Let It Rock!

Thank you for Kerry Weber’s article on Christian Rock, “Show a Little Faith” (9/26).

Last August I was celebrating Mass at an out-of-town church. I was ambivalent about its Christian Rock choir. I understood its roots in the folk Masses of the 1970s, amped up with added keyboards in the 1980s. But as a person with a performing arts, liturgical singer background, mostly I shared your sentiment. Some notable gems are “product more than poetry” or songs that sounded like “what adults thought teens wanted to hear.”

During my training, I noticed that in theology school discussing music was hard to do. I, for one, find God more in U2, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Roseanne Cash, Shawn Colvin (“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”) or Ella Fitzgerald singing “Mack the Knife” than I do diving into Christian Rock hoping I might meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

Jay Cuasay

Sterling, Va.

Don’t Judge Malcolm

When Malcolm X was dying—like Moses viewing the Promised Land as he died, and like Martin Luther King Jr.—“His eyes were undimmed, and his vigor unabated.” In the review of Manning Marable’s biography of Malcolm X, by Raymond A. Schroth, S.J. (9/26), why should sadness eclipse admiration when we discover more demons wrestling with a man’s fabric and fighting for his soul?

Unforeseen circumstances can save us from a disastrous choice just as they can propel us to the Herculean deed. Another hero, Sergeant York, was on the road to murder when he was thrown down, like St. Paul, and then set on a new course on his journey.

A United States that would have intervened with young Malcolm Little and prepared him for a productive role in society would have been an America that did not need an incensed, radical, dynamic and evolving Malcolm X. It is a fact of life that greatness, eminence and high achievement (especially for men) often come at a high cost to personal and social relationships.

Norman Costa

Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Potty Questions

Michael V. Tueth, S.J., who reviewed “The Help” (“The Song of Aibileen”, 9/12), is neither a woman nor an African-American from the period reflected in the film and novel.

While I acknowledge the reviewer’s credentials, the stress in the review on the movie’s “bathroom matters” shows a lack of understanding of the role of women and servants of that era. Talk about “injustice”: It is the women who “potty train” children and minority women who clean the toilets. Recognize a metaphor, please. The novel and film are about women with the strength and character to “risk.”

The final comment, “One wonders how much will change for these characters,” is nonsensical for any viewer of the film who knows history. Where is the “black maid” today or the mother devoid of contact with her children? But now I’m showing my gender and my age.

Colleen Rockers

Clayton, Mo.

Not John Wayne, But Compassionate

Re “An Unnatural Disaster” (Current Comment, 9/26): It will be hard for President Obama, himself an African-American, to do something for the African-American community. It will look as if he is favoring his own. I can hear Fox News already accusing him of racial favoritism.

The crisis in the United States will not be solved until the people vote intelligent and civic-minded people into office. The last election saw the emergence of the Tea Party. Do you see any black people at those events?

President Obama has some fine qualities that are not appreciated. He is not John Wayne, nor is he Franklin D. Roosevelt. I wish he were being praised for his positions, because they are sensible and rational. They show compassion and justice, the best qualities of all.

Virginia Edman

Toronto, Ont., Canada.

SNAP’s Last Gasp?

Judging by the report on the attempt by The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests to sue the Vatican in the International Criminal Court in the Hague (Signs of the Times, 9/26), it looks as if SNAP is riding the last lap to defeat. The case will go nowhere; they cannot do any more to attack the walls of the Vatican. They have long exhausted their moral capital by showing that revenge, not justice, is their goal.

(Rev.) Francis O’Beachain

Lifford, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Now Split Up Into Groups

The evangelization in Cardinal Wuerl’s “A New Relationship” (9/26) requires a lot more than a new relationship between bishops and theologians. Evangelization is much broader than teaching and requires thinking outside the box.

First we need to face the reality that most Catholics do not and will not attend Catholic universities. Other structures are needed to close the serious gap between educated and less than well-educated Catholics, between those who have the Gospel preached to them and those who don’t. Adult religious formation needs to be expanded to parents and young adults whose evangelization has run out at the end of C.C.D. and confirmation class, perhaps in age groups of 20 to 25 and up, when adult commitment is more likely.

Small is good when it comes to ecclesial community, the unit of evangelization. The Spirit is also moving in lay ministry of all sorts: Bible studies, support groups, prayer groups, small church communities, visitors to jails and nursing homes, Newman Clubs, soup kitchens and outreach to the homeless. What did Jesus do? He reached out to sinners and tax collectors in the more intimate setting of dinner. When he fed the 5,000, he first split them into groups of 50.

Richard P. Kane

Stewartsville, N.J.

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