Hush, boy. The truth happens first in silence.

January 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

In R. Stein found a willing, if not always witting, spy. News of Old Main’s impending destruction kindled a sort of passive interest in what was happening on campus, and R. was a perfect observer to his downfall.

—It’s necessary that you’re uninterested in what will happen to this old man.

—But that’s not true, though.

—Hush, boy. The truth happens first in silence.

R. was a mediocre student. Above average nearly by default, given the seminary’s faith-based approach to admission standards. Quick with a lexicon, his Hebrew hovered just above intermediate and Greek smack below. He preferred the letters of John to those by Paul, but excelled only in the synoptic Gospels. Something about the parallel stories, some entwined like legs, others removed as relatives, each tinged with theological baggage, traumatic memory, and grudges to bear, seemed appropriate.

He happily reported to Stein the happenings of his courses, the various new hermeneutical models and critical theories trotted out by the younger professors. Stein weathered these accounts mostly in silence, interjecting only occasionally, —but the postmodern seems more conservative than the modern, and they’re the radicals now?, so that R. might move on to more important matters.

—They only seem to know of Jonathan Edwards. And even then just the gist of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

—The gist, you say? Does original sin have a summary version besides damnation? Surely, though, they know of Donne …

—The poet, yes. Nothing specific about him as a preacher.

— The poet? The Holy Ghost penning the Scriptures, Ramsey, delights in the melody of language! Donne the poet, Donne the preacher — they are one in the same!

Taking Stein’s words about silence to heart, R. chose not to report, judging it assumed, that with Stein’s retirement went too the assigning of De Quincey’s treatise on rhetoric, as well as the recitation in advanced preaching courses, with neither preface nor commentary, of the fifth chapter of Browne’s Urn Burial. (—If you don’t know in your soul the import of those words, no appeal to your mind will ever suffice.)

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