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On Sunday morning I attended a free talk given in Memorial Church by a man called Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since I lived close to the Yard, and because the idea of a free talk seemed appealing, I decided to attend. (I stress, however, that the words "Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon will speak on religious matters" did not appear in the pre-talk publicity.)
The Archbishop began the morning by addressing the body of students and community members on the theme of "worship." He titled his talk "How Awful Is This Place!", and covered themes such as blind hero worship and how a female student "worshipped a Puerto Rican wrestler named Bruno." He also mentioned "God" and "Christ" numerous times.
The pre-talk publicity had neglected to mention that a free message accompanied the free speech: the message of the Christian gospel. I distinctly heard "Jesus" being said aloud, even though no hint of this was given on the posters ahead of time. I have no objection to the presence of religion on this predominantly secular campus. What made this event different from other religious gatherings on campus was that a significant portion of the audience was unaware of the religious nature of the event. I and several others went to hear a "free talk," not to be preached to.
Granted, the Church doors weren't locked behind me (but it would have been rude to stand up in the middle of the talk and shout to the others to be aware of the religious undertones and overtones Lord Runcie was conveying).
Still, one wonders why the planners of this event were not more forthright about its religious nature (I do not recall the words "This is a religious event" appearing on any of the publicity posters), instead of covertly springing it upon a potentially unsuspecting audience.
Many in the audience, in fact, seemed to have been "inspired," oblivious to the fact that Jesus was being sneaked in on them. I whole-heartedly agree with Jonathan J. Finer '98 (Letter, Apr. 12) that events of the nature of the Living Stones' "free concert" last week and the Archbishop's "free talk" this Sunday should not be such traps for seekers of "free stuff" such as us. --Ken Y. Liu '98
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