Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Told You So

Back in 2007, in the hey day of "The Counter Hour Movement" and other such collegic oddities, I wrote a blog entry titled “The Direction of a Certain Liberal Arts College,” or something like that. In it I said basically everything that a friend of mine said (although she said it with much more detail and passion than I). In this long lost entry, I made a prediction of sorts that went something like this: due to the current misguided and destructive administrative agenda foisted upon the college, within ten years Crichton College will be no more.

I made that prediction at the end of ’07. Crichton officially folded at the beginning of ’09. I suppose a little over a year is “within” ten years.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I seem to recall that Crichton didn’t have financial problems. Yes, we were a small college. Yes, we sometimes felt like we were running on a shoestring budget at times; but ultimately the college soldiered on with fresh tuition and interested donors. Why? My fervent claim is because we knew who we were and what we were about, and that identity gave us strength.

What exactly were we? Well, we were not an urban missions hub. We were not an open door, pandering, lackluster academic institution. We were not a ‘jonnie-come-lately” to bigger, badder Christian universities. We were not a collection of “recovering racists.” We were a Christian Liberal Arts college, dedicated to academic excellence and strong spiritual development. We were dedicated to the bizarre and absurd proposition that our students could change the world, not through racial reconciliation, not through education to all regardless of their academic credentials (e.g., can they even write?), not through urban development, not through “reaching upward,” but through critical thinking and spiritual growth. That, of course, is the hidden truth behind Crichton’s old motto (does anybody even remember it?): “Think Critically, Grow Spiritual, Change the World.”

This sense of academic excellence and strong spiritual development, this love of learning and love of God, was the sole tie that bound us together. We didn't need racial reconciliation awareness, we didn't need “red revolutions,” we didn't need open dialogue. All we needed was that beautiful scholasticism, the dance of faith and reason. We were united as thinkers and saints; we became divided as whites and blacks, “snobs” and “victims,” “Pharisees” and everyone else, and a house divided against itself never stands. Perhaps, just perhaps, if Crichon had not lost that initial vision and purpose, if it had not lost its mind, then perhaps the board of directors (when deciding the fate of Crichton's Liberal Arts program) would have found something worth saving. Apparently, they didn't, and that to our shame.

Farewell, dear Crichton. We knew thee well and loved thee more, though many loved you less.

4 comments:

Jessica Laura Wright said...

First, can I just say I am a "recovering racist". :) Anyway, I enjoyed the blog! You were exactly right, although Crichton isn't closed yet...

rthling said...

Oh, I am sad to see it go.
At least they still have the APS part, I guess.

blindingfirefly said...

Well said, Jon! Very well indeed. I guess your reputation as a Seer is officially established. In any case, Dr. Jenkins made a similar comment in class the other day. He said, "We were in a rented building. The tables were nothing more than crap. And it was great." He's right. When Crichton stopped being true to itself and tried to LOOK like our richer Christian college counterparts, it sunk us. We couldn't look like Union without extensive money, so they defrauded the education to make it work. I think it was when the scholastic version of materialism entered the hallowed halls of our school that things took the nosedive. They focused on how things appeared rather than how they were. What I wouldn't give to go back to the ratty tables and rented building!

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