Magazine article The Christian Century

Time Capsule

Magazine article The Christian Century

Time Capsule

Article excerpt

THE THEOLOGICAL education issue of this magazine in 1958 featured a ruckus-raising editorial, "Domesticity in Our Seminaries" (April 23). The author was Ted Gill, my office mate and mentor in religious journalism. The editorial was unsigned, but no regular reader could have failed to discern Gill's style, described by one colleague as "late baroque, early rococo, unfailingly grabbing."

The editorial appeared in a time of great change. Six years earlier I had graduated from seminary 'along with 116 other males. Only a few of that number (ex-Gis) were married. Most of the rest were affianced, some for up to a decade. Ten years later when I spoke at a seminary banquet, the single seminarians were being needled for their unmarried state.

Somewhere in those years "domesticity" appeared. Gill feared a slippery slope that would undo Protestant seminaries. I resurrect the 1958 piece not to make fun of Gill for having been born too early to be as wise as we are now, but to show how suddenly the concepts and concerns of theological education can change.

Gill championed seminaries of celibates at a time when you could assume that seminarians were men. A decade later women were becoming a large presence in seminaries. Gill also assumed that seminarians were fresh out of college. Some of his regrets were well founded: along with the gains in family-based student bodies came a downside. As his editorial's title suggested, he worried that students would be captive to a culture that already worshiped domesticity. …

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