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IT’S THE SAME SPIRIT
That was quite a column by Ted Schmidt (”The Sensus Fidelium”) and it is where I see the Church heading. Schmidt does not give up on giving back to the people their position of importance. The older I get, the more I realize that the same Spirit works in Schmidt and me as it does in Benedict XVI or other hierarchy. We shall have our say one way or the other, and the Church from the bottom is changing things whether the hierarchy likes it or not. We will not be silenced or anathematized as in days of old. These are exciting days of thinking and arguing and cooperating much as it was after Jesus’ death.

Gerald Grundy
Kitchener, Ontario

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UNDERSTANDING ISLAM
In his letter, Dan Morse wrote that he was “offended” by an article that tried to challenge anti-Muslim stereotypes and enhance our understanding of Islam. Did he not notice in the masthead that The Social Edge is a “social justice and faith magazine”? Thank you for that article, and I look forward to more.

John Dirlik
Montreal, Quebec

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LEAVING THE CHURCH
The “so called arrogant nonsense” referred to in “The Rise of the Lay Voice: Sensus Fidelium (Part One)” by Ted Schmidt regarding the question of salvation outside the Catholic Church was unfortunately not put to bed with the Second Vatican Council.

     Beginning with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994 –paragraph 846) followed by the Compendium of the Catechism (2005 –article 171), the Church has shown it wants to completely reverse the pastoral views introduced by Vatican II. Furthermore the new Roman Missal awaiting approval from the Canadian Bishops pushes the question of salvation back even further. If accepted, Canadian Catholics will be instructed to respond that Jesus came to save “many” instead of the current “all.” The theological implications of these changes speaks volumes. To quote Sr. Joan Chittister: “Who is it that Jesus did not come to save?”

This was just one of the many reasons why my wife and I finally made the painful decision to leave the Church.

Bert Monster
St. Catharines, Ontario

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OPPRESSED CLOTHING
The Western world regards Muslim sixteenth-century women’s apparel as a sign of oppression, just as the hangman’s rope from a tree is the symbol of slavery. Veils (Muslim orthodox dress) are a sign of centuries of oppression. This is why the silent majority gets irritated by this fanaticism, which insists it’s an historical costume. They also see it as a sign of arrogance (not willing to integrate). If you’re going to leave an oppressed Arab state, then leave the oppressed clothing behind and start afresh.

Peter Kopfler
Cancún, Mexico

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OFFENDED
I was offended by the column Challenging Muslim Stereotypes by Maura Hanrahan. I thought that a core mission of The Social Edge is to teach Christianity –not Islam. The article is peppered with quotes from the Quran, and Islam’s accomplishments, while simultaneously putting down the Catholic Church.

Dan Morse
Toronto, Ontario

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VISION AND COURAGE NEEDED
Maura Hanrahan (Getting Poverty on The Ballot) is right on! The only party that remotely comes close to doing that is the New Democratic Party, but it needs nudging. The core group –who picks what resolutions make it to conventions– lack vision and courage. Free post secondary education (trades and university) would net us more doctors and trades people. Taxing the rich and collecting that tax (no deferrals) would re-fund Medicare, education, mental health programs, detox centres, and other social services.

Susanne Shaw
Port Alice, BC

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FALLING LIVING STANDARDS
In terms of increased cost of living (Public Apathy Toward Poor), Ontario welfare recipients are worse off under the kinder, gentler Dalton McGuinty than they were under the mean, nasty Mike Harris. The welfare rate so-called increases only somewhat lessen the continuing fall in living standards.

Reuel S. Amdur
Val-des-Monts, QC

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ROY BOURGEOIS
Roy Bourgeois cries out once again on the old inhuman issue of Fort Benning, Georgia. One can only wonder how the people of the United States can allow Fort Benning to continue and still sleep at night.

Gordon Shaughnessy
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

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VALUABLE RESOURCE
I look forward to the Social Edge’s monthly arrival online. The journal is full of most interesting, pertinent articles, reviews and interviews. I particularly enjoy the depth of these pieces.

     The Social Edge has become one of my regular sources for keeping up-to-date. Many thanks to all involved for this very valuable resource.

Jane M. Galvin fcj
Toronto, Ontario

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DOCTOR SHORTAGE
The column by Maura Hanrahan is a good one. I would add to her thinking on the doctor shortage, however, a question. After all this time, why are we not producing enough doctors? In Northern Ontario rather than getting better it has become worse!

     My sources tell me that medical schools still only take about 10 percent of those young people trying to get in. I believe that this is planned, and will not get better until it is investigated and changed by political force.

     Thanks for the many other good articles in this wonderful Social Edge.

Gordon Shaughnessy
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

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BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Thank you for the breath of fresh air concerning social justice. Most of us want the Catholic Church to wake up and serve as Jesus wants us to serve.

Deacon Bob Vincent
Appleton, Wisconsin

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INTEREST FREE MONEY

Unless you address the creation of money out of nothing as a compound interest bearing debt, thus enslaving us all from cradle to the grave, and resulting in the death of child every three seconds in the Third World you all are running well, but in the wrong direction. The interview with Fr. Bourgeois is good, but he must take up the campaign for interest free money.

David Soori
London, England

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IT’S IN THE SEEKING

Thank you for the interview with Mark Vernon. I will buy the book and study it. As it says in “Alcoholics Anonymous” in the chapter on How It Works: a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives b) That no human power could relieve our alcoholism c) That God could and would if he were sought.

     If he were sought implies that the recovery is in the seeking, not in the finding. My God never changes, but my understanding of him changes from moment to moment. The most I can tell you about how/why to believe is the sharing of that understanding, and I can never tell you what/how/why to believe.

Bob Judis
Ocean View, Delaware

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WOMEN PRIESTS
Your interview with Jesuit Dr. Roger Haight was interesting, but the last two paragraphs say it all! I am thrilled with the evolution of women priests, even if outside the male-oppressive mainstream Catholic Church. Christianity and Christ’s ideals cannot be allowed to be oppressed by the Pope or anyone else!

Susanne Shaw
Port Alice, British Columbia

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COLUMN NOT CONVINCING
Did Ted Schmidt run out of positive ideas here?. The first two articles presented well-written facts, but this third one seems to be all over the map with too much material, not very convincing and in an overly critical tone, with the implication that “if you don’t agree with me, you’re wrong.”

     The first two articles were very informative, cohesive, and without such implied criticism of readers. But this one left me annoyed more than interested. And because of so much material, I felt surprisingly unconvinced, although I had been eagerly awaiting the third article after reading the other two. It seemed to me that Schmidt lost the tight line and idea development of the first two. Sadly, I’m now questioning many of the facts he presented in this third one.

Kim Sylvester
Duncan, British Columbia

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COMPELLING ARTICLE
I found Maura Hanrahan’s article about Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” compelling. I liked the campaign at first too. Then I saw several of the ads –and participating women– featured on Oprah Winfrey. I was troubled by the nakedness featured in the ads and the fact that, as Hanrahan notes, the women touted as “real” were still above-average good-looking. Thanks for this article.

Maria Calhoun

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COOL!
Cool site

Sally Kraus
Boston, Massachusetts

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NATIONAL DISGRACE
Poverty is a national disgrace in a country as rich as Canada. Investing in the lives of poor children is good for everybody. Campaign 2000 reports that Ontario has 500,000 children living on Social Assistance. These children need an investment in their futures through a broad anti-poverty strategy. This includes adequate incomes that reflect the true costs of living, and affordable housing and childcare (which allows parents to train or work).

     Poverty is a health issue. Therefore it is everyone’s business. We need physically and mentally healthier children who won’t burden the health care system with preventable chronic diseases in the future. Please help to illuminate the plight of Ontario’s poorest children on the political agenda. These children need tangible help now.

Rene Adams
Toronto, Ontario

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NOUWEN’S STRUGGLE
I just came across Maura Hanrahan’s wonderful article about Fr. Henri Nouwen and his struggles as a gay priest.

     I am a great fan of Fr. Nouwen, and have read many of his works. While I appreciate and respect your perspectives on the torment and emptiness that Fr. Nouwen suffered due to his unrequited homosexuality, I interpreted his life’s writings quite differently.

     Jesus taught that we are all vessels of God, and we must surrender our earthly desires and trust God’s intentions for us. I always believed that despite Nouwen’s suffering, just as Jesus suffered in his dedication to our Father, he found great strength in surrendering to God, and to trust the torment as part of his purpose and to bring meaning to his courageous dedication to the Church, to Christ and the Father. If only we all had the strength to fight our inner demons.

     Please understand that I embrace gay rights, including the rights of expression, child adoption and marriage. What I am specifically sharing with you is the superhuman choice that Nouwen made to live his life, in full recognition of the physical, spiritual, and mental torment that he often experienced.

     With great respect and love.

Dave de la Plante
Georgetown, Ontario

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PROUD OF YOUNG LIBERALS
I guess we Liberals must be becoming as smug as the NDP! (”Liberal Party Needs Renewal”). I sat in the Montreal Palais des Congrès surrounded by Young Liberals who have given the party a whole new look. It was they who chose Kennedy and Dion, and pulled some of us along with them. Ask to meet with Dion and tell him what you want! As a person who has, with my parents, brothers, sisters, husband, children and grandchildren, been involved in social justice, peace and environmental issues all my life, I was proud of the Young Liberals who will shape our party –several of them from my own community.

Gwen Johnston
Peterborough, Ontario

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DEFENDING JACK STRAW
Paul Butler’s article on Jack Straw MP fails to mention that Mr. Straw is elected by the people of the northern town of Blackburn, and that without the quite sizable Muslim vote, he may not be re-elected next time round. Jack Straw is well aware of this fact, and does not unnecessarily alienate his Muslim constituents.

     Far from voicing extreme, racist views he is articulating the thoughts of mainstream British opinion –that the very nature of Britishness is under threat as the nation struggles with the task of assimilating millions of immigrants (a few of whom, far from wanting to become British, wish to set up enclaves of their own nationalities and religions).

     Too often we hear from Islamic fundamentalists that they wish Britain to become an Islamic state under Sharia Law. Here are people who benefit from freedoms denied in their own country (for example: freedom of speech and practice of religion) yet in the mosques and in our streets preach racial hatred towards their host nation.

     I concede that such voices are in the minority, but they are here and are heard. We have had suicide bombers wreak havoc and murder in London. Throughout Britain we have cells of extremists bent on perpetrating acts similar to “9/11.” In this context, when Muslim women wear the veil we cannot see who is within that veil –male or female, friend or foe, innocent or assassin.

     Jack Straw’s main point is that when Muslim women attend his “face to face” interviews with him (as all British MP’s do regularly with their voters) he has the right to say, “I wish to see the face of those with whom I am speaking –I better understand what you are saying if I can see your expressions.”

     You appear to fail to understand this very important fact. Even Moses wished to see God “face to face.” Is it too much for an MP to expect the same privilege when meeting his constituents?

Alan L. Brooks
Liverpool, England.

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THE PROPHETIC SPIRIT OF RABBI SLONIM
Thank you for Ted Schmidt’s piece on Rabbi Slonim, whom I had the pleasure of meeting several years ago. Rabbi Slonim truly personified the Biblical prophetic tradition when he reminded his community of their ethical responsibilities, and spoke out against the shameful treatment of Palestinians. This was in stark contrast to the modern-day Pharisees of the Jewish establishment, whose role as mouthpieces for the Israeli government causes them to justify even the horrific and carnage-producing cluster bombing of Lebanese villages, a war crime that to this day continues to maim and slaughter innocent civilians. May the prophetic spirit that Rabbi Slonim embodied live on and grow. It is much needed.

John Dirlik
Montreal, Quebec.

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MOST REWARDING
I found your summer issue most rewarding. I can’t begin to thank you enough for letting me in on such great reading. If I had to name my pick of the pack, it would be the interview with Jeff Faux. Blockbuster stuff!

Dr. Jack Boan
University of Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan

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HOSPITALITY NEEDED IN CHURCH
Thank you Maura Hanrahan for your column about tried and true (or new age new). Don’t we all want things our own way? That is why there are so many Protestant denominations! In AA we kid about people who go off and start new meetings, because they want to be boss or do things differently.

     Well, we always take ourselves with us wherever we go. I personally like and trust what has been in place for over 2000 years, even if I disagree with some teachings. At least I know where the Church stands. I think we have lost people because of the lack of hospitality and reverence for the Mass.

     We forget what deep spiritual “feel goods” we have as Catholics. Some new Churches have rock and roll music, very friendly people, and respect for the elders of the Church etcetera.

     If you walked into my local parish church, you would not come back. The outstretched hand goes only to the wealthy and well known. I have one person out of an entire congregation who says “hi” to me. We are both Vietnam era veterans and know each other from the Veterans Hospital. Hospitality. Yes, that is what is missing. Again, thanks.

Linda
Denver, CO

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BADLY NEEDED
Just keep doing what you’re doing. It’s needed so badly, and you do it so very well. Thank you.

Barbara Robinson
Albuquerque, NM

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GALBRAITH’S LEGACY
I attend First-Pilgrim United Church in Hamilton, Ontario. I was in my twenties when the Age of Uncertainty aired in 1977. I immediately read Galbraith’s core trilogy. Galbraith gave me language to critique consumerism, materialism, and outright selfishness. He also unmasked the real power of corporations in relation to markets. Your piece (”John Kenneth Galbraith 1908-2006: An Appreciation” by Ted Schmidt –May 17 issue) cheered me greatly. Much of the mainstream press opinion and obituary pieces dismissed Galbraith as an economist, because of his disdain of mathematical models. Your column corrected this for me, especially the paragraphs describing the corrective to autism within the discipline itself. You seem to do so more forcibly than the chapter on Galbraith’s legacy in the biography by Parker.

     I am most grateful that you mention science and reductionism. Professor Paul Fayter, my pastor, who teaches the history of science at York University, has instructed me on both the real error of reductionism while at the same time giving me a reasonable appreciation of the convergence of religious perspective and the natural sciences –especially quantum physics and cosmology. I have forwarded your column to him. Catholic social teaching does (and I dare say all Christian theologies ought to) critique the current neo-liberal economics that deny our fundamental relationship to each other, because our God is a relational God.

     The critique is not often heard. I never hear any forceful refutation of the dominant position that you take to task in your column. To listen to the media is to hear only of the conventional sequence between producers and their markets. The typical business report continues to ignore the power of oligopolistic business and their relationship with setting policy.

     First-Pilgrim Church does outreach and runs a housing ministry at the epicentre of poverty in Hamilton, which is in the top-five of cities ranked on poverty. More than a decade has passed since the last recession and an attack on the poor in the province worthy of the term Social Darwinist. Despite a roaring economy, many we see are the marginally employed who are underemployed and unemployed. For two years I was involved in advocating upon the behalf of welfare recipients attempting to overcome a regulatory regime designed to deny benefits without any thought to the dramatic changes in the very nature of employment over the 27 years since the neo-liberal reaction began.

     The passing of Galbraith, and the recent federal budget and commentary on it, caused me to remark to Paul Fayter that there is a need for the United Church and the Canadian Council of Churches to thoroughly critique economics as a science in a sustained dialogue, and to be published in an accessible way for dialogue with the laity.

     Thank you.

Peter Mackey
Hamilton, Ontario

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NICE BALANCE

Thanks for your work. I look forward to finding this in my e-mail every month. Your interviews are substantial, and there’s a nice balance of topics. Keep it up!

Vinita Wright
Chicago, IL

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DON’T SAY “WEAK”
You should read and absorb the column “On Language” by Maura Hanrahan. The addicted, the poor, the mentally ill, the disabled or even the senior would not like to be referred to as “weak.” It demeans them, accusing them of their own condition. My mother was an alcoholic, and you never met a stronger woman in your life with more willpower than was good for anyone. She couldn’t lick alcohol. I have been poor from time to time myself, and it was not because I was weak, addicted, or alcoholic or necessarily totally infirm! “Momentarily opportunity-less” might describe many of the poor better.

Susanne Shaw
Port Alice, BC

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THE PERILS OF SINGLE-ISSUE VOTING
In the last presidential election, bishops and priests across this country admonished their people to vote on the basis of a single issue. Because of their short sightedness and their lack of understanding of the Church’s position on social issues, their stand has brought us untold debt –which makes it impossible for us to help those who need it most. It has brought deaths both for ourselves and for the people of Iraq, tax cuts for the rich and nothing for the poor. In general it’s chaos. And today we stand on the brink of using nuclear weapons against another country, and compromising our own civil liberties. All in the name of getting us an anti-abortion judge on the Supreme Court whose allegiance to the administration makes it impossible for him to render a fair and just judgment.

     I hope those who let their pastors lead them into this chaos are willing to take responsibility for all of the negative things that have ensued. As Sr. Joan Chittister says in her Lenten homilies, they, like Pilate, are probably saying this is not what we intended. Catholics in the pew are in great need of justice education, and I believe our priests as a whole are ill equipped to give them that.

Madeline G. Korff
Canton, GA

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BOTH PARTIES OFF BASE
Have you read Jim Wallis’ book God’s Politics: Why The Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It? Excellent! He makes the case that both the Republicans and Democrats are off base, and he is right in both cases. Since it’s been said that Progressives having a historical connection to (was it “spirituality?”), Jim Wallis aptly states that voters perceive that Democrats want a total disconnect with anything having to do with values, morality, religion etc. I can think of no aspect of our society where we have more need of ethics and integrity than politics. The Democrats would have won the last two times if they had simply stated (and how can they do it genuinely?) that they fully embrace high standards of morals, ethics and integrity.

John Munsell
Miles City, MT

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KEEP IT UP!
Just saw The Social Edge for the first time, and I am terribly impressed by the quality and the scope of your articles. And your long list of “sponsors!” If anyone wants to create an honor roll of North American Catholicism, your sponsors belong there.

Robert Blair Kaiser
Editor
JustGoodCompany.com Phoenix, Arizona

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CELIBACY IS THE ISSUE
Thank you for the article on celibacy. Ted Schmidt was right on. As a married priest for the last 35-years of my 40-years being a priest, I concur that this is the focal point that is the nemesis for the Church, along with its blatant misogynistic posture. Unfortunately, we have no leaders in the hierarchy, only complacent sycophants who cannot see the elephant in their sacristies!

Gregory Zimmerman
Downers Grove, IL

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SACRED UNION AND CHRISTIANITY
I was delighted to read Ted Schmidt’s profound articles regarding celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church, and particularly his comments about the alleged celibacy of Jesus. My own work for 20 years has been focused on restoring the “archetypal Bride” to the “Bridegroom” Christ, a union of the Beloveds at all levels of human experience that was once at the heart of the Christian story. The Fathers of Christianity may have lost the “Bride” by accident, because of threatened danger to her, but they keep her in enforced exile by design, having stolen her voice when they claimed that she was a prostitute. In restoring Mary Magdalene as the incarnation of the “Sophia” the “Divine Complement” of the “Logos”/Christ, we restore a paradigm of partnership to Christianity.

Margaret L. Starbird
Steilacoom, WA

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MISPLACED “BRAND LOYALTY”
Gerry McCarthy (”Pure Relationships”) makes a valid and important point about the commodification of relationships and the problems this poses for all of us. But he then tacks this –with minimal transition– onto a petty concern over the relative preferability of “soul” or “self” for discussing interiority and reflexivity.

     ”Soul” has, certainly, been used in many complex and important ways in the philosophical/theological tradition. But so too has “self” in the philosophical/psychological tradition. There is, quite literally, nothing that has been discussed in terms of “soul” that has not also been discussed in terms of “self”.

     The challenges of resisting commodity culture are difficult enough without succumbing to a misplaced “brand loyalty” to bits of vocabulary.

Chris Borst
Hamilton, ON

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THANKS AND GOD BLESS

I have a dial-up e-mail connection, and often people tell me they tried to phone and the line is busy. I now tell them it is because I am reading The Social Edge.

     Your publication is wonderful. I read every article and often print copies to share with others.

     Thank you and may God continue to bless your work.

Peggy Flanagan SP
Kingston, ON

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