Friday, February 03, 2006

yea, sewanee's right!

I pinched the whole post that followeth from what might quite possibly be the best blog ever (cf. previous post, or sidebar under "classics"). I post it because Fr. Ward was my spiritual father during my undergraduate years at Sewanee, and is the man most responsible for my seeking ordination. Now he is retiring and it seems like the end of an era. You can buy one of Andrew Lytle's more interesting and colorful books here. I believe he was also one of the peripheral figures of the New Criticism. (Don't be alarmed that he is not featured in the Wikipedia article; neither is Allen Tate.)

Read the whole thing here.

Some of you in the comments expressed comfusion over what was what. So I have edited. The red bits are Prof. McKay's. The Green bits are Fr. Ward's essay. The italicized bits are me, Fr. WB. I hope this makes things more intelligible.

If you spend at least 5 minutes around me, you will find out that I went to Sewanee. Sorry, The University of the South.
I got the alum magazine yesterday and perused it for a while. Normally I don't pay attention to most of the articles, but sometime they are good.
So, I was trolling around in this thing and saw that Father Ward is retiring (has retired?) and a note that said to see his essay on pages XX-XX. I was intrigued enough to check it out. I didn't read all of it, but this anecdote struck me immediately. For those of you who don't know, Andrew Lytle was an author, key member of the Southern agrarian literary movement, English professor at Sewanee, etc.

The late afternoon sun glinted off Anrew Lytle's glasses as he rattled the ice against the sides of his silver julep cup. We were sitting in rocking chairs on the porch of his home in the Assembly, engaged in one of the informal tutorials that was a significant part of my undegraduate education.
Mr. Lytle leaned back in his rocker and said, "Son, there is a triple pun on the word 'spirit.' There is a spirit of the group, such as a fraternity, or a football team, or even this University. We catch this sense of the word when we quote the Latin translation of the opening verse of the 133rd Psalm as the motto of the school: 'Ecce Quam Bonum--Behold how good and pleasant it is when brethren live together in unity.'
"Then, there is the Holy Spirit of the Living God."
Andrew raised his cup, took a deep drink, and said, "And then there is this good bourbon."
With that he laughed, slapped the arm of his chair, and began to rock back and forth more vigorously.
"Sometimes in some places these three come together in one. I have been privileged to live in such a time and place."

Amen, Mr. Lytle. May I be as good a teacher as you were. And may my julep cup (one of the 8 or so that I have) runneth over. Hell, all eight--may all eight runneth over.


Garland said...

I don't understand: who is reminscing here, Prof. McKay or Fr. Ward? Or both? Who knew Andrew Lytle?

Anonymous said...


I am confused as well. What is going on?