The Full Story
The July-August issue is why I subscribe to the NOR. The interview with Fr. John Corapi is precious and ought to be read by all. The succeeding New Oxford Note on Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland reveals the human errors that have penetrated our Catholic Church and must also be read by all.
The "good" and the "bad" must be exposed to allow the "good" to prevail. This is the strength of the NOR. Those who are turned off by stories of the "bad," especially in our Church hierarchy, are most in need of a reality check.
Please continue your excellent presentation of both the "good" and the "bad."
Joseph P. Bonchonsky
Mt. Shasta, California
The Very Best
Wow! You guys have really outdone yourselves. The July-August issue is absolutely outstanding -- one of your very best. I receive several Catholic magazines, and yours is by far the best. I have learned so much.
F. Douglas Kneibert's article on the dark clouds of persecution of the Church shook me to the core. I had to get down on my knees and pray for God's protection and the intercession of Mary and all the saints as soon as I'd finished reading it.
Having grown up evangelical, I can relate to your New Oxford Note, "Requiem for Evangelicalism?" The Catholic Church truly is the light in the darkness -- such a joy.
I plan to read The Last of the Mohicans, having been so inspired by Eric Seddon's article.
Please know that you are all in my prayers. I know the Lord is pleased with your wonderful endeavors.
Long Beach, California
A Theme Runs Through It
The NOR editorial staff has given us all a good lesson on how to build a theme for a magazine with the July-August issue. The letters began with "The Nature of Evil" and ended with "Racism & Evolution," making us aware of the demonic at the personal level and then showing how Darwinian evolution, in which chance (natural selection) accounts for all the diversity in life on earth, is aimed at isolating all of humanity from our Creator. After which, the News column shows us more ways in which the human population (souls created for Heaven) is targeted for reduction.
Fr. Corapi continues this theme of diabolic activity in human affairs, but shows how these efforts ultimately fail. Next, you look at Rembert "the Weak" Weakland's book, showing us how even an archbishop can promote sterile sex (this time of the homosexual variety). Then we find that evangelical Christians are getting the same demonic attack as the Catholic Church -- tempted to seek "salvation" in godless materialism -- but without our 2,000 years of organized resistance. Brian A. Graebe then examines the abandonment of Friday penance as an example of choosing materialism, with the resulting spiritual impoverishment in the Catholic Church.
Next we are treated to an essay by Eric Seddon on how a noble Mohican nation became extinct through loss of fertility (it can't happen to us?). This is followed by F. Douglas Kneibert's chronicling the moves taking place that will in fact result in that happening to us, beginning with silencing the authentic Christian voice in the present global assault on human fertility. Then we read about the first major public casualty in the struggle, the total capitulation of the best-known Catholic university in the U.S. to the Culture of Death.
And finally we have Mary of Agreda relate to us how all of this is a direct consequence of the primeval hatred of Satan toward humanity -- humanity personified by the Mother of God who brought Jesus Christ into the world, and who leads the world to Heaven through her Son, even to this present day and onward until the end of time.
Terence J. Hughes
The Coming Persecution
F. Douglas Kneibert's article, "Are the Dark Clouds of Persecution Beginning to Gather?" (Jul.-Aug.), is convincing and thorough. But I would like to throw in two further bits of evidence to bolster his more-than-plausible argument: In Connecticut, where I reside, the "lavender" legislative assault on parochial structures was followed (in the Bridgeport Diocese) by yet another stealth persecution in which a non-legislative state agency attempted to register that diocese as a "lobbyist" due to its active involvement in last summer's voter-push for a constitutional amendment overturning the State Supreme Court's homosexual-marriage ruling. The uproar over this second folly forced Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (himself no friend of the Church) to block this aggressively anti-Catholic action at least for the moment. Where these hate-mongers will strike next in the state is as uncertain as it is predictable.
But another and more visible step toward the gathering storm of persecution of the Church is the very real possibility that Catholic hospitals and physicians will cease to operate in the very near future. Anyone who believes that the Obama administration is going to issue a blank check to the Church on the basis of our moral objection to abortion might as well believe in the tooth fairy -- though the latter is far more generous. Just as the entire Catholic Charities Adoption Service had to be shut down two years ago in Massachusetts, it is quite likely that Catholic hospitals and physicians across the "fruitless plains" will be forced to close their doors even if it brings about untold misery for the destitute and unemployed/underemployed. The Left does not love the poor -- it only seeks to implement its dark eugenics agenda on their backs.
Finally, that all this anti-Catholic incrementalism is being accomplished under the approving eye of so many Catholic pro-abortion government-department heads is perhaps the most sinister evil of all. From his presidential appointments to his arrogant stance at Notre Dame and even to his meeting with the Holy Father in Rome, Obama has cleverly devised a plan -- yes, a plan -- to further divide Catholics in America, to emasculate our bishops and preoccupy them with phony social-justice issues, and eventually to strangle the Church's witness to life by using as his chief instruments the voices and policies of Catholic dissidents. A more sinister approach could not have been conceived even by Machiavelli himself, to whom the President owes a great debt. Catholics persecuting Catholics -- now that's the stuff that dreams are made of!
Ed. Note: For an examination of the controversy surrounding Catholic hospitals, see Fr. Regis Scanlon's article in this issue.
Pay Attention to the Context of Persecution
F. Douglas Kneibert, in his excellent article, "Are the Dark Clouds of Persecution Beginning to Gather?" explains attacks on the Catholic Church in recent years and compares them to Nazi attacks on Jews, but fails to point out that today's assault is a continuation of 300 years of attacks on the Church in the U.S. and Europe. Comparing the three centuries of attacks on the Church to the less than three decades of persecution of the Jews under the Nazis ignores the uniqueness of their experience as well as its historical context.
Inspired by the German Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto, the Russian Revolution's atheistic communists did all they could to destroy the Church and belief in God in their own nation. They also created the Communist International to spread communist revolution around the world. Some 37 countries attended the 1919 Comintern meeting. In 1918 communists instigated a violent revolution in Germany. Both the Russian Revolution and Germany's 1918-1919 revolution were led in part by Jews -- Leon Trotsky and others in Russia, and Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in Germany.
The 1918-1919 German communist revolution did not succeed, but fear of the communists and a return of revolutionary violence affected Germans for years. In addition to the destabilizing communist revolution and the destruction brought on by World War I, Germany suffered from very high unemployment, a depression, hyperinflation, and reparations owed to the World War I victors. The Nazi Party was born during this tumultuous time.
Once in power, the Nazis destroyed democracy and created a police state. We often forget that the Nazis were one more in a long line of anti-Church, anti-Christian secularists doing all they could to violently destroy the Church.
There was no excuse for the Nazi abomination, and it is not my intent to justify or diminish the suffering of the victims of Nazism. Nazi violence was so inhumane, so wrong, and so evil that it is universally condemned. Yet we find it impolite to talk about the problems that led to Nazi political ascendancy. The period of 1918-1933 in Germany needs to be remembered, especially in turbulent economic times such as ours.
The centuries-long war on the Church is unrelenting. Enlightenment ideas and communist, fascist, and socialist practices can be seen today in their fellow travelers' attacks on the Catholic Church, on Christian values, and on the traditions and history of the U.S. We do not know if today's revolutionaries will succeed. Their weapons include new laws and administrative procedures, lies, and the tools of mass communication. These weapons are more effective than the guillotine and guns used by the power seekers of the past.
Fascism: Of the Right or the Left?
In your July-August issue, F. Douglas Kneibert says the Nazi persecutors were on the Right. But Clem Dawkins, in his review of Liberal Fascism, says that author Jonah Goldberg places fascism on the Left. Can you clarify?
Milford, New Hampshire
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
Good catch! National socialists, otherwise known as fascists and as Nazis in Germany, are considered right-wing, as opposed to international socialists, known as Bolsheviks in Russia, who are considered left-wing. Goldberg, a conservative (or a "right-winger"), appears to want to rewrite this historical understanding by turning the right-wing bad guys into left-wingers. It's a novel approach, but one that likely won't affect historical scholarship, at least not outside conservative circles.
What primarily distinguishes fascists as being on the Right is their disdain for "class struggle" and its goal of a classless society, one of the Left's sacred cows, and their preference for social and class stratification.
But from whichever persuasion, Left or Right, totalitarianism generates, the end result is always the same: the monopolization of political power in the state, political oppression, religious suppression, state-sanctioned mass murder, and typically racial genocide. In other words, all the political horrors witnessed in the 20th century.
Fr. Jaki, Polymath
I wish to congratulate Prof. Anne Barbeau Gardiner for her article, "The Achievements of Father Stanley L. Jaki" (June). The most brilliant polymath of the 20th century, Fr. Jaki was not sufficiently known or appreciated in the Catholic or secular worlds. I would like to add one more accomplishment of his to Prof. Gardiner's overview: the research he brought to and light he shed on the Galileo affair.
As a high-school teacher of physics and math (I have advanced degrees in both), I have taken abuse from my non-Catholic colleagues, as well as a few Catholic ones, for the Church's supposed persecution of Galileo and science in general. Fr. Jaki's extensive research, however, has brought out the following facts:
(1) The Church accepted the Catholic priest Copernicus's hypothesis on the heliocentric solar system. The Protestant reformers Luther, Calvin, and Knox roundly condemned Copernicus.
(2) Galileo claimed he had raised Copernicus's hypothesis to a theory by his observation of (a) the earth's tides and (b) the phases of the moons of Saturn. Now, (a) is patently false and (b) can also be explained using a geometric model.
(3) The pope at the time, Urban VIII, was about to approve Galileo's claims until Galileo wrote a treatise egregiously depicting the pope and a number of cardinals as simpletons for having reservations about his claims.
(4) The condemnation of Galileo was not signed by the pope but by Robert Cardinal Bellarmine and others who had no claims to infallibility.
(5) Galileo's "punishment" -- house arrest in a beautiful villa where he was visited by many anti-Catholic intellectuals, including John Milton -- attests to the Vatican's ambivalence toward the merits of his claims.
The experimental proof for the rotation of the earth was not accomplished until about 200 years later when Foucault applied Newton's Second Law of Dynamics to his famous pendulum (any change of the plane of swing cannot occur if there is no force exerted on that plane).
On the matter of the Church's role in advancing science, I would like to add that it was a Catholic priest, Msgr. Georges LeMaître, who pointed out to Einstein that his General Theory of Relativity implied an expanding universe, which in turn necessitated the Big Bang Theory, pointing to some Power that had created a "singularity" (a "primeval atom") out of nothing. Msgr. LeMaître received a rebuke from Einstein, who held on to his "steady state" theory, until the astronomer Hubble confirmed Msgr. LeMaître's hypothesis by observing that the galaxies are indeed receding.
Although all analogies limp, I would like to make the following parallels: Without the New Testament of the Christians, the Old Testament of the Hebrews appears incomplete in meaning. Likewise, without the Big Bang Theory of Msgr. LeMaître, the General Theory of Relativity of Einstein has little import for the human race.
Philip S. Adams
Autonomy & Accountability
With regard to the Diocese of Bridgeport's recent appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to block the unsealing of court documents relating to the 23 sex-abuse lawsuits against seven of its priests: One can be sure every diocese and bishop in the U.S. is watching this one. This wouldn't have happened in the first place if the bishops had focused on protecting children and vulnerable adults instead of shielding sexually abusive priests, deacons, and laity.
The core problem here, the autonomy of the Church, is an age-old problem. The question is, what does one do when power is abused by Church officials? Obviously, since no one is above the law, they need to be brought to justice, but care must be exercised that prosecution of Church officials for crimes they committed does not get transformed into a general persecution of the Church at large. This happened during the French and Mexican revolutions and it resulted, uncounted times, in the bloody murder of Christians of all types, but bishops and priests in particular.
The media is rightly trying to get at the truth about the continuing cover-up of sexual predators by U.S. bishops and how fungible monies given in good-faith donations are being used to pay high-powered law firms. However, numerous members of the media have made no secret of the fact that they are no friends of the Catholic Church because she often gets in the way of their various "brave new world" agendas. They wouldn't mind prosecution turning into persecution as a means of totally marginalizing those meddlesome bishops -- or Catholics and other Christians altogether. Therefore, they go at this situation with great gusto.
I say, let the bishops and their minions be held accountable for what they've done -- they deserve it. But let us not move from moral prosecution under law to immoral persecution simply because they represent the Church, although their actions in defiance of her teachings were done solely to protect their own corner of paradise.
Ed. Note: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has denied the Diocese of Bridgeport's appeal to keep its abuse documents sealed. The lawsuits against the diocese, most of which originated in the 1990s, were settled in 2001 with the agreement that the settlement amounts not be disclosed and the court documents remain sealed forever. In 2002 four secular newspapers filed suit to have the documents unsealed; among the thousands of pages of documents are three depositions by then-Bishop of Bridgeport Edward Egan, who was later installed as archbishop of New York and retired early this year. The Connecticut State Supreme Court twice ruled that the documents be unsealed. The diocese, which has argued that the unsealing of the documents would violate its First Amendment rights, has stated that it "intends to proceed with its announced determination to ask the full U.S. Supreme Court to review the important constitutional issues that this case presents." In late August the diocese's attorneys asked Justice Antonin Scalia, a Catholic, to reconsider its request to keep the documents sealed. Whether for principle or protection, the diocese is determined not to divulge what might be damaging details in those disputed documents.
Primitivism & Miscegenation in The Last of the Mohicans
As a retired college (USF) and secondary English teacher, I was eager to read Eric Seddon's article, "Fatherhood & Fertility in The Last of the Mohicans" (Jul.-Aug.). I was surprised, however, to find the overloading of James Fenimore Cooper's adventure novel, one of the five Natty Bumppo (alias Deerslayer, Hawkeye, Leatherstocking, Pathfinder -- anything to avoid that silly name) tales, with "fatherhood and fertility" themes and the suggestion that a self-serving political speech by the evil Indian villain Magua has some sort of moral value today.
In Mohicans and its companions, Cooper has created a mythic, ideal wilderness which he sharply contrasts with civilization's inroads (the settlements) as a "nature good, cities bad" polarity. Thus, Chingachgook and the scout-hero Hawkeye are preternaturally noble and pure because they live in and are one with the wilderness. Chingachgook is in fact the original "noble savage" in American literature, an archetype appearing again and again (e.g., Melville, Hemingway). The corrupt but civilized French are nature's enemy who subvert and exploit Indians to further their designs on early America.
In reading Seddon's article, I was struck by his avoidance of describing Cooper's Indians as "Indians" -- especially odd from a Cleveland writer. Only twice does the word appear, when the heroine Cora Munro is correctly identified as half West Indian, and again when mentioning the French and Indian War. In his final paragraph, political correctness pops up in Seddon's amazing assertion that Mark Twain was a bigot who "hated Native Americans," and that this is why he hated the novel.
Actually, Twain's fiction features only one bad Indian, Injun Joe in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, who's punished for his villainy by starving to death in a cave. Based on a real person from Sam Clemens's boyhood in Hannibal, Mo., he was one of the town drunks whom the local boys enjoyed listening to and found "intolerably interesting." In his autobiography, Twain reveals that Joe "told me all his story," and later confesses to lying awake at night (having used Joe in his novel) feeling guilty. "When Injun Joe died but never mind. Somewhere I have already described what a raging hell of repentance I passed through then." In an essay titled "The French and the Comanches," Twain notes that "cruelty, savagery, and the spirit of massacre" are more the moral responsibility of the French, because the Comanches had no religious motive "to reform his brother by killing him."
Seddon's claim that Twain was guilty of "bigoted attacks" on The Last of the Mohicans and "hated it, largely because he hated Native Americans" would hold more water if he had read the book right. Twain actually wrote only one attack on Cooper, the often anthologized and highly amusing essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses." Mohicans is nowhere mentioned. Twain's target is Cooper's last Natty Bumppo novel, The Deerslayer (he shreds it).
But if one is set on finding racism, instead of picking on one of the least racist of our classic authors, let's go after Cooper himself. Why does Chingachgook's son Uncas fall for the raven-haired, half-white Munro daughter Cora, rather than the lovely, blonde, fair-skinned Alice? And why are Cora and Uncas necessarily slated to die? Miscegenation, the love that dared not speak its name, not in 1826. (For a complete analysis of this and Cooper's fiction overall, Love and Death in the American Novel by Leslie Fiedler and D.H. Lawrence's Studies in American Literature are the places to go. Oddly, Lawrence really enjoyed Cooper's work.)
And what of Seddon's "fatherhood and fertility" in Mohicans? Certainly there is fatherhood, inasmuch as the three featured offspring, Uncas, Cora, and Alice, are all raised by their exemplary fathers. But there is no motherhood, their mothers having been dead many years. As to fertility, the hero Hawkeye has neither wife nor children in any of his multi-named appearances in the five books. No woman in Mohicans is expecting or even married. Cooper's own family was small, and he apparently had a trying marriage; his wife was quite the social climber and made him dress accordingly. While he was not an overly pious Protestant, he was an honorable man: U.S. consul to Lyons, a onetime naval officer and later naval historian (he also wrote sea stories), and author of some forty volumes. But today Cooper is remembered mainly for his tale of two loyal friends, Chingachgook and Hawkeye, scouting that mythic wilderness of still-virgin forests, looking to protect the good and destroy the evil.
While wishing to be morally correct, politically correct Cooper is not (all that vicious, graphic scalping!). But consider Catholic icon Evelyn Waugh, arguably the best novelist and satirist of 20th-century Britain: In Black Mischief his opportunistic hero, Basil Seal, enjoys unknowingly eating his beloved fiancée in a delicious cannibal stew expressly prepared in his honor. Compared to Waugh's outrageous humor used to expose the foibles of fallen mankind and our "civilized" savagery, Cooper is tame stuff indeed. Far better writers will be read before the serious reader gets around to Cooper. Nevertheless, he's there waiting on every library's shelves, maybe a bit dusty or relegated to the children's section, but surely worth a read on some rainy day.
ERIC SEDDON REPLIES:
James Maclise is correct in saying that the immediate target of Mark Twain's most scathing attack upon Cooper was, ostensibly, The Deerslayer. Having clarified this, Maclise's argument strikes the informed reader as a bit of a quibble, in that Twain's goal in the essay was to disparage not just the last-written of the Leather-stocking Tales, but Cooper's writing as a whole, including the five-novel epic comprised of The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, The Pioneers, and The Prairie. In "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" Twain sarcastically renames these the "Broken Twig Series." To suggest that Twain wasn't attacking The Last of the Mohicans along with the others is therefore a bit misleading.
I find the rest of Maclise's argument surrounding Twain as surprising as it is confused. Whatever his other admirable traits as a writer, Samuel Clemens was indeed more than capable of bigoted attacks on Native Americans, and my article is hardly revolutionary in mentioning this in relation to his criticisms of Cooper. To quote one of many, here is Will J. Alpern: "[Twain] wrote that he himself had gone West eager to meet Indians like Cooper's heroes only to encounter miserable, degraded, drunken specimens of a tribe he derisively called The Goshoots' . [His] dislike of the red men shows in his essay Fenimore Cooper's White Novels.' Here he ridicules the white minority who intellectualize the red man. [Twain] speaks in racist generalities about Indian men and white women and about Indian girls and white men" ("Indians, Sources, Critics," originally published in James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art, 1984).
Alpern summarizes thus: "When writing about Cooper's Indians, Mark Twain exhibits some of the racial attitudes of a nineteenth century Archie Bunker. His comments about real Indians and Cooper's Indians cannot be taken seriously."
Scholarly opinions aside, here is one example of Twain's prose on the subject, from his 1872 book Roughing It: "Such of the Goshoots as we saw, along the road and hanging about the stations, were small, lean, scrawny' creatures; in complexion a dull black like the ordinary American negro; their faces and hands bearing dirt which they had been hoarding and accumulating for months, years, and even generations, according to the age of the proprietor; a silent, sneaking, treacherous looking race; taking note of everything, covertly, like all the other Noble Red Men' that we (do not) read about, and betraying no sign in their countenances; indolent, everlastingly patient and tireless, like all other Indians; priceless beggars -- for if the beggar instinct were left out of an Indian he would not go,' any more than a clock without a pendulum; hungry, always hungry, and yet never refusing anything that a hog would eat, though often eating what a hog would decline; hunters, but having no higher ambition than to kill and eat jackass rabbits, crickets and grasshoppers, and embezzle carrion from the buzzards and cayotes; savages who, when asked if they have the common Indian belief in a Great Spirit show a something which almost amounts to emotion, thinking whisky is referred to; a thin, scattering race of almost naked black children, these Goshoots are, who produce nothing at all, and have no villages, and no gatherings together into strictly defined tribal communities -- a people whose only shelter is a rag cast on a bush to keep off a portion of the snow, and yet who inhabit one of the most rocky, wintry, repulsive wastes that our country or any other can exhibit."
This is hardly an aberration in Twain's works. That Maclise considers him one of the "least racist" of American authors can only astonish anyone who has read beyond Huck Finn. Space precludes a full investigation of this topic -- indeed, it would mean a very long article in itself, or perhaps an anthology.
I've never been accused of political correctness before, but if failure to use the rather silly and outdated term "Indians" as a designation for the pre-colonial possessors of what is now New York State is enough to convict me of that crime, so be it. As a native of that glorious region, I reserve the right to refer to those peoples by their proper names: Mohawks, Oneidas, Lenape, Mohicans, etc. Indeed, to me it is Maclise's indignation that seems politically motivated, not my more historically accurate and ultimately benign terminology.
Finally, both Maclise's opinions of Cooper -- which amount to the standard academic glosses of the past century -- and his quibbles seem informed by a bias hinted at in his last paragraph, wherein he writes that "far better writers will be read before the serious reader gets around to Cooper." The professorial condescension is palpable. One is almost tempted to speculate what Cooper, who was himself expelled from Yale, might answer. My own writing on the subject is intended to provide an alternative to such standard academic dismissals of Cooper's masterpiece. It therefore seems obvious to me that more such articles are needed, for the oversimplifications conveyed by Maclise are so engrained in academia that it will take a great deal of work to finally brush them aside, revealing the true complexity and depth of Cooper's vision. Until then, let the reader decide between Maclise's opinion and my own, but by all means let it be through reading the book -- not through relying on stale, dismissive, poorly researched arguments.
Request for Materials
I am a past recipient of the NOR, thanks to a generous scholarship subscription, and truly enjoyed this quality read. Can you please consider renewing my scholarship subscription? My financial situation remains the same: I've had no money or family support whatsoever in my four-and-a-half years of incarceration.
The NOR has been quite beneficial to me. You see, I've been studying Franciscanism for several years, in hopes of one day becoming a Franciscan. Your publication helps to keep me informed of many helpful issues.
Do you have any Franciscan books, publications, etc., you can send to me? I'm currently completing a Franciscan spirituality course (thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor), and am always in need of materials to cite from for my research papers and assignments. Anything you can spare -- even used and/or damaged materials or books -- would be a blessing to me.
Thanks for your service, and may God continue to richly bless you.
James S. Colbert Jr. 1339224
Diboll Correctional Center/D-209-T
1604 S. First St., Diboll TX 75941
Ed. Note: This reader's scholarship subscription has been renewed, thanks to the generosity of those who have donated to our Scholarship Fund, through which gratis subscriptions are sent to readers who can't afford them. We encourage readers to send Mr. Colbert any of the requested materials they are willing to offer him.