Letters, Volume 14 #4NONEXISTENT DISCOVERY
In her article "Intimations of Spiritual Renaissance" (Compass, May/ June 1996), Lucinda Vardey refers to "the works of Wilhelm Reich, who discovered orgone energy." Orgone energy was never more than a postulation by Reich--although he regarded it as if it were real. Its existence cannot be proven by ordinary or reasonable means. Something which for all intents and purposes does not exist can not be "discovered." Therefore, to use the word in conjunction with orgone energy is inappropriate, to say the least.
I read with interest Louisa Blair's article on The Celestine Prophecy ("The Celestine Prophecy's Antiseptic World," Compass, May/June 1996), but was surprised to read her comment that Jesus "challenged the Syro-Phoenician woman...to deep conversion" (Mk 7:24). Was not her challenge to him of equal significance?
On this occasion, when Jesus was approached by a woman who, as a gentile, was outside the covenanted community, she requested him to cure her daughter of a serious illness. He responded according to strict Jewish custom: "Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." The people present understood exactly what he meant. The Jews were God's children, and gentiles were "dogs." The woman's reply to Jesus was startling: "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." It takes only a little imagination to sense the amazement present among those in the house. Women didn't contradict men; but here was a woman of no social standing challenging a famous man. There must have been a pregnant silence among those watching as this famous rabbi absorbed the woman's response.
Then he spoke: "For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter." Not only is this Jewish man respectful of a gentile woman; he acknowledges that he was mistaken in his former prejudiced statement. He stands corrected, implies an apology, and responds wholeheartedly to her need. I think it highly probable that in this encounter Jesus experienced a radical shift in his understanding about Jewish-gentile relationships. Isn't it apparent that he "was ministered to" quite as much as he ministered?
Salt Spring Island, B.C.
BREAD OF LIFE
Since your issue on "Christmas Dinner" (Compass, January/February 1995) was published, I have lived with it at arm's reach. My faith resonates with David Waltner-Toews's perception that it is bread that will draw us into "the profound inner life of creation, the Spirit who is with us...as communities and as a planet."
I would like to think that the issue's long-lasting impression is a sign of similar Eucharistic visions that will draw humankind to God's dream and the reality of the "Bread of Life." Making the link then with the Resurrection would be another great feast. We do need the ritual of Communion and Celebration.
This is just to note that a book must be forthcoming on this subject--one for adults and one for children. The New Story is being told but it will take many voices and many books.
Maureen Dunne SNIM
WHY THE DIVISION?
As a former Catholic, and an avid reader of Compass, I must write to you with regard to the articles by Rev. Donna E. Schaper and Rev. John Catoir ("Symbol of Unity, Reality of Division," July/August 1996). They express so eloquently the exclusion that Catholic doctrine engenders in the practice of communion. How can the gap be bridged and the division within the Christian world be mended when the hierarchy of the RC church is so intransigent in its approach to inclusion unless a person buys into the RC version of "a Christian" or "a priest"? It would seem that ecumenism will happen only if the non-RC churches adhere to RC dogma and practice. The power must remain within the hands of the Vatican and those who are not adhering to these RC fiats will not be full partners unless and until they convert to Rome.
I converted and then reconverted to and from Rome after trying to accept the narrowmindedness of the hierarchy. Since my exit six years ago, I have been watching for some indication that the RC church was making a real effort to change. Not too much evidence yet, and the article by Douglas McCarthy, "The Next Millennium Belongs to the Laity," would suggest that priestly intransigence will remain status quo: after the laity puts the seal on some minor changes, priests will once again benefit as the sole beings with the power to accept or reject new thought. Too bad. Even though it took the church over 300 years to admit that it was wrong about Galileo, I was hoping that its acceptance of things that were not generated from priestly minds might be given serious thought.
Verna M. Blanchard
DON'T BLAME REASON
I read with interest the review of David Cayley's George Grant in Conversation and Louisa Blair's "Chiapas: A Reporter's Diary" in the July/August issue. It seems to me that Grant's position on reason and technology is very mistaken and harmful, and his espousal of such thinkers as Nietzsche and Heidegger is contrary to the Christian spirit. These thinkers are in the pagan tradition, and their views are antithetical to the Jewish and Christian religious traditions; moreover, they are linked to antisemitism and Nazism. These philosophies have had an influence on fascism, and so it is no wonder that today, when we need reason and scientific and technological development for the problems of squalor and illiteracy and underdevelopment, we are victimized by "fascist economics" that do not permit investment in upgrading living standards but demand debt payments and underdevelopment. To make reason and science and technological advance the causes of the world's miseries is, to my mind, ridiculous and immoral.
These neopagan philosophies are dangerous and lead us to the kind of squalor and superstition that Louisa Blair documented so pathetically and sympathetically. This is the tragedy of underdevelopment: where rats roam, where animals and people don't have food and clean water, here religion amounts to superstition--worshipping a victimized, brutalized and abused Jesus and vainly hoping that incense and signs of the cross given by priests will do any good. This is evil because it does not uplift man; it degrades him and makes him identify perpetually with suffering, with abuse, with torture. This is fascist ideology! No wonder Grant is a pessimist--he doesn't have the biblical point of view.
We need what Margaret Laurence said was a "can do" spirit! With our God-given intellect and our heart aflame with agape, we "can overcome all things" in the world that stand in the way of progress. I am a student of the Social Gospel and its leading lights. These men did not urge us to deny our reason and to decry scientific and technological progress; rather, they wanted the benefits of reason, science and technology to be spread out to all, to build the kingdom, to improve the quality of life. The problem lies with the corrupt international financial system, the Moloch that eats up the lives of the poor, the economic imperialism. The fault lies not with reason, but with irrationality!
Dr. A. Maeser Lemieux
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© 1996 Compass, A Jesuit Journal and Gail van Varseveld