Magazine article The Christian Century

Changing Lives

Magazine article The Christian Century

Changing Lives

Article excerpt

I LOVED READING in this issue about great teachers, teachers who have a way of changing lives. I found it impossible not to think about the teachers who changed me. My best college teacher was Sid Wise, professor of government at Franklin and Marshall College. He was short, funny, brilliant and engaging. I had done well in high school without exerting myself, something teachers always pointed out to my parents: "Doesn't work up to his potential." I wrote my first blue book exam for Professor Wise with breezy self confidence. My life changed when the tests were returned. Wise wrote: "Mr. Buchanan: Lincoln said, 'You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you can't fool me at all.' D-."

I was stunned, angry, insulted, humiliated--and converted. When I went to talk to him and explained that nothing like this had ever happened to me, he said, "You're not working hard enough. You weren't prepared. Work harder. Prepare better. You'll get better grades."

That is what I did. I even majored in government. I was (to his amusement) the only one of the government majors to head off to divinity school.

At Chicago Theological Seminary and the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, then the Federated Theological Faculties, I encountered an amazing group of distinguished scholars, including Joe Sittler; Bernard Loomer, Bernard Meland, J. …

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