Letters to the editor


Author: Readers

Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the spring 2011 print issue are marked with double asterisks (**).

Dark and light, evil and good

**As with a lighthouse guiding the University and its supporters through the stormy seas of life, you provide a beacon to help guide the way. I do not need to tell you how difficult it is to be a quiet witness to your divergent constituents. But your winter edition did just that. During this time when many question the Catholic presence at Notre Dame, you quietly illuminated what that presence is and what it should be.

Douglas Marvin ’69
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

**The winter issue arrived as I muddled through the meaning of the Tucson shootings. Reading the editor’s column, I focused on: “You don’t have to save the world or even fix it; just do good in your little corner.” To “do good” is, of course, ambiguous. But the phrasing here certainly admits that because evil will always be with us, it is enough to live a good life (and avoid evil). But is it really enough to feed the hungry, for example, without seeking to address the socio-geopolitical causes of endemic hunger in the world? Should we content ourselves with comforting the sorrowful in Tucson, without giving thought to the eliminationist vitriol which has overtaken us?

I have read Kerry Temple’s writing for years so I believe his definition of “do good” is more expansive than simply to avoid evil, but it was disconcerting. So imagine my surprise when I turned to the letters and found five letters decrying the University’s proposed study of the problems of evil — not only as an expensive waste of time but an actual threat to substitute knowledge for belief. But we already know what happens when we choose belief over knowledge: Urban II, after all, relied on the Biblical report of Joshua commanding the earth to stay firm in the cosmos to reject the knowledge of Galileo. If belief is true, it welcomes inquiry; it is error that fears it. Why not study evil? Maybe we will learn something.

Thomas P. Carney Jr. ’67
Lake Forest, Illinois

Re: “The Problem of Evil in Modern and Contemporary Thought” (Autumn 2010) Is it ethical for Notre Dame to claim it is conducting unbiased objective research into the Problem of Evil when the project is being funded by the Templeton Foundation, a conservative organization whose stated purpose is to fund those schools and scholars who affirm life’s spiritual dimension, come up with new spiritual information, and reconcile science with religion? How trustworthy can any research be whose end result has been predetermined by the funding source?

I submit it is the moral, intellectual and professional equivalent of universities accepting money from tobacco companies to conduct “scientific” studies proving cigarette smoking is harmless. We all know how valid those were. Similar violations of professional ethics continue today because schools and professors quickly learn that money grants often dry up when one’s “findings” fail to confirm the funding source’s goals.

With the large numbers of non-theist scientists and philosophers in the world today, it shouldn’t be too difficult to assemble a truly balanced group of top scholars to conduct a truly balanced study of the Problem of Evil that wouldn’t be so academically suspect. More important, a world-class university should be able to find funding sources that don’t such an obvious ax to grind.

Jim Krider ‘63
South Bend, Indiana

Musical cares

**Mixed in the middle of what was otherwise one of your finest issues was a very disappointing article on Notre Dame’s sacred music program — disappointing in that ND’s faculty could be so wrong. To dismiss the music of the St. Louis Jesuits, Gregory Norbert and many others as “pop” music is more than wrong, it is disrespectful of the creativity of fine liturgical musicians. To suggest that people in pews are not singing because “sacred music” is not heard frequently enough is not just wrong, it shows they did not attend Mass in pre-Vatican II days when that is all congregations heard. And “heard” is the operative word, because back then choirs gave performances rather than leading people in singing.

I have been active in music liturgy for more than 40 years, and I can assure them that the music they call “pop” is the music of truly talented musicians and helps people participate in Mass. There may be a place for chants and many other forms of “sacred music” to be performed by a choir, but they most assuredly won’t foster participation nor will it help bring young people back to church.

Richard Fremgen ’60
Kent, Connecticut

**I was stunned to read the statement of music Professor Margot Fassler that “the music of the Roman Catholic Church is essentially in a crisis.” I would like to give you an external assessment. I was raised as an evangelical Protestant and am currently a member of a Unitarian Universalist church choir. Since I began singing, I have envied the sacred music tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. If I go a day without listening to such music, I literally feel as if I’m starving. I think most music historians would agree with me that in the field of sacred music, the Catholic Church has no equal.

If there is a music crisis, it is because current leaders want to be contemporary and program music that sounds like light rock music. The “crisis” can be easily resolved: return to roots and rediscover the music that has moved people for centuries.

Raymond Yee
Hoffman Estates, Illinois

The power of prayer

**On reading Chris Kaczor’s fine sketch of Ralph McInerny, a reader might ask: “How could one man accomplish so much, of such high quality?” A possible answer: He took seriously Saint Paul’s admonition to “put on Christ.” The result is that he developed a deep contemplative spirit. He actually did “pray always” — not just in church, but in class, with people, in his office, writing at home, while thinking, speaking, arguing, serving, paying close attention to whomever or whatever was present to him. He was always living in the presence of God. His deepest regret was the abundant evidence that not many others at his beloved university were doing likewise.

John A. Gueguen Jr. ’56, ’58M.A.
Kirkwood, Missouri

The brother, Father Dunne

**I commend Patrick Dunne for writing such an insightful article about his brother, Father John Dunne, CSC, who was my favorite professor. I still carry with me some of the themes from his courses, such as the struggle between the desire to live all possible lives as opposed to the desire to integrate all possible lives into one life. Such thoughts and reflections have a timeless quality; they speak to the ongoing spiritual quest he stimulated and encouraged in so many of his students.

Bob Engler ’64, ’68M.A.
Newtonville, Massachusetts

**When I lived in Breen-Phillips, Father Dunne’s visits to Sunday night Mass were a highlight. He would pace back and forth and let us in on all that his amazing brain was contemplating. When I talk about how hard it is to replicate my Notre Dame Catholic experience, so much has to do with how wonderful it was to experience people like Father Dunne letting us undergrads in on the wonders of their thoughts.

Kris Sanders-Gendreau ’87
Saint Paul, Minnesota

I was so delighted to see the article about Father John Dunne in the winter issue. How wonderful to see a sibling celebrating the life and work of his brother! This past fall, my brother and I returned to campus, and during a visit with our much-loved English professor Bill Krier, I reminisced about the impact Father Dunne has had on my life.

I came into Father Dunne’s course in my senior year when I had a long-time dream of teaching in Africa after graduation. He introduced me to Joseph Campbell and “Follow your bliss.” He gave spiritual grounding to a gut sense (sometimes doubted) that it was a good idea to listen to the voice inside us. His heart-centered, dynamic teaching approach not only encouraged immediate dreams; it nurtured a commitment to living a life of passion, purpose and connection to community.

Father Dunne took God out of the book and out of the church and invited us to see this presence inside ourselves, and everywhere. I thought of him a number of times as my life in Namibia deepened this path. I feel lucky and grateful to have studied with Father John Dunne, and I deeply appreciate that he has followed his own heart’s desire to inspire the same in all of his students.

Katherine Mapother ’91
Louisville, Kentucky

I just received the Winter 2010-11 magazine. Many years ago I had Father John Dunne as a teacher and knew him as a professor, par excellence. It has been a great pleasure to read “The Brothers Dunne” in this issue and to learn more about this amazing man: his perspective on the Church and on spirituality; and his place in the Dunne family, the Church family and the human family; his legacy as an author, as well as his method of writing.

John’s brilliance, as I experienced it, was always coupled with profound humility and compassion.

Please thank whoever is responsible for this priceless piece of writing and for its being accessible to all of us in the magazine.

Sister Lucille Winnike
Prairiewoods Spirituality Center
Hiawatha, Iowa

America and us

**Robert Schmuhl’s “End of the Ride” was an excellent map of where we are as a nation and unfortunately leaves us with what I believe to be the correct conclusion — that the future is “all up to us.” I say “unfortunately” because we have migrated to a largely “me-centric” society in which everyone stresses their rights and avoids their responsibilities.

Currently, spin has replaced truth, greed is crushing ethics and the definition of “common good” has changed from programs and services that assist most of our society to the funding of special interest projects that benefit a chosen few. While direct responsibility for this migration lies with the talk show hosts who have their lies go unchallenged, the bankers who invest TARP money in stocks rather than lending to small businesses or the politicians of both parties who are concerned with re-election rather than the common good, we all have a responsibility to make our voices heard beyond changing the politician of one party for the other occasionally.

Edward J. DaDura Jr. ’67
Naples, Florida

**Bob Schmuhl reports the Tea Party is “worthy of criticism on certain grounds,” but he does not back up his statement. What specifically are the grounds that are worthy of criticism? More glaringly inaccurate is the statement that the Tea Party is “largely antigovernment in orientation.” The Tea Party Patriots Mission Statement actually calls for government to protect individual liberties. With the exception of Fox News, the liberal media continue to mischaracterize the Tea Party. To reveal the real Tea Party would result in too many common-sense Americans joining them.

Terri Jennings Rohr ’84
Audubon, Pennsylvania

Congratulations on Robert Schmuhl’s excellent article, which correctly analyzes the state of the nation. While I have always maintained a positive attitude, that has become increasingly difficult over the past several years. I truly distrust each of those institutions he mentions, with the greatest distrust and animosity toward our governments, from local to national.

What I have been able to do, however, is to attempt to improve our community by local volunteer action, without government interference or assistance. We have been able to acquire a medical clinic for our county (Ouray). We have built a volunteer fire department to a point of having two modern stations housing over a million dollars in firefighting rolling stock. Several of us led a ballot initiative to build two new fire stations and equip them in adjoining Montrose County. We also instituted positive tax changes for improved law enforcement and road maintenance. We (yet another small group of dedicated community activists) are now working to put together a regional tourism authority to promote the multitude of natural attractions within a 75-mile radius in our six-county area, including outstanding skiing, fishing, jeeping, climbing, boating, etc.

I also run a CASA (court-appointed special advocates) program, helping abused and neglected children in the court system in six counties.

Yes, I have absolutely no confidence in our institutions, especially in our governments, but I do believe we can improve our world, one child, one family and one project at a time. The one exception to my lack of confidence is my continuing admiration and respect for Notre Dame.

John W. Nelson ’64, ’67J.D.
Colorado Springs, Colorado

In “End of the Ride,” Robert Schmuhl notes the erosion of Americans’ confidence in our institutions, with one glaring omission — the field of economics.

It’s no wonder that the events of each passing day cast more doubt on the validity of economists’ formulae and models. Until the field of economics pulls its collective head from the sand and once again considers the ramifications of unending population growth — not just strains on resources and the environment, but the erosion of per capita consumption and the corresponding worsening of unemployment — our other institutions will be powerless to halt our decline.

Pete Murphy ’71
Clarkston, Michigan

Too much sympathy

This comment is in response to a note in the “Seen & Heard” section of the winter 2010-11issue highlighting the Jonathon Pollard case. The note’s sympathetic tone loses sight of the immense damage that leaking classified information does no matter who the recipient is. Highlighted recently by the horrific Wikileaks case, disclosing classified information to foreign governments/entities not only hurts our national security but places countless lives all over the world in danger. Those Domers who serve our country honorably and live our lives under the mantra “God, Country, Notre Dame” deserve more from a Notre Dame publication.

Carrie Thompson ’98

My Church Home

It was very interesting to hear the perspectives on and experiences of being an African-American Catholic from the African-American Catholics who were chosen to submit their stories. In the Arthur McFarland story, I did take note of one statement he made. He said, “At that time, they used to teach us that Catholicism was the one true religion.” Am I mistaken, or is this not what the Church still teaches, and what we profess to believe in The Creed every Sunday at Mass? This belief may not be proclaimed as loudly these days in public due to political correctness and the supposed virtue in claiming to believe that all religions provide a path to heaven and to salvation. Yet, this is what we as Catholics are taught and are supposed to believe, is it not?

Tim Stare
Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

The way to sainthood
I thoroughly enjoyed the splendid article by Kathleen Cummings concerning the canonization of Brother Andre Bessette, CSC. As someone born and raised in Montreal, I remember my many visits to the spectacular Basilica to Saint Joseph that Brother Andre founded. The story is told how Brother Andre felt inspired to build the great Oratory to Saint Joseph, so he went to the hill across the street and buried a tiny little Saint Joseph medal in the ground as though planting a seed. The gigantic oratory that was built on the site is testimony to Andre’s simple faith.

When I was growing up, I lived out on the west end of the island of Montreal, perhaps 20 miles away. On a clear day, we could make out the dome of the Oratory from my street. My most memorable visit to the Oratory was on the day that Pope John Paul II was shot. Spontaneously, people from all over Montreal and the surrounding cities and towns came to St. Joseph’s Oratory to pray for the pope. A Mass was hastily planned by the Holy Cross priests and the city prayed for our beloved pope.

George A. Peate
Thousand Oaks, California

Technology in the classroom
I enjoyed reading the article “Campus Crash-Tests the Cutting Edge.” As the Instructional Technology Director at a Boston Elementary Public Charter school, I was encouraged to see parallels at the university level to our own investigations of mobile learning devices in our K-6 classrooms. We too have working groups of teachers who are evaluating the uses of iPods in ELA, iPads in special education, and cell phones in 5th grade Science, and many of the same cheers and challenges have emerged that ND’s OIT working groups have encountered. Hopefully, the war among publishers abates and more electronic children’s books are added to the market so that these kinds of e-readers are accessible to all students at all age levels. Thank you for sharing!

Lisa Radden ’00


Katie King found Joseph Harriss ’58 in Paris as I have known him for 57 years, helpful, thoughtful and good company. He was my senior-year roommate in Alumni when he was assistant director of information to Jim Murphy and I was assistant director of sports publicity to Charlie Callahan. While I was working for Life magazine in New York, our group of friends helped him land a Life stringer job which led to Time. That group of friends included Calvin Trillin, legendary NY Review of Books Editor Andy Kopkind and Money Editor Keith Johnson. Not only have we enjoyed his company in Paris several times, but we hosted him here in Cincinnati, teaching his son Christopher baseball.

Joe Bride ’58

On G.K. and Professor Rauch

“When G.K. Came to Notre Dame” took me back almost 70 years, not to Chesterton’s visit but to Frank O’Malley’s freshman English class in 1941. During the first session he mentioned “The Arena” and asked if any of us had read it. My hand shot up, and when he asked if I remembered it I recited the first verse in rapid-fire fashion. Then I waited for a word of praise but O’Malley was silent for a moment before muttering softly: “G. K. Chesterton will now turn over in his grave.”

Ted Weber ’45

Dale Ahlquist’s use of the word “timidly” to describe how young Professor Rauch put his question to Chesterton about T.S. Eliot is puzzling. For the sort of instructor Rauch was, one whom the University president removed only two years later from the chairmanship of the board of publications in a step the young academic felt was a case of censorship, such a characterization doesn’t seem plausible. It seems even less so in the context of a 43-year career on the faculty during which Professor Rauch became a founding member of the Notre Dame chapter of the American Association of University Professors as well as president of the entire faculty several times over. Deferential the young faculty member would most likely have been toward G.K., as he always was toward any person of great learning and achievement.

Some 50 years later in the collection of papers and talks, A Chesterton Celebration, which Professor Rauch edited for publication by the University of Notre Dame Press following a two-day university commemoration he chaired, Rauch labeled the query he addressed to G.K. as “a ploy.” Such a stratagem would be very much in keeping with the educator Rauch was, ever probing, the better to learn the better to teach, often as not demonstrating some of that same temerity through which the university was founded and became the widely respected institution of leanring that it is today.

Gretchen Rauch Colligan and Joseph Colligan, M.D.,‘54; Hilary Rauch’54 and Madelon Rauch Dushek ’68MAT

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