Virgin Mary not doubted by churchThere were two articles...

LETTERS

January 04, 1998

Virgin Mary not doubted by church

There were two articles in the Dec. 21 Perspective section by gentlemen supposedly scholars and perhaps Catholic. They leave room for doubt.

Colman McCarthy seems confused by what he refers to as the "many identities" of Mary. He mentions several titles given to her and raises the question as to whether they are different identities.

He could have continued by citing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, which contains almost 50 titles of praise and honor. But Mary's identity is still the same, as most Catholics will agree: She is the Mother of Jesus.

And there is a totally gratuitous statement by Mr. McCarthy that Mary, in speaking her Magnificat, "was a passionate dissident eager to change the political order of her Romanized times," and a "young woman who has a taste of rebellion." What rubbish!

If Mr. McCarthy spent more time seeing Mary as she is viewed by the Fathers of the Church and other scholars and spiritual directors down to the present day, he could come up with something other than a 1990s ideal of women's lib.

Father Joseph Gallagher states his worry that further tributes to Mary would harm unity among Christians of various denominations.

Often, as I drive down St. Paul Street, in a distance of five blocks there are two Methodist churches, one Episcopal, one Reformed Lutheran, and one Baptist. With "private interpretation" at the helm, Protestantism is in chaos, all claiming the same source, the Bible, and each going its own way.

Does Father Gallagher believe that unity is possible between the Catholic Church, which has a God-given authority, and the Protestant churches, where private interpretation rules?

In an adjacent column, the Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, is quoted: "Mariology is an excrescence, i.e., a diseased construct of theological thought. It must be excised."

I do not know how many Catholic clergy and laity know what a "diseased construct" is, but if they understand that, by that statement, devotion to Mary must be outlawed, then I'd not like to be standing near his grave. But perhaps Messrs. McCarthy and Gallagher would.

Rev. Earle A. Newman, S.S.J.

Baltimore

Winter solstice celebrates life

Thank you for Victoria Brownworth's Dec. 21 Perspective essay on how Christmas can be a wonderful time for us agnostics, too.

One of the most noble characteristics of life is its ability to have fun, to aspire, to work, to give and to create "miracles" in the midst of the proverbial darkest of days.

Since prehistoric times, this has been the season when the dance of the Earth and Sun provides people in the northern hemisphere with the most fitting backdrop to remember and celebrate this awesome power of life.

Robert Bloksberg-Fireovid

Towson

One apocryphal quote is amply documented

I am writing to set the record straight in regard to an article that has come to my attention. Theo Lippman's Sept. 7 Perspective article, "Anecdotes are dangerous to biographers and truth,'' made an erroneous reference to my biography, "Justice Brennan: The Great Conciliator," (Birch Lane Press, 1995).

His article discusses a quote that has been attributed to President Eisenhower concerning two of his Supreme Court appointees, Earl Warren and William Brennan.

The quote is, ''I made two mistakes as President and they are both sitting on the Supreme Court.''

Mr. Lippman wrote, ''Hunter Clark . . . uses the quote as a chapter heading. Though his book contains some 2,000 footnotes, he does not cite any source.'' (Emphasis added.)

This is untrue. In my book, the quote is in fact attributed to Eisenhower by former CBS News president Fred Friendly in an interview that Friendly gave to the Legal Times in September 1990. There is a footnote reference to the Legal Times article.

Brennan, for his part, dismissed Friendly's story about Ike's quote as ''apocryphal.''

In addition, the late justice's son, William III, told Legal Times in September 1990 that Eisenhower wrote to his father denying the remark and apologizing for any misunderstanding.

The entire episode is well-documented in my book. I stand by my research.

I also stand by my conclusion that Brennan was one of the greatest justices. Presidents should make ''mistakes" like him more often.

Hunter R. Clark

Des Moines, Iowa

G; The writer is professor at Drake University Law School. One wonders about the motives of H. Shapiro's Dec. 25 letter.

Does the comparison of today's Iraq with pre-World War II Poland mean that the United States can be compared to Germany?

As the first country to say "no" to Nazi (and Soviet) expansionism, Poland defended itself against German and Soviet invasions for 30 days, compared with only two weeks for France. Hitler lost more tanks, planes and men during the Polish campaign than during his entire expansion on the western front. So much for the "18th century" army.

One has to assume H. Shapiro's comparisons were simply an excuse for Poland-bashing. Why else would anyone air such insulting and inaccurate information?

Peter Jesionkiewicz

Baltimore

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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