Cohodas Literary Prize winners announced

NMU has announced the 2008 Cohodas Literary Prize award winners. First prize went to “On the Possibility of Tolerant Religion” by David Hilden.

“It seems clear that we must separate what we probably know from what we simply believe, or else we will become intolerant,” Hilden wrote. “…Elsewhere, the preponderance of faith has been far worse—the brutalities of the Inquisition bear witness to the scope of intolerance, as does the case of some Sudanese men wanting to kill the British teacher for letting her schoolchildren name the class teddy bear Muhammad. If faith presides over reason, fanatical beliefs proliferate.”
Second prize was awarded to Derek O’Connell for his essay, “The Socratic Hero.” Third Prize went to “Worldview Debate and the Tolerance of Ideas” by Patrick Arnold
Judges in the contest were professors Sarah Jones (philosophy), Suzanne Williams (chemistry), Robbie Goodrich (history) and James Schiffer (English).
This prize was established by Rabbi Samuel and Lynn Stahl and Nancy and Paul Oberman, in honor of the sixty-fifth wedding anniversary of Nancy and Lynn’s parents, Lois and Willard Cohodas. The goal of the competition is to provoke serious thought about one or more of the following topics:
• Enhancing religious, racial and cultural understanding
• Eliminating hatred and racism
• Promoting awareness of the Holocaust
The first place writer receives $500, followed by $250 and $100 for second and third place, respectively. The contest is open to all NMU undergraduates and is a prose nonfiction contest.
The judges were looking for well-written, well-developed, deeply thoughtful essays relevant to one of the topics assigned, which will change each year. The winning essays had a strong, ethically informed thesis.
Entrants may use documented research, although they are not required to do so; essays with research must be much more than mere reports. The research should be marshaled to support the author’s original thesis.
The topics for 2007-08 were:
• What can you as students do to combat and prevent prejudice, discrimination and violence against anyone who is different in our world today?
• Write an essay about someone you know or have read about who is a model of moral character, conviction and courage—someone who stood up against injustice heroically.
• Examine a few instances of the role of religion in fostering tolerance and/or intolerance in the world today.
For details or to read the complete essays, visit www.nmu.edu/english/ 2008%20cohodas.htm

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