From Print Issue

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

Monologues and shame

The fact that Notre Dame and the Program in Gender Studies chose to host _The Vagina Monologues _on campus during Lent doesn’t surprise me in the least. What does surprise me is that the performances were not held on August 15 and December 8 in front of the Grotto as a way of paying homage to the Mother of God. Shame on the Department of Film, Television and Theatre. Shame on Father Malloy for his Clintonesque response. And shame on the students for hosting this perverted performance that dishonors Our Lady and everything she stands for — purity, innocence and motherhood.

— Norm Beznoska ’64
Strongsville, Ohio

Heads and hearts

When Chet Raymo (“The Eye of the Beholder”) writes that we find “our heads with Wilson, our hearts with Berry,” he gives Wilson more than his due. Wilson’s reductionist theme in Consilience is ultimately a position in the philosophy of science.

Oddly, Wilson sets up the rhetorical opposition to his view as consisting of movements like Romanticism and Post-Modernism, curiously omitting (or unaware of?) the fact that the reductionism he espouses, which was mainstream philosophy of science when he was growing up, has been generally and convincingly rejected by most historians and philosophers of science in the past 30 years. It is, in fact, hard to find a philosopher of science today who believes in the kind of reductionism Wilson is preaching.

— Steven Horst ’90Ph.D.
Middletown, Connecticut

Science and religion

Jeremy Manier’s article (“Strange Bedfellows”) refers to “rancorous clashes between science and religion.” If there are such, they are due in large part to confusion, misunderstanding and lack of clarity — some of which has been encouraged. After all, there are literally thousands of Christian believers who are also scientists and who feel no intrinsic conflict whatsoever.

What precisely is science and what is not? Science is a method of inquiry, not a metaphysics. As a matter of working procedure, scientists restrict themselves to the measurable. It is a self-imposed restriction, one which in no way precludes the existence of, or demonstrates the nonexistence of, an immaterial dimension.

Of course, any individual can opt to believe that “only the measurable is real,” but a scientist who claims that that proposition is demonstrated by science is being both unscientific and dishonest.

— Kenneth A. Stier Jr.
Great Neck, New York

Young and old

I do not share Ray Hedin’s fear (“An Anxious Reunion”) of the “younger generation coming up” in the church. He is wrong in his belief that they are interested in “reviving the trappings, aura and dictates of the old church.” Rather, they want to begin to remedy the calamity that devotees of the obscure “spirit” of Vatican II have wrought. They are motivated by such tragedies as the abandonment of lovely shared traditions; the complete demise of a transcendent, centuries-old liturgy; the evisceration of the church’s moral teaching authority; the vandalizing of beautiful old churches; the collapse in ordinations, conversions and Mass attendance; the secularization of Catholic education; and the steamrolling of anybody who offers resistance.

— Frank Maguire ’76
Rockville, Maryland

Ray Hedin disdainfully refers to the church’s stands on “birth control, the ordination of women, celibacy.” Those are articles of faith now and they were articles of faith in 1957. When Mr. Hedin entered the seminary in 1957, did he think it was going to change? What’s more telling is his apprehension of the “younger generation” trying to reclaim the tradition some Catholics have been trying to destroy. In their hubris four decades ago, Mr. Hedin’s generation had nothing to offer, and in their cynicism and bitterness now they still have nothing to offer.

— Michael Barron ’87
Chicago, Illinois

Ray Hedin, lapsed Catholic, frets that young priests today don’t respect their elders, that they are foolishly intent on undoing the life’s work of their predecessors, and that they care nothing for the pain and stress they cause their opponents. He worries that they will not share authority with those who disagree with them, that words like “openness,” and “inclusion,” and “Vatican II” may become the empty formulas of authoritarians. And, incomprehensibly, they may one day remove the altar to make a crude theological point.

But legions of geriatric rebels have abused the faithful similarly for 40 years. And turnabout is fair play.

Dennis Larkin ’71

Objectionable phrasing

The sidebar title, “Time to Diversify,” alluding to the need for nonwhite sponsors for the PEAK program, applies as well to the author’s perspective in the main article (“PEAK Performance”). Given the tragic U.S. history of slavery and historical and contemporary racism against African Americans, the author’s use of the phrase “crack the whip” to describe how mainly white sponsors encourage their mainly black students to excel academically is particularly objectionable. While surely the author did not intentionally evoke an image of white-on-black violence, continued use of this phrase undermines the racial understanding and reconciliation that organizations like PEAK can promote.

Jennifer Reed-Bouley ’90
Omaha, Nebraska