Volume > Issue > Letters to the Editor: October 2020

Letters to the Editor: October 2020

Not So Creepy

In the course of his fascinating conversation with Pieter Vree (“Quackery Reducks: A Discussion of Spiritual Consumerism in Post-Christian America,” Jul.-Aug.), Jason M. Morgan asks, “Who could forget Nancy Reagan’s creepy astrology fixation?”

Those of us who have not forgotten God and Ronald Reagan (2004) will recall that its author, the indispensable Paul Kengor, rather conclusively showed that Mrs. Reagan’s fixation was a direct reaction to the attempted assassination of her husband. An overreaction? Those of us who do not believe in astrology will almost certainly say that it was. But perhaps those of us who were not so intimately involved should judge Mrs. Reagan more generously than to call it “creepy.”

Albert Alioto

San Francisco, California

PIETER VREE REPLIES:

Perhaps the 1981 assassination attempt did intensify Nancy’s involvement with astrology, taking it from a mere pastime to a fixation. But one thing is certain: Astrology had been part of the Reagans’ lives for decades, well before that event.

The public record indicates that Nancy was consulting astrologists even during the pre-assassination era of Ronald’s presidency. Legendary Nightline news anchor Ted Koppel, for instance, reported that before Ronald was shot on March 30, 1981, an astrologer had warned Nancy that “there was going to be an incident on that day” — i.e., before the fact.

Nancy wasn’t the only one. Ronald too was under the sway of seers. In his 1965 autobiography Where’s the Rest of Me? Ronald refers to Carroll Righter, the so-called astrologer to the stars, as “one of our good friends,” and he admits to reading daily horoscopes with Nancy.

A spokesman for the now-deceased Righter confirmed in a 1988 Los Angeles Times article that Ronald never publicly revealed his exact birth time as a precaution against people reading his astrological charts and thereby possibly controlling him. It was “a pretty smart move,” the spokesman said.

Astrologers are sticklers for the precise timing of events. When Ronald took office as governor of California, he insisted that his inauguration take place at 12:10 a.m. on January 2, 1967, not the customary 12:01 a.m., in order to take advantage of favorable astrological portents, as the Los Angeles Times reported. Even outgoing governor Pat Brown was convinced of this.

To be clear: Nancy’s concern for Ronald’s safety was real, but it didn’t prompt her involvement in astrology; it prompted her to call on a specific astrologist, San Francisco socialite Joan Quigley (evidently on the advice of TV talk-show host Merv Griffin). And Quigley quickly exerted unprecedented influence over the Reagans’ lives, including their political activities.

Nancy tried to downplay Quigley’s involvement in White House affairs, writing in her 1989 memoir, My Turn, “While astrology was a factor in determining Ronnie’s schedule, it was never the only one, and no political decision was ever based on it.” Quigley, however, told a different story. “I would participate in a more intimate way than the publicly recognized insiders of greatest importance,” she said in a 1990 Los Angeles Times interview. Quigley maintained that from 1981 to 1988 the Reagans paid her for guidance on matters that went far beyond scheduling and included international diplomacy, Cold War détente, and matters of policy.

This was confirmed by Donald Regan, who took over as Ronald’s chief of staff in 1985. “Virtually every major move and decision the Reagans made during my time as White House Chief of Staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco [Quigley] who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise,” Regan wrote in his 1988 memoir, For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington.

Joan Quigley’s sister, Ruth, told the Hollywood Reporter (March 2016) that Nancy “listened religiously to what Joan had to say.”

If Nancy listened to a quack like Quigley with the devotion of a religious acolyte, then the question is raised: Why should we regard her astrology fixation (or any fixation, really) with magnanimity and not repulsion? A “fixation” bespeaks an obsessive preoccupation or, in Christian terminology, an inordinate affection. And that’s never a good habit to have, regardless of the reason.

Was Nancy’s astrology fixation creepy? I’m creeped out by it! And I think any Catholic worth his salt should be. After all, the Catechism states, in a passage that seems like it was written with the Reagans in mind, “All forms of divination are to be rejected…. Consulting horoscopes, astrology…and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone” (no. 2116).

The Reagans, of course, weren’t Catholics. They were Presbyterians. Kengor notes that Nancy saw no conflict between her profession of Christianity and her recourse to astrology. But Presbyterians who read their Bibles should know that dabbling in divination conflicts with faith in God. They need only read the account of the prophet Samuel’s reproof of King Saul, which the Reagans would have done well to take to heart: “A sin like divination is rebellion…. Because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he, too, has rejected you as a ruler” (1 Sam. 15:23).

Imprecisions Regarding Priestly Celibacy

Christopher Beiting’s review of From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy, and the Crisis of the Catholic Church by Benedict XVI and Robert Cardinal Sarah (Jul.-Aug.) was very well done. However, it suffers from two imprecisions.

First, Beiting correctly notes that although there were married priests in the early Church, they had to commit themselves to, in effect, a “Josephite marriage.” Beiting refers to this as “living in celibacy.” This is a common error in terminology, but the terminology is very important. Celibacy refers to being in the unmarried state, which was clearly not the case here. Rather, these married priests (and their wives) had to commit to living in perpetual continence — that is, total abstention from the marital act.

Second, Beiting highlights Benedict XVI’s action on behalf of Anglican convert clergy and laity in 2011 as “in effect creating an ‘Anglican rite’ in the Church — and with a married clergy!” Actually, the situation is much more complicated. Pope St. John Paul II began the process in 1980 with the Pastoral Provision, allowing for the possibility of Anglican clergymen to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church and subsequently to petition for a dispensation from celibacy in view of their ordination as Catholic priests. Benedict XVI created a more formal structure: the establishment of “ordinariates” for England, Australia, and the United States, akin to a diocese. However, a former Anglican clergyman who is married must still petition the Holy See for a dispensation from celibacy, and, very importantly, it is not envisioned that a married presbyterate be a permanent feature. Indeed, seminarians must be celibate. Thus, the married priesthood is, in effect, a papal act of largesse for a generation.

Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas

Editor, The Catholic Response

Pine Beach, New Jersey

In his review of From the Depths of Our Hearts, Christopher Beiting writes, “The most important part of this new sacrifice [Jesus’ death at the hands of the Romans] would not be His death…so much as the spirit that animated it.” That is a heretical statement.

In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul hands on what he received from the Apostles: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures (cf. 15:3-5). Jesus’ death was not an ordinary end-of-life event. His death had a specific purpose: He died for our sins. It had a specific meaning: the salvation of our souls. This is one of the earliest beliefs preached by the Apostles, a foundational tenet of Christianity. To speak otherwise is heresy.

Beiting implies that the early Church was a lay movement. That is not true. The early Church was an apostolic movement guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus specifically commissioned the Apostles to go out and preach the Gospel to the whole world with the power to administer the sacraments (cf. Mt. 28:18-20). Jesus gave the laity no such commission.

Beiting writes that the Christian tradition of priestly celibacy is based on Jewish law regarding Temple priests. But Presbyterorum Ordinis, Vatican II’s “Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests,” states that in the Church, celibacy (“perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven”) is drawn from Matthew 19:12, in which Jesus speaks on the various ways a man may become a eunuch.

Priestly continence in the Old Testament had to do with observance of ritual purity laws. While both Testaments call for continence, there is no connection between the two, meaning the requirement in the New Testament does not have its foundation in the Old Testament. The early Church’s call for celibacy was not because sexual intercourse between a priest and his wife made the priest unclean; rather, the call for celibacy was meant to be an act of love and a sign of total commitment to Jesus Christ, to be holy as He is holy. It is, therefore, superficial and disingenuous for Beiting to tie the practice of continence in both Testaments to each other when there is absolutely no commonality of reason between them.

Finally, Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah composed From the Depths of Our Hearts to address the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region. Why would Beiting expect Sarah to devote an inordinate amount of space to the issue of married clergy in the Eastern-rite Catholic churches and Eastern Orthodox churches? They were not the focus of the book.

Alphonse C. Bankard III

Baltimore, Maryland

CHRISTOPHER BEITING REPLIES:

To Fr. Stravinskas

My thanks for his clarifications. To his first point, I plead to being (despite striving manfully not to be) a creature of my era, a barbaric age in which the very idea of celibacy is incomprehensible, let alone any of its variations and nuances. To his second point, I confess to not having followed the situation of Anglican clerical converts to Catholicism as closely as I should have, after having finished graduate studies in England and returning to the United States in the late 1990s. I did know a couple of very fine Catholic convert priests in those days, as well as some very fine Anglican clergymen who would have found Benedict’s 2011 arrangement very tempting. I sometimes wonder if any of them have since availed themselves of it.

To Mr. Bankard

All I can say is, “Don’t shoot the messenger!” The points about the sacrificial nature of Christ’s death, the lay character of the early Christian Church, and the relation of the tradition of priestly celibacy with the nature of Temple worship are not mine; they are Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s. So please don’t accuse me of heresy. Accuse him. Or rather, don’t accuse him. An era in which faithful Catholic laity would accuse a pope of heresy would be a barbaric one, indeed.

I should note that one reason why I requested the opportunity to review From the Depths of Our Hearts for the NOR (over and above my fondness for Benedict and Cardinal Sarah) is the fact that I spent many happy years as a member of an Eastern-rite Catholic church. It has long been my experience that Catholics frequently forget — or are actually unaware — that various Eastern rites, with their different customs, liturgies, and practices, even exist, and I have tried to do what I could, in my own small way (viz., “The Hidden Treasures of Byzantine Catholicism,” NOR, Sept. 2002) to remedy this situation. Long experience with married Anglican and Eastern-rite clergy has made me aware of how much better the Latin tradition of clerical celibacy is, but there is no ignoring the fact that the overall Tradition (capital “T”) of the Catholic Church does include some special exceptions for a married clergy. The matter is very complicated and requires more detailed consideration than it is sometimes given.

American Eugenics

David Mills is sadly mistaken in saying that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger did not get her eugenics policies into effect (Last Things, Jul.-Aug.). In the early 20th century, more than half the states enacted compulsory sterilization laws. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld them in Buck v. Bell (1927), and many as 70,000 women paid the price. Only after World War II, in the wake of the bad press Hitler’s eugenics programs got, were these laws rescinded — even though Nazi lawmakers had used our laws as examples of how to make it all “legal.”

Richard Giovanoni

York, South Carolina

Off-Target Attack

A man can hardly be blamed for a moment of elation upon finding himself described as “a distinguished scholar” by no less a figure than David Mills (Last Things, Jul.-Aug.). In my case, however, the sense of gratification was quickly dispelled as I read on and found myself effectively accused of heresy, if not downright apostasy. Mr. Mills takes umbrage at a brief paragraph I wrote in support of a Touchstone magazine fundraising campaign. After subjecting it to minute doctrinal scrutiny, he finds that “though a Catholic, Robert here endorses Protestantism.” One of my offenses is to have mentioned C.S. Lewis’s “mere Christianity,” but the gravamen of Mills’s complaint is that I maintain that Touchstone provides a forum for Christians who “adhere to the fundamental teachings of Christianity, comprising the Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Son of God for the salvation of the world” even while firmly disagreeing about “the implications of the Incarnation for ecclesiology and sacramental theology.”

To this Mr. Mills objects, “Ecclesiology and sacramental theology aren’t ‘implications’ of the Incarnation, as if they’re built on top of the foundation, and built according to different beliefs, which don’t matter that much. They form part of the foundation. What Robert calls implications are better called extensions.”

In the first place, I am at a loss to surmise what could possibly motivate Mr. Mills to train his laser-guided theological cruise missiles on so unpretentious a document as a fundraising letter, unless it be for the opportunity of enjoying a “gotcha” moment at the expense of a supposedly “distinguished scholar”; but a man who cares to indulge in such exotic pleasures had best have his ordnance aimed accurately. Astonishingly, Mills seems to have failed to grasp — dare I say — the implications of “implications.” Implications are the opposite of something added on or “built on top of the foundation…that don’t matter much.” Implications are certainly not “extensions.” To the contrary, an implication is “the action of implying; the fact of being implied or involved, without being plainly expressed; that which is involved or implied in something else.” By implication means “by what is implied though not formally expressed, by natural inference” (Oxford English Dictionary). In other words, the entire teaching of the Church was contained, enfolded, entangled, a part of, implied in the revelation Our Lord made to His Apostles, although some of these doctrines would only be fully and formally articulated over the course of the centuries in response to erroneous teaching. Mills has accused me of saying almost the opposite of what I said.

And if what I said “endorses Protestantism,” then the same condemnation may be laid on the doorstep of Msgr. Ronald Knox, who states, “We do believe that the whole Christian truth was made known by Our Lord to the Apostles,” but who then points out, “Something, then, remained to be accomplished, if those early lessons were to take shape and achieve clearness of outline, if they were to maintain themselves against the altered conditions which later times would bring.” What is thus accomplished is precisely the drawing out of the implications of the fundamental revelation of Our Lord. Among the several examples Msgr. Knox adduces of what we usually call development of doctrine is the Eucharist, which he says “remained…in its unformed state” until the Fourth Lateran Council. He makes these observations in a collection of conferences designed to strengthen the faith of Catholic students at Oxford. They were published under the title In Soft Garments in 1953, complete with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.

Mills literalizes the very dead “foundation” metaphor lurking in the term foundations and then seems to assume that I accept Lewis’s analogy of Christianity as a house with many rooms. There is no warrant for this procedure, which is little more than a sophist’s ploy. The fact that I mention Lewis’s idea of mere Christianity does not mean that I accept it as a satisfactory account of the faith. Lewis himself says, toward the end of his preface, “I hope no reader will suppose that ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions.” The editors of Touchstone, who describe the publication as “a journal of mere Christianity,” regard the concept as a useful common ground for men and women with sharp doctrinal divisions who nonetheless see a virtue in collaborating in the face of a culture that shows every sign of descending into heathen savagery.

Perhaps Mills has donned sackcloth and ashes as penance because he feels compromised by his long association with Touchstone and subsequently with First Things, another magazine that attempts to unite on common projects believers of divergent faiths. I see the matter in a different light. I think that Touchstone is engaged in a crucial enterprise in difficult circumstances, and I am honored to make such small contributions as lie within my ability. Since I have no doubts about the integrity of my Catholic faith, and since, I judge, my publication record affirms it, insofar as it is the business of anyone save my confessor, it seems pointless — indeed, churlish — to be continually reminding the Protestants with whom I seek to cooperate that their teaching on the Eucharist is wrong. They are already acquainted with my view.

R.V. Young

Dunedin, Florida

Encore!

I liked Terry Scambray’s review of Michael J. Behe’s Darwin Devolves: The New Science about DNA That Challenges Evolution (Jul.-Aug.) and wonder if Scambray might be up for another needed review as he seems to have a grasp of logic and philosophical reasoning. My first choice for a reviewer would have been Fr. James V. Schall, who is, alas, no longer on hand. The book I am suggesting for review is Logos Rising: A History of Ultimate Reality by Dr. E. Michael Jones. He is also a Catholic author but with flavor from long association with Notre Dame’s Ralph McInerny (also now deceased).

One of the virtues of the NOR is that it presents theology and philosophy in small, discrete doses. Most of us are not well grounded in either discipline. While we have been advised to hew to St. Thomas Aquinas, we later learn that his students were graduate-school sorts already competent in Aristotle. So, straight doses of St. Thomas can bewilder those unprepared for his rigor. We become, then, trustful of translators like Fr. Schall and Dr. McInerny, but we wonder about Jones, as he does not have their long familiarity.

I will be buying Darwin Devolves and would not have known of it but for your magazine and Scambray’s review.

Leon Dixon

Indianapolis, Indiana

On Vanier & Hesburgh

This letter was inspired by Pieter Vree’s column on Jean Vanier (“A Deficit of Heroes”) and Michael V. McIntire’s review of American Priest: The Ambitious Life and Conflicted Legacy of Notre Dame’s Father Ted Hesburgh by Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., both of which appeared in the May issue. I think I know about Vanier and Hesburgh well enough to provide some interesting additional facts. I was a student at Notre Dame from the fall of 1951 to the spring of 1954. I then spent a school year, 1954 to 1955, with Vanier before returning to Notre Dame and graduating in 1956. Fr. Hesburgh was Notre Dame’s president for three of my four years there.

I was with Vanier in France as a participant in his first apostolate, L’Eau Vive (Living Water), a short-lived community of young scholars from several countries, many of whom came from Notre Dame. (I had good grades at ND but was not much of a scholar.) L’Eau Vive was in the village of Soisy-sur-Seine, about 20 miles east of Paris.

The site of L’Eau Vive was quaint and charming. There were two 18th-century chateaus on several acres. There were sheep, which we sheared — a really messy task. There was daily Mass in the chapel; our chaplain was an Augustinian priest, a fact I liked because I had gone to an Augustinian preparatory boys’ school in Tulsa. Another priest was a delightful Japanese who had been a prisoner of war. The commandant of the prison was — and I mention this because it was remarkably coincidental — one of my philosophy professors at Notre Dame.

Other interesting persons at L’Eau Vive were a German baron and another German about my age who had been a student at Oxford and spoke English beautifully. He was the son of one of Hitler’s senior officers who attempted to kill Hitler but instead was killed by Hitler. He was later adopted by an English medical doctor.

We at L’Eau Vive had classes in philosophy and theology at the nearby venerable Dominican friary, Le Saulchoir. The famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Yves Congar, O.P., was in residence there. I saw him sweeping floors as penance for having been one of the leading persons in the Catholic worker priests’ movement of which the Vatican disapproved. Decades later, he became a cardinal.

We all admired Jean Vanier, who was only 29 years old at the time. He was apparently a very good man. When I learned of his death, I, like many of his admirers, thought he was a saint. I still think he might be a saint.

I think this because the internal investigation by l’Arche found that Vanier’s sexual sinning began in 1970 and ended in 2005. He died in 2019. Vanier had 14 years within which to repent, go to confession, and be forgiven. It is unlikely that he did not repent. It is likely that he did. If he did not repent, he would have continued to sin sexually, but he did not. I acknowledge that the sentiments I express may be wishful thinking, but I pray they are right.

Requiescat in pace.

All saints except Mary were sinners. Some were big-time sinners, witness to which fact is St. Augustine. Vree begins his column by quoting Ecclesiastes 7:20, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins,” in addition to which I note Matthew 7:1, where Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame for 50 years, wanted the university to be a Catholic Harvard, and he failed to realize that amalgamation. It does not have the stature of Harvard, and it is not Catholic — i.e., not an authentically Catholic institution. Consider as proof its collapse from what it was before Hesburgh became president to what it became afterward: There have been (and may still be) professors in the theology department who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. A C.S.C. priest had a sexual relationship with a co-ed who lived in the residence hall of which he was the rector. A Notre Dame football player raped a student at nearby St. Mary’s College who then committed suicide, and Notre Dame tried to conceal those facts. One of the priests is a homosexual and flaunts it. The pornographic Vagina Monologues was promoted and shown. So-called gay rights are recognized. Abortion advocate Barack Obama was honored with a doctorate and gave the commencement address to a graduating class; 88 who were protesting those events by walking on campus praying the Rosary were arrested for trespassing and jailed. A monk at Clear Creek Abbey, who was an undergraduate engineering student and a practicing engineer before entering the abbey, told me that many of the residents of the hall where he lived would get as drunk as they could on weekends. The last time I visited Notre Dame several years ago, I visited the student who was living in the same room I lived in as a junior, and I heard several other students down the hall loudly blaspheming the Second Commandment; the student told me their blasphemy goes on all the time; I reprimanded them and told them I never heard anything like it when I was living there. In a recent issue of Notre Dame Magazine there was an article about the so-called bachelor dons, unmarried professors who live in the students’ resident halls, that mentioned casually that they don’t mind, let alone object to, the behavior of some of the student residents having sexual intercourse.

A cousin of mine who is a serious, devout, practicing Catholic, whose uncle is a most generous benefactor of Notre Dame, sent her son there, and he lost his faith at Notre Dame and is out of the Church.

I never thought of sending my son there. I chose Christendom College instead, and I thank God I did. My son, a good Catholic, left Christendom College a much better one and well educated in the humanities.

I had a beautiful Notre Dame class ring that I kept in a drawer for many years. When Clear Creek Monastery here in Oklahoma changed its status as a priory of Fontgombault Abbey in France to an abbey sui juris, Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey, I gave the abbot my ring. He had the gold melted and formed into his premier abbatial ring, and he had the stone placed into it.

Deo volente!

T. Gavin King

The Irish Farms

Claremore, Oklahoma

Voices Crying from the Inside

The scholarship subscription the NOR has provided me over the years of my incarceration has been such a huge blessing. The articles and the open exchange of ideas — some pretty off the wall! — show that the NOR isn’t locked into one point of view. This I deeply appreciate. I’ve even gained a few diehard friends through a letter to the editor you printed a few years ago.

I want you to know that the “splash effect” of your publication is making a difference.

Douglas Spies

Grafton Correction Institution

Grafton, Ohio

Jesus said, “What you do for one of the least of these is what you do for me” (Mt. 25:40). Jesus was teaching about separating the sheep from the goats. The sheep, according to Christ, are those who take care of the sick and needy. This includes taking care of those in prison. The goats are those who neglect these people.

For too many people, those in prison are the goats: Since we had our chance, we need to be cast aside. This is actually the opposite of what Jesus says to do! He teaches us to love. What spreads more love, keeping those who have done wrong as burdens on society or giving them the support they need to be successful and a benefit to society once they return to the world? In American society, we prisoners are treated as less than human. Thank God for those who do visit us and care for us!

I wonder what Jesus would say about us “goats” who work for you? Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I and others like me have been hard at work making masks, thousands of them, for you and praying for you. Why? Because we love you and want you to be safe and healthy, so that when we come home we can all be a family in the Body of Christ.

I am not looking for sympathy. I only want the Jesus in you to recognize the Jesus in me. May God bless you all.

Wayne Winder

Lunenburg Correctional Center

Victoria, Virginia

First, thank you for such an intriguing and ever-inspiring publication. I am a longtime reader and have received the NOR for many years via a great friend and wonderfully pious lady, Anne Barbeau Gardiner [an NOR contributing editor — Ed.], whom I first heard from when I was on death row. I find it such a revelation when encountering others of such strong faith.

I wanted to let you know that you, the Pope, the Church, and believers (indeed, all people) are in my fervent prayers. I ask for nothing of you, with the exception of intercessory prayer.

I feel that the Church is going through another season of trial and upheaval. I would like you to know that this world needs you and more Anne Gardiners!

Mark Henry Lankford

Idaho Correctional Institution

Orofino, Idaho

About two years ago I was elected prior of our then-new Benedictine fraternity. We are allowed to meet once a week to pray the Office. We also have a formation process to welcome and/or illuminate those who are drawn to know more about the Liturgy of the Hours, our history and tradition, the discipline of prayer, and more. It’s a lot of work. I don’t know how I ended up being the one entrusted to make all this happen — that part doesn’t make sense to me — but I decided to accept this challenge as an opportunity to serve, to learn, and to grow.

I am a convert, confirmed in 2016. Of course, we have cradle Catholics here and, I am happy to say, a consistent number of catechumens. (Our community has more than doubled in the past six years.) As prior, I have also been called to preside over our prayer services on the weekends when we don’t have a priest or outside volunteer, such as an extraordinary eucharistic minister, able to come. We all get together, take turns reading the liturgy, sing some hymns, and perform an Act of Contrition and Spiritual Communion. I cannot give a homily. What I do, however, is scour through whatever material I can get to find things that will encourage, uplift, and strengthen the spirits of these men.

I recently saw an ad for the NOR in an issue of National Catholic Register that a member of our community passed around. I understand that all of it might not be for everybody (I’m pretty militant, personally), but I believe there is ample material in the NOR to provide solace and strength to every man, at whatever level he serves.

As you likely expect by now, the matter is money. A lot of the reading material we get here is “recycled” from other locations or otherwise donated. Even if Texas paid its prison labor force (it does not), this is a hospital unit. Most of the men here can’t work. (I serve as a janitor and caretaker in one of the wings.) So I’m wondering if I could negotiate a reduced rate for a year’s subscription? We could likely get together enough to make some contribution to the NOR. Only please consider that now that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is a for-profit corporation, there’s pretty much a price on whatever one needs (and this unit is needier than most). Give us a target, and we’ll see what we can do.

Richard C. Owings Jr.

Charles T. Terrell Unit

Rosharon, Texas

Ed. Note: Each of these prisoners (with the exception of Mr. Lankford, who receives a gift subscription) is a beneficiary of the NOR’s Scholarship Fund, through which people who can’t afford to subscribe are given gratis print subscriptions to the NOR. That’s right: We didn’t “negotiate terms” with Mr. Owings; we gifted him a free subscription courtesy of our Scholarship Fund. And the “splash effect” Mr. Spies mentions is real: We’ve heard from numerous prisoners that they share their scholarship copies of the NOR with many other men — dozens, in some cases.

If you are interested in making a contribution, go to www.newoxfordreview.org/donations. We thank you for your apostolic zeal and Christian charity toward those on the extreme margins of our society.

 

©2020 New Oxford Review. All Rights Reserved.

 

To submit a Letter to the Editor, click here: https://www.newoxfordreview.org/contact-us/letters-to-the-editor/

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