Magazine | March 9, 2009, Issue


Living Inspiration

Thank you for Jay Nordlinger’s article on Capt. Ivan Castro (“Captain Extraordinary,” February 9). Captain Castro is a tremendously inspiring man. I had the honor of meeting him while running the Air Force Marathon in Dayton last September, and of hearing him speak at the dinner the night before.

He spoke briefly about his injuries, then thanked the soldiers who risked their lives to save him while still under fire, the helicopter crew that came in despite the tremendous risk, and all the doctors, nurses, therapists, etc., who worked to help him heal. Not a drop of self-pity in evidence.

If God’s plan is to have him inspire others to do their best, count their blessings, and selflessly help others, He has the best man for the job.

James F. Murphy

Chicago, Ill.

Very Superstitious

When I read John Derbyshire’s piece indicating that “interest in the occult has faded” (“Chance of a Ghost,” February 9), I wondered whether he is in touch with current entertainment trends. A quick scan of the TV listings reveals shows such as Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, and Ghost Hunters International. Psychics such as John Edward and Lisa Williams pack auditoriums during their worldwide tours.

Not much of a fade.

James Cavanagh

Naples, Fla.

John Derbyshire replies: With all respect to Mr. Cavanagh, I didn’t say that interest in the occult has disappeared, I said it has faded since the mid-20th century. That’s my judgment—impressionistic, but I’ll stand by it. The Search for Bridey Murphy was a huge bestseller in 1956, The Amityville Horror a lesser one in 1977. I don’t think books like that make the lists nowadays. The nearest recent equivalent I can find is Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven, but that’s Christian-inspirational, not occult.

Similarly with TV. Where, in the hundred-odd channels offered by my cable service, can I find a current equivalent of the ingeniously spooky stories in Alfred Hitchcock Presents? I have never heard of the shows Mr. Cavanagh mentions, nor heard them discussed; they are not visible in TV popularity ratings (though admittedly the advent of cable has scrambled the ratings business). Similarly, I wish John Edward and Lisa Williams all the luck in the world, but I had never heard of either until today. That the occult is still around, I know; that it has anything like the hold on our attention it had 50 years ago, I am sure is not the case.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue


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Living Inspiration Thank you for Jay Nordlinger’s article on Capt. Ivan Castro (“Captain Extraordinary,” February 9). Captain Castro is a tremendously inspiring man. I had the honor of meeting him while ...
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