Dr. Stuurman #4

Professor Stuurman

More from the long interview:

  • “Given your views on religion (Stuurman was a non-believer), did you object to your parents decision to send you to a religious school?
  • No, I wasn’t oriented enough. It’s easy enough in retrospect to say what was going on, but at the time you don’t know. I was a strange mixture. Then in college, fortunately, after I had been there a couple of months, having all that Greek stuff was a big advantage . . .
  • Traditional liberal arts?
  • Yeah . . . And then, after I had been there a couple of months, one of the professors – a professor of Dutch art history – came to see me in the dormitory. And when he came in, he closed the door behind him, and I thought, “Oh, boy, they are closing in on me now.” He said, “No, nothing’s wrong. It is just that I want to tell you” – he was from Holland and he didn’t like the American evangelical scene; he thought it stank – and he said, “all I want to do is tell you that when you are in a provincial college of this kind, thee are two ways to live. One is to play the game – you know, obey the code, do everything, and they will reward you for being dim-witted. On the other hand,” he said, “if you want to, you can quietly live another kind of life, where you don’t pay any attention to the rules and regulations here, except to obey them – but not to rebel against them, except quietly and inwardly.” He said, “If you want to start a quarrel with them, then all your emotional energies will be drained – and they won’t be grounded, just plain drained. “So,” he said, “It’s up to you what you want to do.” “But,”he said”I just wanted to warn you not to waste any energy rebelling. They’ll win. But on the other hand, if you quietly go your own way and live your own life, you’ll find in the long run it pays off and you’ll have a sense of stability.” And, he said, “you already have this Greek point of view, and you can build on that. You can’t reform them.” He said “That’s a lost cause.”
  • Well, I stayed four years at the college and got a good liberal arts training.
  • – Were you a philosophy major?
  • – Yeah philosophy and Greek.

After receiving the BA degree, and during the big depression in the USA, Stuurman set out on his own. As he tells it: “George Rebec, who was president of the American Philosophical Association, became the dean of the graduate school at Eugene, Oregon. He was looking for a teaching fellow who knew philosophy and Greek, and who had a European background. I went to see him, and he was a marvelous man. “I was away from the religious context and he was a world opening up. And I was ready for that. This is the first flowering period of my life. . . . And that was the big period of my life; that was the burgeoning out.”

Stuurman on teaching:

2 thoughts on “Dr. Stuurman #4

  1. I took the Bible As Literature and was a TA for him in first and second year courses. He was a great teacher and an interesting man. He became a friend of the family and our daughter visited him in Santa Barbara. He also dove his VW up to Canada for our daughter’s wedding.


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