Peter Kreeft in his "Trialogue with C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther & Thomas Aquinas" (July-Aug. 1994), penned the most horrifyingly accurate indictment of our society and times in the words he had Luther say to Lewis: "decadence blasphemy and pornography the likes of which you have not imagined ." How obvious Kreeft makes the wretchedness in which we are so immersed; but we, like the slowly heated frog, tolerate successive increases -- and then we die.
James William Brown
Name That Name!
Charles Helms ("What's in a Name?" Sept. 1994) should not be afraid to name one of his future sons "Austin." Unlike the other trendy pagan names mentioned, the name Austin is simply a time-honored English form of Augustine.
On second thought, Austin is not the only saint's name Helms has included in his list of pagan names. "Macey" is simply an old Norman-English diminutive of Thomas. It would still do very well as a diminutive of Thomasina, should Helms and his wife ever be fortunate enough to have a daughter.
Oak Park, Illinois
I enjoyed Charles Helms's jeu d'esprit with names ("What's in a Name?" Sept. 1994), but was astonished to see Austin listed as a pagan name. Surely Helms, a D.Phil. from Oxford, cannot have forgotten the wonderfully ironic presentation of the Monk in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales:
What sholde he studye, and make himselven wood/Upon a book in cloistre to poure,/Or swinken with his hands, and laboure,/As Austin bit? How shall the world be served?/Let Austin have his Swink to him reserved.
At Cambridge, where I was on sabbatical recently, we remember that Chaucer's Austin is Saint Augustine of Hippo.
Prof. Brian Barbour
Dept. of English, Providence College
Providence, Rhode Island
Christocentric or Anthropocentric?
In his letter to the editor (Sept. 1994), Episcopal clergyman Frederick Stecker commented on eucharistic theology as follows: "The real issue is not whether Christ is present in the sacrament, but whether we are truly present." I don't want to sound prejudicial to our Protestant friend, but we Catholics really do believe that Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. Stecker's statement reaffirms his Protestant beliefs and, moreover, seems to place "us" before "Him" (Jesus).
Brown Deer, Wisconsin
Not At Any Price
In his article, "The D-Day Commemorations" (Sept. 1994), Gordon Zahn raises largely irrelevant issues. Regardless of why Hitler rose to power or whether the Allies were too brutal, the basic question remains: How can pacifism toward the Nazis be justified when it is clear that, without anything to hinder them, they would have conquered Europe and massacred millions, even billions, of people? This is a question Zahn doesn't answer. I agree that war is a monstrous thing we should try to avoid, but not at any price.
John S. Whitehead
Our Boys Fought for Gordon Zahn
Contrary to Gordon Zahn ("The D-Day Commemorations," Sept. 1994), the pride an American takes in the D-Day victory is not the "massive enemy casualty counts." Rather, it is this: When the world faced a dire threat, our boys stood up to the challenge. They fought for freedom, and for Gordon Zahn.
If Zahn is alive and free to be a "conscientious objector," he owes this to God, his country, and those who made the tough decision to go out and fight evil.
Parades or Prayers
As an Army veteran who was thankful he didn't have to fight in Vietnam (but would have if sent there), I enjoyed reading Gordon C. Zahn's article on the D-Day commemorations (Sept. 1994).
I, too, winced at some of the things done and said around last June 6. World War II should be viewed as a great lesson, but instead it's become fodder for popular myths of all sorts. The study of it should focus less on how Panzer divisions won and lost or how Ike and Monty got along, and more on how the lunacy that caused the war was ever allowed to happen.
I'd like to think that there were numerous servicemen and women who didn't want to march in any victory parade, that their reaction on hearing of the German and Japanese surrenders was not a hip-hip-hooray, but a silent prayer of thanksgiving followed by another one that what they'd been through never be repeated. Unfortunately, there probably weren't many of them.
What Could Be Worse?
David C. Stolinsky's saying in his "America: A Christian Country?" (July-Aug. 1994) that, "if no one speaks up against abortion or euthanasia, there may be no one left to speak up against something worse," piques my curiosity: What might he have in mind as "something worse"? It is precisely because prolifers haven't reacted appropriately to the worst of crimes, haven't insisted on such a fair use of force as is generally recognized to be legitimate opposition to murderers, that the pro-abortion crowd doesn't take seriously our merely verbal condemnations, and that other wrongs just as fatal (but not morally worse) may well be done later to others who were fortunate enough to get born. The recent shotgun murder of an abortionist in your country was indeed a great wrong, but I see nothing immoral in holding a gun on an abortionist to make him refrain from performing an abortion and then shooting him (not fatally, perhaps) if he persists.