Non Nobis, Domine

We went to Cambridge yesterday on a train that suddenly lost power. The conductor pulled over, shut it down, and started it up again. I never knew you could reboot a train. I guess Windows is everywhere.

Gazing up at the delicately vaulted ceiling of King’s College Chapel, the construction of which spanned the reign of several monarchs during the tumultuous Wars of the Roses, it struck me what a magnificent sanctuary the university system remains. It shares a common heritage with the monastic tradition. In a world beset by conflict, disease, and poverty, universities still stand as a tribute to our higher and more refined natures–both Soul and Mind. Prior to the Age of Reason, academic endeavor and spiritual quest were considered more similar pursuits. One aspired to contribute to Knowledge for sake of of a glory non nobis, Domine.

How strange to see science and spirituality become so unnecessarily polarized as the power of the church became destabilized through hypocrisy, and the power of the academy became decentralized even up to our present postmodern state. Strange, because despite all the technological advances we have gained through the scientific method of inquiry and through standing on the shoulders of previous scholars, so much of human behavior remains as barbaric and Medieval as ever. My thought and prayer in this chapel was: thank God (and Henry VI in this particular college’s case) for the universities, which still preserve the some of the highest and best aspirations of our culture.