Early this season I returned to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, to attend my Ph.D. commencement ceremony and to be duly “hooded” – i.e., officially welcomed into the company of hopelessly nerdy liturgical and homiletical scholars.
Anticipating the visit, I asked via text a fellow graduating student, my friend Joseph Novak, who had been to Fuller more recently than me, a few questions about ceremonial specifics. In particular, I asked him about the baccalaureate service, which the materials I received from Fuller said was to take place on the “Arol Burns mall.”
RR: What is the “Arol Burns mall”? Is it anything like the Aaron Burr mall? I only graduate once. I don’t want to throw away my shot. (Didja catch the Hamilton reference there?)
JN: The mall is the green space in the middle of campus.
RR: So there's a worship service right there? Like — how does anyone hear anything?
JN: They’ve been doing more outdoor stuff lately. They’ve got a pretty amazing sound system.
The conversation continues rather tongue-in-cheek.
RR: Is it like Disneyland and they have speakers hidden everywhere in the trees and bushes? Like Moses coming upon the theophanic shrubbery?
JN : Haha. Everyone is given in-ear monitors. It's a totally monastic moment.
RR: Awesome! Do I get an app so I can calibrate what I hear in my own in-ear monitors? Filter out any stuff about, say, sin?
JN: Of course. Calvinists tune in to the “confession of our wretched condition” channel; Pentecostals in to the “word of prophecy channel”; and so on. You really can get what you’re looking for.
That’s the whole point of worship. Right?