Friday, February 10, 2006 — Dear Mrs. Bush,
Yesterday was a great day. Thank you for your kindness, for your calm, and for your trust. We’re lucky to have you. I’ll be posting the transcript of our interview here on this blog later today. I look forward to working together again in the future.
Respectfully, Father Jonathan
And now for "Interactive Friday."
The e-mails below are reactions to our last two blogs, “Muslim Cartoons: Some things ARE Sacred” and “'The Marriage Gap' and Our Children’s Future.” I have chosen these reactions in particular because I think they add something to our continuing dialogue of the issues themselves.
Your Reaction to: “Muslim Cartoons: Some Things ARE Sacred”
Tempers are flaring — and not just those of Muslims! Your responses to my posting on this issue were passionate. You’ll see what I mean below. Many of you have provided excellent reasoning for agreeing or disagreeing with my points. Others, however, have fallen into the same intolerant and hateful mindset of the men who are rioting on the streets. Your feelings of anger are understandable, because the actions are barbaric, but the conclusions that a few of you have drawn are not justifiable and offer no solution. Here’s an example of the attitude that makes us like the very ones we are criticizing.
Dear Father Jonathan,
Muslims on the whole are hateful, vulgar, murderers. We (the West) should never change our ways to accommodate their hatred of us. These people cannot be reasoned with. They will control the world with help from bleeders like you. They deserve no tolerance, as they don’t give any to us. No buckling.
Kim, Oregon (I changed her name out of respect)
I was troubled by the tone in your last blog; it seems that you want to give Islam preferred status as to their sensitivities. There are many violent examples of their lack of tolerance toward other faiths. If we appease them over this trivial matter what is next? These are dangerous people who have made their intentions well known. Churchill put it best, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." Finally, in the canceled TV programs mentioned, what was the Christian response vs. the Islamic response to the perceived slights?
RESPONSE: Rick, be careful not to confuse “appeasement” with “respect.” Evil should never be appeased. People, even people who do evil, should always be respected. To say that these cartoons are disrespectful is not to suggest a pardoning of their violent reaction.
While I agree that the newspaper editors should have shown better sense, the Muslim response is that of a bunch of barbaric children. It is a case of a very black pot calling a much smaller kettle black. The German newspaper, Die Welt, which reprinted the Muhammad cartoons, said,
"We'd take Muslim protests more seriously if they weren't so hypocritical. The imams were quiet when Syrian television showed Jewish rabbis as cannibals in a primetime series." That is exactly my point.
Ralph, Cedaredge CO
RESPONSE: Ralph, I agree with the hypocrisy of the Muslim protests. But look at the logic of the newspaper:since they are hypocritical, we have decided to punish them. Not a good thing.
Dear Father Jonathan,
I loved your article and e-mailed it to many friends and family members. You hit the nail on the head — secular society believes that freedom of speech means, "say or print whatever you want without consequence." I believe wholeheartedly in freedom of speech, but with accountability and with the full knowledge of the possible repercussions. We have so many "journalists" (quotes on purpose) who feel that they should be able to print or say anything without consequence. We see it more and more. It doesn't even have to be the truth, just print it or say it, and people will believe it.
RESPONSE: Mary, well reasoned and well put.
Tell me, Father Jonathan, why isn't there rioting and unrest by these same Muslims when men, women and children are killed by their radical Muslim brothers in Iraq? Is it because the cartoons are worse than the killing of human life?
RESPONSE: Everett, you highlight well the hypocrisy of it all. Keep in mind, however, that the riots were provoked and even orchestrated by certain Muslim leaders. They, even more than the ones on the street, should be ashamed.
I cannot agree with your assessment on sacred things. I have no problem with the items or types of items you termed "sacred." However, you stated "Muslims rightly claimed that the cartoon in question crossed the line of freedom of speech into blatant disrespect." As distasteful as I find the description of this cartoon, it is still the right of these people to speak their mind (as they have done with the cartoons).
RESPONSE: DJ, The fact that I have a right to speak my mind, doesn’t make right or good my decision to be disrespectful with what I say. Does that make sense? It’s easy to get passionate about this type of issue and jump to illogical conclusions.
Your Reaction to: “The Marriage Gap and Our Children’s Future”
Thank you for such a thought provoking piece and for being a moral compass regarding this subject. As a young adult I did see some of these negative patterns come to pass in my life. I am saving these statistics and your thoughts with the hope I can share them with young women who need to make good decisions so they will have fewer regrets. Please consider posting more information regarding these particular all encompassing subjects.
Linda, Lawton, OK
RESPONSE: Linda, I’m glad that you found it helpful. In the end, it’s not about being right, it’s about making a difference for the good.
Hi, I'm a liberal atheist media student from Britain and I read FOX News as a sort of self-flagellation, if you will, but I like your column, as you seem a thoughtful bloke and rarely resort to knee-jerking. I'm glad you accepted that there is a problem with the growing class divide in America (here too), but I can't really understand your conclusion. "Pre-1960s America was a lot better off in this regard" It was? There was no poverty-stricken underclass before divorce was liberalized? Perhaps directly before the 60s America was monetarily better of, but what about before then? Barely any divorce — and huge class differences. Besides, the 60s were a period of an increase in class mobility. You seem to be looking at post-war, pre-nasty-liberals, America too romantically.
Al, Great Britain
RESPONSE: Al, a thoughtful bloke yourself! I agree that the “marriage gap” is only one factor of the highly complicated issue of poverty. But as the stats show, it is an important one.
Just wanted to agree with you. The family is extremely important to our society. Even the families that aren’t “perfect” are much better than single parent situations. I have been married for 11 years now. We came very close to divorce about 3 years ago, but we have worked through it. I am so thankful. We have 2 boys we are raising and I cringe when I think about how foolish divorce would have been.
RESPONSE: Dwain, Congratulations to you and your wife. Your unity is the greatest gift you can give to your two boys.
Your closely reasoned article about the marriage gap hits resonant chords, and I agree with it overall. However, you are more than a bit glib — and collectivistic. There are notable exceptions. I married my children's mother when we were both 26, and both had MD degrees. We were both white, Catholic Kansans. We divorced in 1991. All of our children grew up as children of divorce. All of our children have college educations. One son is in medical school. Our only daughter is a nun in the Little Sisters of the Poor.
You might think of this family before spewing forth your dogmatic wisdom.
Sincerely, Thomas P., MD (Missouri)
RESPONSE: Dr. Thomas, my sincere congratulations to you for your children’s success. As the stats show, there are exceptions. The fact that your children are among them is a tribute to you and to their mother.
Hi Father Jonathan,
I felt I had to drop you a line after reading your blog for the first, but not the last time. I have been married to the same man for 43 years. We married very young, 18 and 21. We have had good times and bad, as everyone does. We both come from a lower middle class background, we both attended Catholic schools and we both believe in the vows we took 43 years ago. No cut and run when times are tough, no grass that is greener, just suck it up and work it out. We have two grown children and two teenage grandchildren, and I hope they have learned from us the same values we learned. All the things we went through have only served to make us stronger and closer as the years pass. Please continue to discuss the "marriage gap" and perhaps it will get through to some of those contemplating divorce or having children outside of wedlock.
RESPONSE: Holly, I wish you and your husband another 43!
Dear Father Jonathan,
I am a full-time educator working at an American private university. As a faculty member I observe the issues you are talking about in this article daily on a firsthand basis. Kids that come from stable families are much more likely to succeed than those who do not. What I am seeing is a group of people from stable homes who are going to have the skills and know how to lead others who do not have these skills and who resent those who do. I believe that the American population is becoming less and less educated over time (some statistics suggest that only 31% of college grads in this country are functionally literate) and more and more unmanageable or governable.
RESPONSE: Phil, thank you for being an educator. As bad as things look, I’m confident that things are getting better. Keep giving stability to the unstable.
Have a great weekend. God bless, Father Jonathan
Write to Father Jonathan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.