The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, April 21, 1987, Page Page 4, Image 4

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    Tuesday, April 21, 1987
Page 4
Daily Nebraskan
University o( Nebraska-Lincoln
Words, works
Religion more than rhetoric
Tast week the Daily Nebras- divine activity. Such students at
kan ran a series of articles least have a right that their own
that indicated UNL is expe- interpretation religiousness at
riencing growth in religious least be partly acknowledged,
interest among students. Similar Certainly religion is one insti-
results have been reported na- tution among many, and reli-
tionwide: After decades of decline gious trends may be partly
among youth, theologically con- explained in terms of grand social
servative religious expressions trends, but it is the height of
are growing. presumption and bigotry to a-
Too often the tendency exists
to dismiss this trend as due to
"mere" social trends. Some of
the more obvious dismissals are
that the increase
activity is due to
in religious
the growing
general conservatism among of students claims. For exam
youth; that youthful idealism is pie, while studies show religious
being expressed through piety
rather than socially; that "youth
needs something to believe in"
and seeks out authority to give
"easy" answers; and that the
natural rebellion of youth against
parents, ironically, now means
rejecting parents' irreligion or
religious disdain.
Yet it is much too presumptu
ous for the rest of us to describe
these trends only in these cate-
gories. Few believers, for exam-
pie, would say, "I voted for Rea-
gan, so I became a fundamen-
talist." Rather, believers are more
likely to explain it in terms of
Doctorate not grounds for promotion
The lead article in the Daily Nebras
kan, April 15, quotes Connie Neal as
saying that "another possibly discrim
inatory case was against a woman in
the English department who was denied
full professorship even though she held
a doctorate."
Whether Neal made such an absurd
statement or the DN garbled what she
actually said is not clear. In any case, I
would expect a good reporter to check
facts before purveying them. The doc
torate is not grounds for promotion; we
don't hire anyone at the beginning
level without the Ph.D. or equivalent.
The faculty member mentioned was
Tarty house' no fun for the neighbors
As a citizen of Lincoln, I take extreme litter of plastic beer cups in my yard.
offense at Geoff McMurtry's feature in
the April 16 Diversions. I wish McMur-
iry wuum explain iu ms reauers wny u
is necessary for supposedly mature col-
lege students to act like morons in
order for a party to be considered a
Nowhere in his story does he remind
these post-pubescent alcoholics that
'party houses" are invariably located
in residential neighborhoods inhabited
by people who work for a living and are
trying to teach their children to be
responsible citizens.
Alas, I live next door to a "party
house." I take exception to seeing
alleged adult males urinating on (not
near ON) my car in my driveway. I
take exception to the broken beer bot-
ties on the sidewalk where my children
play. I take exception to the constant
MfKnibeiik, Mi tor, J4 TJ 1 766
James lingers, Editorial Paije Editor
Use Olsen, Associate Xeirs Editor
Mike Heilley, Xiyht Xeirs Editor
Joan Iiezac. Cop n Desk Chief
scribe all these students expe-
riences to naturalistic causes.
Nonetheless, even a more open
approach in allowing for the pos-
sibility of divine activity does
not lead to uncritical acceptance
profession to be increasing, those
same studies show a disconcert
ing lack of religious depth in the
lifestyles that devotees adopt.
Polls indicate that as far as daily
activities go (including activi
ties many widespread religions
teach as immoral) professed
believers differs little from non
believers. The faith of those who act as
though they believe what they
say they believe is easy to observe,
and is many time quite respected:
for instance, Mother Teresa. But
one has a illegitimate right to
doubt those who say they believe
but have no works to back their
profession up.
It's too early to tell whether
the current religious renewal is
just a minor blip on a long-term
path of decline or if it's the
beginning of a significant turna-
bout from the secularism of
modern America. Ask again in a
decade or so.
indeed denied promotion, but not on
those grounds.
Lest DN readers be misled by Neal's
allegation, I remind you that the per
manent staff in English includes 11
women; by next fall, we expect five of
them to be full professors, three of
them associate professors and four of
Liii.iii Uiiiii.iLai L ill iiir..iiii . ii ri r nil
salary differential between men and
, - "
women professors in this department,
given similar rank, years in rank and
overall performance.
Frederick M. Link
professor and chairman
Most of all, I take exception to the total
disregard of my right to the peaceful
eiyuyiiieju oi my property.
I will give McMurtry the benefit of
the doubt and assume his article was
written tongue in cheek; however, I
have doubts that the intelligence of my
next-door neighbors is sufficient to
grasp that notion.
Joanne M. Voelker
Letter Policy
Letters will be selected for publica
tion on the basis of clarity, originality,
timeliness and space available. The
Daily Nebraskan retains the right to
edIt 411 material submitted.
Anonymous submissions will not be
considered for publication.
Prairie beanaty better bef or
Backyard affluence
Animals surrounded us once, and
we killed them. Giant flocks of
XJL nassenizer pigeons covered the
fields and stripped away the grains. But
all that is past now, and the passenger
pigeon is, too.
Forests once surrounded us, real
forests, and we destroyed them. There
the 19th century is ashes and fungus
today at the end of our century. And
the rows of yield-bred clones the fore
stry corporations put in the forests
place are a wasteland of life in compar
ison. Rows of pine trees are not a forest.
Neither are rotting timbers and fallen
barns teeming with termites. But most
of the old forest, the real forest is gone.
Any evil has its benefits. But at what
point does it become a good? Space
cleared to line in and space cleared to
grow crops made this nation the agri
cultural giant it is today. The present
farm crisis, whatever its causes and its
course, should remove from danger
some of the remaining slivers of wild
land that were missed the first time
around. But as it is, in many areas there
remains only the roadsides and rail
right-of-ways for wildlife to live in.
Eminent domain for the trains has
given the only world there is to millions
of animals.
Biologists look at a wilderness com
munity the way we might observe a
mind. The more diverse, balanced and
stable it is, the more healthy it is.
We've caused madness in our wilder
ness communities, and much of the
past's harm is out of reach. Yet the
time-honored principles of nation, cor
poration and wallet have survived our
discovery of where they lead. We need
to love the land, not its flag. And we
need to be concerned with the exact
damage done to our wilderness com
munities, and not how it looks from the
road. It's easy to ignore the effects of
acid rain on a lake; it stays just as blue
Medical technology moves faster
than potential victims might want
A friend of mine, prone to misplac-
l ing her keys and the names of
L JL colleagues, marks this weakness
with some offhand remark about it
being "a symptom of early Alzheimer's."
She says this lightly, mind you, but she
says it frequently. It isn't hard to hear
in her words the accent of anxiety.
The woman has, in fact, seen this
I it 21 !..!. .!..
disease rob others in her circle of their
memory, and then their ability to rea-
son, and then their lives. If each of us
focuses on some future dread, hers
comes with a name.
mi iiwii i i r- ,
, uooaman '
Not surprisingly, it was this friend
who pointed out the article. A bio
chemist, Miriam Schweber, has an-
nounced a new blood test that mav
diagnose Alzheimer s in its early stages,
that itiou mHaaH a ncaH in ihn fnhmn
to identify healthy people who are at
risk. Would you, she asks me, want to
k..i ...uvu uv uoiu in mc iuiuic
know? Would you want to see, clearly,
the handwriting on the wall?
I don't answer her right away. It
occurs to me that I have thought a
great deal more about the right to know
than about the desire to know.
Twenty years ago, doctors and fami
lies often conspired to keep the truth
about terminal diseases from patients.
Even today, in the glasnost Soviet
Union, doctors regard openness about
cancer prognoses as cruel. Yet it has
always seemed clear to me that adults
should know if they are sick, should
have the name for their "long illness."
But what about people who are
healthy now? What if we can make a
prediction for a disease that will strike,
not today, but in five or 15 or 25 years?
brings 'Chemlawn,
and sparkiesjust as cieany. mil ueueaui
the surface its life is dying or dead,
Fish lie on the bottom, turning black
with decay. Man's phenomenal expansion doesn't
Our attitude towards the ecological represent a new community, it repres
leftovers of our fathers still remains ents an impoverished environment of
concerned with symptoms and not humans, livestock and human paras
remedies. We are not trying to rebuild ites. Man has done much for his dis-
the unique environments that were lost
The practical goal of biology should be
the restoration of communities. But
identifying what the damage to the old
communities has been, and how to
reverse it, is not a task the public rec-
ognizes. The approach of many ecolo-
gists today seems to be one of trying to
maintain the state of things.
In the Dakota marshes and pothole
lake lands, farmers are draining thou-
sands of tiny lakes that dot the north-
em prairie to increase their wheat pro-
duction. The ecological push is to have
them stop this. There is no political
demand that the farmers are responsi-
ble for restoring this habitat for migrat-
ing birds. As the lakes are emptied, the
birds return to die on the open plains,
A year's good hatching means their
young will arrive only to find dry lands,
As things now stand, it's no one's
Once the present generation passes,
it is hoped that restoration will become
a political reality. But we see in many
instances the older attitudes being
recultivated under the guise of eco
nomic pride and the call for American
world economic dominance. The need
for restoration now is great, but if it is
What if there is no cure for that dis
ease? Would I want to know?
These are not arcane questions today,
when medical futures are not seen
through crystal balls but through mic
roscopes. If a test for Alzheimer's is in
the future, a test for Huntington's dis-
ease is available now and so, of course,
is a test for AIDS. There are already
il 1 1 Ml! .
thousands, perhaps millions, of people
trying to decide whether and what they
want to know.
Those who test positive for HIV
infection many not get symptoms of
AiDi tor three or five or eight years or,
perhaps, ever. It is my impression that
people at low risk may express enor
mous desire even an urgent need
to be tested while many at high risk
express equally enormous reluctance.
The gay neighbor of a prominent
California public-health official checks
himself daily for symptoms, but rejects
entreaties that he be tested for infec
tion. "I couldn't stand it," he has said.
A well-known doctor who had a number
of transfusions after hw nm ctQm,
few years ago tells me that he, too, has
I.. J - j j . . . : .
uunauiuuMv ueciaea noi to ne tested.
Playwright Larry Kramer speaks for
many when he savs " I don't want a
sword of Damocles hanging over my
head if I test positive." Yet others
clearly want the verdict, even the
worst, in order to plan. Some may
choose the bleakest form of control (8
percent of those with Hnntinjt'c
commit suicide), but they choose to
I do not mean to lump these diseases
or decisions together. AIDS is clearly a
special case. It is infectious (the men I
mentioned take pains to say they are
not endangering others), and there is
some treatment, if not cure. Further
more, society has motives for knowing
about AIDS infection that go beyond
those of the individual. There are dif
. ... v . . .. -.0
ferent but real consequences for know-
ing a bleak medical future, in terms of
' transistor future
uca, u,uu srauon -
our generation -it will become increas-
ingly impossible.
eases, his cockroaches and rats by
tuiutuug uic nunu. uut da inuiviuu-
als it's not always clear that we have
done much for ourselves,
Another summer returns to Nebraska,
and the tall grass prairie isn't coming
up through the sod. The gold finches
are not teeming in the thickets. The
cattle are there, moving through the
muck of their feedlots, but the prairie
is gone. We could restore it in many
places, but there is a world of humans
to feed, and little sympathy is felt for
what we can't see dying in the streets
of Calcutta on the nightly news.
There's even less hope for children's
concern. God help our children.
Nature will be something their talk
ing teddy bear tells them about, and
only things with grand names and thril-
ling description will reach their tran-
sistor-obliterated minds. And the advent
of "chemlawns" sterilized even the
backyards of our affluent lives our
children need never fear again the sigh
of a dandelion, the nuisance of the
crickets chirping at night, or even the
confusion of being told the caterpillar
they found will become a butterfly.
If we were bold enough, we could
turn even local park land into prairie.
We could do it for our children; we
could do it as an example of what many
of us have discovered: It was better
before. But I fear our lives and ambition
have shrunk with the prairie, and we
will pass the task to a future which has
no idea what we mean or what they've
Basham is a senior political science
employment, insurance, social ostra
cism. But each of these tests may offer
healthy people the same science-fiction
possibility: the morbid ability to see
into the future. Increasingly, scientific
tools modify the unknown with statis-
tics of chilling likelihoods. It may be
possible to predict, not the day and
r. "... . . .
street corner, but the likely end. And to
decide whether we want a present sha
dowed by a future.
"Would you want to know?" my
friend asked. I confess a prejudice
toward information. I don't want to
shut my eyes during the scary parts.
But what a curious sort of knowledge
this is. I can't think of it as an unmiti
gated blessing. In the most graphic and
immediate way, it brings up all the
questions about fate and free will, how
to live with certainty and uncertainty.
There is an ironic thought written by
playwright Tom Stoppard: "Life is a
gamble at terrible odds. If it was a bet,
you wouldn't take it." Now scientists
A! -u. i
how we will take that.
ma? n.- ti.,. -ik v.arr
CompanyWashington Post Writers
Goodman is a Pulitzer prize-winning
columnist for the Boston Globe.
Editorial Policy
Unsigned editorials represent
official policy of the fall 1987 Daily
Nebraskan. Policy is set by the Daily
Nebraskan Editorial Board. Its mem
bers are Jeff Korbelik , editor, James
Rogers, editorial page editor; Lise
Olsen, associate news editor; Mike
Reilley, night news editor and Joan
Rezac, copy desk chief.
The Daily Nebraskan's publishers
are the regents, who established the
UNL Publications Board to super
vise the daily production of the