The Notre Dame family
I noticed in the “Seen and Heard” section of the spring issue that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) students who speak out against the University’s discriminatory nondiscrimination clause are referred to as “activists.” At non-Catholic universities they are referred to as students. And they and their families receive all the services provided heterosexual students and their families. That is what nondiscrimination actually is. Although numerous Notre Dame graduates, including my husband, populate our family tree, we would never send our children, gay or straight, to Notre Dame. God help Catholic families and their GLBT children who attend your university.
Mary Lynn Murphy
Saint Paul, Minnesota
The literary world
Your discussion of the first Sophomore Literary Festival (“Echoes”) prompts a footnote of sorts. I was in my second year of a doctoral program in English then, and that festival was my first brush with literary life as opposed to my classroom and library studies. I have fond memories of my wife, Elaine, and me having dinner with Ralph Ellison, Granville Hicks, Wright Morris and others at the faculty club. Its importance for me — a working class ex-seminarian who’d stumbled into a doctoral program in English after a hitch in the Army — was that it gave me a glimpse of literature as a living thing outside of academe. It helped me see it more as writing, as part of a larger life.
But my footnote has to do with the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination breaking over us in unforgettable fashion. In those technologically simpler days, most of us learned of Dr. King’s assassination from the lips of Joseph Heller, who walked onto the stage of a packed Washington Hall to begin his reading, only to tell us the unspeakable news from Memphis. After saying he had initially thought about canceling his reading, he had decided instead to read the Snowden death scene from his classic Catch-22. I especially remember his mentioning that Snowden’s refrain about cold came to him from Lear on the heath. It was a powerful, unforgettable reading.
James McKenzie ’71Ph.D.
Saint Paul, Minnesota
An issue on life
The spring 2010 issue was dedicated to life and death, so it was shocking to find that the only lines devoted to the abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up by the Vatican were in a letter to the editor. Surely the lives of children harmed by the clergy remain the elephant in the living room. How could you not fully address this most salient Catholic issue of our time?
Ann Molony Desmond
A few phrases from his elegant essay, along with his touting Teilhard de Chardin, suggest that Chet Raymo ’58, ’64Ph.D., may have some sympathy with that licentious poetry which attempts to cast spiritual nets of design over evolutionary processes, as if they could be landed like fish at sea. Too bad, because one of the definitions of life that he quotes — “It is a material process, sifting and surfing over matter like a strange, slow wave” — has the sinew of the great poets of matter, Democritus, Lucretius, Santayana.
Joseph Ryan ’59
I just wanted to say “job very well done” on this issue, designed to “get people thinking about life.” That’s basically a philosophic thinking, done informally in these fine articles. Why not seek out articles on this theme every few years (your audience couldn’t stand too regular a dose), because there’s a large minority of your readers who tire, fairly rapidly or eventually, of personal human interest/inspirational/spirituality stories that begin or end with an implicit appeal to religious faith. Enough already. Beware of the itch to edify in every issue, all of the time. No sensible adult person walks around trying to be edifying all the time. Why should Notre Dame Magazine? The hopefulness of your readers and writers will shine through anyway. This issue mainly invites us to think, wonder, draw our own conclusions — or no conclusions. Neat.
Dennis T. Brennan ’63, ’75Ph.D.
Katie Peralta ’10 in “What Would Nana Say?” extols the merits of living distantly from one’s family. Independence is certainly desirable, and often marriage or job determines location. Otherwise, however, the richness of an extended family should at least be considered. As a wise friend once asked, “Why would you choose to live your life far away from the people who love you?”
Marie Meyers, M.D., SMC ’72
I was riding up to a lake in the Sierras of Northern California last weekend, my wife at the wheel, when I pulled out the latest issue of Notre Dame Magazine and started reading the piece by Jeremy Manier ’92 on the Parseghian family (“Life in the Abyss”). By the end of the first column I offered to read it aloud to my wife, and she said okay. By the last few paragraphs I could feel my throat tightening and my eyes moisten. I reached the end. My wife was silent behind her sunglasses. I finally asked what she thought. “You made me cry,” she said, choking on the words.
Thank you for making us cry and laugh and, most of all, for making us think about the big issues of life. The life section was another triumph.
I just discovered that your outstanding magazine is online (magazine.nd.edu). What a wonderful resource. I was able to share the article “Sentenced to Life” with my daughter, who is taking a St. Joseph’s University course that meets with inmates at a Philadelphia prison — at the click of a button!