Letters to the Editor

From the week of October 4, 2001

Father Knows Best

In his prayers: Thank you for Steve Jackson's beautiful story about Father Jim Sunderland, "War and Remembrance," in the September 26 issue. It captured the essence of his soul, of how he relates to everyone fortunate enough to know him. Father Sunderland has touched the lives of people he's never met and is in the daily prayers of many of us. I've never known anyone like him and felt special when he said he would always be my Catholic rabbi.

Several years ago, I appeared on a panel of speakers with him at the University of Denver, and his ability to give and receive love with every person there was a joy to watch. He was very protective of me when my beliefs about the death penalty and Judaism were attacked by another panelist. Father Jim encouraged me to never waiver from what I know to be true. I have also watched him struggle with his beliefs when betrayed by someone close to him, but forgiveness and love rule his life.

Father Jim has made my life better for knowing him. I send him my deep love.

Sandi Izor
Denver

Saints and sinners: Thank you so much for Steve Jackson's article about Father Jim Sunderland. I met him as a freshman at Regis University five years ago and immediately developed a great fondness and respect for him. To tell the truth, I put him up on such a pedestal, I didn't realize that he is a real person with family, friends and "lost loves."

A good friend of mine has since shown me the wisdom that "every saint has a history and every sinner has a future." Realizing this, I think, is how we learn to see both our heroes and villains in more than one dimension.

In his article, Jackson did a wonderful job of portraying not only Father Jim, but also the men on Colorado's death row as "human" in every sense of the word (including "child of God"). I was very deeply moved.

Bret Kramer
Boulder

Write to life: The story on Father James Sunderland was beautifully done and explained, without apology, his ministry to criminals and his opposition to capital punishment. But I also remember when Sunderland's commitment to life extended to the unborn. There was no mention of this in the article. Has he changed his position on the "seamless garment" -- the protection of life from conception to natural death? Or did Westword for some reason simply elect not to include that fact?

Joanne Marie Roll
Denver

He's got the touch: I must say that this was one of the best articles I've ever read in Westword. Steve Jackson's writing was excellent and the story very moving. Whether or not you believe in the death penalty, it is clear that Father Jim Sunderland is a truly amazing human being. I was able to connect with a lot of things in the article.

My husband attended Regis High School, and I have heard many great stories about the Jesuits. Thanks for such a touching story.

Wendy Brotherson
via the Internet


Dig We Must

Good (writing) versus evil: It is unfortunate that so many journalists have, like Robin Chotzinoff in her September 20 "Digging Out," felt the need to share some sort of muddled or newly found theology to explain to their immediate world the meaning of the tragedy/attack/act of god/satan. She is a fine writer with insight into the human condition and the wit to convey ideas and personalities vividly. Perhaps insight and wit are also casualties of the events of 9/11, one hopes only temporarily replaced by such public soul-searching.

This event has been declared from the top down as "evil" -- a word that was scrupulously avoided by the media and government in the wake of Columbine or the Oklahoma City tragedy/attack/ act of god/satan. A word never considered in relation to a devastating earthquake in Mexico City or typhoon in Manila. Acts of nature, to be sure. And is not "human nature" god-given as well? All the rest is politics.

It was said this past week by one of the endless parade of "intelligence experts" that one should never try to get inside the mind of the enemy. But consider this: American evil exists, but is rightly accepted as a very small aberration that can make a very large impression with acts of shocking violence, usually with political motives -- even the politics of student life or the business world. This is also true of Muslim society and of every society on earth. Such a small percentage of a moral and peace-loving people, but one that needs to take its fervent beliefs to the limits of sanity and beyond. Yes, terrorism needs to be eliminated from the earth if we are ever to hope for a golden age for everyone, not just Americans. But terrorism is the grown child of imperialism, of exploitation, of greed and decadence. So where do we really start? Who sowed the seeds of hate, Cain or god/satan?

Name withheld

Local heroes: I read Robin Chotzinoff's "Digging Out" while passing through Denver on business. I was touched by this line: "Even as everyone else was going down in the Twin Towers, the firefighters were going up." It encapsulated the heroism and selflessness of the New York Fire Department men and women who lost their lives in the service of others.

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