BC SealBoston College Magazine Winter 2005
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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


Mary Lee Freeman's "The Last New Person" (Fall 2004) brings to mind many hospice team meetings I've attended. I call them "panning for gold." A patient's file is introduced and together the staff dips into the stream of his or her life and pulls up all kinds of stuff. And suddenly some fleck or nugget of pure gold emerges into view, an experience of "grace and the spirit," as author Janet Ruffing puts it.

Many patients yearn to be blessed but dare not or do not know how to ask for it. What sustains me in my ministry as a hospice chaplain is both the hopeful patient who says, "Now I see through a glass dimly," and Freeman's wisdom that pastoral care begins with bedpans. Through reverence, time, and interest, hospice teams see how valuable these flecks of gold are, not only in the lives of the patients we serve, but in the problematic areas of our own.

John Carley '51, MA'92

Durham, New Hampshire


There is a grain of truth in what Juliet Schor writes regarding materialism today ("America's Most Wanted," Fall 2004). Parents anxiously using "guilt money" to compensate for less time spent with their kids, kids idly hoping to enjoy expensive things without having earned them—these are valid concerns. It would be incorrect and a shame, however, to conclude as Schor does that the blame rests on "materialist values."

Teaching our children to embrace productiveness, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness—the core values of America's materialist society—would in fact cure the ills that Schor describes. The critical thinking and self-reliance required to succeed in business also help steer one from making poor judgments like mistaking fashion for character. Fostering a sharper focus in our children on the basic human requirement to be productive and self-supporting as adults, and on the resultant fun in having the worldly goods they've earned, can only aid them in life. It is not commerce the young need fear, it is those who would seek to throttle the freedom of America's industry in the name of protecting them.

Catherine Van Arnam

Melrose, Massachusetts


I was struck, looking at Gary Wayne Gilbert's photos of the newly purchased 43 acres in Brighton ("Overview," Summer 2004), by the contrast between the lush green fields and woods on the Brighton side and the grey concrete high-rises and sports facilities on the opposite side of Commonwealth Avenue.

Would it be unrealistic to imagine that BC might follow the example of other colleges, such as Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr, and use part of this land to create an arboretum?

Christine Marque '88

Paris, France


I was delighted to come upon Andrew Sofer's pantoum poem "Wittgenstein in Norway" (Fall 2004). Its structure grabbed me as much as its content, so I eagerly read the instructions alongside. I brought Sofer's poem and the instructions to my next poetry group meeting, and we agreed there was nothing for it but to try our own hands.

It is unusual to find poetry in an alumni magazine, and even more so to find an explanation of the poem's form. What a terrific education!

Here for your entertainment is the pantoum I wrote:


The sun is a lout
jarring bodies from slumbering peace
pulling planets about:
A universe of worshippers ill at ease.

Jarring bodies from slumbering peace
the sun squeezes eyes with molten hands
'til a universe of worshippers, ill at ease,
melts new glass from mountains of sand.

The sun squeezes eyes with molten hands,
solar flare deadens radio waves,
melts new glass from mountains of sand,
pours fresh windows to hold us at bay.

Solar flare deadens radio waves
and we, awed foolishly quiet
pour fresh windows to hold glare at bay,
yank our curtains to force back the riot,

while the spotted giant's spinning fingers
pull the planets about,
scorching us whenever we linger.
The sun is a lout.

Eileen McCluskey '81

Watertown, Massachusetts

Editor's note: An article "First Team" in the Summer 2004 issue listed John Douglass '93 as the first alumnus to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Joseph F. O'Connell '93 was in fact the first, serving from Massachusetts in the 60th and 61st congresses, 1907–11.


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