The Seminarian, Hamma News Letter from January 17, 1969
Hamma School of Theology at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio went through a drastic change in curriculum when four new professors arrived to replace those who retired. The euphoria of the Sixties had hold of us and professors lectured on their newest writings to the whole community and other classes were mostly held seminar fashion. Students chaired classes and professors were resource persons in the class. Each Wednesday from 10 am to 12 noon, the seminary divided into core groups with about two professors and eight students, where the goal aimed for pastoral maturity and spiritual growth, rather than leaving it to happenstance and concentrating only on academic theological preparation, the way traditional theological education did. I was in St. Claire’s (a psychology Prof) and Ben Johnson (a New Testament Prof’s) group and the intellectual did not scare me, but the psychology prof certainly did. He could nail you to the wall with words and talk about flipping ashtrays into the air that came down daisies. I really felt that a person had no business taking you apart if he couldn’t put you back together. I could handle it because I had rough inner-city experience in Cincinnati with Les Schulz, right while the racial riots were taking place in the streets. My friend Kenn Donovan couldn’t and ended up transferring to Capitol Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. His fears are well represented in his cartoon.
When I read the lines of my suggestions for the four comprehensive exams required for the new MDiv, I had a good laugh. With those exams we enter a new era – The Reign of Terror! And little did I know that I would have to take the Ministry Exam with all its seven parts over three times in order to pass it. Twice it ruled that I could not lead a group, while I was the chair of the whole community council. Having felt affirmed by the Holy Spirit, I could not get it into the psychology prof’s head that I was not a ruin coming down, but a new construction going up! Christ is a whole and mature and positive healing personal model. Psychology seemed to operate only with negative models: neurotics, psychotics, paranoia, etc. Kenn Donovan had some things right. I myself have undergone some suffering and I knew that on the other side of the cross was resurrection and the only way through it is through it!
One poem is about Louise, whom I visited regularly in a nursing home until she died. The other poem shocked me as I read it. It is in the form of a business letter and I see the skyscrapers in Boston (I worked in the John Hancock Building) as secular cathedrals erected to worship materialism. Because our family experienced the bombing of Hamburg and other cities, it now seems like an eerie premonition of 9/11.
This issue of the Seminarian is volume 5, No. 6, January 17, 1969. Emil Bartos was the editor and I was the assistant editor. I left many pages out.