The Seminarian - Patrick Parr
This is intended as the first in a series of reviews of interesting new books, dealing with a variety of subjects. Our first book is a ground-breaking new biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., that sheds a new light on the development of his thought and character. This short review is also intended as an interlude to my two-part review essay on the transformation of American religion.
The Seminarian: Martin Luther King, Jr. Comes of Age by Patrick Parr (Chicago, Lawrence Hill Books. Chicago, Illinois, USA.)
"Without question, the most original and important book to appear on King's life in a quarter of a century."
- David Garrow, biographer of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Between graduating from Morehouse College in 1948 and earning a PhD from Boston University, Martin Luther King, Jr., studied for the ministry at Crozer Theological Seminary in Rochester New York. King considered his stay at Crozer to have been of the most important experiences of his life. King once said, "Not until I entered Crozer Theological Seminary, did I begin a quest for a method to eliminate social evil".
However, few scholars have bothered to explore King's sojourn at Crozer. Several years ago, a young journalist, Patrick Parr, decided to find out just what happened to King at Crozer, and how his studies there, and the people he met and learned from, helped shape his thought and character. Not only did Parr study hundreds of documents in the seminary archives, he also studied the correspondence and personal documents of Luther and his contemporaries, he also interviewed dozens of King’s friends and teachers at the seminary.
The result was a remarkable book, which deserves the attention of almost every intelligent reader, and not only of those interested in American History and American religion. Among other things, we are made aware of King's first love affair, and we also learn about the books that were studied in the classes he took. Parr, a painstakingly thorough scholar and researcher, and a first-rate writer, explore both King's most admirable traits - eloquence, courage, and intelligence, as well as his faults, including his strong appetite, his willfulness, and his occasional acts of plagiarism. What emerges is an excellent portrait of one of the most important figures of the twentieth century.
Summing up, the book stands well written and informative; an excellent portrayal of the man and his time.
Rating – 9/10.