Letters 10.10.2010

Thanks, Mother Dolores

Thank you for having Tim Drake interview Mother Dolores Hart of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., about her friendship with actress Patricia Neal (“Movie Star Nun Talks Faith and Film,” Sept. 12 and NCRegister.com). Drake did an excellent job of relating that relationship and how it developed into such a superb ending of Patricia Neal’s life.

I am a retired educator and occasionally read about Mother Dolores and her turning from actress to a professed religious. We are in vital need of role models for our youth, and Mother’s life story would resonate well among young people. Is there any possibility that Drake or one of your writers could write a biography of Mother’s life? We are in such need of material for the young people to read, especially current material to give them the opportunity to inculcate into their lives the spiritual benefits from that reading. Another suggestion would be a play about the relationship between Patricia Neal and Mother Dolores. I could then see a movie being written from this book or play. Please give it some thought. Keep up the great work at the Register.

Richard E. Kelly

La Jolla, California

Faithful Colleague

Regarding “Gut-Check Time for Catholic Coaches” (Sept. 12):

Coach Kuebler practices what he writes. His successes are no mistake and the way he leads his athletes is defined in the words he has provided us all. As his colleague, I am humbled to have been by his side for a few years.

As a colleague, I am driven by the ways that he teaches and guides young men and women for each and every competition that they will endure. As a Christian, I know that his talents and gifts from God are being utilized as they should be and I am sure that he is preparing today’s youth as God has planned.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Dan!

Vincent Oliver, head track and field coach

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Steubenville, Ohio

As a fellow coach/colleague of Dan Kuebler, I too would like to thank him for the example he sets, which speaks more powerfully than words. Would that coaches, and the athletes who have been formed by coaches, would be valued (and evaluated) more for their attitude, work ethic and virtue than for their win-loss record. As an adult leader in Boy Scouts, as well as a youth coach, I am concerned that fewer boys have time for organizations like scouting, which build teamwork and valuable life skills because they are expected to devote themselves so totally to their sports team — even outside of the main season of the sport. Coaches also need to remember that training for their sport is not the only priority!

Alan Schreck, Ph.D., professor of theology

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Steubenville, Ohio

Compliment From Afar

I am very impressed with the Register. It gives me great hope for the U.S.A. in the thought/moral leadership it offers to Catholics and Christians everywhere — we could do with an equivalent in Europe. It complements my weekly read of Catholic Voice here in Ireland.

Stiofan de Burca

Limerick, Ireland

Thoughtful Analysis

Regarding “Stephen Hawking’s Cosmic Slot Machine” (NCRegister.com and Sept. 12 In Depth):

Thank you so much for your thoughtful analysis of the book The Grand Design. I wish that Father Robert Spitzer would have had more of an opportunity to express similar views on “Larry King Live,” but, sadly, most of the time was given to Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow and Deepak Chopra (who couldn’t stop gushing out nonsense and compliments to Mlodinow, whom he hopes to write his next book with). It is obvious that the deck was stacked heavily against Father Spitzer.

At any rate, your two blog postings on this subject really hit the nail right on the head with the problems of this book. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this, and I will certainly recommend these posting to others!

Jason Drake

Tallahassee, Florida

Akin’s Well-Written Take

Jimmy Akin’s expedition (“Unintelligent Reasoning,” Sept. 26, and at NCRegister.com) into “natural philosophy” (lately known as “science”) was well written and interesting to read, and will be studied.

The speculations of such as Hawking et al are not science as the basic question of natural science is: “Can the concept/idea/theory be subjected to an experimental test which is reliable and valid? I doubt that much of what they offer can so be tested. In fact, some (including myself) have expressed some doubts about the entire array of “sub-atomic” theory, as it seems to fail to meet the philosophical standards of “Occam’s Razor” due to its “multiplication of entities.”

As to order and disorder in the real universe, I found (with the aid of some real mathematicians and certain books) that “chaos” is strangely ordered in reality. The only place where disorder really rules is in that place and in the minds of those persons ruled by “The Lord of Disorder” (aka Satan).

James Pawlak

West Allis, Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Occam’s Razor, named for 14th-century theologian and logician William of Ockham, postulates the fewest entities while still sufficiently answering the question. Simply put, “The simplest explanation is usually the correct one.”

Misstated Info

The opinions in your Theology of the Body Congress article (“Theology (of the Body) 101,” Aug. 15) misstated the objections to Christopher West’s presentation of Pope John Paul II’s work. First: It’s not always the “explicit language” that is seen as the problem, but the manner in which that language is presented. Second, Alice von Hildebrand says that West distorts Catholic history by claiming that “the beauty and meaning of this sphere had been totally obscured by Puritanism and Manichaeism. ... In our sex-saturated society, to concentrate … on this deplorable deformation is to beat a dead horse.”

But the key criticism which opened the debate was a matter of the highest importance: that West does not honor the analogia entis, which was at the very heart of the theology of Aquinas and has been of foundational importance every since, most recently in Hans Urs von Balthasar, Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The Fourth Lateran Council said, “Between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying a greater dissimilitude.” Speaking of “freedom,” our human freedom and God’s freedom are analogical. If they were different (equivocal) we would not be able to speak about God’s freedom at all; if they were the same (univocal), we would be collapsing God into humanity in a pantheistic identity. What we can do is speak analogically, in a way that respects both the human and the divine.

Surprisingly, commentators missed this crucial objection: that West ignored the “greater dissimilitude” — the radical discontinuity — between human love and divine love; it was as if he were projecting human sexuality into the divine economy, reducing God’s love to ours. As David Schindler put it:

“Sex is not even the most important part of human love, let alone the key to the Christian mysteries — the Eucharist, for example. ... West, in his disproportionate emphasis on sex, promotes a pansexualist tendency that ties all important human and indeed supernatural activity back to sex without the necessary dissimilitudo.”

Finally, the theology of the body is far deeper than sexuality. It’s an answer to modern forms of Gnosticism, pantheism and much more, and in combination with The Acting Person and other writings, supplies the most sophisticated personalist anthropology we’ve yet seen. Because it appears to outsiders in a reduced form, in some people’s view relegated only to “marriage-and-family life” discussions, the emphasis on sex makes it harder for people to see the additional profound philosophical and theological implications.

Mary Taylor

Sandy Hook, Connecticut

Appropriate Editorial

Your editorial on conscience and Father Breen in the Aug. 29 edition (“Obedience vs. Conscience” by Janet Smith) was most appropriate in that it touched on a common conscience problem that bases morality first on motivation without consideration for the intrinsic objective rightness or wrongness of an act.

Father Breen’s assertion about conscience “obedient to nothing, but the Spirit of God” has been, and is to this day, a common problem in weighing morality by isolating the motivational aspect from the objective aspect.

The 9/11 bombing by Islamic extremists is most illustrative of motivational self-conscience gone amok. With the Father Breen problem, when the motivational facade is removed from objective actions like contraception, the “self-conscience” rather than “God conscience” can then logically be exposed for its objective deviation.

Genesis 3 gives us a lesson with the “self-Eve conscience,” which is now timelessly repeated in violations of objective natural moral laws and moreover in violation of revealed Church teachings. Eve’s faulty motivation did not help her.

Frank Strelchun, Ph.D.

Canaan, Connecticut

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy