Feeling So Good I Could Vomit
The feel-good nonsense the National Catholic Register often purveys will never have good results.
So thank you for taking the Register to task for pretending that all is well in the Church
(Just Deny It?, New Oxford Notes, Oct.). The Registers cowardice makes me want to vomit.
The Uses of Satire
As someone whose career was in journalism, Ive wondered if satire is a lost art. When I returned from Asia after 37 years, I was not surprised by the decline of Western culture into neopaganism, but I was shocked to discover some of the best minds merely sitting with folded hands contemplating the mess. Some offered innocuous and ineffectual remedies like promoting greater creativity and telling stories by the hearth (as you happen to note in The Perfect Cats-Paw, New Oxford Notes, Nov.).
Why am I excited by the NOR as never before? Because you have decided to use the device of humorous satire (notably in your New Oxford Notes section). Satire is whats needed today, for that tool has an uncanny ability both to cut through the prickly shrubbery of cultural decadence and triviality and to dig down deep and expose the roots of that menacing thicket.
Fr. John J. Barrett, S.J.
Brooklyn, New York
In Defense of Dr. Laura
Your piece on Laura Schlessinger (The Bark of Peter & the Barking of Dr. Laura, New Oxford Notes, Nov.) raised some valid points about Dr. Lauras self-approbation. But even if she overstates her case with regard to bringing people back to the Catholic Church, she certainly has a case that deserves to be heard. In the jail where I work, one inmate told me recently that he listens to her show and is turning himself around because of it. I gave him a list of books to read that would help on his journey (St. Augustine, St. Thérèse, and others). The Holy Father, if I recall correctly, has said that Hell is the absence of God. I agree, for I once lived my life that way, and Ive felt supported by Dr. Laura in finding my way back to God.
Though raised Catholic, I decided when I was grown that I knew better than my parents and the Church, and I lived a hedonistic and sinful life. Fortunately, I still had a conscience, and I could not shake the conviction that I was committing sin. I simply wanted to be like everyone else and do what everyone else is doing. I was in Hell, and I knew it. Two broken marriages and one ruined career later, my path crossed that of a priest who led me back. Since meeting him when I was 29, Ive tried to live my life the way I should have earlier. Ive repented and done penance for my earlier sins, and not a day goes by that I do not think of the pain I caused others and how I let down God, my parents, and myself.
But for several years I felt very much alone, because I knew of no acquaintances or colleagues at work who did not subscribe to the prevalent moral relativism. Then Dr. Lauras show arrived on a local radio station. When I first heard her, I was shocked: Someone else felt the same as I did about morality, and she was actually on the air!
I study the faith, mostly on my own, since the priests in my home parish are, unfortunately, very much like those depicted in your ads (it was one such ad of yours in the National Review that got me to subscribe to the NOR). Ive turned to the NOR, Crisis, and First Things to make up for the deficiencies in my religious training and for the shortcomings in what I hear from the pulpit. (But theres hope for my parish. There is now, in residence, a newly ordained priest, a convert, and his sermons are full of hope and truth.)
Your publication is wonderful, and very helpful to a returned cradle Catholic such as I. Because of what I read in your pages, I purchase books from Sophia Institute Press, and actually read them. So thank you! But my thanks go also to Dr. Laura. A non-Catholic who does not allow the Churchs teachings to be denigrated on her show and who encourages people to return to God and practice their religion, she should be applauded, not attacked.