I wrote the following in response to an editorial that appeared in the Sunday, February 5th edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The story that I am referencing can be found in full at this link.
More Libraries AND More Churches
On Sunday morning I found myself with a few minutes to spare before my family and I headed out to Mass at St. Matthias Parish in Milwaukee, so I opened the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and was saddened, hurt and offended to read the article by Community Columnist Rose Locander titled More Libraries, Fewer Churches.
Ms. Locander identifies herself a retired public high school teacher from Waukesha and she bemoans the fact that this world seems to be filled with illiterate “sheep” who feed their souls with words of faith at the many local churches in our area rather than feeding their brains with the words of wisdom to be found at the library.
While I agree with her that the library is a great treasure in any community and would love to see greater use of all public and private libraries, I don’t understand why she feels so strongly that libraries should replace churches as a source of wisdom. Her letter seems to be filled with a fear of religion from which history has shown us can all too often be the seedbed of hatred resulting in discrimination.
Ms. Locander feels that “giving someone the impression that the sky is going to rescue them from challenges” and that “filling children’s heads with tales of arks, floods and magical amounts of loaves and fishes” is a mistake. She seems to feel that people of faith are mindless and that our “huge monuments to magical Deity” are without value. She feels that “another church, another minister, priest, rabbi or other religious leader is not needed.” Ms. Locander is of the opinion that any “homeless person on the street” can teach more about the afterlife than our religious leaders, many of whom just may have been educated at a public high school by a teacher such as herself. And here I must add that I am grateful that Ms. Locander is now retired so that she may no longer fill our children’s heads with her atheistic beliefs.
I would suggest that Ms. Locander spend her years of retirement by attempting to open her mind and heart to the wisdom that is found within the many churches in our area. By attending a church of her choice, Ms. Locander will find the wisdom that can only come from a deep love and openness to the mystery, not magic, with which our Creator has blessed this world. At her local church she would find the kindness and compassion of the the many faith-filled “sheep” she criticizes as being mindless, but who also happen to be the great leaders in many areas of our local community.
I would also challenge Ms. Locander to pay another visit to any local library and actually open and read the book of which she is apparently so afraid that she cannot even call it by its rightful name in print. I’m speaking of the “The Bible”, the book that Ms. Locander warns against reading to children because it “is a recipe for the creation of mindless followers.”
Finally, I would encourage Ms. Locander to pay a visit to one of the finest libraries in our area, The Salzmann Library at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee, where she will find the shelves filled with books that challenge and expand the minds and hearts of all believers. Here she will learn of the great history of Christianity, of the fearless saints and leaders who have bravely stood up for their beliefs against pagans who did their best to do away with all faith in the name of progress. Here she will find the love and intelligence of God in the written word and will come away with a greater understanding of the need for all of those in today’s society to embrace both libraries and churches with the hope of bringing peace and progress to our world and salvation for our souls.