accepts the prize for winning the Baldwin Oratorical Contest from Professor
of Speech David Timmerman
"My speech background has taught me to look at the Bible using rhetorical, textual criticism, which is an entirely different way of studying it. Some people might say that level of criticism decreases one's faith. I simply can't put into words how much stronger that type of study has made my faith, and that's very important to me."
Works in Progress
Josh Patty: Taking the Right Path
When Josh Patty '99 was a boy, he played the piano, sang in choirs which toured internationally, and devoured every historical book he could get his hands on. So you would expect Patty to pursue majors in music or history at Wabash.
Not so fast.
Don't pigeon-hole Patty, whose interests are as diverse as any member of the senior class. While he admits to having no ability in athletics whatsoever, Pattty's taken advantage of virtually every other opportunity that Wabash has presented to him.
As a student at Pike High School in Indianapolis, Patty "did everything I could possibly do." His experiences at Pike ultimately helped him in his college selection process. "I knew at a pretty young age that I wanted a good education," Patty says, "but I also knew that I wanted to do a lot of different things. If I had chosen to attend Indiana, for example, I would have been pretty limited."
As a second-grader, Patty read a National Geographic book on the American Presidents and was instantly hooked on politics. Because of that interest, Patty took a debate class in high school--a course that nearly became an obsession. "It was one of those classes that you were allowed to take over and over, so I did," Patty recalls. "When I got to Wabash and saw a half-semester course in debate, I took it as a way of tying my two experiences together. Through debate and my love of history, I became interested in political science and the law."
That dovetailing of interests neatly describes Patty's entire Wabash career. He just finished senior comps with three majors--political science, religion, and speechand while the three subject areas rarely overlap, Patty finds ways of linking his academic interests with his hobbies. And succeeding wildly along the way.
"I've been lucky in so many ways," he explains. "A lot of the things I've done well have simply fallen into place. I had an interest in writing, and it turns out that the news editor of The Bachelor was a friend of mine from the TKE house. Later my work as the news editor with The Bachelor helped me land the editor's job with the Pre-Law Society journal Legalis."
Patty's father, Kevin, is a contractor and construction worker. Josh gets his drive from him. From his mother, Jody, a former high soprano with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Josh gleans his musical ability and sweet-sounding tenor voice. He began playing piano in kindergarten, sang for years with the Indianapolis Children's Choir, and last year won the Mitchum Glee Club Leadership Award at Wabash. Now he's preparing for his senior recital, which he's titled "The Prodigal Son."
So, how does Patty's religion major mesh with his interests in debate, law, journalism, and music? Though he brought with him to Wabash a passion for music and interests in debate, law, and journalism, his strong interest in religion hit him like a brick during the second semester of his sophomore year.
"I had heard that our religion department had one of the best undergraduate teaching faculties in the nation and thought I couldn't pass up the chance to take some classes," he says with a smile."I took Michael Brown's New Testament course and loved it; of all of my experiences in college, that course was the most liberating. The premise of academic Biblical study is that you can question everything, whereas that's not something that's necessarily encouraged in church. Michael encouraged, even pushed, us to question the scriptures. Now, I study the Bible as a Christian and can't deny that. But to read the Gospel of Mark and say, you know, the apostles were pretty stupid at times, can be very liberating."
"I'm someone who enjoys looking at the Bible and really studying it," he says. "Most people analyze the Bible using historical criticism, but my speech background has taught me to look at the Bible using rhetorical, textual criticism, which is an entirely different way of studying it. Some people might say that level of criticism decreases one's faith. I simply can't put into words how much stronger that type of study has made my faith, and that's very important to me."
Named a Pulliam Journalism Scholar last year, Patty continues to struggle with his personal goals and his public persona on the Wabash campus. "I expect a great deal of myself, but I try not to worry about things I cannot control," he says. That's a strange response from a man who has written opinion columns for The Bachelor for the last three years."People on this campus want to know what other people think," he continues,"and I try to tell them what I and people I talk with think about. I've been given the opportunity to write opinion, and if I'm not forthright in what I see and believe, I'm not doing my job. It's always a challenge, of course, but it's all about being an active member of a community." Patty has stretched himself to be not just a member, but an active one, in so many Wabash communitiesTKE, The Bachelor, debate, Glee Club, Pre-Law Society, "It Seems to Me That . . . ", and more. But it has been the study of religion that has been his rock. He recently preached at a morning College worship service and is involved with the faculty search committee that is seeking a replacement for Professor Brown. Now he's applying to divinity schoolsYale, Princeton Theological, and the University of Chicagohoping to earn his master's and later his Ph.D.
"My love of history and religion tells me to follow this path for now, that I'd be foolish not to pursue these interests," Patty says. "I'll always have music as a hobby, and I'll always be interested in the law. I'm confident that there are so many different paths in life that I could take and that I would enjoy taking. And as I look back at my Wabash experience, I see nothing that leads me to believe that I should have taken a different path."