Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: June 1992

June 1992

The Mystery of Harvard

Thank you for your March issue, especially John T. Noo­nan Jr.’s article regarding the Catholic community at Har­vard.

Since leaving Harvard Law School in 1966, I have reflected on the Law School’s proud, anti-community atmosphere. Many fellow students or alum­ni of my era found that at­mosphere repugnant. It is a great mystery, probably related to the mystery of evil, how an assembly of mostly courteous, ethical, talented, and friendly students and teachers can insti­tutionalize and perpetuate a public intellectual and social milieu marked by rudeness, nihilism, violent self-aggran­dizement, and intolerant secu­larist prejudices. The Harvard-bashing books of recent gradu­ates have their roots in the student experience of aliena­tion from this institution, so prized, feared, and envied by American culture as the home of its brightest young leaders and achievers. My suspicion is that the Harvard intellectual war zone derives from being seen as and seeing itself as the vanguard of society. Maybe self-promotion corrupts as much as power.

Accordingly, Judge Noo­nan’s reflections on the history of Harvard’s motto, the Chris­tocentric root of which is for­gotten but not yet expunged, struck me as charitable and healing. He shows how to expand the secularist horizon when he takes Judge Learned Hand’s reflection on the Har­vard motto and his truncated paraphrase of St. Augustine, and brings to bear the religious content and context of the more complete statement: “Love and do what you will.” Noo­nan’s remarks may even assist me to pray that the secularist vision of reality preached by Harvard be graced, enlivened, and expanded by an encounter with St. Augustine and others who embrace the life of Christ breathed by the Holy Spirit in­to the Church and wherever He wills, even Cambridge. Were more such commentary encountered there, Harvard might indeed rediscover both its mottoes.

J. Martin Green

Beaumont, Texas

The Power & the Gender

In her letter (Aprib| Jean D. Brooks noted: “What dam­age women might do if they were in power we do not know. It would be different.” She implied there would be less damage.

Without any exhaustive review of the difference in the nature of rule by males and females throughout history — from the reign of Nefertiti and Cleopatra through that of Catherine the Great and Eliza­beth I to the more recent rule by Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher — my conclusion is that the results would not be all that different. The nature of rulership is more likely deter­mined by cultural predisposi­tion and historic timing than it is by the gender of the specific ruler.

Michael Zavacky

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

The Real Point of Difference

I read with great interest “On Gary North, Texas Fun­damentalist” by Charles Wilber and Laura Grimes (March). Although not a great supporter of North, I did find their arti­cle a rather misleading exami­nation. The authors base their entire critique on one short ar­ticle said to be “a good summary…representative of his many writings on Christian economics.” North is accused of neglecting “important Old Testament themes for econom­ics: the jubilee regulations and the prophetic call for social jus­tice,” and the “life and teach­ing of Jesus.” North is said to view “private property as absolutely sacred.”

The truth is that in his book Inherit the Earth North does address these issues and never claims private property to be absolutely sacred. For example, North says: “private property is not an absolute rule,” “ownership is a social function,” and “ownership…is always a moral responsibility.”

The point on which Wilber and Grimes differ from North is not his supposed neglect of the social challenges of the prophets and Jesus Christ. Rather it is Wilber and Grimes’s (to use their own words) “logically prior com­mitment” to equate social re­sponsibility with state-run socialism.

Robert Fortuin

Berkeley, California

Fatima & Jeane Dixon

In your April issue, John Maguire’s letter on “The Third Part of the Fatima Secret” quotes Prof. Joaquin Alonso’s reasoned conjecture that the continued withholding of a part of Mary’s revelation to Lucia refers to “happenings of a religious and intra-Church character, which of their very nature are still more grave” than “new wars or political upheavals.” Jeane Dixon’s an­swer is commensurate with the magnitude of this perceived gravity, and warrants report­.

By virtue of a prior vision, Dixon had already predicted the Ecumenical Council called by Pope John XXIII for 1962. What she regarded as a related vision came as she was at­tending to her daily devotions in St. Matthew’s (Washington, D.C.): “Suddenly the very air seemed rarefied. A glorious light shown again from the dome of the cathedral, and be­fore me stood the Holy Moth­er. She was draped in purplish blue and surrounded by gold and white rays which formed a halo of light around her entire person. In a cloudlike forma­tion to the right and just above her I read the word ‘Fatima’ and sensed that the long-secret prophecy of Fatima was to be revealed to me. I saw the throne of the Pope, but it was empty. Off to one side I was shown a Pope with blood running down his face and dripping over his left shoulder. Green leaves of knowledge showered down from above, expanding as they fell. I saw hands reaching out for the throne, but no one sat in it, so I realized that within this cen­tury a Pope will be bodily harmed. When this occurs, the head of the Church will there­after have a different insignia than that of the Pope. Because the unearthly light continued to shine so brightly on the papal throne, I knew that power would still be there but that it would not rest in the person of a Pope. Instead, the Catholic Church would blaze the trail for all peoples of every religion to discover the meaning of the Almighty Pow­er; to grow in wisdom and knowledge. This, I feel sure, was the prophecy of Fatima.”

What could be more grave to the Catholic Church than a reconfiguring of its titular au­thority? Dixon’s vision (1958) does not indicate the Church will lose power; rather it will become more effective and globally influential, though perhaps less authoritarian — thus the vacant cathedra. Such a displacement would surely be alarming (“grave”) to some of the ecclesiastically ensconced as well as to many devoted to the traditional hierarchy. The empty throne would not neces­sarily mean the end of the papacy, rendered more nomi­nal and symbolic, but would suggest a reformulation of spiritual mediation and dispen­sation.

Certainly one can question the validity of the source, though those who knew her best were, in the words of Washington’s Bishop William Joseph McDonald, impressed by her “deep spirituality and genuine Christian culture [which] are sources of inspira­tion and edification to her many friends.” Dr. F. Regis Riesenman, a psychiatrist on the staff of Washington’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, whose hobby is exposing phony mediums, says that “her vi­sions come in on the highest channel of any seer or psychic whose work I have ever inves­tigated…during the past three hundred years. I would rate Mrs. Dixon’s visions and spir­itual powers even higher than those of Emanuel Sweden­borg…. I consider Mrs. Dixon to be an extraordinarily saintly person” (as relayed by Ruth Montgomery).

Charles Weber

Los Angeles, California

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