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Saints, Sinners and Cynicism
It’s an impressive photograph: tousle-haired Professor Wolf attired in sweat shirt casual,
against the backdrop of Francis reputedly attired in hair shirt and cassock. Theatre!
Professor Wolf’s notion of the “Theatre of Sanctity” (Fall 2008) is interesting, but the
“central mission” of Christianity is not “social justice.” That is the distorted reading of liberation
theology and that of a few other Johnny-come-latelies.
For 2,000-plus years the “central mission” of Christianity is to “preach the Gospel with
its invitation to repentance and conversion in Christ.” Francis is reported to have said,
“Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words.” For Francis, Elizabeth and the others mentioned,
“social justice, sanctity and deliberate poverty” were merely byproducts of the radical exchange in
their conversion to Christ.
There’s adequate skepticism and cynicism in the piece to pass muster with the contemporary
culture of academe. However, Francis, Elizabeth and the others mentioned would
not have seen themselves as saints, but sinners with enough humility to seek the confessional
when “dark birds” flew about.
—Dorothy Towne (parent ’74)
Colorado Springs, Colo.
With all due respect, I believe it is absurd to call the lives of the saints, a “theatre of sanctity.”
Either Professor Wolf doesn’t get it, or I’m missing his point.
In any case, the saints did not live lives for their self-promotion, but, rather, for “the
Greater Glory of God.”
As a Roman Catholic, I pray that one day, he will find a saint whose humility and sincerity
will so impact him that he will realize that maybe he is the one who has been putting on
a show, in a quest for public adulation.
—Beatriz Martínez Remark ’77
Housing Correction of Another Kind
I was amazed to have first read
article regarding real estate in the New York
Times business section (prior to the fall
Pomona College Magazine). Having taken
numerous classes taught by Professor Smith I
hold his views in very high regard. However,
I feel he made a valid point in a rather obtuse
way at a really poor time.
I agree with every book written stating
that timing any market is virtually impossible
and has its pitfalls. However, it is also important
to recognize that markets often become
so skewed that the risk vs. reward becomes far
too much to overlook. I would argue that the
swings in real estate throughout
history have been far
greater than they have been in
the financial markets.
Much like shorting a high
tech stock with a P/E ratio of
1,000, selling a home at a
value of 300 percent more than
it was worth four years ago and
renting an exact replica across
the street for one quarter of
what the mortgage of the home
you just sold would be, can be
incredibly logical. In other
words, although Gary’s “home
dividend” concept is valid there
is another side to his argument. Leaving out
what median home prices have done over the
last 10 years vs. median wages is in my opinion
Gary’s argument that all real estate is local
and that much of “middle America’s” home
values have not spiked in value is also
valid. Again, a very important point that
seems to be missing from his work is how
absurdly overvalued both coasts’ real estate
values were when his article came out. If his
argument is still that home values in Los
Angeles were selling at reasonable rates I will
take the other side of that argument.
In essence Gary appeared to me (and perhaps
many others?) to be making a pitch for
homeownership at the absolute peak of the
market. Meanwhile, I was selling my clients
(some of whom were Pomona graduates) out
of their homes and real estate investments at
incredible profits at the exact same time. I
completely understand his argument and
agree with him “in theory” but there is a very
dramatic difference between “economic theory”
and “real life.”
—Robert Valandra ’89
Los Angeles, Calif.
Poetry, History and Henry Lee
I was interested to read online the Pomona
College Magazine story (“Nothing But
Praise,” Fall 2006), a couple years old now if
not more, about the poet Henry Lee ’37. I
grew up in the same house in South Pasadena
on Milan Ave. In fact I had Henry’s old bedroom.
While I was a teenager the house was
used to film a TV series called Family
One day Henry’s sister, very elderly at that time
(or so it seemed to me as a girl), rang the
front doorbell, having seen the house on television
and deciding she wanted to see it again
in person after many years.
It was a very hard time in my family’s life
but my mother invited her in and encouraged
her to stay. Her name was Frances. She talked
about Henry, dead so many years. We went
out back to what was once a stable, where my
father had his pool table. She pointed to
woodworking projects of his, still standing.
She went upstairs and looked at my bedroom.
Stood there in the doorway. It was carpeted
by then and had flowered wallpaper, but she
had photos of Henry in it, and it had wood plank
floors and bookcases and, if I remember
correctly, a mounted animal head, or at least
decor that suggested such, and she stood
She gave us a picture of Henry in his military
dress taken outside the dining room windows
before he deployed. She gave us first
editions of Nothing But Praise>, and I’ve had
mine all these years. She told us how the original
poems had been dug up after he was
dead. She needed to talk about it, to tell the
story in depth, and returned to see us several
times. I’m just grateful my mother, at one of
the lowest points in her own life, managed to
open her door and make tea for a wonderful
lady who shared a wonderful story.
Cheers! And thanks for the story on
Henry. He was my “ghost,” growing up, and
I love him.
P.S. I am not a Pomona alumna. I went to
Scripps but transferred before graduating. My
cousin graduated from Pomona.
Alumni and friends can send us your letters at the address at left or e-mail us at
firstname.lastname@example.org.Letters may be edited for length, style and clarity.