Wednesday, October 28, 2009

* An Unlikely Defender of Yale Divinity School

Here is some back and forth to the 10/28/09 article in the Yale Daily News entitled:
Harvard professor seeks ‘gay’ term in Bible

#9 By Yale 2008 11:07a.m. on October 28, 2009


Do you want to take a shot at this, or should I go first?
Yale Div School strikes again.

#11 By Hieronymus 12:03p.m. on October 28, 2009

Well, I did like this sentence best:

"What we need is the positive equivalent of the sodomite," he said, referring to the residents of the Biblical city Sodom who engaged in homosexual and heterosexual acts depicted as perverse.

I like how, all in one sentence, we get a sense of the lecturer's stance (that the term "sodomite" carries pejorative connotations--and that this need not be so) and the YDN's stance ("depicted as perverse" versus objectively perverse).

Also, I can just picture the sort of bobble-headed faux confusion by the interviewees ("Sodomy? Bad? Um... I'm confused your assertion..."). It is that sort of affectation of innocence/ignorance that keeps from most pews.

Weirdly, I respect most Muslims more than I do most (avowed) Christians--at least they believe in their book!

#12 By 12:14p.m. on October 28, 2009

#9 There is something unpleasant in your tone here---like a schoolyard bully making fun of a weakling. If you think of the divines as worthy of scorn isn't it sadistic to indulge your impulse to torment them? I am the last person to quash legitimate criticism but taking the pleasure one gets from a skeet shoot seems a bit much. And then, to egg on Hieronymus to join your fun?

Paul Keane

#13 By Yale 2008 1:13p.m. on October 28, 2009

Paul Keane,
Yale Div School is a joke. Just like your blog.

#16 By
5:25p.m. on October 28, 2009

# 13 Yale 2008

In the last 50 years, Yale Divinity School has produced William Sloane Coffin, one of the driving forces behind ending the Viet Nam War and considered to be one of the three great speakers of our time (Fulton J. Sheen and Norman Vincent Peale are the other two);and, Senators John Danforth and Gary Hartt, neither of whom is an intellectual light-weight.

In 1976 the Divinity School's students hosted a talk by Quentin Crisp, then starring in his one act-show at the Long Wharf Theatre entitled The Naked Civil Servant, about his life as Britain's most famous transvestite.

At that talk, faculty from the University's Psychology Department invited Mr. Crisp to participate in interviews about what it is to be a trans-gendered person (he accepted), blazing the way for Yale's entire sexual liberation movement in the late 70's to the present, 2009.

Try as you might, to trivialize the Divinity School as a "joke" is a limp effort, even if one confines its contribution to society to the few examples mentioned above, ignoring its two, no, three century history in the new world.

Add to those recent examples H. Richard Niebuhr's own struggles with depression and the fact that he pioneered the presence of divinity student volunteers in mental hospitals 50 years ago, a presence which has brought untold hope to thousands of suffering humans, and Yale Divinity School becomes a very serious and potent force for social change and for alleviation of suffering in our world.

Indeed, even though I was a gadfly on their sacred hide during my years there as publisher, editor, and writer of Holy Smoke,(and for the thirty years since)they amazed me by awarding me the Charles S. Mersick Prize at my 1980 graduation "For effective public address, especially in preaching."

One cannot with puerile barbs discount such a potent force for freedom of expression and pursuit of the truth as is Yale Divinity School.

As for my blog

(one of twelve blogs): It stands on its own merits or demerits, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable I hope, including the privileged undergraduates who throw verbal darts while shielding themselves behind the anonymity of digital posts.

Paul Keane

NB: For an insider's view of the Divinity School read "Sam Todd: Fugitive from God, Country and Yale?" at

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