Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: November 1995

November 1995

More Scripture to Censor

I greatly admired Mark Shea’s article (July-Aug. 1995) critiquing the attempts to delete St. Paul’s teaching on wives from readings at Mass.

Consider the sinful woman in Luke 7:38: She “stood at his [Jesus’] feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears…. A feminist dictionary comments: “The tears of Mary Magdalene have had an important influence upon…the gender construction of femininity” — i.e., a bad influence, one that leads women to consider themselves “tearfully, weakly emotional.” Will Luke 7:38 be deleted next?

Ronald Haak

Duke Divinity School

Kyoto, Japan

Time to Look for New Jobs

Regarding your editorial, “Down the Old Schism Trail” (Sept. 1995), opposing the public protest of some 40 U.S. Catholic bishops against Rome: If those bishops were members of virtually any other large organization (except, of course, a Protestant denomination) a public disagreement about fundamental policy would result in their looking for new jobs. Imagine what Bill Clinton’s response would have been if his Secretary of State had signed a letter to The New York Times asking for “further study” and “open dialogue” on whether the Serbs around Sarajevo should remove their heavy weapons, after the NATO bombing had begun. What would the head of the NAACP do if a local leader complained publicly about “directives” from national headquarters on affirmative action policy? If anything, Rome can be faulted for leniency by leaving bishops like the 40 in their comfortable positions, supported by the generosity of countless Catholics, living and dead.

Steve McCarty

El Sobrante, California

I keep trying to tell the Methodists I teach what it means to be Catholic, but they just can’t get it. Your editorial, “Down the Old Schism Trail,” which I loved, got it just right.

Prof. Stanley Hauerwas

Durham, North Carolina

When 'Therapy' Poses As Spirituality

I read with interest your editorial, “A Burden for Souls?” (July-Aug. 1995). You expressed concern that if one sends someone in need of Christ to a priest, the priest, instead of offering the Gospel, might just play amateur therapist.

May I relate some things that happened to me recently?

I took classes on the Enneagram personality theory from a Catholic priest at a church. At one point, he suggested we go home, take off our clothes, and feel ourselves all over. The next week he asked if anyone had done what he’d recommended. When no one raised his hand, he said, “I can see no one wants to get any better.”

At the end of the classes he formed a spirituality group based on the Enneagram, and he became the spiritual director. Basically, we were told that we must reveal our deepest sins to the group.

I wrote this priest a number of letters about my experiences with spirituality. Not once did he comment on them, nor did he even acknowledge receiving them, although he saw me on a regular basis.

If it weren’t for the fact that we’d signed up to go on a retreat with him, I would have dropped out of the group. What happened next seems almost unreal.

Two days before the retreat, my mother suddenly passed away. I called this priest and I asked to see him. When I sat across from him and told him about my mother, his eyes never changed. They were absolutely hard. He proceeded to tell me that he’d never seen anyone so calm and collected after a mother’s death, and then he said, “You’re in shock.”

Without one word of consolation, he brought up the letters I’d sent him. He told me that I was addicted to God and that I should read a book called When God Becomes a Drug. He said I only had resurrection experiences, never any crucifixion ones. Not once did he ask me about the contents of my letters, although they were basically about my feeling God’s presence in a number of life situations. His attitude was that these letters were of no value, no importance. I felt totally put down. When I left him an hour and a half later, I’d said very little.

I did go on that retreat. He saw to it that he spent more time criticizing my personality type than any of the others in the group. When I tried to question him, he said to the others, “She’s in her compulsive state, isn’t she?” And they all agreed.

It was two weeks after the retreat before I realized what I’d gone through. Meanwhile, one of the young men in the group asked me to go out with him after work. He revealed to me that he is “gay.” When he had told this priest he is “married” to a man, Father said to him, “Isn’t it wonderful you found someone who loves you so much.” This young man felt totally accepted. His experience could not have been more different from my own.

Interestingly, my young friend did observe Father’s hostility toward me at retreat. He said Father wanted power and authority over other people, and didn’t feel he could control me. I was too different from the others. I was the only one who questioned him.

People should know what is happening in the Church. Frequently the Gospel is not being preached; spirituality is not important. Theories on personality, group confessions, and a kind of wacky therapy posing as spirituality have taken their place.

(Name Withheld)

Berkeley, California

Orthodox Christianity: Enemy of a Free America

In Germany during the fascist period, Nazis denounced their neighbors for helping the Jews. The police came and took the criminals away.

In the Soviet Union during the Communist period, young Komsomol members denounced their neighbors who were suspected of harboring anti-Communist ideas. The police came and took the criminals away.

In the U.S. prior to Roe v. Wade, neighbors denounced physicians for performing “some operations that doctors are not supposed to do.” The police came and took the criminals away. American society in those days, when “tolerance had limits,” sounds little different from fascism or Communism, doesn’t it? Julie Crane’s anti-abortion article, “Where Tolerance Had Limits” (July-Aug. 1995), which approves of such a covertly conformist society, is simply offensive. Such rubbish simply illustrates the fact that orthodox Christianity remains a clear and present danger to freedom in America.

Richard L. Huff

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