Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
October 22, 2007
WCR Letters to the Editor
Look beyond the obvious
Ever since Father Rolheiser years ago dismissed G.K. Chesterton's sane philosophy of life, I can't say I look forward to his annual column on suicide. However, I couldn't resist reading about the latest findings of the scientific dissection which father advertised in the title (WCR, Oct. 8).
Needless to say, I wasn't so much enlightened by the latest breakthrough of deterministic evolutionary psychology (that suicide is supposedly caused by an "aberrant biochemical process"), as I was disappointed that a Catholic theologian and psychologist of such stature would not proceed beyond the obvious and elementary.
As Chesterton once quipped: Any common scientific philosopher can have small ideas so long as he is not called upon to have large ideas as well.
It would have been much more enlightening to expound William Styron's description of the "evil tricks," "diabolical discomfort" and his obsessive temptation to hang himself, which Father Rolheiser was perhaps afraid to do, since it might have led him to the old-fashioned Catholic interpretation with the devil and his cohorts being a part of such explanation, very much like Chesterton was fond of.
Once having such a solid Christian philosophy of life, one cannot only find the proper defences against such devilish tricks and temptations, but even ridicule them, as Chesterton did in his sarcastic Ballad of Suicide.
Statistics are thought to be boring, but even a cursory look will reveal some interesting facts. Suicide was rampant in the decadent Greek, Roman and Egyptian periods, yet it was unheard of in the Christian Middle Ages, or in Ireland until the 1950s.
As the World Health Organization data reveal, about a million people kill themselves each year, the highest rates being in the former godless communist countries like Russia and Ukraine. The rates are slightly lower in Australia, India, and in the European and North American countries.
Surprisingly, suicide is almost non-existent in poor Africa and in the Catholic South American countries.
Surely, many suicides are caused by the social pressures and stress, and other secondary and tertiary causes like the hallucinogenic drugs. But, to see the root of the problem, one need not have a PhD.
Suicide views deny victims life-saving hope and compassion
Re:"The anatomy of suicide erases society's stigma" Oct. 8).
I believe it is time to drop Father Ron Rolheiser's column. According to Father Rolheiser suicide is not a matter of choice or free will but rather an act in which "victims are not responsible for their own deaths."
Rolheiser bases his conclusion not on religious faith or scientific fact but on the suggested intuitions of a depressed author, William Styron, who blames his own suicidal tendencies on a certain "chemical imbalance."
Strangely enough - and this is a fatal blow to Rolheiser's argument - Styron was able to overcome his chemical imbalance and severe "suicidal depression" by acting freely on the realization "that he could not commit this desecration on himself."
Rolheiser reduces Styron's decision to "luck" despite the fact that Styron's positive response to man's natural inclination to self-preservation is typical of the vast majority of people who suffer from severe depression.
Rolheiser's repetitive views on suicide are dangerous because, rather than offering victims legitimate hope and compassion, he is essentially inciting those who are despairing to obey their negative impulses and end their earthly lives prematurely.
His philosophy could be used to justify everything from euthanasia to pedophilia and homosexuality.
This is certainly not the Catholic view and should not be aired in any Catholic publication.
Youth minister stresses dignity to young people
Upon opening my copy of the WCR, I was dismayed to see how the talk that my husband and I had given at the recent youth rally was presented ("Teens urged to avoid sex before marriage," WCR, Oct. 8).
"Sex is good, but please wait until marriage" was not at all the message that we were hoping to share with the teens. Rather, we wanted to send encouragement to the youth to be dignified people, to love God, and to love each other truly.
We were not at all simplifying theology of the body to something that simply was about avoiding sex; we were sharing the beauty of John Paul II's teachings about self-respect, dignity and always desiring the best for your beloved.
I hope that the teens present were able to take with them a better understanding of human love and God's call than simply that they should avoid premarital sex.
Personally, I also felt as though my beliefs about this topic were misrepresented. Although I had related to the teens that it was hard for me to understand, many years ago, when I had first met my husband, the purpose of chastity, I shared with them that I was able, over time, within my prayer life, my studies and my relationships, to grow and understand God's call for each of us.
It was not something that I "put up with" while I was dating because of my husband's beliefs, but rather a choice made with God's plan, my personal dignity, and my love for my beloved in mind. I think it is important that this is clarified, as my position on this subject may have been misunderstood.
Youth Ministry Coordinator
Good Shepherd Catholic Church
Religious people have a duty to act responsibly
Recent statistics show that there has been a sharp increase in atheism.
This is obviously due to the hypocritical conduct of religious people. A good example of this is the conduct of President George Bush and his administration. Atheism was practised in Communist Russia for many years and the results were a total disaster.
With the advancement of communication technology, people in organized religions have a greater responsibility to act properly. Bad conduct is reported more often than good deeds.
Kenneth D. Curry
Call Shaw and ask for Salt and Light
The Catholic TV channel - Salt and Light TV - recently highlighted in theWCR (Aug. 27) is not available from cable services in the Edmonton area. It could be made available if enough requests were made to Shaw TV.
Please phone Shaw TV services in Edmonton and Calgary and request it. It is a small but important step to strengthen and stimulate our Catholic faith using today's technology.
Bernard Brian Callinan
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