Letters 09.23.2007

It’s Just Common Sense

Relevant to “‘Your Baby or Your Job’” (Sept. 9):

I don’t consider myself an intellectual or any bit smarter than the average Joe, but I just don’t understand how people in America can get so riled up over cruelty to animals, yet think nothing about the cruelty that occurs day after day to thousands of our unborn children.

Case in point: It’s all over the news lately that Michael Vick, a quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL, has been involved in a scandal with illegal betting on dog fights, and also in the actual participation in the killing of dogs “unworthy” of the pit. Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t condone the abuse of any animal, and I absolutely agree that Vick’s actions are deplorable and that he deserves to be punished for his involvement. And it was good to hear that the NFL is suspending him indefinitely, and that he will probably spend at least a year in prison.

What I don’t understand is where is the outcry for the cruelty that occurs to more than 1,000 unborn children every single day at the hands of a doctor, under the guise of a woman’s “right” to kill her unborn child?

Do dogs have more rights than humans? Is a human life worth less than a dog’s?

To me it’s just common sense that if it’s wrong to kill a dog, or a seal, or a spotted owl, or any other animal, it should also be wrong to kill a baby.

What’s so hard to understand about that?

Somewhere along the line we lost our common sense. I guess it all came to a head in 1973 when the Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, decided that somewhere in the Constitution there existed a “right” for a woman to kill her unborn child if she didn’t want it, for any reason.

How come only a woman has this “right”? What about the father of the child? Doesn’t he have any say in this decision? Doesn’t he have any rights? Everyone would agree that it would be wrong if he decided to kill the unborn child.

So why is it okay for the mother to do so? And what about the unborn children? Don’t they have any rights? Just because they happen to live inside their mother, and have not yet been delivered into the “outside” world, don’t they have the same rights as any other living human? After all, they are human, and they are alive and growing. I just don’t get it.

Next year is an election year and we need to start finding out now who is going to stand up and fight for these unborn babies and who is going to turn the other way.

The only way we can turn this around will be by electing people with common sense — people who understand that human life is sacred, and that abortion is wrong, people who understand that cruelty to the unborn is just as deplorable as cruelty to animals. And I believe that the solution goes back to the Supreme Court.

And, since only the president can appoint judges to the Supreme Court, your vote in the presidential election next year will be critical to the future of unborn babies. And critical to life as we know it here in the United States.

Vote pro-life. It’s just common sense!

Greg Dolan

Glendale, Arizona

Harry Potter Fan

I am writing regarding the letter “The Devil and Harry Potter,” in the Aug. 19 issue. I have a few points to make:

First, I am an avid Harry Potter fan since 1999. It is simply not true to state that “there is no distinction in [Rowling’s] books between black and white magic.” One of Harry’s required classes is Defense Against the Dark Arts, which not only acknowledges the existence and evil of black magic, but trains students to fight against it.

Another evil wizarding school merely teaches Dark Arts, not defense against it. Also, the Hogwarts Library has a restricted section for the purpose of restricting access to books on how to perform dark spells, which are there solely for research purposes. In addition, there are three “unforgivable” curses, all dark magic, which lead to a term in the wizarding prison if used.

There is only one small detail in the books that I take issue with. The death of Harry’s beloved headmaster Dumbledore can be interpreted as being supportive of euthanasia. This is more dangerous than the overt use of magic, because it could help spread a “culture of death” mentality. It is much more likely to happen than readers becoming Wiccan.

Second, I don’t believe that one should cancel one’s subscription to a publication because of one article, much less an article about an issue Catholics can legitimately disagree on.

Finally, I appreciated the Editor’s Note: “When readers give up their subscriptions because our paper is faithful to an unpopular doctrine of the Church, we part ways knowing we have irreconcilable differences.”

I am not sure this particular matter is an issue of unpopular Church doctrine. However, I myself will continue my subscription to the Register as long as it is faithful to the magisterium.


Buffalo, New York

Shades of Gray

It seems that Harry Potter has touched quite a nerve — readers are either wholly for or wholly against the boy wizard.

If I recall in the article, “Judging Harry Potter” (Sept. 2) — I only skimmed it, as I have no interest in Harry Potter and haven’t read the books — your author wrote that the wizardry/sorcery is problematic from a Catholic point of view, but there are redeeming qualities and moral lessens.

What all of us need to recognize, in this debate as in all of our lives, is that the world is not either/or. As the Monkees sang in the late 1960s, “in life there is no black or white, only shades of gray.” Harry Potter, as does most everything, has both good and bad. To throw away the good to avoid the bad is to miss out on a lot we might learn and grow from.

Each of us as individuals is the same: created good in God’s image and likeness, yet stained by original sin — yet we love, accept, and cherish each other despite those bad points.

Let us all be cautious of the easy answers that a yes/no, either/or, good/bad mindset leads us too. Those answers are almost never correct, because almost nothing in life is that simple. We must instead use our God-given intellect to actually think for a change, something not often encouraged by our culture.

In Harry Potter’s case, it is up to parents, teachers, babysitters, etc. to tease out the good points, bring them to the front for our children, reinforce the moral points and instruct on the bad points — you know, the same good old catechesis we should do every day anyway.

We have to take off our blinders and see the nuances, that there is redeeming value in most everything. Those who arbitrarily throw away the books because of their bad points miss out on the opportunity to use the good points to reinforce moral values. And those who write vitriolic letters and cancel their subscriptions over one article miss out on the lesson to love as God loves us — unconditionally, warts and all.

Jim Miller

Fort Myers, Florida

Potter Values

I just read “Judging Harry Potter” (Sept. 2) by Father Alfonso Aguilar. I am 25 years old and I live in Montreal.

I was raised Catholic and most of people I know are, too. Since the release of the Harry Potter books, more and more adults started reading them, me included. It was a great way to relieve the pressure of school and enjoy J.K Rowling’s humor and inventiveness.

Over the years, I was quite sad to see condemnation from Internet sites and newspaper articles about the series. It was often put clumsily and categorical, in quotes such as: “Harry Potter will lure children to Satan.”

I understand that parents have to ensure proper education and teach their children not to try any kinds of occult tricks they find. When I was a child, we did not have Harry Potter, and everyone was doing some popular love charms and playing Ouija (which I find really dangerous!).

We were 12 years old, and everyone was reading the Stephen King’s novels, which are intended for adults and were sometimes pretty terrifying. Nobody condemned them.

My point is: Nobody ever condemned Walt Disney’s Merlin’s character in The Sword in The Stone who was clearly a wizard. J.K. Rowling did not invent everything in her books. There are a lot of mythological creatures, such as centaurs, phoenixes and unicorns. Her success resides in the brilliant intrigues in the novels and the interaction between the very colorful characters, as well as her distinctive humor.

In Harry Potter, magic is part of their world, and people use it for good or bad. I think there is this distinction between this type of magic and ours. I know people who practice some kind of voodoo incantations to hurt people, and I am positive that this affects their soul.

It is an easy and a cowardly way to hurt people. The Harry Potter characters do not have to sell their souls to practice magic; it’s already there.

I would just like to add that after reading the article, I was relieved that someone sees that most of values transmitted in the Harry Potter are some of love, courage, perseverance, to forgive our enemies, redemption, remorse, self-sacrifice, and on bigger social issues: anti-esclavagism (the house-elf who works as slaves are freed) and anti-Nazism: In the last book, there is clearly a Nazi-type party that sets apart the pure-blood magicians from the “mud bloods” (magicians born from non-magical parents).

This is the whole point of the book: to get rid of evil, but mostly by strategy and not by making a bloodbath, as it is very popular in our time.

There might not be some Biblical allusions as clearly as Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings in the Harry Potter series, but everyone is not Catholic and that is why the use of a fantasy story to transmit good values is so effective. Everybody can relate to it. I’m talking about all kind of fantasy books here; they are a lot more realistic than people think, for they demonstrate ordinary people having to face their moments and of truth in extraordinary situations.

Valérie Delaney

Montreal, Québec

Sister Bethany

Your article “Dominican Sisters Show Vitality of Church in U.S.” (Aug. 19) featured on page 12 two photos of Sister Bethany, but omitted some very important information about her.

When she attended Goucher College in Towson, Md., she took a trip to France and visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, where she had an impressive religious experience. Having been brought up an atheist, she there decided to become a Catholic. This she did and became a member of my parish of the Immaculate Conception in Towson, where I got to know her.

After a while, she decided to become a nun, but an obstacle stood in the way. She owed the government thousands of dollars in student loans which had to be paid off before she could enter the convent. With the help of the Laboure Society and donations from friends, her loans were paid off just in time for her to leave for Nashville and the novitiate.

I thought your readers should know this. God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.

Charles J. Scheve
Towson, Maryland