Gem from GK Chesterton

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."

From The Everlasting Man

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What's in a name? The Cambridge University Colleges

When was the divorce decree issued, making official the separation of the faith/reason or faith/science marriage?  If you look strictly at the naming of Cambridge University colleges the end of the 19th century corresponds well with Schaeffer's "Line of Despair".  Pre-20th century colleges at Cambridge include: 

  • Trinity Hall, founded 1350
  • Corpus Christi, f. 1352
  • Magdalene, f. 1428
  • St. Catharine's, f. 1473
  • Jesus, f. 1496
  • Christ's, f. 1505
  • St. John's, f. 1511
  • Trinity, f. 1546
  • Emmanuel, f. 1584
  • St. Edmund's, f. 1896
After St. Edmund's, the colleges are exclusively secular in name, including among others:

  • New Hall
  • Churchill
  • Darwin
  • Robinson

Granted that among those early religiously named are also colleges named for secular dignitaries, mostly royalty (King's College, Queens, Clare, etc...)  Granted that the earlier colleges were first training grounds for the clergy, then took on the secular academic role.  Also granted that there continue to be seminary subjects within the modern colleges.    But the see-saw which once tilted heavily toward faith-centered thought, turned on it's fulcrum (seemingly in the late 1800's) and now faith-based-thought dangles with it's little legs kicking the air across from a bloated non-faith-based-thought see-saw partner.  (To stretch a metaphor and over-use hyphens!)

The "what" of this transition seems beyond doubt, the "when" and "where" are clear but less certain.   To me, the "why" and "how" are the least clear, up for the most debate, and  the most interesting.  

My preference is that the tyke at the top of the see-saw starts growing up and that the chubby guy at the other end should call Jenny Craig.  But that both stay on and play.  Because you know what happens when one jumps off.

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