Letters to the editor

Author: Readers

(Editor’s note: Letters marked with a ++ did not appear in the print issue.)

Giving to Notre Dame

I found the entire article on the Spirit of Notre Dame campaign (“Having coffee with . . . Dan Reagan”) to be extremely condescending, patronizing and insulting. At least Dan Reagan is accurate when he observes that “the greater sophistication of the institution” gives alumni the impression that it is “not the same place it was when they were here.”

I can assure you that the University is not the same place it was when I attended. No amount of education and propaganda will convince me to support the University as it pursues a more liberal agenda, striving to become a research institution and seeking status as an “elite” university. Frankly, I have grown tired of this shift in thinking, which began more than 20 years ago. The warmth and emotion of Notre Dame is evaporating, and no one seems to care.

I am sure Notre Dame will succeed in its fundraising efforts. People will blindly follow the administration because of their love for the University. But Notre Dame manages to alienate more and more alumni each year, and someday this will come back and hurt the University.

Michael J. Milligan ’77
Oklahoma City

Other reluctant Domers

Kudos to Peter Graham ’84 (“The Reluctant Domer”) from another reluctant Domer. There are so many ways, in my view, that Notre Dame has lost its way. However, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to go back as often as I can because, like the Grahams (father and son), I also still “find a lot to admire about the place.” Congrats to Notre Dame Magazine for publishing Graham’s insightful article. Notre Dame will always feel like the home of my young adulthood. I pray the institution and each of us Domers (reluctant or otherwise) always “do that good thing!”

Bob Hoag ’65
Las Vegas, Nevada

I appreciated “The Reluctant Domer” and found it thoughtful and incisive and quite touching. I am a Double Domer married to a Domer (whom I met at the library in grad school) and, as a reluctant reader of Notre Dame Magazine, I am often surprised by a wonderful piece of writing that reminds me I am not alone in my ambivalence about my place within (and without) the almighty institution within the Institution. Peter Graham’s article gave me a real and realistic sense of place.

Bridget Deegan-Krause ’91, ’96M.Div.
Ferndale, Michigan

Not sure what I enjoyed more . . . imagining guys just hanging out on the quad listening to The Pretenders or Peter Graham’s nail-on-the-head articulation of that in-between feeling that is reluctant Domerism. There are many of us out there who never quite fit into the plaid game-day pants.

How many times have we all been asked by someone, “Didn’t you just love Notre Dame?” It’s heartening to find a fellow alum who must pause and qualify before answering.

Anne Marie DeLuca Comaratta ’97
Amherst, New York

Our prejudices

I read the magazine cover to cover every issue because every now and then there is an article I spend the rest of my life thinking about. One of those was the summer 2003 article (“I Was Abused” by John Salveson ’77, ’78M.A.) about the young man who’d been molested by a priest, a priest who had followed him to Notre Dame. Years later, when the author told Father Hesburgh about the experience when they happened to be on a train together, Father Hesburgh apologized to him.

This issue had another one — the Mark Phillips article “Bigots I Have Loved.” It was really, really moving. I was struck by the scene where his father saw a man in a suit and said, “You son of a bitch,” under his breath. My grandfather felt the same way. And every time I wear a suit now, I feel a little bit phony and a little bit like I am betraying him.

Thanks for being one of the few outfits that still cares to run quality writing like this.

Todd Tucker ’90

Catholics and Muslims

Scott Appleby’s benign characterization of the Muslim world (“The Differences Are Similar”) is internally inconsistent and at odds with reality, as those who must contend with that world know it. While he asserts that the threat of Islam comes only from a “radical violent minority” and “deviants,” at the same time he quotes the quite different judgment of a Muslim author that the “real situation” is that “we Muslims have lost a theologically sound understanding of our teaching” so that “Islam has been hijacked by . . . the rhetoric of rage.” Not surprisingly, then, Appleby’s vision of Islam collides with what appears daily in the press.

Reach out to moderates, of course, but do not forget that it is not just a radical fringe that hates the Christian West and wants to do it in.

William H. Dempsey ’52
Arlington, Virginia

I am appalled at the article “The Differences Are Similar.” Tell me, what sheltered monastery has Scott Appleby been living in? Since 1200 A.D. the Islamic fanatics have been vowing to take over the world. Apparently, neither the author nor the editor can fathom the lying and misdirection practiced by all Muslims, all according to the precepts of their religion. This kind of intellectual dishonesty has to stop. Either pay attention to history or suffer the consequences.

Fritz Owens ’56
Zirconia, North Carolina

Your article on the Catholic-Muslim dialogue is extremely important. This is a topic that has to be embraced, and quickly, if the world is going to move forward in an organized way. This piece forms a good basis. It deserves attention in other news outlets around the country.

Robert Dilenschneider ’65
Darien, Connecticut

I am a Muslim who feels that Professor Appleby’s article was in many ways the verbalization of the contemplated reality that has occupied most of my musings. That such people like him exist is a matter for which we must rejoice. In the post-secular world that he speaks of, religion unfortunately is always spoken for by those least schooled in or committed to the religions they purport to speak for. Yet, ironically, it is they who are guaranteed all the protections by international human rights instruments. Does a post-secular world need an institution other than the United Nations for the voices of reason to flourish?

Abdulrahman Wandati
Nairobi, Kenya

Happiness Is

++I enjoyed Andrew Santella’s piece on happiness. It reminded me, particularly at its conclusion, of the words of Viktor Frankl:

“Again and again I therefore admonish my students in Europe and America: Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run — in the long-run, I say! — success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”

John Infranca ’99, ’05 MTS
via email

Raising kids right

In response to “A proper upbringing”: An individual’s values are established in childhood and serve as filters when determining right from wrong throughout a person’s life. In today’s society the process of establishing values in children is given little concern. People place greater emphasis on day-to-day activities and personal ambitions. By default, parents are teaching their children that values such as integrity, respect for life, courage of conviction, a purposeful life and generosity are secondary to making a living.

In truth, it does not have to be this way. It is a matter of choice.

Ed Gagnon
Swansea, Massachusetts

Comics time

++The “Echoes” story on cartoons brought to mind my own “echoes” of cartoons drawn back in the ‘80s for a rural newsletter I “wrote” with my typewriter and “published” once a month by personally affixing them to a nail on neighbors’ mailbox posts. It was “The World Is Round” and made me well-known as someone who was fascinated with how necessary it is to understand the limits of our lifetimes’ shared experience on this planet. It was fun and even served a purpose.

Tony Chessick ’61
Tehachapi, California

Duck, duck, goose,goose

++The “ducks” in that beautiful photo on pages 2-3 of your Winter issue look to me to be Canada geese.

Charles H. Calisher, M.S. (N.D. 1961), Ph.D.
Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

(Editor’s note:Yes, they were Canada geese. Our apologies to the geese in question.)

Keeping in touch

++Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy Notre Dame Magazine. In the autumn 2009 issue, “The Careful Convert” and “Lifelong Friend” brought tears to my eyes. I also enjoy “The Classes” in the back. Thanks for helping us keep in touch.

Thomas L. Fischer ’63
Wildwood, Missouri