Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Iconic Picture of Burning Silliman Hall

5/6/2015—This year is the 50th anniversary of the famous picture of Silliman Hall burning as a high school football game continues to be played between Mt. Herman and Deerfield Academy. So much of my life was formed at Mt. Herman that I have to mention here that this photo appeared in the New York Times today. Why today I have no idea.

Mt. Hermon is a good reflection of the trends in society that led us to the secularized place we are now in America. When I went there from 1966-1970, it was still a very Christian school, but was subject to the buffeting of the 1960’s. (The school and its sister school, Northfield, were founded by Dwight Lyman Moody, the great evangelist of the 1890’s.)

A little over 25 years later, when my older daughter graduated, it was still pretty religious, but very much interreligious, with a curriculum emphasizing the world’s religions and their wisdom. But I’m not sure how long that phase lasted. By the time the son and younger daughter graduated, over the next 7 years, my impression is that the religious emphasis was fading under the influence of good works in the world: a sort of combination of psychology and ethics.

I don’t know much about what the school is like today.

The story about the photo emphasizes that today, the football game would have been stopped—too much fear of a lawsuit or some safety danger. Undoubtedly that is true. Undoubtedly, a decline in society.

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