Friday, February 21, 2014

*The meaning (?) of a Yale education

On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 11:45 PM, Emma Goldberg wrote:

Dear Mr. Keane,

I hope this finds you well. My name is Emma and I am the Opinion Editor of the Yale Daily News along with Geng Ngarmboonanant, cc'ed here.

Recently we at the YDN have been discussing the meaning of a Yale education; what ideally should we gain as students, and how can we maximize our experience on this campus? As someone who has remained so in touch with Yale's culture and offered your viewpoint on the YDN site many times, we were wondering whether you would be interested in writing an op-ed for the YDN at some point soon.

Thanks so much!

Best wishes,

I think as a Divinity grad –even a  renegade one ---
I really am unqualified to comment on the "meaning of a Yale education" as most people commonly think of it, i.e. the undergraduate experience.

My primary interest is the mixed strand of human behavior reflected in the history of the institution, what divines might call cultural and institutional ethics.  On that I will speak, not only as an M. Div. but as a townie.

Yale itself ---the very existence and history of it ---is an education for me.

Yale is a vortex of intellectual, artistic, dramatic, journalistic, architectural, musical, religious, legal, scientific and athletic ideas (and traditions) which draws in the world’s most distinguished individuals in its endless swirls of influence.

(Whew!  Sounds like term-paper pomposity.)

What a place.  Four years isn’t long enough to absorb it adequately and when you leave Yale, Yale’s swirling currents still exert their pull no matter how distant you become.

Now here’s a funny thing. People think a Yale degree is a ticket to success, usually spelled  $ucce$$.  For me it’s been just the opposite.  I live in Vermont which is totally indifferent to status of any kind.   I served as a public school English teacher,  beginning at an annual salary of $18,000 in 1988 and ending at $63,000 in 2012, 25-years in a state without tenure.   Up here in the Green Mountains, “Yale” is not a university, it is a lock company, and a good one.

My  success wasn’t written in dollars; it was written in smiles---3000 of them over a quarter century.

Such anti-materialism seems anathema to the Yale which churns out Wall Street apprentices by the hundreds. But of course the Divinity School studies non-material reality, not dollars.

Along that line, I have heard it said that “Yale has no soul.”

I completely disagree:
Yale definitely has a soul, it’s just that that soul wears the robes of academic freedom and is often mistaken for scholarship.

It is that Yale soul which doesn’t tremble when the Alumni Magazine
runs a cover story on Yale as the "Gay Ivy" or publishes an article
on Prescott Bush (progenitor of two U.S. presidents)  as one of the undergraduate Skull and Bones’ thieves and desecrators who stole Geronimo's skull. 

It is the same unflappable Yale soul which didn't blink an eyelash when theology professor Douglas Macintosh defended his right to selective conscientious objection to the assembled Supreme Court (U.S. v. Macintosh,1938), or when Chaplain William Sloane Coffin led civil rights and anti-war protest marches in the 1960’s and 70’s or, most recently, when the Dean emeritus of the Divinity School performed the marriage ceremony for his gay son and now risks being defrocked by his denomination. 

It was such a Yale soul which awarded the first PhD to an African American in 1876 and now houses an Institute for Slavery; and paradoxically it was that same soul which denied admission to women and placed an admissions’ quota on Jews.
Yes. Yale has a soul, one that is cloaked in academic freedom: a sometimes noble soul, a sometimes flawed one.

And that is the meaning of a Yale education for this Divinity grad: Coming to know and admire Yale’s soul, which in  pursuing truth embraces repentance and evolves with the centuries.

Paul D. Keane
M. Div. ‘80

M.A., M.,Ed.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

* An Epidemic of Holes

Thursday, February 6, 2014

* PK Lookalikes (15)

Ed Sullivan

Richard Nixon

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

* PK Lookalikes (14)

Randolph Mantooth,  TV Actor,

George Harrison, the Beatle

Sunday, February 2, 2014

* The "Secure" Narcissist

Yesterday's obituary for the Theodore Millon, 
father of the diagnostic manual for personality disorders , reports that called himself a "secure narcissist."

That would make him a swimmer, I guess.

Which reminds me of an amazing Yale story.  The mother of Yale's flamboyant Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, told me once that she had completed all her credits for a degree as Smith College, but one----which she refused to undertake at all, thereby denying herself the degree.

She told me this story in her late eighties, as if it was a brag, almost a mark of character.

What was the course? 


She was deathly afraid of water.

Unlike Narcissus.

* PK Lookalikes (13)

Luciano Pavarotti 
Security Blanket

Sophie Tucker 
Security Blanket