When Pharaoh ordered Moses to take the children of Israel out of Egypt, four hundred and thirty years had passed. Yet on that very day, the Book of Exodus devotes a single, straightforward sentence and lets the reality hit like a strawless brick:
“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”
Six hundred thousand men, not counting women and children, made the journey from Raamses to Sukkot, mostly likely to gather Israelite slaves working in the mines on the outskirts of Goshen, and then proceeded toward the Red Sea. In less than 24 hours, they packed everything they owned, plundered the Egyptians, and began marching multiplied herds of cattle and sheep and oxen toward the Red Sea, taking the bones of Joseph with them as they journeyed.
Today marks 73 days since the Executive Committee of the Southwestern Board of Trustees told Paige and Dorothy Patterson it was time to go.
During that time, a rat could have had three litters and unleashed nearly two dozen more vermin onto the face of the earth. A single hen could have laid more than six dozen eggs.
Or put another way, the Pattersonian post-presidential, rent-free tenancy at Pecan Manor has been roughly 2.5 times longer than the entire presidency of William Henry Harrison. Something Benjamin Franklin once said about guests and fish comes to mind.
What has taken so long?
Last month, The Baptist Blogger spent several hours researching in the publicly available archives of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In Box Three, Folder 22 of one particular collection, we found a possible answer. Therein we discovered a letter from one of Dorothy’s sisters to her then-husband. The third paragraph of that handwritten letter contains the following relevant text:
“I forgot to tell you that Dorothy called last Thursday. She is having trouble finding a house that suits her. They are all in the low $60,000. She was asking daddy if they could sell their lot at Wildwood.”*
That was January 26, 1975. Dorothy Patterson was 31 years old.
And a $60K home in Dallas at the time would be about $281,000.00 today. Or roughly the cost of four Steinway Model D grand pianos and a couple of Dead Sea Scroll reproductions.
That’s a lot of house for a young homemaker to make.
So perhaps it’s just taking the Pattersons their usual length of time to find a home. And maybe there are other intervening circumstances that have delayed their exodus. But the new school year is fast approaching, and the seminary will not be able to move forward until the Pattersons move away.
And here’s where it’s probably a good thing that The Baptist Blogger is not the interim president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Pecan Manor is not a private residence, but a public one. It is a campus-owned property funded and built for the school and paid for with donations made to the school. Like other campus buildings, it has a full-time staff, meeting space, and restrooms.
Were we in a position to make such decisions, we would designate Pecan Manor for the following, effective Monday, August 13, 2018:
- 8:00 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays would be reserved for free violin, trumpet, and percussion lessons to any SWBTS student, student spouse, or children. These lessons would be conducted in any several of the living spaces in Pecan Manor.
- 8:00 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays would be reserved for free ESL courses offered to the entire Fort Worth community.
- The Korean student wives association would be invited to host a kimchee cook-off in the kitchens of Pecan Manor every Tuesday from noon until 3pm.
- Free piano lessons — on a fabulous Steinway piano, of course — for children 3-12 would be every afternoon at tea time.
- Due to budget cuts, the seminary would stop paying for wifi or cable television at Pecan Manor.
- To conserve energy on campus and save money, rolling black-outs at Pecan Manor would be instituted. All hot water heaters would be disabled.
- Every evening at 10pm, maintenance personnel would conduct full smoke alarm checks in every room of Pecan Manor.
- All restroom facilities, including showers, would become available immediately to serve the homeless.
I could go on, and on. And of course, it would create a huge wave of sympathy for the erstwhile First Couple and more threatening letters from their loyalists.
But let’s be honest.
If we learned anything from Paige Patterson it’s this:
Sometimes, you have to break a person down.
*Archives and Special Collections, Library at Southeastern, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC.