Was Qumran an Early Mormon Settlement?
I've had nine separate meetings with two different pairs of Mormon missionaries, and, thanks to Catholic Answers, was able to hold my own with great confidence. I pray that some seeds have been planted. They were very open to watching videos and borrowing audio tapes, and I think it would be a profitable undertaking to produce tapes which directly address Mormons on their theological and scriptural errors.
They loaned me a tape of a speaker who tried to present the community at Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls as some kind of early Mormonism. He also made much of the Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi--new scriptures which will have to be added to the canon!
Who's More Abominable?
I must respond to Gary Coleman ["Letters," October 1990], who shows outright chutzpah in his censure of This Rock as showing "ridicule and disdain for the teachings and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
I am bewildered why Mr. Coleman, who debated Patrick Madrid, does not mention [Mormon theologian] Bruce McConkie's book Mormon Doctrine, in which McConkie observes that "it is also to the Book of Mormon to which [Mormons] turn for the plainest description of the Catholic church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this 'church which is most abominable' in a vision" (p.130).
If anyone is showing "ridicule" or "disdain," it is Mr. Coleman and his church of Saints.
Matthew W. Dunn
Sparta, New Jersey
Strip the Anonymity!
I'm upset that space was given to the slanderous, unsigned letter accusing "two priests at a [Mesa, Arizona] parish" of terrible theological and/or canonical behavior ["Letters," October 1990]. I'm a parishioner of a large parish in Mesa. I am somewhat acquainted with the other parishes in the city as well. I'm aware of absolutely no such teaching coming from any of the priests.
I demand that anonymity be stripped from the letter writer and that the person be required to name names and give details. Let us have some proof that such statements actually came from our priests; else, keep what appears to be malicious gossip out of your publication.
This sort of unsubstantiated claptrap feeds only radical misfits with an agenda of keeping emotions in flux.
Assuming that the writer of the letter didn't make it all up, misinterpret what was said by the priests, or somehow give a wrong slant to what they said: If his report is dead accurate, I am entitled to know about the particulars.
If he's hiding his identity out of fear of retribution by the parish, let him be ashamed to not speak out. I have the right to know about grievous wrongs and the duty to confront the priests who spread such nonsense as he reported. If he's afraid to be heard, let me do his dirty work.
Editor’s reply: We withhold the names of correspondents when asked to do so or when it seems prudent to do so. This is standard journalistic practice. For reasons of space, letters often are truncated; what was omitted from the letter as published in the October issue gave us sufficient grounds to believe the writer was not imbibing hallucinogens.
The sentiments said to be expressed by the writer's priests--that conscience entirely supersedes Church authority and that hell is only temporary--are heterodox, but hardly novel. It might be difficult to find a diocese in which not even one priest holds to such ideas.
A Well-Adjusted Child
Before I had the opportunity to peruse your October issue, my well-read eleven-year-old did so. He was particularly interested in "Nailing Tony Alamo" and proffered this opinion: "Since the Catholic Church is always the target, it must be doing something right." I'm inclined to agree.
San Diego, California
A Close Shave in Burma?
A few days ago a layman friend showed me your esteemed magazine. He told me that since I am a priest, I can subscribe by Mass stipend. I wonder if it is possible. I will be happy if I can get it. We cannot have foreign exchange, and I have no friend in the U.S. In our country we have no religious materials for reading.
Rev. Andrew Thang Za Khai
Haka, Myanmar (Burma)
A Proper Enthusiast
Three years ago I read Catholicism and Fundamentalism, during a time in which I was searching for a church that had historical continuity with the primitive Christian church.
Frankly, I didn't have much hope of finding one, in that I had looked for a long time in familiar territory (Protestant churches) and had not found anything new. I guess the problem was that I needed to look into something old!
It is not as though I had not read the early Fathers--I had. I didn't much like doing it, though, because their beliefs were often at such odds with my (supposedly biblical) ones. During Easter Vigil of 1990, I was received into the Catholic Church, and I must tell you that both the intellectual and emotional satisfactions have been far greater than I could have guessed.
I will be a catechist in RCIA this year, and I'm secretary of our parish's St. Vincent de Paul society. At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I generally want to jump up and down in enthusiasm about the Catholic Church.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A Gaping Problem
In his statement, "I still am (and will be) a Christian," is James Spiess ["Letters," October 1990] saying we Catholics are not Christians? Evidently he hasn't learned anything from his subscription to This Rock. I feel sorry for people like him. They must let the facts of history pass them by. How do they explain the gap in their history between the apostles and the Reformation? Don't they realize the early Church and Church Fathers were in communion with the Pope?
Oak Hill, West Virginia
"Good Time" in Jail
I recently spent twelve days in the Los Angeles County jail for trespassing at an abortion clinic. Through the grace of God and the working of the Holy Spirit I was able to get six men there to pray the rosary with me and attend Sunday Mass. This was after I showed them that these beliefs and practices are in Scripture.
How to Evangelize Evangelists
A few months ago a local Protestant pastor said in a "sermonette" on a radio station that the only way Christians will attain unity is to abandon the Pope and other authorities and interpret Scripture themselves. I sent him a copy of your tracts Proving Inspiration and Tradition, Bible or Both?
Back came a lengthy comment on Proving Inspiration, complete with Scripture quotations, followed a few days later by one on Tradition, Bible or Both? He asked me to respond, which I did.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Better Than Ol' Blue Eyes
I'm a former fan of singer Tony Alamo, who was a very good vocalist in his day. The two recordings I have of him with the Sammy Kaye Orchestra are "How Deep Is the Ocean" and "The Object of My Affection."
We used to dance to these tunes in high school. How could such a talented person turn out so rotten? (Yes, his voice really was better than Como's or Sinatra's.)
Homework Pays Off
The October issue could not have arrived at my desk at a better time. A reporter for a local paper contacted me about an hour after I received the magazine. He was seeking reaction and background information on Tony Alamo, whose hate literature has begun to appear on car windshields throughout the Boston area.
After I faxed Betsy McNeil's article "Nailing Tony Alamo," he called to thank me. He added, "The article was great. She really did her homework."
John B. Walsh
Director of Communications Archdiocese of Boston
How to Attract Boys
My main concern is the secondary boys whom I meet in the schools. Some material from Catholic Answers is a bit difficult for them to digest, but I tried to share with them what you had sent me.
During a meeting we were just three. I didn't get discouraged [by the small number] and started explaining to them what Fundamentalism is--here it is known as "the saved movement."
The second part of our meeting consisted of showing them the material which I have gathered. I showed them the tracts and told them to look at the titles and choose one they liked.
After each one got his, I told them to read for 25 minutes. Then each boy would give a speech of five minutes about his tract, and at the end the others would ask questions related to the topic.
By then the group had been growing, and we were almost 20! The speeches turned out to be a real discovery, for them and for me. These boys can become apologists, all of them! With this system they learn well one topic and listen to many others which may interest them later on.
I discovered one almost-Fundamentalist boy, who was so interested in the tracts that, instead of listening to the speeches, he spent all his time reading one tract after another and taking notes. He had never come across tracts which defend the Catholic faith.
At the end, we agreed to have another meeting during the holidays. They were very enthusiastic. They are mainly Form 2 students--16 years old.
Rev. M. Gonzalez Lopez de Lemus
Draw Lightbulb Here . . .
I am an ex-Fundamentalist who was tired of a church/faith that I didn't feel was meeting my spiritual needs. After trying various denominations, I decided to attend a Catholic Mass. I was impressed and wanted to learn more.
There was an RCIA booth set up outside after Mass that very day. Even after joining RCIA I still had some lingering doubts about some Catholic doctrines, particularly regarding the Blessed Virgin, purgatory, and the Real Presence.
My Fundamentalist background preached against these things, and I just couldn't see how they fit in. A Catholic Answers seminar in our diocese changed all that.
After attending a one-night question-and-answer session, I was relieved that I could really trust Church teaching and felt that these "questionable" doctrines weren't just made up by some medieval pope. These doctrines are true, important, and believable.
At that moment the light came on, and I have considered myself a Catholic ever since. I will be receiving First Holy Communion and confirmation at the Easter Vigil.
Carnivores and Patriarchy
I recall Malcolm Muggeridge said, while editor of Punch, that he was forced to give up inventing satirical political stories because he was unable to compete with the absurd remarks of politicians themselves.
Analogously, I think it would be difficult for a caricaturist to improve upon Continuum's blurb for The Sexual Politics of Meat, authored by Carol J. Adams:
"By drawing parallels between the rise of the feminist and vegetarian movements in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England, we come to see, in very subtle ways through the prisms of art and literature, how down to our own day a `man's world' is very much a meat-eating world."