Forgotten Treasures

["Borges in Charlottesville," Summer 2012] was a most enjoyable and informative article. It lacks only fuller references to the invaluable contributions of Jared Loewenstein to the bibliographical treasures at Alderman Library in all fields of Spanish and Latin American languages, literature, history and culture.

Heath Dillard (Grad '68, Grad '80)
New York City


Changing Ideas About Marriage?

The Summer 2012 cover evoked pleasant memories. My wife and I met at a YMCA dance in the Rotunda in September 1950. We married because of a shared vision and knowing that two heads were better than one. Professor Allison Pugh ["The Marriage Crisis," Summer 2012] says both married and unmarried parents can provide children with stability, nurturing and love—I disagree. Only a married couple can exemplify that important character trait: commitment. The inability to make commitments, without loopholes, is why 11 percent of my local telephone directory is devoted to listings for lawyers.

Ben Hoffman (Col '51)
Bradford, Maine

 

Professor Emery's comment about why people married in the past seemed to carry the tenor and tone of the article; they [in the past] believed marriage was "more of a businesslike relationship." I was waiting for the punch line, but quickly realized that was a serious assertion.

Moreover, if taken too seriously the article may well lead one to believe that there is no meaningful difference between the descriptive and the prescriptive. The reliability of the sociological information presented is not doubted. The complaint is that it strains the back of credulity to infer what ought to be merely from sociological trends.

Matthew Hodgson (Engr '06)
Salem, Va.

 

"'The notion today is that marriage is about love and love is about personal fulfillment,' Emery says." What a highly charged idea! Marriage vows are all about what you promise to do for your partner, but post-wedding, people take it to be all about personal fulfillment? Fascinating! We're more old-school in how we treat our marriage, so I don't think I can stand as an example of the "new norm," but this is a wonderful, comprehensive article.

Carolyn Yohn (Col '10)
Alexandria, Va.

 

Marriage is defined, sanctioned and nurtured primarily by religious institutions. It is a sacrament and a vocation. The decline in marriage is actually a decline in religious practice and a decline in participation in religious institutions; a decline consistent with the flood of distracting technology and the decline in personal relationships. Over several generations, people will learn to avoid addiction to toys much as they learned over the centuries to avoid addiction to other types of drugs.

Joe Rudmin (Grad '96)
Harrisonburg, Va.


Jefferson's Bible

"Jefferson's Secret Bible" [Spring 2012] followed by four letters to the editor [Summer 2012] focus on Jefferson's benchmark lifework document now called Jefferson's Bible. The UVA Magazine is to be commended for reminding us, with this article and letter follow-ups, that important documents, even though laboriously preserved, were not always understood by the creator's contemporaries, sometimes not even by later beneficiaries.

As the letter writers have noted, and I agree, with slight emendations, Jefferson was an active participant in that tradition of those who [intelligently, I would say] "pick and choose ... parts ... of the Bible" to adopt as one's own and copy, and which parts of the Bible [on which] to withhold judgment and not copy. Contrary to the letter writers, I, and many others, I think, would normally and nominally call this practice "conscience" or "spiritual discernment" rather than "pick and choose." Forgive the fractured paraphrasing, but note my morphing the quote from censure to praise. Just as the authors of the letters spoke their conscience, Jefferson was doing so, too. I find it ironic that the authors stake their claim to do so, but sum up his as a mistake. 

What critics of Jefferson fail to acknowledge is that the boat of religious choice launched by Jefferson and his Bible is the same boat from which they are expressing their disappointments, a case, in my opinion, of "biting the hand that frees you." In previous times and tomes, and in some places even now, such expressed disappointment merits the death penalty. Several of your letter writers have forgotten that Jesus himself spoke his conscience— "Forget the first four of the Ten Commandments; live the last six with all your strength"—and basically put himself on the cross by walking the talk himself. Jefferson was no fool by keeping his project secret.

Clay Moldenhauer (Col '63)
Charlottesville, Va.

 

Isn't freedom of speech wonderful? On the one hand we have one of the most supreme reasoning minds our country has ever seen devising a Bible in which he affirms his belief in God as the one and only true Lord devoid of all extraneous details and mysticism. And on the other hand we have three critical letters in your Summer 2012 issue that seek to refute Jefferson's ideas using arguments totally lacking in logical thinking and without any concrete proof. This is exactly what Mr. Jefferson was trying to protect us from.

Maurice Lipper (faculty)
Charlottesville, Va.

 

I imagine that you have received many letters regarding comments on "Jefferson's Bible" in the Summer 2012 University of Virginia Magazine. Those writers surely did a better job seeking facts for their work while University students.

The complete title of the book is The Jefferson Bible, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels in Greek, Latin, French & English. It was composed for the purpose of introducing Kaskaskia and other American Indians to Christianity.

Jefferson was not only an active member of the Virginia Bible Society; in 1798 he personally helped finance the printing of one of America's groundbreaking editions of the Bible. Jefferson studied and possessed many famous ones, including the Eliot Bible (in Algonquian Indian language), the Natick Indian language Bible and the earliest French Geneva Bible printed in England (1687).

If you buy a copy of the book and look at it, you will find healing on the Sabbath (pages 35 and 40); Heaven (pages 46 and 51); the Holy Spirit (page 40); eternal life (pages 38 and 68); the Second Coming of Christ (pages 63 and 67), just as samples.

Thomas Jefferson was a very complex person and the comments that appeared in the UVA Magazine are not complete and truly factual, nor are they indicative of the real Jefferson who walked here. Even Jefferson's friends had difficulty understanding him and were extremely critical of his thinking and decision making. But we should be glad that he ignored many of them.

David W. Lewis (professor emeritus)
Charlottesville, Va.


Memories of a Mascot

Doubtless George ["Top Dog," Summer 2012], with his size, strength and show dog credentials is deserving of his recognition. He may well become a UVA mascot, an honor not easily attained if canines are as common today on the Grounds as they once were. But there are other, less tangible qualifications for the mascot rite of passage.

Beta, "King of The Grounds" during the 1950s and '60s and named for the Beta Chapter of Sigma Nu, lived in their house at the foot of Carr's Hill. He was a smaller mutt. Had he been raised for the Westminster Working Dog class competition, as George was, Beta would have been a handsome boxer with his fawn color, cropped ears and docked tail. Instead, to earn and constantly defend his crown, Beta had multiple head and body scars and a split left ear from sorting out disagreements with other contenders or pretenders. Clearly not show dog material.

His favorite times may have been party weekends and football games. Beta was an enthusiastic greeter to students and their dates on party nights, providing a welcoming (but often unwelcome) nuzzle at his nose height of just over thirty inches. With seeming unlimited access to Scott Stadium on home football Saturdays, he was a predictable presence, mingling with his many people friends. His most memorable game was against Army in 1957, when he bounded onto the field in front of the entire corps of cadets, and gave chase to their rookie mule mascot, Trotter, helping him find the exit earlier than planned.

Trusting, tested, friendly, brave and devoted to many masters over the years, Beta clearly had his day in the sun, well earned. Time will tell if George will have his.

John "Boots" Buterbaugh (Com '60)
Leesburg, Fla.


Gratitude

I wanted to send you a brief note regarding the article ["After Disaster Strikes," Summer 2012] about our son Matthew Miller (Col '10) and the book by Michael Vitez (Col '79) about Matt's terrible accident and miraculous recovery.

My wife, the former Nancy Richards (Col '75), and I met while undergraduate students. Our oldest son, Michael (Col '08) met his wife, the former Linda Liu (Col '08), at UVA; and Matt and his fiancee, Emily Privette (Col '10), graduated together.

There is a special bond between our family and UVA—always has been, always will be. That bond became even more pronounced after Matt's accident on Nov. 2, 2008. My family had been in Charlottesville that weekend and it was as we were nearing the airport to return home to Pennsylvania that we received the news. We returned to the UVA Medical Center to learn that Matt's injuries were life-threatening, with particular concern for the traumatic injuries to his brain.

There's no need for me to go into the particulars—it's sufficient for me to say here that Matt and his family will always be indebted to the UVA Medical Center, and all the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who were so critical to Matt's survival and recovery.

There was a great deal of love and support that was given to my family throughout Matt's ordeal by the UVA community—some from friends we had known for many years, some from folks we met for the first time only after Matt's accident. The UVA community was like family to us. While Matt was receiving world-class medical care, my family was watched over by our UVA family—people like swim coach Mark Bernardino (Com '74, Educ '78), and his wife, Terry (Nurs '80, Educ '87); my former classmate Larry Sabato (Col '74); Barry Parkhill (Educ '73) and Heather Troudt of the Virginia Athletics Foundation; and many others.

Reading your article made me think, once again, about how much we owe the University of Virginia. I want to thank the doctors, nurses, professors, administrators, friends, classmates and teammates of our two sons.

Michael Miller (Col '74, Law '77)
Saint Davids, Pa.