Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rochester, New York 12.4.84: Seminarians and Head-Splitting Laughter

Tonight I’m at Colgate Seminary in Rochester. Am doing research for the dissertation. Tomorrow I see Dr. Kenneth S. As with all seminaries, there is the usual seminarian habit of acting en masse: here, what they do en masse is laugh raucously. My ears are ringing and my head splitting after a day here. Poor old Walter Rauschenbusch seems ill-remembered. The card file in the library has only two or three references under the heading “Social Gospel.”

Of course, all small, intense groups are characterized by habitual mimicry of one another within the group. I suppose what makes this so disconcerting in a seminary is that it seems to exhibit such small-minded shallowness: and such self-satisfied introversion in a world which ought to demand so much attention. The Kingdom vision of the church is always in danger of being eclipsed by ecclesiasticism—the church serving its own ends. God preserve us from the future small-minded folks (of every ilk) are preparing for us. The ecclesiastical avant-garde walks lockstep with whoever has most power today.

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