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March, 1994 - Volume 1, Number 3

York Township, IL. Mar. 15, 1994 Since I've gotten a few comments on last month's issue, I thought it would be appropriate to open up a "Letters to the Editor" column. You'll find it in the editorial section (yea, I know, the whole ...excellence not deleted... thing is an editorial column, but then...).

Susan, from Crete, IL, says I should mention that violence in the pro-life life movement is wrong. I agree. They would do better to raise their hands in prayer, than in shooting doctors, or in finding out the patients names and numbers from their license plates and calling them at home to charge them with murder. Aside from the fact that an abortion is often traumatic on the woman receiving it, and she needs love rather than condemnation at that critical point, they certainly win no support from the women that they call who merely went in for a routine Gynecological visit, or, worse yet, from a woman who is in miscarriage.

Cate from VIlla Park says that I need to stop making assumptive statements without backing them up with references to source material, or without having any source material. Well Cate, I somewhat agree, so here is a somewhat bibliography to the February issue:

As for making assumptive statements without sources, as editor, I claim the right to make statements that in my assessment are philosophically sound without having to clutter the column with the proofs leading up to them.

George from Hindsdale says "Just don't forget? Cause and effect, cause and effect." Very good! That's exactly what I was trying to get at when I mentioned Kierkegaard. He is widely considered the "Father of modern thinking", and his major contribution was to say that, rather than cause and effect being reasonable from thesis and antithesis, instead there was a synthesis from a thesis that required a "leap of faith" (because this synthesis could not be arrived at by reason). Although not practical in everyday life - such as setting a proper price for your goods based on something other than supply and demand or punching someone in the nose without fear of retaliation - it did allow Philosophy and Theology to develop new forms that denied any reliance on an absolute truth. Which (ironically by cause and effect) has led to a new definition of truth as anybodys' own private synthesis, which must therefore be "respected" rather than challenged on the basis of thesis/antithesis, since it cannot be arrived at except by a leap of faith. See how long I went on? That's why I would prefer to not clutter the column with these obvious statements.


Mary, from Chicago, wrote a beautiful letter, which I will reply to separately, however, one source that she recommended does bear some comment. The book is Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, by Uta Ranke-Heinemann, and is subtitled "Women, Sexuality, and the Catholic Church". According to the New York Times, this is "The book that accuses the Roman Catholic Church of degrading women and undermining the sexuality of believers." Yes, it certainly does accuse it, but it cannot hope to prove it, because proof is impossible when you misinterpret the teachings of the church in the first place.

The tone is set in the first paragraph of the introduction, where the author, talking about a court decision, informs us that the court "decided, in the name of the people, that Jesus was a thoroughly 'lust-free', i.e., joyless Redeemer" (The equation of lust-free and joyless is her opinion, not the court's). This opening shows how little the author knows about joy, and the book's many assumptions about what is good and bad in general, point to a total misconception on the author's part about the mission of the Church. And yet we are told that she is not only scholarly, but a Catholic theologian. She attacks the Roman Rite's discipline of priestly celibacy, and the doctrine of the virgin birth as evidence of the Catholic Church's scorn of human sexuality, and goes on to use prominent protestant theologians to support her stand. If she wishes to profess a non-catholic faith, then she should do so; but to continue using the affirmation of "Catholic" demonstrates that she does not believe in the principles of that word.

In dealing with celibacy, p. 32-33, she (or the translator) paraphrases the relevant verse from the Gospel of Matthew (19:12): "and he (Jesus) adds that there is a self-castration for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.". She then states that this is "naturally to be understood metaphorically", and that the word "for" grammatically connects it with the discussion of divorce in the preceding verses. I'm sorry, but rules of grammar dictate that conjunctions such as "for", "but" and "and" are used to connect two adjacent phrases, preferably in the same sentence. Why does she expect that we should see this connection to the previous verses, when in fact Jesus was, as usual, answering far more than their question called for? The New Jerusalem Bible puts the verse this way: "'There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.'" Although the heart of the quotation is paraphrased, she is close enough to it in the very title of her book, so why does she obscure it here?

Perhaps I should have turned to the back cover first. There, in prominence is the anti-endorsement meant to sell as many copies as possible: "The book condemned by New York's Cardinal O'Connor...". If I had, I could have saved myself the trouble of reading as much as I did. I prefer the teachings of Cardinal O'Connor to that of those who protest the Church's right (indeed it's duty) to call us to holiness over worldliness in matters of faith and morals, or of those who condemn the Church for not accepting the "obviousness of modern thought" (whose leaps of faith are prompted by who knows what spirits), over the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, there have been many instances of chicanery in the Church's history, and many a religious (even Popes) who led a much "less than exemplary" life, but it is one of my personal proofs of the Church's legitimacy, that in spite of these, never once has a Pope had to retract a teaching of one of his predecessors on a matter of faith or morals. There are those who will ask now why the Church used to say that eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin, but now says it's permissible. This is neither of faith nor of morals, but a matter of discipline, and the Church can and does enact and retract disciplines as the Spirit moves it. (Whatever you bind...whatever you loose...). These disciplines are for our own good, and if we accept them in a spirit of faith and humility, they will draw us closer to God.

So great, now I'm doing book reviews! What's next? I'll close this commentary with a note about the rules of the Catholic Church. The intention of these rules is to make people saints, and if you don't understand what a saint is, you'll never be capable of giving the rules a fair hearing. His kingdom is not of this world! But the rules will help us to be happy in this one (even if the joy involved is lust-free). You see, Jesus called us to a number of levels of holiness. The three basic ones are: a) basic by rote obedience - Keep the commandments if you want to gain eternal life {cf: Mt 19:17}, b) proactive obedience - "If you love Me, keep My commandments" - where God asks us to not only avoid killing our neighbor, but to have concern for his health and safety. e.g. "Blessed are the peace makers", and c) total abandonment - "If you would be perfect, sell all you have, give the money to the poor...and then come, follow Me." {Mt 19:21} As you can see, it gets progressively more difficult if we're too attached to the rewards of this life, yet, ironically, more rewarding in this life and the next. {cf: Jn 15:9-12}

I am sorry, but I don't seem to have enough space left to do any justice to the topic of Science in the age of rationalism. We'll try again next issue. In the mean time, would anyone like to venture a guess as to the statistical probability that life, even DNA itself, could have just started on it's own? Now, can anyone try to apply Maxwell's second law of thermodynamics to the concept of old (entropic) life giving way to new (ordered) life? What can we learn about eternity from Einstein's general theory of relativity?

As always, Toes' Newsletter is published monthly (maybe) and the publisher wishes to state that opinions expressed herein are not only his own, but sometimes borrowed. Next month's topic: Science in the age of Rationalism (maybe). My love to all of you, and may God bless you, your families and those you hold dear.

First class postage paid at Villa Park, or where ever a mailbox is handy at the time.

March, 1994 Toes' Newsletter Page 2

©1994, James A. Croteau - e-mail:
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