Theater, philosophy and religion, oh my! – Opinion – The Daily Telegram – Adrian, MI

We live double lives. Mild-mannered columnists by day. Rescuers of damsels in distress by night. A real pain when you can’t see where you’re going. So as a faint glow illuminated our path while on a daring raid with Boofalo Bill — we invariably called him that — we couldn’t resist exclaiming, “Avast! Ahoy!” We always use nautical terminology while on the prairie. “Above yon trees! See the pale moon rise!” We pointed dramatically. And up came the moon.

Only to become entangled in the sheet that doubled as an artificial horizon and crash to the floor below.

Muffled curses emanated from behind the curtain as stagehands worked frantically to reattach the moon to the hoisting apparatus. Another crash. Poor damsel. They just don’t make moons like they used to. Years passed. And then the flawless ascent. Followed by Boofalo Bill’s deadpan response — both true to the script and completely apropos — which brought down the house.

“God pray we’re in time.”

None of it would have happened had we not chosen Adrian College and the liberal arts education it provided. We weren’t master thespians. Indeed, theatrical productions — malfunctioning props and all — were far removed from our majors. But we’re forever grateful for the cornucopia of options that broadened our horizons. Even those that resembled a close encounter of the Murphy’s Law kind.

What a drab four years had we never graced the stage. Or debated into the wee hours of the morning whether Friedrich Nietzsche actually existed or if we only perceived that he did. And what was the true reality of life anyway? From a scholarly exploration of world religions to smuggling draft dodgers onto campus for live radio interviews, then spiriting them away before The Heat found out, our lives were immeasurably enriched by disciplines that, had they not been required, we might easily have ignored.

So we got pretty hot under the collar last week when we learned our alma mater had put its history, theater, religion, philosophy, and leadership departments — Japanese studies, too — on the Big Brother chopping block, insinuating they were relics of “the days of old” that did not reflect “the type of innovative future we envision.”

Or in laymen’s terms, why waste time on Hamlet when you can reel in a largemouth bass instead?

It didn’t set too well with alumni, friends of the college, faculty and staff either. They quickly mobilized into a force several thousand strong, determined to win the power of veto. Whether due solely to their passionate advocacy — or maybe a few high rolling-donors threatening to cut off the gravy train — by Tuesday afternoon the administration had rescinded the departmental layoff notices, issued an apology, and pledged to seek other ways to balance the budget in the year ahead.

In other words, a short-term reprieve.

We’re proud of the pressure the group brought to bear. And trust in their continued vigilance, lest the change of heart prove only an attempt to mollify the masses till the heat blows over. The college faithful need good watchdogs standing guard. Otherwise Pac-Man Activities may still replace Hegel and Kant.

And Beer Pong 101 and Introductory Corn Hole become Freshman Core’s foundational elements.

Not that college should be devoid of sports and fun. After all, we won the Cargo Hall Sure-Shot hockey tournament two years running. But the primary focus should be stretching your mind and challenging your thinking. Not replacing the parsing of parables with rowing the boat ashore. Unless you’re named Michael. Then be sure to say hallelujah a time or two while plying the oars.

So the college retains its church-affiliated status.

Talk Back with Doug Spade and Mike Clement is heard every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon Eastern Time on WABJ, 1490 AM, Adrian, and online at and

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