Letters

Gay Marriage Will Soon Be Non-Issue

To the Editor:

Re “Gay Marriage Is Love; Why Are Chuck, Hillary Skittish on the Topic?” [Edgy Enthusiast, July 24]: I think Ron Rosenbaum really nailed this one. As New Yorkers, we have every reason to expect better from our Senators, and I wrote to both of them and made exactly that point, in so many words, when they were voting to authorize George W. Bush to wage war in Iraq.

Eliot Spitzer, to his credit, is on the right side of the gay-marriage question. I imagine that he thinks he’d look pretty good being sworn in as President someday, and he hasn’t let that stop him from taking a stand that might frighten someone in some red state somewhere.

In 10 years—maybe less—this is going to be a non-issue. As New Yorkers, we sometimes lose track of where the rest of the country is on a lot of issues, but the reality in this instance is that for people my daughters’ age—the people in college right now—a person’s sexuality just isn’t the big deal it was for us. It is less of a big deal than even race was.

More and more people are going to realize that they have gay children or grandchildren, or gay friends, and that they’re O.K. with this. All that will remain at this point will be the bigots, who can never be converted, and who will then be a visible minority.

When that day comes, people will look back at the political leaders who were gutless on this issue and regard them sorrowfully.

Bill Altreuter

Buffalo, N.Y.

Seminary Boy Author Responds

To the Editor:

Charles Taylor’s suggestion that in my book, Seminary Boy, I have failed to grasp the irony of my own descriptions of Catholic institutional austerity denoting a lack of spiritual “grace,” gives me scant credit for insight into my own work, let alone a lifetime’s practice of attempting to show rather than state [“There and Back Again: A Pilgrim’s Vivid Progress,” Book Review, July 24]. Reviewers of books about the Catholic Church tend to bring their own heavy agendas to the task. Mr. Taylor cites a catalog of Catholic malfeasance, from the pedophile-priest crisis to the banning of condoms even among victims of AIDS in Africa. He credits me with knowledge of all this, as well he might: I have written of them myself often enough. But he is nevertheless wrong in assuming that the hidden story of Seminary Boy is an inexplicable U-turn on my part—and a return to a club that never wanted me in the first place. Despite his claims to a superior grasp of irony, he has failed to recognize the repeated exemplification of the powerful sources of “grace” to which I was exposed as a seminary boy, and from which, despite everything, I benefited through the rest of my life. In returning to the faith, I no more engaged in a U-turn than did the church itself in the process known as the Second Vatican Council. Perhaps I can be criticized for not “showing” this well enough. But then, if a reviewer can accuse a writer of showing themes of which he was unconscious, a writer can also accuse a reviewer of failing to attend properly to what was being repeatedly shown rather than merely, and obviously, stated. Despite all this, I valued Mr. Taylor’s review for its well-intentioned seriousness.

John Cornwell

Cambridge, England

The Boy Child

To the Editor:

Regarding the reported preference of women to have daughters rather than sons [“Brave New Boutique: Baby Sex Selection Sold on East Side,” Lizzy Ratner, The Transom, July 24], I can only say that no one should pass up the opportunity to raise one of those remarkable and mysterious creatures, the boy child.

Kathy Jacobson

Manhattan

Peckinpah Made Westerns

To the Editor:

Re “Stagecoach: Is There Such a Thing as an Anti-Western?” [Charles Taylor, Mr. DVD, July 17]: What is so anti-western about Sam Peckinpah’s movies? Is Saving Private Ryan an anti-war movie because of the graphic violence? Are Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Sanjuro anti-samurai films simply because of their nihilism? Did you feel The Wild Bunch is a pacifist western?

To find out whether or not Peckinpah is a traditional western director, one should compare his westerns with John Sturges, nobody’s idea of a revolutionary filmmaker. Their themes and plot arcs are surprisingly similar: The Deadly Companions and The Law and Jake Wade (revenge westerns where people going to a graveyard are attacked by Indians); Ride the High Country and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (male-bonding westerns); Major Dundee and Escape from Fort Bravo (Yankee soldiers and Confederate P.O.W.’s fight Indians); The Wild Bunch and The Magnificent Seven (men whose professional days seem to be at an end go to Mexico and choose death instead of leaving with their lives); Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and Hour of the Gun (demythologizing of western lawmen).

The main difference between them is that Sturges was influenced by William Wyler and George Stevens, and Peckinpah was influenced by Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone. But foreign influences do not an anti-western make.

Jay Finkelstein

Manhattan

Letters