Congratulations on the Summer 2014 issue. The lead articles—“A Day with the Dalai Lama,” “The Catholic writer today,” and the interview with Marilynne Robinson—testify to the growing importance of the magazine as a vehicle for humanistic discourse. In terms of content, design, photography, and—most important of all—an ability to convey the texture and meaning of a great institution, your magazine is at the top of its game.

Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), 1995
San Francisco

My compliments on the Summer issue, and especially Dana Gioia’s essay on the sorry state of Catholic writing today. I’m an avid reader but so eclectic that I had not reflected on these ideas before reading Gioia’s admirable essay. Surely the topic deserves a fuller discussion, and perhaps SCM could get the ball rolling in a point-counterpoint roundtable with some SCU faculty from the English and religious studies departments.

One point that surely could be elaborated on, which Gioia largely overlooks, is the correlation between the sorry state of Catholic letters and the sorry state of the Church itself, grown ever more fragmented and partisan since Vatican II. The great renewal that we experienced at that time has persisted only in certain areas (the vernacular Mass, ecumenical relations) and languished in others (strengthening of lay involvement, devolution of authority to national churches). In fact, the universal applause that has greeted the words and actions of Pope Francis testifies to how easy it has been to renew the hope of Vatican II against efforts, even by previous popes, to roll it back. Meanwhile, a third of American Catholics have left the Church, and many of the rest are once-in-a-while Catholics. Things fly apart; the center will not hold—to the extent that it may have in the golden age admirably described by Gioia.

Broomfield, Colorado

Just finished reading the Summer issue and, as usual, it was interesting from cover to cover. Even though it was not original to the mag, the piece by Dana Gioia was one of the best articles ever to appear in it. It raises very important questions, not only about Catholicism in the arts but about the state of English literature in general.

I have a question: Why no captions on the photos? I got the obvious Kerouac, Dante, Chesterton, and O’Connor. The other two are complete mysteries: the attractive lady with the cigarette and the puffy-faced pen holder. (I just realized that sounds like a species of bird.) If this isn’t a contest, can you tell me?

Keep up the good work!

Tucson, Arizona

A couple readers joined Jim Walker in wondering which writer was which in the pics. The two he didn’t ID: with a cigarette, Muriel Spark (“comic writer of genius,” not such high marks as a mother), and with a pen, Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. —Ed.

I can’t put my finger on it, but this last issue was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it’s a layout change, or style, or something. But keep it up. I even enjoyed reading the editorial!

Manhattan Beach, California

I loved the Summer issue. The Dalai Lama, the photographs, the articles—everything was just right. As I think of myself as a writer, I especially enjoyed the article by Dana Gioia.

West Linn, Oregon


A Mageik moment: the sled dog at Fr. Hubbard’s side for nearly all of his Alaskan journeys. After Mageik passed away, Fr. Hubbard had the dog preserved and mounted. Visit him at Donohoe Alumni House. Photo courtesy Alaska State Library

I’m intrigued by your invitation to visit one of the dogs who traveled to the Arctic with Bernard Hubbard, S.J. [“Seven things you might not know about the SCU Alumni Association,” Summer SCM]. Fr. Hubbard was a delightful man who maintained an office in the Ricard Observatory and was often willing to talk to anyone he encountered on campus during all of the years I was a student at Santa Clara. The dogs were very handsome animals, and they lived in a kennel near the observatory in those days. They have apparently improved their lodging and can now be found at Donohoe Alumni House. But if you have a dog who “traveled to the Arctic with Fr. Hubbard,” you have a very old dog indeed. Such a dog would have to be more than 52 years old, since the “Glacier Priest” passed away in 1962. This is, however, a very picayunish and trivial matter considering the excellence of your wonderful magazine. I am extremely proud of Santa Clara and especially Santa Clara Magazine. One of my proudest personal achievements from my student days is that The Owl occasionally published one of my poems, usually written in the poetry classes of Professor Walter Schmidt, S.J., or Edward Shipsey, S.J.

Carmichael, California


My family knew John T. Rickard ’36 [“Santa Barbara’s native son,” Summer SCM] and his wife and sons well. He was the godfather of my brother, Charles McDermott ’71. Our father, Thomas J. McDermott, was El Presidente of Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara in 1954 and Santa Barbara airport commissioner until he passed away in 1969. “Jack” and “Mac” were lifelong friends.

Port Angeles, Washington


Thanks for the coverage of this cool project [“How’s the water?” Summer SCM]. It is really exciting to watch as it develops! One of the key leaders of the project is Unyoung “Ashley” Kim, assistant professor of bioengineering, who has been a driving force behind the technology development and field testing of the arsenic testing device, as well as publishing journal articles and pursuing provisional patents. For more information about this project and other work she is doing, please visit scu.edu/engineering/bioengineering/kim.cfm.

Program Manager, Frugal Innovation Lab


So Fr. Phil is dead (Philip C. Blake, S.J. ’50). Appropriately, that middle initial stood for Church. The brief obituary in your Summer issue couldn’t do justice to his remarkable life of service to God and country. Awarded a Bronze Star while serving as an Army chaplain in Vietnam and Cambodia, he taught, preached, and traveled worldwide. He later served as spiritual director and retreat master at a Jesuit center in Los Altos, and in 2011 he was honored by the California and Oregon provinces for 50 years in priesthood. As ninth-grade classmates in San Jose (where we briefly shared interest in the same girl), Phil was just one of the crowd, apt to sing “How I Love the Kisses of Dolores” in the hallway. I saw him only once after that, on the SCU campus during our years there. But what a distinguished and (at the time) unpredictable career for that ninth-grader of 1941. May he rest in peace.

R. L. NAILEN ’50
West Allis, Wisconsin 


Spider men? Giving the ol’ Alfa Romeo a push. Photo courtesy Peter Gallagher

The Santa Clara Snapshot in the Summer SCM featured a photo from the ’64 Redwood of students hoisting a car up the steps of Kenna Hall.

In the latest Santa Clara Mag, I couldn’t help but notice something strikingly familiar. As a member of the Class of 1968, and in possession of a camera (those were the days!), I took this photo. I’m guessing it was in 1968. An original prank? Guess not!

San Rafael, California


In the Summer edition, while two and a half pages were devoted to the excellent basketball and golf programs, there was no mention of Santa Clara men’s rugby, a team that finished the season ranked No. 8 in Division 1A and No. 17 in the nation, losing in the D1A quarterfinals to St. Mary’s College of California, the eventual D1A national champions.

A top nationwide ranking (as both the men’s and women’s soccer programs are well aware) harks back to the glory days of SCU football and the notoriety that accompanies the press coverage of a successful sports program. Coverage for the rugby team down the road would be great.

Proud parent of an SCU student, Class of 2016 
Sonoma, California


I always love knowing the story behind a restaurant, and a recipe, so I enjoyed reading about Houston chef David Cordúa ’04 and the adventures that took him from the Bay Area to Texas and everything before and after and in between [“Américas cuisine,” Spring SCM]. The brown butter béarnaise looks like one to try, for sure. Five stars.

Santa Barbara, California


In response to an essay by Khaled Hosseini ’88 that ran in the digital mag in January, readers said good-bye to Candlestick Park, former home of the Giants and, until January 2014, the San Francisco 49ers.

The Stick. Photo from IStockphoto/Narvikk

My first memories of the Stick were, strangely enough, about the condiments. Nothing like slathering Gulden’s mustard over those giant franks. Just the memory of the ballpark vendors coming out of the catacombs of the Stick with those steaming franks, ah! But yes, the swirling winds and the constant thought of trying to keep warm even at the late-inning day games. Never forget the Giant greats before the game warming up—Mays, McCovey, Jim Ray Hart, Gary Matthews, even ex-Giant George Foster. And the sight of the otherworldly artificial turf when it first arrived, probably the unfortunate reason Willie McGee broke his leg, as the Niners were on a probable playoff run. Sad to see it go, though, it had character.

Saratoga, California 

I have been a 49ers fan since 1956. I, too, have suffered through many critical losses. In 1981 I was skiing in Sun Valley and settled in to watch the Super Bowl on TV. The 49ers won and I said to myself, “Now I can die a happy man!” I now live in the San Diego area and follow the Chargers; however, nothing can replace my dedication to the SF 49ers! Sorry about the Stick but happy about Santa Clara.

ROBERT HALE M.S. ’71, M.S. ’79
Carlsbad, California

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