The link between violent acts and abortion
Re: “God is with us” (Editorial, Dec. 30).
Once again a school shooting has captured the attention of our nation; we’re all asking, “Why?” There continues to be complete denial on a subject I believe needs to be a part of the answer. In 1973, our nation introduced a new law of the land — abortion on demand. Since that time all children born in our nation have grown up with background knowledge that a human life has been devalued in the law of our land. This might be subtle, but is it a factor (my life was optional before birth) for those with a perceived grievance and a need to lash out.
In the past 30 years or so, we’ve witnessed an increase in these violent acts — is there a connection? Will we at some time have the courage to have this conversation? How about some research at a Catholic university in America?
— Russ Paumen, Maple Lake, Minn.
Motivated by love
Thank you for a wise and balanced approach to Friday abstinence (“A meaty debate,” Dec. 9). It’s human nature to fluctuate between legalism and laxness, but grace lifts us above both and makes love the motive for our fasting, abstinence and other penances.
I agree that using the threat of hell to enforce a discipline that does not involve a matter of actual sin is likely to lead to confusion, both theologically and psychologically.
More than that, it’s contrary to the spirit of the Gospel: “For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us, who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit” (Rom 8:3-4).
The grace of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit will move us to willingly and gladly do more, not less, than the fear of hell could ever do.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jas 2:13). It’s also a lot more powerful.
— Margret Meyer, Jacksonville, Fla.
William B. May (“Learning what to say in the marriage debate,” Dec. 16) says that it is a mistake to argue against gay marriage on the grounds of “what is best for kids.” He is blind to the way he sets up rationally what later strikes him as the truth of the matter.
His position, of course, is correct — we should argue against gay marriage — but it is not clear why society should move to prevent others from making a mistake about what marriage is.
The Second Vatican Council’s idea of a “preferential option for the poor” does not just have something to say about providing people’s material needs. It is an attempt to speak about human choices in terms of man as linguistic consciousness. Pope John Paul II’s “Sex and Responsibility” relies on Martin Buber to describe moral experience the way Thomas Aquinas relies on Aristotle to describe moral experience.
May does not realize that his need to “improve” arguments against gay marriage by focusing just on what marriage is as a “pure idea” is really a predisposition of his philosophical approach, an approach that equivocates the need to define concepts with moral guidance.
The Truth is absolute, but not because our ideas must be logically complete and we must clear the table of those “irrational” people who disagree with us. The Truth is absolute precisely because of the limits of human knowing, human power and human freedom.
If others were not really subject to cold and hunger, if people really did not have breaking points behind their resilience, if the inability to feel what you want, where you want, about what you want, were as much a part of emotional integrity as neurosis, then there would be no existential accountability, no moral demands.
The Church’s arguments against legalized abortion and gay marriage are not merely rational, without a recognition that reason itself is a phenomena of language and the mind and we are striving as much to trace out the reasons why we make choices, and what we are willing to hold accountable to, as much as to argue why others must choose the way we do.
May presumes that the authority of an argument is rationality, which means to him accountability to logic. The authority of his argument, to modern man, depends on a recognition of the limits of logic, and a willingness to embrace them and assert them, the willingness to do so being an important element of the capacity the Truth we assert has to speak to the hearts of others.
— John T. Meyer, St. Louis, Mo.
Two voting blocs
“Voting pattern presents challenge to Church” (News Analysis, Nov. 25).
I have seen many comments on the Catholic vote going to President Barack Obama in the recent election. The reality is that there are two Catholic voting blocs. They stretch on a continuum from pro-choice, pro-Obama on the left of the spectrum to pro-life candidates on the right end.
The pro-choice end of the spectrum is generally characterized by infrequent Mass attendance and is little influenced by Catholic principles and teachings in the lives of those voters or in the voting booth. As one moves to the right on the spectrum, Mass attendance becomes more frequent and efforts to live by the teachings of the Church become more diligent.
— Jeff Jorissen, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.