SANCTIMONY AND SARCASM
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
In two of their October, 1955 issues the New York Times featured a two-installment report on a survey of undergraduate campuses (mostly in the East) which claimed to discover a "widespread and deep interest in religion" and a "searching for answers" among these students. This survey was based on interviews with deans, professors, students, and on first-hand observation of students as well as on the consultation of statistics about chapel attendance and courses in religion.
I don't know very much about Harvard--probably the situation is similar to Chicago's. But what I want to say is that the question of religious interest among Harvard students is news; it has become news by the reports--not only of Newsweek but of other publication--about interest in religion at American colleges and Harvard in particular. So the subject needs to be dealt with as news, with careful and judicious interpretation, as objective as possible.
Mr. Farquhar is of course entitled to his opinions about the question of religious interest at Harvard, and his conjectures about how and why the Newsweek article was written are interesting. But if he is concerned to get at the truth about the question, there are better ways than sniping, sardonic reviews.
It's pretty late to be beginning surveys now; in any case, I hope the CRIMSON will present more serious and fair reporting on this question than it has done. If you want to fight the religious trend, or the allegation of a religious trend, do it with better reporting; or do it, even, with a good, wholesome iconoclasm, a keener, truer satire with real humor. The tradition of Mencken doesn't need to die; but Mencken was a good journalist as well as a sharp satirist. Edward Berckman