Of hearts & minds & age

INTELLIGENCE QUOTIENT

Regarding Richard Cohen’s review “Burns. Tom Burns.” (September 24): It is to the great credit of my friend and former Financial Times colleague, Jimmy Burns, that in Papa Spy he makes no secret of his father’s attraction—even engouement—to British and Spanish high society. Yet Tom’s aristocratic tendencies, clear to anyone who observed him editing the Tablet, were never haughty. Thinking back to the parties he gave in the flat he and his wife Mabel occupied overlooking Westminster Cathedral, I recall the fun of meeting such men as Graham Greene, but also the humble side of a man with a heart of gold. 

Hugh O’Shaughnessy
London, U.K.

 

‘FIDES ET RATIO’

Regarding “Tacking toward the Truth: The Wisdom of Cardinal Newman” by Joseph A. Komonchak (September 24): I am not Catholic, but that has not stopped me from reading and admiring good Catholic theological work, and two intellectuals who have influenced me greatly are Catholics who have gotten in trouble with the church because of their work. In one of John Dominic Crossan’s books, he says that one reason he left the priesthood was that the church taught him to think but then kept him in trouble because he did. Roger Haight’s book Jesus: Symbol of God has helped me sort out some issues of faith and intellect, and he is also in trouble with the church hierarchy.

Cardinal Newman’s thoughts about intellect and faith, and the need for each to have regard for the other, are spot on. In my own congregation, when intellect questions dogma, intellect is sent to the basement.

Jack Coulter
High Point, N.C.

 

SPRING CHICKENS

Richard Alleva’s review of Get Low with Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek (“Last Respects,” September 10) laments that with the prejudice against aging actors, “the turn toward independent production becomes inevitable.”

Prejudice against aging actors dates back at least to the 1940s. In How Green Was My Valley (1941), Donald Crisp played the father of the Morgan family of Welsh miners, and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Walter Pidgeon and Maureen O’Hara were billed as the leading actors because of their youth. They were, at best, supporting actors with little impact on the story, whereas Crisp, as the father, really carried the lead, guiding the family through the struggle for unionization, a lengthy strike, and a mining accident. In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Walter Huston, another Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor, should have at least shared top billing with Humphrey Bogart, who had a leading role but was given priority in part because of his youth.

James T. Dette
Weehawken, N.J.


TIME TO RENEW

I have just read your September 24 issue cover to cover, and it was wonderful. My sincerest compliments to you and your colleagues for such a great issue.

Stephen J. Fearon
Bronx, N.Y.

Published in the 2010-10-22 issue: 
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