Thursday, September 20, 2007


This morning as I finished my run around the Charles River change was all around me. I obviously have changed. My arms are smaller, a bit flabby. I run slower and my joints creak. When I mention that I run I am told I am foolish and need to consider low impact exercise. It used to be that when I talked of running folks thought it was cool. “You ran how far?” they would ask.

The trees are beginning to change; the air is a bit more brisk than in August. My fellow runners are different too. Used to be all men, but now from my perspective there is additional beauty to be seen. Women outnumber men 3-2 or thereabouts. I don’t count. I guess that is not a surprise now that there are more women than men in the college/university. Most must run and in taking care of themselves they once again outdo the men. I run because it allows me to think, to put things together in helpful ways. These days that has become more difficult. Some things don’t change.

Next week (September 30th) we will install the first Chaplain to the Institute. It marks a change at MIT. Attention is being paid here to the role of religion in the human experience. I will be Chaplain to the whole Institute, believers, non-believers, the uncertain. This change reflects recognition that religion contrary to expectations seems to be more important today than ever in our world lurking as it does on the edges of both conflict and comfort.

Last Sunday, The Boston Globe announced another wave of change. More young adults are declaring themselves non-religious. I might have done the same if I had to suffer through the smug God talk of many politicians without the perspective of age. We are always a bit behind the curve. I expect that before the godless become a majority another trend will develop. In any case, on Saturday at the close of Yom Kippur, Muslims observing Ramadan and Jews who have observed a Day of Atonement will break fast together on our campus. In this world of conflict and tension, that is a change for the good which we all should celebrate. Still today something good can come out of Jerusalem.

Robert M. Randolph