One of you invited me over for a cup of coffee, another for a cold beer; others suggested I take a long walk off a short pier or "make like a leaf and fall — preferably off the face of the earth."
Most readers were surprised some could be so mean. I’m neither surprised nor offended.
We are who we are for all sorts of reasons. A few jurors in the Moussaoui death sentence trial signaled to just such reasons as mitigating factors for his actions — a difficult childhood, racial discrimination, and psychological frailty. Recalling Wednesday’s blog, you and I would refer to those factors as "circumstances." They are the unfair, hard knocks of life, that don’t necessarily determine our priorities. Some wallow forever in misfortune and are remembered as life-long victims. Others confront them with valor and shine as heroes.
Between the extremes are the rest of us. Broken families, abuse, materialism, divorce, drugs, or the depravity of healthy religious formation (among other things), have affected all of us in real and hurtful ways. I’ve got a theory of my own. It goes like this: given the state of the world, God will need to be especially merciful on our generation. Some of you won’t like to hear me say such a thing, reminding me God is also just. And, you’re right. But mine is just a theory. Beyond theological conjecturing, perhaps we can agree on this: we should at least be merciful with one another. Now that’s hard to do!
Would you like to see what some are saying about the issues we’re discussing? Out of respect for your time, I never randomly choose the messages I post. They all advance our discussion, reveal an interesting trait of humanity, or represent a significant cluster of readers.
God bless, Father Jonathan
RE: IMMIGRATION REFORM
"I am a cancer researcher at Duke University. I have been stewing over this illegal 'immigrant' debate for a few weeks and I just can't stand it anymore. The sheer arrogance of the millions of illegals marching in the street and demanding rights just floors me. Who would have thought that masses of foreigners could come here and think they could affect the legislative process of this country. The scary thing is that they ARE. Because there are no masses of people marching for our side, they think (aided by the media) that they are in the majority of American thought. I know that cannot be true. So, what do you think? Could you help to organize such an event or a rally, put the word out, etc.? I would be willing to help in whatever way I can but I would need direction." — James (Durham, NC)
RESPONSE: James, thanks for the note, and your willingness to act. Two things: First, it’s important for us to understand why the immigrants march. Our government allows companies to hire illegals without giving these workers any protection under the law. While we may hate to admit it, the marchers are right in one sense. They see the government’s unwillingness to enforce the law as tacit permission to cross the border illegally and work in our country. I certainly wouldn’t agree with the tactics or demands of some of the marchers’ spokesmen, but real dialogue requires us to recognize truth when we see it, even when clouded by falsities.
Secondly, you ask whether American citizens should lead our own marches? I think it would create more problems than it would solve. The media attention would be on the signs bashing Mexicans, calling for military action, and other “balanced” approaches. Here’s what you can do: Ask your politicians to state unambiguously their point of view, then you make their views known to others and encourage them to respond with a vote in November.
"Your solution is practical and just, as well as thoughtful, as usual. If you ever decide to run for public office, I am your man in Oklahoma!" — Bruce
RESPONSE: My role isn’t public office, Bruce. But if you keep reading, I’ll keep writing, hoping to inform consciences in light of truth.
"I must disagree with affirmation number eight. I understand that individual homeowners who want help with housecleaning, landscaping, etc., employ two-thirds of illegal immigrants. A single homeowner could easily pay an illegal worker with cash, which could not be monitored by digital technology. Clamping down on illegal hires by big businesses seems doable, but I fail to see how individuals who hire illegals and pay them with cash could even be monitored, let alone stopped. Thank you for your regular blogs. I am not Catholic, but I usually agree with you, and I appreciate your insights. Even if I don't agree, I appreciate the thought-provoking effect they have." — Erica
RESPONSE: Erica, I’ve seen similar statistics, though it is almost impossible to confirm them scientifically. Regardless of the exact numbers, you are right to point out the massive amount of day-workers in the market. If the government develops a just and efficient system for regulating immigration, including strict penalties for employer offenders, I think the average American will wean himself off the day-wage earner. For a visitor to California, it is shocking to see middle- and upper-class Americans stopping on the street corners in broad daylight to hire an illegal for the day. I am convinced that this too could be stopped if we decide as a nation there is a better way, for Americans and for immigrants alike.
RE: A PEACEFUL KORAN?
"For you this is a perilous journey, but it must be taken. I will pray that the Lord keeps you safe on your treacherous path. Remember these words always, and I quote, 'Evil flourishes when Good men do nothing.' We must all take a stand against this evil, as it should never be allowed to win. I am in awe of the action you are taking to stand up and say something that needs to be said, even though, some will not hear or listen and others will want to destroy you for it. We will all stand before God someday, and in his eyes I hope to see the eyes of a proud father upon his child for taking and making the right choices, no matter how difficult they were to make. Stand tall Father, and keep your eyes forthright, for the Lord is with you in every step you take. As am I!" — Laura
RESPONSE: Laura, I think your message was in response to my note on radical Islam. You are not the only one to tell me they fear for my safety, not just based on this issue. I really do appreciate the concern, though I don’t think there’s reason to fear.
"Even some non-Christians, like myself, enjoy smart theological discussions. You rank among the best I have ever heard or read. You haven’t changed my mind about religion, but you give me hope for the religious, who are far too often belligerent and intolerant." — Don
RESPONSE: Don, I can respect that.
RE: MURDER MYSTERY, CHAVEZ
"I wish to thank you for your objective approach to the monstrous murder of Father Piñango in Venezuela, as well as for your objective comments about the difficult situation we Venezuelans are going through. For us it is most important that impartial voices like yours tell the world about the dangerous "revolution" which Chavez is trying to impose against the will of the Venezuelan people. It is dangerous not only for us but for the whole region and the world." — Adolfo
RESPONSE: Adolfo, I was surprised by the number of responses to my report by Venezuelans. Many Americans have asked me for an update of the investigation. The results of the autopsy confirm that Father Piñango was unwillingly drugged before the horrific murder. The government has detained a single man. Not everyone in Venezuela is convinced, however, that this man acted alone.
Write to Father Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.