Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicago Trip

Another month has whizzed by. There is definitely a correlation between having access to the internet while I'm lying in bed and frequency of blog entries! The bed I'm lying in at the moment is in Elgin, IL., at the apartment of my brother, Stewart. There is a WiFi network in the neighborhood here that I can take advantage of. When I'm at home, I have to drive to the library, or some other WiFi hotspot, in order to access the internet.

I'm in the Chicago area not only to see my brother, who is doing pretty well, by the way, but to attend the dedication of a new building for the Chicago Theological Seminary. For 90 years, CTS has occupied a lovely neo-Gothic complex in the very heart of the University of Chicago campus. But maintaining that building had become hugely expensive, and in many ways it had become an albatross, despite its architectural beauty. So, it worked out a deal with the U of C which acquired the old building - which, thank goodness has not been torn down, but has become the Becker Friedmann Institute for Research in Economics (there is some irony here because Milton Friedmann's free market economic theories were diametrically opposed to the prevailing mindset of the seminary). In return for the building, U of C gave CTS a huge bundle of cash and on top of that had built it a new building which it will lease to the seminary for 100 years at $1 a year, including exterior maintenance. This is a modern-looking, state-of-the art (LEEDS, digital everything, etc,) building which has everything the old building didn't have (e.g., accessibility, adequate classroom space), but, alas, lacks the older building's graceful beauty, and for someone like me, it's sentimental meaning. My father attended there five years in the 1930's, I attended there three years in the 1950's, met Shirley there, served as Pastor-in-Residence there from 1999-2001 - so it is an important place for me. The seminary is also leaving behind a beautiful chapel with a very beautiful tracker pipe organ - it would have been too expensive to move it.

However, in an era when seminaries are going bankrupt and dropping like flies, CTS has a forward-looking physical plant, which will undoubtedly serve it well for 100 years, a large endowment, and the assurance of a continued existence.

The new building is in a good location - a few blocks from the old building, across the Midway (that beautiful swath of green cutting through the U of C campus which is a vestige of the Columbian Exhibition of the 1890's), and down opposite International House. The dedication is this Friday, and I'll be there with an old seminary chum.

Here's what has been left behind:
Here's a rendering of the new:

I'll post some photos from the dedication at the end of the week.

I came out to Chicago yesterday by Amtrak. The train was late but through no fault of its own. A connecting train from Boston was hit by a falling tree (!!) and we waited in Albany for hours until all those passengers could be brought by bus from Springfield, MA to Albany. As I understand it, this was a late effect of tropical storm Irene - the tree's roots had been loosened by all the rain we've had.

No comments:

Post a Comment