February 21, 2001:
PAW welcomes letters.
We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility. Our
address: Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton,
NJ 08542 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In your opening column
in the December 20 issue, you said, " . . . at the turn of
the 21st century it's hard to believe that alumni would be
interested in becoming ministers of the gospel." I wonder if
you could, as they say, "unpack that" a bit. I'd
be very curious to know what your presuppositions are about vocation
in the 21st century. Do you assume that graduates will care only
for money, have no concern for human souls, be unresponsive to God's
call? Do you assume that a Princeton education, current model, deafens
a student to all this? If so, I think those of us who have different
values would like to know it.
Perhaps you could also
tell us what a minister sounds like. We learn that Corey Brennan
"doesn't sound like a minister" because "she's
bubbly and laughs a lot." But what is the quintessential ministerial
sound in your experience? I thought I heard one the other day on
a bird walk but wasn't sure, so your guidance would be valuable.
Christopher L. Webber
I was interested to read
the statements of and concerning the five graduates, classes of
1987 and later, who have "gone into the ministry."
The main point of interest
is that they all seem to have done so from largely humanitarian
reasons. One wouldn't expect it from the rabbi, but the other
four are active in Christian churches; and, as reported anyway,
not one mentioned Jesus Christ as connected either to their calling
or subsequent ministry. They all spoke about God; but Jesus is the
"author and finisher" of the Christian faith, and it seems
strange to leave Him out.
Is there something missing here, or am I imagining things?
Joseph E. Upson '33
North Sandwich, N.H.
Your article Hearing
the Call (December 20), did a great job sharing the stories and
perspectives of the five ministers profiled. But I found parts of
the article's introduction and most of the From the Editor
commentary to be condescending. The points you made about lucrative
alternatives, and how the church's place in society has changed,
are valid and worth exploring; but I was bothered by the tone of
the "Why on earth would anyone do this?"
The article asks "Why
would a would-be clergy [person] choose an expensive school like
Princeton?" Could this be asking whether the small fortune
required to fund four years at Princeton might be better spent helping
those in need? Or does it mean that ordained ministry somehow is
not worthy of receiving Princeton graduates? (That was my first
reading of it.) I liked Father Harris's excellent reply. I
would just add that clergypersons (along with many in other, nonreligious
occupations) value and care for individuals, regardless of education
or wealth; encourage community (as opposed to being a consumer who
is part of a "market"); and work for justice. Religious
groups often are maddeningly slow in pursuing these goals, and occasionally
do damage to them, but at least we include such goals among our
reasons for being.
My complaints above may
be subjective, but I am on more solid ground when I object to the
editor's statement "there are scores of alumni serving
as [pastors and rabbis]." According to my class's 20th
reunion yearbook, 1 percent listed ministry as their profession.
So it is likely that there are at least 10 such persons just in
my class, and probably more than that in each of the earlier classes.
Perhaps there are fewer than 10 in each of the more recent classes,
but perhaps not. The total certainly is in the hundreds, possibly
over a thousand if retired alumni are included. I'd be interested
to hear what a computer query shows!
Anne Carter Emidy '79
I read with interest
Karen Regelman '89's article (November 22) about Rabbi
Josh Zweiback '91 and his unconventional approach to the rabbinate.
I was taken aback by Ms. Regelman's claim that "Rabbi
Yosh" is only the second "full-time adult-learning teacher
[of Judaism] . . . in American Jewry."
Jewish tradition teaches
us that adult Jewish study is even older than the Talmud --
tradition takes it back beyond the recording of the Five Books of
Moses. Even in America it is hardly new; whether discussing beginners'
programs or studies for advanced scholars, hundreds of Orthodox
rabbis and teachers make their careers in this area. One such individual
is Rabbi Yaakov Menken '86, director of Torah.org, the Internet's
premier Jewish education site.
Even those most enthusiastic
about Rabbi Zweiback's chosen career should not dismiss those
who came before -- including other Princeton alumni!
Robert Chesler '86
My wife and I, along
with some friends, attended the Harvard football game. It was a
delightful day in our new stadium to enjoy a spirited game. However,
we were distressed to find one of the two major retail stands at
the stadium offering objectionable items -- such as "Yale
Sucks" and "Duck Fartmouth" T-shirts. This activity
was apparently with the full support of the university. It is bad
enough that our society is daily subjected to entertainment and
media tawdriness supported and encouraged by many social, political,
and business leaders, but must Princeton degrade itself in this
Jim Cottrell '53
Punch and ruler
All the recent discussion
about the relative accuracy of punch-card voting machines led me
to think back to freshman year and Physics 101, Physics for the
Non-scientist. The class was divided into groups of four or five,
with each group given a 12-inch ruler. The assignment was to measure
the length of the long hall -- in Palmer as I remember --
as accurately as possible. Needless to say, the results arrived
at by the different teams varied (I assume in some sort of bell
curve), and this was a good lesson to me that the accuracy of measurements
is directly affected by the tool used for the measuring! When I
was down on my hands and knees on the cold floor of the hall, I
never suspected that I would be thinking of the experience almost
40 years later.
John Lamb, Jr. '66
Oops. Your correspondent for rowing events at Sydney reported that
"none of the American rowing teams earned a medal in Sydney.
. . . " In fact several Americans did: Sebastian Bea and Ted
Murphy won silver in the men's pair, Karen Kraft and Missy
Ryan won bronze in the women's pair, and Sarah Garner and Christine
Collins won bronze in the women's lightweight double sculls.
Never trust a baseball
writer to report on rowing. One giveaway is his reference to rowing
"teams" rather than crews.
Jerome Evans *60
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
What a surprise to learn
in your interesting profile of William Merwin '48 (November
8) that he had at one time lived in the Majorca Islands. It has
been my good fortune to be a resident of Majorca, which along with
Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera, and Cabrera is one of the Balearic Islands
since 1991. I cannot help but wonder whether our distinguished fellow
alumnus Temple Fielding '39, long-time resident of the breathtaking
bay of Formentor, and poet Robert Graves, who lived until his death
in the town of Deià, would be appalled or entertained by
this geographical gaffe.
Victoria Howell Fustér
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Growing up liberal
The pattern of left-
and right-leaning ought to be apparent to William B. Smith *63,
though perhaps his own undergraduate experience was at variance
with a pattern at Ivy League colleges (Letters, October 25).
To matriculate in a four-year
bachelor's degree program is usually a result of a cooperative
effort of the student and parents. The expense involved is considerable,
but in expectation that the diploma from Princeton will translate
into future prosperity, the expense is relegated to the status of
a temporary deficit/seed money. The parents, perhaps alumni themselves,
endorse -- and even underwrite -- the program, knowing the
value of the investment.
attitudes are shaped at home, and in order not to rock the financial
boat, the student-parent cooperation involves the continuity of
conservatism. What joy there must have been among parents, following
the Princeton student presidential election of 1936, for example,
when Landon beat Roosevelt. And what howls of laughter among the
alumni must have followed the succinct Class of 1922 note, 20 years
later, that "Word reaches us from Chicago that a group of citizens
have put Ad Stevenson up for president."
Conversely, what a shock
it must be for parents to discover that outside the home there are
other influences on their children, influences alien to their own,
and influences in a setting, moreover, that those parents had so
If parents don't
want a liberal education for their progeny, they ought to help them
shop for a slot where the administration and the faculty espouse
a uniformity of conservative thought similar to their own. The four
undergraduate years may be the only time in students' lives
when they are exposed to balanced ideological thought. To those
who lean far to the right, everything will be seen as left-leaning.
Besides, exposure doesn't imply conversion.
W. W. Keen James '51
Climbing the wall
Your article on rock
climbing at Princeton did a great job of conveying the unique and
diverse community involved in this activity (feature, November 8).
I would also like to thank you for the mention of our fundraising
efforts to build a new climbing wall to replace the present wall
which will be demolished, along with the Armory, in the next few
years. I would like to point out one error, however. Joe Palmer,
the alumnus who was killed in a climbing accident in 1985, and in
whose memory we are raising funds for the new climbing wall, was
a member of the class of 1984, not 1983 as mentioned in your article.
Joe was quite a character
on campus, and is remembered fondly by many of his classmates. I'm
sure there are a number of people who would consider contributing,
either in memory of Joe, or out of support for the continued existence
of the climbing community at Princeton. Donations can be sent to
Outdoor Action, 330 Alexander Road, Princeton University, Princeton,
John McNerney '84
In addition to Eugene
O'Neill '10 and F. Scott Fitzgerald '17, Philip Wylie
'24 can be added to the examples of well- known Princeton writer-dropouts
mentioned by Richard Trenner '70 in the December 20 issue (feature).
Encouraged by his parents to pursue a career in either the Presbyterian
ministry or law, Wylie left college in his senior year to follow
his bliss as a writer. He started with a fledgling magazine called
the New Yorker.
Wylie feared that having a B.A. might tempt him to accept a fall-back
position in some more conventional realm -- something his parents
would have liked even after (or especially when!) he became famous
as the author of Generation of Vipers. Besides, he felt the honorary
D. Litt. he eventually received from the University of Miami in
Florida was worth more -- because of his having earned it for
his contributions to American culture -- than a bachelor's
degree acquired after four years on intellectual cruise control.
George Reiger '60
I'm afraid Charlie
Caldwell '25's errant throws had nothing to do with the
Yankee careers of either Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth (Letters, October
11). Total Baseball, the game's statistical bible, lists Charlie's
Yankee record as three games in 1925. He pitched a few innings and
had no decisions. (See page 1452.) Of course, he could have whacked
guys in batting practice, but he could hardly have launched Gehrig's
career since "Columbia Lou" joined the club in 1923. True,
he played his first full season in 1925, although the traditional
story is that he took over first base when Wally Pipp ill-advisedly
sat down to nurse a headache, thereby starting Lou on his 2,130
As for Babe Ruth departing
the mound for the outfield after winging Charlie with a pitch, it
must be remembered that Babe was acquired by the Yankees in 1920,
after six years with the Red Sox as one of the league's superior
pitchers. The Yanks wanted his bat, though, and Babe had been playing
terrific outfield and hitting terrific homers for five years when
Charlie arrived in New York.
Adie Suehsdorf '38
Princeton and me
Perhaps because I am
Class of 1948 and World War II was a fresh memory, I joined the
Princeton branch of United World Federalists, becoming New York
State president in 1961. Every year the United Nations and the World
Court came a little closer to that concept. After graduation, with
a history B.A., I joined the International Film Foundation, founded
by my father's classmate Julian Bryan '22.
My first independent
film was Trick or Treat for UNICEF, to promote the idea that American
children could raise money to help poorer children around the world.
My wife and filmmaking partner, Sherry LaFollette, and I were in
Budapest during the Cuban missile crisis and at Aswan, in Egypt,
when the Soviets were building the "High Dam." We were
always treated with the utmost courtesy. We have spent 28 years
together making films with "a global view." And it all
started at Princeton.
George A. Zabriskie,
Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.
From the Archives
was with a shock of recognition and pleasure that I turned to the
From the Archives of the November 8 issue.
The place pictured was
43 Blair, two entries west of the Arch. My roommate, John F. A.
Taylor '36 *40 and I lived there our senior year and the names
that figure so prominently in the fireplace panel are ours. John's
name is incised deeply and firmly; mine less so and it lacks the
"s" on the end because I never finished it. Lest you feel
this was a wanton act of vandalism it should be noted that John,
particularly, was a scholar and a gentleman. His senior thesis was
a tightly reasoned exploration of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant;
he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and certainly magna and probably summa
cum laude; and he went on to get a Ph.D. from the Graduate School
and become a highly respected and revered professor at Michigan
State. He married my cousin, whom he met only the day we graduated
when my uncle, Robinson V. Frost 1898, came over with his family
to help celebrate the occasion. While John was enrolled in the Graduate
School the impecunious newlyweds endured the hot, steamy Princeton
summers house-sitting Einstein's house on Mercer Street, which
enabled Einstein to enjoy the cool breezes of Cape Cod.
Students lived well in
those days; 43 Blair was in fact a small suite with a good-sized
living room -- with a fireplace that worked -- and we each
had our own bedroom large enough to accommodate a desk, bookcase,
and all things necessary for quiet study. We also had janitor service
of a sort. He made up the room daily -- but I did put a shoestring
under the bed in the fall, and it was still there in the spring.
Students live in far less luxury today. The last time I saw the
room, there were six or eight people
living in it.
I have wondered, since
Blair was gutted in the recent renovation, if the panel was discarded?
If it was and is still available and no one else wants it, I would
love to have it.
I realize this is far
more than an answer to your simple question, "Where was it?"
One does tend to reminisce.
Edward D. Winters '36