Opting Out—Of Your Article
Donald Kraybill’s article about the Amish, “Opting Out” (March 7), was very disappointing. We were looking forward to learning more about the Amish, and we didn’t. There was no warmth or human element in the article—it read like clinical observations on an odd batch of laboratory mice. If the author ever actually talked to an Amish person, it didn’t show. It was like a dull lecture by a second-rate professor.
George And Carol Almas
Thank you for publishing Kraybill’s superb “Opting Out.” I’ll say what he didn’t: We Catholics could—and should—learn a lot from the wisdom of the Amish. I can think of few more pressing matters than the ones they’ve put front and center in their lives: discerning appropriate technologies, sustaining local communities, and the importance of nonviolence. Moreover, I find much in the Amish economy—with its emphasis on craft and other small-scale enterprises—compelling. It’s an economics reminiscent not of capitalism but of the distributism articulated by luminaries such as G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy Day, and E. F. Schumacher.
I find it telling that there is significant interest in the Amish’s “slow and simple” way of life. The broader culture’s technological and consumerist frenzy leaves more and more of us spiritually barren. At least that is my experience living on a Catholic Worker farm here in Iowa, where we live in a village-like community and practice small-scale organic agriculture. A small but growing stream of visitors comes to catch a glimpse of our simpler life on the land. Indeed, sometimes they wonder if we’re trying to live like the Amish.
La Motte, Iowa
Clean Bill Of Health
Rand Richards Cooper in “Give It to Us Straight, Doc” (March 7) cuts through all the hot air surrounding the Affordable Care Act, its rollout, and coverage. The Obama administration lost a great opportunity to frame the problems and the solutions right from the start. This article clearly and concisely shows what is at stake for each demographic in our country. Thank you.
Anne Chapman’s letter (February 7, 2014), in response to John Garvey’s column, “‘I Do,’ Undone” (December 20, 2013), briefly notes that bishops and cardinals take special vows to the church and the institution (papal/administrative) even if it sometimes requires secrecy.
Such vows are surely in contradiction to the central mission of the church. Why do we celebrate the epiphany, the “shining forth,” if administrative structures must be protected by drawing the curtain?
When a bishop “covers up” cases of clergy who sexually abuse children, we evidently are not looking at a weak, indecisive bishop; we are observing instead a bishop who, by covering up the problem, is simply fulfilling a vow.
No wonder Catholics are leaving the church. The existence of such vows is heartbreaking, perhaps faith-breaking. They imply and encourage a culture of concealment and exclusion—the very opposite of “shining forth.”
Surely prayers, and action, are in order.