Fight the Real Enemy: Secularism

I was jarred when I read the statement by Mark Shea that “I do not believe that flesh and blood is the ultimate enemy” (“An Enemy Greater than Terrorism,” Commentary & Opinion, May 7-13). It is a statement that I concur with, and yet I seem never to have found anyone else sympathetic to my point of view.

I believe that Islamic fundamentalism is a ruse, thrown at us by the devil in order to confound us and allow a victory on his part. The real enemy in this world war is secularism. And what is secularism?

It is ourselves. We in the West are trying to throw off the yoke of Christianity, with the expectation that a world ordered on our selfish desires will be better. The process began almost 500 years ago with the Enlightenment and Reformation. Slowly, through the centuries, it has gathered steam. It is a deal with the devil and the results have been coming in for decades.

I believe this showdown is part of God’s plan, and that the New Evangelization begun by Pope John Paul II — the rise of lay movements within the Church, the nascence of differing forms of piety (unknown to generations of Catholics, including me, until recently), and the ecumenical efforts on the part of the Church and various other Christian denominations — all are part of God’s plan to reinvigorate the Church, after a period of lassitude and errancy. God uses suffering to bring forth good.

Of course, those “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12) will not rest easy when the forces of good are on the march, and I appreciate Mr. Shea’s note that the devil sends evil out in pairs. But let us not be duped by the dog that is snapping at our pant leg, trying to bring us down.

Yes, we must shoo away the dog, but, more importantly, we must look to the direction in which our footsteps are headed. Is it Christ’s path, or is it a path of our own making?

Michele Coldiron

Los Altos, California

Intelligence Issues

I think Register reader William Sockey misunderstands what Jesuit Father George Coyne takes issue with in the intelligent-design theory of certain Christians in the United States (“Overspecialized?” Letters, April 23-29).

He is certainly not denying that the created world is an intelligent design of the most breathtaking magnitude, and that the rationality of its design points to the existence of a supreme and omnipotent creating Intelligence. On the contrary, he is simply stating that it is an absurd notion to posit the theory of intelligent design as a scientific theory. After all, science deals with the systematic description of created material reality. Its tool is human reason, and its object is the material world.

“By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth, and excellence, its own order and laws” (Gaudium et Spes). It is only because of this that man is able to undertake scientific investigation at all.

What the proponents of intelligent design posit as a theory of the development of species goes beyond the mere created world with “its own order and laws.” For, the intelligent design proponents claim, there are certain “leaps” in the evolutionary record that cannot be explained by recourse to the traditional Darwinian explanation of the survival of various organisms by means of beneficial mutations. According to the intelligent-design advocates, some evolutionary advances transcend the potentialities of the previous level of organism development. Because of this, evolution must be discarded as a theory of the development of species.

This is all perfectly scientific. However, the proponents of intelligent design then postulate that the incongruent “leaps” in the evolutionary record are proofs of the (presumably) direct divine intervention in the development of species. But to proceed in this manner is to cease doing science, for the object of science is material creation. That is, when one makes appeal to supernatural causes in theorizing about the development of species, he departs from scientific inquiry altogether.

Why Christians feel forced to make a hasty appeal to the supernatural in the explanation of the development of species — this is what baffles Father Coyne. One can understand, for instance, that the creation of man with his spiritual soul lies partly beyond the scope of science, for no material reality can be the principle of that which is purely spiritual, namely, the human soul. But the development of the material reality of man’s body would lie entirely within the scope of science if God chose to create man’s body through material, evolutionary processes.

In fact, there is much evidence to suggest that he did just that.

William Fiacco

Poland, New York

Exporting a Double Standard

Granted, illegal immigrants are often hard workers (“Thank an Immigrant,” Editorial, April 23-29). And agreed, they are seeking a better life. But millions of American citizens, including 17 million who don’t have a high school degree, are also seeking a better life and are willing to work hard — just not at Third World wages. And they must compete with illegal aliens who are so willing.

The myth that illegal aliens are here to do the work that Americans won’t do exploded in Alabama recently when an employment agency that sent 70 laborers and construction workers to that state in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina said the men were sent home after just two weeks after being told that foreign workers willing to work for less had arrived.

Linda Swope, who operates Complete Employment Services Inc. in Mobile, Ala., told the Washington Times that the workers — U.S. citizens, residents of Alabama and predominantly black — had been “urgently requested” by contractors to rebuild and clear devastated areas of the state, then told to leave when the cheaper foreign laborers showed up.

Mrs. Swope said: “The men we sent to jobs in Alabama were local fellows looking for work, men who needed jobs. After driving 50 miles to the work sites where they had been promised $10 an hour, they discovered the employers had found substitutes who were willing to work for less.”

It is not known whether these “substitutes” were among those demonstrating in our nation’s streets recently — in demonstrations that would be illegal in Mexico. Article 33 of the Mexican constitution says, “Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.”

The Mexican constitution says that foreigners, not just illegal immigrants, may be expelled at any time for any reason without due process. According to Article 33, “the Federal Executive shall have the exclusive power to compel any foreigner whose remaining he may deem inexpedient to abandon the national territory immediately.”

Compassion, it has been said, does not stop at the border. But apparently it exists only on our side.

Daniel John Sobieski

Chicago

Order on the Border

Regarding “Thank an Immigrant” (Editorial, April 23-29):

Myth: Illegal immigrants have a right to come here. It is our Christian duty to provide hospitality.

Nearly two-thirds of the 32.5 million foreign-born people living in the United States entered this country legally, and the United States has more legal immigrants than any other country in the world. That’s hardly poor hospitality, and no bill before Congress that has a chance of becoming law would change this nation’s hospitality. But it is poor hospitality to say to the nearly 22 million legal U.S. immigrants who waited in line that they wasted their time following the rules because illegal immigrants will now get the same status.

The need to deport illegal aliens and secure our borders has nothing to do with persecuting minorities or lack of hospitality. The United States can continue to allow a large or small number of immigrants into this country legally, depending upon how many can be reasonably assimilated without destroying our American identity.

Rather, securing our borders is necessary as a matter of principle — in the interests of equal justice under the law as well as practical security in this age of international terrorism. And this nation can no longer afford to allow “myth-information” slogans to sidetrack the nation from fulfilling the mandate of controlling the borders.

Mark Corcoran

Fallbrook, California

St. Joseph Surprises

I read with interest “St. Joseph Works Above Ground” (April 30-May 6). When my husband and I were selling our home 10 years ago, I decided to pray to St. Joseph for the sale. My father-in-law, husband and son are all named Joseph. He is a favorite saint in our home.

I was aware of the practice of burying St. Joseph, but felt it was superstitious. Instead I prayed the oldest known prayer to St. Joseph. In addition to praying the prayer I would often jokingly pray, “St. Joseph, I know you can do this for me. Please don’t make me bury you.” My husband accused me of threatening the saints. However, we put a sign in our yard on a Tuesday morning and, by the following Sunday, we had an offer. We then went through the process of buying our current home.

That spring, I planted a peony bush given to me for my birthday by a dear friend in the yard of our former home. I decided to move the plant with us to the new house. In the busyness of getting settled in, the plant was left in a large pot at the back of the house. My husband asked me a few weeks later what I wanted to do with the plant. He selected a spot in the back yard, dug a hole, and found a small plastic statue of St. Joseph. We both laughed.

I put the statue on my kitchen windowsill and told everyone: I don’t bury St. Joseph. I rescue him.

Elizabeth Loizzo

Steubenville, Ohio

More Traditional Still

Regarding “More Than 200 Catechumens Baptized at Easter Vigils in Beijing” (April 30-May 6):

I noted your comment that parts of the Mass for catechumens in China were in Latin, including the Kyrie. I presume this went Miserere Domine, Miserere Deo, Miserere Domine. It would have been more traditional to use Greek, though.

Bernie Shearon
Dallas, Texas