What Is This Thing Called Love? Personal Reflections and Reactions
Edward `Ted' Dunn '42, Vantage Press, New York, 1996.
by Marilyn Dunlap
When asked to review What Is This Thing Called Love?, my first thought was, "I know all the lyrics and can still hum the tune." My second, third, and fourth thoughts were, "I've met the author"; "I've heard about his mother" and "I'll do it." So, here goes.
The book is divided into two unequal parts: "Part I, Reflections" comprises the first two-thirds; "Part II, Reactions," a short treatise, completes it.
Part I is a tender, sometimes poignant retrospection of the author's life, from his birth and growing-up years in Hamilton, through his football-playing experiences while a student at Colgate from 1939-41, through his 39 months of wartime service in World War II, and through his subsequent distinguished career as camp director, educator and coach while at Springfield College. The reader familiar with Hamilton and Colgate will recognize many names (Mordus, VanSlyke, Kerr) and places (the farm on which Dunn was born is now Colgate's Seven Oaks Golf Course). In particular, generations of Colgate students will recognize the name of the author's mother, Mrs. Florence Dunn.
After the tragic, accidental death of her husband, Florence Dunn was left with four young children to raise, and thus began her 40-year-long career as a Colgate administrator. Students of this period will particularly remember Mrs. Dunn as the able and firm supervisor of the college dining hall. Her son lovingly remembers her personal strength and courage at the death of her husband, at the subsequent death a year later of her second-youngest child, and through the struggle to raise and educate her remaining three children. He describes her as exhibiting a special brand of heroism when he writes of her that she, "widow for almost 60 years, served her family and others, day after day, with personal sacrifice and devotion."
Ted Dunn, as a boy of seven, actually witnessed the accident that took his father's life. He was profoundly marked by the experience, as well as haunted by the possibility that he, himself, might have contributed to it. The experience shook his youthful love for and trust in the world, and his subsequent years were spent in a struggle to understand the nature of the world and, especially, the nature of love, or as he makes the distinction, "authentic love."
In "Part II, Reactions" of What Is This Thing Called Love?, Dunn discusses the learning experiences of his own 76 years as they relate to the opinions of noted psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts and theologians. He believes that "the human capacity for love is primarily learned, rather than instinctual," and this capacity to love is taught to us, well or poorly, by those around us.
In his own quest to achieve a capacity for "authentic love," Dunn was driven by three basic passions: 1) love shared with God, 2) sorrow for the pain and cruelty in the world, and 3) a search for truth.
He views "authentic love" as being akin to agape, that is, a love for all people, for the universe and for God. And he further believes that "authentic love" requires consistent actions for the good of all people, the universe, and God.
What Is This Thing Called Love? is thought-provoking, and it provides an interesting glimpse into a life well lived. Despite tragedy, sorrow and care, Ted Dunn says of his own 76 years that "life, in effect, is mostly pure joy." But he also identifies an obligation that goes with the precious gift of life, and he cautions that each one of us shall, at the end of life, ultimately be judged on our capacity for "authentic love" and our sincere and active implementation thereof.
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By Bill Barich '69, Pantheon Books, New York, 1997. 337 pp.
by Virginia Collins
"Every true California story . . . begins in yearning and ends in transformation," wrote Bill Barich in his recent nonfiction gem, Big Dreams: Into the Heart of California. Faithful to his own definition, he has crafted his first novel into an authentic portrayal of the people and places he knows so well from living as a Californian for more than two decades. The mythical Carson Valley, a lush wine-producing region north of San Francisco, takes on a sensual aura as Barich describes the nearly yearlong cycle of the vineyards bearing fruit.
While the grapes and their caretakers struggle against the elements and human foibles, Barich introduces other conflicts -- those of the heart. From Victor Torelli, the aging patriarch of the family vineyards, to Omar Perez, the 15-year-old Mexican who escapes the border to seek his fortune as a grape-picker, all of Barich's characters must reconcile their dreams with their realities, their hopes with their fears.
Caught in the eye of the most turbulent storm are Carson Valley's two primary characters, Arthur Atwater and Anna Torelli. Separately and together, they wrestle with their mistakes of the past and their passion of the present. As the novel unfolds, they hesitantly venture deeper into the swelling waters of a love affair. Barich's ability to convey their self-talk and describe their almost-adolescent bunglings in the midst in midlife introspection weaves a strong narrative with genuine emotion and tension.
The painstaking cultivation of acres of Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon consumes Atwater, the vineyard manager, and also engages Anna, who develops a new-found interest in the vineyards that she will inherit one day. Rich with metaphor, the growth and harvest of the grapes create a drama running parallel with Anna and Atwater's exertions to cultivate and sustain a meaningful relationship. In one scene, for example, an unseasonable freeze threatens the budding vines. Anna joins her soon-to-be lover before dawn in the cold and dark fields to help save the tender young vines.
From pruning to harvesting, from doubting to trusting, Barich artfully intertwines the struggles of heart and nature in the space between yearning and transformation.
Virginia Collins is the Public Affairs campaign writer.
The Lawyer's Calling, Christian Faith and Legal Practice
By Joseph G. Allegretti '74, J.D., M.Div., Paulist Press, Mahwah, N.J.,1966.
by Judge Hugh C. Humphreys
The O.J. Simpson criminal trial displayed to the world a disgraceful example of the American legal system. Truth took a back seat to the savaging of witnesses, inordinate delay and irrelevant evidence as the Dream Team played the "race card." All of this was justified under the guise of the lawyer's code of professional conduct, which as the attorneys and the television pundits continually pointed out, requires an attorney to strongly and zealously advocate the client's cause. An occasional voice in the wilderness was raised asking if, perhaps, morality wasn't also supposed to govern the lawyers' conduct? Or, once in a while, someone was foolish enough to suggest that maybe truth might be the objective of the trial, for isn't the word "verdict" supposed to denote the speaking of the truth or something like that? Questions like these were lost in the glare of publicity.
Some reasoned, experienced, outraged voices suggest changing some of those rules and procedures in criminal trials that serve to obfuscate or obliterate truth and permit the guilty to walk free. Others suggest modifications in
the lawyer's code of professional responsibility to temper the overzealous advocate. Unfortunately, and despite such debacles as the Simpson criminal case, the changes proposed will be long in coming if they come at all. In the meantime, the attorneys and the public will have to live with the present system. And it is in this context that Joseph G. Allegretti in The Lawyer's Calling has some wise suggestions for the conduct of attorneys.
Allegretti's background is as a practicing lawyer and law professor for ten years before entering Yale, where he obtained a masters in divinity in 1989. He presently is a professor of legal ethics at Creighton University Law School. His approach is neither to focus on the reform of the legal system nor to propose changes in the lawyer's ethical codes. Rather, he advocates that the lawyer be a true professional, that the law be a "calling," that his or her life be a spiritual journey and that faith in God be molded with legal work so the two proceed hand in hand toward the betterment of soul, client and society. Allegretti goes on to make specific suggestions for the accomplishment of this goal, especially for the lawyer who is engaging in litigation.
Allegretti feels that the legal profession suffers from a "spiritual crisis," that many lawyers and the profession "have lost their way." All too often, and despite the lawyer's own values and morals, the lawyer is little more than a "hired gun"; "the very word `justice' has become the equivalent of a four-letter word, not to be used in polite conversation around lawyers." Allegretti's central thesis is that the core moral/religious values of the lawyer (in this case the Christian lawyer) be integrated with the practice of law "so that his work can serve as an instrument of loving service to God and to neighbor" rather than as hired gun. In other words, the lawyer uses his or her mastery of the law to promote justice and truth.
One of the methods advocated by Allegretti to achieve the goal is that the lawyer and client have a covenantal relationship, wherein the attorney is no longer "in charge" but where they are equal partners. The lawyer is free to raise and, where necessary, does raise moral and ethical concerns throughout the relationship -- truth is to be revealed, not obfuscated. The relationship between lawyer and client becomes, therefore, a "moral community." Right from the outset the lawyer is expected to advise and counsel on the potential destructiveness of a lawsuit, the necessity to strive for reconciliation, for healing.
There is much to be said for Allegretti's thesis. A peaceful reconciliation of a lawsuit is the ideal, and the quite often achieved solution. Allegretti advocates turning the other cheek as long as possible, trying to settle, to reconcile. If the lawyer and client do have the kind of relationship suggested, the approach can work -- up to a point. But there comes a time where the lamb does not dare to lie down with the lion and it is necessary to fight. At this juncture the lawyer and client have a specific understanding of what
the lawyer will and will not do, and, at the core of it all is that "[the] lawyer's actions on behalf of clients should facilitate the search for truth and the protection of human dignity."
Some clients, however, do not want to hear such talk. "Sue it -- or defend me -- no matter what." Allegretti acknowledges that many lawyers consider their proposals pie-in-the-sky, too unrealistic, too oblivious to financial considerations. That may well be, but this is no reason why all attorneys should not continually strive to reach the goals he sets forth. If we don't we can expect more outrageous displays such as the Simpson criminal trial, more lawyer dissatisfaction, more public disdain.
The one drawback I find with the book is that it is aimed at the Christian lawyer. While that's fine with me personally, I would like to assign a book like this to my trial practice students but would be reluctant to do so as many of my students are not Christians. Allegretti makes it clear at the outset that while many of the solutions he poses transcend creedal or denominational differences between Christians, Jews and Muslims, he writes from a "Christian perspective." I think the same points regarding morality and justice could be made from
a more general perspective, especially by one as well versed in religion and law as Professor Joseph G. Allegretti, Esq. Perhaps he might consider this approach for the second edition (and I hope there are ten more editions after that). In the meantime, thank you, Professor, for your fine, spiritual, wise work and if you have some spare copies lying around why not send one to each member of the Dream Team?
Hugh Humphreys of Hamilton was a trial lawyer prior to becoming a state court judge 13 years ago. For the last 27 years he has taught a seminar in trial practice at Syracuse University Law School.
Conjuring Science: Scientific Symbols and Cultural Meanings in American Life
By Christopher P. Toumey '70, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J., 1996. 240 pp.
by George E. DeBoer
Professor of Education
Christopher Toumey has written a very thought-provoking book about the multiple meanings of science in late 20th century American democratic culture and how those meanings are played out in daily life. Toumey begins by showing us the gap that exists between science as it is understood by scientists and science as it is understood by average American citizens. To non-scientists, what scientists do often seems distant from them and beyond their grasp, and although most non-scientists have a great deal of respect for science, they tend to know science only in terms of its popular symbols (beakers and test tubes, lab coats, and technical terminology). Because of this limited understanding, the highly respected symbols of science are often used in questionable ways to bestow the authority of science on a variety of commodities, ideologies, or policies that one wants to promote without really comprehending the science itself. This invocation of something that resembles science but is not science is what Toumey calls the "conjuring" of science.
The gap in understanding between scientists and non-scientists is a relatively recent phenomenon. Up until the middle of the 19th century, there was a much more sympathetic relationship between the cultural meanings of science held by professional scientists and by lay persons. During colonial times and the earliest years of the republic, for example, many scientists saw the systematic investigation of the natural world as a way to understand God's character and the logic of his grand design. This approach to science fit neatly into a dominant system of cultural values and was understandable to lay persons. During the 19th century, the emphasis shifted to studying the natural world to produce useful knowledge that would lead to prosperity and material progress, an approach that was also in keeping with the larger purposes and values of the society.
The present situation in which there is a gap between a professional and a lay understanding of science developed as U.S. scientists began to follow a European enlightenment vision of science, especially the liberal German model of independent experimentation and discovery. Enlightenment science was secular and humanistic, and it found its justification in human intellectual and moral progress rather than in sacred revelation or in practical material progress. Enlightenment science also tended to be more abstract and theoretical--a search for truth--and that made it less accessible to lay persons. Whereas the public might be eager to learn about the practical applications of steam engines, they were less interested in the science of thermodynamics with its concise principles and mathematical equations.
Today a scientific enterprise has developed that is professionalized, independent, and not well understood by lay persons. Yet there are many science-related issues that significantly affect us. How do these issues get resolved democratically when scientific understanding is limited? Most of Toumey's work is devoted to an analysis of five case studies involving democratic decision-making in which the authority of science is called upon to support the various arguments in the controversy. In these presentations, Toumey shows how each opposing side draws on the traditional images of scientific authority to strengthen its case. Often these images of science are used to advance positions that have their basis in deeply held cultural belief and not in scientific fact. Many opponents of the fluoridation of public water supplies, for example, objected to fluoridation because they felt their freedom was being taken away by the power of a dehumanizing bureaucracy. But rather than making the argument against fluoridation on the basis of cultural values alone (by objecting to the dehumanizing power of bureaucracies) they cited "authoritative" scientific studies that claimed that fluoride causes cancer, Down's syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and AIDS even when such studies had been repeatedly refuted.
Science that is played out in a context of subjectivity and self-interest Toumey calls "democratic science." It is not the openness of science to claims and counterclaims by those with legitimate evidence that compels us to call science democratic; nor is it the way that the methods of science enhance democracy. Rather, it is the messy interaction of objective science with personal and corporate interests in an environment of limited understanding that is democratic science.
Although Toumey does not prescribe any specific remedies to correct the misuse of science that comes from the imbalance between science as it is understood by scientists and by lay persons, he does feel that scientists themselves carry a great deal of responsibility for not protecting their own credibility and for not more aggressively educating the public regarding the standards of good science. He also blames the various educators and popularizers of science for not doing a better job of passing on to both children and adults an understanding of the scientific enterprise, especially as it started to become less directly connected to the cultural values of the society at large.
Anyone concerned about the way science gets played out in a democratic society should find what Toumey has to say to be very interesting. The book is easy to read and the case studies will appeal to humanist and scientist alike. How to make the work of scientists understandable to the public and how to engage scientists and the public together in genuine discussions regarding science-related public policy is a major challenge in our society and one that deserves our attention.