King Chapel at Bowdoin, June 2016

Posted by on Jul 4, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Photo, WW2 | 0 comments

Bowdoin campus is quiet in mid-June. I wanted to get with the old guys of my father’s day, away from current campus culture. Of course you can’t escape campus culture. The first thing I encountered was a poster on the inside of every toilet stall door (in every restroom) to remind me, again and again, even after I just passed the same poster on the restroom wall–the only poster in the bathroom–that a long list of names of specially trained students is on stand by to help me come out of the closet and or if I think I might be the victim of a sexual assault. Every time I had to use the bathroom there was the missive that had nothing to do with me.

Bowdoin College, King Chapel Doors

King Chapel Doors at Bowdoin

Anyway, I slipped through two great old doors leading into the chapel. Antiques and art are everywhere at Bowdoin and always have been since the earliest days of the college.

When I got there a lady was playing the organ. The chapel is dark from absence of many windows. In place of any large stained glass, the chapel has gorgeous museum quality murals.

Bowdoin's College King Chapel

Bowdoin’s King Chapel

Bowdoin has been always the greatest of art collectors. The interior chapel is walled on its two long sides by giant murals of bible scenes. To compare, I thought back to my trip to St. Petersburg, to castles and cathedrals I’ve visited. And to rare Byzantine murals of Jesus and the Apostles on cave walls in Turkey. None is more perfect than the King Chapel at Bowdoin. It’s so well preserved it’s almost like a dreamscape. Absolutely awesome. Later I picked up a brochure about the chapel.

Just today, the 4th of July, the chapel brochure informs that I’m a Bowdoin community member. Yea! Bowdoin community is defined as alumni and their immediate family members (that’s me!), active or retired faculty and staff and their immediate family members, and members of the Association of Bowdoin Friends. I’m proud to be Bowdoin.

Bowdoin College King Chapel Centurion, stained glass

King Chapel Centurion

In homage to a bible story is the great centurion today. He stands as a stained glass window high above the chapel’s front doors.

Waiting for a campus tour, I picked up the “The Orient”. ¬†An article by a self-described minority female student is about how it badly it feels to be subjected to Bowdoin’s oppressive colonialist imposition in portraits of old white men in Hubbard Hall. Rather than scholarship, four years of college for her was about a matter of feeling at home. She wants social justice. She wants the walls to reflect diversity, modern Bowdoin. Though I love Bowdoin’s heritage I understand how she feels because I used to feel the same way when I’d vist the bio-medical library at UCLA. In the lobby are huge portraits of founder white men in black scholar robes. Feels imposing, presumptuous, oddly out of place.

Bowdoin College King Chapel

Bowdoin College King Chapel

Excessive political correctness vs. free speech on college campuses directs me back in time to Bowdoin’s founding principles. Liberal arts at Bowdoin is defined best historically. True liberal arts is a science that trains Man how to think. No more, no less.

I noticed, and I may be wrong, but it seems there’s a mistake in the brochure. The description of the murals on the North Wall, starting from the door states “mostly” New Testament themes. That wall is ALL New Testament themes. The stained glass centurion is from the New Testament too. They’re all one theme. All Bowdoin.

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