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There is an odd mixture of important insights and destructive ideas in Sam Buntz's recent column ("A Story to Live By," May 4). He rightly recognizes, I think, the death of transcendence in our modern materialistic culture. Of course, even modern people still occasionally feel the deep need for something higher than themselves that has moved humanity since our first days. The problem today is that instead of praying, people take a yoga class. Buntz, however, is correct that "the forces of dictatorial materialism threaten to subdue this higher yearning." It is no wonder that suicide rates are often higher in richer countries (and thus, generally, more materialistic cultures) than in poorer countries. He is right too, I think, in his identification of the general human need for myth, and is also correct about the nature of atheism, namely that it destroys all moral bonds.
On Saturday, April 11, Dr. John Hare, a professor at Yale Divinity School, delivered the keynote address for Aporia's Religion and Philosophy spring conference. The subject of his talk, the question of whether we can be good without God, demands some consideration. For many people, the initial answer to this question is an emphatic 'Yes.' In fact, considering certain aspects of the history of religion, one would be tempted to ask the inverse. The crusades, the inquisition, Sept. 11, etc., might actually cause us to question whether, on the contrary, we can be good with God.
To the Editor:
Last week, I wrote a Short Answer arguing that we should cut major departments that could be subsumed into other departments, like Native American studies and women's and gender studies. While women's and gender studies and Native American studies are more technically categorized as "programs," the difference is semantic -- both have their own office, staff and courses. I want to write an article explaining this position on these issues more fully. I think these departments are in disharmony with Dartmouth's educational mission, and are both arbitrary and unnecessary.
In his column last week ("Seeing Through the Shrouds," Feb. 5), Sam Buntz points out the lack of diversity in the Opinion section of The Dartmouth, arguing that "the reality is that we live in a homogenous environment where many people pick hors d'oeuvres from the same materialistic, postmodern boilerplate." Dartmouth is hardly unique in this respect; one of the greatest ironies of the modern Academy is that diversity is preached everywhere, but truly practiced nowhere. The root of our homogenous intellectual culture lies in the unwritten consensus among powerful academics that certain positions are to be automatically excluded from intellectual discourse. Any worldview that contains a hint of the non-material is off the table from the start.
In her recent piece about the questionable scientific basis for love ("The Love Doctor," Jan. 27), Emily Johnson '12 argues, "I don't think the knowledge that oxytocin is a big part of the reason two people can look at one another with eyes full of love on their 50th wedding anniversary can lessen the beauty of their bond, nor detract from the meaning that bond gave their lives." After spending most of her article degrading love by attempting to convince us that it is reducible to physical processes, Johnson then tries to rescue love from the grave she has dug for it. However, it is clear that if there is nothing more to love than chemical reactions, then the logical conclusion, which Johnson tries hard to avoid, is that love has lost all its beauty and meaning.
Micaela Klein's recent guest column ("An OPAL in the Rough," Jan. 15) was an impassioned defense of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership. However, I can't help but think that Klein's column, along with other recent pieces about the College's impending budget cuts, have been asking the wrong question. The important question is not whether OPAL is valuable, (though I think that question remains an open one) but whether OPAL is more valuable than all of the other programs it competes with for college funding.
Over winter break I saw a commercial about polar bears. You know the kind I'm talking about. The commercial opens with some picture of a polar bear floating away on a block of ice, and then cuts to some authority figure -- usually a C-list actor whom you know you've seen somewhere -- telling you in a very serious voice about the grave threat that climate change poses for the polar bear population.
To the Editor:
Last week, two events about sex and sexuality took place at Dartmouth. Chabad sponsored a lecture by Dr. Miriam Grossman, author of the book "Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in her Profession Endangers Every Student" ('Speaker warns women against casual sex," Nov. 11). Meanwhile, the Aquinas House hosted a panel discussion on the Catholic Church's position on sexuality entitled "The Joy of Sex."
There was a good deal of talk during the now-decided presidential contest about education, with the candidates often sparring over the best way to improve this country's education system. It is in the nature of political campaigns, however, that they never touch on the really important questions. The truly important question facing students and teachers today isn't whether more money should be put into public schools or into school-choice programs, though that does deserve consideration. Instead, the truly important question is what, fundamentally, is the goal and purpose of education? What is its end?
As I ran around the bonfire this past weekend, basking in the glorious glow of upperclassman taunts, insults and heckles, I couldn't help but reflect on the youthful enthusiasm I experience from others everyday at Dartmouth. What other age group could shout "worst class ever" over and over again, without losing any of their initial enthusiasm, and then go dance for three hours dressed as Olivia Newton John? People our age are easily enthused, energized, inspired. We're also idealistic and committed to great causes. These can be wonderful qualities, but they can also be dangerous when they're focused on the wrong things.
Recently, "To Be Straight With You," a live dance show about "tolerance, intolerance, religion, and sexuality," was performed at the Hopkins Center ("'Straight with You' explores sexuality, religion, intolerance," Sept. 24). This show did the Dartmouth community a great favor by raising awareness about the level of abuse and even violence that is directed towards homosexuals in the Western world. These civil-rights abuses are of the utmost severity, and they demand our attention. The show was also commendable for its restraint: It did not directly argue that intolerance is the necessary result of religious belief.