Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington Vol. 24, No. 6. 1961.
Sir,—In a Stage 2 English tutorial, on two occasions recently, the class has been set a written exercise to be done in the tutorial hour. I acknowledge that this type of exercise may be very beneficial to the student, and excellent preparation for planning examination answers. But surely this is defeating the purpose of tutorials, in which it is intended that the student voices his opinion to the inevitable enlightenment of his class-mates. The tutorial hour is supposed (and it is the English Department that puts forward this supposition) to be the hour of informal discussion, both of the material brought up during the lectures, and of the new and personal ideas that emerge from the student's own subtle contemplation and interpretation of the works in hand. This sort of impromptu written exercise is a practice of secondary school English teachers, and is right and proper there—but why should the University student, whose hours of instruction and guidance are few, have to put up with it while sacrificing the sole opportunity for personal discussion?
My Mind Has Meandered (Why Not?)
Sir,—There is a deep incongruity arising out of the fact of our "animal shadow" and soul existing in conjugation while our "animal shadow" remains practically undeveloped.
"Higher" intelligence in the human being is only now, at an intermediate stage between nonthinking and full comprehension of the enivironment. Until our conjunction of "animal shadow" and spirit can evolve into perfect control of its environment we will not begin to develop the capacity of our soul.
At present, our embryo souls are isolated in their plane. Their development is impaired until they can gain the ability of joining, two willing, in a direct relationship that gives something nearer to supreme consummation. (This direct spiritual consummation would raise the quality of love to its logical peak).
The star of complete control of our environment is enmeshed in the universe of the future. Our souls (being immortal) will only enjoy a reincarnation in this idyllic environment of balanced spiritual fulfillment If — our amoebic "animal shadow" flows into conformity around a developing bud of knowledge and soul.
We must perpetuate any transmutation that would make man a more balanced combination of an improved "animal shadow" and of an understanding soul Because Here Lies Ultimate Fulfillment.
So please nobody destroy either man or our environment for the process of development will be lengthy even if allowed to take its natural course.
[We advise readers who use this paper to wrap their fish and chips in to use a lot of salt here.]
Deist's Final Say
Sir,—The principal objection to my recent article on deism seems to have been my discussion on the Bible. While recognising that the Bible's origins are shrouded in mystery, my critics still emphasise that it is God's self-revelation to Man. They say that mechanical "proof" of this is not necessary, and base their argument upon the experiences which do not necessarily stem from the source that they describe.
I do believe B.T.D's sincerity, when he testifies to this experience, but I defy him to define it. Could it be that his experience is partly the result of an attitude of mind instilled from birth? Many people go through the motions of Christian living without experiencing anything. I prefer to be honest. I Have, Many Times, Attempted to Enter into this Experience, And Have Been Disillusioned.
Your correspondents draw upon scientific fact to establish the divine origins of the Bible. Yet, many of these ancient conclusions exceed the power of intelligent observation. The Bible records the phenomenon of the Great Flood and is supported by archeology— but this is not difficult to accept when we learn of the physical changes that have occurred in ages past. Primitive tribal geneology tells of a similar event, which hardly supports the Bible story that all mankind was wiped out, save a chosen few. Thus if we are to use the example of "proof," we must concern ourselves with the interpretation of fact, not just the facts themselves, and satisfy ourseles, whether or not, God or merely nature was responsible.
If B.D.G. had read my article carefully he would have found that I defined a Christian as one who wholly accepts the scriptures, and adheres to its two main commands i.e. (1) Love God; (2) Love thy neighbour. I find great difficulty in accepting the first requirement. I cannot see what tangible good results from it in terms of raising standards of living. I feel that if society is to expend its material efforts upon the glorification of God, the ideal of brotherly love is jeopardised. That is, I consider that the two principal commandments are, to some extent, incompatible.
A great inconsistency is that, whereas Man did enter into direct communion with Him, and Man did receive the benefits of His benevolence, God Does Nothing at the Present Time. Hence I agree with B.D.G. that God cannot (or does not) enforce his will upon Man, and does not concern himself with the eradication of evil, which is surely the deist contention. Is it right that we should owe allegiance to this kind of God? I am prepared to sacrifice any unsubstantiated promise of salvation for the little extra good I can render in a practical sense.
I am, etc.,
[In view of the many letters received answering Deist, we have decided to close this subject for a short period. Thank you, all Deist readers.—Ed.]
Sir,—The Evangelical Union is a very active organisation. They have notices all over the place— on noticeboards, in passages, everywhere. They even have notices stuck up in the men's conveniences.
It is deplorable that you should waste money printing a supplement which is of interest to only a minority of our student population—the Evangelical Union.
[Editor's note: The costs for the supplement which appeared in Salient, issue 4, is to be paid by the Evangelical Union itself. We assure our readers that neither the Evangelical Union nor any other religious group or Student body is going to be able to use Salient as a propaganda machine.]
Sir,—Religious Legalist and J. K. Murphy have misinterpreted the letter I signed "Middle Way." They associated "Middle Way," which was a reference to Buddhist doctrine, with the wonderful Kiwi cult of mediocrity. In fact I was trying to point out that certain behaviour-patterns needed to be recognised by their authors as plain immaturity.
For. example, excessive drinking and complete abstinence from alcohol are, in most cases, I feel, both immature behaviour-patterns. The mature individual being the one who follows the middle way with regard to drink.
Likewise blind devotion to a political system or to the principle of nuclear disarmament, or to sectarian ritual, is just fanaticism; while complete apathy is vegetative refusal to face reality.
The genuine beatnik is indeed an individual, but for every one of these, there are a dozen phony beats. My plea was: Don't conform to unconformity—try being yourself without laying on a coat of eccentricity—the individual emerging from the coat may be 10 times more eccentric—give him a go.
These behaviour patterns are often necessary stages to pass through on the road to individuality, being an exploration of new freedoms, but are not to be confused with individuality itself, as is done by "Religious Legalist."
To suppress such behaviour is the last thing I would dream of advocating; to have it recognised for what it is would be enough. Like William Blake I say "If the fool persists in his own folly he will become wise."
A "religious legalist" is, I feel, one who clothes himself in a code of living—a beautiful protection from reality—and the more noble the ideals in that code, the greater the protection; and the greater the imprisonment of the individual in conformity. The pity is that he justifies his legalism by inventing the doctrine of original sin.
Dear Sir, The lackadaisical interest shown towards University activities and Salient by the majority of students is well known. It appears to me that the feature on the cover of your fourth issue is little calculated to improve the position. The Editor may be fascinated by the unique position of Mr Hercus, but I am not. Yours, etc.,
—B. W. Begley.
Dear Sir, Now that the hunt for ex-Nazis is in full cry, it is strange that no such popular pursuit is being followed in New Zealand. Why do we not join in the game and organise a full-scale witch-hunt?
I see no reason why such worthwhile organisations (such as the Federated Farmers, the Editorial Board of Cappicade, the patrons of the private bar of the St. George, the N.Z.R.U. Inner Council, the Save the Taj Mahal Sub-committee) cannot be persuaded to pool their resources for the welfare of the community in ridding us of these cruel criminals.
The unspeakable horror brought to mind arouses our deepest concern that those who have sinned against humanity should escape rightful retribution.
I call upon the readers of this far-sighted newspaper to take with both hands the flame of liberty and eradicate these bigoted humbugs who so inhumanly stamp out the remaining survival of pre-sewage—our dear midges.
Yours, with a swollen tongue,