Letter: A Man Without a Pulpit

A Man Without a Pulpit

To the Editor:

The Aug. 16 Valley News headline “College Cuts Ties With Bishop over Homosexuality Comments” might have read, “Dartmouth NAACP Leads in Dismissing a Black African Man Because of His Religion.”

According to the more vocal opponents of the Bishop James Tengatenga’s appointment to head the Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth, the Anglican Church’s views on sodomy render the bishop incapable of possessing adequate moral credentials. It seems an unjust conclusion. Having spent the last 11 years working and spending time in Malawi, I can attest that the bishop has worked in a cultural and political environment that makes support for gay rights not only difficult, but also dangerous. Within the Anglican Church, Tengatenga has been a voice of moderation, opposing anti-homosexuality laws and winning over those Africans who would have broken with the more progressive branches of Christianity in North America and Europe.

Tengatenga is not a dogmatic reactionary, but a progressive reformer who understands that change in African religious institutions comes through persistent persuasion that must also influence the deeply held cultural beliefs of African societies. In accepting the Tucker Foundation position, he demonstrated that his own views have evolved. The bishop resigned his position to separate himself from the church to accept the new role at Dartmouth. But now, he is a man without a pulpit, due to Dartmouth’s breach of contract. This legal breach and cultural insensitivity has outraged many African human rights advocates who see Dartmouth’s action as denying one of their own a safe platform from which to amplify their concerns about the entire range of injustices in Africa, not only about sexual preferences. A good man, doing good works in a very difficult and dangerous environment has been unjustly condemned and harmed because of his religion, his culture and the complexities of the place he lives. It is said that the Tucker Foundation “is charged with supporting and furthering the moral and spiritual work of the college.” If Tucker is to serve as a moral compass for Dartmouth, based on this decision, the compass is missing a needle.

Jerry Moore

Grantham

Missing Out in Norwich

To the Editor:

Like a distant relative who manages only annual visits to family, I look forward to my annual August pilgrimage home to Norwich with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension. While I can’t wait to return, the long lapses between visits makes it inevitable that I am struck by changes that remind me that I cannot visit as much as I would like. This year’s first surprise was an unhappy one. I visited the Norwich Pool one foggy morning resolved to take an icy plunge. I found nothing but orange construction fencing and a trickle of water running over the rubble of the dam washed out two years ago. I felt awfully sorry for the kids in the community who had missed another summer’s worth of ... summer. But the very next morning, I was delighted by another surprise. We arrived at the Gile Mountain parking lot and found 10 cars there. We expected that meant that we would bump into many other hikers, but we didn’t see a soul until we encountered a work crew halfway up the trail. The trail below had been widened and renovated and this crew was there on a Sunday morning hauling up rocks to continue the renovation. When I asked if this was a town project, they replied “Nope. We’re all volunteers.” I am sure that there are many people working on the Norwich Pool renovation with the same energy of these Gile Mountain volunteers. If the delays are due to money or manpower, I encourage an effort to reach out to the Norwich diaspora who grew up testing themselves with an icy swim to the big white rock. Two dry summers are unfortunate. Three would be tragic.

Robert Oden

Bedford, N.Y.

Headline Was a Winner

To the Editor:

I am not aware of a Pulitzer Prize for headline writing, but there ought to be one, and your headline composer should win, without a doubt.

Many days I scan the front page of the Valley News whispering the headlines to myself for their captivating messages. They are so much more satisfying than the news that follows.

But Thursday’s headline took the cake. Is there a newspaper in the free world that would lead the day’s news with “Manure Pile Spontaneously Combusts at Windsor Goat Farm”?

Congratulations!

Daphne P. Gratiot

Pomfret