Grasped by God
I wish to thank Bates Magazine and staff writer Phyllis Graber Jensen for the article about the religious and spiritual life at Bates (“Grasping at Gods,” summer 1999).While I believe the title of the article states the phenomenon of the religious quest backwards – the deeper truth is that we have been grasped by the Holy and are seeking ever more adequate ways to understand and express that mystery – and regrettably suggests the phrase “grasping at straws,” the story attempts to convey some important information about the growing attention to religion on our campus.
I believe that three points warrant clarification.
First, we have been working diligently for several years to make Bates College not more secular, but more vibrantly and meaningfully religious. That project does not aim to promote religious relativism; rather it seeks the development among us of a genuine religious pluralism in which differences of belief and practice are not merely acknowledged and “tolerated,” but preserved, strengthened, and fruitfully engaged. If we are to prepare students for a world in which the fact of religious diversity does little more than divide and kill, we must address and engage those differences here on our campus.
Second, as Bates is an educational institution, our primary mission is the promotion of the College’s intellectual life. In the past three years, the Chaplain’s Office has contributed to this mission through several series of speakers, exhibits, seminars, and films.
Finally, while many at Bates have not had the advantage of belonging to a religious community, the initiatives of the Chaplain’s Office aim to connect people to communities of mutual accountability. The collective wisdom of the world’s religious traditions points to the importance of community, historical and present, for mutual support, instruction, prayer, and love. In the face of rampant individualism and a consumerist philosophy in our country that would turn even religion into one more commodity to purchase for “self-improvement,” the need for spiritual sisters and brothers who can share the joys and struggles of faithful living has never been more urgent.
Bates remains proud of its religious roots. Fidelity to those roots today requires not only an acknowledgment of how widely they have spread, but also a sustained effort to ensure that they are reaching deeply into the soil of their several heritages and into the soil of our common life on campus.
Kerry A. Maloney
Readers can visit www.bates.edu/admin/offices/chaplain to learn more about the many spiritual and religious offerings of the Chaplain’s office at Bates. – Editor
The article “Grasping at Gods” made no mention of the two Christian communities at Bates that have been active for 30-plus years: the Bates Christian Fellowship (which I serve as a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) and the Catholic Student Community, formerly the Newman Club. These two communities provide encouragement, resources, and many activities for students who seek to follow Jesus Christ in the campus environment.
The “studied secularity” that Professor Straub speaks of is a strong force on campus. While diversity is a value often cited at Bates, students who seek to follow Jesus Christ in this environment often experience – both in the classroom and in the social setting of the College – a sense of being misrepresented and stereotyped. These students must make constant choices to sort through the intellectual and social challenges they experience as committed Christians. Those who follow that path become very thoughtful, mature, and winsome representatives of Christ, whose informed, gracious commitment has been a positive influence on other students looking for a spiritual center.
The Rev. William Cutler
Phyllis Graber Jensen captured so well the spiritual longing so prevalent at Bates and, indeed, surging in American culture at large. And I would agree that Bates students are sometimes “alienated from traditional religions.” However, Jensen’s article would lead the reader to believe that one religious group is largely absent from the Bates campus: mainstream evangelical Christians. In fact, one might think from the article that the name of Jesus Christ has been branded archaic and banished from the campus. I am pleased to say that is not true. Mainstream evangelicals are alive and well at Bates among the student body, the professors, and the staff, showing God’s love, and adding much to the delightful cultural diversity Bates is so well known for.
I am thankful that my spiritual choice as an evangelical Christian was nurtured as much as my intellect was at Bates. Thank you, Bates, for continuing to educate the whole person.
Catherine Lohmann Ripley ’93
I was a bit taken aback by the language used in “Grasping at Gods” (summer 1999). In my reading, this article suggests that organized religious life at Bates has succumbed to religious relativism.
During the 1997-98 academic year, I taught Latin American politics at Bates. I regularly attended both the weekly ecumenical Christian services as well as lectures in the Spiritual Journeys series, where artists, dancers, writers, and activists shared their lives, their faith, and their work with the Bates community.
The religious programs I attended at Bates, as well as my dealings with the Chaplain’s office in general, exemplified a commitment to establish a dialogue among religious traditions, rather than a relativistic fusion of them.
I commend the Chaplain’s office at Bates for the fine – and balanced – job it is doing to both faithfully affirm the College’s religious traditions, while also embracing the increasingly significant religious heterogeneity on campus.
Shannan L. Mattiace
I was surprised to read of “mystery meat” at Bates (“Slang Bates,” Letters, summer 1999). We didn’t have that in the ’50s. The girls, who were still eating at Rand, where steam tables made the newer Men’s Commons look like heaven, referred to the delicacy as “round brown”:
If it came with apple sauce, it was pork.
If it came with green (mint) jelly, it was lamb.
If it came alone, it was beef.
But those were the only clues. In appearance, taste, and texture, they were all the same…all round brown.
Susan J. Rayner ’58
The list of “Bates lingo” (“Can We Talk,” winter 1999, and Letters, summer 1999), really brought a smile to my face and reminded me of life in the “Bates bubble.”
The magazine does such a good job of knitting ties together and taking its readers down memory lane. Language plays an immensely important role for identity, nourishment, and belonging, and I was reminded of some other terms that used to wrap me in my bubble and help make life make sense, like “baby chem” (chemistry classes for non-science majors).
Here in Berlin, Germany, where I am working on my master’s in philosophy, sociology, and political science, Bates can seem very far away, except once: Running by the lake in the former American sector, I bumped into two runners wearing Bates sweatshirts, alumni living overseas. As we stood under the canopy of trees, bouncing shared knowledge back and forth, I could have sworn the light changed, brightened to a sharp New England contrast, and the air was crisp, clear. Had I not known better, I would have expected Hathorn to appear between the trees.
Nikola Hoenisch ’97
I enjoyed the article on Bates lingo in the winter 1999 issue of Bates Magazine. Responding to the request to slang you, I am attaching a file containing the new vocabulary the Campus Association introduced me to as an entering freshman in 1980. I found it interesting that only five terms: clicker lady, pit, puddle, subfrosh, and traying, have apparently survived the two decades, which would seem to qualify them as natural rather than artificial Bates language.
David L. Richards ’84
Bates Vocabulary: A Primer
(Published by the Campus Association: 1980)
All-nighter: “Pulled” when cramming for an exam (strictly at the last minute).
Alternative Sadie: Presented the same night as CHC’s Sadie Hawkins Dance, this program provides an evening’s entertainment to those who prefer not to attend the traditional event.
Answer Board: Located in the library lobby, this mysterious force discusses not only library complaints, but also vital world issues of the day.
“Awesome”: An “in” Bates expression defined loosely as an experience too intense to be described with any more lucidity.
Beaux Arts Ball: An annual Arts Society event, this dance allows students to use their imaginations and come dressed in costume.
Blueslip: Procedure necessary to reserve rooms, kitchens, or lounges for various activities. Blueslips are available in the CSA office.
Booze Cruise: Officially known as the Harborlights Cruise, an annual trip around Portland Harbor sponsored by CHC during Short Term.
Casino Royale: An annual CHC event, usually held in February, Casino Night transforms Chase Hall into a glittering casino with real gambling, refreshments, and floor shows.
Clambake: Held in the fall and during Short Term, this event is sponsored by the OC and allows students to spend a day at the beach while devouring lobsters, clams, and other food.
Clicker Lady: You can’t miss her. She’s at every meal to check IDs and keep count of those eating in Commons.
Coffee House: Usually held in the Den, this gives students a chance to perform their musical Talents informally. Free coffee and doughnuts are served.
Cold Line: The campus complaint line. Call 786-4487 if your room is overheated or underheated, if your dorm has no hot water or if you see flagrant wastes of energy anywhere on campus.
Deansmen: A male vocal group.
Den Rat: Student who, for whatever reason, spends his or her whole life sitting in the Den, sipping a bottomless Coke and talking to friends.
Dip: The annual St. Patrick’s Day tradition that sees the Bates Irish (and Irish for a day) jumping through a hole in the ice of Lake Andrews in March. Must be seen to be believed.
Dorm Breakfast: Fruit, doughnuts, coffee, milk, and juice provided by Commons each Saturday morning for any dorm that requests it.
E-Room: The Outing Club’s Equipment Room, behind Hathorn Hall.
Experimental College: Non-credit courses run by Bates students for all interested. Topics vary with demand shown.
Film Board: Presents movies Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday nights in the Filene Room, usually for $1.
Free Lunch: The Bates equivalent to an underground newspaper. It’s put out by students.
The Garnet: A literary magazine edited by students.
The Goose: This local nightspot is the Bates tradition, dating from as far back as anyone can remember. Great place to spend a Wednesday or a quiet Friday night, if you can squeeze in.
The Great Pumpkin: Appears mysteriously each Halloween atop the Carnegie Science planetarium.
Gut (Bunny): Universal description of a course reputed to be easy and recommended to anyone. Unfortunately, a rare event at Bates.
Happy Hour: Often sponsored by academic departments for prospective majors, these programs give students and faculty an opportunity to meet informally over beer or wine and cheese.
House Councils: Organized in any way a dorm wishes, these groups handle internal affairs for each residence.
Icebreaker: Often the first party of the year, organized traditionally by residents of Rand Hall and held in Fiske.
Ice Cream Smorgasbord: Generally held twice a year in the Cage during dinner. All the ice cream you can eat.
Junk Sale: Held at the end of short term, this CA-sponsored event allows seniors and other students to unload used furniture, books, and other items before heading home for the summer
Keg Party: Usually sponsored by a house or dorm, this allows students to mingle, drink plenty of beer, and dance, all for about $2.
Lemmings: Rodents of Northern Europe noted for their mass migrations during which they mysteriously drown themselves to reduce their number each year. Unofficial mascot of College.
Lempoon: The twice-yearly humor publication which usually appears mysteriously before first semester finals and on April 1. Rumored to be published by the Bates Student.
Little Brother/Little Sister: Program in which Bates students volunteer to help underprivileged children of the Lewiston-Auburn area.
Mainefest: A new annual event at Bates, Mainefest is a day-long festival of music, dancing and lobster dinners presented by extracurricular groups during Fall Weekend.
Merimanders: A female vocal group.
Mirror: The Bates yearbook published each year by seniors for the entire student body.
Most Exquisite Room Contest: Coordinated by the Bates “House Beautiful Committee,” this competition awards prizes for the three most impressively decorated rooms on campus.
Mouthpiece: An enclosed bulletin board in front of Hathorn Hall. Class locations are posted there at the beginning of each semester.
Mugbook: (Officially known as “Students Entering in 1980-1981.”) A collection of pictures of the freshman class, transfer students, and new international students.
Newsletter: Published by the Coordinator of Student Activities office, this weekly guide furnishes dates, times and locations of on- and off-campus events as well as internship and job opportunities from the OCC.
Octoberfest: Another annual fall tradition, sponsored by the German Club and usually held in Fiske Lounge.
The Pit: Parking lot behind Lane Hall.
The Puddle: Known to faculty and administration as Lake Andrews. You’ve probably seen it hiding between Smith and Page.
Purple Pigging: One of the more unusual Bates traditions, this involves traveling from the lowest point of a dorm to the highest‹without touching the floor. Most easily accomplished in older buildings where pipes and other fixtures facilitate movement across the ceiling.
Quad Party: Plans include extending this evening-long short term outdoor concert and barbecue into a day-long program in the fall with games, extensive entertainment, and plenty of food.
Sadie: A chance for women to anonymously make dates with men of their choice. Cocktails are served in the Den and a dance is held in Chase Lounge.
The Bates Student: The weekly campus newspaper.
Subfrosh: High school seniors applying for admission.
Sugarloaf: The annual conference of faculty, administrators, and student leaders held during a weekend in September at the Sugarloaf ski resort.
Traying: Performed with a Commons tray on Mount David. Practice up, because races and competitions are held.
Trivia Night: An all-night competition sponsored by WRJR [now WRBC – Editor]. Questions are read over the air and teams must call in their answers within the length of a song. Also features bonus questions and cosmic questions. Prizes include dinners, kegs, and merchandise donated by area businesses.
Twin City Area: This term refers to Lewiston and Auburn, also known as the LA area.
Used Bookstore: Sponsored by the CA during the first week of each semester, this sale allows students to sell or buy used textbooks at low prices.
“Wicked”: See “awesome.”
Winter Carnival: Sponsored each January by CHC, this popular event includes competitions, a film festival, dances, coffeehouses and more.
I was pleased to read the letter from Eric N. Darbe ’97 (“In Horowitz’s Camp,” Letters, summer 1999).Not only was David Horowitz reviled as an invited speaker on campus, but the College administration leaned over backward (and to the left) to ignore, neglect, and slight Mr. Horowitz upon his arrival. To me, it is just another appalling example of the depths of depravity to which the liberal left has descended when accepted common civility is replaced by boorish behavior, as if that, in some way, reinforces this political astigmatism.
Keep it up, Eric, and perhaps a few more of us conservative types will show our faces to be recognized.
Richard Sterne ’50
Charles Radcliffe ’50’s concerns about our College’s engulfment by the radical left met with no more than tacit agreement from me until David Horowitz’s appearance at Bates. The reception that this universally acclaimed conservative received at the hands of the students, faculty, and administration was a shock.
William B. Lever ’41
The above readers are responding to the first-person account that conservative critic David Horowitz wrote for Salon, the online magazine, describing his spring 1999 Bates visit. Horowitz’s piece garnered quite a response from Salon readers. Some agreed with his perspective, while others noted that Horowitz was, according to his own account, actually accorded a great deal of hospitality at Bates, to which he responded with his own intemperate display – Editor
Reading “A Day in the Line” (On & Off Campus, summer 1999) about the Bates student who waited all night to be among the first to see The Phantom Menace made me realized just how much times have changed. Twenty-five years ago, I, too, waited all night for a seat ‹ but one for the Watergate trial.
I was in Washington, D.C., with other Bates students for a semester at American University. One night several of us decided to try to get seats for the trial. We arrived by 11 p.m. and were among the first 10 people to form the line. We created a list and, using the honor system, were able to keep order as the crowd swelled during the night.
We were finally allowed in the courthouse around mid-morning. The public (if you will) filled the last couple of rows in the courtroom. Shortly before the trial was to begin, the VIPs were ushered in. Country singer Johnny Cash and June Carter took seats right in front of me – and they hadn’t waited outside all night.
Finally, the cast of defendants, lawyers, and prosecutors entered the courtroom, followed by Judge Sirica. We had chosen an historic day to attend the trial. Headphones were provided and we listened to the “smoking gun” tape on which President Nixon discussed the coverup in expletive laced language. We were among the first Americans to hear one of the most incriminating Watergate tapes.
Times certainly have changed. While at Bates I was a member of the Democratic Caucus; now I am a registered Republican!
Pete Basiliere ’76
Times have changed: One can now purchase cassette copies of the “smoking gun” and other Watergate tapes from the National Archives. See the item under “Bates in the News” in On & Off Campus – Editor
Godspeed to Ryan
I was delighted to open the summer 1999 issue of Bates Magazine and find an article about my grandnephew, Ryan Williamson ’01 (“Walkin’ Man”). Although I’ve not had the opportunity to know Ryan, I have known his mother, Jacque. In high school, she showed the same curiosity and interest in the world of nature as her son now does. She was always challenging herself and was not much of conformist.
Jacque has gone on to make a positive contribution to society, and I’m sure Ryan will, too. We look forward to getting better acquainted and wish him Godspeed on his journeys. I am really proud and glad that he has chosen Bates as his current home base.
Jane Harrigan Ensign ’49
In the summer 1999 issue of Bates Magazine, Jeremy Villano ’97 takes issue with an earlier pieceby Clark Whelton ’59, which asserted that ultimate frisbee began in the 1950s at Bates. Citing several sources, Jeremy states that the game began in the late 1960s.
But Clark Whelton is correct. I arrived at Bates in the fall of 1956 and clearly recall playing what became known as ultimate frisbee on the lawn of John Bertram. I also remember that the discs we played with could be quite rough on our hands because we were not playing with modern frisbees. (Clark refers to the use of beer trays from the Blue Goose; I don’t remember playing with those, but the reference does generate other warm memories.)
Jim Hall ’60
In matters as serious as the origin of ultimate frisbee, false prophets are bound to arise. Jeremy Villano ’97’s letter in the summer 1999 issue is a sad case in point.
Mr. Villano seems to take seriously a flying leap by the World Flying Disk Association, which incorrectly states that ultimate frisbee was invented at a New Jersey high school in 1967. It is with reluctance that I pull rank and note that in the autumn of 1956, ultimate frisbee was invented at Bates on the lawn behind J.B.
In mid-May of 1957 year we were practicing on the lawn between Roger Bill and Chase when bursar Norm Ross ’22 opened his office window and yelled to Dick Pierce ’57, captain of our squad (and today a distinguished attorney in Rhode Island), “Hey, Dick, will you please take your team someplace else!” Now, I believe Mr. Ross is still with us. I have no doubt he will confirm the incident and will even recall his use of the word “team,” which clearly implies the existence of an organized sport.
So let the history books be revised: Frisbeus Ultimatus, Condita 1956, Academia Batesina.
Clark Whelton ’59
Seeking Bobby Berkelman
Several years ago, I unfortunately discarded a worn-out dictionary without pulling from it a 5″ x 8″ card with Professor Berkelman’s concise list of qualities of good writing. I am asking if any of Bobby’s critique-scarred former students or grading assistants might have a copy to share.My address is 25 Birch Lane, Cumberland Foreside, Maine 04110-1225.
The list varied from year to year in number and phrasing of principles. I remember enough of it that I still use it as a mantra when I puzzle how first or fourth drafts can be improved. It beats even Strunk and White.
William R. Dill ’51
Cumberland Foreside, Maine
Thank you for including the obituary of Beatrice Zerby in your summer issue.
Over the summer of 1989, I stayed with her in her apartment while I worked on in Ladd library to raise some extra money for my junior year abroad in France. When I knew her she was 89 years old and still very much engaged in the world. She told me stories of her life at Bates, her trips to France with students after World War II, and all of the many adventures of her lifetime. I also had a number of interesting discussions with her about current events, politics, education, and life on the Bates campus from 1930 to 1989. At the time, she was trying to write up memoirs of herself and her husband. I am grateful for her generosity with both her home and her unique perspective on life.
Kyra Belcher Ginalski ’91
Darbe on TargetI agree with Eric N. Darbe ’97’s description of the atmosphere reigning at Bates (Letters, summer 1999).
During the second semester of my freshman year, I discovered the Multicultural Center and its inhabitants. Having confided to them that my socialization with my housemates was not working at all, they diagnosed me as being culturally discriminated against by these ignorant and xenophobic inhabitants of Frye House. Of course! It is as simple as that!
As a white Swiss student, I also had to do a constant “maxima culpa” for belonging to the oppressive race of the West and to the exploitative bourgeoisie. However, I quickly learned that this self-flagellation was the only way for me to become one of the few enlightened members of the very exclusive multicultural club, whose participants know better than everyone else and as such, have gained the right to infringe on any disagreeing person’s freedom of speech. I internalized this quite easily and became a masochist, ferocious feminist and anti-West advocate. I tried to follow the example set by these groups of radical students who resort to public slander of administrative staff or professors and like to storm in their offices to force them to accept their often lunatic demands.
The only thing that signaled the end of this tragicomedy I was playing to myself was the bell of reality, whose sound I could hear always more clearly as the end of my senior year was approaching. I suddenly realized how much time I had wasted in blaming society, instead of focusing on what really matters: my intellectual, social, and professional education.
Ariane Beldi ’99
Recallin’ the Androscoggin
The excellent article in the fall 1998 issue (“The River Stynx No More”) was of particular interest to me. I served as a member of Dr. Lawrance’s research team during the summers of 1947 to 1951. Stalwart co-researchers included Richard Briggs ’49 and James Vetrano ’51.
Each weekday morning we sampled the water in the Androscoggin at North Turner Bridge, Turner Center Bridge, and Gulf Island Dam. We took samples for sediment measurement dissolved oxygen (DO) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) measurements. Reagents used included concentrated sulfuric acid and concentrated potassium hydroxide, which I cheerfully pipetted by mouth, a technique unthinkable under today’s safety standards. Only once did I get any of the acid in my mouth, and had lots of river water to dilute it with before any serious damage was done!
I was also the official operator of a 16-foot rowboat pushed by a seven-horsepower Mercury motor, which we used for sampling other points in the river. I will never forget the painful decision between my leading the Outing Club crew on a fire-fighting mission to Kennebunk during the disastrous southern Maine forest fires in fall 1947, and taking a group of visiting dignitaries on a river tour in that boat. Dr. Sawyer, Outing Club advisor, and Dr. Lawrance had it out, and I went to the fire!
I accept Dr. Lawrance’s statement that the hydrogen sulfide in the air coming from the pollution did not peel house paint. But I can attest to the fact that white paint in many parts of Lewiston did turn black from the lead sulfide formed when the lead in the house paint reacted with the sulfide in the air, just as silver turned brown, which was as reported by Dr. Lawrance.
Herbert T. Knight ’46
I arrived at Bates in 1951, so I don’t know whether you had a mammoth snow storm in 1949 (President’s Column, winter 1999).
I do know that in February 1952 I was at the Winter House Party in Brunswick and it began snowing on Sunday morning. When I woke up on Monday morning, it had snowed all night with blowing wind. The screens on the windows of Parker Hall were covered so with snow that all we could see was white. Classes were canceled that day because many of the professors could not get out of their houses. My understanding at the time was that it was the first time since 1912 that classes had to be canceled.
It certainly didn’t stop the students from getting out! We all had the greatest time all day, building snowmen and just being “kids” in the snow. The campus was so beautiful then and for several days afterward. Bates campus with its white ivy-covered buildings was truly a winter paradise. I’ve always looked back on that day with fond memories.
Joan O’Hara ’55
A summer issue letter from Elizabeth Bond Thomes Hobbs ’51 incorrectly referred to her attending a “Reunion of the Class of 1952,” rather than 1951. It was an editing error.