Statues in the church
Donald Cunningham's letter of March 3 calls for a response. He writes critically of statues in the Catholic Church, including the crucifix. He cites Exodus 20:4-5, the Scripture Evangelicals usually call upon to "prove" that Catholics, in defiance of God's command, worship idols.
The Scripture says precisely what Mr. Cunningham reports. But it's interesting, don't you think, that five chapters later (Exodus 25:22), God actually commands the creating of two graven images -- two cherubim to adorn the Ark of the Covenant. It's also interesting that even later God orders Moses to create another graven image, a seraph snake to mount on a pole (Numbers 21:8). Anyone bitten by one of the swarming serpents would live. With these two Scriptural references in mind, Catholics believe that God's concern is not the making of a graven image itself but rather the practice of worshiping those graven images, a rampant practice among the Jews during their exodus to the Promised Land.
Regarding the so-called Catholic practice of worshiping statues, no matter how many times you hear we do, the simple truth is that Catholics do not worship statues or any other idols. If a Catholic does so, he will indeed be in trouble with God.
The presence of statues in the Catholic Church is a means of honoring those whose extraordinary lives played huge roles in the development of Christianity. Many believe that statues, like stained glass, are aesthetically pleasing. But in the early Church they played a much more practical purpose. Imagine a time when the populace was largely illiterate. Imagine a time -- post Apostles -- when there was not a Bible, which would not be determined until late in the fourth century. The Church advanced largely by word of mouth from the successors to the Apostles. Non-reading Christians learned their faith in part from stained glass windows, each of which represented an important Bible story, such as the Miracle at Cana or the Prodigal Son. Statues of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, etc. provided faces for the faithful to associate with these stories.
As for the cross bearing the corpus of the suffering Jesus, Protestants of course obviously prefer the empty cross, representing the risen Christ. And that's all right. Catholics have chosen Christ on the Cross as a reminder to us of his amazing love, that he would willingly suffer and die for each of us. The suffering Jesus, always before me high above the altar, serves a very practical purpose for me. If I find my mind wandering during the Mass, I have only to turn my gaze to the cross to be snapped back to proper worship -- not the graven image of course but the God whom the graven image represents.
Make a difference
Friday is International Women's Day. The focal point of this celebration is women's rights. It was first celebrated in the United States in New York in 1909 followed by Soviet Russia in 1917 when women gained the right to vote. In 1975, the United Nations adopted it internationally.
This year's theme from the United Nations is "Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change." It is estimated that there are 36 million adults with low literacy skills. Out of that number, estimates are that 65 percent are women.
International Women's Day is celebrated differently in different countries. There is no parade in Hot Springs, but there is an organization that can help women right here at home change their lives for the better at no cost to them. If you know someone of either sex that needs help in learning to read, send them to the Literacy Council of Garland County at 119 Hobson Ave. in Hot Springs. There they can get a tutor at no cost for them and learn to read or do math.
If you want to use your time wisely and to innovate for change, volunteer to tutor someone in Basic English, English as a Second Language, or Math. It does not take a great deal of time, but it certainly makes a big difference in someone's life. The phone number is 501-623-7323. Horrifying statistics are everywhere. Use your time to make a major change in someone's life and future.
Is there anything better than teaching someone to read to change a life?
Director, Literacy Council
of Garland CountyEditorial on 03/07/2019
Print Headline: Thursday's Letters to the Editor