Letters

'The Berrigan Letters' Reveals a Life of Love and Admiration

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For 30 years, the Berrigan brothers led the nonviolent charge against war, poverty, and racial injustice, writing letters to each other and to other loved ones throughout their years of activism. Their work took them all over the country and world (including to a 1985 Sojourners Peace Pentecost celebration in Washington, D.C.), and these letters catalog their dreams, plans, worries, and prayers during their travels. From news clippings, poems, and reports about trials, to birthday greetings and responses to political elections, the Berrigan brothers expressed honesty, faithfulness, and love for one another and the world.

Letters to the Editor

Everett Historical / Shutterstock
Everett Historical / Shutterstock
Wrestling with Jesus

“Who Is This ‘Jesus’?” (Belden C. Lane, April 2016) is a beautiful and challenging reflection by one of the most authentic and honest voices of faith writing today. I keep wrestling with this same Jesus, whoever he is, because the struggle itself places me on a path that’s increasingly merciful and just. Thank you for this!

Terry Minchow-Proffitt
Kirkwood, Missouri

Don’t Leave Out Native Americans

Anne Courtright made a very important point about the treatment of Native Americans in her letter (“The Original ‘Original Sin’”) published on page 5 of your April issue. Sadly, on page 7 Jim Wallis omitted them when he speaks of “powerful voices.”

Are they simply not powerful because there are not so many of them? Ought we to be asking why they are not so numerous? Because we exterminated so many of them or isolated them on reservations.

I’ve lived and worked in rural Montana, Alaska, and Wyoming most of my life among different tribes. I care deeply about black lives mattering, but I grieve at the omission of the profoundly powerful voices of Native Americans. Don’t leave Native Americans out of the conversation when it comes to multiracial truth-telling.

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U.S. Government Releases Second Round of Bin Laden’s Letters, Reveals His Surprising Concerns

Image via Hamid Mir/Canada Free Press/Wikimedia Commons

The March 1 release of a cache of documents obtained during the raid that ended with Osama Bin Laden’s death reveals some of the Al-Qaeda leader’s strange concerns.

In one letter, Bin Laden writes to his wife, warning her that the dental filling she received in Iran may have contained a computer chip used to track her movements.

Letters

Everett Historical / Shutterstock
Everett Historical / Shutterstock
A Way Forward

Thank you for publishing Jim Wallis’ excerpt “Crossing the Bridge to a New America” in the February 2016 issue. It has injected in me some much-needed optimism and energy. The idea that racism is, indeed, America’s original sin is a powerful one that imbues in our fight against it a new hope. That we can and need to repent from this awful and systemic plague is both challenging and encouraging. With the murders of so many people of color—including Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, among too many others—it becomes easy to slip into resigned indifference. But Wallis reminds us that we, as both a nation and as a church, need to accept and act on the truth, for it is the only way forward.

Charlene Cruz-Cerdas
Manchester, New Hampshire

The Original ‘Original Sin’

Regarding the excerpt of Jim Wallis’ America’s Original Sin in the February issue, it seems to me that our treatment of Native Americans is just as much our “original sin” as our treatment of slaves.

Anne Courtright
Pueblo, Colorado

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St. John Paul II's Letters to Polish-American Woman Reveal Intimate Friendship

St. John Paul II. Public domain image

A series of letters sent from St. John Paul II to a Polish-American academic shed new light on the pair’s close relationship and intimate discussions. Details of the correspondence between the former pope and Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, a Polish-born philosopher, were published by the BBC on Feb. 15. The duo’s friendship has been well documented, although newly released letters held at the Polish National Library show the closeness of their relationship.

Read the Letters One Refugee Wrote as He Fled From Baghdad to Finland

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My thoughts go to the recent perilous journey of a close Iraqi friend — I will call him Mohammed — and his son, whom I will call Omar. Already the survivor of an assassination attempt, this trusted translator, driver, guide, and confidant received a death threat in early August. He fled under cover of night, taking Omar with him. On that same day, 15 men were kidnapped in his village. He left behind a wife and six other children.

From Baghdad, Mohammed and Omar fled to Kurdistan and into Turkey. Next they boarded a boat from Turkey to a series of Greek islands, where, much to their relief, they were at last able to get on a ferry to Athens.

Mohammed wrote letters throughout his journey. The messages that came were understandably brief. I often did not know what to advise him. But having lived with this dear family, I felt as if I were on the hazardous and exhausting 42-day journey with them.

What follows are excerpts from those letters.

Hate Exposed

Westboro Baptist Church’s absurd notions of humanity are readily evident, in both word and picture, in Joanie Eppinga’s interview of researcher Rebecca Barrett-Fox (“The Face of Hate,” June 2012). If “God Hates America,” as is pictured in the Westboro sign on the cover of the issue, then does this mean that God loves Poland or Lithuania instead? Does God’s allegiance change daily, favoring America on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and then a different country on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays?

Barrett-Fox tries to put a human face on a group of hatemongers. It is easy to see why no members of Westboro were interviewed for the piece. Their hatred for humanity can only breed more hatred, and it must be wondered whether anything good could arise from such an ideology.

Although it may rankle many, the Topeka church does enjoy the same freedom of speech as the rest of the masses in America. However, now that they have expressed themselves (although many would say that they exposed themselves), it is time to focus upon issues that really matter in this country: an end to hunger, a reduction in poverty, and building a sustainable infrastructure that values the human being, ensuring opportunities for all in a truly egalitarian fashion.

Robert P. Russo
Perrysburg, Ohio

                     

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Mujerista Legacy

I really appreciated your article about Ada María Isasi-Díaz, “The Mother of Mujerista Theology” (by Rose Marie Berger, July 2012). I had the privilege of taking a summer course with her at the Hispanic Summer Program. Coming from a Latino macho culture, where most of ministry is in the hands of males while the majority of churches are composed of women, it was refreshing to hear her voice claiming women’s equality in ministry, not only at the parish level but also in academia and church leadership. Her voice will be greatly missed, but her pioneering work in mujerista theology will continue through the voices of the generations of women scholars through the U.S.



Ricardo Moreno
Pasadena, California

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Deadly 'Defense'

Regarding Jim Rice’s column “Fairness for Whom?” (June 2012): One of Martin Luther King Jr.’s prophecies fits the effects of today’s right-wing political agenda with uncanny accuracy: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”               

Larry Boudreau
San Antonio, Texas

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Blame for Blight?

The question that Bill Wylie-Kellermann failed to directly ask and answer in “An Assault on Local Democracy” (June 2012) is, why are some Michigan cities and school districts under the direction of an emergency manager? Certain cities/school districts have an emergency manager not because of their racial makeup, but because their elected officials were either unwilling or unable to make the difficult decisions to ensure the financial viability of the entities they were elected to govern. The City of Detroit was headed for bankruptcy. Without massive state aid and intervention, it would have run out of money and been unable to pay its employees or creditors. The Pontiac School District was more than $24 million in debt. All of the other political entities mentioned in the article were in similar dire financial straits. The emergency manager act was an attempt by the state to prevent cities and school districts from declaring bankruptcy, a move that would have dire economic consequences for the entire state.                     

John Judson
Birmingham, Michigan

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