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I was most grateful for the article by George M. Anderson, S.J., about my play and DVD about Dorothy Day, “Fool for Christ” (Of Many Things, 11/3), but there was a misprint that I think needs to be noted.The last part of my Web site address was given incorrectly. It should have read www.foolforchrist.com.

Sarah Melici

Red Bank, N.J.

A Third Way

Melanie Morey and John Piderit, S.J., have once again called for dramatic action to ensure the vitality of a distinctly Catholic education in our Catholic colleges and universities. (“Identity Crisis,” 10/13). In their view, participants in the discussion are divided between those who are basically content with initiatives in place and those who are not and thus are worried about the future.

There is actually a third (and growing) alternative: those who are fully aware of the complexities and difficulties of the task but are working hard and creatively to foster the Catholic and congregational identity of their schools. I count many of these women and men as colleagues and want to applaud their good work as they explore new and increasingly effective strategies, programs, collaborative efforts and assessment tools. They are hardly complacent in their task but are busily forging an intentional identity in a complex, pluralistic culture that challenges their best efforts.

I agree with Morey and Piderit that congregational identity (Mercy, Franciscan, Benedictine, Jesuit and so on) should not trump Catholic identity. We need to foster both. This is increasingly being done, as congregational heritages are celebrated at the same time that Catholic intellectual and social traditions are promoted.

Clearly, there is much more to be done, but we need to acknowledge the good work that is already underway.

Charles L. Currie, S.J.

President, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

Washington, D.C.

Symbolic Logic

I found “Identity Crisis” by Melanie Morey and John Piderit, S.J. (10/13) informative, with many good suggestions. However, as a Catholic high school teacher of 25 years, I was struck by the starkness of the college classroom in the picture accompanying the article.

Maybe higher education can learn from grammar school and high school teachers, who decorate their classrooms with crucifixes, icons, prayer symbols and messages of hope in order to foster a Catholic environment. Why not plaster the walls with the witness of Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Sister Thea Bowman, the holy outlaw Berrigan brothers, Father Damien the Leper, Mother Seton and more?

Let classrooms, halls and dormitories cry out for peace and justice, and let entire campuses celebrate our living, loving God.

Ken Cooper

Washington, D.C.

Out of Context

It is indeed encouraging that the dialogue about the Catholic identity of our colleges and universities continues. But in the interest of accuracy in reporting, I wish to correct a statement in the article by Melanie Morey and John Piderit, S.J. (“Identity Crisis,” 10/13). The authors quote me as having written in my book, Negotiating Identity (2000), that many faculty members “are ignorant of, indifferent to, and yes even hostile toward the Catholic dimension of these institutions.” I was quoting Msgr. John F. Murphy, my predecessor in the office of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. He wrote it in a memo for the Committee on Purpose and Identity of the A.C.C.U. in 1974, and it needs to be read in that context.

A great deal of attention was given to the identity question between 1974 and 2000, and Morey and Piderit themselves cite many of the efforts made on campuses today to define their Catholic mission in the 21st century. Context remains important.

Alice Gallin, O.S.U.

Scholar in Residence

College of New Rochelle

New Rochelle, N.Y.

Atonement and Obedience

I thoroughly enjoy the articles in America by William J. O’Malley, S.J. He brings down-to-earth warmth to difficult topics.

In “Forgiving God” (9/22), however, his reflections on suffering are helpful until the final section on Jesus’ passion, where he contrasts the God revealed in Jesus’ kind acceptance and treatment of sinners with “a vindictive God who demands blood in recompense for two simpletons (to whom he himself gave the freedom) eating one piece of fruit.”

It might help to understand the Father not as wanting the death of Jesus, but wanting his faithfulness and obedience continuing through a most difficult life ended by crucifixion. A good general does not want the death of his troops, but may be willing to send them into harm’s way in order to achieve a necessary victory. He issues a command and hopes they obey. He grieves if they die, but he does not regret sending them.

Jesus’ whole obedient life and resurrection, not just his death, atones for the disobedience and rebellion of the human race, beginning with our first ancestors. A faithful and obedient life, with its unbalanced mixtures of joy and suffering, is all the Lord seems to want from all of us.

(Rev.) Joseph A. Gagnon

Marysville, Mich.

Spreading the Word

The Of Many Things column by Drew Christiansen, S.J. (10/20), asked: “But why do the bishops today not seem prophetic on issues other than abortion, euthanasia and stem-cell research?” He cited the lack of media exposure and unrealistic expectations. A major reason he did not mention is the bishops’ reluctance to promote Catholic social teaching, which remains the church’s “best kept secret.” How many times, for example, have we read in diocesan papers about the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church or other specific social teachings, some of which were issued by our own bishops’ conference?

Francis X. Doyle

Ashburn, Va.

Cooperating With Evil

I was very disappointed with your Oct. 27 issue. While many of your writers seemed to revel in all sorts of moral gymnastics to convince us that it was permissible to vote for evil, they failed to discuss what may be a more appropriate response to our dysfunctional political system: a refusal to cooperate and participate. Did Dorothy Day have no effect on our American Catholic thinking?

This egregious error was compounded by the beautiful essay “Dragen, Here Is Your Letter,” by Lyn Burr Brignoli (10/27), which won your A Case for God contest. How ironic that the essay extolled the gifts of Dragen, a person with Down syndrome, when such people are part of a dying class. Genocide by abortion perhaps?

Are we Americans willing to dance with the devil and support our broken political machinery just so we can wear a sticker that proclaims “I voted”? Shame on us for our willingness to compromise our beliefs and participate in the destruction of future Dragens. Until we are willing to admit that the system is corrupted beyond repair—as Dorothy Day pointed out so long ago—and to build anew, there will be no systemic change and fewer and fewer Dragens to bless us with their wisdom.

(Rev.) Michael Mayer

Rochester, N.Y.

Still Not Equal

Elinor Nauen (“A Sporting Chance,” 10/20) did a great job explaining the history and background of Title IX, which has certainly done much for gender equality in sports. Yet another article in the same issue illustrates how much further women’s sports still has to go until it might truly be considered equal.

In “The Games of Tomorrow,” Dave Anderson commented on the popularity of soccer in the international community, but noted that until the United States wins or gets to the finals of the World Cup, baseball, football and other sports will dominate in the United States. I would like to let Mr. Anderson know the United States has an excellent international record. In five World Cup competitions the United States won two titles and three third-place finishes, and in four Olympics the tally is three golds (including 2008) and one silver. These are of course the results of the U.S. women’s soccer team.

Scott Baietti

Albany, N.Y.

There Are No Accidents

Coincidences are just that, aren’t they? But when I recently received the issue of America that spoke of the nexus of our faith with sports (“The Soul of Sports,” 10/20), my daughter the same day supplied me with an e-mail purporting to be a dictionary for Cath-olics. Among its entries was this: “Jesuits: an order of priests known for their ability to found colleges with good basketball teams.”

As a Xavier University alumnus, I found all this intriguing.

Justin G. Huber

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Comments

Thomas Deely | 11/15/2008 - 7:44pm
(Rev) Michael Mayer (Rochester) made a most incisive comment on the Oct 27th edition of America where he poignantly juxtapositions the most wonderful article on the beautiful and wise Dragen with Downe syndrome whom he sees as "part of a dying class.".... when none of the other articles dealing with the coming elections presented the option of more appropriate response to our dysfunctional political system which could have been, as he so rightly says " a refusal to cooperate and participate". I had considered just not voting. On my absentee ballot here in NYC there was a space on the upper right hand corner. I had considered writing in that box the fact that I really couldn't find any major candidate that I really wanted to vote for. But I choose the 2nd best (3rd, 4th, 5th...???) option of voting for McCain. I wish I had read Rev. Michael's letter before.
Thomas Deely | 11/15/2008 - 7:43pm
(Rev) Michael Mayer (Rochester) made a most incisive comment on the Oct 27th edition of America where he poignantly juxtapositions the most wonderful article on the beautiful and wise Dragen with Downe syndrome whom he sees as "part of a dying class.".... when none of the other articles dealing with the coming elections presented the option of more appropriate response to our dysfunctional political system which could have been, as he so rightly says " a refusal to cooperate and participate". I had considered just not voting. On my absentee ballot here in NYC there was a space on the upper right hand corner. I had considered writing in that box the fact that I really couldn't find any major candidate that I really wanted to vote for. But I choose the 2nd best (3rd, 4th, 5th...???) option of voting for McCain. I wish I had read Rev. Michael's letter before.

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