COLLEGE FOR ME had been a Renaissance sampling of whatever happened to catch my fancy—medieval history and creative writing, literary criticism and American architecture, Russian and German in addition to Greek—a random accumulating of riches for no motive more far-reaching than simply to enrich myself. Seminary, on the other hand, was my Reformation. Such skills of reading, writing, understanding, as I had picked up during my disheveled and war-interrupted college career I gathered together and directed toward a more or less single end. I wanted to learn about Christ—about the Old Testament, which had been his Bible, and the New Testament, which was the Bible about him; about the history of the church, which had been founded on the faith that through him God had not only revealed his innermost nature and his purpose for the world, but had released into the world a fierce power to draw people into that nature and adapt them to that purpose, the church that not even the assorted barbarities and blunders of its ragged two thousand years had ever quite managed finally to discredit or destroy; about the theological systems that the passion of his original followers, and of Saint Paul in particular, had been distilled into. No intellectual pursuit had ever aroused in me such intense curiosity, and much more than my intellect was involved, much more than my curiosity aroused. In the unfamiliar setting of a Presbyterian church, of all places, I had been moved to astonished tears which came from so deep inside me that to this day I have never fathomed them. I wanted to learn more about the source of those tears and the object of that astonishment. I wanted to know, and be known by, people who knew greatly more about Christ than I did, were greatly closer to him than I was, greatly more aware of what they were about and of what he was about in them. Maybe above everything, I wanted to do something for him; and since—as writer, reader, teacher—most of my doing in the past had involved paper and pen, books and study, a seminary seemed the proper place to do it.
-Originally published in Now and Then