Thursday, February 23, 2006

College Tour to Yesterday

Little did we think, when we boarded the plane, that we would be time-traveling. But New St Andrews College is as much from another time as it is from Idaho.

There, the classes have Latin names: Traditio Occidentalis, Disputatio... The students actually read the great books that Western thinkers have been mining (without exhausting the vein) for centuries. They think the thoughts of the great thinkers after them ("This is not a class about what I think of Plato. It is not a class about what you think of Plato. It is a class about what Plato thought.").

Everyone breaks for tea in the Junior Common Room between morning seminars on Mondays and Tuesdays. And at least once a week, the professors must appear in full academic regalia before the assembled college. Students, too, don robes for this dress occasion - except for the lowly freshmen, who must first earn them.

The families and churches that orbit the College remember that building community takes time. Time to work together. Time to dance together. Time to dine together and to linger over the jokes and coffee afterwards. They remember that community can't be built solely between the pew and the door at a once-a-week worship service.

They sing together at the merest excuse - at least as much as Pentecostalists. But this isn't your typical radio-dial praise chorus fest. They sing fugues, chorales in four-part harmony, Geneva jigs, jazz riffs and Psalms in Gregorian chant. This, too, takes time. Often Sunday evening ends with a Psalm-sing including two congregations, in which folks practice singing the challenging music in their psalter hymnals.

Academics were interesting at New St. Andrews, but the most distinctive study offered there is the opportunity to see an old-fashioned community creatively gathered and maintained. Students don't just see it. They are folded into it. About time, too.


Carol said...

Psalter hymnals? Gregorian chants? Wow! I'd love to do college all over again just to get into this type of music!

Is your daughter going to enroll there?

Kim Anderson said...

We are trying to remain open to what God has for her, as scholarship offers come in.

Daniel Foucachon said...

Hey, I just found your picture from the NSA Windy. I don't have many pictures from that day, and the one you have happens to be of me! :) thanks!

BTW, I am savouring every minute at NSA. It is a GREAT school!

I'm the webmaster of the the Sophomore Blog. It might give a bit of a taste of what we do, though I don't post all that much onto it.

Again, thanks for the pic!


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