It went very smoothly.
I met lots of interesting people, if you’re interested. And it will make more sense if you are playing the music above.
One was a guy from South Florida who expressed himself in terms of “getting” or “not getting respect.” He had thought of applying to the fundamentalist seminaries–Southern, Master’s–but didn’t think he would get respect there for this or that, and the fact that in Latin American culture it is nothing to have a beer, and that was off the cards there. And they had declared themselves 7-day creationists which meant nobody would take their graduates seriously in the wider academy. He had owlish glasses and is going to provide me with some Mate because he has Argentinian descent, but does not believe in the mysticism of Latin blood–his being A+, like mine. So he’s going to be getting my respect. We drifted apart on the understanding that we would mutually get respect in sizeable quantities the one from the other.
I met a Canadian whose wife teaches rhetoric and composition. He thinks it is a good thing for him he met her, or he would not know what ‘rhetoric’ was about. I met him in the company of a quiet person who had done classics. By then the foyer to the deplorable–and universally deplored–Van Till Hall was ringing with conversations, and the pitch of the classics guy’s voice was exactly the same, somehow, as that of the ringing: hearing him was difficult. Not for the Canadian, though; such is fate.
They had worship before a sermon and another subsequent exhortation. The worship consisted of a guy in need of haircut with a plaid shirt and jeans of a cut other than relaxed strumming a guitar while hymn number 896 or 972 or something from the perishable portions touching on the indexes was selected. The accompaniment was this kind of ramping up stuff where the guy strums and nobody knows when the beginning will come, but then he leans into the microphone and we are off in a rather running version of a hymn that leaves any of what I will call for lack of a better terms due to my ignorance articulations or structures of the music rather aerodynamic. Then when the words were exhausted he kind of ramped down, with a glance at his accompanying bongo girl to make sure they ceased unanimously, which they did. Then there was a kind of sermon where it was brought to our notice that Christ is our Savior, and perhaps a few more things I do not at this time remember; so that was good. Subsequently, another hymn but stripped down to two stanzas–which I have not had in six years, since I last went to a fundamentalist church–was gone through.
Then came a certain long-standing member of the faculty to deliver us a lecture we all were supposed to have viewed online. It was delivered with pause and relish, and was exactly as I remembered it from the online version, save for some probing bits at the end. He is a likeable old guy, has a PhD also in mathematics from Harvard. Very friendly and colorful.
We were subsequently dismissed to our prayer groups, and let me just say about that, that aside from there being two crated stoves (for cooking, yes) in Van Till 3, there was a very sensible Canadian, and Irish chap, a Korean woman, an Indonesian, a Pennsylvanian, a state of Washingtonian, a New Yorker from the City, and some other chap besides me. And the Englishman who is our prayer group faculty person. Quite the international gathering.
I talked to the guy from Seattle afterward, and found that he’s a carpenter, has an accordion he once took apart, and has transferred from a seminary in Pittsborough on the request of a faculty member here who is trying to plant a church and needs an intern. The fact that he plays the guitar, and the worship we had, crept across my mind. He was a long chap, sandals. bearded as I remember, liked Harry Potter but did not love it; liked the LoTR and Chronicles of Narnia more, but does not love them; does not like opera, but likes singing.
All MDiv chaps, so far, or in the case of the first Canadian, MAR in Counseling.
Lunch was had, during which the faculty member who had delivered the exhortation intermingled with our table. He was launched–by me–on a complicated account of something to do with his time in South Africa, where he had been in 1979. Before this, while we were awaiting the intermingling and the joyous announcement that we could procure for consumption the provender provided, I talked to a guy across me who is going to Med School once he gets a counseling degree here in one short and busy year. Youngest chap I met all day: 23.
The library tour was had, and I got to meet the archives and rare books librarian, and exchange no few friendly words. Then pictures, at which point I met a chap from Massachusetts with a seven week old child–at home–who is not going to be buying the textbooks all at once, if he even purchases them all. The first Canadian was also here present and was wondering how one found out about textbooks; he was having difficulty seeing what classes he had registered for online. A complex and puzzling directive was issued by Massachusetts. He, I may point out, is a short, growly chap of little eye-contact and expansive gestures. I continued to converse with him after the Canadian went to be shot, but the conversation fell abruptly as Massachusetts was summoned forward. An elderly lady smiled and nodded at me for some reason, and she was wearing the green shirt all the staff had, so I felt it incumbent on me to return the random courtesy. Then I went to be shot as well.
Afterward I talked to a guy who came out of the Hyles-Anderson end of the American Christian spectrum. He is small, bristly hair, a bristly goatee, and has lots of kids and a good attitude. I endeavored to encourage him in the Lord, and found that he had no need of it at the moment. I, in the meantime, had no need of it either. I had just found out that the class on Christianity and the Arts I had been wondering about had found a substitute teacher. Here is a funny and yet telling truth about Westminster Seminary–though how many seminaries would it not apply to? There is only one in the whole faculty who is qualified to teach on that. He had had a heart attack, and though apparently unwilling to give up the semester, has admitted perhaps he will sit this one out. I asked the Great Man himself if he had been called on to step into the breach regarding this class, and he said he could perhaps do one on Christianity and ZZ Top. But then they found this guy to teach it. A man who did a PhD dissertation on Tolkien’s view of Imagination. That, my friends, is PROVIDENTIAL. I went so far as to tell the registrar that–a formidable lady of competence who ought to know. She was all business however, and offered no comment.
(That guy on the accordion is good, isn’t he? Feel free to try some of the suggestions that come up.)
You would think at some point there would be some kind of PhD/ThM part of the orientation. None. Met one other incoming PhD, but that was elsewhere and that, so far, has been it. There are lots of people though, and plenty that I saw and did not see could be one of them. No doubt I’ll meet them in classes here and there. But nothing about how it works and such. I guess one finds it out by conversation or roping someone in the faculty or staff directly connected to it. What they are giving a whole extra day to–though it is voluntary–is their Center for Theological Writing. I’m going to go, and that will be Little Joely McZartman’s second day at school.