Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine

Letters

Santa Clara Magazine cover, Winter 2007
Winter 2007 issue
Winning the cosmic war

I found the article about Reza Aslan very interesting until he repeated a misperception about the war in Iraq that I find all too common: “To the extent that al-Qaida in Iraq is tolerated by Iraqis,” the article says, “Aslan says it is that they serve one purpose: ‘They kill Amercians.’”

If that’s al-Qaida’s goal, they have a funny way of going about it. Mostly they kill Iraqis—in bombings of marketplaces, large crowds, and police recruiting lines. That’s because al-Qaida in Iraq wants to promote chaos through sectarian violence. Sunni and Shia leaders, having finally wised up to that fact, now make common cause with us in hunting down al-Qaida.

Aslan even goes so far as to suggest that Sunnis are working with us only because of some abstract political difference they have with al-Qaida, because “what the jihadists represent goes against everything which almost every sector of society…in the Middle East stands for.” Ask yourself what, precisely, do the jihadists “represent” to the people of Iraq? Killing Iraqis. This is not some metaphysical debate that offends Iraqi sensibilities. This is concrete. This is life and death.

Earlier in the article, Aslan implies that this common goal is just a temporary one: “They couldn’t care less about us.” Maybe not. But alliances are built on common goals. The end of killing in Iraq is one that we share with Iraqis.

PAUL SHERBO
Iraq campaign veteran and parent of SCU 2006 grad
Lakewood, Colo.

Beauty right under our noses

I’ve always been an admirer of the Adobe Lodge (I love history and I love Spanish architecture) and while volunteering at Vintage Santa Clara in September, I was fortunate to meet Tim Taylor, whose father’s firm did restorations on the Adobe Lodge and Mission San Juan Bautista. Tim gave me a tour of the building, noting the doors (beautiful hardware and door panels, unique door supports), the ceilings and the beams throughout, and especially those in the dining room. Most of the work was done by hand with adze and chainsaw as the tools. Of course, the adobe itself was the “real thing.” He also showed me a hand-carved wall panel of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the plaque by the kitchen, noting the builder’s work.

I was so enthralled by all the beautiful work that I thought it would be great to ask Santa Clara Magazine to write a piece on it—to preserve history, to remember and pay tribute to the people who did the work, to share this piece of history with alumni, faculty, students, and friends.

CONNIE M. OSBORNE ’75
Santa Clara

The unwanted calling

The focus of the commentaries in the Fall 2007 Santa Clara Magazine on discerning the “motions of the soul” to determine a divine calling ignores the all-too-frequent calls in which the called person’s “heartfelt desires” and “deepest feelings” seem to be the least of God’s concern.

For example, in the book of Jonah in the Old Testament, Jonah’s call is clearly unwanted: God tells Jonah to head east from Israel to Nineveh to preach repentance to the Ninevites, and instead, Jonah apparently heads toward the westernmost part of the Mediterranean Sea to escape the call. When God forcibly brings Jonah back to Israel to start the call, Jonah fulfills it and then becomes suicidally depressed rather than joyful that the Ninevites repented and escaped God’s wrath. The silence at the end of the book about whether Jonah found consolation in God’s explanation of His mercy suggests, at least to me, that Jonah found none and remained desolated emotionally.

Calls are easier to answer when answering them would make the people called truly happy. The more difficult topic is that of the discernment of those calls which do not follow that pattern and the determination of how to deal with them.

CARL L. BRODT ’73
Berkeley

Religious feminism

I graduated from law school in the class of 1966, then a non-baptized anti-Catholic professing the Protestant faith. After 10 years of marriage (late in life) to a lifelong practicing Catholic, I was “converted” and baptized in the Church at age 70. Like all converts, I studied and chose the faith, its teaching and order.

Regarding the question in the Mission Matters article on “Religious feminism” [in the Fall 2007 SCM] —“Why aren’t there Catholic, female priests at SCU?”—I hope the students have found the answer. If not, perhaps as a convert who continues to study, I can refer them to the following:

  • Apostolic Letter of John Paul II (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone. (Paragraph 3 clearly states that non-priestly status cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity.)
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church. (See paragraphs 1577, 1578, and 1579.)
  • The Theology of the Body by John Paul II.

ALLEN REAMES J.D. ’66
Scotts Valley

The religious and the political

Your article profiling President Locatelli [in the Fall 2007 SCM] tells us the goals of the Jesuits are “sustainability, interreligious dialogue, and doing justice.” The first and last are political, not religious. The second focuses on all religions, not Christianity.

I was brought back into the Church by the vision of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. As both taught, the Church has the unique and irreplaceable mission of preserving the spiritual and moral core of Western culture as well as preaching the Gospel to all nations.

RICHARD GIBSON J.D. ’83
Woodland Hills, Calif.

Remembering Mr. Osberg

I attended my first Critical Composition class at Santa Clara with Professor Richard Osberg. Three weeks, one “D,” and one very long conversation regarding my boring five paragraph essay later, I received my first “A” on a writing assignment and experienced my first passionate encounter with words. That “A” was the last for some time.

In Richard Osberg’s class, you started over with every assignment. He expected greatness and depth and assumed that each one of us (with his expert guidance and feedback) would define what that looked like for ourselves—and then achieve it—each time we wrote.

Osberg’s passion for his work, life, and his students stretched far beyond the classroom. Our entire freshman English class was invited to the Osberg residence; we met his wife, Sally, who quietly worked behind the scenes to make sure we were treated like grown-ups, and who, each time she entered and exited the room, placed a soft hand on her husband’s shoulder.

Two years ago, my husband and I began attending a Friday night wine tasting event. I spotted a familiar couple, holding hands. One of the ironies of life is that we don’t often get to thank those people who profoundly influence us, but on that night, I got that gift. And one Friday a month, for over a year, we were able to converse with both Osbergs about education, travel, and wine.

Cheers, Dr. Osberg. If they didn’t already serve really good wine in heaven or know the Middle English version of the Prologue to The Canturbury Tales by heart, they do now.

ELISA LOTTI ’89
San Jose

Read an in memoriam for Richard Osberg—and contribute your memories as well.