Drivel that cannot fit in a single panel comic.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Silver Taps

I was out and about way past my bedtime last night. I attended the first Silver Taps ceremony of the new school year. I knew one of the students who was being honored.

In the silence, I thought about James, his family and the attitudes toward Texas A&M traditions that I sometimes encounter at church.

I find some of the attitudes toward the traditions rather frustrating. Many of the people who attend my church are affiliated with the university. We work on making sure that we do not assume that newcomers are also affiliated with the university. But there seems to be a bit of a disdain for the traditions of Texas A&M and the somewhat conservative views of the student body that leads some people to see the UU church as a refuge from all that. Others think that change never happens because of the entrenched traditions. Below the surface, where several people I've encountered at church refuse to look, the traditions evolve and new traditions form to replace out-dated traditions. This evolution may be a bit slow for some people's taste but it happens. Dr. Gates made some huge strides in diversifying the faculty, staff and student body while maintaining the goodwill of all the parties and I hope the replacement president can continue that tradition.

If those who have such disdain for Texas A&M traditions and the attitudes of its students would attend one Silver Taps ceremony perhaps they could learn to appreciate the spiritual value and the way that tradition can serve as a common experience that binds the student body and unites former students. I saw at least 1,000 students at this Silver Taps ceremony. I doubt very few of them knew the deceased personally and may not have shared much in common with the deceased students but they attended because these were Aggies and that was all that mattered. They stood silently in the darkness, listened to the footfalls of the cadets, listened to the 21 gun salute and the playing of taps and then dispersed in silence.

The strange thing about my church is despite the number of people affiliated with the university very few actually received degrees from Texas A&M. Only two or three members would stand up in the sanctuary and proudly proclaim that they are Aggies. In my nearly 10 years with this church I never heard anyone proclaim that they received their Aggie ring (this is a big deal at Texas A&M) or got their senior boots (I've never seen a member of the Corps of Cadets attend our services) during Joys and Sorrows or mention that their children got accepted into A&M and will attend. My church seems to value higher education as long as it is pursued somewhere else.

I don't think being an Aggie is incompatible with being a religious liberal. In my opinion, I think our church would grow and have more student involvement if we learned to appreciate the positive aspects of Texas A&M tradition and appreciate the progress that is being made toward embracing diversity.

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