Letters | Fact or Fiction? Burke v. Paine

Readers Respond

Truth Been Told?

After reading Kaitlin Campbell’s “Sister’s All Right” (April 11), I noted that the author is your marketing coordinator. Is this a true story or a work of fiction—a very good work of fiction? I have been carrying it around since I first read it.

All the more convincing if a true story, truly and truthfully told. Kudos. Either way, let’s have more from Campbell in future issues.

Joe Frattali

Dahlonega, Ga.

 

The Author Replies

Thanks for the kind words. What I wrote did happen, and similar things have happened to many women. A woman on the subway once told me, “If a guy tries to do that, don’t be polite. Just go crazy.” Sometimes it’s easier to pretend to be someone else than to pretend to go crazy.

Kaitlin Campbell

 

The Tyranny Of Factions

George Scialabba’s review of Yuval Levin’s book on the world of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine (“Who Decides?” April 11) ignores an important insight that Burke shared with our country’s founding fathers, and which they put into practice in our form of government. Paine had argued that a political representative should mirror the interests and beliefs of his constituents, and should act to further those interests—as they, rather than he, saw them. Burke, in contrast, thought that intelligent voters should elect a man of quality who would best be capable of reasoning through unanticipated future situations and applying his experience and wisdom in pursuit of the common good. Our founding fathers hedged their bets, with a House of Representatives (à la Paine) and a Senate (à la Burke). Consistent with their views as expressed in pamphlets collected in the Federalist Papers, the founding fathers were fiercely opposed to “factions” (political parties) because of their inhibitory effect on the individual representative’s ability to vote his conscience. The tide of that battle turned with the ascent of Thomas Jefferson, and it was lost with the election of Andrew Jackson. Had more institutional protections been inserted to protect individual congresspersons against the tyranny of “factious partisans,” our country would have developed an even “more perfect union” than the one we have inherited under our Constitution.

William Roche Bronner

Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

Prophetic Example

I enjoyed reading Melissa Matthes’s review of Kim Philip Hansen’s book Military Chaplains and Religious Diversity (“Nonprophetic Ministry,” March 21). Matthes highlighted the difficulty of being a prophetic employee. Chaplains have the difficult task of walking the tightrope between Army employee and spiritual minister. A great example of a person who did both successfully was Fr. Edson Wood, OSA, whose photograph was included with the piece. Seeing the photo of Fr. Wood took me back to my days as a West Point cadet. Fr. Wood was a fine Augustinian priest who encouraged me to read Augustine’s Confessions in my first year at West Point—a major milestone in my conversion and in my spiritual life. From his good example, I briefly considered becoming an Army chaplain, but ultimately left the Academy for ministry. I was sad to learn this week that, about a month after I read the article, Fr. Wood passed away after suffering a stroke on March 21—the date on the issue in which his photograph appears.

Br. Erik Lenhart, Ofm

Jamaica Plain, Mass.

 

Devil’s Due

Regarding John Wilkins’s article on the canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII (“The Odd Couple,” April 11): Pope John Paul II eliminated the office of devil’s advocate from the canonization process—the equivalent of having a prosecution without a prosecutor, only an attorney for the defense. Until there is a devil’s advocate again, I do not see how we can have any legitimate canonization.

Conchita Ryan Collins

Teaneck, N.J.

Published in the May 16, 2014 issue: 
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