Letters to the editor

Author: Readers

Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the Winter 2006–07 print issue are marked with a double asterisk (**)

Moments of Grace

** I enjoyed thoroughly your profile of Grace Hall, except for the suggestion that Grace and Flanner were “anomalies.” I never saw any real evidence for the argument or implication that somehow Grace residents took in less of the Notre Dame experience than occupants of other halls. Notre Dame residential life has always been about the people, not the architecture.

One other note: The No. 1 sign atop the hall, erected during the 1988 football season, indirectly memorializes a unique (and safely anonymous) segment of the Grace population—those whose alcohol fines paid for it.

Rev. Gerald V. Lardner ’74M.A.
Catonsville, Maryland

** As one of the original residents of Grace Hall, I wanted to share some of my favorite moments: arriving and getting my room—except that the door had yet to be installed; waiting a couple of months for all the furniture to arrive; the cake fights, which the maids would not clean up; the Saturday night folk Masses; the gay dance parties (yes, gay dance parties); being directly across from Stepan Center where the Kent State protest started, eventually leading to the campus being closed; hanging upside down out the windows to mount game banners; the insanity of room-pick lotteries; and watching the Grace Gorillas hockey team. It was a great four years living there.

Richard Van Berkel ’73
Washington, D.C.

Our Neighbors, Ourselves":/news/9995

** Bravo for the perspective your magazine brought to the autumn issue. It portrayed the true axis of evil in the world—malaria, malnutrition and stagnant water.

Lynn Marshall ’50
Madison, Connecticut

** My Notre Dame education has afforded me the opportunity to live a very comfortable life with the support of many friends. God has abundantly blessed me and my family. I was always taught that much is expected of those to whom much has been given. It hardly seems fair that I live the life I do while the people of Lesotho and many other African nations live in abject poverty. It caused my heart to ache to read of a 6-pound, 18-month-old baby boy relying on his 4-year-old cousin to feed him.

Thank you for challenging me to look beyond the comforts of my home to see my brothers and sisters across the world who have no one to help them. I must assume some responsibility for their well-being.

Nancy Horas Robinson ’88
Saint Louis

** There is no question but that the most important and difficult issue facing humankind today is the suffering of God’s people over the entire planet—suffering caused by hunger, disease and poverty. It is unfortunate, and a scandal, that these conditions are known to the leaders of all organized religions, including those of the Roman Catholic Church who largely continue with “business as usual.” They all continue to be preoccupied with matters that really do not and will not matter at all—at least not until after they have spent all their (and our) energies and wealth to take care of these, the least of our brothers and sisters, so that all humans can have the basics necessary for full expression of their human dignity.

The existence in the world of horrific warfare and killing is no doubt the other major religious and moral issue, but I suspect we cannot solve war and killing without first addressing poverty and the human condition around the globe. The solutions to both are intertwined.

It would be ironic, given the content of the Gospels and Catholic social teaching, if future history were to record that the little children of the world were helped out of poverty, suffering and injustice more by the efforts of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett than by a church or churches supposedly committed to doing just that.

Philip B. Byrne ’63J.D.
Roseville, Minnesota

** Your incredibly informative article regarding the devastating infectious diseases in Haiti, Rwanda and elsewhere by Paul Farmer, M.D., should strike the heart of all those fortunate enough to have been afforded the opportunity of a Notre Dame education. Which brings us to Farmer’s incisive question: “What are the human values in question when we hear, and fail to react to, the news that each day thousands die of these maladies unattended?"

Instead, this great country of ours continues to spend billions of dollars each month on an unending and unwinnable war that is killing and maiming tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children and our brave servicemen. Just imagine what this money could do to save lives in Haiti, Rwanda, the Congo, Darfur, etc., instead of ending lives in Iraq and laying waste to an entire country.

Robert Murphy ’56

** My complaint is currently with the last few issues of the magazine. Your articles all deal with health issues in Africa, South America, etc. In this country we have 45 million people with no health insurance. We have 20 percent of the population living in poverty. We have 3,000 of our sons and daughters and reportedly 600,000 Iraqis killed in a Bush war. We have a childlike group in Congress. Some or many of these issues could, should be addressed in your used-to-be-good magazine.

Edward A. O’Connor ’53
Reisterstown, Maryland

I praise you for the Autumn 2006 issue of the magazine. The articles on health care and clean water in developing nations were especially informative and inspiring.

I was particulary interested in the article titled “The Littlest Killers” because of my work in agricultural biotechnology law and policy. The Notre Dame scientists who are investigating the genetics of mosquitos with the goal of stopping epidemics at their source are engaged in research that is professionally challenging and morally worthwhile. These Notre Dame scientists are using the techniques and knowledge of biotechnology for the betterment of the human family and of the global community.

I read every day about research by scientists engaged in agricultural biotechnology. These agricultural scientists are using the same techniques and knowledge of biotechnology as the Notre Dame scientists and for the same goals. These agricultural scientist are working to improve crops and animals in order to enhance food security, increase nutrition, promote health and well-being, and create sustainable benefits for society in agriculture.

Agricultural biotechnologists, like the Notre Dame scientists, are using their knowledge, their professional skills and the techniques of biotechology for the corporal works of mercy. There are more similarities between genetic engineering for public health and agricultural improvement than there are differences.

Drew L. Kershen ’66
Norman, Oklahoma

The issue “Our Neighbors, Ourselves” was compelling and timely. The week it arrived, I joined Dr. Emil Hofman and Father Tom Streit, CSC, on the first Notre Dame alumni trip to Haiti, where Father Streit and Haitian colleagues are working to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (see “The Littlest Killers”). This devastating disease, often acquired during childhood, results in profound physical disfigurement, social isolation and poverty. Father Jenkins’ decision to focus attention on global health issues at the annual Notre Dame Forum, followed by your commitment to the same issue, is commendable. Alumni interested in future trips to Haiti should email the ND Haiti Program at haiti@nd.edu.

Joan E. Kellenberg ’84
Concord, New Hampshire

My late husband spent only two years at Notre Dame but the university mattered very much to him. The magazine was his connection to the school and mine to the Catholic faith that sustained him despite many inner conflicts. Since his death almost exactly a year ago, the arrival of the magazine, to which I gladly subscribe, has been a poignant moment for me, more emotional than even his birthday or our wedding anniversary.

This issue is yet more special. I’m not Catholic, and I’m not even sure if I believe in “God,” but I do believe that all the world’s children are my children, our children to cherish. Thank you for devoting this issue to thier—our—well-being.

Melodee Kornacker
via email

Thank you for giving so much space in the autumn issue to the plight of the Third World nations. A strong message to us of the nation M.L. King called “the chief purveyor of violence in the world.” Would that our energies could be turned to the corporal works of mercy. I am filled with hope by such thoughtful articles in this season that offers light in the darkness.

Ed McCartan, ’70M.A.
via email

Facile charges

Nacy Mairs’ ("Letting go for God,” summer 2006 issue) “God” is deficient in the attributes of “personality” and accessibility to prayer. It is a just criticism of her view that it is one-sided. But those who think that God establishes an order of moral and spiritual justification for an observed and demonstrable intervention in linear animal and human history might well be astonished at the nihilism their specious “proofs” entail. The facile charge of “atheism” against Nancy Mairs echoes similar charges against Spinoza by the supposed representatives of orthodoxy. Spinoza is orthodox in physics. Few religious thinkers, especially Catholic thinkers, have been orthodox in this respect, rather preferring some version of a spiritual biology. Who are so left to them as to call Spinoza an atheist? Perhaps those detached from the Mediterranean heritage.

Joseph F. Ryan ’59
Yarmouthport, Massachusetts