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January 14, 1962 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1962-01-14
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Religion on c
Despite Problems, Groups at 'U'
Provide Benefits for the Religious

xSecular Campus



Ji X

THE 22 STUDENT religious organiza-
tions on the University campus differ
so vastly in their beliefs, functions.
practices, and programs, that any strict
generalization concerning all of them
would necessarily be false. The truest
statement which can h omde that most
of these groups have the common objec-
tive of attempting to bring some aspects
of religion to those in the campus com-
Since the religions which these groups
represent are also of extremely diverse
characters, they necessarily perform dif-
ferent functions according to the needs
of their constituents and physical facili-
There appear to be three main varia-
tions on the functional theme. The first
is the type which exists in conjunction
witli an already established parish
church, whose primary obligation is to
local residents who support the church.
The students in such a groun, in exchange
for the use of the physical facilities of
the parish church and the services of its
staff, perform such tasks as serving at
monthly church suppers and cleaning up
This relationship is typified by the Epis-
copalian student group, Canterbury
House, which is an adjunct to St. Andrews
Church. The church is both headquarters
for the group's staff and the physical
plant for such purposes as meeting places.
The second sort of campus religious
organization exists solely to serve mem-
bers of the denomination or faith whom
are represented on campus. An example
of this type of groun is the Roman Cath-
olic organization. the Newman Club. This
type is concerned about its own members
firstly. The Pantist Student Union typifies
this sort of organization, which is the
most strictly sectarian structured type.
"Its purpose is to conserve and help
train Baptist students for effective Chris-
tian discinleship," asserts the Baptist
groun's handbook. "It functions to remind
each student of his resnonsibility to Christ
and his chureh and of his obligation as a
Christian ritian to the world in which he
lives. It also nrovid's insniration, infor-
mation, and fellowshin which create the
spiritual cliniate essential for Christian
grn-Ith wrhia in collepe."
The third type is the most altruistic;
it seeks to serve the whole campus. The

Young Friends, the student Quaker group,
falls into this category.
* * *
MOST OF THE 22 organizations provide
some sort of social meeting place for
their membership. They sponsor parties,
ski trips, suppers, dances and bridge par-
ties. These groups-if they serve no other
function-do provide a gathering place
for the religiously oriented student. They
give him a groun to identify with. a group
which guarantees that the neople he will
meet there will have much the same out-
look as he does. And even though this can
reach the point of being stifling, it gives
the student the opportunity to informally
discuss his own religious and ethical
thoughts with- others of similar back-
With much emphasis currently placed
on the importance of similar religious
backgrounds in marriages, the opportun-
ity to meet people of the same educational
level who have a common religion is
perhans justification enough for the exis-
tence of these groups.
Other tynes of social opportunities are
also provided. The Jewish center, B'nai
B'rith Hillel Foundation, provides work-
shop groups which offer an opportunity
for the student to engage in some artistic
and intellectual pursuits. These include
work in theatre, choir, folk dancing and
These groups also help remedy a cam-
pus social condition. Since the whole cam-
pus orientation is apparently switching
from all-camuus entertainment functions
to those sponsored by smaller groups, any
grouns which can provide a social identity
for an otherwise detached student, are
justifiable. Unless a student is associated
with a fraternity or similar group, he
often has no place where he may socialize.
Reliaious groups offer this.
* . *
T IS ALMOST virtually impossible to
determine how many students on the
campus are participating members of
campus religious groups. The religious
census for the fall semester reports that
15.000 students declared a religious pre-
ference when they filled out their regis-
tration IBM cards. However, very few of
the student groups demand any type of
memhersi nroof; and membership cards
are nractically non-existent among them.
Although students spread their prefer-
ences among 66 different religions, the
largest single religion marked was Roman

Catholicism. The Newman Club also has
more card-carrying members than any
other similar group.
In each student religiousygroup, a hard
core of members invariably does all the
day-to-day work and offers its first allegi-
ance. to the group. Beyond this core is a
fringe of students who participate only
when the social program or intellectual
offerings particularly interest them.
* * *
THE INTELLECTUAL programs of the
groups vary as widely as the religions
they represent-from a small library
equipped with some dusty volumes to an
elaborately prepared lecture series.
At the Newman Club, for instance,
speakers come from both on-campus and
off-campus to speak at dinners and each
Sunday morning breakfast on topics of
general interest to Catholic students.
These topics have run the gamut from a
lecture on e. e. cummings to a discussion
of Catholic education in Canada. The
Newman Club also conducts classes rang-
ing from Christian doctrine to nursing
and medical ethics.
In the Young Friends group, interest is
often stimulated for participation in semi-
nars and projects of the American Friends
Service Committee. These projects include
such activities as weekend work camps
and discussions. From informal discus-
sions of problems-political and social-
the members seek the answers to basic
questions and dedicate their lives to
searching for a "deeper- spiritual life."
Canterbury House has in past years also
offered classes which center around the
religion. Examples of this type of program
are entitled "Law and the Churchman,"
"Christian Socialism" and "Christian
The Lutheran Student Association pro-
vides similar programs. The Sunday eve-
ning service offers discussion on such
subjects as "The Place of the Individual
in Contemporary Society."
S* * s
ASIDE FROM the intellectual and social
aspects of religious student groups,
what of their most obvious duty-that of
providing their constituents with some
sort of religion?
The main general purpose it would ap-
pear that all organizations have in com-
mon is to give the student a framework
in which to develop himself. Religious
organizations all function rather jerkily
and their programs lack much continuity,
but this cannot be helped. When a group
has a perpetual overturn of members and
officers, its program is definitely limited.
Yet leaders of the groups themselves
maintain that the principal concern re-
mains with their individual members. "The
value of the Newman Club comes through
what it does for its members, it doesn't
exist for the good of the campus except
as a secondary factor," the Rev. John F.
Bradley, director of the Newman Club
said. This viewpoint is typical of that of
many adult religious advisors.
Some religious groups work in conjunc-
tion with- secular campus organizations
simply because they share the same aims
and goals. The Unitarian student group is
an example.
'We try to provide the opportunity for
students of a liberal religious persuasion
to think through social and religiousues-
tions," the Rev. Erwin A. Gaede, program
supervisor of the group explained. These
questions may not differ widely from those
frequently raised in the classrooms or in
University social life. A number of our
students are also involved in the various
action groups on campus as the Congress
of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Na-
tional Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP)
The maturing of the student is usually
the main concern of the student religious
group. Some groups place their emphasis
upon individual development in the spir-
itual field and others in the intellectual.
These differences largely result from the
differing emphases of the various reli-
All the organizations attempt to push

the spiritual growth of the student to the
level of his intellectual growth.-They aim

Student praying in
Lutheran Student Chapel
much higher than the average parish
church, because those with which they
are working demand more intelligent
When relioiously-oriented students come
to college they often possess less than a
high school education in their religion;
when they leave, they should have ad-
vanced in knowledge of their religion
relative to their general academic knowl-
edge. Student religious groups help the
student who feels there is a place in his
life for religion. There is also a place for
the student who has no religion-to try to
affirm his negative belief-and for the
student who does not believe he can find a
* * *
THE SPIRITUAL, social and intellectual
guidance which is offered by the Uni-
versity's campus religious groups serve a
very definitive purpose, and they often
succeed at fulfilling it. Whether or not
they do is mainly due to personnel. If the
pastor, director or leader is inadequate in
his intellectual prowess, the group cannot
reach those students who need the most
direction in their intellectual wanderings.
However, if the adult advisors are com-
petent leaders who know their role and
serve it, those groups can and do fill the
void which is often present in a state-
supported school-adequate ethical and
spiritual instruction-for those who seek
it. This is not the University's responsi-
bility, but it is the responsibility of cap-
able men and women dedicated to serving
students in the way in which they and
their religion feel necessary.
M ALINDA BERRY is an assistant
night editor on The Daily who re-
ports religious and cultural affairs.
She is a sophomore in the literary

nutritional deficiencies, and tobacco no-
toriously cuts down the desire for food.
It is curious how widely these non-
nutritional substances are taken by man.
It cannot be said that every culture has
some drug to help its members escape
from reality, but I would guess that the
vast majority have, and of the most
diverse sorts. The virtues of alcohol have
been discovered independently by many
peoples, and they have found many ways
of producing the alcohol: through al-
lowing the sweet sap of palms and other
plants to ferment, through fermenting
grains or fruits, through chewing starches
(like manihot) and fermenting the
saliva-mixed product. And primitive man
ransacked the plant kingdom to find sub-
stances that could be drunk, chewed or
inhaled for a lift, or a temporary escape
into the world of dreams.
These "perversities" may be accepted
and institutionalized by the culture, or
they may be suppressed or hidden or
deplored-just as are the unreproductive
sexual customs. Our own culture is quite
confused in the matter, with every pos-
sible attitude represented somewhere. A
few consistent extremists would suppress
everything-tea, chocolate, coffee and the
like. Tobacco and alcohol are subjects of
eternal debate. Many of us still have
vivid memories of our national experi-
ment in the prohibition of alcohol.
"Drugs" from marijuana to heroin are
still prohibited, though a vocal minority
maintains that prohibition is not the
proper way to deal with the problem of
drug addiction.
We can call all of these things, by
definition, "perverse," but that still leaves
open the question of whether they are
"good" or "bad." There seems to be no
way of arriving at opinion on this out-
side of the cultural context. We could,
of course, equate "good" with "healthy,"
but we are still left with problems. All
of these non-nutritional food substances
could probably be shown to be unhealthy
in a physiological sense, or at best harm-
less. But physiology isn't everything. The
Andean Indian apparently needs the lift
from chewing his coca leaves to help
him get through the arduous days of his
bleak enviornment. I seem to need the
lift of tobacco to get through my days,
even though I am not exposed to the
physical discomfort of the Indian. How
do we balance the physiological loss
against the psychological gain? .
There are similar problems in the
evolution of sex habits. If we define as
perverse all- sexual behavior not directed
toward reproduction, we include mastur-
bation, homosexuality, bestiality, voyeur-
ism and the like; but we also necessarily
include all contraceptive practices. Again
there is an extreme but consistent view
that would regardall of these as "bad"
and another extreme that would regard
none as bad except where innocent in-
dividuals are hurt.
IN BOTH SEX and food it is clear that
adult human behavior is largely a re-
sult of a conditioning or learning process.
There must be basic, underlying drives
for sex outlet-to use Kinsey's term-and
for food intake, but it is hard to dissect
away the cultural overlay to demonstrate
this biological basis. In the case of sex,
experiments with chimpanzees at the
Yerkes Laboratory show that the adult
behavior patterns of individuals are
learned. It is possible to make a nice
sequence from animals like rats and mice,
where learning is only of slight import-
ance in copulatory behavior, through
dogs and monkeys, where learning is more
important, to the great apes, where
MARSTON BATES is a professor
in the University zoology department
who specializes in ecology. This ar-
ticle was originally printed in The
American Scholar, Vol. 27, No. 4,
copyright 1958, the United Chapters
of Phi Beta Kappa.
i1KINrAV tAKiIIARV 14 192

A Myriad of Cultural Curiosities

learning is necessary for successful
Food behavior probably shows a similar
sequence in the importance of learning,
though I-do not know of much good
experimental evidence. I suspect that
even in man there is left over an "in-
stinctive" aversion to very bitter things,
a reaction that would be of value in
avoiding poisons. But we put bitters 'in
our Old Fashioneds! There seems also
to be a general aversion to some kinds
of smells in association with food; yet
some 'very nasty-smelling cheeses are
eaten, as well as certain stinking fruits
like the famous durian of tropical Asia.
Interesting individual and cultural dif-
ferences are shown in whether particular
foodstuffs are eaten raw or cooked, alive
or dead. In general, only mute things are
eaten alive-plants and invertebrates. If
oysters shrieked as they were pried open,
or squealed when jabbed with a fork,
they would never be eaten alive. As it
is, thoughtful people quite callously look
for the muscular twitch as they drop
lemon juice on a poor oyster to be sure
that it is alive before they eat it.
The moral problem of killing for food
leads many people to vegetarianism. But
as Samuel Butler long ago pointed out,
vegetables should have rights, too. The
Erewhonians reached the logical end of
the moral argument when they were
reduced to eating cabbages certified to
have died a natural death.
There are numerous vegetarian sub-
cultures, especially in Indian civilization
and in our own, but voluntary avoidance
of meat seems to be limited to groups
within such "high" cultures. A goodly
proportion of mankind lives on a largely
vegetarian diet, but this is perforce be-
cause meat is scarce or too expensive.
At the other extreme, Eskimos eat meat
exclusively. The primates-the monkeys
and apes-are generally vegetarian or, at
most, eaters of insects and similar small
prey. The adoption of the carnivorous
habit was probably one of the major
steps in human evolution, especially since
hunting, by such a feeble creature as
man, must have at the same time in-
volved tool-using and group-cooperation,
providing a base for man's social evolu-
Vegetarianism now is frequently linked
with religious considerations of one kind
or another. It is curious how frequently
food habits or food restrictions are as-
sociated with religion. This also gets in-
volved with religion in the most diverse
sorts of ways. There is an elemental dif-
ference between food and sex, in that
an individual can refrain completely from
sexual activity and still live. Chastity
can thus be a - lifetime preoccupation,

while fasting is necessarily either of short
duration or intermittent.
I suspect that lifetime chasity, the cult
of virginity, is a characteristic of the
sophisticated and complex cultures that
we call. civilizations: it would hardly
seem either possible of worthwhile to
the more primitive cultures closer to
nature. Yet such cultures do have a
variety of religious controls over sexual
behavior. Sex may be taboo before or
during special activities such as fishing,
hunting or war. Sex may be required in
relation to ceremonies to insure fertility
of crops. Either food or sex may get
involved in ideas of sacrifice, and the
sacrifice may involve either abstention or
indulgence. Thus we find cults of temple
prostitution on the one hand, and of
chastity on the other; ceremonies which
require that no food be eaten, and others
at which participants must eat.
* * *
N SOPHISTICATED situations, at
least, one can understand social
and religious control of sexual and food
,behavior in terms of man's efforts to
master his appetites, and thus to master
himself. Neither the glutton nor the
libertine cuts a very admirable figure in
terms of the moral or aesthetic values
of most high cultures. European culture
in particular has kept the Greek ideal
of moderation, of temperance, though
sometimes carrying temperance itself to
an unaesthetic excess in the puritan or
the prude.
In religious and social controls of food
and sex, we are dealing with deliberate,
in a sense voluntary, abstentions and in-
dulgences. There may also be involun-
tary controls, perhaps more frequently
with food than with sex. We have chronic
undernourishment and malnutrition in
many situations simply because food is
not available. And there is, through his-
tory, a long succession of famines, of
enidemic, involuntary fasting on the pait
of large segments of mankind. It is more
difficult to find examples of epidemic,'
involuntary chastity; . although, as a
friend pointed out to me, this has oc-
curred in certain situations like the gold
rush to the western United States in the
last century. The prostitution that builds
up under such circumstances could be
regarded as only a partial alleviation,
such as the hoarding and black markets
aseompanying famines.
This makes me wonder whether the
selling of sex or the selling of food is the
older profession. It is a meaningless sort
of a question, of course, since both food
and sex were commonly exchanged long
before any idea of "sale" developed. From
the accounts of the European explorers
who first encountered the primitive

peoples of th
the ideas o:
vegetables or
taken up wil
reluctance. N
luctant, thes
to have hac
On the ott
are widely i
pitality: the
something to
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cases if he is
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surely the ult
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tllrgl restric-
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susnect that :
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would hardly
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Perhaps tI
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eating is op
not marry a
would eat v
would not V
pork with he
not be caugt
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which seem t
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Many years
Mystic Rose,
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biological fu
eating has c
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eating toget
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gotten along
although it
certain psych


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