Ethical-moral Dilemma

The Mail

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

Monday's CRIMSON carries a letter concerning the seemingly pathetic palliative that one (unnamed!) Eliot House student sees in the proposal to appoint a University Chaplain. It is most interesting how people can agree when they have different reasons for agreeing, i.e. I think no chaplain should be appointed, but nor for the reasons our Eliot House students does.

In the tradition of Alfred North Whitehead and William James, Harvard might be a leader in ethical-philosophic thought; Harvard might teach a realistic, meaningful and scientifically valid religion by having such principles in the fore at its Divinity School. But it seems that certain members of the corporation and the bureaucracy don't want a religious emphasis with some meaning for today's world. Hence such rationalistic, essentially skeptical criticisms as those by this Eliot House student have to be accepted, even though they apply to religion as the historically viewed opiate it has been.

I agree, too, that the MTA signs reading, "Take your problems to church this week--millions leave them there" is a soporific and sickening example of what religion as generally practiced has become (or should I say, always was to some people?) But this is not adequate reason to condemn religion. Even in the days of the prophets Amos, and Jeremiah there was the essentially amoral ritualism of the people in contrast to the exhalted ethical religions of these prophets. The point then is that Harvard might lead the way again, by having as its "chaplain" a man noted for his ethical insights into the religions of the world, not only into the Judeo-Christian religions. In an increasingly internationally minded era, Harvard might teach internationalism in ethical religion by example not by words.

If the Harvard Corporation was as aware of the trends of the times as it sometimes seems to be, it would realize that the modern dilemma is as much ethical-moral as it is scientific. Such criticisms of this Eliot House student could be met by the Corporation by squarely facing the recommendations made sometime ago in the little green-covered booklet concerning the means of improving the divinity School. It is time these recommendations were more than mere words. Or does the Corporation have as its motto, "Millions for modern architecture (I personally like it!) and not one cent for an up-to-date Divinity School?" Paul E. Killinger, & Div.


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