The Common Good
September-October 1995

Letters to the Editor

by Subscribers | September-October 1995

TWO THOUGHTS regarding the commentary on Promise Keepers ("Keeping the Promise," by David Wade, July-August 1995)

TWO THOUGHTS regarding the commentary on Promise Keepers ("Keeping the Promise," by David Wade, July-August 1995): What percentage of people of color must attend a meeting to make it Sojourners correct? Further, if women have meetings where there are few if any men, will Sojourners critique them?

Second, I am disturbed by your leap to judgment that this is a "right-wing movement." Given the fact that so few men (from my observation and experience) are involved in Christianity, why don't you seek to understand the needs of men that bring them together like this, rather than hunt for what may go wrong with your agenda?

My church has groups for women and people of color, but none for men. I think there is a big gap, where many people are left out. Harold C. Fait

Sandstone, Minnesota

In his commentary, David Wade commends what appears to be a very genuine commitment to racial reconciliation by the Promise Keepers organization, while pointing out what a formidable challenge it can be. He does not name Promise Keepers as a "right-wing movement," but does warn of potential pitfalls in misplaced nostalgia, especially in regard to gender issues.-The Editors

NEGLECTED NUKES

TERRY CRAWFORD-BROWNE'S editorial, "No Farewell to Arms," ("Commentary," July-August 1995) concerning the permanent extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was disappointing because it effectively says nuclear issues are not the real peace and justice issues. Crawford-Browne concludes that in places such as Africa, the real issues are civil wars, famine, and lack of human rights.

No doubt people in the center of tragedies are more concerned with seeking just solutions to those immediate issues. Crawford-Browne's approach, however, reflects not only an African perspective. It also reflects what has happened in peace and justice organizations and periodicals such as Sojourners-either relegating nuclear issues to second-class status or ignoring them completely.

However, minimizing our attention to nuclear issues means that we miss the interrelatedness of all these issues. For example, a recent Brookings Institute Report has calculated the true cost of the United States' nuclear buildup to have been $4 trillion. Just think what justice we could have achieved with those funds! Further, we will long be dealing with the fallout of the nuclear race-that of nuclear waste which will be placed on the land of native peoples or in poor communities. The success of the struggle against apartheid is not antithetical to the struggle to rid the planet of nuclear weapons.

The lack of attention to nuclear issues fails to recognize the threat to life on our planet that nuclear proliferation poses. Nations are still seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. The breakup of the Soviet Union has made nuclear materials and nuclear knowledge more available. The risk of terrorist groups acquiring nuclear weapons is greater than ever. The nuclear nations still have huge nuclear arsenals. Yet now peacemakers largely ignore the problem. We are leaving the whole debate to those who do not share our values. I do not believe we can afford to do this. Joel Heim

Los Angeles, California

LIFE QUESTIONS

I APPRECIATED Julie Polter's and Kelly Green's work on efforts to make abortion rare because unnecessary ("Women and Children First," May-June 1995). We need more such writing, and more such efforts.

When I read or write about abortion and abortion alternatives I'm always struck by the underlying question: Who's in control? Am I always in control of what happens to me? Should I be? Where does my control end and the community's begin? Where do I rest and allow God's will to be done?

This question, highly personal and faith-related, is one of the questions at the heart of many struggles, it seems to me. Abortion. Euthanasia. Fertility. I'm not always sure where the answer lies, but I think we should acknowledge the question. Shelley Douglass

Birmingham, Alabama

SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT

JULIE POLTER'S essay "Women and Children First" is a thoughtful, probing assessment of ways to reduce the abortion rate. Her emphasis is on the moral aspect of the issue, however, with no attempt to explore the nature of the creature in the uterus. This reluctance to go to the heart of the question is particularly evident in her mild expression of irritation over the refusal of abortion proponents to permit pregnant women minimal information on the contents of their wombs.

Such timidity is particularly open to question today. Are we not far better informed than in 1973 on the medical and scientific aspects of human development? What are the legal and political implications of such knowledge?

Two recent developments are pertinent. In his 1995 State of the Union address, President Clinton twice cited the right-to-life guarantee in the Declaration of Independence. When does that commitment apply to the unborn? Second, what are the implications of DNA data, such as that the O.J. Simpson trial has laid before the public? If each person's individuality is determined from conception by DNA, why is that fact not the starting point for a rational discussion of abortion rights? Edward M. Corbett

Commerce, Texas

SPACE: THE SAME OLD FRONTIER

SINCE I HAVE been a "Trekkie" for some time for virtually every reason that Shane Helmer mentions in his article "Make It So" ("CultureWatch") in the May-June 1995 Sojourners, I read his article with great anticipation.

Relatively recently, however, I have become increasingly troubled by the new Trek stuff. That is because, Helmer's praise notwithstanding, there have been more and more simplistic hitting, fighting, and general meanness involved in the various scripts, particularly in Deep Space 9. In fact the story lines are so full of petty doings that this series for me is just not interesting. (I had great hopes at first.)

Sure the acting is sometimes good, and there are nice costumes and sets. As for a genuinely new (creative) story line, forget it! It seems that the writers just can't resist the usual "shoot 'em-up" mentality in space. As violence in the entertainment media goes, one could easily say that Star Trek's is actually quite innocent-that it is not really objectionable or maybe even it's harmless. True enough, but what it all suggests is that for these future beings the issues of human relations have, in fact, not changed an iota from what they are now.

On the other hand, maybe I am just missing the point. Helmer writes, "After all, social commentary is what Trek has always done best." Yes, indeed. The fact that characters in Trek show a measure of restraint before pulling out the old phaser, uncommon in other television entertainment, has to be recognized as a significant change. But hasn't it ever occurred to anyone that we might actually fantasize some sort of really different transcendent behavior to encompass the really unusual issues? Herb Bielawa

San Francisco, California

LIVING BY CHANTS

IN HIS REVIEW of Chants and Visions, The Music of Hildegard Von Bingen ("Worthy of Note," May-June 1995), Bob Hulteen's covert bigotry against the so-called New Age is peeking from beneath his paragraphs. After admitting the "transcendent beauty of the music" he finds it necessary to use his review to let us know what he thinks of those whose metaphysical consciousness apparently is different from his own.

Why couldn't this "sudden interest" in chant be reflective of the natural hunger of people to hear something truly spiritual as opposed to the mediocrity of what passes for inspirational these days? Why not be delighted that such inspired music has made its way to the charts, or would he rather "New Age consumers" (who, I pray, are they?) not be privy to "his own" sacred Christian music? In other words, who owns the music of early Christianity, or any music for that matter?

I would think a writer enlightened enough to write for Sojourners would be broad-minded enough to allow people to find their way to the Spirit through Christian music if that's what they choose.

Perhaps it's as simple as this. They buy it because it's beautiful and it speaks of God. Believe it or not, Bob, some of "them" are truly sincere and believe in God, just like you do.

Linda Beatrice Brown

Greensboro, North Carolina

WHAT WELFARE?

I WORK AS a counsellor for indebted people [in Germany] and found the commentary "What to Do About the Poor" in the March-April issue quite interesting and enlightening.

However, I am a bit puzzled about the use of the word welfare "system"-I can see a system behind the manner of how poor people are dealt with in the United States, but I cannot see any welfare system, at least not comparable to what we in Germany would mean by that word. In our understanding a welfare system would include general health, pension, and unemployment insurance as well as basic payments of "social welfare" aid for all those who cannot care for themselves.

Rudolf Gumberger

Rosenheim, Germany

DELAYING THE WORD

PLEASE, IS there some way you can coordinate your mailing date and the weekly "Living the Word" section? Each issue we are playing catch-up because the weekly feature starts at the beginning of the month and the magazine doesn't arrive until at least the middle of the month.

S. George Ann Bohl

St. Paul, Minnesota

Our July-August 1995 issue was delayed at the printers. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused. -The Editors

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