To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY John Lilly
A Movie or a Mugging?
I am profoundly disappointed to read the accolades
provided by your paper to the recent movie The
Nativity Story. I was especially disturbed by Steven Greydanus’
review, “At Last, a ‘Shepherds and Wise Men’ Feature” (Nov. 26 - Dec. 2).
What I see in your paper regarding this movie is very
dangerous. For example, your reviewer says that this movie does not
affirm the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception or the Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity;
yet he al--so argues that the movie does not
contradict these doctrines.
He contradicts himself when he
later provides a content advisory warning of “somewhat intense
childbirth scenes.” It is impossible to argue that these “somewhat intense
childbirth scenes” are not a direct denial of the virgin birth.
While the Church has never declared the exact manner
in which Christ was born to the Blessed Mother, it is quite clear that a
difficult and painful birth is not consistent with Catholic teaching and a
direct denial of doctrine of the faith.
I think there is enough blasphemy committed against
the Blessed Mother without us Catholics supporting it by endorsing this film in
words or with money spent purchasing a ticket.
I sincerely hope that Catholics will avoid this film
now and for the Advents to come.
Pope Paul VI endorsed Jesus of Nazareth — which also depicts Mary experiencing labor
pains — to crowds in St. Peter’s Square when it debuted on Italian TV. The Nativity Story was praised at its Vatican premiere by Cardinal Tarcisio
Bertone (Pope Benedict’s secretary of state) and
supported by U.S. Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council
for Social Communications. Both films may fairly be critiqued, and it is fair
to note that they both depart from the strong Catholic tradition of Mary’s
But is it prudent to so readily dismiss the judgment
of Pope Paul VI and Cardinal Bertone, both of whom
said that this departure does not amount to “blasphemy” or undo the positive
value of a generally praiseworthy film? For a more detailed discussion, please
Regarding “Christmas Makes a Comeback” (Dec. 24 - Jan.
Has Christmas indeed made a “comeback,” as your
feature story implies — or have we merely triumphed in reasserting our desire
to embrace all the trappings of Christmas while ignoring the deepest meaning of
it? I cannot help but wonder if the “battle to restore Christmas” to the
department stores is a worthy engagement.
Should the checkout counter be
included as part of the “front line” in the “war on Christmas?”
For countless years Christians have lamented the
“isms” that have come to dominate the Christmas celebration — commercialism,
consumerism, materialism. But where do we choose to focus our energies when we
perceive an affront to our Christian sensitivities? We tally up our victories
and losses regarding publicly displayed crèches.
We cringe when we hear our sacred hymns selectively
edited to avoid “offending” non-Christian ears, and we circle our spiritual
wagons around the battlefields of Wal-Mart, Macy’s and Home Depot to demand our
right to a “Merry Christmas” greeting as we spend thousands of dollars on Play
Stations, X-Boxes and other “necessities.”
Sadly, it appears that, this year as in years past,
we rejected the opportunity to offer the gold of our hearts to the One
deserving of it. Instead, we ran headlong toward the false glimmer of “fool’s
gold” on sale for 50% off. But hey, at least we got a “Merry Christmas” out of
So it appears Christmas has indeed made a comeback.
Perhaps an appropriate subtitle to your feature story would have been “Be
Careful What You Wish For.”
Levittown, New York
Tim Drake’s article “The Father Factor — Crime on the
Increase in ‘Dad-Free’ Zones” and your editorial “The Rules” (Dec. 17-23)
pointed out that fatherless homes are incubators for male crime and other
social pathologies: poverty, poor education, drug and alcohol abuse, teen
pregnancy, abortion and suicide. The decline in marriage and faith were offered
as reasons for the decline of two-parent families, but why the decline in
marriage and faith?
Society’s acceptance and encouragement of premarital
sex and its inevitable result — pregnancy — is a major factor in the number of
single-parent families and the decline of marriage. Planned Parenthood’s
philosophy is that premarital sex, even for teens and preteens, is normal and
healthy, as long as contraceptives are used.
But they frequently fail or are improperly used, and
the federal government’s funding of teen sex ($3.9 billion to Planned
Parenthood since 1987) has eliminated a major reason for marriage: love expressed
through sex to reproduce the likeness of the beloved.
Children who are encouraged to engage in premarital
sex have no time for growing in faith and religion.
To reduce poverty, crime and the number of
single-parent families, society has to reaffirm that premarital sex is not to
be accepted as a substitute for marriage. A huge step in that direction would
be for the government to stop funding and promoting teen sex.
It is a disaster for individuals, families and
Silver Spring, Maryland
War and Life
The editor’s note appended to Michael Stone’s letter
(“Iraq Now,” Dec. 24 - Jan. 6) strengthens the point of the letter while trying
to neutralize it.
“Regardless of the merits of the original invasion,”
the note says, “the Iraq
war did become a focus of violence by al Qaeda terrorists who otherwise would
have focused on civilian targets.” The National Catholic Register to which I
have subscribed for a decade is above such insulting double talk.
There would be no “otherwise” were there not a war.
There would be no targeting of civilians if the American troops had not invaded
There would be no troops to give their lives in place
of civilians if the troops weren’t there to incite the targeting in the first
Instead of serving, wittingly or unwittingly, as an
agent of spin for the warmongering Bush administration, the
otherwise pro-life Register would do well to call for an immediate
withdrawal of U.S. troops
This “preventive war,” rejected by two popes, has only
prevented life from going forward for 3,000 American soldiers and 655,000
It was with some interest that I read the letter from
Mr. Michael Stone regarding the current situation in Iraq (“Iraq Now,” Dec. 24 - Jan.
6). My interest was further piqued when I noted that he specifically wrote as a
diocesan official rather as a private individual.
It is unfortunate that international intelligence
communities do not have access to the same resources that Mr. Stone has.
Apparently he is able to state without qualification
a number of things that are presently not known with this kind of certainty to
anyone else, such as the pre-invasion existence of banned weapons systems or
the presence of terrorist personnel.
Also, Mr. Stone is strangely absolute when he insists
that there were “no legitimate moral grounds” for the invasion.
Unless he also rejects the “moral grounds” for Desert
Storm some years ago, one is left wondering how Iraq’s violations of the terms of
surrender of that conflict do not constitute at least some sort of legitimate
justification. It is generally understood that, when the losing party in a
conflict does not abide by the surrender terms it agreed to, it risks a renewal
Lastly, when you state that the Iraqi conflict is
keeping al Qaeda occupied over there, that’s merely a statement of the obvious.
It follows that, if al Qaeda has limited resources (which it does), it is
equally obvious that their fighting over there makes it more difficult for them
to do violence over here. This is both logical and it appears to be borne out
by our own immediate experience. Mr. Stone doesn’t even seem to argue the
What he does object to is the mere mentioning of this
fact. And this, far and away, is the most disturbing part of Mr. Stone’s
letter. He objects to the mentioning of something that is true simply
because it isn’t convenient to certain political ends, and he
specifically raises this objection as an officer of the Church. One might
reasonably infer that he does so to give his views added weight and
Salem, New Jersey
In response to Jennifer Heath’s letter, “Beware Blog Banter” (Dec. 24 - Jan. 6):
Please don’t diss one of my
lifelines. While I agree that blogging and the
Internet can be overused to the detriment of in-person relationships, not all
of us are so fortunate. There are many people who are isolated their current
circumstances in life, such as caretakers of the infirm, people living in small
towns, the newly relocated and so on. This is especially true of single,
Through the Internet, I have made friends whom I now
consider as close as a brother or a sister. We have never met face to face and
likely never will, thanks to geography. I have supported them emotionally and
spiritually and they have done the same for me. I have also been encouraged by
reading blogs, especially those that allow comments,
to find that I am not the only person who feels the way I do about specific
I don’t doubt that some overdo blogging.
But others use work, computer games, hobbies and even church activities to
avoid family time. Please don’t blame one avenue of communication without
looking at the larger picture into which it fits.
Sheffield Lake, Ohio