Going to the chapel

Nostalgia and paradox seem to have nothing in common. Nostalgia is a single-minded devotion to a romanticized image of the past. Paradox, being double-minded, cannot describe anything in one-sided terms. But I read something recently that was both nostalgic and paradoxical.

Years ago, chapel attendance at some colleges, including some state universities, was compulsory. Today the requirement survives chiefly at evangelical colleges-the Catholics having thrown the manacles and whips away decades ago, and mainstream Protestants having liberated the masses even before that. Good riddance!

I hit the campus lecture trail in 1956, just in time to encounter the last days of compulsory chapel. This was a horror to speakers, which the inviting faculty knew. They hid the request in followup letters describing the terms of our visits-"and oh, by the way, address chapel."


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