I (Heart) Baylor

For the third year in a row, I’ve spent the past few days in Waco, TX at Baylor University.  As a yankee, I hear all sorts of stereotypes about things and places Southern.  But, with the exception of some rather rude treatment by a Baylor professor at the Wheaton Theology Conference a couple years ago, I have been hospitably received by all of the Baylorites I’ve met.

Mandatory college chapel services are, without question, the most difficult speaking gigs that I get.  It’s tough to look out over a sea of uninterested faces and see earbuds, texting thumbs, and literally dozens of sleeping freshmen.  Baylor’s no exception to that.  (I will say that my experience in chapel a couple weeks ago at Houghton College was an exception — their chapel is well-lit with sun streaming in through windows, and it’s populated by faculty and staff as well as students; there was an energy in that room that I rarely experience in mandatory college chapel services.  The only other place I recall that had that energy was Pepperdine (also well-lit with windows).)

But Baylor, and its affiliated seminary, Truett, is not the stereotypical “Texas Babtist” institution that you might think.  Instead, Truett is more like my alma mater, Fuller — it’s evangelical, but open and moderate.  I had a great lunch with the staff of the Spiritual Life office, and we were interrupted by a couple students who stopped to thank me for my chapel talk.

On Monday afternoon, I stopped in Amy Jacober’s class.  Amy’s an old friend, and I got the chance to explain the Princeton approach to practical theology. I felt at home at Truett.

Last evening, Doug and I presented at an open forum, and the undergrads (not our usual crowd) were engaged and talkative.

Baylor is good people.

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  • Ann

    There’s just something about a University that requires chapel that bothers me. It’s an underlying lack of trust of their own students…. I’m sure it’s a great place, but I wouldn’t have made it at a college like that.

  • That’s good to hear. I’m with Ann, I actually went to a school with mandatory chapel (you need to go to ORU’s chapel Tony – nothing like a bunch of pentecostals at a mandatory chapel – you wanna see energy? lol) and think it’s a bit creepy but I’m glad that Baylor is good people – it’s refreshing and hopeful to have such experiences

  • Chris

    I also went to a school with a “Strongly Encouraged to Attend” Chapel. You technically signed a document that required you to be there, but no one took attendance. Still, we probably had a good 80-90% of the student body there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
    I would defend the idea behind mandatory Chapel though. When you attend a college or University you’re entrusting four+ years of education and experiences to that institution. If you disagree with how they do things, then why go? If chapel is part of the shared experience of that school it’s clearly a major part of who they are and serves as a point of reference for the entire community.
    As long as they’re getting quality speakers (like Tony) it can be more of a blessing than anything. Everyone is there and everyone can talk/learn from it (assuming they were paying attention).
    All that said, it’s not for everybody.

  • Ted Seeber

    And it’s a real danger for the institution as well, if it’s a more conservative one. Just look at the flack Notre Dame is getting for inviting a pro-choice world leader to speak.

  • Tony,
    Thanks for this post and your time at Baylor. I enjoyed the chance to eat dinner with you (and Doug) and really enjoyed what you offered during the open forum.
    I graduate from Truett seminary in four weeks. If anyone reading this post is looking at seminary and has any questions concerning Truett, please get in touch with me.

  • Baylor has always intrigued me. Do you find it is a strong academic environment in addition to having “good people”?