August 2008 Letters to the Editor

Comments from readers regarding the last issues of <em>Minnesota Monthly</em>

In Bad Faith

I just finished your article about the Catholic Church in Minnesota (“Fate of the Faithful,” May). The first parts seemed fair and reasonable to me, so I was disappointed when I got to the section on my church, St. Stephen’s. 

I think the article would have benefited from interviews with the parishioners or with our parish council. I have found St. Stephen’s to be a place where more thought—and theology—is put into each decision and practice than any other place I have worshipped.

I think your article painted an inaccurate picture of St. Stephen’s, and made it even easier to dismiss the diocese’s actions against churches like ours, who are following in the spirit of
Vatican II.

Gretchen Hovan

The Real Writer

In your article, “Remembering Hassler” (June), the writer has crafted a curious piece of gossip sprinkled with a few partial truths about Jon Hassler’s life. One might wonder after reading this article whether Jon was really that mean-spirited and manipulative.

He was the least judgmental person I’ve ever known. If you ever met Jon Hassler, and he treated you warmly and respectfully, you could take that at face value. He was genuine.

The writer saw Jon as a heavy drinker who found marriage and children burdensome. I saw a man who had a strong bond with his sons and daughter. And the perception that he dreaded marriage is just wrong. In his marriage with Gretchen Kresl, Jon found a soul mate and true love, and it was plainly evident to his friends and family. This article is an ironic reduction of Jon Hassler’s life, Jon, his children, and Gretchen deserve better.

Chris Seymour


I had interviewed Jon Hassler in regard to 10 of his novels, and I would like to point out two corrections in Rebecca Hill’s article, “Remembering Hassler.”

Jon’s widow is Gretchen Kresl, not Kreml.

Jon buried the manuscript of The Book of Brendan, not Grand Opening, at his cabin near Nevis. It is true that part of The Book of Brendan re-surfaced in Grand Opening.

Joseph Plut

Ancillary Proposition

How is it possible to create such a list without including Dr. Ancel Keys (“How Minnesota Saved Civilization,” May)? We are all living longer and better because of his monumental accomplishments. The starvation studies, identification of cholesterol’s importance in cardiovascular disease, and the Mediterranean diet—just to name a few.

David Maas

Criminal Oversight

In your May 2008 article “How Minnesota Saved Civilization,” you state “that the [James-Younger] band met its demise in Minnesota, at the hands of a bunch of potshot wheat farmers, sounds like the plot of a Western that Hollywood never green-lighted….”

Actually, they did green-light it: The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid, starring Robert Duvall as Jesse James and Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger, came out in 1972.

Jane Burnett

Harold the Great

I recently read the article in your May issue entitled, “How Minnesota Saved Civilization.” While I enjoyed the article, I must take issue with your characterization of former Governor Harold Stassen as a “rogue” and “source of infamy.”

Governor Stassen was central to founding the United Nations, established one of the first and arguably most successful civil-service systems in the country, and, in 1941, created what we now call the Iron Range Recovery and Rehabilitation Board—the first public-private partnership created to foster economic and environmental sustainability. He was one of Minnesota’s most important political leaders.

Mark Ritchie
Minnesota Secretary of State
St. Paul

Oh Mary!

Mary Jo Pehl has a wonderful gift for blessing the everyday with her humor. The June 2008 issue carried two stories that demonstrate her range of talent: “Ladies in the Water” was a touching and beautifully written piece about continuing life after a tragic death in the family. “Suitable” was a hilarious commentary on wetsuits which made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breath.

Thanks for choosing such talented and entertaining writers for your magazine.

Lynn Joachim

EDITOR’S NOTE: We received considerable feedback on Christy DeSmith’s article in our June issue, “Played Out?” Because of space limitations, these letters have been published online: August Overrun Letters



Submit letters via e-mail to, or the old-fashioned way to the Mail, Minnesota Monthly, 600 U.S. Trust Building, 730 Second Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55402. Please include your daytime phone number and city of residence. Text may be edited for length and clarity.