A Question of Faith
I was disturbed by your cover story on faith at the University in the July-August issue. I value my Rochester education because I enrolled as a fundamentalist Christian and graduated as a critical thinker. That is exactly what a university education should do, especially as there is a popular lack of critical thinking about religion. (Indeed, religion teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with mystery and ignorance.)
So I was disturbed to be reminded of the University’s sponsorship of a Christian chaplain and to see religion celebrated in your pages. The University needs to lead people out of Plato’s cave and into the light, rather than lead them to marvel at the intricacies of shadows on the cave wall.
Your article is an example of the prevailing view that religion is a harmless and inevitable way to cope with life’s difficulties. Yet history tells us that it is not harmless, and it would be a shame if students left Rochester not knowing that it is possible to live a rich and fulfilling life without believing in things for which they have no evidence.
Name withheld on request
Remembering Charles Carlton
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Charles Carlton in the July–August issue. I took several courses from Dr. Carlton in the mid-1960s and stayed in touch with him from then on. His classes enabled me to “crack the code” of French spelling and pronunciation. When I expressed an interest in majoring in French language, he helped me create a course of study and further championed my cause when certain members of the French literature faculty balked at awarding the prize for an outstanding French student to a mere language major.
Later, when I was teaching the same courses myself, I relied on my notes from Dr. Carlton’s classes and assigned the same texts. We met for dinner a couple of times when our paths crossed at professional meetings. When I settled in Reno, a friend in the University of Nevada’s English department was asked to help establish an exchange program with a school in Romania. I knew exactly whom he should call for advice on traveling there, and Dr. Carlton was, as always, a kind and helpful advisor.
I then met a number of Romanian faculty members when they visited Reno; they all knew Dr. Carlton personally and praised his work in elevating the study of their language. I exchanged holiday cards with Dr. Carlton up until his final illness. He always urged me to call him Charles, though I never could bring myself to do it.
Through 40 years of Christmas letters, I feel I got to know his entire family, and I offer them my condolences. I will remember him fondly.
Larry Hillman ’68
Thanks for the beautiful write-up about Professor Carlton. I had the pleasure of knowing him after he came to the Jewish Home of Rochester. Truly a Renaissance man and a mensch in all ways.
Editor’s Note: Yablin is a retired clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical Center.
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