- Steve Addazio's inaugural press conference as Boston College head football coach (pg. 9)
- Wake Forest University president Nathan Hatch's keynote address at the Sesquicentennial symposium "Religion and the Liberal Aims of Higher Education" (pg. 34)
- David B. Couturier, OFM Cap., on "New Evangelization for Today's Parish" (pg. 42)
- Guerilla Orchestra: the Callithumpian Consort and student musicians rehearse John Zorn's Cobra (pg. 10)
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Re “Eyes on Pollock” (Letters, Fall 2007): What makes an artist? As an artist, I think about this all the time, and here’s what I’ve come up with: Paintings that are done to promote an agenda, gloss somebody’s image, or otherwise engage in propaganda, are ultimately not art; being beautifully done, easy on the eyes, and easy to understand does not make them art. Art communicates truth. The best art does that in a way that encourages a viewer to keep looking and to keep finding truth within it. The truths may be profound or simple.
Rockwell’s illustrations tend to deliver comforting images that rarely exist. Pollock’s images are troubling and hard to digest, but seem to address the very real concerns in the 1940s and 1950s of world war, cold war, and nuclear annihilation.
Joan Savitt, MBA’84
In “Body and Soul” (Fall 2007), Thomas C. Kohler disclosed the significant influence of Catholic teachings on the development of this country’s labor movement. Because every business needs profits (without which there would be no jobs for unions or management), management sometimes needs foreign low-income workers in order to compete in a world economy. The Catholic social thought tradition continues in less developed countries where it is most needed and where a better life can best be achieved through work groups organized to bargain collectively.
Bill MacGillivray ’65
Many people today have little experience with unions or understand their role in building the American middle class. Jesuits at my alma mater, Le Moyne College, in Syracuse, New York, established an influential Industrial Relations Institute a year or two before the college opened for classes in 1947. In the new college, industrial relations became a popular major among the World War II veterans who enrolled. Indeed, whatever our major, everyone read the social encyclicals—Rerum novarum and Quadragesimo anno.
The Church’s labor movement recognized the importance of work to the experience of human dignity. That movement can serve again as a healthy ally in the promotion of other ingredients of social justice.
Peg Dwyer M.Ed.’56, Hon.’98
Re “Roman Mythology,” by William Bole (Fall 2007): Cullen Murphy’s assertion that “the United States is a democracy” is wholly without merit. Article IV, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution guarantees “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” John Adams wisely wrote, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.”
Murphy avers that privatization of government services is “one of the insidious parallels . . . between America and Rome, and one that . . . will ultimately do the most damage.” The group in a position to do the most damage to a country is the one that controls the country’s finances and wields power via its influence over the economic and political systems. In America that is the Federal Reserve System.
Michael Danforth ’97
“Heart of Stone” (text by Cara Feinberg, photos by Gary Wayne Gilbert), in Fall 2007, is a wonderful piece on the restoration of Gasson Hall. However, it is sad that the contract for reproducing the stone blocks was or had to be given to a company outside of the United States.
Denise C. Moore JD’76
Mother and son
I read Clare Dunsford’s article “Reading J.P.” (Fall 2007) with fascination and profound admiration for the author and her son. As a parent of two BC graduates, I can attest to the caliber of the University’s professors. I was, however, reminded of how lucky my son and daughter were to have mentors such as Clare Dunsford in the dean’s office. I would like to thank Ms. Dunsford for educating me to Fragile X syndrome and for sharing her and her son’s struggles and accomplishments.
Elizabeth Hancock P ’05, ’06
San Francisco, California
I read Clare Dunsford’s book, Spelling Love with an X: A Mother, a Son, and the Gene that Binds Them, shortly before writing my Christmas homily for the Catholic community at MCI Norfolk, a medium-security prison in southeastern Massachusetts. I knew what I wanted to say to the inmates.
I wanted to help them make the hard transition from their situation in the “flesh” of a prison to a meaningful existence. So I told them in my homily that I’d read a book by a mother whose only son was born with a genetic syndrome impairing mental development, and that in it she explained her joy when she heard her son babble his first words, or at least what were meant to be words. She wrote that at that moment the flesh of her own flesh became word, and she could connect with her son in this so richly human way that language is. We are human beings, we engage in relationships, we communicate, I said to the prisoners, and we all know, maybe too well, the burden of the flesh—bad decisions, violence, suffering, abuse. But we also know the glory of the Word in us, because especially at Christmas, we celebrate that the Word became flesh.
Thank you, Dean Dunsford, for your beautiful book and for sharing your life with us.
Eduardo Henriques, SJ, GAS ’11
I too have the challenge and privilege of raising a special needs son (along with two sons at Boston College). After reading Clare Dunsford’s cover story, I promptly ordered her book, Spelling Love with an X. Not only is it eloquent and intimate, affording a window into her life with J.P., it is searingly honest about the daily roller coaster of raising such a child.
As a story of hope, resilience, and fortitude, I recommend it be read by anyone just receiving a difficult diagnosis, Fragile X or otherwise. The odyssey does get easier—new parents need to hear this. At some moments life is hysterically funny, at others it is tough.
In her book, Dean Dunsford wonders where J.P. gets his remarkable poetry and use of metaphor. I don’t wonder at all. Her writing is magnificent. Thank you BCM for sharing Clare Dunsford’s deeply personal story.
Nancy Owen P’08, ’11
As the father of a BC senior, I’ve been reading and enjoying Boston College Magazine for several years. The excerpt from Clare Dunsford’s book in the most recent issue took my admiration to a new level. I was deeply moved by Dunsford’s aching honesty and penetrating eloquence. Her article is as fine a piece of writing as I’ve encountered in any publication.
A long time ago at Manhattan College, I had a terrific poetry teacher named John Fandel (a first-rate poet) who told his class of sophomoric skeptics/skeptical sophomores that “writing at its best is like religion at its truest: It’s a way of redeeming experience from incoherence.” My thanks to Dean Dunsford for the reminder of the wisdom in those words.
Peter Quinn P’08
Hastings On Hudson, New York
Jefferson was right
Re David Reich’s account of Hugh Heclo’s September lecture (“Patriot Hopes,” Fall 2007): Mr. Heclo, it seems, is unable to take seriously, even for a moment, Thomas Jefferson’s proposal that every law, including the U.S. Constitution, should expire after 19 years. But why not put everything on the table every 20 years or so? It need not mean, as Reich suggests, that we would “start afresh with a constitutional tabula rasa.” The Mutiny Act, which prohibited English kings from maintaining a standing army in peacetime, had to be reaffirmed by Parliament yearly, and it was, for over a hundred years.
Mr. Heclo leans on Madison’s view that (in Heclo’s words) “powerful, self-seeking groups [would] exploit such confusions.” Do we really need to point out that powerful, self-seeking groups have been with us from the beginning, and (not to be too partisan) continue to thwart the common good to this day? The real question is: Would following Jefferson’s advice have resulted in more corruption or less?
Jefferson appreciated that laws and institutions accrue power and reverence merely through their continued existence. After a while, the Second Amendment takes on the aura of something sacred, instead of what it is: a law that made a lot of sense in the 18th century and very little in the 20th or 21st.
Which brings me to what seems the essence of Mr. Heclo’s final argument: that the framers of the Constitution were the real Greatest Generation, and they did all the required heavy lifting. It was a special time and they were special people and our primary task is to be grateful (and not mess with their work).
But Jefferson was saying that each generation has a role to play. We are not supposed to be passive recipients. We are supposed to be players: evaluating old choices, weighing new options, sweating the details, reinventing ourselves, keeping the dream current. Otherwise, (and here I go being partisan again), we end up where we are: with a political process dominated by special interests and a citizenry that does not know (or care?) to demand better.
The founders would be appalled. Their intention was never to become a bigger, better British Empire (and certainly not at the expense of the poor). Their ambition was greater: to create a country where the common man could prosper and rise to his potential.
Scott Mitchell ’75
Durham, North Carolina
Editor’s Note: Professor Maxim D. Shrayer’s Anthology of Jewish-Russian Literature: Two Centuries of Dual Identity in Prose and Poetry (see “Double Lives,” by Boris Fishman, Summer 2007) has won the 2007 National Jewish Book Award in Eastern European Studies, also known as the Ronald S. Lauder Award.
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