Kudos to This Rock and Paul Thigpen for bringing to light this little-known fact of Catholic history in America ("The Georgia Martyrs," July/August). We Secular Franciscans in the southeast Five Franciscan Martyrs region have, as our regional name and location indicates, known of this as part of our Franciscan history. We are also fortunate to have as our Regional Spiritual Assistant Fr. Thomas K. Murphy, O.F.M., a historian and writer on the Georgia Martyrs and Franciscan history in America, beginning with Christopher Columbus (who was a Third Order Franciscan). Although it is out of print, if you can find a copy, I would highly recommend Fr. Murphy’s book: The Cradle of the Catholic Church and the Franciscan Order in the U.S.A. (1997).
—Allen T. Ward, SFO
Dubious Role Model?
Nice article by Carl Olson, "Love and the Skeptic" (May/June 2007), but one must be careful who one quotes. Yes, John Lennon sang and wrote much about love, but he also wrote lines like: "Imagine there’s no heaven; no hell below us, above us only sky . . . and no religion too." I was somewhat startled to see these lines of his quoted in full in the opening page of a grandson’s high school graduation program! And this message was conveyed to a graduating class of 600 young, impressionable minds about to launch their futures. By extolling John Lennon in his article, are we not praising, if inadvertently, the wrong role models, heroes, and poetry?
S. Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Carl Olson replies: If only you knew how little I care for John Lennon’s music, especially the song "Imagine"! My point was not to extol or praise Lennon (a man whose life was, by most accounts, a sad mess), but to point out that love is a topic of universal interest that crosses cultural divides and is important to every human being, no matter how depraved or un-Christian he might be. Which is why I also wrote, after quoting St. Paul and Lennon: "Different men, different intents, different contexts. Even different types of ‘love.’" Since love—even if poorly understood or perverted—is of interest to everyone, it is an excellent "jumping off" point when it comes to talking to skeptics and atheists.
A Familiar "Road"
Leslie Duperon’s story was my story with a few modifications (Damascus Road, July/August 2007). I grew up Baptist, but became Presbyterian in college. I was serious about my faith, but like Leslie Duperon, wanted a faith-filled husband and children. When I met Al, a widower with four children, I knew he was "the one"! The only problem: He was Catholic. During our courtship, I did my best to sway him away from Catholicism. He wouldn’t budge, nor did he try to persuade me to leave my church. We were married in the Catholic Church.
We, as Leslie and Terry did, attended both churches on Sundays. To make a long story short, I went to a Cursillo retreat where many of the talks seemed directed right to me. I came back from that weekend a changed woman.
My husband wanted me to be sure it wasn’t just the excitement of the weekend that caused my conversion, so I went to talk to our priest. Fortunately, he was very accepting and said I knew more about the Catholic Church than many cradle Catholics. After some instruction, I was confirmed with my family. That was 25 years ago. I recently had the opportunity to witness to a cradle Catholic who was questioning the church, and through some apologetic literature and our discussions, she has said she’s coming "home."
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida