Monday, July 13, 2015

* Rebonni----------------Teacher: Rowan A. Greer

Rowan A. Greer III

What would prompt a renowned scholar of  Patristics to agree to write an introduction ( below) to a  student authored journal of satirical essays at Yale Divinity School entitled Holy Smoke?

Perhaps  Professor Christopher Beeley, who succeeded Mr. Greer at Yale, suggests the answer in his obituary tribute: A Generous Scholar-Priest.

"Many noted how willingly he attended to the least scholarly students as much as the brightest lights. He had a gift for drawing out the genius in even the most ignorant question, teaching
you so subtly and charitably as to almost hide the fact that you didn't already know it."

Mr. Greer and devoted companion.

Professor Christopher Beeley
Yale Divinity School
July 10, 2015
Dear Mr. Beeley:
I read with great satisfaction your tribute to Rowan Greer which I discovered only today on the Internet.
I was particularly pleased that you did justice to him as meticulous scholar and believer. And as aloof from the academic fads of the moment.
As Letty Russell once averred with a mixture of impatience and (I suspect) respect :  "Rowan Greer lives in the third century ".
That made seeing him in  tennis garb on the YDS courts all the more amazing ----  not quite a priest on skateboard , but close.
You rightly spoke of his devotion to the average student.
Almost my first class with him at YDS in 1976 as an M. Div candidate, I knocked on his office door and confessed my doubts that I was too secular and too untutored in the the Bible to succeed at YDS.
Had I made a mistake? Would I flunk out?
He calmed me down and reassured me : "There are three grades at YDS --- Pass, High Pass and Honors. High Pass is what everyone gets".
And then he added: "The hardest thing about the place is getting in."
If that didn't calm me down his  unflappably mellifluous voice made it clear.
I relaxed.
And when later that year I began publishing a controversial essay  sheet called "Holy Smoke: Opinionation from Holy Hill"    Mr. Greer was one of the few faculty members who would allow himself to be seen reading it attentively at coffee hour.
Occasionally he would even praise my writing.
I don't know how it began but we exchanged Christmas cards for decades until two years ago when I wrote a follow up to see what was wrong.
He wrote back in his impeccable and tiny script, on the same plain folded sheet he used for decades, that he had been "hit by a truck" while walking the dog . (We had both shared our dog stories over the years.) I was flabbergasted.
He also mentioned that this accident had "set him back" from which comment I  gathered he had been  recuperating from something else prior to the accident. "Old age" was all he offered.
I knew better than to pry and sent my best wishes. 
I did not hear from him this year until I scoured the Net today and found your wonderful tribute.
Thank you.
Paul D. Keane , '80
M.A, M.Div., M.Ed.

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