• A parable of fear, thanks to my son and Paddington Bear.
• Is Christian higher ed suffering a crisis of vision?
• Only if the fundamentalists win and the only two Anabaptist schools in the CCCU are kicked out entirely.
• But my denominational experience made me hope that the CCCU would actually become more, not less, unified.
• The provost of my denomination’s university shared his own thoughts on the role of the Christian university.
• And I’m still looking for Christian college alumni, students, employees, and other friends to share what they love most about that model of education.
…There (Other Christian Higher Ed Commentary)…
• Carl Trueman thought the CCCU situation pointed to the need for stronger “confessional coherence” in evangelicalism, but the provost of Union University responded that the confessional issue was quite clear: “The good news that Jesus is Lord entails that we believe what he says wholeheartedly and follow him faithfully. In our view, one cannot consistently affirm his lordship and affirm the legitimacy of same-sex marriage.”
• I’m more sympathetic, of course, to the argument of Jenell Paris, who has learned to let go of the “doctrine of separation” and “found nothing of the Gospel diminished. In fact, it seems bracingly alive in conversation, life, and conflict with people with whom I disagree, both within my religious group and beyond.” And to the observation of one Evangelical Presbyterian pastor: “I can’t think of a denomination, church or organization that has become more orthodox merely by the retreat of evangelicals.”
• An anonymous professor reflected on what it’s like to be gay and closeted on a Christian college faculty. (Well, I wish she or he had actually written more about that topic — almost half the piece is about evolution.)
• Meanwhile, the CCCU added two rather conservative members: Harding University in Arkansas, and Wisconsin Lutheran College (whose denomination is to the right of the Missouri Synod).
• Perhaps germane to these discussions… Scot McKnight (who was kind enough to pick up some of what I’d blogged questioning the notion that marriage was “at the heart of the Gospel”) began a series on “zealotry” within Christianity: “…too often we are committed to more than the Bible in our zeal.”
…and Everywhere (Other Topics)
• A hack of the Ashley Madison website revealed the email addresses of 32 million “would-be adulterers.” The response to that release of information got Gracy Olmstead thinking of The Scarlet Letter.
• I’m writing a talk for the end of the month that mentions Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men — which Jay Case also teaches regularly.
• Michael Limberg wrote a perceptive post on the surprising rise of Christian realism among politically progressive evangelicals (at least as they look to foreign policy).
• I’m surprised? Only four in ten American Catholics are familiar with Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical — barely ahead of the national average. (And of those where familiar, not even 25% had heard about it at Mass.)
• Roger Olson argued that insisting on having a national flag in a Christian worship space is actually unpatriotic.
• In the face of further division over issues like sexuality, one Mennonite writer wondered if it wouldn’t be better simply to blow up denominations and reassemble smaller groups under bigger tents.
• Troubling news from Brethren Church-related Ashland University, which laid off fourteen tenured faculty (and nine other professors, three on the tenure track) despite having steady enrollment and a multi-million dollar budget surplus.
• How will higher ed look different in ten years? I think Joshua Kim’s observation about improved classroom design is most interesting — I certainly see hints of it where I work — and the one I’d have least expected ten years ago.
• Here’s a trend I’d like to see take hold in ten years: students recognizing that, in the vast majority of cases, going to a “prestigious” school is not necessary, or worth the cost.
• Especially elite schools who hoard endowment and spend more out of it on hedge fund managers than on student assistance. (Yep, that’s my graduate alma mater.)