Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baylor University publishes my opinion . . . sort of.

Baylor Magazine
Fall 2011
Vol. 10, Issue 1

Some time back, I noted that my undergrad alma mater wanted my opinion on a question to which the above statement promises an answer. Apparently, Baylor didn't want just my opinion:
When we asked readers in our last issue to answer one simple question -- "Why does the world need Baylor?" -- we really didn't know what kinds of responses we would get. We were pleased to hear from every part of the Baylor family: alumni (young and old), faculty, staff, parents and even current students. And while many referenced Baylor's distinct place as a university that combines strong Christian faith with rigorous academics and research, that wasn't the only message we heard. The following pages give you a glimpse into how some of your fellow Bears responded.

Somewhat to my surprise, my response was printed in the hard copy. First, however, allow me to remind readers of what I wrote, which ought to be read carefully, with some attention to nuance:
Baylor University can be significant for the world if it successfully accomplishes three things that it's been attempting ever since I studied there in the latter 1970s. It must continue its commitment to the goal of being a great teaching institution. It must strengthen its commitment to the goal of being a great research institution. It must maintain its commitment to the goal of being a great Christian institution. Holding to these three will not be easy, for the tendency of other Protestant Christian universities, as they have developed into significant, respected centers of education, has been to lose their focus as Christian institutions, eventually secularizing themselves. Some might say that the attempt to reach the highest intellectual levels while remaining Christian is like trying to square the circle, for intellectual inquiry is an open-ended search for truth, whereas Christian doctrine is grounded in an unchanging revelation of truth. If Baylor can manage to do this, and also continue as a great center of teaching, then it has something significant to offer the world.

That also appears in the same format in the electronic version of Baylor Magazine, and I find my words factual, even matter of fact, and sedate. On page 24 of the hard copy, however, the same words have a slightly different appearance, a fine-tuning of my tone that subtly re-shapes the implications of what I say:
Baylor University can be significant for the world if it successfully accomplishes three things that it's been attempting ever since I studied there in the latter 1970s. It must continue its commitment to the goal of being a great teaching institution. It must strengthen its commitment to the goal of being a great research institution. It must maintain its commitment to the goal of being a great Christian institution. Holding to these three will not be easy, for the tendency of other Protestant Christian universities, as they have developed into significant, respected centers of education, has been to lose their focus as Christian institutions, eventually secularizing themselves. Some might say that the attempt to reach the highest intellectual levels while remaining Christian is like trying to square the circle, for intellectual inquiry is an open-ended search for truth, whereas Christian doctrine is grounded in an unchanging revelation of truth. If Baylor can manage to do this, and also continue as a great center of teaching, then it has something significant to offer the world.

The large bold font makes me appear to be raising my voice, of course, but more to the point, it puts all four phrases into the same voice, as though there were no nuance of distinction, whereas two different voices are used, the latter voice being that of a somewhat skeptical commenter who awaits to taste the proof in the pudding. As the text stands in this hard copy, I sound like a full-throated enthusiast for this as Baylor's mission to the world. My wife read it and remarked that I sound rather "pious."

I don't mean to complain, though, for I'm always fascinated to see what editors do with texts, such also being one of my own jobs . . .

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4 Comments:

At 5:18 AM, Blogger dhr said...

I'm always fascinated to see what editors do with texts

Just come back after seeing Aleksandr Sokurov's a-big-deal-freely-Goethe-inspired movie "Faust." A minor but delightful detail: Faust editing the badly written contract before signing it
:-D

 
At 5:27 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I just took a look at the trailor. It looks interesting.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:38 AM, Blogger dhr said...

It definitely is.

Here's a brief review.

 
At 6:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks.

Jeffery Hodges

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