Carol Platt Liebau: A Loss for Yale

Friday, May 20, 2005

A Loss for Yale

What a shame. Yale is ending its affiliation with the United Church of Christ. As this piece points out, "Yale's idea seems to be that doctrinal differences run the risk of alienating students from a house of worship. But the opposite may be the case: Doctrine, even weakly expressed, signals a seriousness of religious purpose. It honors a religious tradition--even a liberal tradition--and habits of devotion."


As a general matter, something is lost when a school unmoors itself from a religious tradition. My high school alma mater, Mary Institute -- now known as MICDS -- has eliminated the "chapel" that I attended at the beginning of virtually every school between fourth grade and the end of senior year (a nondenominational girls' school at the time, the religion was "mere Christianity" that omitted overt references to Jesus, except during the Christmas "Festival of Lessons and Carols" program).

No doubt the intention was a worthy one, to make MICDS more "religiously inclusive" -- but the actual effect has been simply to secularize it. And it's a real loss for the generations of young people who will never be exposed to beautiful hymns (many of which I used later in my wedding) -- as well as for the graduates, who now know that there is no longer a group of young people reciting the old "Prayer for Graduates" on their behalf.

Will any older Yale alums feel an analogous sense of loss?


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