Northland, the not very reputable mother of my admittedly deserving soul, seems from all I can tell, doomed. For Southern to back out abruptly, sensitive as surely they are to the PR of it–at the least–sounds to me like an iron bell tolling. Of course, I’m very removed from what is going on but when I see the leadership conference, which had Big Al scheduled, now scheduling something that promises more alumni enthusiasm than otherwise, well, I hear the sound of the bell tolling for it.
And it makes sense. If you were to enroll in Boyce college, would you go to the campus where the faculty and seminary, library and institutions of Southern Seminary were–for all that it is in Kentucky–or would you go to the unknown campus set in the winter wastes of northern Wisconsin? There’s the camp ‘ministry’ and there’s no doubt enough of the dwindling foam of American Christianity for a camp to be run with for another few years. But when that 19th Century idea fades further?
Sentimentality has always been one of the worst features of fundamentalism, and dwindling only makes it worse: it makes you cling to exhausted means because there is no power to distinguish these from ends. If it is over, I say, gather it up into memory. We live in an age of transition and many things are passing, good and bad, indifferent and decidedly mingled. It is a good thing for many of the present things to pass into memory; it is a good time to make sure ends are not lost to view, and that memory is not damaged.
Perhaps there is a way around it. But if there is not, the true memory of what happened will be one of the good things that can come out of this–though it will hardly atone for all of us, the alumni from that teeming womb of the undistinguished. Still, the clearer the understanding of how it was, what people thought they were doing, what they actually did, why, when–so important, the when–how it went from beginning to middle to end would be a service to anybody wishing to remember it. Is that wisdom possible? Maybe some of the records, at least, can in the end be lodged at Boyce College, in the catacombs of Louisville, a gift they can afford.