Volume > Issue > Letters to the Editor: November 2021

Letters to the Editor: November 2021

Proud Eight Percenter

I am delighted to be among the eight percent of readers estimated by David Mills who know the name Wilfred Meynell, though I do not know him as the “Grand Old Man of Catholic letters” (Last Things, Sept.). Through the friendship of a late priest who introduced me to the beauty of the poetry of Francis Thompson, I came to know Meynell as the man who not only discovered and published Thompson, author of “The Hound of Heaven” (first published in 1893), but who took in this homeless, opium-addicted poet and resurrected his life. Meynell and his wife, Alice, provided for Thompson until his death, “an unbroken intimacy of nineteen years,” in Meynell’s words. He became Thompson’s literary executor.

James Hanna

McMurray, Pennsylvania

What About the Rest of Us?

Michael S. Rose’s column “What ‘Old Books’ Have to Teach Us About Being Human in the 21st Century” (Literature Matters, Sept.) prompted a question: How about Mr. Rose start an online course on the “Old Books” like the one he offers his high-school students for those of us who are bound by either geographical distance or physical ability or who prefer remote learning? We, too, could benefit from the same learning experience.

Deacon Jay Frantz

Covington, Louisiana

Nukes Are Needed

I enjoyed the two articles on nuclear weapons (Sept.). Andrew Latham’s “Re-evaluating the Church’s Approach to Nuclear Weapons” identified where the Catholic Church has stood in the past vis-à-vis nuclear weapons and why she should stay there rather than jump to the new/old integral-disarmament position. Julianne Wiley’s “Moving Beyond Nuclear Pro-Choice” was generous, articulate, and hopeful, but, unfortunately, not a useful response. Wiley failed to propose any alternative to the Church’s staying with nuclear deterrence.

Moreover, the discussion in both articles seemed to occur in a domain that does not recognize that the objectives of modern war are not bound by ius in bello principles. Wars may be started that way — ius ad bellum — with promises made of a sure and quick jab for a just cause, but they don’t stay that way. They evolve to employ methods to destroy the enemy’s will and capacity to fight. Think about Sherman’s March to the Sea and Sheridan’s Burning of the Shenandoah Valley. Think about Nanking. Think about the bombings of London, Hamburg, Dresden, and Tokyo. The populations became military targets. In that reality, whence can come any reasonable restriction on weapons of mass destruction (WMD)? It comes only by the promise, capacity, and willingness to unleash your arsenal if your opponent uses his.

As defense of our freedom, and that of our allies, is still necessary, and likely to remain so, it strikes me as obvious that we need to maintain all our arsenals of WMDs, including nuclear weapons.

John Dyer

Vienna, Virginia

I thank Julianne Wiley for her explanation of why the possession of nuclear weapons is inherently evil, and particularly for her admission that the arguments usually given to support this idea are flawed. I think, though, that she has confused the possession and use of nuclear weapons with the deliberate destruction of cities and other concentrations of noncombatants. In popular literature and left-wing thinking, the two are often equated, but there is no reason that using nuclear weapons intrinsically means actively targeting civilian populations. Indeed, it is my (admittedly second-hand) understanding that all the targets toward which American nuclear missiles are aimed have military value.

I certainly agree with Wiley that deliberately destroying cities for the purpose of destroying cities is inherently evil; indeed, as she points out, I cannot be a good Catholic and disagree with that statement. But this is not the same thing as using nuclear weapons. The Second World War showed us that it is possible to destroy cities without them.

From my experience in Princeton, New Jersey, in the early 1980s, I must also disagree with one of Wiley’s minor points. Much of the local Left considered the Strategic Defense Initiative to be highly immoral because it could destabilize the uneasy peace brought about by “mutual assured destruction.” Their solution, to lay down our arms and hope the Soviet Union would treat us well, was, thankfully, never tried.

John F. Fay

Freeport, Florida

After reading Andrew Latham’s and Julianne Wiley’s articles on nuclear weapons, I am forced to ask the following question and make the subsequent statements:

1. Are Latham and Wiley qualified to address the subject of war? I do not consider anyone so qualified who has not put himself in personally dangerous duty in service of the protection of others, for example, in a combat unit in a nation’s armed forces, as a peace officer or firefighter, or as a coast guard/maritime rescue team member. I am a qualified commentator: I put myself at great physical risk in the U.S. Navy; as a civilian while taking convicted criminals into custody, without any weapons; and by helping firefighters put down a dangerous fire, involving many gallons of explosive solvents, while being in the blast radius.

2. When the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, the people of that nation still supported the “imperial system” and were prepared to kill as many Allied troops as they could, even after the bombs fell and until the Imperial Decree ordering surrender came down. This ended a military regime noted for genocide (the Nanking Massacre), rape (“comfort women”), violations of the laws of war (Bataan Death March), and other crimes against humanity. A land invasion would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of Allied casualties and the possible extermination of the Japanese people, who would have fought with kamikaze aircraft and high-speed motorboats, a very large body of soldiers, and civilians using in-close weapons like bamboo spears. I would rather that every city and town in Japan be destroyed than a single Allied soldier die with a bamboo spear in his gut.

3. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) worked. After 1945 there was no further military use of atomic bombs. MAD may even have had a part in resolving the 1964 Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russia understood the risk to her leaders and her people of launching a military attack on the United States.

James Pawlak

West Allis, Wisconsin

Intellectual & Spiritual Fortification

Thank you very much for continuing my scholarship subscription to the NOR. As a Catholic inmate, I’ve found it very difficult to come across high-quality Catholic reading material, as most of the religious material in here is either Protestant or Islamic.

After I’m done reading an issue, I always pass it along to other Catholics. I thank your staff and readers for their generosity in making available and supporting the Scholarship Fund.

(Name Withheld)

Belmont Correctional Institution

St. Clairsville, Ohio

I am writing to request a subscription to the NOR. I regret that, due to my present circumstances as an incarcerated Catholic, I cannot pay for a subscription. I would be very grateful if you could, in your generosity, send me a subscription.

I would very much like to keep up with and learn more about the present state of the Church. Unfortunately, due to the location of this facility — deep in the “Bible Belt” — and prison politics, I am not able to watch television to keep up with current events. Yet I am the unofficial “spokesman” of the Catholic community here.

I close with sincere thanks for considering my plea and a request for your prayers.

Clint Green

Forrest City Low Federal Correctional Institution

Forrest City, Arkansas

My scholarship subscription to the NOR is almost over. I am pleading for another year. I recently moved to a new prison to help train dogs, but there is no Mass offered here. I am doing everything I can to stay secure and safe in the Body of Christ, and publications like the NOR help with that.

I’ve been sharing your magazine with other Catholics who also enjoy it. Sadly, all the “Catholic” content we get around here from other sources involves only three topics: sexually abusive priests, abortion, and “gay” priests. The NOR reminds me that, intellectually and spiritually, the Church is a treasure house of insight, clarity, and real direction.

William S. Walker

Warren Correctional Institution

Norlina, North Carolina

I saw your advertisement in the National Catholic Register and wonder if you have a special rate for inmates. I work (during non-COVID lockdowns) making 12¢ an hour, which amounts to $9-10 a month, which I use primarily to support my coffee addiction!

I found your magazine’s focus to be of much interest. I left the Church many years ago and just recently returned; I have a dear and deep desire to relearn my cradle faith. Due to the coronavirus, we’ve not had Mass since April 2020, which means no catechism classes either. I’d be very appreciative if you could send me your magazine.

May God bless and keep all of you.

Chris J. Sommer

Pekin Federal Correctional Institution

Pekin, Illinois

I would very much appreciate being accepted once more as a subscriber through the Scholarship Fund. I hope to begin as a paying subscriber soon, as God has blessed me with a job that I will use to get myself on track budget-wise. Prison pay is never very much and always contingent on whether we are on “lockdown.” I believe that with a little character and a lot of prayer, I will be able to save enough money to become a genuine subscriber.

Thank you for your patience and your ministry. I crave literature that promotes right living rather than the fictions found in the media of the world.

God bless you.

Jeremy C. Workman

Northwest Correctional Complex

Tiptonville, Tennessee

Thank you for the scholarship subscription. I have enjoyed the NOR a great deal, especially the fellowship of the other readers who’ve reminded me that people do care about those of us who are doing penance for the crimes we committed.

You printed a letter of mine (Oct. 2020) lamenting the lack of love shown to men and women who, after completion of their prison sentences, return to a society that continues to punish them. In response, I found new brothers and sisters in Christ, one of whom challenged me (letter, Dec. 2020), saying I did not show contrition, remorse, or repentance in my letter.

To explain: I pled guilty in court in order to spare those I hurt by my actions the indignity of a lengthy trial. I cried myself to sleep every night in my cell during my first year of incarceration, at first selfishly, for myself. But then Jesus called me, and soon my tears became liquid prayers from my heart for those I hurt. I followed Jesus; I confessed my sins. I heard the sweet words from the priest, acting in persona Christi: “Your sins are forgiven.” To be forgiven means whatever we have done in the past does not continue to hang over our heads. Our sins no longer define us. What a wonderful God we serve!

I have come into a little money, so I would like to renew my subscription for two more years (payment enclosed), during which time I’ll be released from prison. Altogether, I will have spent eight years and eight months behind bars. It might not sound like a lot, but I have missed five weddings and four funerals: major life events that get taken for granted and even avoided as inconvenient. Only Jesus, our Holy Mother Mary, and the communion of saints could have gotten me through. All glory to Our Lord, Jesus Christ!

I have included a little extra with my renewal payment in a small attempt to “pay it forward,” to help someone else find a faithful community of brothers and sisters in Christ.

Keep up the good work. You are all in my prayers. May God bless you!

Wayne Winder

Lunenburg Correctional Center

Victoria, Virginia

For several years, you have provided me a free subscription to the NOR, thanks to the readers who donate to the Scholarship Fund. On a number of occasions, you have also published letters I have submitted, a couple of which related to my college fund for distance education courses. The generous donations of your readers allowed me to complete seven required undergraduate courses, in preparation for a master’s program.

On June 9, after nearly 30 years of incarceration, I was released from prison. Therefore, I will be renewing my subscription soon as a paying customer! I also hope to continue submitting letters and possibly articles for consideration once in a while, and to be a part of the NOR community. I also plan to resume my college studies, pursuing my master’s degree online.

In the meantime, I am now facing many challenges as I start to rebuild my life in a world that is much different from the one I left in 1991. I would appreciate your and your readers’ prayers, as you are in mine.

Richard J.T. Clark

Lithonia, Georgia

It is gratifying to read the feedback from beneficiaries of the NOR’s Scholarship Fund. I am aware that, in many cases, the recipients are incarcerated, their freedom curtailed. Their responses make clear that the NOR is important.

My reason for supporting the Scholarship Fund, when I am able, is perhaps more selfish than altruistic: I would hate to see the print version of the NOR cease publication. At 81, I am from the “old school” and enjoy the tactile pleasure of thumbing through a newly arrived copy of the NOR. Have you ever noticed the unique scent of a fresh magazine? No algorithm could simulate that scent.

This reader, who has yet to cross the Tiber, would truly miss the NOR should the print edition disappear.

John Karkalis

Cleveland, Ohio

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