Friday, May 16, 2008

Cambridge Observations, no. 1

I'm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a week-long class at the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government. I got here a few hours early to wander around (after a fiasco with the cabbie; yo, Holmes, smell you later); one thing that struck me immediately was when I walked past First Church (Unitarian Universalist) and wandered through the church yard.

First Church is clearly struggling--it just called a new senior minister on April 20, but it currently had interim senior and associate ministers. Even more, it was striking to see the former church of Thomas Shepherd as a Unitarian congregation. Of course, the Unitarian division occurred 150 years after Shepherd, but I wonder whether the moralistic approach that he took--grounding justification in sanctification--contributed to the eventually move to moralistic Unitarianism.

The other sign of struggle was the church yard. Compared to well-maintained church yards like First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina, the church yard at First Church was a mess--unmowed, broken head stones, trashed. Even more, the graves of several early Harvard presidents were poorly maintained. I was shocked that a school with a $19 billion endowment couldn't contribute a little coin to maintain the graves of early presidents.

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