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The Gospel strung on beads

placeholder October 3, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 17   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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God: Violent or not

Barbara Meistrell (Forum, Sept. 5), wrote that the nonviolent God is a caricature of sweetness, proposing instead a more violent God. She based her argument on Jesus foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and then the actual event. Most Scripture scholars teach that the “prediction” of the destruction of Jerusalem by Jesus was put in writing around 80 A.D., while the actual event took place in 70 A.D.

When confronted by natural disaster, human misery or the unfortunate consequence of free will, our helplessness takes refuge in considering these things punishment for sin. The Black Plague was seen as a consequence of sin. Not long ago, less sophisticated preachers proclaimed AIDS was God’s punishment for the “sin” of homosexuality.

Maybe God isn’t as violent as some would want God to be!

Jim Erickson

New music experience

Some parishes, including my own, are struggling with their music programs. The Third edition of the Roman Missal that is coming in Advent will give us a new liturgical experience and could, if pastors and parishes try, bring a new musical experience as well.

Misinterpretations of Vatican II led to the loss of the music that is native to the rituals of the Catholic Church, namely Gregorian chant, and this has been made integral to the new Missal text — in English! The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has given its approval for this music to be used and it is already available online, even with youTube.com videos, so it can be practiced. There is a real opportunity to return to the experience of the Roman Rite and the hopes of Vatican II, where a strong call was made to retain chant.

The chants can be sung with little or no accompaniment. Leaders will just need to be able to read music and use their voices. It worked in the first century and it could work today to accomplish what liturgical music is supposed to do. Enough of pounding pianos and artificial commercial pop music, where it sometimes seems like we are listening to Broadway show tunes, with extended harmonic structures, that give us the urge to dance in the aisles and clap at the end.

Large music publishing houses have made a lot of money selling the inane compositions and melodies of the last 40 years, and it has cost parishes a lot of money uselessly spent because people can’t or won’t sing them.

The lyrics of so much of the contemporary music focuses on the people instead of God, that it would be refreshing to let the voice of the liturgy itself speak and sing in a manner that transcends social and ethnic divisions. The new Missal offers us a chance to set things right and return liturgical music to the authentic traditions of the Catholic Church. It would take a little training but it would be worth it.

Jack Hockel
Walnut Creek

National debt a moral issue

Why is the national debt a moral issue? Not just the United States, but the world has a looming debt that will shatter national economies and collapse the banking, defense, pension and social welfare systems. Yet, the U.S. Senate has not passed a budget in three years, and only this year did the House of Representatives pass a balanced budget.

Every year the government takes $4 trillion dollars out of the private economy. Forty percent of this is borrowed, mostly from our Social Security contributions; and, 60 percent is taken from people who would otherwise invest in businesses and employ workers. Most of this money goes to public employees and corporate contractors; very little gets to the “truly needy” or military. You can expect that the Select Congressional Budget Commission will cut benefits, instead of bureaucracy; and, defense procurements, instead of deployments. “Promises” to cut trillions of dollars in the future means that they only reduce the projected increase in spending.

The politicians have intentionally put the government into “gridlock” so that any actual “cuts” will cause street protests and job losses which justify new spending and borrowing. This gridlock also allows the president and his bureaucracy “czars” to rule by fiat! These czars have imposed regulations that make “dirty” coal and oil production too costly; and, they fund risky “green” wind and solar ventures.

The root of the problem is in the centralization of power in the federal government; and, the solution is “subsidiarity”, the return of power to the states, localities and the people. Pray that our leaders have the wisdom and moral fortitude to reorganize government and repay the debt. If they fail, the next time we hear: “Remember the poor when you vote,” we can think of ourselves, because we will all be needy.

Michael Francis McCarthy

Leaving the Church

I used to send letters to The Voice with regularity, with my suggestions of ways the Church could move forward, not stay stuck in intellectual stagnation. I found this one of my few opportunities to promote alternative points of view within the Church. I have not sent in a letter in some time; I think that this will be my last.

I was a practicing Catholic for about 12 years. I attended Mass each week, was a member of multiple ministries and gave money with regularity. The Church was a huge part of my life.

I am no longer attending Mass. The more I got involved in critical ministries, e.g., Social Justice, and/or read official Church publications, e.g., “Forming Consciences,” the more I encountered dogmatic positions that I found in opposition to my own personal “religious” fundamentals. I will never buy the argument that when all Catholics are properly educated in their faith, they will all think, essentially, the same. I will NOT check my brain or my liberal education at the church door.

In the fall of 2008, I found the “suggestions” by the Church to not vote for Barack Obama more than I could take. I knew it was time for me to move on. While it would not be for everyone, I have found active involvement in the Democratic Party and caring social groups outside of the Church to be highly rewarding and, importantly, without the discussion-stopping “baggage” I was encountering within the Church. It has been, simply, a change that has brought me increased joy and personal growth.

George Fulmore

[Editor’s note: It is not the policy of the Church to endorse candidates for political office.]

What did Father Barron think?

With all due respect to Father Robert Barron’s “The Pope’s Young Army,” (The Voice, Sept. 19) and the secular viewpoints of CNN and BBC, what was the expectation?

Fox News, which has an enormous presence in Spain and throughout Europe, was a mere finger-point away on his remote television channel. Why he chose the likes of CNN and BBC seeking a balanced prospective is somewhat naive.

Fox News televised snippets of World Youth Day in all its glory, without the anti-Catholic viewpoint that has become so popular in our mainstream media.
Kudos to Father Barron for his work in Madrid!

Steve Corder

Resource for young men

I had the pleasure of attending the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bell Ringers summer camp concert. Although I have attended several of their summer concerts, I am always impressed with the amount of music skills learned in such a short period of time. Piano, vocal technique, music theory, hand bells, chimes and orff instruments are among the many areas of instruction.

As a director of music ministries and teacher for over 35 years, I understand that creating an organization of this caliber is challenging. I also see that great care and attention is given to each boy so that they may become musically accomplished with both liturgical and concert material.

It is clear to see the valuable resource that the Oakland Diocese has in this beautiful Catholic boys choir. It would be wonderful if more families would take advantage of the opportunities this choir has to offer.

Barbara Pinto-Choate

Weigel wrong about Lenin

I was surprised to see a new subject (Forum, Sept. 19); namely, Russian Orthodoxy, by George Weigel.

I read the article with great interest and curiosity, only to be greatly disappointed after I read V.I. Lenin’s biography independently. The comparisons made in the column are grossly inaccurate, and the fact that Weigel is referred to as “distinguished senior fellow” does not make him a scholar. Obviously he is a very busy correspondent, publishing an article in Canada’s “National Post” every week.

Lenin was wounded in 1922 during an assassination attempt, suffered for two years and died in 1924, long before Josef Stalin murdered millions of people in Siberian’s gulags behind the Iron Curtain. To call Lenin a “mass murderer” was clearly an exaggeration.

Irene Stachura

Set Obama straight

Our Catholic Bishops are not mincing words with the Obama administration.
The Defense of Marriage Act was passed by large congressional majorities and signed into law by President Clinton.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued an urgent appeal to reverse the recent Obama Administration decision mandating the inclusion of abortion-inducing drugs and contraception as “preventative care” in private insurance. This mandate is offensive (likening pregnancy to a preventable disease) and a violation of conscience rights, and it interferes with Catholic institutions’ ability to serve the poor.

Catholics who helped elect President Obama did not have these policies in mind when they cast their vote for him. Catholic voters trusted him when he said he supported the traditional definition of marriage, and they trusted his health care policies would protect conscience rights and preserve our ability to serve the needy.

Let President Obama know these policies have broken trust with Catholic voters.

Mike McDermott

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Letters to the editor provide a forum for readers to engage in an open exchange of opinions and concerns in a climate of respect and civil discourse. The opinions expressed are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the Catholic Voice or the Diocese of Oakland. While a full spectrum of opinions will sometimes include those which dissent from Church teaching or contradict the natural moral law, it is hoped that this forum will help our readers to understand better others’ thinking on critical issues facing the Church at this time.

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