SWBTS Reform Part 5: Campus Sprawl


The campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is truly a beautiful place. But as a native, often homesick Texan, the Baptist Blogger is possessed of an innate appreciation for almost every plot of Lone Star soil.

There is a sense, however, of architectural and stylistic dissonance.  There are hints of Greek revival here and there, American neoclassical, Spanish colonial, Brutalist, Georgian, and modern nondescript blobs. There is a “performing arts center” with a minaret tower and lots of brick walkways and a giant goldfish pond and bronze statuary and stone friezes and iron gates and Texas Stars and terra cotta and the list goes on.

Standing in the center of the campus and taking it all in panorama can feel, at times, like the campus Master Plan over the last fifteen years was drawn up by someone with very little sense of style.  Like someone who is accustomed to getting dressed in a darkened closet — a boudoir noir, if you will.

Or like an haphazardly constructed Christmas creche incorporating figures from wildly diverse cultures into a single nativity.  As a whole, the campus architecture is athematic and inconsistent.

It’s like an ill-fitting suit with matching tie and printed silk pocket square. Or a fat foot squeezed into an acrylic slipper. It’s simultaneously intriguing and sad.  Even the signage around campus can seem a little superfluous with notices everywhere alerting visitors to the constant patrol of gun-toting sentinels.

Yes, if aliens or archaeologists were to find Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary three millennia hence, they would almost surely render an Ozymandian verdict: Paige and Dorothy Patterson once lived here. Behold their works, and despair.

But what’s done is done, and the Baptist Blogger in no wise suggests the trustees commence a programme of demolition. Enough of the school has been wrecked already.

But there are some things that need to change forthwith.

For starters, the stained glass windows have to come down. In fact, the very next chapel speaker whose likeness — or near likeness — is found on one of those damned windows should muster the courage to call for their removal immediately. They were a dumb idea manifest in appalling and grotesque art, if you can call them art. Not even the Anabaptists would have tolerated their commissioning.

They simply have to go. Take them down, one-by-one, and use the East Dining Room of Pecan Manor to store them until the presidential home is vacated. Or somewhere else, but get them out.

To be continued . . .

7 thoughts on “SWBTS Reform Part 5: Campus Sprawl

  1. When I view the campus exteriors, the tower is what causes me the most cognitive dissonance. That is, until I realize that the intent was probably to eclipse Scarborough’s dome as the tallest structure on campus as another way of saying “we were here”, After all, the Steinway maintenance endowment probably doesn’t cover multiple millennia. Hubris, pure hubris.

    Praying for SWBTS as they begin a new semester today and, hopefully, a new era. Hats or no hats.

  2. Certainly, the Anabaptists would not have commissioned or installed stained glass windows. It was always laughable that Paige–war-mongering, heat-packing, monument-building, animal-slaughtering–Patterson claimed some kind of Anabaptist heritage and sympathy for himself and our convention. Anabaptists, in their poverty, simplicity, non-violence, avoidance of conflict and peaceableness, are very nearly the opposite of all the Pattersons represent.

    1. “Anabaptists, in their poverty, simplicity, non-violence, avoidance of conflict and peaceableness,…”

      Ever heard of me?

    1. Even the president of the United States has at most 81 days to vacate the White House and Camp David following an election.

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