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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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BCM welcomes letters from readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and must be signed to be published. Our fax number is (617) 552-2441; our e-mail address is bcm@bc.edu


equal protest

Reading "Civic Rite" (by David Reich, Spring 2003), I was reminded of an evening in Roberts Center in the late 1980s with Oliver North, and the bipolarized reception he received on campus. It's great to see Noam Chomsky lending his perspective at BC. I suppose it wouldn't be a college campus without protesters and heightened emotions. However, a closed-minded approach to world affairs isn't in anyone's best interest.

Arnold Sookram '91

New York, New York


angles and infidels

Juxtaposing the two excellent articles "Mute Witness" by Robin Fleming and "The Priesthood to Come" by Rev. Donald Cozzens (Spring 2003) was particularly apt. In Fleming's article, we learn that the decline of Roman Britain progressed from alarming to overwhelming and then to terminal, "without an Angle or a Saxon in sight." Then, in Cozzens's article, we learn that the state of vocations to the priesthood is progressing along the same path, it seems, without an infidel in sight.

In each case, the message is that the road is unmistakable, but the remedy elusive.

Gaffney J. Feskoe '71

Wilton, Connecticut


great reformer

I cannot complain that Mark Oppenheimer ("Beautiful Mind," Spring 2003) did not get us Lonerganians right. We are indeed an odd, rumpled collection of souls, and we tend to speak to each other in a strange, technical terminology. But he has not gotten Lonergan right.

To cite just one misrepresentation: Although Oppenheimer did quote me correctly on page 37, he completely misrepresented the context of my remark. In no way did my comment have anything to do with why "some skeptical young Catholics stayed in the priesthood." Over and again, Oppenheimer represents Lonergan as writing in "the spirit of the 1960s," as a heterodox rebel chafing against the teachings of Roman Catholicism. Worst among his inaccuracies is the assertion that Lonergan was "suggesting that doctrine might, possibly, be superseded by social science." It is true that Lonergan intended a great reform of the manner in which Catholic theology and thinking ought to be conducted. But never did he challenge the fundamental doctrines. Rather, he devoted much of his career to exploring and reinvigorating Catholic traditions on such fundamental issues as God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, grace, and human nature.

From the beginning of his career to its end, his sole objective was to make the riches of the Catholic tradition accessible to a world radically changed by modern and post-modern science, economics, politics, and culture.

Patrick H. Byrne

Department of Theology


I began reading Mark Oppenheimer's account with interest, but ended in disappointment. After quoting an unattributed passage from Lonergan about the application of "the operations as intentional to the operations as conscious," Oppenheimer tells us that although he doesn't "really know" what it means, he "sort of" knows. "Each of us has a different brain, so we each have different mental experiences, and so what will be good theology or ethics, say, for one person might not work for another."

To call this sophomoric would be to malign sophomores. No doubt we all have numerically different brains, whence it perhaps follows that we have numerically different mental experiences. But it would be a non sequitur to infer that we have different types of mental experience, which is what one would have to be able to infer to get even close to reaching the namby-pamby theological/ethical relativism the author has in view.

William F. Vallicella Ph.D. '78

Gold Canyon, Arizona


number, please

Re "Survey Says" by Patricia M.Y. Chang (Spring 2003): I do not understand how "1,508 completed responses . . . obtained by calling 41,033 people" yields a response rate of "roughly one-third of 1 percent." This looks like a 3.68 percent response rate to me.

Ed Ferguson '84

Winchester, Massachusetts

Editor's note: Mr. Ferguson is indeed correct.


what mensch?

Was I surprised to find out that, according to your article on Chris O'Donnell (Ben Birnbaum's "The Mensch," Spring 2003), a "mensch" is "Hollywood argot" for a grown-up! Here I was thinking that it was Yiddish for "human," used in a complimentary fashion, in English, to assign the status of one worthy of admiration (see American Heritage Dictionary, fourth edition, 2000). Man, those Hollywood types have a word for everything.

Dan Rosen '94

Teaneck, New Jersey


good sports

I read Bill McDonald's article "Phenomenology" (Spring 2003) the same day that BC, the University of Miami, and the ACC were sued by a number of Big East colleges. I recognize that sports play a big part in colleges today—in school spirit, national publicity, admissions, and television and bowl game revenue. These are not bad things in themselves, but I believe they must be taken within the context of the values and culture of the university community.

Perhaps I am idealistic, but I would like to believe that what differentiates BC from secular colleges are things like truth, loyalty, and commitment. Based on news reports and the allegations of the lawsuit naming BC as a defendant, these three values appear to be sorely lacking as BC has been courted by the ACC, along with the University of Miami and Syracuse University, in a move that would eviscerate the Big East.

John N. Montalbano '76 JD '80

Middletown, Connecticut


public defender

The blizzard of anti-Bush letters in BCM's Spring 2003 issue prompts me to respond to such unbecoming hostility from people who presumably champion tolerance, which, by the way, should include tolerance for other points of view—even Republicans'.

Bush's first obligation is the protection and safety of the American people, and to that end he has shown himself to be a strong and decisive leader, which is exactly what we need now. The stakes are too high for pussyfooting around. When Bill Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998, where was the moral outrage from the left? Does any clear-thinking person really believe that, five years later, Saddam had fewer weapons of mass destruction?

Patrick J. Henaghan '79

Medford, Massachusetts


sex and yoga

Many thanks to Clare Dunsford for "Body and Soul" in Spring 2003. In the article, Swami Tyagananda is heard to say that sex, most of all, is an obstacle to achievement of an enlightened life. The swami's choice of a celibate life may have readers concluding that this is the only acceptable option for the yoga practitioner. However, life as a married householder is an equally acceptable alternative. For interested BCM readers, I'd like to recommend Health, Healing & Beyond: Yoga and the Living Tradition of Krishnamacharya (1998) by T.K.V. Desikachar.

Jay breeze '71

Tallahassee, Florida


uncles

I read "One of Ours" (Eileen Donovan-Kranz, Spring 2003) on the commuter rail this morning. I too have an uncle whom I never met, who died when his Coast Guard cutter was torpedoed in the North Atlantic in World War II. There is a playground in Hull, Massachusetts, named in his memory. The last time I drove by this playground, about four years ago, it was very poorly maintained, and the description of Donovan-Kranz's great uncle's beach seemed to fit: "equal parts honor and insult."

Just this past winter, I came across my uncle's last letters. He sounded cheerful and sure that he would be coming home. I'm now sitting here at my desk in the Federal Reserve Bank and my view is straight across Logan Airport to Winthrop. I think I'll get out my binoculars later to see if I can locate Donovan Beach.

Catherine Spozio '74 MBA '01

Medway, Massachusetts


butterfly tale

Your story in Fall 2002 on butterflies ("Flight Plan," by Chet Raymo) brings back memories of one of BC's great professors of the 1930s and 1940s, J. Francis Xavier Murphy, SJ. Murphy could hold impromptu lectures on any subject, and as his fame spread Harvard couldn't resist asking him to come to speak—on the condition that the subject matter would be secret until he "opened the envelope." Well, the subject was butterflies, and the Jesuit spoke for nearly two hours.

Joe Carroll '53

Framingham, Massachusetts


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