O U R R E A D E R S W R I T E
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Lusting for more
"Just plain stupid"
Destined for the circular file
Not so well-versed
There is no "good" sin
Slips of the tongue
September's special issue, "The Seven Deadly Sins — and Why They Are Not Always So Bad," generated quite a response. Wrote one reader, "As a clinical psychologist in practice over 20 years, I found your recent issue to be painfully offensive. I wonder if you realize how many prostitutes are the victims of childhood rape and incest ["Prostitution Enthusiast," p. 33]?" On the other end of the spectrum: "Best issue ever."
The edition of the Seven Deadly Sins [September] seethed with inspiration. Leave it to my fellow Hopkins mates to turn the deadly sins into a Pollyanna article, finding the good in the bad. I lust for more of the same to satiate my gluttonous appetite!
Two comments though: Could we please dispel, rather than perpetuate, rumors that attorneys' livelihoods are fueled by wrath? We are more suited for the lust category as ambassadors for realizing dreams, or even the pride category as tools of empowerment. Also, the Infernal Referral Service (IRS) is pure genius [September, Essay]! I am sharing the article with a lobbyist friend just for the laugh, but also for the diabolical possibilities. . . .
Kudos to all the authors! This edition certainly evoked my
Blue Jay pride.
I am disgusted with the quality of the most recent issue of Johns Hopkins Magazine.
Your article "Prostitution Enthusiast" was just plain stupid — who wants to read about the illegal sexual practices of some old misogynist alum who can't get a real date? As far as I can tell the only reason the article was written was because Hugh Loebner is rich and famous, not because he had anything interesting or original to say about prostitution.
Even more offensive was the article on the opposite page on the World War II Japanese comfort women ["An Uncomfortable Legacy," p. 32], in which Hopkins Professor Sonia Ryang downplays the culpability of Japanese soldiers in the sexual slavery of thousands of women. "It was their duty to the emperor" sounds a lot like "they were just following orders." Just as soldiers who commit genocide are murderers, soldiers who force women into sexual slavery are rapists. Rape is an act of violence, not "adultery." The article does acknowledge that conditions were "difficult." Difficult? Being raped every five minutes by 300 men for 17 hours straight is difficult?
The only bright spot in that issue was the mention of
Professor MohammedMattar's new course on the international
trafficking in persons [Syllabus, p. 24]. I strongly
suggest that Sonia Ryang, Hugh Loebner, and editor Sue De
Pasquale attend this course and learn something about the
impact of sexual slavery and prostitution on the lives of
millions of women around the world. In this era of
shrinking human and women's rights, Johns Hopkins Magazine
should be giving a voice to the oppressed, not the
I think you and your staff goofed when you ventured into an area where you lack expertise. I thought [the September issue] was so "bad" after reading part of it that I threw it into the trash before my wife read it. She is still as proud as I was of the school I knew as JHU. Somehow JHU has joined some of the other schools in going downhill if the magazine reflects the more current graduates. Then again, I have become what I accused my parents of . . . being "old-fashioned." Somehow we learned values that stayed with us.
Hope you can get back on track!
Your writers' treatment of the Seven Deadly Sins is
interesting and wide ranging (e.g., including helping dying
children with Sloth). Michael Gibbs might like to know his
main biblical text for the Lust illustration (p. 27) is
apparently 1 John 2:16-17 (an epistle) not the Gospel of
John 2:16-17 (which is about Jesus' cleansing the temple
— more appropriate for Avarice!). The marginal quotes
approximate their references. Adichie's "Blissful Sloth"
stirred happy memories of visits to friends in Nsukka,
Nigeria, in the early 1960s, when the university was in its
beginnings and I worked in the Niger Delta. Thanks for the
magazine, which is always informative.
I thought Rosemary Mahoney's piece on Envy ["Home, Sweet
Home?"] was one of the best bits of memoir writing I've
seen anywhere recently.
Best issue ever. Period. Keep up the good work!
I took a stroll down our long country driveway last week, to fetch the mail. I'd been homeschooling our six children all morning, and I was glad for a break. I spotted your magazine and started to page through it, as I love to see what's happening with my fellow alumni.
When I read the cover, I stopped in my tracks. "The Seven Deadly Sins and Why They Are Not Always So Bad." "Calm, down, Laura, it cannot be as bad as it sounds," I thought. "Give them a chance; this is out of character for Hopkins Magazine." So I determined to walk back to the house and read through the magazine before making any judgments. Unfortunately, when I got back and sat down outside, the children saw the intensity with which I was reading your magazine. Of course they had to come right over and see what was bothering me. "What's wrong, Mom?"
"Well, this magazine is from my college. They wrote here that sin isn't always that bad." My children had this blank look on their faces. They have known from the time they could reason that sin is always that bad. That sin, as defined by God in the Bible, always leads to death. That the reason this pain-filled world is so hard is because of one sin — of doing that which God said not to do, back in the Garden of Eden.
I got to page 39 of your September magazine and had to
stop. You had some great writing and writers in there. But
anything that treats sin as a good option has treated sin
wrongly. There is no good cancer and there is no good sin.
I feel you also have some misdefinitions. Sexual desire,
for example, is not lust. It is sexual desire. Lust,
biblically, is a passion for that which God says no to.
For example, someone else's wife. I wish I could go on and
on, but I have a family that needs me. Pleases resist the
desire to make Hopkins Magazine a trashy magazine.
There are so many noble subjects to cover. Honor your
institution and stay away from the bilge.
The little piece on page 17 of the September edition of the magazine [ Wholly Hopkins, "Please, Oh, Please, Say the S"] reminds me of a story my father, Jack Northam, Engr '29, tells. It seems that Milton Eisenhower, a past president of Johns Hopkins, was in Pittsburgh to give a speech. He was introduced as the president of John Hopkins. Eisenhower got up and went to the podium. Then he said, "Thank you very much for your kind welcome to Pittburg."
Maybe someday they'll get it right!
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