Philander Chase vs. Jerome

Today in Lent Madness it's the long-anticipated Battle of the Curmudgeons: Philander Chase vs. Jerome. To put it into rhyme (and demonstrating a nuanced, if gender exclusive, use of French), "I do declare, this is not a touchy-feely pair, mon frere." Will the Kenyon College mafia again rise to put Philander over the top? Or will Jerome's jihad put an end to this Cinderella story? Many plot lines, but only one will make it to the Elate Eight.

Yesterday, Mary Magdalene trounced Joan of Arc 74% to 26% to advance to the next round. Make sure to check out the updated bracket courtesy of our unsung Bracket Czar and Celebrity Blogger Adam Thomas. This beautiful bracket even got top billing in yesterday's Houston Chronicle article about Lent Madness.

As this is the last clash of the week, we do wish everyone luck in dealing with their Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW) this weekend. If you're feeling particularly lost, feel free to call the Lent Madness Counseling Hotline (LMCH) 24-hours a day. You might recognize the digits as you dial since they're quite similar to Scott's home number. Lent Madness insomniacs are encouraged to contact the LMCH at all hours of the night -- just ask for "Scott." (Please note that after-hours calls may be transferred to our Hingham call center.) And we'll see you all bright and early Monday morning as the Round of the Saintly Sixteen continues with Enmegahbowh vs. David Oakerhater.

“Well, this will do!” exclaimed Bishop Philander Chase upon seeing the “landscape of unsurpassed loveliness and beauty” that would become the site of Kenyon College near Owl Creek in Knox County, Ohio. Lawyer Henry B. Curtis recorded Chase saying these words, his way of expressing “delight and satisfaction.”

This exclamation seems to be as laconic as Bishop Chase was wont to become; indeed, he subscribed diligently to the lengthy and complex sermon, which, to be sure,was the style of the day (making it difficult for this author to pick out quotations for you, dear reader). In preaching at the consecration of three other bishops, one moment stands out. Perhaps the Bishop was thinking about the vista of Kenyon when he preached,

“Once more: not only in the main and leading features of the Law and the Prophets do we see the illustration of the truth contained in the words of the text, but the same appears in those things which, were it not for the importance of the subject, might be deemed of small moment; the revelation of God, in this respect, being like his works in nature. It is not only in the sun, in the moon and in the planetary system, and the vast order of the Universe, that the wisdom, the power and the goodness of God appear: but even the flowers of the field in their minutest examination, by microscopic glasses, equally gratify the taste for divine knowledge in every humble and diligent inquirer.”

In another sermon, this time preached by a young Chase at the institution of another priest, the soon-to-be pioneer detailed the mettle of a preacher:

“If [congregants] are commanded to hear and receive God's word, we are bound faithfully to preach it to them: to which end, two things are necessary; first, that we ourselves know and understand the word which we preach; and the second is, that we have fortitude to declare it. The former cannot be attained, without much study and devout application; and the latter requires that we bear ever in mind whose ambassadors we are, and to whom we stand accountable. Let us, then, with unremitting prayer to God, for the aid of his Holy Spirit, apply ourselves to the study of our BIBLES; and to everything, which may lead us righty to understand them, that we be not ‘novices:’ and let us take care that we never sacrifice truth or duty unto popularity; that we deserve not the shameful epithet of ‘pleasers;’ two characters utterly inconsistent with the office which we bear, and the vows which are upon us.”

In the previous examination of Chase’s life, many were dismayed by his seeming cavalier treatment of his consumptive wife. Whether or not the move to Ohio somehow precipitated Mary’s death, that Chase loved both Mary and his second wife Sophia should not be in doubt. We finish on an intimate note, the conclusion of a letter from Philander to Sophia: “I write by a poor dim hogs lard lamp, which, shining askance on my paper, will hardly permit me to say how faithfully I’m your affectionate Husband. P. Chase”

-- Adam Thomas

Jerome (c.347- 420) was the most famous Biblical scholar of ancient Christianity. Paintings of him often include, oddly, a lion. That frequent zoological addition refers not to Jerome’s curmudgeonliness but to the legend that a lion once limped into his monastery in Bethlehem and became his friend after he removed a thorn from the lion’s paw. When the monastery’s donkey mysteriously vanished, the other monks accused the lion of eating it. However, the lion eventually found the donkey in the caravan of the merchants who stole it and proved his innocence.

That same theme of friendship appears at the conclusion of Jerome’s letter in the year 374 to Rufinus the Monk:

“However, to return to the point from which I set out, I beseech you do not let me pass wholly out of sight and out of mind. A friend is long sought, hardly found, and with difficulty kept. Let those who will, allow gold to dazzle them and be borne along in splendor, their very baggage glittering with gold and silver. Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price. The friendship which can cease has never been real. Farewell in Christ.”

Finally, here’s another interesting quote from Jerome’s preface to the third book of his commentary on Galatians:

“How few there are who now read Aristotle. How many are there who know the books, or even the name of Plato? You may find here and there a few old men, who have nothing else to do, who study them in a corner. But the whole world speaks the language of our Christian peasants and fishermen, the whole world re-echoes their words. And so their simple words must be set forth with simplicity of style; for the word simple applies to their words, not their meaning. But if, in response to your prayers, I could, in expounding their epistles, have the same spirit which they had when they dictated them, you would then see in the Apostles as much majesty and breadth of true wisdom as there is arrogance and vanity in the learned men of the world. To make a brief confession of the secrets of my heart, I should not like anyone who wished to understand the Apostle to find a difficulty in understanding my writings, and so be compelled to find someone to interpret the interpreter.”

-- Neil Alan Willard


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98 comments on “Philander Chase vs. Jerome”

  1. When Shirley McLaine and I were with Jerome in another life, he was a miserable drinking partner as nasty as his reputation...Put me down as supporting Ohio's finest...

    1. Gee, George -- miserable as in "mean drunk" or miserable as in "didn't buy his share of the rounds"? Either one a serious flaw, but I woke up early and already voted. Oh well, you know either one is going down to Brigid!

  2. I'm a librarian and a cat person (is that redundant?), and love Latin to boot, but I still can't get past Bishop Chase's perseverance in working for free in a diocese where he frequently arrived at his parishes with broken bones -- see my post in the last round for the citation. Sorry Jerome.

  3. Surely Philander(er)'s comment was inspired by the future SITE of Kenyon College.
    They both sound like my ideal of the warm loving curmudgeon,
    but as a son of Ohio living in CT (neatly reversing Phil's journey) I vote for Chase.
    BTW, it was Lincoln's genius to put Chase and all of his other main political rivals in his administration.

  4. I stand corrected. Many are ahead of me at the polls for the lion. Definitely must have been Aslan.

  5. Jerome had trouble with the truth of scripture. In David's euology for Jonathan, he added an extra half-verse to turn blunt the implications of David saying that Jonathan's love was better than the love of women.

    It will have to be the Philander(er) for me.

    1. Can't be - they are both on the right side, and so far today Jerome is beating Chase anyway. I have decided not to worry about this one. Brigid or Bonhoeffer will bump off today's winner in the drive to the final four.

  6. C'mon, Bexley Hall alums! Here's a bit from the Bexley Hall website:
    "It All Started with Philander Chase
    Philander Chase, the Bishop of Ohio, was sometimes intransigent and impatient, yet he was ultimately moved by pastoral concern for the people of the frontier. In 1823, despite opposition from eastern bishops, he set out for England to raise money to start an Episcopal seminary west of the Alleghenies.

    Before the voyage he flooded key people with letters, pamphlets, and brochures about the necessity of a school of ministry on the frontier. The gamble succeeded brilliantly. English church leaders gave generously to this non-English project. Among them was Nicholas Vansittart, the recently retired Chancellor of the Exchequer who had been ennobled as Lord Bexley by King George IV. A triumphant Bishop Chase sailed back to the States—and Bexley Hall was born.

    The seminary's first classes met in temporary quarters in Chase's rectory office at St. John's Church in Worthington, Ohio. Eventually, the seminary moved to Gambier and the campus of Kenyon College, founded by Chase as an undergraduate “feeder college” to the seminary."

  7. Whenever I see a story with a lion I immediately think of The Wizard of Oz, one of my least favorite stories. Therefore my vote is for Philander Chase, bishop,priest, pioneer and educator who appreciated the natural beauty of the world around him.

    Kicking off my ruby slippers and heading out to work in the garden.

  8. "the latter requires that we bear ever in mind whose ambassadors we are, and to whom we stand accountable." That is a seriously inspiring quote.

    But the lion! And an understandable boffin!

    Oh dear. Might need to toss a coin for this one.

  9. Are we sure Philander's first name wasn't Filibuster? He makes Paul's writing seem streamlined and concise. My vote goes to Jerome, biblical scholarship, and, yes, the lion. Not a tame one, I suppose, but very, very good.

  10. Saint Evelyn suggests C.S. Lewis to be a little more "wild" - and a lion appears...
    the lion gets my vote

  11. Do not really want to vote for either one, but Jerome gets my vote because I love to read and my cat strongly suggested I vote for him.

  12. Curmudgeonliness must be contagious. Impatience upon ruminating on the loquaciousness of Chase engendered a strong enthusiasm for eschewing obfuscation (did he mean 'consider the lilies...'?) and a decision for Jerome...whom I then discovered to be similarly afflicted (" 'Bye Dude. Luv ya." Think of the sheep this would have saved.) But the final quotation shows that at least Jerome recognized the problem. Points for that.

    Really, I'm just pickin' cannon fodder for the next round anyways. Who cares. And it's Friday, darn it. Where's that LMCH number....

  13. Tough, but I do love curmudgeons. And while Bishop Chase's early exhortation about ordained ministry is stirring and right on target, Jerome's paean for friendship is absolutely beautiful. So I'll take the old curmudgeon with his adorable kitty.

  14. I too found Jerome's words on friendship inspiring and really right on the mark. I would walk with him.

  15. Thank you for putting the greatest picture of Jerome ever in for today. I have a copy of it hanging on my study wall and was wondering how I could get it in - you did it for me!

  16. Two days in a row of revenge voting. Yesterday, it was against Joan for defeating Lancelot Andrews. Today, it's against Chase for defeating Thomas Merton.

    "Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?"

    1. you missed on that - I voted for Chase in spite of the fact that he defeated Thos Merton. I have not seen any response that indicated anyone voted against him for that.

      1. See Katherine's comment below. Glad I'm not the only one continuing in sin so that grace may abound.

  17. It should be noted by loyal Kenyon voters that our founder was hardly as loyal to us as we've been to him in the ensuing years. He stuck around for all of seven years before he got tired of us and ran away to found another college that he liked better -- a collegiate philanderer, one might say.
    Also, he purposely set up shop in the most remote place imaginable -- so remote that almost two hundred years later, Kenyon is STILL in the boondocks. Don't know how he managed to do that, and while it's impressive on some level, it is seriously inconvenient when you really need a new pair of shoes.
    My vote goes to Jerome.

  18. Well...I noted the lion...but i'd have to confess to a little revenge for my guy Merton in my vote.

  19. Did the SEC rig this vote to run the week they knew Kenyon College students were out on spring break? Hmmmm???

    1. Is there any chance that the good people from the Diocese of Hawaii will be on Spring Break in two weeks and give Paul a shot at the Elate Eight?

  20. The kids are squarely behind the golden halo'd guy who pulled a thorn out of the big kitty cat's paw. Go Jerome!

  21. My vote is for Jerome, he is one of the first Biblical scholars; he is the start of those who brought scholarship and enlightment to the study of Christian writing. This interest may have brought the Christian story to a wider audience in the early church. His followers are today the reason today we have the vast and enriching commentaries on the scriptures we hold so dear.

  22. Philander, you keep talking... former and latter... and unremitting prayer ... minutest examination by microscopic glasses ...with diligent inquiry and you've scored my vote.
    I've also scored some snooze time during Sunday's sermon.