November 20, 2007

Letters to the editor

Christian chalking is offensive

I found it interesting that Asian American Intervarsity (AAIV) claims that its chalking was completely inoffensive (“Christian Group Stirs Campus with Chalking,” 11/16/07). Did they ask any non-Christians for their opinion when they discussed this? Or do atheists, Muslims, and all the rest of us just not count?

I have no problem with other people believing what they will (although I happen to be an atheist). I merely object to repeatedly being assaulted with those beliefs at what is supposed to be a secular institution. If people want to cover every inch of a church building with Biblical verses, it’s none of my business—I don’t go to church, so I don’t have to see it. But there is no practical way for me to avoid the verses written all over the University sidewalks. It’s the equivalent of somebody standing in the middle of the quads reading those passages through a loudspeaker. How is that not offensive to any non-Christian?

In the article, AAIV staff worker Sam Park claims that the passages were not intended to be specifically religious. In what way is a Psalm containing the phrase “Praise be to the Lord” not specifically religious?

The day I saw that particular verse on the ground, I decided I should balance this one-sided view and write a few interesting quotes in response on the sidewalk. Little did I know my words would attract so much attention—wow, somebody with an opposing viewpoint. We sure don’t see that very often at the U of C.

For my part, I would be perfectly happy to live and let live, but this feeling isn’t reciprocated. Apparently, my respect for the beliefs of others is an invitation to have those beliefs shoved in my face at every turn. I find it unspeakably arrogant and self-righteous for AAIV to assume that these clearly Biblical verses will bring “comfort” to everyone.

It’s true that I can’t stop this group from chalking what they want—but that doesn’t mean I have to let them have the last word on the subject.

Mariana Lo

Class of 2010

Time for a new dean at Rockefeller

I happened upon the online edition of the Maroon and was pleasantly surprised to see three “religious” stories featuring prominently in your most recent issue: “Christian Group Stirs Campus with Chalking”; “Religious Students Find Critical Inquiry Strengthens Faith”; and “Nun Speaks Out Against Executions” (11/16/07). These stories reminded me of why I enjoyed my time at the U of C, a place where all ideas were accepted and where one’s faith (or lack thereof) was often a lively part of any discussion.

This is why I would like to know when the University will appoint a new dean of Rockefeller Chapel, the center of religious life in the University. Former dean Alison Boden has been at Princeton since August but her face still appears on the University’s website about Rockefeller Chapel.

I do not understand why it has taken the administration so long to appoint a successor. In a University setting with such a great religious sentiment, the office of the dean of Rockefeller Chapel is surely important enough that the post should not be allowed to just remain vacant.

I hope to read in the weeks to come about why the University has been so slow to act in appointing a successor to Alison Boden.

Stephen Shandor,

A.B. ’84, M.B.A. ’88

Philadelphia, PA