Religion Feature Page

Jerry Moyar, Editor

I knew I would have to write this someday but hoped it would be longer coming. Our editor died on Tuesday July 5.
Alan Tucker once said to me, "You are always talking about Jerry Moyar. I didn't know him at Princeton, what was so special about him?"
I said the first thing that came to mind. "Jerry was just better than the rest of us in every way." He was smarter. He was more compassionate, a better friend and he had many. We often hear athletes talk about their skills and then in an aside say, I also want to be a better person. Jerry was an all-state football player in Virginia before Princeton and had the strongest arm on the freshman baseball team. But he was the better person who was also a gifted athlete. Jerry never let his many gifts turn him to vanity in any way I ever noticed. He was always talking lightly of his ability to do anything well*. But the more I watched him over many years, he seemed to do EVERYTHING well. Ruth can probably provide some evidence to the contrary but I never witnessed a bad moment. Now he is gone and I miss him. We all miss him. Bart

*Our dear professor's name was Shao Lee (Charlie) Soo. He was born in 1922 and died in 1998. After Princeton, his tenure in the ME department at the University of Illinois, lasted from 1959 to 1998. I believe I only met him briefly there when I was in graduate school in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. A really great scholar and interesting man. I once worked as his assistant at Princeton, drawing illustrations for figures used in his technical papers. When my father visited Princeton I introduced him to Dr. Soo and received one of the greatest compliments of my life from him, "Jerry is a competent engineer." The other moment of pride at Princeton was John Wheeler blessing me in a small class with the observation, "Moyar, you have good physical intuition."A person of small accomplishments like me takes overblown satisfaction from the slightest recognition from the great!

God Talk in U.S. Politics

The first amendment has a prohibition designed to keep religion free and clear from the business of the republic. No state religion for us. That was the wish. What is the reality in 2012? Read on.

Rev. Lovejoy from The Simpsons by Matt Groening

No Greater News for Postmodern Youth -  Ralph Quere '57

By Gates K. Agnew ‘57

Required Chapel attendance was a reality, at least as a policy, for the Class of 1957, now just a quaint reminder of far off times when Princeton was a (vaguely) Christian academy.  But there has never  been, then or now, a requirement to be a Christian at Princeton, and what is remarkable in my memory is the attractive, convinced Christians I came to know in our years there: the Borsches, Johnny Robinsons, and Ralph Queres, not to mention the Professor Craigs and Jinx Harbisons on the faculty.  Johnny Robinson of the engaging smile did not survive our four years together, a car accident victim if my memory serves, but Ralph Quere like Fred Borsch is still writing books after retiring from teaching history and theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America).  His most recent book, written despite the death of his beloved wife, is a primer for touching the lives of today’s young people:  No Greater News for postmodern youth: Meeting Jesus [as] Friend, Hero, Brother.

Ralph has thought hard and gathered material for this deceptively little book over many years.  It is the work of an academic trying to make careful sense of a very complicated generational history since WWII, specifying problems facing each generation in order to present Jesus as Savior and Lord for Youth.  The text moves from "Trouble in the cyberworld” to "Jesus’ rescue operation” to "Recruiting youth for God’s mission” with an earnest mix of sociological analysis, conservative theology ("Stated simply, sin is the trouble in the cyberworld….”), and a refreshing infusion of songs and anecdotes of the youth culture. The author’s passion for clarity and inclusiveness is expressed in myriad charts and geometric illustrations (e.g. the "Star of Evil”), elaborate organization (sections are brief, less than two pages), and  chapter summaries with discussion questions. 

What is attractive to me about this book is Ralph Quere’s unpretentious affirmation of basic Christian doctrine.  He is a believer who thinks without contentiousness.  I happen to agree with him that Christians must "become subversive within secular society” and respect the role of the family as a faith community. I do wonder who the book is for, who is the book’s intended audience.  The young people who can make use of it are surely few in number even within the church. Church youth workers will find it a tough read. The style of exposition is never far from the classroom and indeed the lecture hall, and the humor or irony which could add warmth and life does not leaven the text as an Episcopalian might wish.  But still, Ralph Quere faithfully demonstrates a serious concern for the lostness of many young people.  Not many of us septuagenarians do that.

No Greater News  is available from <>


Editor's Response to Turhan Tirana’s article on "Amos, Evil, and Now


Dear Turhan,

I like your paper. It reflects a good understanding of Amos with a sobering conclusion about his relevance then, and now. Further, it challenges all of us with the inevitable consequences of the Evil we are now perpetuating and amplifying. In what follows I offer only a possible note of hope, and a reference you may find pertinent.

            I have relatively little knowledge of Amos, having forgotten what I might have learned in Professor R.B.Y. Scotts course on the O.T. Prophets at Princeton. Nevertheless, his old book, The Relevance of the Prophets, January, 1944, which has much the same aim as your paper, might be a pertinent and useful addition to your Works Considered. I illustrate this by quoting Scott on the issue of the small, but existing, prospect of mercy in Amos. On page 129 of his chapter on the Theology of the Prophets, he writes:


            "It must be acknowledged that in certain of the prophets Amos and Zephaniah, for example there is little hint of mercy, perhaps because the starkest sort of contrast to the popular expectation was felt to be necessary. But even in Amos there is the suggestion that entire destruction might yet be averted through complete redirection of the communitys life; though this is a logical concession, apparently, rather than a hope.


            In the book of Amos, following your own prefatory quotation from 5:13b, the following verses 14 15 are the exception that Scott refers to: ". . . it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant [my emphasis] of Joseph.(5:15b)


            Your thesis is that societal or systemic Evil is so great today, and our means of destruction so advanced, that the wrath of God is near and we are utterly doomed this time. No faithful remnant will survive. Its a frightening prospect, to be sure, and not without justification. Nevertheless, it depends on the character of God a god of vengeance or compassion?


            Perhaps I am more inclined to the Process Theological view that God is not an external omnipotent being. The potential for the destruction of mankind may be "built intocreation, much like the development of life-threatening climate change due to mans own damage of the environment. I think that is a metaphor for the inevitable consequence of systemic injustice, greed and hate. Something like a Newtonian version of "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.In any event, I am still a bit more hopeful than you. As Albert Schweitzer wrote, "To the question whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, I answer that my knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing and hoping are optimistic.(Out of My Life and Thought, 11th printing, January, 1963) p.186


            Incidentally, bear in mind that Scott wrote during the Second World War. So he was aware of the magnitude of Evil and the growing destructive power of man. Read Scotts final chapter which has the same title as his book. He writes, "The myth of inevitable and perpetual progress has been exploded by the impact of the Second World War, with its demonstration that autonomous man cannot solve the vast problems of economic welfare and political order. He is overwhelmed by his own machinery, and by social torrents set loose by his unwillingness to affirm his solidarity with his fellow men. The judgments of God are manifest in the world of today. The time has come to bring home to men that these are judgments on human sin; that men bear these consequences inevitably, because they are morally responsible beings who have denied their own nature in denying responsibility to their neighbors.


Best wishes,
            Jerry Moyar


Acknowledgement: Thanks to my son, Tim, for suggestions, additions to text and production.

In October I made my latest pilgrimage to Santa Rosa CA for the 25th anniversary conference of the Westar Institute. It is a familiar venue for me and Ruth. We have attended this conference for a majority of the twenty five years, know many of the "fellows" and identify with their mission. Here is a link to their website for those interested: Here is my summary of meeting highlights and some sidebar thoughts.  Jerry

Peanuts & Princeton

The Peanuts comic strip featuring Linus telling Charlie Brown and Lucy about his Dead Sea Scrolls show-and-tell project (posted here) has prompted a couple of comments, including the respondents’ own picks for favorite Peanuts cartoons. Here are excerpts from comments received, one from a classmate and the other from the Acting Head of the Religion Department at Princeton:

From Stu Pertz’57 "I hadn't been back to the site in some time (secrets revealed) and enjoyed yours very much. Of course the cartoon so hit me where I live (always at the reciprocal end of some genius I know and love) that I couldn't resist a "thank you."

My favorite of a similar ilk is lost in its graphic form but is worth ashot: Charlie Brown is trying to throw a ball in the air and catch it. In the first panel he lofts the ball way up and in the next it falls past his classic pained grimace through his wonderfully floppy glove to the ground. Charlie walks away, shoulders slumped and head bowed, ‘twelve years,’ he says; ...’twelve years’ his dimming huddled figure repeats, and from a dot in the dim distance: ‘shot to hell,’


From Prof. Martha Himmelfarb "I very much enjoyed the cartoon, which I had not seen before, although I do remember one in which Linus visits Charlie Brown on the pitching mound (or perhaps vice-versa) and quotes Job: ‘As surely as the sparks fly upward, man is born to trouble.’

It's always nice to hear that the Religion Department has had a lasting impact on a student, and I'm delighted to learn of your ongoing interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are also an interest of mine, and I continue to write about them. I'm attaching the syllabus (click on) of a course I give on a regular basis, Ancient Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls. I might also mention that one of our graduate students is currently working on a dissertation on the Dead Sea Scrolls and modern legal theory. Finally, for a brief statement of the importance of the Scrolls, you might look at the first chapter of Florentino Garcia Martinez and Julio Trebolle Barrera, The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Writings, Beliefs and Practices (1993).

With all best wishes,Martha Himmelfarb”

It’s interesting how much religious insight and inspiration is reflected in Charles M. Schulz’s’ Peanuts cartoons. The Gospel According to Peanuts, a book by Robert L. Short, is a good example of that phenomenon.

Prof. Himmelfarb’s comments were in response to my request for information on Princeton Religion Department studies related to the Dead Sea Scrolls. A follow-up article on the Dead Sea Scrolls at Princeton may be of interest to some of you. I’ll undertake this task after I manage to locate and read my assignment from Prof. Himmelfarb. In the meantime you might want to see what a 300 level course syllabus at Princeton looks like these days. (Click on)

There is a large Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Public Museum in Milwaukee, WI, that opened this past January and closes on June 6, 2010. It includes many original scrolls from the exciting discoveries in caves near the north west corner of the Dead Sea over the period 1947 to 1956. The exhibit area covers many thousands of square feet, including full size cave simulations. Go to‑sea‑scrolls/ for a preview. Are any classmates willing to meet me there? More on this later.

Jerry Moyar’57

Our classmate Jack McKenna offers a brief poetic piece on his dream of  "The Lion in Exile”  . Asked if he was influenced by C. S. Lewis, he responded yes, but writes.  "My Lion has more to do with Amos and Hosea and Ezekiel than C. S. Lewis .. . .The Lion of the House of Judah
[Book of Revelation 5:5?], says the piece, ought to be in the dreams of every old man sitting alone in the park in the hum of the city.” I believe this is also a meditation on Jack’s ‘pre-Christian’ early life in the sub-cultures of California. Read on.

Afterlife Reflections
The unpleasant reality of six classmates dying recently might  call for a "sieze the day" strategy. Our Religion Page editor has chosen to reflect on what comes next. Read on.

Arthur Bellinzoni has a new book. It will not sell like the Da Vinci Code. But it will interest Biblical scholars and amateurs alike. Your editor provides this review and synopsis. For those who have not followed Arthur's career, here is what he has done.

Be Good for Goodness Sake
Read on, this is an important consideration for your moral health.

Cern Startup Recalls Class Mini on Science and Religion
Under Jerry and Ruth Moyar's direction the attendees in 2006 toured the Fermilab, still the premier facility in the world for subatomic research. The new supercollider on the border of France and Switzerland seeks answers to the mystery of the atom. The particle which gives mass, the Higgs Boson has been referred to as the God Particle. The Cern facility will provide new understanding of events just after the Big Bang. What are the religious implications of this research? Read this.

Galileo on Scripture
"the Bible is a book about how to go to heaven
not about how the heavens go" 

First Year at Seminary
Turhan updates his First Day of School story with reflections on the completion of his FIRST YEAR at General Theological Seminary in NYC. He has experienced challenges and some academic anxiety, as well as the joy of learning and discovering new friends. Read all about it - here.

Responding to a "call" that is still not entirely clear to him, Turhan has started seminary. Most of his fellow students are candidates for the priesthood. Newly retired, he just wants to study. However, he wakes up at 4 a.m. on occasion anxious that he's not understanding the material and doesn't have time to complete the reading. He's still in shock but, basically, he very much enjoys the institution, the faculty and his fellow students. One building where he attends class is next to the Frederick Borsch Tennis Court. Fred obtained one of his degrees there and was interim dean once. In his class readings, Turhan comes across occasional citations to Fred's academic work. 
Turhan's essay on his FIRST DAY IN SCHOOL may be read here

The God Question
Following up on some questions in the Survey used in our 50th Reunion Book your editor tries to position the class on this very important question. Read on.

So, you Have a Picture With George W?
Perry Smith '57
is on the right. Stay tuned for Perry's story.

Buddhists in PU57

 [The following is taken from Turhan Tirana's "Class Notes" in the November 7, 2007, Princeton Alumni Weekly.]
    Four classmates have exited the familiarities of their cultural heritage to embrace Eastern spirituality.  One of these is ARBIE THALACKER, partner until 2000 and now of-counsel at the large New York law firm Shearman & Sterling.  "There's nothing wrong with being a Buddhist lawyer," Arbie said.  His partners have been aware of his spiritual orientation since he took a long vacation 17 years ago, not his custom then., to attend a Buddhist seminary in Colorado.  For several weeks, he was virtually unreachable, highly unusual for someone in his position. 
    Ironically, perhaps, Buddhist practice has helped Arbie professionally.  "There's a lot of aggression in the practice of law," he said.  "When the other side attacked my client, I became impatient and irritated.  Following Buddhist teaching, I became more detached. That led me to listen more deeply and to understand other viewpoints.  In turn, I saw new ways to resolve issues."  In other ways, too, Arbie said, "It's changed my life."  His pastimes and friends are different (e.g., no more bird hunting) and he distributes his discretionary money differently. 
    All this began when Arbie figured out that he needed to find a way to deal with emotional pain other than shutting it off.   In the mid-80s, he came across Buddhist meditation as an answer and began a long course of instruction.  "I was never a spiritual seeker but was interested in understanding the nature of mind," he said.  "Buddhism is not a religion so much as a science of mind.  You learn not to get involved with your emotions." 
    You may read more about Arbie and Buddhism in the 50th Book.  You also may read there how Buddhism changed Dr. MURRAY CION and about GUY WILLIAMSON's involvement.  The fourth classmate is keeping private still a stunning commitment.  

 Charlie and Mary Fuqua's son David decided to become a Buddhist ten years ago and later to become a monk. Here are some thoughts from the proud parents.