Letters to the Editor: religion at UD

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As a Lutheran, I was pleased to see last week’s article on “Closed-minded Catholics.” The cold, hard facts are that my classmates and professors alike tend to both generalize and dismiss Protestantism in all its multifaceted, multi-traditional, multi-cultural brilliance; that this is always done with the understanding that such dismissal is fine because Catholicism is the correct and superior path; and that this sense of superiority is encouraged to the point that it becomes negative. Never mind that “Protestantism” as a concept is absolutely meaningless – we’re so eager at UD to box it up neatly that facts go astray or are made up altogether and rarely corrected. On the contrary, these misconceptions are reinforced at the University of Dallas. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been discredited as a Protestant speaking about Protestantism (hating the term though I do) or the number of times I’ve been lectured generally, incorrectly or both by classmates and even professors on my own traditions. What’s most frustrating is that the majority of those who propagate these fictions believe that none of this applies to them.

However, my experience is merely symptomatic of a larger problem. So many UD students simply don’t want to discuss anything outside of a predefined worldview. Certainly, America as a whole suffers from this tendency – look at the way American bipartisanship has gone and our government’s resulting inability to accomplish anything – but that’s no excuse for us. Independent thinking implies an openness to and exchange of information and opinion, but respect must precede it; not only for another’s understanding of a situation, but for their very worldview, beliefs and being. I would never assume anything about what you do or don’t believe, let alone preach it to the world as truth. Please do everyone else the same favor.

Amanda Polewski
Class of 2012
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Contrary to probably several people here at the University of Dallas, I found the article from the Sept. 20 issue titled “Closed-minded Catholics at UD” to be very good. I think it brought up several good points about the problems we face here at UD.

I was raised Catholic, but not Catholic in the UD sense, as I’m sure you probably know what I mean by that at this point. The Catholic high school I went to was much more liberal, in fact maybe a little too liberal. I wanted a little bit more of a direction in college, and I thought this would be a good place to have some good discussions, but I totally agree that there is a sense of closed-mindedness here. And I, like you, have had experiences in the classroom where professors have just dismissed other religious beliefs as if they have no merit, without actually considering the arguments they make. Overall, I think we need to get the UD community to accept the fact that no place, including UD, is perfect.

I am grateful that someone has been brave enough to bring this issue to the attention of the UD community, despite the possibility of being harshly criticized. I also appreciate the re-assurance that I am not the only one here who sees this issue in the way the author sees it. While it is not a bad thing to be Catholic, it is a bad thing to be over-zealous in our faith. So I, like the author, want to encourage the UD community to accept others as they are, whether they be Catholics or not. It’s what Jesus would truly want us to do.

Michael Unterberger
Class of 2011
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Last week’s article “Closed-Minded Catholics” claimed that independent thinking requires “starting a dialogue that does not involve proving the other person wrong.” The author of that article found tolerant dialogue to be compatible with the conviction of maintaining one’s beliefs. I would like to challenge the compatibility of tolerance and conviction.

First let me define tolerance as allowing another to persist in a belief contrary to one’s own. Let’s define conviction as  holding that one’s own belief is correct.

Consider the following two premises:

1)  There must be exactly one correct belief.

2)  One must not allow another to persist in an incorrect belief.

Given that one’s own belief is correct from the first premise, it follows that any belief that is not one’s own is incorrect. Given that any belief that is not one’s own is incorrect then by the second premise, it follows that one must not allow another to persist in a belief that is not one’s own. That is, given conviction and the truth of these two premises, one must not be tolerant (in the technical sense of the word).

But to disagree with the first premise  would amount to either nihilism or relativism.

Further, if it is good to believe the correct belief, and if one desires the good for others, does one not desire that others hold the correct belief? It seems to me simply a lack of resolve and humane courage to desire the good for one’s fellow man and yet not to pursue it. And would not pursuing a state in which others hold the correct belief necessarily entail disallowing others to hold an incorrect belief?

If my argument is correct, UD’ers must choose between tolerance and conviction. They cannot have both.

This letter is a question rather than an answer; it asks for further reader response.

Peter Antich
Class of 2012
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During my first three years attending the University of Dallas, I was a lone Christian. It probably didn’t help that I was a Protestant at a Catholic university. I felt like I could simply go to church weekly, and that would be enough. I would suggest to you that it is not enough, whether you are Catholic or Protestant. Christianity is a communal faith, and your growth in Christ is stunted if you don’t actively belong to a gospel-centered community.

The sad fact is that I knew this my freshman year. I knew that I should be connecting with other Christians outside of a church service in order to pray, discuss, and simply for support. Unfortunately, our culture and generation does not lend itself to vulnerability. We try to say and do what we think is cool, and discussing our faith isn’t a cool thing – what is more, it can be very uncomfortable. You have to make some effort to be a part of a community, and you have to be vulnerable.

The only lasting community is the community based on Christ. More specifically, it is the community that is based on the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Since we have fallen short, we are in need of a Savior. The community that is based on this principle should be the most welcoming and open community imaginable. You don’t have to maintain a facade, and this creates an amazing freedom.

Last semester, I finally found this gospel-centered community. I thank the Lord continually for this group of people, but I had to act. After three years, I finally did. So I encourage you, especially freshmen, not to wait.  Don’t rob yourself of spiritual growth.

Anthony Carlisle
Class of 2012

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