Monday, December 11, 2006

One or Two More Things about Taylor from an Old Friend. If This "Tempest" Gets Us Talking Again, It's Worth It

So an old pal writes:

It sounds like you have a buzz going, at Taylor at least.

Feel free to post my response but please leave my name off it, if you don’t mind. I prefer to let that sleeping dog lie. The web has a curious way of consuming one’s time if names get attached. If my reply had the effect of, say, ending the war in Iraq or ending world hunger if my name was attached I would say put it there in 72 pt. type.

I have learned to choose my battles and a forty year old [gasp] tempest in a teapot is not one I choose to fight.

Taylor still sends me their alumni-mining magazine. I’m sure you get it two [<-spelling intentional]. It is slick and well done, but the relentless bible-thumping back beat makes me feel like some Karl Rove wanabee is lurking in the background having figured out, through polling and focus groups, that placing that message somewhere on every page is the best formula for getting into my pocket book. Religion first, academics second is still the message. Gag me.

I will admit to being mildly pleased at Taylor’s getting good ratings in US News & WR. Even though the Taylor of our day most certainly would not have surfaced in such a rating system, we don’t have to suffer the embarrassment that we graduated from a college that was both an insufferable theocracy and later a failed academic institution.

It appears that we attended Taylor at its nadir, when a certifiably mad president [BJ Martin?] wept and cried out to lead TU out of the wilderness of Upland to a new Jerusalem in Fort Wayne before an aghast faculty and a confused or snickering student body. I still remember his dreamy architectural renderings of a modernist campus in Ft. Wayne, like some Hitler in his bunker during the battle of Berlin still tinkering with his designs for the new city.

Following the quiet putsch that shelved him, Taylor appeared to change course and over the decades recover and move in more positive directions. Since I lost touch with it, I knew little of this until it re-emerged in the 90’s with its retooled alumni fund raising programs. So I am not inclined to lay into present day Taylor without onsite inspection to make sure they don’t still possess the same weapons of mass ignorance we had to contend with.

In some ways, when I look back, I oddly feel that I thrived there through the spirit of resistance that I was compelled to undertake, from refusing to join group prayer ... to posting anti-war slogans in my windows at Morris Hall. My disagreements, theological and social, forced me to sharpen my intellect and knowledge base to be able to stand my ground in the frequent debates they [and my contentious nature] brought on. Fortunately I met brilliant types like you, who were driven and determined to gain knowledge and know the rest of the world in spite of the distractions and obstacles to the contrary, and outlaws who allowed me to enjoy the vices of youth made still sweeter by defiance.

Editor's Note: Any posts that refer to me as "brilliant" go to the front of the line. I'll settle for "evil genius."

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