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The roots of celibacy
John Sugg's assertions in his column, "No more indulgences for predators," (Fishwrapper, May 8) about the history of clerical celibacy in the Catholic Church are inaccurate. Mr. Sugg strongly suggests that clerical celibacy was invented in the Middle Ages for material reasons. Yet the evidence is to the contrary.

Jesus taught that there are those who "have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:12). This has been interpreted as meaning those, like Jesus himself, who renounce marriage to grow closer to God. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that to remain unmarried was better than marriage, for those called to that state (1 Corinthians 7:7-8, 32-35).

There were married and celibate priests throughout the first millennium, and several local Church councils (from as early as 302 A.D.) required celibacy of the clergy, as did several Popes. Among those who recommended clerical celibacy were Sts. Jerome, Augustine and Ambrose in the fourth and fifth centuries. Their reasons had nothing to do with preserving church property. The First Lateran Council in 1123 A.D. required celibacy of western clergy, but this was no invention, since the Church had debated the matter for at least 800 years previously.

How one interprets the motives of the Church (including Jesus and St. Paul) on this matter is one thing; the historical facts are another. Mr. Sugg is entitled to his opinions, but if he bases those opinions on Scripture and history, he needs to get the facts straight.

-- Donald Boyle Jr., Alpharetta

John Sugg responds: The verse Mr. Boyle mentions from Matthew refers to eunuchs (the King James version states, " ... made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake ..."). Even if it was about celibacy, it can't be interpreted as an endorsement of mandatory abstinence from sex. Certainly, some early and Medieval Christians advocated celibacy for purely religious reasons, but the driving force that led to its imposition was the church's accumulation of wealth and property.

Deja vu
(In response to News & Views, "Mercury blamed for autism," May 8): Thank you so much for your article. I feel as if you could almost take out Will Redwood's name and insert my son Joshua. He had the same symptoms as a baby and has a form of high functioning autism called Asperger's Syndrome.

When he was born, I didn't realize the hazards of vaccines and felt like the doctors knew best. If I had it to do all over again, I don't know that I would allow my children to be subjected to those vaccines.

Thanks for keeping us informed.

-- Susan Haymore, Decatur

Open door for new opportunity
Curt Holman: Glad to discover in this week's Creative Loafing you're debuting a new theater column (Off Script, Arts, "Missed opportunities," May 8). Being new to Atlanta myself, I must say I too was shocked to discover the plays which have never made it down here -- particularly the Stoppard and the Mamet.

I'm afraid your article, however, makes 7 Stages seem to be less a producer of new work than the other theaters you mention. A Delicate Balance is the only production in our 2001-02 season that hasn't been either a regional or world premiere. And in our 2002-03 season, Joseph Chaikin's production of Arthur Miller's Broken Glass is the only one of seven which might not be. (It does not appear to have ever been produced in Atlanta since its original New York production in 1994.) Like the plays you mentioned in your article, it is a recent play by one of the world's greatest playwrights, and would well have fallen into the category of "missed opportunities" were it not for 7 Stages' production of it next spring.

Though 7 Stages' 2002-03 season is already set, I do hope your column incites some theater companies in the city to include some of your suggestions into their upcoming seasons. Personally, I'd love to see a good production of Stoppard's The Invention of Love be mounted in Atlanta.

-- Joe Gfaller, director of marketing and PR, 7 Stages Theatre

Neverending career
In Felicia Feaster's review of Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending (Flicks, May 1), she refers to "the rapidity with which Allen has begun to churn out his films." For over 30 years now, Allen has been releasing films at the rate of about one a year, with no change in recent years. This certainly makes him the most prolific major American filmmaker of that period, and he has already produced a body of work more accomplished than any writer-director since Billy Wilder.

She also claims that Allen casting himself as a "brilliant" director is a sign of his own ego. In his four films prior to this one, Allen either didn't appear at all (Celebrity), appeared only briefly (Sweet and Lowdown), played a not-very-bright criminal (Small Time Crooks) and a braggart insurance salesman (Curse of the Jade Scorpion). I don't see why any particular significance should be given to the way he cast himself in this new film.

I haven't seen Hollywood Ending yet, and I won't be surprised if I find it somewhat disappointing in comparison to his earlier works -- as was also true of Billy Wilder's later films. I also won't be surprised if I laugh a good deal more than I have at many of the idiotic "hit" comedies of the past few years. There can be considerable pleasures to be found even in the work of someone past their prime, and besides -- you never know when some old fart like Bob Dylan is going to come out with a masterpiece like Love and Theft.

-- Peter Hardy, Atlanta

To-read list
Jane Catoe: I just today read your column for the first time (Bad Habits, Jane Says); afterward I spent a long time reading your archived columns. I felt I had to let you know how much I enjoyed them ... great writing and a good assortment of subjects. You're definitely on my list of reads when I hit the Loaf online from here on out.

-- R.E. Waller, Cartersville

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