Westminster Wednesday

Tonight I heard the somewhat muddly Archbishop of Sydney tell us about the importance of Christian Schools having Christian janitors. He was telling us how the truth would set us free and somehow got onto that, admittedly not a major point, but an existing point nevertheless. He had a fellow of the John Jay institute introduce him, and the introduction was enormously tedious. The Archbishop, I’m glad to say, was not tedious, even though he has not, apparently, done any clear thinking for a good while. The thing about the fellow from the John Jay institute is that he is training for public life. He did not exhibit a whole lot of promise.

John Jay was a trampler of states rights, by the way, but did honorably retire from public life while he still had a good stretch of private life ahead of him so he could spend it on more interesting pursuits.

I can’t be around John Jay institute without remembering fundamentalism. You know who the fellows are and the visitors because they dress up. Westminster students show up giving the fullest range of meaning to the term casual. You get all kinds, from slackers to hipsters, but you don’t get the formal, and girls with makeup is not something you ever ever see on campus. If you see a girl with makeup or elaborate hair you know the John Jay institute has arrived in power. The John Jay institute also got a violin, violoncello and harpsichord trio to play in the catastrophic space that is Van Till Hall’s lobby, where functions that aspire to some formality and which seriously cannot be handled by the carriage house are attempted, while decorated tables loaded with inconsequential ingestibles impeded one’s straightforward getaway afterward.

You know, Westminster is down-market when it comes to habiliment and formal functions. There are no good spaces to do anything fancy that involves a group of more than two, possibly three. Apparently, because they keep coming back, the John Jay institute is even worse. Unlike the John Jay institute, however, Westminster keeps its sartorial aspirations to the level of the prevailing facilities. It is really of a piece with what they do: very focused on study, on reading a ton, always people diligently working on stuff,  taking careful notes as they work through huge tomes, working in tedious groups through their translations (Beale likes to put students on the spot, I understand, and the nice lady that does Hebrew 2 apparently has the most ruthless tests devised ever). Even the ones you think are slackers strain and sweat and stress about academics. Westminster actually has to close the library during certain events just to make sure people don’t stay in there studying, though the rationale for deciding which event qualifies is to me opaque. Academics, specialists in the Bible, and that is the only concern here. Facilities? eh. Library? Stocked, what more do you want? Furniture? Would not rate at a garage sale in the hood. Habiliment? Not going to get judged whatever you show up in, or noticed, or anything. It’s like public school only with real academic endeavor.

Though I think if I managed to get my hands on a Trump hat there would be some reckoning. Which reminds me: Westminster lends its facilities for some local voting, and when I got there on Tuesday morning there was a Hillary sign on campus. It did not last past 9AM however. I tried to think which of the present contenders or hangers on could actually make a sign stick on the WTS campus for any discernible amount of time without success.

What’s interesting about the John Jay institute is how many Anglicans show up for it. This is the second function I’ve attended, and the first one on the American Revolution had a lot of dog-collars, as did this one. Does the John Jay institute help bewildered Anglican Americans sort out their antidisestablishmentarian thoughts and feelings? I think the Archbishop of Sydney is antidisestablishmentarian, as is our Canadian librarian. They certainly like to do it up at the John Jay institute, at least the peripherals. They even catered the coffee and it was unusual not to smell the nauseating church-coffee stuff with fake cream-powder tending to prevail during AM classes at Westminster. My theory is the stodgy John Jay institute is viewed by our president as the way to add some desperately needed glam to good old Westminster.

To which I say, let’s keep it real.


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