Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I am a cross-disciplinary expert in pattern recognition.

The main problem with religious fundamentalism of all sorts is the term "fundamentalism." In fact, "superficialism" would be a far more accurate term.

I do not know of one Christian who reads the Tanach, the Jewish bible, in a truth-based context. The Tanach is largely incorporated into the Christian Old Testament, so Christians have the words, but they read it in the context of the Nicean Creed of the year 325, which established the concept of the Trinity.

For a Jew Torah, the covenant for all Jews with God, is the core of everything. The other parts of the Tanach are written in the context of Torah. Torah itself is a multifaceted multidimensional document which is an exquisite plan for an open stable system. Studying Torah in context and in the process of the weekly portion is a never-ending discovery. The rule is Torah cannot be compared to anything and everything must be compared to Torah. Any truth taken out of context may or may not be true.

Anyone who reads Torah in context would understand that the rules of purity for Jewish women are essential to have Jewish birthright passed through the maternal lines. The second essential knowledge is that the soul enters the body of the fetus at the beginning of the third trimester in most cases. There are some exceptions, when they enter later.

Fundamentalists just do not understand the ethical issue for prolife is about protoplasm until the third trimester. Any woman paying attention to her body and the fetus she is carrying knows when that precious soul enters the fetus. Before that the growth is preparation for receiving the soul.

Reading Torah any other way is the choice of the individual and their context and comprehension. The Pope is a perfect example of reading Jewish texts in terms of the Nicean Creed. The Nicean Creed was certainly a man-made document. The winners of the adoption of the creed banished or otherwise eliminated all the traditionalists.

Jesus certainly would have been one of the traditionallists.

Lynn Phifer

San Diego, CA

May 21 2009 - 12:27pm

Web Letter

I see today some misunderstandings about America.

Americans have forgotten that a Catholic mission discovered America; or you think that Colon, Isabel Queen and Fernando were Protestants, or nonbelievers maybe?

Americans have forgotten that their ancient fathers ware people who loved God, and as manifestation of that, they populated the continent (prolife attitude).

Americans have forgotten that was a Catholic president who carried man to the moon. In this sense: America is due to the Catholic Church.

Former Americans loved life instead of the opposite (like today some Americans love abortion).

There are Catholics like John Kennedy, who promote the scientific progress.

To finish, Mr. Obama is not an African-American man, strictly speaking. African-Americans are those whose fathers lived in America and suffered under slavery. Obama's father and his grandfather, and his great-grandfathers, were free men.

carlos pastor

Lima, Peru

May 18 2009 - 8:55pm

Web Letter

Just one question for Nation readers, Where would Tolstoi and Gandhi stand?

John Molina

Chula Vista, CA

May 18 2009 - 4:22pm

Web Letter

Since the feminist and other civil rights movements of the 1960s, traditional religious beliefs have been under continuous attack. While I agree emphatically with the underpinning of these movements--that is, social justice--the liberal extension to remove from the public arena discourse and protest based upon moral and religious belief is highly inappropriate and not in the spirit of free speech.

It's certainly OK to protest the protesters, but let's not get carried away with the Chicken Little paranoia espoused by the author.

I am Catholic and believe that life begins at inception and I support the protesters at Notre Dame. I have come to accept this position because it is hard for me to deny the scientific and moral truths, not just because my church "told me so."

Even though the author would believe otherwise, this does not make me a bitter Republican, a religious fundamentalist or militant, a blind irrationalist, ready to engage in sectarian intolerance, ready to overturn civil rights advances, ready to take over the free-thinking, inclusive and loving, "we care" church of old, and ready to reject all scientific advances. Nor am I ignorant of church history and fail to recognize the church's weaknesses. There are plenty of examples that demonstrate the church's strengths and adherence to the faith.

I wonder how the author would answer the following questions, and how he would view me for simply asking:

1. Does God exist? If you say yes, why do you believe?

2. If you accept that God exists, in what ways do you understand what He wants for you in this life and what he demands of you in this life? Can you be specific?

3. Do secular non-religious beliefs trump your understanding of God's beliefs when they clash? Can you be specific?

4. Is God more like the shadows on the cave wall, metaphorically speaking, so all you can do is make educated guesses about what He really is and wants, thus allowing you to change your thinking when it suits your current needs and wants?

5. Is or is not the Bible the Word of God, and are there any moral absolutes in the Word of God that apply from age to age, from east to west? Can you be specific?

6. Do scientific advances trump your understanding of God's beliefs? Can you be specific?

I ask these questions because there is very little religious theory or application in the author's arguments in favor of his or Obama's positions on life issues. Rather than list the issues, it is sufficient to note that Obama has the 100 percent approval rating of all the proabortion groups on the least to the most important issues confronting life. Why shouldn't Catholics protest this state of affairs? When do you take a risk in life and stand up for what you believe?

Given the author's warning about the Catholic Church's proselytizing in Africa, I guess the only thing any good liberal should do is to get over there right quick and keep the Catholic Church from spreading its evil doctrines, don't ya think?

Or if you can't do that, why not encourage ND authorities to press charges on that 80-year-old frail-lookin' priest, the one praying to Our Lady on Friday and was whisked away to jail in chains? Need to protect our babies from those kind!

Ray Dombkiewicz

Gulf, NC

May 17 2009 - 7:36am

Web Letter

As I read your opinion piece regarding the question of abortion, the only image in my mind was the serpent tempting Eve.

You can twist words any way you choose, but it does not alter reality in the least.

You can rationalize ungodly behavior any way you choose, but it will not alter God's perspective one whit.

You obviously believe that God is the creation of man and so is alterable according to the popular whims of man. Believers accept that God is immutable and that His expectations of us are immutable, and it is only by our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior that we are bearable to God.

Do you honestly believe that life, which only God can create, is of so little value to Him that He cares not that we choose to destroy His magnificent and amazing creation for no more than our social convenience?

I believe that you are in for a rude awakening.

While I am not a Catholic, it strikes me as perverse for a Catholic University to honor someone who is diametrically opposed to the sanctity of life that Catholic theology holds sacrosanct.

Frank D. Banta

Newnan, GA

May 16 2009 - 10:12pm

Web Letter

"Fundamentalism" has been the whipping boy for the secularists for some time now. Adding an "s"--fundamentalisms--I guess is supposed to show how nuanced the secularists have become.

The truth is, everyone is a fundamentalist of some sort. The fundamentals are merely the tenets of all belief systems--including secularism.

Sneering at Christian fundamentalists may make the auther feel good, but it merely slaps a label on people to keep disunity alive.

Rather than stoop to such name-calling, how about practicing a little of that wonderful "diversity" that is one of the fundamentals of your secular faith?

Mark Jordan

Goshen, IN

May 16 2009 - 8:03pm

Web Letter

Father I. Jenkins was powerless to rescind the invitation to Mr. Obama for commencement not because of Catholic doctrine, principal or alumni but because, as Frank Walker outlines, this invitation by the Board of Trustees at Notre Dame "does not" reveal a strong Catholic identity but an economic windfall for liberal supporters and the University itself... a point that has been lost in all of this Catholic theology.

The ND board is comprised of top liberal Democrat international business owners, chairs of rich endowments, academic leaders, judges, attorneys, faculty and prominent clergy, part of the Chicago power structure that Obama ascended.

Mr. and Mrs. Richard and Peggy Notebaert are leading members of the ND community, and Notebaert is chair of the Notre Dame trustees. While serving in the Senate Mr. Obama delivered earmarks to Peggy Notebaert's Nature Museum. Key Obama campaign fundraiser Frank Clark served on the board of the Notebaert museum at the time.

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, where ND trustee Arthur Velasquez is on the board, also received millions in earmarks. Velasquez contributed to Obama's campaigns in '04 and '08.

Leftist judge Ann Claire Williams has a place on the Notre Dame governing board, and currently Williams is receiving serious attention as one of the top three possible Obama replacements for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Chicago trustee Philip B. Rooney, Chairman of Claddagh Investments, is former CEO of Waste Management Inc., the world's largest waste services company. In '02, Rooney and Waste Management, along with Arthur Andersen, Enron and others, were indicted by the SEC in a massive fraud case eventually settled for $30.8 million in penalties. The SEC barred Rooney permanently from being an officer in a public company. Despite this history, Rooney retains his board position at Notre Dame.

ND Trustee Douglas Tong Hsu is chairman of Far Eastern Group, a $32 billion Chinese conglomerate. Hsu's strong political connections in Taiwan lean toward unification with mainland China. Relative of convicted Hillary fundraisor Norman Hsu.

Notre Dame trustees directly support Obama administration goals. Dr. Mary Anne Fox is chancellor at UC San Diego and vice-chair of the National Science Board. Recently Fox opened a research facility that will cultivate and experiment on human embryonic stem cells.

In 2007 the institute hosted a stem cell ethics conference. R. Alta Charo, bioethicist and adviser to the Obama transition team, was a key speaker. At UCSD the bio-engineering department has just established a partnership with Tsinghua University in China, to further their research.

Raymond G. Chambers, co-founder of antipoverty organization Millennium Promise, serves on the ServiceNation leadership council: a political group that supports enormous multiplication of federal national service programs on the Obama agenda, including the Kennedy Serve America Act. The Kennedy act was touted as the "largest expansion of community and national service since the launch of the Civilian Conservation Corps."

Several Notre Dame board members lead American banks and major investment houses, where the federal government has sunk billions in bailout funds and stock purchases. Robert Conway was head of Goldman Sachs (AIG). Philip J. Purcell was formerly CEO of Morgan Stanley and COO of Dean Witter. Enrique Hernandez Jr. is on the board of Wells Fargo Bank.

The board members are in a position directly at odds with church teaching and in line with the Obama administration. At the Notre Dame board, we see a group of well-connected, well-heeled individuals from all sectors of society, and at the most prominent levels. Taking a stand against inviting the president of the United States would likely jeopardize membership in the elite club where they travel.

Shyron M. Beavers

Alexandria, VA

May 16 2009 - 12:10pm

Web Letter

Mr. Carroll's thesis is that just as the world fears fundamentalist religions, it should fear Catholicism, because too many Catholics, including the present and immediate past popes, have reverted to their roots. A true Catholic, by definition, is a fundamentalist. Catholic principals have not changed since Christ instituted them. The sexual perversions Mr. Carroll seems to countenance in his acceptance of modernity were condemned in the Bible--spilling seed, etc. In his personal life (Google his name), Mr. Carroll obviously rejected orthodox Catholicism long ago. He might have mentioned that to bolster his supposed bona fides when discussing Catholicism. Oh yes, I graduated from Notre Dame in 1951 and worked for the US bishops for a time, and I did protest to Father Jenkins that he should have rescinded the invitation to President Obama. I hope Father Jenkins emulates Mother Teresa tomorrow (May 17) in backing life issues.

Carl A. Eifert

Alexandria, VA

May 16 2009 - 11:20am

Web Letter

When even the Catholic Church's position on life is reduced to a political stunt, one has to conclude that for some a prolife position is incomprehensible.

A prolife position shouldn't be that hard to understand. One merely has to suspend one's cynicism and accept that there is, indeed, a strong moral argument in favor of life, whether one agrees with it or not.

Andrea Economos

Scarsdale, NY

May 16 2009 - 8:41am

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.