Monon Week, Veteran’s Day, Liberty, and Secular Life

Last night began the tradition of ringing the Monon Bell from the steps of Pioneer Chapel.  During Monon Week (the week that leads up to the Monon game) we ring the bell at all convenient times.  Inconvenient times, for instance, occur during class time and very late at night. This year, the Monon game is taking place at DePauw, which is cool because the game will be home during my senior year.  Below is a picture of our beautiful bell:

Photo by: Rudy Altergott ’13

Today, while being the second day of Monon Week, is Veteran’s Day.  I’m not going to say too much about the day, I’m just going to leave you with a quote, from Kurt Vonnegut (copied off of a friend’s Facebook Wall), and a photo:

A Veteran’s Day memorial, in Arizona, that is only fully visible at 11:11 am on 11/11 of every year.

“…all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

And all music is.”

Recently, at Wabash College, our Student Senate passed some legislation that stated that the Student Senate of Wabash College supported President Hess’ and President Casey’s decision to oppose HJR-6.  This passed with 13 Yeas, 2 Nays, and 7 Abstentions.  Last night, Depauw’s Student Government took a similar stance.  The following is copied from their Facebook page: DePauw’s student body has spoken. Unanimously passing tonight’s resolution. It reads, “A Resolution Supporting President Brian Casey of DePauw University and President Gregory Hess of Wabash College in their respective institutional decision to join the Freedom Indiana coalition, thus standing in opposition to House Joint Resolution 6, a bill in the Legislature of the State of Indiana.”  Something that I find interesting, but not surprising, is how the motions passed.  Unanimously at DePauw, but met with much contention, and even a counter-proposal, at Wabash.  It seems like Wabash has DePauw beat at more things than just the Bell Game: conservatism.

Conservatism, not just of social/political issues, but of religious issues as well.  Being the president of the Secular Student Alliance at Wabash College gets stressful, not because of the planning and organizing of events, but because of the backlash from the students.  This is the third semester that the SSA has been a recognized organization, and I still receive backlash, usually in the forms of hateful, uninformed, close-minded emails, after the announcement of every event.  Today, for instance, I announced that we were going to be showing a documentary called “Jesus Camp”.  Now, Jesus Camp is a film that tells the story of a very fundamentalist, Christian summer camp.  This camp was shown to be, what some would say, psychologically scarring children.  After the film was released, the camp actually shutdown because of public outcry.  The documenters are not bashing religion, they are actually Jewish and Catholic respectively.  They simply lay out the facts about this camp.  After announcing our showing of this film, I get an all-campus email complaining about how the SSA is only good at “mocking other’s beliefs”, which is something we’ve never done.

The moral of the story is: if you try to be an outspoken nontheist on Wabash campus, you’re going to have a bad time.  It’s okay for the Wabash Christian Men to bring in speakers to harp against one of the most unequivocal, ubiquitously studied theories in science, evolution, but gods forbid the Secular Student Alliance attempt to show people the possible dangers of zealous, religious fundamentalism.

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