MORE AT STAKE THAN WORDS
I appreciate Julia G. Young’s critique of the term “authentic Catholic” as a way to attract new students to the Catholic University of America (“Narrowing the Universal Church,” February 22). Since she uses the example of the Unión Nacional Sinarquista that appeared in Mexico in the late 1930s to oppose the policies of the Mexican Revolution, I would like to offer one correction and a comment.
Etymologically, the word sinarquismo derives from the Greek prefix syn, which means “with”; the second part of the word comes from arkhein, meaning “to rule.” Sinarquía means, therefore, with rule or order, and sinarquismo is the doctrine that supports such a social arrangement.
Sinarquismo in Mexico in 1937 was not simply a rejection of the secularization of life, brought about by the reform laws of the nineteenth century and the Mexican Revolution to a country where three centuries of Spanish colonial rule had given the church exorbitant power. It was rather the ultra-right expression of Catholicism ideologically allied with the Falange in Spain and sympathetic to world fascism. Its principles were openly anti-Semitic, anti-masonic and anti-communist. Its utopian impulse, rather than the creation of a perfect place, was a return to an imagined past of pure Hispanic catholicity.
This historical context seems pertinent because Catholicism has been put in the service of right-wing ideologies in other times and other places. There can be much more at stake than the divergent ways in which we construe what it means to be Catholic.
Aurora Camacho de Schmidt
Professor Emerita of Spanish and Latin American Studies
I have twice read Dr. Johnson’s article (“Can We Still Believe in Miracles?” February 22) and very much appreciate his extensive development of a trans-Enlightenment epistemology. It is a recognition of the riches of human experience beyond empirical positivism.
I have been teaching Christology at Spring Hill (Jesuit) College in Mobile, Alabama since 1974, and I have had regular occasion to deal with unexplainable physical healings. My observation is that if these healings occur in the modern world, they should be recognized as capable of occurrence in the time of Jesus. They do not prove that Jesus was divine or that there is a God, but they are an interesting piece of the New Testament puzzle that is the foundation of Christology.
I suggest to my classes that there may indeed be more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, and futuristic telepathy and telekinesis may indeed discover that presently unknown strengths of exceptionally focused human psychic energy may eventually provide explanations. But we should remain open to the fact that Jesus did indeed heal with a power unexplainable by the people of his time and the secular science of our own. The Catholic insight is that grace builds on nature, and who knows the limits of human nature?
Meanwhile, what would David Hume think of quantum physics, curved space, string theory, and Schrodinger’s cat? It’s a bit unfortunate that “miracle” gets defined as violating the laws of nature, when we haven’t a clue as to what all the laws of nature are.
Spring Hill College