Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

I am directing my own play for a festival this summer, and it goes up in a couple of weeks. Rehearsals last three or four hours at a time: I listen to my own gusts of theatrical language, utter additional gusts giving the actors direction how to say my words. Then we talk about what we have just said. By the end of the evening, I feel completely wordless, worded out. If I am lucky, the day may end with a few moments where I have relegated myself to a level above language, a level where I may at least for a moment, experience a truth--experience anything--without carving it up into reductive little blocks of language.

Jonathan Wallace jw@bway.net

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. If you write to me about something you read in the Spectacle, I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will also respect that. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. This is in response to many of you who have expressed concern that spammers are finding your email address here. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry.

Dear Jonathan:

Thank you for publishing "My America" in the June issue.

However, since the numerous live links embedded within my text were not reproduced on your site, and neither did my website link within my bio sentence appear, please add the following note at the end of my article:

"Note: The original text of this article contained live links to informative websites regarding topics discussed, but this format could not reproduce those embedded links automatically. Visit http://www.christinesmith.us to read article in entirety including links for further research/reading."

Thank you...and best wishes!

Christine Smith

Hey buddy, I could care less if my children are blocked from your liberal, political, feminist sites. I dont need there head filled with that garbage, they have enough liberal media junk around them everyday!! Thanks for making my decision for me . I am buying cyber sitter right now!!!!

Pat & Paula Edwards
Parent protecting my kids minds from trash

Jonathan, While I agree that trying to define natural rights is a murky business, I do not agree that it is dangerous. At least not as dangerous as what you propose - abandoning any attempt at moral laws and substituting our own. In your last paragraph you demonstrated that you believe in pre-existing moral laws when you stipulated that any rule should not be HARMFUL to anyone. Why should this be the case if there is no natural law? C.S. Lewis makes a good case for a universal moral code in Mere Christianity. Dan Folland
I am doing a speech for a college speech class and I decided to do it on something I had deeply study in highschool... Auschwitz. I remembered your website helped me out a great deal then so I am going to use it again. However, I am using you for a reference... in doing so I was wondering what the most recent copyright date for your website is. If you could send this to me as soon as possible I'd really appreciate it. Thanks for making such a great website. Shannon
Hi Jonathan,

I came across your website while researching material for some teaching I am going to do about the Holocaust next year. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the site. I understand (I think) the personal agonies that lead one to read about the Holocaust and try to learn about it as much as we can.

I did want to comment about two things in the website. First, you write that:

“By far the simplest explanation for Auschwitz is that there is no God to intervene in human affairs. No deity exists to care what we do to each other. All compassion and all hatred in the human universe are ours. We are on our own.”

I don't know what I feel about the Holocaust theologically, but there is a logical fault in what you write. You imply that because an explanation is the "simplest" it must be correct. The simplest explanation for what we see around us is that the world is flat. Yet we have known for some little while that the world is actually round. Thus, the premise here is false, I think.

On a relared note. I find Judaism a comforting religion precisely because it does not center on belief (I know this sounds weird, but bear with me here). Traditional Judaism is a religion of actions. There are things we are mandated to do and things we are not allowed to do. It is more a way of life than a religion, really. Nowhere are we commanded to believe in anything, although we are commanded to say certain prayers. Unlike Christianity, which delves into the innards in a way I find intrusive, Judaism focuses on actions. Although I am not very observant, I find this attitude easy to swallow and, in some ways, it has resolved some of my Holocaust-related pain. I am Jewish because my ancestors were Jewish and I feel mandated to be a good person. My Jewishness are my positive actions and my involvement in the Jewish community. It isn't that I don't believe there is a God. I am not sure. However, I am happy that I don't have to believe in God in order to be very Jewish.

With best wishes,