January-February 2013

The Maine Event

F. Douglas Kneibert was right about “The Big Bucks Behind the Gay Agenda” (Oct.). In Maine this November we witnessed its power as same-sex marriage was passed by referendum. We have now joined the other eight “elite” states that have approved similar measures. I guess we stirred up the ire of the forces that support the gay agenda when a similar referendum was defeated in our state in 2009. During that campaign they outspent supporters of traditional marriage by $1 million. In the most recent campaign, the supporters of gay marriage outspent their opponents by a factor of four to one.

Gay-marriage advocates canvassed neighborhoods and knocked on many doors. It was rumored, however, that many of them came from Massachusetts, our wealthier, more urbane neighbor to the south. Let’s not forget how poor old Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank lamented this past spring that he couldn’t “marry” his “husband” in Maine! Theirs was also a “soft” campaign: Television ads showed ministers, veterans, and regular citizens talking about all the nice gay people they know who deserve “marriage equality.” An acquaintance of mine made an astute observation: There were no actual homosexuals in these ads. My theory is that they were trying to keep the homosexual lifestyle abstract.

Doing a little online research prior to the election, I googled the phrase “the instability of homosexual relationships.” In response I was asked, “Do you mean ‘the stability of homosexual relationships’?” Finally I came across an article at OrthodoxyToday.com by Timothy J. Dailey titled “Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk” (originally published by the Family Research Council). Dailey cites some shocking statistics. One study found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners in a lifetime. Only 2.7 percent of older homosexuals had only one sexual partner in their lifetime. “Most understood sex outside the relationship was the norm,” Dailey writes. He then reports on the violence common to homosexual relationships and the high incidence of mental health problems among gays and lesbians.

It is not pleasant reading, but I wish my “good Catholic” friend had read Dailey’s article before going public with her support of gay marriage. She signed a newspaper ad by an outfit calling itself Catholics for Marriage Equality.

I hope the NOR keeps this issue in the forefront. Don’t take traditional marriage for granted. Keep praying for the culture of life to strengthen in our country.

Kathryn F. Swegart
Rome, Maine




An Unmitigated Defeat

Terry Scambray’s guest column on 2016 (“The Orientalism of Barack Obama,” Nov.) omitted one glaring fault in Dinesh D’Souza’s film: It offers no clear, lengthy discussion of Saul Alinsky, whose method of revolution was taught to south Chicago “community organizers” by a young Barack Obama. Alinsky completely bewitched Jacques Maritain, who cited Alinsky with approval in Peasant of the Garonne and earlier in Man and the State.

Scambray’s reference to Winston Churchill reminded me of the former statesman’s one-man stand after his predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, returned from Munich in 1938 after handing over the Sudeten­land to Hitler. “We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat,” Churchill said.

On the night of the presidential election here in the U.S., as Obama’s re-election became apparent, Churchill’s phrase rang in my ears. The only force that could have stopped his re-election was Catholic voters. We now know that, to the applause of pro-Obama priests, nuns, and bishops, more than half cast their votes for the victor. Where were those who are often described as the future of the Church in America — namely, Catholics of Hispanic heritage? They have already gone over to the Left, whose programs seem to favor their economic and demographic interests. And what about the students in and graduates of Catholic colleges and universities? They too are on the Left, where they have knelt down to their destroyer. Vae victis!

During the campaign, the diocesan Catholic newspapers stood on the sidelines or published attacks on Mitt Romney and his Catholic running mate, Paul Ryan. Through it all, the Church hierarchy presented a pathetic image of weakness and division. That a bishop would permit the governor of New York, who is an open adulterer and a supporter of same-sex marriage, to receive Communion is a travesty. Is it any wonder that the hierarchy has lost its moral authority in the eyes of so many Catholics?

Michael Suozzi
La Mesa, California




Herstory Is History

Apropos of Anne Barbeau Gar­diner’s review of The Flipside of Fem­­inism: What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say (Nov.): When I was a factory worker in the 1950s, I got the impression that the majority of women wanted to have children and that those who didn’t were, more often than not, men. In those days, it was the men who overwhelmingly favored abortion.

During our lunch and coffee breaks, my coworkers often brought up the subject of abortion. Some would say that if their girlfriends ever became pregnant, they would have to face the abortionist, coat hangers and all. On this issue, the boyfriend had the last word and it seemed obvious that he considered it his right.

In the early 1960s Betty Frie­dan published The Feminine Mys­tique. Although the book was considered an eye-opener, it never once mentions the word abortion (though it was included in an epilogue in a 1973 reprint).

The National Organization of Women (NOW), which Freidan cofounded in 1966, at first did not present “abortion rights” as a majority position. At the time, abortion was still viewed by most of the women who belonged to NOW as disreputable. Their thinking was about the same as in the 19th century, when abortion was seen as patriarchal oppression and an exploitation of women.

Then along came Lawrence Lader and Bernard Nathanson, cofounders of the National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL). In 1967 these two men persuaded Friedan to have NOW endorse legal abortion, which it did that very year. Friedan was awarded with the vice presidency of NARAL. (Nathanson would later disavow abortion advocacy and become a prominent voice for the right to life of the unborn. Lader, however, wrote several pro-abortion books, one of which was cited numerous times by the Supreme Court majority in its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.)

What seems ironic is that abortion in earlier times was seen as patriarchal oppression and an exploitation of women, yet today is celebrated as a “woman’s right.” It appears as though women were sold a bill of goods by men who favored abortion and wanted to secure their own rights. And that by doing so, women lost theirs.

Robert McNally
Floral Park, New York




Quality Overlooked

While I thought that the overall message of the New Oxford Note “Man-Child in the Promised Land” (Sept.) was right on, I did have a problem with this comment: “It’s a sad commentary on our culture that video games, superhero movies, comic-book conventions, and fantasy-football leagues are marketed to grown men, who comprise a significant portion of consumers of such products.”

While it is true that any hobby that consumes more of a father’s time (or a mother’s, for that matter) than he spends with his family is a problem, the implication is that the above are immature hobbies, which is extremely subjective and uncalled for. For instance, the story quality of video games and comics have gotten to the point that they are at least as deep as the average movie (which, I grant, isn’t saying much). However, slamming an entire entertainment medium as childish is a bit overboard, especially since, I’m willing to bet, some of the hobbies or movies or songs, etc., that you love are far from edifying or mature.

As to superhero movies and comic books: What are they but modern versions of the heroes of myth? Were J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis immature because they loved the old myths, as some of their critics accused? Were the monks who preserved the old myths of paganism acting childishly for doing so? Don’t forget that the old Looney Tunes cartoons and Dick Tracy comics were created for adults.

And why should we expect fantasy football to be marketed to children? Since when is gambling for children? And besides, how many children know enough about football in the first place to be able to enjoy participating in a fantasy league?

The Catholic Church has a long tradition of finding the truth and beauty and, yes, the “redemptive value” in stories that appear, on the surface, less than Christ-like.

Samuel Ervin
Fayette State Correctional Institution
LaBelle, Pennsylvania




Code for Stinginess

The New Oxford Note “Catholic Moment 2012” (Oct.) on Paul Ryan’s budget plan, touched on, and appeared to embrace, the concept of subsidiarity. That’s the idea that charity and financial assistance to the disadvantaged should begin on a small scale, close to the problem: at home, with relatives, then neighbors, the community, the county, and so on. While this is a nice idea, the notion that relatives and neighbors can meet the needs of a destitute family is a bit out of touch with how people live today. For example, the population turnover in the area where I live, northern Virginia, is very high; few neighbors know each other. My young married children live a long way from here, and my own siblings are gone. In a situation like this, “subsidiarity” is code for opposing government-run income-support and healthcare systems. It appears to have become nothing more than an excuse for civic selfishness.

Don’t we have enough wedge issues in society, and in the Catholic Church, without this type of thinking making the rounds? The bishops in my earliest days in Buffalo fought for federal income security and the rights of organized labor. I am pleased to see that a committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference called Paul Ryan’s budget morally deficient. The Church has plenty on her plate, what with Obamacare mandates, attempts to silence her teachings on the dignity of marriage and the evils of abortion, and paying the bills resulting from clerical pederasty. Let’s drop this ill-disguised right-wing appeal to stinginess and work on the basics and, incidentally, teach the Good News.

Douglas L. Turner
Springfield, Virginia




Let's Protect Our Own

All good Christians have sympathy for the plight of immigrants, and in normal times the arguments on their behalf are valid. But these are not normal times. Too many of our citizens are living in poverty. Too many are jobless or even homeless due to the deplorable state of our economy. Some states provide assistance programs for immigrants that many of their own residents cannot qualify for. These states are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Will other nations ever improve the lot of their very poor citizens so long as they are able to “export” them to other nations? Will things ever improve for those unable to migrate to these so-called rich nations? When the inevitable financial collapse of the U.S. occurs, will there be resources for those who come here without invitation?

I find it very strange that the people of Haiti have to eat mud instead of food, but are returned to their native land if caught landing on the south shores of Florida. Let us admit that there is no widespread starvation in Mexico, and more and more nations are establishing manufacturing plants there.

If you know the history of the once great and powerful nations of the world, you have to admit that the U.S. is on the same track and is no longer the richest and most powerful nation, as it once was. History also informs us that none of these once great powers every regained its former position in the world. Not one!

J.R. Vazzo
Tulsa, Oklahoma




THE EDITOR REPLIES:

Christ commanded “good Christians” to feed the poor and welcome the stranger (cf. Mt. 24:35) — and He didn’t give us the option of opting out when times are “not normal” or when we fear that doing so could compromise our comfort. On the contrary, He explained that it is more meritorious to give from one’s very “livelihood” than from one’s “surplus wealth” (cf. Mk. 12:43).

St. Ambrose taught that the goods of the earth belong to all men, and when you practice Christian charity, “you are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his.”

To argue for the abandonment of, or reduction in, assistance to immigrants — especially the immigrant poor — because America is at risk of losing its status as “the richest and most powerful nation” betrays an unwillingness to share the goods of the earth with one’s neighbor simply because he is a recent arrival from a foreign land. In short, it is a rejection of the Gospel, the demands of which are absolute and don’t shift according to the level of our national or personal wealth.

As Pope Paul VI wrote in his 1967 encyclical Populorum Progres­sio, “Neither individuals nor nations should regard the possession of more and more goods as the ultimate objective…. When this happens, men harden their hearts, shut out others from their minds and gather together solely for reasons of self-interest rather than out of friendship; dissension and disunity follow soon after…. Avarice, in individuals and in nations, is the most obvious form of stultified moral development” (no. 19).

One of the greatest modern-day exemplars of Christian charity was Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who instructed us to “give until it hurts.” America still enjoys great wealth and abundance relative to the rest of the world. This wealth and abundance come with great obligations. To say that it should be shared with some immigrants but not others — e.g., those from Haiti but not from Mexico, or only those who’ve received an “invitation” — is a type of selectivity that Jesus never encouraged. The number of new factories in any given nation — even our own — is no excuse for reveling in hardhearted­ness and shutting out the people who come to us for help.

Yes, governments have a moral obligation to protect and provide for their citizens. But whether or not they do so is immaterial to our moral obligation to fulfill the demands Christ placed on us if we are truly to be called His followers. If we fail in our duty to feed the poor and welcome the stranger, then the love of the Lord is not with us, says John the Evangelist: “He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 Jn. 3:17). It is our challenge to see the face of Christ in the destitute and the despised and to minister to them, spiritually and materially, lest we become like those “guilty men” so abhorred by the Lord “whose own might is their god” (Hab. 1:11).





Like Water on the Wood

Like Elijah pouring water over the wood to make it obvious to the prophets of Baal that it is the God of Israel, not man, who is going to light the holocaust (1 Kgs. 18), so the NOR also seems to be keen to show the publishing world that it is the hand of God, not publishing wisdom, that is keeping it afloat. How else to explain such decisions as converting to the Church at a time when orthodox Catholicism was at its nadir, alienating its largest advertising outlet in the 1990s with politically incorrect ads, turning away American patriots by questioning every gulf war, its scathing criticism of the most popular American Catholic writers in the 2000s, its commitment to 1940s graphic design as the culture becomes more visual, and its decision to accept longer articles at the moment social media limited to 140 characters captures the imagination of the young?

If even Elijah needed someone to bring wood for his miracle, we cannot expect the NOR to continue to defy the laws of publishing without doing our part. Enclosed is my donation.

James Chandler
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Canada






It is certainly not a good time to be soliciting for funds, but I want you to know that I am always delighted when a new issue of the NOR arrives in my mailbox. I proceed to devour it over the next few days, often returning to previous issues to refresh my memory when reading the letters and responses from authors.

Thank you for your publication. Please accept my small donation.

David C. DeMartini
Houston, Texas






In your October editorial (“Get Proactive or Perish”), you apologized for raising subscription rates. Take it back! The NOR is a great publication and still a bargain.

Enclosed find a small donation.

J.P. Stanton
Jenkintown, Pennsylvania






I am a subscriber who avidly awaits each month for the arrival of the NOR. I say “go for it!” with your increase in rates. If your subscribers are true blue, I’m sure they’ll agree with your logic and realism.

As a 94-year-old “geezer,” I’m hoping to see many more years of the truth and conviction you present. By all means, stick to those convictions and feed us with the truth!

Please accept my contribution toward your fundraising efforts.

James O’Keefe
Tewksbury, Massachusetts






Enclosed is a donation toward your fundraising goal. I am happy to hear that you will continue to publish a print version of the NOR. I deplore the rush toward e-books (an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) and web-based magazines. One can’t dog-ear a Kindle or annotate a web magazine with one’s thoughts and reactions. Thank you for accommodating those of us who don’t believe that “new” always equates to “better.”

Regina F. McKeever
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania




Can I Get a Witness?

I’m sickened and stunned that this country would choose Obama as president again. Anne Barbeau Gar­diner’s review of Apostolic Religious Life in America Today (Oct.) ends with the late Fr. Stanley Jaki’s comments on the turmoil in the Church. I read this before the election and was concerned about our bishops’ “self-surrender, dialogue, and meek reciprocity.” Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s prayer at the Democratic National Convention and his dinner with Obama were a disgrace. Christ said that we’d be hated by the world on His account, and I’m troubled that there’s no hatred directed toward our bishops. Contempt and disdain, yes, but not hatred. Who among our bishops has done anything to merit martyrdom? How can we get our bishops to witness to the faith, even against opposition? This is an important question for our times.

Mark J. Kennedy
Bartlett, Illinois




Out of the Shadows

A 2011 article in Commonweal magazine noted that widely syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage, a self-professed homosexual who describes himself as a “cultural Catholic,” advocates infidelity as a way to strengthen marriages. According to Savage, any sexual desire is legitimate, “unless it involves feces, children, pets, incest, or the dead.”

Your New Oxford Note “There Goes the Village” (Nov.) recounts how the world is careening down the path to legalized polygamy, polyandry, and incest. Based on what we’ve already accepted from our Supreme Court — the creation out of whole cloth of the so-called constitutional rights to privacy, abortion, and sodomy — what is to prevent the Court from similarly exercising its almighty legislative power in creating constitutional rights not only to polygamy and pederasty, but to many actions now called perversions?

Like the “right” to abortion — which was heretofore “hidden” in constitutional shadows intentionally put there by our Founding Fathers in 1781, but penetrable only by today's divine-wise judges — can we soon expect a constitutionally guaranteed right of every American to have sexual intercourse with his dog, with his dead mother, with minors, with multiple spouses, with his children, or with a favorite cow or oak tree? Imagine the “teaching materials,” complete with detailed diagrams, that Planned Parenthood will provide our kindergarten and elementary schoolchildren, with “no parents allowed” mentoring and field trips!

Guy McClung
Rockport, Texas




An End to Our Wandering

Regarding Rosemary Lunardi­ni’s review of A Biblical Walk Through the Mass (Nov.) on the revised Roman missal, which is a more faithful translation of the Latin original: For 40 years the Israelites wandered the wilderness. From 1970 to 2011, roughly 40 years, the English-speaking Church was condemned by God to wander the liturgical desert.

James Farrell
Meriden, Connecticut






Rosemary Lunardini perfectly covered all the high points in Edward Sri’s A Biblical Walk Through the Mass. The book was such a good read that I now have a better understanding of how the Mass was formed using both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It makes for a more meaningful liturgical experience.

Barbara Menton
Lebanon, New Hampshire




Ironic, Moronic & Offensive

It is ironic that there appeared in the same issue (Nov.) an enlightening article titled “Why Liberals Love Satire” as well as an advertisement for “gear” bearing the slogan “I’d Rather Be Roasting Heretics.” This is disgustingly distasteful to me as a Roman Catholic and, I am sure, to those of other faiths. I find this to be moronic, offensive, and utterly lacking in taste that such an ad should appear in a Catholic magazine. Please do a favor to yourselves and your loyal readers by removing such an ill-conceived and foul reminder of the hideous things done in the past in the name of religion.

David Burkley
Georgetown, Texas




THE EDITOR REPLIES:

In the NOR Gear Shoppe at our website, www.newoxfordreview.org, we offer for sale various items — from T-shirts to tote bags, baby bibs to beer steins — that bear the image of a happy husband at the BBQ grill and his perky wife holding a salad, accompanied by the slogan “I’d Rather Be Roasting Heretics.” Hey, don’t take it so seriously; it’s merely an attempt at humor. We don’t advocate burning heretics at the stake, actually “roasting” anyone, or anything of the sort. It is simply a humorous way for orthodox Catholics to express distaste for dissent from authoritative magisterial teachings of the Church.

Humor is, of course, highly subjective, and yes, we’ve received a handful of complaints over the years about this slogan — but only a handful. Meanwhile, we’ve sold more “Roasting Heretics” items than any other kind since we launched the Gear Shoppe in 2005. It is consistently, year in and year out, the most popular of all the slogans we have on offer, beating out “Catholicism’s Intellectual Prizefighter” (no, we don’t advocate knocking out opponents of orthodoxy) and “Enraging Liberal Catholics” (O.K., that is something we do endorse). Not surprisingly, the top all-time seller is the “Roasting Heretics” BBQ apron. We don’t doubt that they generate some laughs — leading, maybe, to some serious discussions — among back­yard party­goers.

As it is, more of our readers get the joke and appreciate it than take offense at it.

No joke, gag, or attempt at humor is going to satisfy everyone. For that reason should we refrain from trying? Nowhere does it say that to be an orthodox Catholic one has to be morose or somber at all times. What a turnoff that would be! The travails of life are sufficient in themselves; it helps no one to dwell overlong on them. Rather, we do well to delight in the fleeting moments of mirth we are graced to find in our earthly sojourn. In fact, G.K. Ches­ter­­ton said in his book Orthodoxy that “man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live.” If all things live by joy, then joy must be a divine attribute. Chesterton thought it so: “There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.” Imagine for a moment the heavens ringing with holy laughter. What a joy to witness such a thing!




Back to January-February 2013 Issue