Readers respond to Register articles.
If the reviewer of Mary Poppins Returns in the recent edition of the Register (Dec. 14 online and page B3 last issue, Jan. 6), Steven D. Greydanus, had been given a balloon at the end of the film, as were the characters in the film, he would never have been raised “Up.”
My wife and I were appalled at his summary that this is not a Christian film. To the contrary, Mary Poppins Returns deals with central values of the Christian faith, such as suffering, loss and recognition of an afterlife. Further, it instructs us, as did Jesus, to become like little children in order to find redemption and salvation.
The metaphor of light and looking to the sky is present throughout the film, and these elements of hope and helping others are certainly central to our values as Catholics. This beautiful film also addresses issues of greediness and taking advantage of the poor and homeless in times of financial crisis and our obligation to help and serve others, which are certainly important Christian themes. The lyrics of the songs are deep and beautiful. For example, they teach us not to judge in the song The Cover Is Not the Book, sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda. They also teach us not to give up in the face of contradictions and to use our imaginations.
The film is perfectly executed in every aspect, from the acting, directing and choreography to the animation. The animated sequences were amazing and represent a huge advance in the use of live action with animation. It was a magnanimous gesture, rarely seen today, that the director recognized and honored legendary actors such as Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury and Karen Dotrice. The film, in our view, was not only inspiring, but was “practically perfect in every way” and one of the rare films today where the whole family can go together and laugh, be inspired and be beautifully entertained. Mr. Greydanus really got this one wrong. We cannot wait to go see this movie again as a family!
John and Rosa Spinnato
New York, New York
Steven D. Greydanus responds: I am always happy to hear that someone enjoyed a movie more than I did, and I will not belabor my reasons for disagreeing on the film’s technical merits. I will say only this: Suffering and loss are not uniquely Christian themes; Buddhists, Taoists, secularists and humans generally are concerned with suffering and loss, as much non-Christian art and storytelling bears witness. And recognition of an afterlife is precisely what I found to be missing in such lyrics as “‘Gone but not forgotten’ is the perfect phrase.” Like Pixar’s recent Coco, Mary Poppins Returns implicitly proposes that our loved ones survive in our memories and imaginations — which is not untrue, but insufficient.
Thanks to the Chief
The number of unborn children that are killed through abortion each and every day in America: 3,657. That’s 60,069,971 unborn eliminated since 1973 — approximately 20% of our population.
Your recent pro-life articles and a recent letter to the editor prompted me to write this letter. I was a Democrat most of my life. However, there came a time that I could not say to myself anymore that I was a “Proud Democrat.” When that political party said I must help and encourage the killing of the unborn, I could no longer belong to any organization that did that. I know there was a time that I thought that I could work from within the party to change that mindset, but understood also that it was and is impossible to do that from inside the party.
When someone sent you a letter chastising our President Trump, I felt it necessary to respond.
President Trump is the most pro-life president the United States has ever had. And he is not even Catholic. Is he perfect and has he been without sin? No! I would like to remind everyone that neither was St. Paul; but with a very questionable early life, he changed. The unborn are innocent and have done nothing to deserve death by abortion. Thank God for President Trump’s efforts to save them.
Lake City, Minnesota
I was saddened to see the ad for needed funding for retired religious, especially religious sisters, whom I always saw as underappreciated church servants for their many good works, especially in schools and hospitals.
No doubt, they are a rarity in today’s society.
I am a product of parochial education from grammar school through high school and a diploma from a school of nursing. So few can boast of that, as I am 84 years old. It has been ages since I greeted them on the streets, in their habits, two-by-two with “Good afternoon, Sisters.”
May I suggest you get one of your fine reporters to take up their cause and give them a much-needed boost and appreciation and invite much funding. I remember them as surrogate parents for many of us kids from troubled families who went on to higher education and respected professions.
Maureen Scoville, RN, CASAC (retired)
Wymantskill, New York
Relevant to your coverage of the clerical crisis: During the last 50 years, there’s been an ever-growing timidity of our clergy to preach with conviction and courage the aspects of Catholic moral doctrine that are counter to the secular culture. We’ve become increasingly silent on the topic of sin and the necessity of repentance. As was evidenced following the Synod on Youth, our Church leaders appear to be more concerned with not offending than with providing clear teaching. This is truly the root cause of the crisis in our Church.
In the current secular culture, virtually nothing is a sin. Premarital sex, cohabitation, profanity, using the Lord’s name in vain, envy, promiscuity, homosexual acts and other sins are ubiquitous in our society. Yet in our homilies, we hear sin spoken only in generalities, fearing that we’ll be labeled as intolerant, bigoted, closed-minded, judgmental or hypocritical if we talk specifically about what is sinful. This lack of moral clarity and fearfulness of losing man’s approval is having a devastating effect on the spiritual lives of both the clergy and the lay faithful. People are incredibly confused on moral issues, and our Church is not speaking in a unified voice to provide clarity. Priests are even allowed to tour the country preaching heresies in defiance of Catholic moral teaching. That is largely why, statistically, Catholics live their lives outside of Mass no differently than non-Catholics.
The core mission of the Church is the salvation of souls. Genuine love for our neighbor is caring for their eternal salvation above all else. If we avoid talking about sin, people come to believe that avoiding sin is not important — or, worse, that sin is not sin at all. This leads to defiant sinfulness, when people stop asking for forgiveness or repenting of sin. They seek mutual approval of each other’s sins and teach others to follow in sinful behaviors. This leads to a shared deception that if we have faith in Christ, we can go about our lives sinning with reckless abandon, in defiance and rejection of God’s commandments.
We pray deeply for both our Church leaders and the laity — for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God — that together we may rededicate ourselves to the core mission of the Church, the salvation of souls.
Stephen P. Osvath
The Need for Mercy
The most unmerciful thing the Lord could do would be not to justly punish us for our sins; and so our most sincere prayer should be for his chastisement. For “the Lord chastises him whom he loves” (Hebrews 12:6), and if not chastised, what love have we from him? We will be left in our sin.
The first word of exhortation from the mouth of both John the Baptist and the Christ was: “Repent.” This is the essence of the Gospel, and without this first word, the Gospel does not go forth. The Holy Father seems to practice this well in his daily homilies; would that priests and bishops, parents and grandparents, teachers and all those entrusted with the care of souls so well reflect the love of God. How desperately we need it (a thirst to our bones). Have mercy on us, Lord; have mercy. Peace of Christ!
We have lost many good practices after the year 1964; consequently, so many evils have come into the Church. This is the right time to restore at least some of the devotions, to enhance the spirituality of the people and to receive the grace of God.
Father Thomas Mariadoss
It is my opinion that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo was correct in his concern that Catholic laity expected action from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the wake of the McCarrick scandal. This type of delay, and ignorance of the obvious, is the reason many Lutherans, evangelicals and Episcopalians trace their faith to the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church continues to lose its authority, after centuries of building a faithful community, due to the entrenched politics of the power-hungry. This directive was an action by the Vatican to thwart the USCCB and put them in their place.
I will continue to pray that Jesus Christ will guide the Church and that these men will devote their lives to God rather than self-gratification, as they teach us to do.
- letters to the editor