Letters | Fan Mail


Commonweal, which will be celebrating its ninety-second anniversary this year, is ten years younger than my mother, who was a very longtime subscriber and supporter of this magazine. Margaret FitzGerald Darken, who died this month as she neared her hundred-and-second birthday, read Commonweal avidly right up to her final days on this earth. Like Commonweal, she was staunchly Catholic and intellectual. Following her example, I and her other progeny also became Commonweal subscribers. She and I enjoyed discussing many Commonweal articles together. I am sorry that I did not get to hear her thoughts on Mollie Wilson O’Reilly’s “Honoring the Dishonorable” (July 8), concerning the Yale president’s decision to let the name stand for Calhoun College. I doubt that my mother, who received her PhD in chemistry from Yale in 1936, would have been pleased with his argument—although she would have pondered this problem with an open mind. On the other hand, she would have been happy to read Anthony Domestico’s interview with C. E. Morgan (July 8),  in which Morgan speaks of moral beauty as love, and love as an action, not a feeling. My mother was love in action. She treated everyone with care and respect, from her husband and six children to the poor and the elderly. She heartened everyone with whom she came in contact and was very generous to the needy around the world. The effect of her spirit was particularly evident in her final days at a nursing facility: as we children gathered around our beloved mother, we were constantly approached by staff members who extolled their patient. These included everyone from the woman who cleaned her bathroom to her chief physician. They were the ones caring for her, but they knew she cared about them. In Morgan’s words, she spread love “in both the micro and the macro.” In my mother’s name, I ask God’s blessing on both Commonweal and C. E. Morgan. Too bad subscriptions stop and book deliveries cease for people in heaven…or maybe they don’t.

Betsy Darken
Chattanooga, Tenn.



I don’t think there’s any magazine I enjoy as much as yours. It’s the richest among the ones I regularly see. I wanted to share what I’ve most recently savored: the reference to “’lack’ as a school if we want it to be,” in Anthony Domestico’s interview with C. E. Morgan. That thought brings to mind a New Testament verse that has always both stupefied and attracted me: “For to all those who have, more will be given…but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). It’s as though the taking away is not a punishment but the intensification of a religious path—the apophatic as opposed to the kataphatic path. And then two pages later those very words—“apophatic and kataphatic”—appear! Reading Commonweal articles is often like that for me. They retrieve a thought from my own recessed consciousness, shine a new light on it, and connect me with an author I’ve never met.

Ernest Rubinstein
New York, N.Y.

Published in the August 12, 2016 issue: 
Also by this author
Books in Brief

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