Letter to the Editor, South Coast Beacon, July 22, 2004

I realize caricatures are the heart of cartoon commentaries, but as a professor of theology at Westmont I have to say Daryl Cagle’s (July 22, 2004) didn’t exactly hit home to me.

First of all, our classes, my writing, and my own ecumenical work all treat so-called Catholic “mumbo-jumbo” with admiration, affection, and critical respect. This fall The Strangest Way by Robert Barron of Mundelein Seminary is required in my general-education doctrine course, and texts by Henri Cardinal de Lubac and Michael Downey of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo are required in my upper-division theology course. All three are rich, profound resources for theological reflection. Despite our differences, my Catholic students are beloved brothers and sisters, and informed and equally respected voices in class.

Second, faculty, staff, and students dance in kinesiology classes, chapel, Winter Formal, Spring Sing, and the President’s Ball. In fact, at that last event my wife and I participated in the dance competition. I was cut in the first round!

Third (and this seemed to be the real point of the cartoon), my family is literally invested in the issue of whether Westmont is a good neighbor. A year ago we bought a home two blocks from campus, in Montecito rather than Westmont faculty housing. We have put our own money where our school’s mouth is, and are already enjoying a terrific experience in both the neighborhood and the college.

Finally – and here Cagle might have a point – while I don’t dress like a seventeenth century Puritan when I teach, I do secretly think it would be kind of cool. Not only would it make an impression on my students, but it would also lower their expectations for my dancing ability. Win-win!

Sincerely yours,

Telford Work
Assistant Professor of Theology
Westmont College