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Letters to the editor: Web extra

More than an anxious reunion

Respectfully, Mr. Ray Hedin may have cause to be anxious about more than tiptoeing back to Milwaukee as an ex-seminarian. It appears the author of Married to the Church divorced the Bride of Christ long ago, and now demands She prove Herself worthy of his re-union with Him. How convoluted is that? His paranoia about the big, bad hierarchical Church is of a piece with his wistfulness about Vatican II: liberal illusions obfuscating the authority issue. Mr. Hedin’s separation from Christ’s Church is indeed something to be anxious about, but for reasons less trivial than those he advances.

Phil Krill ’71
Grand Rapids, MI

Keenan Revue

As a former co-director of the Keenan Revue, (1978), I enjoyed Ed Cohen’s article on the 2002 Revue. This campus “tradition” truly has become a great way to “break up the dreary chill of South Bend’s winter”. However, it didn’t start out as a mere mid-winter diversion.

The original intention was to provide a alcohol-free alternative entertainment for the residents of Keenan. Founders Rick Thomas and Tom Lenz made sure that the whole affair (followed by a dance in the basement ) was scrupulously booze-free. Not a temperance movement, it was done in response to the administration’s growing concern over the increasing dependence on alcohol in the social scene on campus —to show them that students could have a good time without alcohol.

In light of the recent uproar on campus regarding the change in the alcohol policy, and the student’s fear for the elimination of their “traditions,” I find it ironic that 25 years later, the same issues are rearing their ugly heads. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Jim Bonaventura ’78

I’m behind in my reading, and looked forward to what the Spring issue of ND Magazine might have to offer when I finally opened it last night. Unfortunately, the first item on the Keenan Hall Review spoiled the mood. “…off came the T-shirts, … rubbed front to back between their legs like floss …. (leading) into pelvic thrusts.” Call me a prude if you must, but such crudity seems out of place at ND. “You have to have perfect pelvic thrusts if you’re going to be in the Keenan Review.” The same could be given as a qualification for most strip bars — is that the standard for comparison?

I’m sure there is plenty of great humor in the Keenan Hall Review — at least I hope that is the case, given its apparent popularity — and cleverness in dealing with human foibles in all areas of life, including religion and sex, is the essence of humor. But it seems to me that there are limits to what should be considered “entertainment” by the men and women of Notre Dame (or Saint Mary’s).

John E. Wilson ’61
East Lansing, MI

Marketing sense

In your Spring ‘02 issue, University of Minnesota professor and business owner, John T. Riedl, derogates the field of marketing as “guys who want to sell stuff to you by trying to trick you into buying it,” contrasting it with his business approach of “suggesting the product we have that you might want to buy.” Unfortunately for Professor Riedl, Notre Dame Magazine, and some University of Minnesota students, what the professor actually establishes is that he does not know what the word “marketing” means — and that he is the type to comment on something he doesn’t know about, or use a word without knowing its meaning.

In fact, marketing inherently involves identifying customer needs and preferences, and then satisfying them — essentially what Riedl counterposes with his false straw-man conception. What he calls “marketing” is rather a particular low-grade form of commerce, now recognized as archaic and suboptimal, but it is not marketing. I am in a position to know what the word “marketing” means.

Therefore, Professor Riedl would be surprised and disappointed to learn that he has been practicing “traditional marketing” all along (assuming he knows the meaning of the other words he was quoted as using). One may wonder how often Professor Riedl also uses language incorrectly or postures falsely when before his classes at the University of Minnesota, and if the school’s administration is aware of it.

This is a more serious matter for Notre Dame Magazine. On your pages, you have allowed someone to defame a business function, and field of study, as well as all who labor in those areas. It is as if I had accused Professor Riedl’s field, computer science, of being alchemy, witchcraft, or voodoo, and Notre Dame Magazine printed it as serious material. A correction is in order, and the tone of this rebuttal is very mild relative to the provocation. Remember, your article and its subject inaccurately accused me, my colleagues, the Mendoza College of Business, the University of Notre Dame, and every other university with a marketing department (which is almost all of them) of teaching something illegitimate, i.e., how to “sell stuff . . . by trying to trick you into buying.” I don’t suppose Professor Riedl would care to offer a confession of ignorance and an apology, but maybe Notre Dame Magazine will. Or at least invest in a part-time fact-checker.

John F. Gaski ’71, ’73MBA
Associate Professor of Marketing
University of Notre Dame

Duplicity

Kudos to senior Kerry Walsh and her intrepid band of Notre Dame women who produced the on-campus Vagina Monologues. I also congratulate the two academic departments who agreed to sponsor this obviously-controversial play. In our male-dominated church, and presumably still in male-dominated Notre Dame, this is exactly the kind of information that those males need to grow up.

I also understand that in conjunction with the performance, there was an open discussion forum, which I find very admirable, since that is the very essence of the university experience. And shame on the Knights of Columbus for their repressive stance. I presume they are also busy defending the American hierarchy, in this pervasive Church crisis?

I expect I am in the minority of most ND alumni, but that’s not new. In my five decades since graduating in 1952, I have often written to this magazine, on matters like contraception and world population planning, and have received not a few condemnations, even from classmates.

But, I think it is instructive, in this crisis year of the Roman Church, to observe that our entire Church hierarchy, from the very top levels of the Curia, and the Pope himself, and all his 2000 worldwide intellectual clones, have been shown to be terribly lacking in simple morality. The Vatican has for decades, covered up terrible priestly sex crimes of priests against nuns, in Africa, for example.

The American hierarchy, too, seems riddled with this strange hypocrisy, which can preach an entire range of repressive morality, yet justify to themselves and others, that priestly crimes against children, against children, for God’s sake, are OK to cover up. In a great sense, the crucial shortage of priests was partly motivating this duplicity. And, that too, is a result of the hierarchy’s refusal to ordain married men and ordain women to the priesthood.

Regarding the coverup, I realize that some victims were compensated, but legally muffled from speaking out. But there were hundreds who were ignored, or who couldn’t come forward due to shame. The bishops must have known this, but of course, they have no mode for listening.

When I lived in New Mexico, in 1952, it was well known that there was a retreat facility in a small town there, which was used by bishops all over the country, to send wayward priests for “rehabilitation.” Trouble was, decades later, we learned that when they were announced rehabilitated, many were assigned to parish work in the state, and guess what, they simply went back to their old ways, and New Mexico had more than their share of crimes. And that is what this is all about, it is the conspiracy to cover up these crimes, which should be punished by law.

Our moralistic alumni and especially our right-wing ND Law School, should ponder why certain of the American hierarchy should not be subject to persecution for conspiracy.

John Minck
Palo Alto, CA

Repetitive articles

As a longtime Notre Dame Magazine reader and a future alumnus, I am concerned with recent developments regarding the magazine’s content. Increasingly, it appears that the cover story and a large component of the supporting material are dedicated to the examination if spiritual issues. Before receiving each new issue, I can be confident that multiple articles will be contained within attempting to reconcile God and Catholicism with a range of modern developments, from science (“Strange Bedfellows,” Spring 2002) to special issues (The Holy and the Weird, Autumn 2001) to man’s self image (“The Eye of the Beholder,” Spring 2002). The shorter pieces often detail God’s role in mediating the author’s struggles, and it seems requisite that every piece mention God at some point.

Honestly, these pieces have become repetitive, and I wonder if their continual publication results from content guidelines from an increasingly conservative Notre Dame governing body. While Notre Dame is a Catholic University, is first and foremost a university, and I believe that the Magazine should devote more time to reviewing the wide range of activities that occur on campus, as was done in “The First Lines of Defense,” (Spring 2002), instead of delegating them to two paragraph blurbs in the magazine’s introduction. Ultimately, a Notre Dame Magazine that represents alumni with a vibrant look at campus life and activities will fulfill its purpose better than one that stridently attempts to insert God into every issue.

James Seidler ’02
South Bend, IN

Irish legacy?

I can no longer refrain from expressing my dismay at Ed Cohen’s article in the last issue of Notre Dame Magazine. In the last paragraph on page 4, he states that the Blue Mass “illustrated as well as any the beliefs and culture that define Notre Dame: Roman Catholic and Irish-American.”

From the moment I first set foot on the hallowed ground of the campus in the fall semester of my freshman year in 1954 I believed, and still believe, that Notre Dame sought to be the best American Catholic University, period. I never knew, until now, that the culture of the University was Irish-American as opposed to any-other-fill-in-the-blank-American.

What does that statement mean to Badin, Sorin or Hesburgh? What does it say to the legacy of Rockne, Parseghian or Holtz? Two of them ultimately became controversy, but, as far as I know, one has never become “Roman.” Where do Bertelli, Cyarolski, Hornung, Page, and other members of the pantheon of athletes fit in? Not to mention great benefactors such as Snite or DeBartolo.

Perhaps overcome with the emotion of the moment, which we all shared, Mr. Cohen was inadvertently including the article on page 11. Roman Catholic and Irish-American indeed!

Or perhaps he was aware of A.D. Kevin White’s response, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, to the question of why there was such a rush to hire George O’Leary. He reportedly stated that it was, as a trustee, excitedly exclaimed, a hire right out of “central casting”: Irish-Catholic. In the almost 48 years that I have been intimately connected to the University, I have never before heard or read anything so absurd!

It is_ Notre Dame du Lac_, not Our Lady of Knock! It is a poor little French girl’s vision memorialized at our Grotto, not Bridget O’Malley. The colors of the University are blue and gold not green.

Incidentally, the “Fighting Irish” name, of which we are all so proud, began as a perjorative. ND Badin Hall (p.10) also served as the place from which students picked up their laundry, when the University still provided that service, and also contained a weight room among other uses through the years.

I wish Coach Willingham well is his efforts on our behalf. I don’t know what he is going to do about this “beliefs and culture” phenomenon. I’m sure that a winning record will do much to cause us to look the other way. And his first name is an advantage!

Lawrence A. Passarella ’58
River Forest, IL

Psychobabble

Pretentious doublespeak, even by Notre Dame Magazine standards has been brought to a new level. I tore this out of the previous magazine:

“Notre Dame is a place nurtured by myth. Its reality cannot be encompassed by the mind alone; much of its meaning is intuited. It is a place sustained by taking seriously the imponderables. And at the core of its culture is a belief in the transcendent, that the ultimate meaning of life is found just beyond where reason can take us.”

I guess that I was too busy trying to avoid flunking Emil T.’s chemistry class to spend time “intuiting” the N.D. experience. (Flunked anyway.)

Guess what? There exists a big bright world outside of the Dome where humans, who don’t like psychobabble, communicate with one another normally. You ought to check it out!

Bob Kruse, ’78

St. Ed’s memories

Enjoyed ND Mag. Spring 2002 — the St. Ed’s memory of mine follows: my roommates and I enjoyed the fourth floor – room 410 – because it was a corner room with a high ceiling but even more important — the prefect was not a priest but a law student! He didn’t bother to check out the candles we had lit after 11 o’clock!

I was wondering if the fourth floor was fully restored or not?

Bud Pletcher
Poughkeepsie, NY

P.S. By the next semester I could run up to the fourth floor and not raise my pulse!

Editor’s note: The 4th floor has been restored.


Notre Dame Magazine, Summer 2002

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