Articles Pertaining To Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong and The Worldwide Church of God
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You might have grown up in the Worldwide Church of God
if . . .11/27/06
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Rod Meredith - An Old
by Retired Prof
I decided to drop out of Ambassador College sometime
during my second semester there, but didn’t tell anybody. I intended to
keep my grades up and finish the semester, hoping I might be able to
transfer the credits to another school. Some credits, of course, would
never transfer, including ones from the religion class taught by Rod
Meredith. I kept attending it and smiling and nodding because I didn’t
want to call attention to myself. Anyone who showed signs of a bad
attitude would be counseled by a minister, and I wanted to avoid such a
scene at all costs. But I didn’t do much else connected to the class,
because it bored me and the grade no longer mattered. Figuring nobody
would call me on the carpet merely for low grades, I quit studying the
readings, so of course performed poorly on tests. I was running a risk
here, because Meredith (as his nickname “Rod of Iron” implies) had high
standards and enforced them sternly. If he did call me in for
counseling, it was almost guaranteed he would inflict deep humiliation.
Fortunately I guessed right about how much I could afford to slack off
without attracting attention. Meredith didn’t counsel me, nor did anyone
else, for the whole second half of the semester.
Thus I was able to get out of Pasadena and go home to Arkansas with no
awkward encounters. Almost.
Our big final out-of-class assignment was to turn in an outline of
Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I
couldn’t stand to do it. If we had been required to focus on one event
or character in it and do an analysis, I might have felt intrigued and
challenged, but the requirement just to spit the whole thing back in
outline form turned me right off. I made up my mind not to mess around
with mediocre performance in Meredith’s class; I would shoot for the
lowest grade possible. I would flunk that sucker. So I didn’t even read
Decline and Fall. Still haven’t, after all these years. I know
it’s a monument of Western culture and all that, but no. Willful
(To all you young people reading this page I hereby offer myself as a
bad example—but not bad in all respects. Learn from my mistake. Don’t
revel in your ignorance. Read Gibbon. Ponder its implications. Outline
the book if it helps you understand it. Just don’t let anybody force you
Anyway, after final tests were over and I was packing for the trip home
on a Greyhound Bus, I got a telephone call from Meredith’s paper grader,
one of the top senior students. I forget his name, but he always struck
me as a decent fellow, and this call strengthened that impression. He
was doing his job conscientiously, and he seemed sincerely concerned.
Politely, he said, “I was grading the Gibbon outlines, and I couldn’t
Politely, I said, “No. That’s because I didn’t turn one in.”
“Oh . . . . Well, how soon did you plan to do that?”
“Actually, I didn’t plan to do it at all.” I kept my voice
matter-of-fact. I offered no explanations.
His exact words after that I do not recall—he didn’t say much—but I
clearly remember his tone. The poor guy was totally nonplussed. He
quickly hung up. I figured my F was in the bag, because I had (politely)
demonstrated that I deserved it.
Imagine my disappointment back in Arkansas when grades finally came in
the mail, and I saw that Meredith had given me a D!
Some ten years later I began my career as a college English teacher.
Over the next thirty-five years I regularly told this story to students,
always reassuring them that I would never award them a grade they had
not earned. I would conclude by saying, “I don’t want you to lose
respect for me the way I lost respect for Roderick Meredith.”
Some of my English teacher colleagues who heard this story over the
years believed I was too hard on Meredith. One of them said, “You don’t
know what he was thinking. You kept on going to class; maybe he thought
you were really trying.” Another said, “or maybe he counted attendance
as a bigger part of your grade than you thought.” Another pointed out
that the outline assignment, even though it was a requirement, might not
have counted for a very high percentage of the total points in the
course. Well, maybe they’re right. Also I sometimes guess that he gave
me a D because he thought an F might cause me to drop out. Ironic, hunh?
The weakest defense any of my colleagues offered was, “He was just being
kind to you.” I entirely discounted that explanation.
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