Canadians 'fV not us Fort Dodge, Iowa To the Editors Those who cite the Canadian medical system as a model [Correspondence, February 25] overlook many key issues The American and Canadian...

...Canadians 'fV not us Fort Dodge, Iowa To the Editors Those who cite the Canadian medical system as a model [Correspondence, February 25] overlook many key issues The American and Canadian populations are not comparable Canadians are a relatively homogeneous group Their society contains no large population groups disproportionately afflicted with drug abuse, AIDS, illiteracy, or chrome dependency Canada's population is smaller than California's In citing the small number of employees administering the Canadian medical system, some commentators naively assume that our federal government would be comparably efficient running a complex plan for 250 million patients Letter writers do not discuss how our system will fare when a single agency, the federal government, sets the standards for care and unilaterally determines the fees that can be charged When there is only one payer, that payer controls the system The initial impact of nationalizing medicine will be cushioned by the fact that the present ranks of our medical profession are filled by individuals who rank high m academic ability and dedication They will remain for a time Yet many individuals of this type will choose less restrictive fields when our honored profession becomes an overregulated monopoly of government (In the former Soviet system, basically a smgle-payer plan, doctors' salaries deteriorated to a level well below that of factory workers) The Veterans Administration hospitals and the Indian Service are existing examples of federally controlled medicine in the US It is not these agencies that attract the seriously ill patients who come to American medical centers from all over the world Note also that the patients waiting for admission to Canadian hospitals are almost all Canadians HERBERT H KERSTEN.MD 2 CORRESPONDENCE Help is at hand Kent, Wash To the Editors After reading the Madelein Gray abortion chronicle ["Giving up the Gift," February 25], I want her to know that she is not alone in her painful search for healing following her abortion decision The anguish she felt, and may still feel at times, is so prevalent it is recognized as Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) And, yes, there are many priests who will listen compassionately to the woman who has aborted her child and who will not send her away from God or the church The number to call is 1 (800) 5WE CARE There was help for Madelem when she needed it I'm sorry we didn't get to tell her about it PAT KING The writer is author of Catholic Women and Abortion Stones of Healing, to be published in September by Sheed & Ward A unisex message Matawan, N J To the Editors The eighth paragraph of your editorial "The State of Disunion" [February 11] begins "Encourage ado(Continued on page 26) (Continued from page 2) lescent girls to say no to sex, and teach them how to resist pressure from their peers " Have you any message for boys, or, heaven forbid, do you subscribe to the common notion that boys will be boys and nothing can be done about it7 The message conveyed, though surely not intended, is that boys are always the aggressors and that avoidance of out-ofwedlock pregnancy is all up to the girls It just is not so We must as a society find ways to encourage both boys and girls "to say no to sex, and teach them how to resist pressure " (MSGR) JOHN L gerety Listening to gays Oquossoc, Maine To the Editors This is a late response to your issue of January 28 I read it with great interest, having spent the past eighteen months as one of two Roman Catholic representatives on a Maine Council of Churches committee studying the topic "Seeking Justice Issues of Sexual Orientation " James Kales's report on the vote in my native city of Lewiston, Maine, that resulted in repeal of a nondiscnmination ordinance covering sexual orientation missed an important point ["A Referendum in Maine Voting on Gay Rights"] A reputable polling firm that conducted exit polls m Lewiston at the time of the vote concluded that the repeal referendum had succeeded because most voters felt (rightly or wrongly) that the ordinance was unnecessary Having listened to James L Nash on National Public Radio last year, I was amazed that he considered his co-panelists as representative of the gay/lesbian community ["On the Air No Room for Dialogue"] If he had read the work of someone like Bruce Bawer, whose book, A Place at the Table, was reviewed in the same issue, he would have known better Our MCC committee has met with a wider representation and has had genuine dialogue Rather than nitpicking Paul Baumann' s summary article ["An Incarnational Ethic"] , allow me to share some insights I have 26 gleaned from listening to gays and lesbians regarding what they are asking of the church First, they want their dignity as persons created in the image and likeness of God to be recognized Second, they want the inalienable human rights that flow from that dignity Third, they want to live by the same moral norms heterosexual couples live by and have the same support With regard to this third point, they would like the same accommodation the church makes to infertile heterosexual couples To use Baumann' s vocabulary, they do not see their condition as any more alien to "an mcarnational ethic" than that of couples whose biological condition is also "nonprocreative " As long as we insist that the sexuality issue takes precedence over the justice issue, we will retard the coming of the kingdom of God (MSGR) PAUL E COTE A non-problem Portland, Oreg To the Editors Wake up' There's a world out there with major problems Homosexuality and its place in Christianity are not (or, to my mind, should not be) among those problems After reading and re-reading your issue of January 28,1 was left with my usual reaction to such debates This is not my business Or yours, for that matter, unless you're gay Christ would be the first to remind us that we aren't competent tojudge the acceptability or the sanctity of other people's lives I believe that this continued fixation on matters sexual not only drives people away from the church, but keeps us from focusing on truly Christian issues economic and political freedom, for instance, and love—or at least tolerance—of our neighbors MEG DES CAMP Alleva's wrong notes Pacheco, Calif To the Editors Richard Alleva's review of The Piano ["A Word of Dissent," January 14] is out of tune His criticism that Ada's "silence is dramatic garnish, not substance" is untenable Ada's silence is the most essential dramatic device of this film It is her only power in the repressive, psychically and physically violent patriarchal world in which she exists It allows her a small, but significant, measure of control over those who would control her The most glaring flaw in Alleva' s review is his assertion that Ada's "progress toward sexual fulfillment is the central action of the movie " Rather, Ada's progress toward whole self-expression with impunity and without restriction is what propels this film In Ada's world, a stranger can purchase a wife, and a woman's mind and heart are expected to conform to the dictates of patriarchy Any resistance is subject to punishment, invariably violent Stewart is the epitome of the depraved Western patriarch a conqueror, hoarder, and manipulator of land, nature, indigenous peoples, women, and children He is everything that keeps Ada from expressing her true self She exists only to service his needs The brilliance of Sam Neill's performance through Campion's direction is in disarming the audience with this deceivingly sympathetic, emo27 tionally stunted character who is truly the victimizer in sheep's clothing We are not "meant to sympathize with both men equally " Harvey Keitel's passionately sensitive portrayal clearly indicates that Barnes is our protagonist He is a postmodern man at one with the natural world rather than dominant over it, in touch with his inner life, and touched by that of others He immediately recognizes Ada's inner beauty when he hears her at the piano Recognizing its dehumanizing effects, Barnes abandons the sexual bartering, a typical Western male tactic for eschewing intimacy Ada is then free to accept his genuine desire for profound intimacy and is willing to risk exposing her real voice I commend and applaud Jane Campion on her cinematic masterpiece and extend my deepest appreciation for her inspirational creation Virginia saenz McCarthy Schindler's gift Cocoa, Fla To the Editors Something is missing from your treatment of the Oskar Schindler story ["Saintly Sybarite," February 11] What Schindler did is beyond human comprehension or capacity I see m it a case of the Holy Spint acting through a person who from a human perspective would be seen as the least qualified and least expected to act as he did, to save nearly 1,100 Jews from death at the hands of the Nazis Yes, he was a Christian, but many officials in the churches supported Nazi racism—if not by commission then definitely by omission In saving Jewish lives, Oskar Schindler saved something of our human dignity Perhaps I see this because I happen to have a friend, a Jewish classmate of mine in high school in Cracow, who worked for Schindler and traveled with him at the end of World War II from Plaszow in Poland to the Swiss border It is good that Schindler's story has become known but little emphasis has been given to its spiritual value and significance, nor to the fact that Schindler was treated as a pariah by postwar German society ROMAN KC JOHNS How God works Houston, Tex To the Editors It happens that I am not 28 easily brought to tears, even at my mother's death and funeral I could not cry, though I felt very close to her But as I reached the end of Bob Logan's article ["More Hungry Boys," February 25], tears were streaming down my face I am three years younger than Bob Logan, but like him I lived through the Great Depression This is what I saw in the restaurant owner's words and actions How wonderful it is that God works his goodness to us through other human bemgs My thoughts went back over my own life I saw God's compassion for me as he worked through those I turned to in certain trying times when I hit rock bottom His goodness always came through, even in my folly1 From the pinnacle of age, I saw myself m Bob's shoes, remembenng another hungry boy My hunger was spiritual Perhaps Bob's was also, he was going home (REV ) JOHN A WEIHRER 29...

Vol. 121 • April 1994 • No. 7

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