and benefits that accompany them. In addition, while it is fortunate that Mr. Barger is well compensated, such is not the case for many adjunctsand I am not even speaking about a living family wage. I am talking about the many adjuncts whose current salaries break down to barely the minimum wage. In sum, the majority of adjuncts deserve better.
John K. Hayden
The essay by Terry Golway, It’s Your Funeral (6/5), caused a reaction among your readers that cuts several ways. Two troubling letters appeared, one from a diocesan official and the other from a priest, that gave no quarter to the mourners of the individual who died. They seemed to say it’s all about the church’s need to evangelize. One even used the occasion to decry the modern tendency toward individualism. How sad.
I am a singer, sometimes a church singer. I am asked to sing weddings and funerals; therefore I am in attendance at many such events, in several denominations. One such event was an absolute outrage. The deceased was a noted musician, and we organized a competent choir to perform a number of worthy sacred pieces for the memory of the deceased and the edification of the gathered mourners. The priest who officiated (with emphasis on the word) disallowed the music we had chosen and proceeded in his homily to scold our efforts and the feelings of the mourners toward the person who had died. The entire church was scandalized by his behavior, and I shall never forget it.
Weddings and funerals are times when the church should moderate its tendency to evangelize, specifically in deference to the individual parties who are and ought to be the focus of the event. It may be true that some people’s preferences are over the top, but prudent negotiation can minimize that and still give deference to the parties.
Ocean Pines, Md.
I want to thank you for your ongoing ministry of informing us. Keep up the excellent work challenging us in our faith and view of the world, whether we see it from the author’s point of view or not.
In the past you have used a point-counterpoint format in an issue (or multiple issues). I very much appreciate the healthy, mature tension it creates. I am a much better informed reader by seeing multiple sides of the story. It can offer that spice some readers are wanting from you.
Also, will you be doing anything more about funerals? That was a good exchange, though rather informal. Add some meat to it. I am still hungry for more.
Blessings on you and all of the staff. I don’t quite know what my bus ride and development as an adult Catholic would be like without the gift of your ministry.
Forest Lake, Minn.