Hardin-Simmons, the liberal arts university where I taught for forty-two years and quickly came to love, is disappearing as I knew it. The latest loss is the University’s Logsdon Seminary and its professors, the term liberal, in a pejorative sense, brandished against some of the best teachers I have known.
I, as well as friends who love the University, am grieving, experiencing what a professor and pastor friend calls a “sadness so deep no tears will come, and yet still, there’s hope.”* Robert Frost, in his poem “Good-bye and Keep Cold,”** concludes, “But something has to be left to God.” Psalm 27: 14 says, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (KJV).
I’m not good at waiting. Over the years, my Logsdon School of Theology friends and my wife have exampled for me the power of Faith. For my part, I can only cry out with the grieving father in Mark 9: 24, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (KJV). It is especially hard not to be able to save my friends.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (on-line):
“of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts”
“given or provided in a generous and openhanded way”
“BROAD-MINDED–[‘tolerant of varied views’] especially: not bound by authoritarianism”
a person who is “open-minded”
“an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights”
Synonyms (Adjective): “bighearted, bounteous, bountiful, charitable, free, freehanded, . . . generous, munificent, open, openhanded, unselfish, unsparing, unstinting”
History and Etymology:
Adjective and Noun:
“Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English léodan to grow, Greek eleutheros free”
“college or university studies (such as language, philosophy, literature, abstract science) intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop general intellectual capacities (such as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills”
“the medieval studies comprising the trivium [‘a group of studies consisting of grammar, rhetoric, and logic and forming the lower division of the seven liberal arts in medieval universities’] and quadrivium [‘a group of studies consisting of arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy and forming the upper division of the seven liberal arts in medieval universities’]”
Who would wish to besmirch the University of Dr. James B. Simmons, Dr. Owen C. Pope, Dr. Julius Olsen, Dr. J. D. Sandefer, Dr. Rupert N. Richardson, Dr. Jesse Fletcher, a heritage of Christ-centered, servant leaders, their noble cause of educating young men and women to seek the Truth with an open, inquiring mind–a liberal education.
And who better to example the liberal approach to education, teaching, than Jesus who most often taught in parables–stories of complex human relationships requiring his listeners, his students, to see themselves in the narrative, think how they might have acted, what they learned, answering Jesus’s questions for themselves: “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10: 36, ESV)
And Jesus was always tender toward the Displaced–the woman caught in adultery, the despised tax collectors Zacchaeus and Matthew, the lepers, the blind, the crippled, the demon possessed, Jesus’s ignorant disciples, women, and especially children.
Logsdon Seminary offered Jesus to its students, both men and women, preparing them to share this liberal gospel with a grieving world. Thank you.
*”The West Wing” Han (TV Episode, Season 5, October 22, 2003), Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet, IMDb.
**Frost, Robert. “Good-bye and Keep Cold.” The Road Not Taken: A Selection of Robert Frost’s Poems with an Introduction and Commentary by Louis Untermeyer, Henry Holt and Company, 1977, pp. 265-66.