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I sometimes write arcane stuff that will have a specialized audience, and what follows may be an example. However, before anyone goes confirming stereotypes, I'll explain why I am writing on this subject.

I never set out to teach in religiously affiliated schools specifically, but, at this point, I have been teaching in them for more than twelve years. I have taught in schools aligned with the Roman Catholic Church and now with the largest Protestant denomination. While I have been a practicing Christian since eighteen, I am the product of public education. I went to public primary and secondary schools, and I went to state universities for my graduate work. I certainly noticed sneering from other intellectuals, but I never saw anything in public education that impeded my spiritual expression.

The problem is that, despite being a practicing Christian and a believer, people who advocate "Christian education" scare me. I am terrified today, because each school, each head master, each board of trustees, that enunciates a clear commitment to "Christian education" either has such an amorphous definition of the term that it amounts to "professional conduct" or one with such idiosyncratic terminology that the phrase seems to be no more than a way to fire faculty -- a language trap rather than a pedagogy.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has more registered aliases than any other online journal, apparently. There is a reason: teaching at the collegiate level is tenuous, and "academic freedom" exists only in stories we tell about the 1970's. For those working at religiously affiliated schools, the sand beneath us is even weaker, because there is always a new purge in the offing, a new awakening, a new movement that begins with the assumption that all of the present faculty are part of the problem.

Five or six years ago, my former college president assigned each faculty the job of writing up how we were pursuing "Christian education" in our courses. We were to submit these reports to him. Fortunately, he was easily distracted and never followed up, but, when he issued that order, I heard a fire alarm. I knew what I would say, but I also knew that any answer could be attacked by interested parties.

Now, my college has a new, extremely controversial president, and I am scared. I do not know what will happen, but I wanted to take a look at "Christian education" as a phrase and try to start with what most of us not inside the evangelical and home school movement would assume it meant and then discuss what the term can mean in the mouths of those who use it as a battle cry.

The first time I heard the term "Christian education" came in 1998, when another graduate student told me that he liked his job at E. State U. pretty well, but he wanted to leave it for some place where he could do "Christian education." I asked him how it would be different from what he was doing currently, which works he would get to teach that he could not teach now, and he didn't really know. Nevertheless, it was important enough to him that he had to abandon a job he liked. He was a conservative and a born again Christian, so he needed to teach at a Christian school.

In ten years or so in graduate school, I heard about how thoroughly and wretchedly "the canon" and "the traditional classroom" needed reform. Reformers insisted that these two things were Christian, heteronormative, "great man" centered, hegemonic, and patriarchical.  I read, and met, critic after critic who said that all that I had been taught, and all that my teachers had been taught, had been a near conspiracy of Christian traditionalism.

I never could believe in the rage of this criticism, and, in particular, it exaggerated enormously the effect on students of reading Robert Browning instead of Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Henry Fielding over Horace Walpole. Worse, whenever critics went after the "canon" and the "traditional classroom," they seemed to be attacking a chimera, because the "traditional classroom" and "canon" were always assumed to be back there somewhere but never actually ever given in evidence. Furthermore, I thought there was a little bit of self serving going on, because these criticisms always made the critic the true hero, because she or he had managed to escape the clutches of the evil plot.

Nevertheless, there was truth in the claims. To the degree that "canon" and "traditional classroom" had been Christian and patriarchical, then no one today would need to go out and create "Christian education."  To the degree that the canons and traditions had not been actively ideological but rather practical decisions made by educators and methodological blindness by people caught in their own historical moments (i.e. the product of ideology rather than instruments of it), then any effort to create "Christian" education would be an effort to change the already dormant ideology by redefinition, pruning, and militating it.

Let me put that more simply: My personal response to people who want Christian education is that we already have it. One way or another, the dominant culture of Germany, the UK, and the US as it influenced our education is Christian and Jewish, both passively and actively. University teachers can try to be silent about the religious conflicts and beliefs that shaped history, scientific advances, technological spread, and revolutions, but it takes a conscious effort to avoid knowing that everything from vacuum pumps to the borders of political states come from Christian conflicts and Jewish and Christian moral qualifications of base conditions.

So, if people do not mean "aware of and discussing Christian thought" when they say "Christian education," then why did my friend quit his nice job to do "Christian education?" What do these words mean? Let's examine the possible meanings.

1. "Christian education means a Christian curriculum"

If you think of "the curriculum" as education, then we already have Christian education. People who use the phrase to intend this seem to mean either moral education or an undefinable excision from education. For them, "Christian education" is not defined by the books in a canon, but by the books kept out of it.

For people who believe that college "turns students liberal," it's frustrating. They don't know what it is, exactly, that those professors teach the kids that makes them liberal, but they know it's bad.

In its crudest form, a "Christian curriculum" reform is an effort at clipping away specific items that challenge the ideology of the donors or perceived power structures of the school. Clumsy attempts mean banned books lists. More sophisticated ones target critical thinking. After all, what makes students "liberal" is not anything in the curriculum, but rather a sum of skills that result from the practice of inquiry. In my experience, college students are not, in fact, liberal: they're skeptical of all assumptions and idealistic of values. They think critically and believe deeply. This makes them excellent activists, and it makes them quarrelsome when they come home over break.

The better form of Christian curriculum is a critical curriculum that simply includes Christian church history, moral education, and/or church positions. This type of education, which some of the Jesuit schools had leaned toward, may still have a black list of books, but it's a far cry from the anti-critical approach now taking root in Protestant schools.

For myself, I have always agreed with John Milton's statement in Areopagitica:

"I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but sinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat."
It cannot be a question of what I refuse to teach, but rather the fact that I teach omnivorously, with only the addition of a base of values, perhaps. I may offer a reminder to my students of what the Gospels say, or where the churches stood at the time, or how the various figures responded to an idea, but they do not grow as souls or minds by staying behind the walls of ignorance. However, if I bring this up to people who do not know who John Milton was, or that they are themselves related to the Puritains, it does me little good.

2. "Christian education is not a curriculum. It is a Christian activity."

I tend to think of myself as a person who spent twenty years getting trained in a body of knowledge. It took an enormous amount of work to gain that knowledge. This blinded me and deafened me to the discourse of fundamentalist and evangelical schools who proclaim "Christian education" and by it mean "education in a Christian way," not "with Christian content."

The problem with suggesting "in a Christian manner" is that it implies that whatever currently is, is not Christian. Further, it leaves unstated a "Christian manner" that is presumed to be obvious to the speaker. If the listener cannot both apprehend its meaning and how it diverges from the current practice, then the listener is indicted as an outsider, an unbeliever.

There are two meanings for "Christian manner" that I can discern, and both of them can raise one's blood pressure as an imperiled academic.

2B: "Teaching students to be Christian" is para-academic or anti-academic. The subject here is that Christian education is an education designed to make the students into Christians from what is presumed to be unbelieving or immoral persons. This, again, kicks the definition of "Christian" back into a parochial or private definition, and it asks for skills that Ph.D.'s and M.A.'s will not have acquired.

2A: "Education along Christian principles" is potentially merely an ideological bend for teaching. By itself, it is neither good nor bad. After all, the Ethical School movement produced some of the greatest figures of the 20th century, including J. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Schweitzer. However, in its enunciation of "Christian" as a form that is distinct from "moral" or "ethical," the schools again have a shibboleth -- a token that only those already within know how to speak, presumably.

I have, so far, found no Christian school that will, point blank, equate "Christian" with any political party -- either from the rebelling Roman Catholic traditionalists nor the evangelical side. However, the evangelical movement does have a common, if not universal, narrative of the 20th century that justifies its rise as a purging and saving fire in the churches. Over at Wonkette, they have been reading the A Beka 8th grade U.S. History book for Christian home schools and marveling at its narrative. A Beka is from Pensacola Christian College, which is. . . well, best explored on one's own.

Their narrative is not universal, but it is common. The twentieth century was a century wherein "liberalism" led many astray. The public schools hit their nadir with the "ban" on prayer in schools. Great evangelists tried valiantly to save America from its decadence, but to no avail. By the time of the 1970's, the public sphere had become one completely dominated by Satan. "The World" belongs to Satan, and Christians conduct "spiritual warfare" against this enemy by saving the unsaved, who are seduced by libertines and liberalities.

This narrative coincides nicely with the narrative that William F. Buckley pushed in God and Man at Yale. Interestingly, 1970's criticisms of amorality (not immorality) and lack of definition fit as well. However, the stridently, militantly besieged viewpoint, whereby third century persecutions of Christians are equated with civil pluralism, is unconvincing on its face unless the people coming to the belief have some other sense of loss or threat propelling them.

Why both verb-based glosses make the educator's job untenable.

2a: Education along "Christian principles"

When a school has an inaudible presumption that it is "Christian" to the degree that it is not a public institution, then the principles being proposed must also diverge. In this, the school rejects simply moral or ethical education. For these people, "Christian principles" are already subsumed into the background -- perhaps so deeply that they themselves cannot think to enunciate them as an ideology -- and there is a narrative of the Godly fighting back against the forces of Satan who were triumphant in the World in the 1960's and "deceived many" with "false prophets." Their mission -- and the school's -- is to wage war of reclamation. There are no facts that are not in line with this. Any values the school, or scholars, share with the wider community are suspect and need to be justified. Therefore, the values behind the educating will not be ethical or moral education in the traditional sense. Instead, they will be from clippings of Paul speaking to congregations on various matters recontextualized as broad guidelines to all matters of life.

When Paul tells a congregation that telling rude jokes during a prayer service is unseemly, the take-away is that "bad words" are disallowed and unChristian. When Paul tells another congregation that the heretics telling them that the Gospel of love was a gospel of free love are not to be trusted, that turns into prohibitions on boys and girls holding hands. It reminds me of what Hooker said of the earliest Protestant churches:

"But a greater inconvenience it bred, that every later endeavoured to be certain degrees more removed from conformity with the Church of Rome, than the rest before had been; whereupon grew marvelous great dissimilitudes, and by reason thereof, jealousies, heartburnings, jars and discords among them” (Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity I, 2.2).
Because the mission is to be not like public schools, everything that is in common with the state must be rejected and repudiated. A teacher in such a place who says, "I am teaching what is known" or "according to the latest scholarship" will be speaking a different language, and one who says, "But this is exactly as Horace Mann advocated in a curriculum that was essential to our Christian nature" or, worse, "I think that Felix Adler was right and that industrialism has introduced ethical and moral problems that have to be examined in a framework of active values rather than merely by reference to dogma" will be confirming an allegiance to the enemy.

2b: Teaching "to be Christian"

Of all the possible meanings, this is the most frightening to me. While it could only signify a Jesuitic emphasis on a church's catechism, parochial schools tend to be overt about exactly how they intend to teach. At the same time, we all know that some of the fiercest critics of religion, and specific churches, were the products of that sort of education. Such teaching only tends to produce highly moral individuals with a strong education, and those churches that value free will probably accept ferocious critics as a side effect.

For the evangelical "Christian educators," though, teaching to be Christian is evangelism on and with the students. While these institutions recruit from church-going populations, they either view the students as needing to convert or be born again -- as that simply is the mission of the school -- or they regard the students as missionaries in training. In either case, "teaching students to be Christian" is teaching them to perpetuate a very particular understanding of the faith, a partisan one in my estimation, and to either conform intellectually or spiritually to a practice of faith that may be brittle and definitely is (intentionally, because devised in the framework of war) narrow.

For parents frightened about the potential trouble their children may get into, the idea of a school that will preach revival weekly or daily is comforting. However, the schools are not preaching good behavior: they are preaching the saving moment when a prior "sin nature" will be destroyed and a whole new person will be made.

Imagine teaching a music class and being expected to ask your students if they have been born again. Imagine doing so while teaching accounting. If not, imagine administration and deans alike encouraging faculty to offer a "personal testimony" to one's own conversion. Even setting aside whether or not every Christian has had an awakening or conversion (and I'm not willing to do that, personally), there is a serious question involved here. Of what value is the personal narrative of the singular moment? What does it teach, except that moment? A faculty that repeats, over and over again, that they had a defining moment will inevitably teach students that Christian life is all about a single moment, that there is a Before and After akin to a diet commercial.

When a Christian faculty is assembled, it could be a resource for a much more rare and difficult well of narratives than conversions, and that is "Christian life." There are hundreds of crises in the life of faith, in and out of the academy, that are communal. Optimally, these are part of a congregation's lore, but if a college is going to ask its faculty to speak as persons on only their own authority as believers (i.e. as congregants), then speaking about how they were born again twenty or forty years ago is a very peculiar, if not stunting, choice. It is a choice that, like listing what not to teach, achieves its "Christian" education by what it refuses to say rather than what it does. (Teaching "Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord, If I Contend with Thee" and "Good Friday 1613 Riding Westward" and "Batter My Heart, Three-Person'd God" are disappointing experiences when students have never heard anyone speak of spiritual drought.)

Additionally, the students "won to Christ" by such a means are probably in peril. Far from Jesus's parable of the seed that falls upon ground that is sometimes stony, sometimes mixed with thorns, and sometimes good (Matthew 13:1-9), this is a forced cultivation. One despairs of the roots, and the fruit, of such hothouse flowers.

As for the idea that all other persons in America are victims of the World, which is the province of Satan, and that all of them are in need of missionaries, I will be silent here. I can say, however, that people with such a belief suggests we are repeating prior historical moments, and, if we are, there will be a response or an internal contradiction that will lead to bitter disappointment among the faithful. As an educator, though, I can say that this is at the best a para-educational, or even parasitic impulse. There is a conclusion first, a set of assumptions about the content of the characters of others, before inquiry, and inquiry that comes to a new answer may be met with hostility.

The meaning of "Christian education" as "distinct"

When an institution argues, in its mission statement, that it is "God's own university," or when a school willingly loses accreditation in order to be more "godly," then the faculty, as well as the parents and students, are at risk. Additionally, the silent assumptions behind the anodyne phrase must come forward. Education by Christians is easily found. Education with an awareness of Christian tradition is easy. Education with Christian morality, too, is laudable.

After all of this time, I actually favor religious education. I find that even parochial education rarely makes demands on the teachers that are onerous. Partisan education, on the other hand, and politically reactionary education scares me to death. Those who define their education as a way to prevent people from learning some thing, or becoming some thing, who define their education as a means of performing a secondary civil or cultural effect, are always going to view people who train all their lives for knowledge, in all of its messiness, its coat spattered with the mud of the world, with suspicion.

Originally posted to A Frayed Knot on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Teachers Lounge, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One thing is certain (6+ / 0-)

    No "Christian" education ever includes the letter from Galileo to the Duchess of Tuscany or the reason he wrote it.

    It should.

    •  Oh, ye of little cynicism (12+ / 0-)

      Why, sure. It shows how the Church of Rome was all wrong, not like the True Faith of Protestantism, which only sought to suppress geology.

      The more fundamental error that Galileo points to is the error of all of those, religious or not, who begin with what is logically attractive and refuse what is empirically true. The line of villains in that is long. We can include the opponents of the Small Pox vaccine, for example, as well as the ones who denied the possibility of a vacuum pump.

      Remember that the millenialist view is absolute. There is a single spirit of truth, and it takes sides. Therefore, the same act performed by one group is bad, by another good.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:09:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  obviously (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Liberal Protestant

        You didn't read Galileo's fucking letter.

        •  I did (6+ / 0-)

          He comes back, over and over, to the idea that the church had taken what was deductive -- the rule that must be true and then the observation of what was true to conclude on truth or falsehood of a question -- instead of looking at what undoubtedly is (a thing in hand). That is a fundamental error that would, as I say, keep on going, and it keeps on going now. It's why he quotes Tertulian, why he quotes Augustine. He's trying to point out that all of these jokers are being untrue to their own sources.

          You apparently have a private fucking point. That's alright. I may just be addicted to reading rhetorically (the strategies).

          The fringe Protestants would declare the Bible inerrant. Thus, Galileo was wrong. They would also not allow the reasoning of those church fathers he cites, because they're not in the Bible. However, they wouldn't get into the matter far enough to confront the "Bible says the sun moved." If they did, they would say that, "The Bible is inerrant, and the sun did move each time it said it did; it might not move now, but that's a different matter."

          Everyone's innocent of some crime.

          by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:29:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Galileo's entire point. . . (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Liberal Protestant, not2plato

            . . .aside from gently asking the Duchess to intercede to spare his life, was to make the point that science is the pursuit of truth and that if the bible seems to conflict with the truths born by science, then one should examine that interpretation of the bible. That's the entire crux of the letter.

            He quotes Tertulian and Augustine only to bolster his fundamental argument.

    •  You would be incorrect in that assumption (9+ / 0-)

      For one, Fordham University includes it in their Internet History Sourcebook, which is designed to make primary sources more accessible to students.

      But this is the Jesuits and obviously not evangelicals and fundamentalists.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:29:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since the Movers & Shakers of the RW Revolution (9+ / 0-)

    recruited fundamentalism and elements of Catholicism way way back when, anything self labeling as "Christian" has to be presumed sociopathic until proven innocent. This ostensibly populist term marches arm in arm with the most dangerous threats facing civilization.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:37:14 AM PST

    •  Which evil? (7+ / 0-)

      When I started, I was aflame against segregation academies -- those schools that went private and declared themselves Christian in 1954-5. Their academic standards were no higher, frequently lower, than the public schools, but they had the "right type" attending. For them, "Christian" and "heritage" meant the retrograde and hateful world of racism.

      Some of them -- many of them -- struggled to remain in business. They wanted to shuck their racist pasts and become academically viable. They needed a model. For two decades it seemed as if "traditional" was the possibility.

      It's still possible. Schools wanting to go to some Great Books, Trivium, Moral education. . . . These can certainly be Christian and avoid partisan politics, so long as they don't chase after the extremist donor stream.

      My school tried that. It lost.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:15:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yikes! (0+ / 0-)

      Wasn't it Solomon who suggested chopping the baby in half?

  •  I had a Catholic education (12+ / 0-)

    which included 30 minutes of religion a day.  The rest of the inculcation went like this:  

    IJohnny has seventy five cents, and he buys two pencils for ten cents each.  On his way home, he discovers that he got sixty cents back.  If he walks at a speed of three miles an hour, how long will it take him to bring back the money he owes the merchant?

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 06:29:49 AM PST

  •  Magic school. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, enhydra lutris, not2plato

    Wow, Magic school sounds like fun.

    This planet was created in 8 days.  MAGIC.

    Global Warming will be fixed by Jesus.  MAGIC

    Jesus was born , and his mother was a virgin. MAGIC

    This sounds like fun.

    Where do I sign up.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 06:33:38 AM PST

  •  Always beware of code words. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mslat27, The Geogre, radarlady, Mayfly, Rogneid

    "Integrating faith and learning" is a common one these days.  Always as, "what does that mean?"

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 06:44:44 AM PST

    •  I teach at a Christian college (19+ / 0-)

      The criticism here in this post and its responses is generally, but not universally, true.

      My school is unapologetically Christian. The majority of our students are conservative, though the faculty is about a 50/50 split. But I will submit that we don't fit your preconceptions.

      Our graduates are outstanding--R1 universities ask me to send them more graduate students. Our graduates earn Fulbrights, McArthurs, Hertzs, and NSF fellowships.

      [But I have digressed because I am replying to what I know will be the criticisms.]

      What does "integrating faith and learning" mean here? One example: Languages have often been taught to start with helping a traveler find his or her way in another country. "Where is the bathroom?" "How much for this coffee?" "What time does the train leave for Berlin?" Here the emphasis has become using language to get to know someone from another culture. How do I (inter)act when I am the visitor? How do I interact when I am the host? Yes, other schools will use this same approach for different reasons; but here the underlying motivation is that we should not be consumers.

      There are a variety of ways we do this in the sciences, too. The most obvious is the environmentalism that fits so well across the curriculum (and which is often fought tooth and nail by the conservative students). Even the politically conservative science faculty are passionate about combating climate change. Our engineers complete a year long project as seniors that focuses on a real world problem. Some are local (build a solar powered car, design a better wifi network, build a bridge so that residents of a retirement community can access the community center). Other projects will provide clean water to a community on another continent, design a sustainable fuel so that another community doesn't have to cut down all of its trees, etc.

      It's not all roses. I use an alias here because I will sometimes make an inflammatory statement that some of our biggest donors wouldn't like; these wouldn't get me fired, but it could make life unpleasant for my development friends. Our previous president was quite conservative and thought he was the final authority on everything, so the faculty spent way too many hours fighting his poor judgment. This education isn't for everyone, either. But many of our graduates leave here with a broader (and much less conservative) view of the world.

      •  Is "the faith" defined? (9+ / 0-)

        Do you have to submit reports on how you are meeting faith requirements? Is that a a requirement that meets with a pedagogical or academic goal, in your opinion? Most especially, do you have a clear idea of what "the faith" means in such a case? Are you training missionaries? Are you leading students to be born again? Are you training them to know all that can be known, regardless of its source, and evaluate the source with reason and faith?

        I have no problem with Christian education, as I said. If we are only encouraging interpersonal relationships and a loving and Christian life, then there is little onerous -- and little "distinctives" involved. When faculty are asked to achieve the specific isolating elements of a congregation, they are qualities that belong to a congregation. What qualifications do we have to be instructors in this church's view of Christianity, and when do people place those qualifications above our qualifications to disseminate knowledge? At what point do they come to think, "Well, anyone can teach the book, but I need a devout member of my church?"

        You don't see any tenuousness to such a job? Perhaps you have a college where all is stable and secure. I have seen schools whipped from pillar to post, asked to respond to each wind that blows through the most active (not most populous) portion of a given church. My present position is scaring me, but I saw a "Country Day School" become a "Christian Day School" and decide that all faculty were "worldly" except for 4 old timers who went to the same church as the major donors.

        When you already make too little money to have a savings account, this kind of ambiguity is a labor issue.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:42:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  good questions (5+ / 0-)
          Most especially, do you have a clear idea of what "the faith" means in such a case? Are you training missionaries? Are you leading students to be born again? Are you training them to know all that can be known, regardless of its source, and evaluate the source with reason and faith?
          You last statement is the closest fit regarding the info in the classroom. Biology students are taught evolution as fact* (*as much as science allows). Most education students will teach in public schools; it's not a Trojan horse plan. There is a gender studies program whose courses could transfer to a state university. Students learn about becoming better citizens, aware of their own biases and respectful of those with different perspectives. But students are also encouraged to wrestle with how their faith informs and transforms their lives.

          Tenure and promotion are evaluated primarily by teaching and scholarship, with increasing emphasis on service (college, community, church) and advising. Mediocre teachers without a good trajectory don't last. Scholarship requirements vary by discipline; scientists have to be publishing in good, peer-reviewed journals and getting grants (we get millions from NIH and NSF), and I believe other disciplines are similar. We scientists also have to have students heavily involved in the research to prepare them for grad school, med school, etc.; this aspect of teaching is also related loosely to our religious background (though one could make plenty of good arguments for this w/o religion).

          But you are correct--there is also a faith requirement to work here, and it can make hiring difficult. The college is affiliated with a Presbyterian denomination, and that is the perspective we bring. We are not a generic Christian school--we offer a unique perspective to academia that would otherwise not exist. The faith requirement is not there because we think it is the only or the best perspective, but the perspective brings value to the overall discussion. Included in our portfolio is an ever evolving faith statement about how our faith shapes our teaching and scholarship, and then we discuss these documents in our department. Often we ask, "Would I teach any differently if I were at the State U.?" For most topics nothing would change, though our approach might be different if we had never taught here (see my example in an earlier post about language education).

          The other purpose of the college is to serve this relatively conservative denomination, and historically the college has done a good job. Through the years scholarship from the college has pushed the denomination forward on gender issues, science, racial reconciliation, and now on sexuality (there is a college sponsored peer education and support group for LGBT students and their allies). Conservatives have left the denomination from time to time because of the "liberal" college.

          The reason I feel secure here is because we have a tradition of strong faculty governance, and the faculty are not afraid to remind the president and the board of that whenever it's needed. Some quality people left the school during the last president's administration, but most people banded together to make sure that this place stayed true to its history. There is strong faculty leadership here with people willing to stand up for their colleagues. I don't think it would work without it. Faculty had a large role in selection of our new president, and I think we're in good hands for the near future.

        •  Not sure where to insert this (6+ / 0-)

          so I'll try here.  An acquaintance teaches freshman economics at a Christian university.  So he has his freshmen read both Adam Smith (who argued that economic justice emerges from the aggregation of the action of numerous venal individuals) and Reinhold Neibuhr's Moral Man and Immoral Society (in which Neibuhr argues exactly the converse -- that our economic arrangements draw well-intentioned individuals into venality).  He then gets his students to debate the merits of the two viewpoints.  Now that's Christian education.

          •  I agree (3+ / 0-)

            I would be unable to get them to read either, I'm afraid. However, what I find interesting is that Smith is trying to deal with Bernard de Mandeville and yet has a basically benign view of human nature. He thought that humans were, by nature, kind, if flawed. This is a view that was opposite to the Calvinist view, and it had emerged after Shaftesbury and a rather long conversation in the mid-century. Niebuhr, I would argue, remains convinced that the individual, no matter how moral, is rooted in error, and these errors are going to multiply whenever there is an aggregation.

            What astonishes me, and the real question, is how these schools derive from apocalyptic doctrines to believe that the question can be evaded through an abiding or special grace, so "we" are not prone to evil, so long as we are totally guided by the spirit in the Last Days.

            This development of a radical, truly radical, perseverance of the saints and a belief that the true believer is no longer given to a meaningful (damning) sin and that providence is guiding all social decisions and directions (complete with prophecy) might seem too fringe to be believed. It's common. It really is.

            Everyone's innocent of some crime.

            by The Geogre on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 07:18:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The beliefs you describe (3+ / 0-)

              Your description squares with my more casual impressions of the underlying message that some institutions seem to put forth.  For me, the fixation on eschatology, especially in its o-boy-o-boy-let's-bring-on-the-end-times flavor, seems downright perverse.  But here's my question:  Is there a well-developed theology behind that view?  Do they understand, for example, that what they're saying adds up to the system you describe in your last paragraph, or is their message just a convenient way to mold a more compliant flock?

              •  Ah! I can't say. (Yes, I think) (3+ / 0-)

                This would be where Entlord and others would step in. I know that a good many of those at my [place] subscribe to WallBuilders newsletters. I know that a major publication of [church] had Paul Broun on its cover as "Christian leadership" in 2008. I know what David Barton can say a thing one week, and I hear it echoed two weeks later.

                I.e. there is an advancing . . . theology/praxis, but I don't think it is ever a pedagogical theory. The pedagogy is a handmaiden or afterthought. Once "Christian education" is "educating to be (the right kind of) Christian," pedagogy is beside the point. There is no longer educational theory. There is only church practice, and the stuff that accrediting institutions require for the degree is either a side issue or an active barrier.

                One consequence of "Christian education" as a verb instead of "education in Christian knowledge" is that methods of teaching are identical with methods of preaching or winning souls.

                Everyone's innocent of some crime.

                by The Geogre on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:08:11 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Code words that CAN'T be defined (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady, Mayfly, kyril, Amayi

      These are the ones that are worst. When the code is proof of membership. Asking "What do you mean?" proves that the questioner isn't listening to the right radio station or going to the right church.

      If it were a parent or student, I could understand being only wary of code words, but faculty barely survive as it is.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:55:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is the single best piece of writing I've read (14+ / 0-)

    on Daily Kos. Precise, defined, well laid out.

    Richard Dawkins once made a similar point, that we are Cultural Christians in one respect or another in the Western world. But that is quite distinct from schools that teach to make students Christian, and I couldn't agree with you more on every single point here.

    The worst example of the purge that Christian education could embark upon, that I saw, was the pursuit of the perfect educators. Perfect Christians that stood as flawless examples to their students. The day the chemistry teacher talked about his drug use in college and why he'd decided it was a dangerous road that could lead to his addiction, in a very honest and open conversation with his classroom, he was quickly removed from faculty.

    by DAISHI on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:25:09 AM PST

    •  No doubt he was replaced by a graduate of some (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady, Cassandra Waites

      unknown "bible college" who assured his students that Jeebus drank grape juice rather than wine and had sandals blessed by the VM which enabled him to walk on water and reach that site where he could distribute endless fishes and loaves to the assembled masses.

      When all else fails, try thinking!

      by edtheengineer on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:44:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Perfect. . . wow (9+ / 0-)

      The subset operating now has a perfection by faith, but faith is manifest in the conversion. This is a dangerous feedback loop, in my view. Paul talks about, as far as I can tell, a bit of metaphysics: before the incarnation, humans were subject to the law of Moses because they were doomed by a physical human-nature, one dominated by sin; however, after Jesus, the believer has the sin of that nature removed and gets a new essence/nature, a perfectibility through faith. Ok. It's a way of explaining why converts don't need circumcision and don't have to obey the laws of Moses.

      The way it shows up now is that before conversion, people are all "sin nature," but then they have a new nature. Once they have the new nature, they're perfect. Because they can't stop and know all their little errors, grace forgives them all, due to faith, and so these people are forgiven in advance without contrition or confession, and the salvation cannot be lost. Therefore, you see, they are perfect.

      I see great advantages to the world and to believers in being conscious of one's sins and being sorry for them.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:02:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I concur with edtheengineer's comment (5+ / 0-)

        I don't have a lot of specifics to add, just that having been raised in a fundamentalist church, everything you wrote rings true to my experience while a teen. There were those who wanted to keep proselytizing as a personal one-on-one effort, with politics out of it, but, as the years went on, they were increasingly silenced in favor of the Religious Right as we know it today.

        It's chilling; as you point out, there is so much good to come from being a Christian who is conscious of the history of the past 2000 years, and uses the mistakes of others as a teachable moment. But, for so many, Christianity is perfect, and cannot be criticized.

        I'm happy to see the relatively serious discussion going on in the comments. This is a very important post.



        •  Thank you (5+ / 0-)

          I consider this the most dangerous thing I have written. Even behind a pseudonym, I'm that worried. I have never, ever identified where I work, and I won't. This was the case when I worked in a blue state, when I worked in a very blue state, and it's been true now that I've been in a red state. I don't want my personal analyses to reflect on individual actions of individual employers, but the fear is real.

          I mentioned, not meaning to be aggressive, that there can be a point when the administration dedicated to "making students Christian" decide, "Anyone can teach the textbook, but we need someone from our church." At an accredited college, the idea seems absurd, but it happens. There are people who honestly don't know why the Accounting professor can't just go teach Calculus or the British Literature person can't teach Modern American or why an adjunct with a BA can't do either one. The reason is not that these are ignorant individuals, but that these are individuals whose priority is, as I said, para-academic or perhaps anti-academic.

          [When I say "academic," I mean "the academy," not "learned." The academy is that mythical Athenian origin for the university.]

          Everyone's innocent of some crime.

          by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:41:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  understandable (5+ / 0-)

            I use a pseudonym here so that I don't make other peoples' jobs more difficult. I've been threatened on Facebook for pointing out that something someone wrote about Obamacare wasn't necessarily true (wait 'til I tell so-and-so from Development why I'm not sending the school any money this year or why my kid won't be going to my alma mater!).

            I appreciate what you've written here and the strength it took to write it, even though I've wanted to discuss a few of your points. I have a few diaries kicking around the back of my head that I'm not sure I'll ever be comfortable writing.

  •  The problem is (10+ / 0-)

    they do not offer a "Christian"education. They offer an education in church dogma. Want to stop these guys in their tracks? turn it around on them, like this:  "Yes, I want my child to have a true Christian education. I want my child to learn what Christ told his followers to do, and learn how to put the teachings of Christ to use in their daily lives. And to learn how to stay away from those who use the name of Christ for their own personal gain and glory."

    Try this out and watch the response.There will be those who fall back on the "one true Scotsman" dodge. The proper response is: " Read Matthew 25: starting with verse 17. There is plain language is Jesus telling his followers what will happen to those who refuse his teachings. And you, are refusing the teachings of Christ." If they continue dodging, then you can use one of their memes back on them. "Jesus says plainly to take care of the poor, the sick, the elderly, to be good to everyone, to judge not, to not steal or lie. And if Jesus says it that's good enough for me."

    "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government" T. Jefferson

    by azureblue on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:35:40 AM PST

    •  Good advice (5+ / 0-)

      I think what is going on, alas, is that the parents who send students to these schools aren't really motivated even by a fractious religious view, and certainly not by a Koch/Scaife worldview. I think they've grown terrified of "college turns your children into strangers" and "your children will go bad at college" myths/legends. This is what I meant by saying that there has to be a something else to motivate parents and students than simply the cultural narrative.

      Now, the schools themselves have an answer for the charges you make. They say, "We send missionaries to Russia and Iran and Afghanistan to save souls" and they point to the Great Commission. They say that they offer counseling "in a Christian manner" for pregnant women. In other words, rather than simple and direct action as Jesus said, they condition it with "in a Christian manner." It can be very...Pharasetical.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:08:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beautiful Souls: (5+ / 0-)

    Those who see no defect in themselves but the night of the soul/world all around them. This is a very emotional and dangerous subjectivity. Terrible and common, at my Lutheran church in Blue Utopia, I estimate 30% or so are praying for everyone else but themselves. To be a Christian and not recognize that the kingdom of god is possible but that one comes to the cross as a sinner is common blasphemy.

    Send that to the Provost!


  •  Some years ago I applied for a temp job (15+ / 0-)

    (one year position, to cover someone on maternity leave) in a lit department at a local private Evangelical college.
    I was then, and now, nominally Christian though not ever especially devout, and in no way could I honestly claim a conversion experience.
    However, I did manage to snag an interview. As part of the process, I was expected to testify regarding the extent of my faith, and how I thought I would make it manifest in the classroom.
    It was a terribly painful experience for me. I abhor proselytization in all contexts, and view the process of public religious testimony with almost the same degree of horror. I have no idea, really, why I thought I could get through it without revulsion. As it happened, I didn't. I was relieved when I didn't get the job. It would have been an ordeal for me every single day.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:44:52 AM PST

  •  Christian education taught me to think critically (13+ / 0-)

    Well, I mean having the experience of BOTH Christian, in my case Catholic, and public education taught me to think critically because I discovered there is more than one point of view that may be taught.  Therefore, not everything you are taught is necessarily the whole story!  

    In my case, the public school wasn't a lot less Christian than the Catholic school because 99% of the students were Lutheran so we pretty much skewed along those lines without any malevolent intent by the district.  

    But just being taught history of the Reformation from two totally different perspectives taught me how much bias there is going to be in any history.  

    The other thing I learned from a partially Catholic education was how American centric was my education in the public schools.  Catholic education tends to be less focused on USA! USA! and may dare to challenge things like US foreign policy in a ways a public school district may fear to tread.  

    I don't think we need to fear Christian education, we need to fear parents who insist all children be taught only one perspective and that can happen in public schools as well as Christian schools.  

    •  Similar background (5+ / 0-)

      I went through 12 years of Catholic school and then attended a Presbyterian college.  

      I actually remember very little religious education in the Catholic schools other than elementary school rote memorization of "God is good, God is great...."   Most of the education seemed geared towards preparation of the "sacraments"-- first communion, confirmation, and eventual marriage in high school courses.

      The religious courses in college weren't religion courses per se, but mostly discussed the history of religion, and the lessons of the bible as a philosophy.  Very cool, eye-opening stuff.  Best of all, I had no idea of the historical evolution of the Catholic church itself.  From what I learned in Catholic schools, I would have supposed that the modern day Church was a direct link from Jesus to Peter, and nothing had changed since then.

      The sum of all this is that I became a lot more interested in learning more about all religions as well as the perspectives of atheists.  I just checked my college's statement of purpose. It was written in 1964 and I think is well fulfilled.  

      The loyalty of the college thus extends beyond the Christian community to the whole of humanity and necessarily includes openness to and respect for the world's various religious traditions.
      The very few religious conservative students I knew were uncomfortable with such a catholic (lowercase 'c') education. I don't embrace any religion now but sure am glad to have had the education to compare and contrast them.  
  •  "Moderates" -- eating cake, having it both ways (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    -- providing Fig Leaves for their Establishments, always.

    These changes in religiously affiliated schools have long-time coming ... and no secret to anyone paying any attention.  

     In fact, it might be more accurate to say that the Great Liberalism period 1964-1984, (Vatican II and the War on Poverty included) was "just a temporary aberration."   Now the New Normal is,  pretty much like the Old Normal was ...  Christian, heteronormative, "great man" centered, hegemonic, and patriarchical. but without  the Auto de Fes, of course.

    So ...Now you're afraid for your job.

    Well, find out what The Boss wants and give it to him.

    "Paris IS worth a Mass" ...

  •  The term "Christian morality" is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, not2plato


    •  I think it is something that depends (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre

      "Christian morality" seems as variable as "morality" itself.  The thing that offends me about the former is when the person espousing it thinks that there is no such thing as the latter.  

      I republished this to teachers' lounge.  Thank you very much for this diary.

      •  Thank you. I think it is a labor issue for teacher (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annetteboardman, not2plato


        Private schools pay, on average, 10% less than state schools. Religious schools pay 15% less than state schools, and the lowest pay per position, state by state, can be found in religious schools. When we add in the exceptional insecurity from religious directives that are implicit rather than explicit, we're discussing a serious problem for a number of teachers.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:01:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That was my experience (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre, northsylvania

          when I was on the adjunct go-round.  The local jesuit school offered to pay 1k for a class that the local community college paid 1.3k to teach, the local state college paid 1.8k to teach, and the local state university paid 2.4k to teach.  

          I never learned what the local private university would have paid.  

          The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

          by not2plato on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:06:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Fowler's Stages of Faith (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    James Fowler's "stages of faith" analysis offers some insight into the goals of "Christian education."  I'd see it having the goal of freezing people in his 3rd Stage, "Synthetic-Conventional" and preventing advancing into his 4th Stage, "Individuative-Reflective."

    Conformity to authority is the aim.
    Fowler's Stages

  •  I would think a Christian education would... (5+ / 0-)

    Turn the other cheek.
    Blessed are the meek.
    Do unto others....
    Rich man squeezing through the eye of a needle...
    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone....
    The love of money is the root of all evil...

    If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.

    by kharma on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:15:31 AM PST

    •  sometimes it does (0+ / 0-)

      Not always, but you will find schools like this out there.

    •  At least those are wedges into what might (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Visceral, native, northsylvania

      otherwise be a totally authoritarian right wing conservative secular education.  You take religion out of education and you don't necessarily get a benign secular education.   You may just get unabashed law of the jungle or law of the oligarchs.

      They type of American education I find most dangerous today is the kind kids get in a conformist risk averse public school before they enter business school and proceed to their MBA.  I'd call that "It's all mine and it's all for me".  

    •  Oh, the GOSPEL? (5+ / 0-)

      I can't say. The kids all have to take "New Testament" where I am. They seem really, really, really really blank when I refer to parables. Perhaps all of my students have failed to take the class yet. I would not like to believe that the class concentrates on Paul.

      Then again, it could be that fortress-like ability of students to not read what is assigned, even if it's their holy text.

      On the other hand, I have had students "learn about" the Gospel in church. This is not related to my school. One of them told me that "Judge not, lest ye be judged" meant that you're supposed to judge, because, as a person with a new nature justified by faith, you're forgiven by grace, and you're judgment-ready. Another told me that, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" was Jesus's way of pointing out that, in the future, His followers would be sinless and would be able to drive away the sinful prostitutes and such. That came from local preachers.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:47:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Terrific Post: (7+ / 0-)

    I'm glad you mentioned Wonkette's series on the Christian history texts.  If you hadn't I was gonna.

    I'll mention two others:  John Killinger's "Ten Wrong Things I Learned from a Conservative Church" is an excellent personal story of an evangelical pastor-scholar's awakening that right-wing religion in America is toxic.  My favorite money shot is toward the end when he's discussing the doctrines of Biblical literacism and mentions Baylor (a Southern Baptist University in Waco, Texas, best known for its football program) instituted a policy of requiring all faculty to sign a statement they believe in Biblical inerrancy in order to keep their positions.  His comment is "I imagine most of them signed the fictitious statement in order to keep their jobs."  

    Sheri Reynolds' novels are excellent social criticism of the separatist strains in extreme evangical-pentecostal culture, as can only be told by someone who knows it intimately.   Most are difficult to read for me, as she writes with both a woman's and an evangelical's sensibility which makes me, a male with limited social skills sometimes want to go, "Wait a minute, what?"  (I mean it seems at times she prefers sublety and understatement rather than direct exposition - you know, like women's 'hints' to their husbands).  Anyhow, though, her best known, "The Rapture of Caanan" is the story of a teenage girl growing up in a pentecostal sect - the type which are immediately identifiable by their long plain, skirts (pants for women are a big no no), and elbows covered supposedly because the bent arm somewhat resembles a vulva and therefore drives men wild.  We have a few in Kansas but where I saw the most at once ever was in rural Louisiana - it may surprise some to know there's a pentecostal sect in Alexandria (LA not VA) which has a special bond with Bill Clinton, that Baptist married to a Methodist from the same town as Baptist panjandrum Mike Huckabee.  Supposedly Clinton used to go every year to an annual reunion of that group.  Ah, well, anyhow, in Reynolds' book, the girl narrates and says "I used to think of our church as a beautiful city on  a hill.  Now I see it as an island - an island sinking from the weight of fearful hearts."

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

    by Kangaroo on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:35:21 AM PST

    •  Thank you for the compliment & reading (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Baylor oath has inspired many more. Where I am, a college to the north instituted one. It also had all faculty and staff fired for any non-traditional sexual relations (living in sin, fornication, plus homosexuality, of course) and forbade any consumption of alcohol in a public place where students might see, such as a restaurant, and forbade attending any school events within six hours of consuming alcohol. The faculty fled that place in numbers not to be believed. (The school had tried to break away from its church affiliation and lost in the state supreme court by one vote.)

      One of my friends in graduate school was offered a job at Baylor and would not sign because of their morality clause, which said that she could not cohabitate. She and her boyfriend had been living together long enough to be common law spouses, but they wouldn't get married. Baylor lost out on a first rate medievalist that way.

      As I've said before, these oaths aren't designed to catch atheists or career builders, I think. They're designed to catch people of conscience and free thinkers. They do that to political parties, and they do that to schools. They're supposed to be antithetical to the academy as well.

      (Is the Bible inerrant? The Bible is true. My Bible has lots of "a "house" b "in the house of the Lord" c Some MSS omit "by himself". Does the person proclaiming the Bible inerrant have an inerrant translation and inerrant sources?]

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:00:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's always interesting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Slaw, The Geogre

        What people claim about the Bible versus what the Bible claims about itself.

        by DAISHI on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:21:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  As if it even conceives of itself (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre, organicus

          as a singular book.

          by DAISHI on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:21:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My last act of bravery (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mickquinas, gffish

            I allowed to be published, in the college literary magazine, an essay where I attacked the concentration on the age of the earth. I pointed out how Bishop of Armagh James Ussher's contemporaries reacted when he produced the Chronology. The other priests and bishops said, more or less, "Wow, Jim, the church is getting torn apart, and you spent your time doing this?"

            They also attacked him for hubris. The Bible didn't give dates, didn't seem to be worried about dates, and yet the archbishop was going to insist on exactly when things were?

            I did that to point out that the Bible wasn't a book of dates, and the strength of creation is not a question of time.

            The Bible is written in different ways in different parts. Joel is not the same as Leviticus, and neither is like Acts. Reading each as if it were a law book or a history book is intentional misreading.

            Everyone's innocent of some crime.

            by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:00:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  When we read Scripture, we learn that Jesus said: (5+ / 0-)

    "Feed the hungry.  Clothe the naked.  Care for the sick.  Bury the dead."

    When we read the major works of today's "Christian education" we read:

    "Slash food stamps out of existence.
    "Eliminate unemployment benefits.
    "Purge Welfare rolls.
    "Drastically cut all Social Security.
    "Destroy, or repeal, or defund, ACA.
    "Let those unable to PAY - at the highest gouges possible - DIE OFF and get to hell out of the way."

    Don't believe me?  Then go down to your local barn-with-steeple, and listen to the Jackass-in-the-Pulpit bray of a Sunday morning - particularly those claiming to have a "Christian education"!

    There is a vast difference between superstitious ignorance; arrogantly stubborn stupidity; Prelatial pomp, pretense, and blather; and Christianity.

    Or, as has been said elsewhere:  "Christianity is such a wonderful lifestyle, it is sad that so few ever try to experience it."

  •  The anti-Christs (4+ / 0-)

    Sadly there is a dangerous river running through "Christians" today.  I check Real Clear Politics most days.    Yesterday in their religious section they featured an article from the American Spectator that described a church in Oakland calling itself "Christian", but named the baby Jesus in their Xmas manger Trayvon Martin.  Red meat to the "Onward Christian Soldiers".  Some of the articles have to be lies, but they keep that base stirred up with hate.  Duck Dynasty is an example of their knee-jerk defense just as George Zimmerman is a Saint and Trayvon Martin a thug.  The alarms go off when their rhetoric goes into violence so quickly.  If the story comes from a trusted source, they will believe anything.  Do they realize how they appear to me who was raised by Southern evangelical parents, but married a Jew who had 3 generations murdered in Europe?  Bush's casual subversion of the separation of church and state giving social service money to evangelicals while letting them preach to welfare recipients before passing out the money.  Even now Bush is raising money to help convert Jews to Christianity.  Combining what they hope is a theocracy with the power of the Republican party is a reason for concern.

    •  Authoritarian politicians (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre, melo

      approve of authoritarian religions when their goals coincide. A populace educated not to think when ingesting propaganda comes in handy. If they think of themselves as Christian Soldiers, that's even better.
      I think the problem the Geogre is confronting here is not that much different from what a critical thinker would experience in Stalinist Russia, a notoriously non-Christian state. It's less a matter of faith than one of adherence to any arbitrarily rigid doctrine. In this, his fear is similar to Trotsky's, and quite possibly equally justified.

      "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

      by northsylvania on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:10:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The secret broadcasts (3+ / 0-)

        I feel, pretty often, as if there is some radio station where the next buzzword is broadcast, and then I'll hear every level of the school using it the next week. Then there will be a new buzzword. I'm quite serious when I say that they function as shibboleths. Not knowing "distinctives" is a noun, for example, makes it clear that I'm an outsider. (And grammar won't save me, because pointing out that "distinctives" cannot be a noun is more of that elitist stuff that shows how out of step I am. It's almost as if I were an English professor!)

        Three years ago, for example, there was a wave of, "God told you to come to this college, and now you're failing. You need to get right with God and not fail His plan for your life" going on. When I was upset at that, people agreed that perhaps we ought not put so much pressure on the students, but not the rest. That God had a college in mind for the student, and that this was the one, and that there is no other place for the student to be and be acceptable to God's plan was simply a universal belief at that time.

        I could talk to the Old Testament professor. He agreed with me that God's will can survive choosing a blue car over a red one, going to this place or that. He wasn't ready to agree with me that God might not plan each person's career, but at least he could see how like a school of fish the entire college would move in opinion as if from some far away signal caller.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:00:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  One could find out (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre

          where the movers and shakers attend bible study and install a small recording device there on a Wednesday afternoon.
          Poor you. That must be incredibly frustrating. I taught at TCU for a while, a place that had incredible difficulty recruiting faculty, partly on account of the name, though as has been pointed out, private Christian schools don't pay very well either. When I was there, the students were considerably more doctrinaire than either the faculty or the administration. However, this may have changed in the last ten years.
          Distinctives as a noun apparently comes from a book of the same name by Vaughan Roberts (not to be confused with Robert Vaughan), a product of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and Selwyn College, Cambridge. He comes from the ranks of the most elite and elitist of academics, which he undoubtedly feels gives him the right to coin usage for his own benefit.

          "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

          by northsylvania on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:47:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Christian madrassas (0+ / 0-)

    What a great path back to the Middle Ages.

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:40:48 AM PST

    •  If ONLY it were medieval! (4+ / 0-)

      We wish it were medieval.

      The worst of the medieval education is that it determined that all that could be known was already known. It closed the horizon and taught serious analysis. The effect of that was analysis that would not remain in bounds.

      The medieval university was a factory for clerks and its own disproof. I.e. it contained an internal contradiction that guaranteed a parade of Bacons and Erasmuses.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:10:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Diary... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, johanus

    ... In reading the last sentences after the Matt:13:1-9 quote- this is forced cultivation. One despairs of the roots, and the fruit, of such hothouse flowers.
      My interpretation of this passage is that a "Christian
    Education" is the GMO of education.

  •  I look forward to showing this to my wife (8+ / 0-)

    My wife interviewed for a psychologist position at a campus counseling center with a Presbyterian-affiliated college.   By no means was the school overtly Christian else she wouldn't have applied.  We also had friends who were faculty members who, maybe, nominally were religious.  They said religion was something that literally was never discussed during their hiring or since then.

    The interview process went very well for my wife with faculty and staff members. Again, no discussion of religion.  However, the last interview was with the college president. He broached the subject of religion by asking about my wife's religious upbringing, and then asked how she regarded Christian education and how she'd bring that into her work.  The latter is a huge ethical no-no for a licensed psychologist. She actually wondered if it was a trick question, and sadly, it wasn't.

    This turn of  the conversation was so unexpected that my wife had no comfortable way to talk about this.  She told the frank truth, and then came home and contacted the school that she was withdrawing her name from candidacy.  I think she'll appreciate this diary for providing a good survey of the meaning of Christian education. Her decision would have been the same, but she would have been better prepared to discuss the topic.

    Epilogue: That president eventually was ousted by the board--publicly for various bad management practices and, behind the scenes, for rowing his oar out of synch with the campus community.  Also, the college's mission statement no longer includes any mention of religious purpose.

    •  "Christian counseling" -- a raison d'etre (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      old wobbly, marykk, northsylvania

      A great many of my students major in "Christian counseling." I know the psychology professor who trains them, and he's a good egg. I know that he teaches them Freud (now that the English department teaches psychoanalytic criticism). I know that these students are very sincere and hopeful, and I would like to be hopeful with and for them.

      The hybrid, though, seems to ask the very same question that I'm asking here: since there are a thousand ways to be a psychologist or counselor and have faith, what exactly does the "Christian" mean? If it's pastoral care, then. . . ?

      I wish them well. I'm too frightened too often to be able to do more.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:17:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  hide behind Scripture interpreted literally (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, The Old Grouch

    They'd have a hard time punishing or firing you for teaching according to the plain meaning of the words in the Bible.  That's the typical fundie position: the Bible contains everything that God intended to say and that the message is not hidden in metaphors, "Bible code", and the like.  When Jesus and the apostles are clearly using metaphors themselves, focus on other passages that are not metaphorical.

    About the physical universe, stick to hard facts and numbers that can be proven.

    "Character-driven" education of any religious and/or cultural tradition eats up the idea of learning by example.  History and especially biography are going to be your best friends in the social studies department.  Guest speakers, field trips, and anything you can spin as "faith in action".

    These kinds of people also effortlessly mistake manners for morals, so you can hide a lot by having it speak, dress, etc. in the expected way.  Promoting skepticism and nonconformity as ends in themselves is easily spotted by people trained to be hypersensitive to deviance from the ideal, but an outwardly model Christian and citizen who goes and does "liberal" things with the Bible and the Federalist Papers behind them is beyond the ability of these people to deal with rationally.

    Obviously most "Christian education" is just a cover for right-wing indoctrination and such persons and institutions not interested in either serious Bible study or serious science.  As far as that goes, I don't have any answers.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:25:10 AM PST

  •  Christian "education" (4+ / 0-)

    should be left to the churches and OUT of any type of school.  

    It is nothing more than proselytizing and training up a new "army" of "soldiers for god". There is little critical thinking involved, you are expected to see everything through the lens of the bible and somehow force facts to fit that narrative.

    I say this is as someone who attended a private, Christian school from 4th-12th grade and then attended 2 years of college at a, very, Christian college (think Truett Cathey).

    I had the a beka books, even some from Bob Jones. It was revisionist, at best. Mostly it was outright lies, a twisting of the facts to suit a particular worldview.  There was nothing, without god...  The earth was created in a few days, it is only a few thousand years old. The founding fathers were all christian and meant for this to be a theocracy (they said democracy, but it was clear what the true meaning was).  In the "good ole days" everyone prayed and went to church, there was no such thing as 'pre-marital sex", even married couples slept in separate beds. Women were subservient to men, because women are designed, by god, to be that way (remember, Adam came first). Thinking something is the SAME as doing it, so if you have impure thoughts, you have already committed the sin.

    I didn't buy into the nonsense when it was being spoon fed to me (my parents are retired Southern Baptist missionaries, I was in church every single time the doors were open, it was like they had to get their fix, or something) and the moment I didn't have to go to church again, I stopped and started educating myself on how the world REALLY is.

    The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy. -Charles de Montesquieu

    by dawgflyer13 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:28:13 AM PST

    •  I know the place (0+ / 0-)

      I won't say any more about how I know the college you're referring to.

      You were subject to a very specific narrowing of Christian education, and that's what I wanted to write about. Inaudibly, the Southern Baptist schools of the sort you obliquely mention have worked from an operative definition of "Christian" as anti- public, and they have embraced any speaker or value that can more stridently reject whatever the group regards as the common villain (integration, women's liberation, separation of church and state, homosexual rights, identity politics). Focusing on "anti" as an ideology is the very definition of "reactionary."

      Anyone who is a reactionary is lacking a positive set of ideological positions, and that means she or he can be moved along. The Southern Baptist schools that would (I saw a case) fire a faculty member for having an ex-Mormon wife would preach up Mitt Romney. Why? Because their position is anti-. The group that was founded on hatred of Roman Catholics now praises the nuns and priests who decry birth control.

      So long as any group defines "Christian education" as "making students into Christians" and then defines "Christian" as something other than, say, the Nicene Creed or some similarly broad and basic declaration, the excessive signs (must believe in literal interpretation, must believe these are the end times, must believe that The Revelation of John described the future) narrow from definitions of Christian into members of a siege camp.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:27:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hold it! Silliness alert! The word "Christian" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has no specific, precise, substantive meaning. It's actual, in use meaning is "the current opinions, interpretations and beliefs of the speaker or author as to the current opinions, interpretations and beliefs of of the current putative leaders of the sect to which such speaker or author currently generally belongs."

    Used as an adverb or adjective it is utterly devoid of cognitive content, fluid, everchanging, including retroactively and absolutely nonsentical as an operational definition of anything.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:35:38 AM PST

    •  Nope (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      For the RCC, Lutheran Church, Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and many, may others the definition is the Nicene Creed.

      The Baptist churches are different. They were founded with a motto of "No Crown. No Creed." They believed in the independence of each congregation, and they came together in a convention, but the very nature of the churches was to never, ever have a single creed. That more or less came to an end in 2000. The problem there is that the "Faith and Message" statement that emerged was much more precise and . . . divisive than defining Christianity.

      The Nicene Creed is very simple.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:32:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bogus, I have addressed this piss-poor (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        excuse for an argument many times here already.

        Once upon a time some self-appointed and self-annointed pompous bozos, with no innate authority or qualifications to speak for anybody but themselves, got together as a political act to put forth some shared dogma that each felt would help to empower the sect he personally supported.

        It is binding on none but those who accept it. Great numbers of self-described Christians do not, a great number of them haven't even heard of it. Neither Popes nor prelates get to define Christianity for all, nobody does, most especially, organized churches and their leaders.

        It is amazing that throughout history the snide rhetorical question "Who speaks for god & all christendom, who is competent, who is so authorized?" has always found numerous self-inflated buffoons claiming that it is them.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:46:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You appear to speak to yourself (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          enhydra lutris, Slaw, home solar

          My "argument" was "What is the definition of a Christian?" I offered the definition as it emerged globally. You responded by saying that some person is claiming to speak for God? Excuse me?

          You don't want authority. Well, good for you! You asked a question: what is the definition of what makes a Christian. I answered it: for most of the world, it is the Nicene Creed. There is one major exception to this, which I explained. I have no doubt that many people consider themselves Christian and have never heard of the creed, but many people consider themselves middle class and have never heard of the income distribution.

          Everyone's innocent of some crime.

          by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:08:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, the definition is arbitrary and binding (0+ / 0-)

            upon nobody, hence not a definition at all. Had they all claimed that it meant people who wore crucifixes it wuld be equally valid and meaningful. It is not a definition because innumerable self professed christians to not adhere to it or believe that it is definitional for them. Those who fostered this bogus definition had no authority to do so.

            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

            by enhydra lutris on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:36:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  A key point I left out - the word and its usage (0+ / 0-)

            pre-existed the attempt to abrogate it. Neither we, nor any group of mere hundreds or thousands could sit down today to define Taoism, Taoism exists, its existence, adherents and active definition already exist and the existing definition is not universal, uniform nor immutable. Such was the case when those at Nicea attempted to abrogate the word for their purposes.

            It is not something like gold where we can subsequently, after the fact, determine atomic weight and number, or like red where we can declare it to be light having a wavelength of between x and y angstroms. It was and still is whatever any professed and professing christians say it is, no more and no less, any and all, and hence it is not remotely uniform and not delineated for now or the future.

            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

            by enhydra lutris on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:58:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Silliness? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre, melo

      I applaud your concern about cognitive content and recognize your criticism of the lack of precision of the term "Christian", but I think that you may be overstating your case.

      Much of our language is fluid and imprecise, or context dependent, like the word "rock", for instance.

      But the term Christian, as a noun, adverb, or adjective, can be used, and clearly is (or was), even imprecisely, in the common vernacular of many communities, religious and secular, to refer broadly to an historically "real" religious tradition constructed around Jesus of Nazareth (whether Jesus ever existed historically is irrelevant, the tradition/movement exists). In the same way, the term "Buddhist", or "Taoist" is used with imprecision, or "Liberal", or "Conservative", etc.

      That the term is imprecise and ambiguous does not necessarily (in theory or in practice) mean that is is "utterly devoid of cognitive content". Or that its fluidity and ambiguity render it wholly absurd.

      It was and still is whatever any professed and professing christians say it is, no more and no less, any and all, and hence it is not remotely uniform and not delineated for now or the future.

      As you observe, the term requires definition by and for those who use it (and they are legion), for their settings, again, and again, and again. Nicaea was one attempt (and although it persists, the creed is clearly not universal, nor should it necessarily be). It is a "living" word, like "freedom".

      What I think the diarist is after here (certainly not the only concern), is pointing out the dangers to educators (and their careers) in not having the term defined more clearly for the contexts in which they are operating. The term is heavily context-dependent, in ways such that the act of requesting clarity of meaning can be a danger in itself.

      Nothing silly about that.

      Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:21

      by Mickquinas on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:47:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Beautifully said (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, doinaheckuvanutjob

        The reason I retreated to Nicene in answering is that it is a de minimis definition. The fact that the Greek Orthodox, Russian, Syrian, Roman, and most of the first generation Protestant and Reformed churches kept it as a core statement makes it, to me, not a requirement (I'm no one's judge) but a definition. The non-credal chruches are historically unique, and they're not non-Christian. They just refuse to have a creed.

        As for the rest, you said it beautifully and more succinctly than I did.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 11:09:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Faith, Hope, Love & Tolerance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, Slaw

    "Christian education" is showing these in action in what I do and how I teach. Opening up new opportunities and new ways of thinking is my only job - how students  choose to use them is theirs.

    •  May it be your armor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      As I'm sure you appreciate, I always feel as if there is -- in a place dedicated to the proposition that the state schools are playgrounds of Satan -- that those of us who try to provide as good or better an education as they do will be presumed guilty, contaminated, and not Godly for spending our time on books and failing the faithful who do not perform in the classroom.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:11:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It Shouldn't Come Down to Pay - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Geogre

        But for as little as we are paid - especially as adjuncts - administrators, Christian or otherwise, should expect little more than the bare essentials.  That we do offer more - and usually so much more - speaks to who we are, not what the institution represents.

        •  Amen (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnnygunn, home solar

          I had clicked the "recommend," but I need to go on. Religious educators are easy to exploit. (When I began teaching at my present place, we had 4/4 contracts. That's a heavy load. My load this year will be 6/5/2. When I began, we had class caps of 20. Last semester, I had two classes with 30+ (meaning, effectively, 7).

          All this and job insecurity, too!

          Everyone's innocent of some crime.

          by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:11:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Is the money they're saving on your pay going to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Geogre

            the top administrators, or is the school having a hard time financially?

            In practical terms the reason doesn't matter in your personal budget, but if it's like my local church, our workers aren't poorly paid because we give most of it to the lead pastor, it's because that's what is available now in a church whose congregation can be described as lower middle class if you're willing to stretch the definition.

  •  I went to a "Christian college" some 65+ years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, OrdinaryIowan

    ago.  This was in a small town, in an ethnic patch of little towns, out of state for me.  I had been raised in the particular denomination, and was from what then was a large city, with the benefit of public school and a couple of small business owners in the family, to keep me oriented towards such things as "customer service" for instance.  

    In school, I had never entered a building that didn't have black students in at least one of my classes; and while the KKK marched on the main streets downtown - up to their Headquarters, in the big Masonic Hall diagonally across from the State Capitol - in their masked dunce caps and dirty bedsheets, and even burned a cross on lawns in our old neighborhood when I was a toddler, I had never learned to either hate nor fear people of other skin colors and languages, etc.

    There was a very strong little claque in the college, of the "fundamentalist" approach.  I really didn't look towards this group; but, for reasons of their own, THEY certainly thought ME to be in need of their form of "training".  I'll let you imagine for yourself just how it felt to have a group of 20+ of these descend on the dorm room one evening, surround one at one's study desk, and without a "by your leave", or anything else, start listing one's "sins, offenses, and negligences" - beginning with my going downtown in the little burg to the movies on Saturday, and on from that.

    After "praying for my soul", and sermonizing about all the "evils" of social affairs, they made it clear that it was expected that I regularly attend the Church Services, and Morning Prayers in the Chapel, as well as "reform" my conduct to conform with their own ideas of what "god allows".  They then informed me that the Town had a Sunset Law - which it did. Something I had never even heard of before.  And, I was informed that my own friendship with the student from down in South America - who was of dark skin color, and, I would guess, a "mixed marriage" - was to come to a halt; since I was - supposedly - WASP, and WASPs were expected to be friends with WASPs only!!!!!!

    When one speaks to me of "Christian education", one is talking about this kind of ignorance, cant, and self-righteousness, that pervaded that College, and CONTINUES TO PERVADE ANY AND EVERY SO CALLED LOCALE OF "CHRISTIAN EDUCATION" , EVEN TODAY!!!  There is NO OTHER KIND!!!

    And, that's that!

  •  For modern social cons, education = enculturation. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    This is the decades-old trend as the right has been moving right.

    Enculturate.  Consolidate.  Dominate.  Eliminate.  Sorry to sound like a Dalek, but it's true, isn't it.  Now I'm imagining Rich Lowry as a Dalek.  Haha.  HAHAHAHA.  Ahem.

    As Christianity is far more culturally significant than it is spiritually significant these days (arguably, almost all the days), any word following Christian must be considered in a primarily cultural context.  My experience being Jesuit educated was very positive in terms of intellectualism being prized over any form of enculturation, with a HEAVY emphasis on service as the primary manifestation of our Catholicism/Christianity/Other/Unaffiliated/Secular morality.  The Jesuits were always pushing for as much local independence as they could get, & at the University level, there was frequently a campus undercurrent against the position of the Diocese.  Of course; it was college, & regardless of what the Bish or El Papa had to say, our main problem with premarital sex was finding someone nice to have it with.  We were uninterested in being enculturated by traditionalists, & thankfully those who were interested could presumably go find it elsewhere, rather than all of us being subjected to that.  That's cuz the Jezzies are SMART.

    Great, insightful writing as always, G.

    It's time to start letting sleeping dinosaurs lie, lest we join them in extinction by our consumption of them.

    by Leftcandid on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:30:41 PM PST

  •  This was interesting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, The Geogre

    I had trouble digesting some of it though because with my frame of reference and reading "christian education", I was first thinking Jesuit high schools and universities.  But they have different language to describe what they're about than what you're talking about.  Those institutions are clearly not related to the main emphasis of your post.  Yet I've known a few evangelicals (and home schoolers among them) who would probably use "christian education" as some magical catch-all  phrase.

    The term "Christian" is a very broad term to describe the beliefs and practices of 2 billion human beings so I don't get your discomfort with "christian education" being vague or ambiguous.  It is bound to be so.  And just as the political appropriation of the term "christian" by the US extreme right is a dangerous development, the term "christian education" goes right along with that.  So  for me "Christian education" is an ambiguous phrase and my guess is that people who buy into that frequently think their specific approach is THE way instead of a way.  Thus they lean on it too much and end up lying to themselves.

    So why not explore the major divisions among churches more to describe the many different approaches?  Based on one related criterion that Pew recently polled on, a good breakdown might be 1) evangelical, 2) mainline protestant, 3) catholic.  It seems to me that you mention Jesuits in passing and mainline protestants a bit, but 95% of your diary is about white evangelical churches.  Why skew it that way?  Or if you meant this to be primarily about evangelical "education", why not identify that more explicitly at the top?

    It sounds like you're in an evangelical college and that your own religious practice  is within that broad group of denominations.  

    This isn't really criticism, I'm just a bit puzzled.  I can't help thinking that if I understood your frame of reference a little more I would get your post better.

    Anyway, good post.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:53:16 PM PST

    •  I'll explain why (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Satya1, Mickquinas

      The evangelical and fundamentalist schools dominate the "ecumenical" and "unaffiliated" Christian schools. The other traditions tend to be flat out parochial. Parochial education is easy to understand: a church usually has a long tradition of a particular educational method. The Episcopalians (my church) have a tradition. The Jesuits obviously do. The Dominicans do.

      Methodist and Baptist colleges, on the other hand, do not usually have a long tradition of specific pedagogies.

      What has happened is that I have found that I will look into a school or go to a school, and it will simply say that it is interested in "Christian education," but it does not have a pedagogical tradition. There is no long line behind it. Instead, there is a . . . para-pedagogical aim. It would be unacceptable and unthinkable in any time before the 1980's to imagine a school boasting that its primary purpose is not information and skill training, but in achieving the goals of a subset of a church's recent developments.

      I also wanted to alert people to the fact that places that only say "Christian education" without any clarification, any explication, in fact put their faculties in an impossible position. (Take a click on the last link in the diary. That place is a university.)

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:23:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And it sounds like you're stuck (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        at an evangelical, unaffiliated school and are having a tough time finding an open position at a school with a pedagogy and one more to your liking.

        But I guess I got your main point well enough.  In my experience I don't expect anything better than that from evangelicals as a whole.

        I hope it gets better for you.  I hope you find a great place to teach.

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:55:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yay! (3+ / 0-)

    My goodness (your goodness too, thank you very much), what an adult input on this question.  

  •  When I see the term (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, not2plato

    "Christian education," I cannot help but be reminded of the term "German education" that was all the rage in a certain Central European country back in the Thirties.

    The punch line was that it churned out good little ideologues who weren't really good for anything else.

    Anecdotal case in point:  My late sister-in-law was a product of "Christian education."  She could talk about the Edict of Nantes, but thought the Persian Gulf was near Panama.

  •  As a person who considers himself an agnostic ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    I have certainly had a lot of experience within religious groups as a representative of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and have given presentations on biological subjects to Catholic, Christian conservative and Mormon schools and groups, as well as public schools.  It strikes me that if Christian organizations actually practiced Christ's teachings the world would be a better place (Gandhi implied a similar sentiment when he said that he like the Christ but not necessarily the Christians, as they were so unlike the Christ.) I may have difficulty with the literal truth of the Bible, especially with those who would use some part or other to bully others, but I do believe that the basic ethical teachings are generally sound.

    At the same time some so-called "Christian" schools are little more than brain-washing Christian equivalents of radical Islamic Madrassas (and I am not vilifying any religious or areligious group- only fanaticism of any stripe.)  My wife and I looked over so-called homework from such a grade school and found it to be nearly devoid of any intellectual merit, but high on indoctrination.

    Interesting and I think important diary.

    •  I should note that my presentations ... (0+ / 0-)

      to secular and religious groups and schools were part of an outreach program from my university and had no connection with my association with the Religious Society of Friends, for whom I served as a representative to the local Interfaith Council.

    •  I can abide my own differences in pov (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Desert Scientist

      I belong to a different church than my school, and yet it's easy as pie to keep that out of the classroom. There is no place, really, where infant vs. adult baptism would come up in reading books, and there is no place where I would have occasion to talk about Independents in the Second Civil War in England and why their religion was bad or good. The denominational stuff simply never comes up.

      When I see the students dividing between Calvinist and non-Calvinist and being bitter about it, when the African American Literature class had to get dropped and renamed "Ethnic Literature" because "controversy," when ... well, I can't say more. . . what I notice most is fear.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:33:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I attended Catholic high school. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, The Geogre, gramofsam1

    We were required to take religion classes all four years, but every other subject was taught just as it easily could have been in public school.  They said during orientation they weren't in the conversion business and experience bore that out.  There was some emphasis on character and morals, but the substance of that easily could, and maybe should, be modeled in the public schools without any relgious reference.  Occasionally we attended Mass, but as a non-Catholic I never felt disrespected.  In fact, everyone was more open about their faith.  We knew who among us was Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and even a Hindu among my classmates.  Ironically it was in the public schools I attended prior to high school that I encountered assumptions that I was Catholic, the dominant religion of the area, and when hearing I wasn't the assumption was that I was Jewish rather than Protestant, the latter being correct.

    At the college level there are Christian schools and then there are Christian schools.  You have the indoctrinators like Liberty, Regents, and Patrick Henry, and then you have the oldest Catholic university in the country which also is considered top tier academically - Georgetown.

    •  Catholic high schools are becoming prep schools (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre, vadem165

      in many areas as the Episcopalian ones before them.  In the Twin Cities some wealthy folks wanted a new private high school with a veneer of mainstream Christianity and when they couldn't get anyone to swing an Episcopalian school they (money) talked the Catholic Archdiocese into it.  The impetus was to have another prep school for upper class kids.  

  •  The reason this offends you so is that the people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, The Geogre

    who are pushing this "Christian Curriculum," don't want a Body of Christ, but instead an Army of God.

    Students/Seekers learn to think for themselves, but new recruits? They learn to follow orders without question.

    The better form of Christian curriculum is a critical curriculum that simply includes Christian church history, moral education, and/or church positions. This type of education, which some of the Jesuit schools had leaned toward, may still have a black list of books, but it's a far cry from the anti-critical approach now taking root in Protestant schools.
    The former are  mostly fun to talk to and be around, they make good conversationalists for the most part. I have known a some who were interesting people who are often good representations of that education and of that faith.

    The latter not so much. Many will grow up and rebel, and will perceive their education as a cultic indoctrination full of lies. The Christians who seek to transform education in that other direction, are shooting themselves in the foot. It will only bump numbers momentarily, until these kids grow up and have a crisis of faith and discover that such shallow treatments of faith offer little in the way of comfort or wisdom.

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:19:05 PM PST

  •  Well, "Christian" is an overly-broad term, IMO. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, The Geogre

    I know many Evangelical Christians use it as a kind of code word for "born-again" principles, which are well outside of my particular tradition. I nearly always tell people that I am an Anglican rather than "Christian" because I am deeply attached to the theology and traditions of my church. I suppose I am as hyper-partisan as any others in that regard. I do, however, identify deeply with my tradition (of choice: I was formerly Roman Catholic) and while I respect others, I prefer to identify closely with that subset of Christians.

    Personally, I think there are some excellent schools and colleges run by any number of denominations including the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and other churches like the liberal evangelical denomination, the Disciples of Christ. But I prefer to keep my religion in church and my education in the secular realm. I find that separation best serves both institutions.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:21:29 PM PST

    •  Just got a 1929 BCP (0+ / 0-)

      One of my friends gave me an old prayer book for Christmas. It is delightful. When someone was going to borrow a book from me and promised to get it back to me in good shape, I showed her my contemporary BCP -- stained, cut, bulging -- and told her that read books and loved books don't remain pretty books.

      When I began teaching at the school I'm in, the requirement was being a Christian. What it will be in the coming year, I don't know.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:38:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a wonderful piece, and I apologize for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    multiple comments like this one, but each one addresses an different observation that you raise.

    a college is going to ask its faculty to speak as persons on only their own authority as believers (i.e. as congregants), then speaking about how they were born again twenty or forty years ago is a very peculiar, if not stunting, choice.
    The before and after story--like a diet you said. This is something that happens in a lot of GOP campaigns, and is used as a sort of, "Get out of Jail Free Card" to past indiscretions.

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:29:10 PM PST

    •  The "saved" experience (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I certainly believe in being saved and being born again. What I don't believe is that every person has a uniform or identifiable experience that can fit some biographical format. Nor do I think that such an experience is necessarily worth talking about. Some people may have inspiring stories. Other people apparently have fictionalized stories.

      I know that Christ will forgive, and Christians should forgive, but that doesn't mean that anyone should trust you again. One of the things the older churches know about is that we confess our sins, are contrite, repent, and then fail to maintain our repentence quite often. The next time, we try harder. It's a constant and ongoing thing, not a once and for all thing.

      The early Baptists, Puritains, Presbyterians. . . all described their theology in a way that would have very, very little practical difference from the traditional churches. They said that you still kept track of your sins, still confessed them, but your salvation was retained; it's retained because you were always striving, always sorrowing, and always improving. Somewhere along the line, the retained forever dropped the repenting and contrition, it seems.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:44:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I, too, will apologize for multiple comments, and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    do my best to keep it short.  Summary of a Jesuit College "education" 60 years ago:  (As one of my Profs in the School of Psychiatry & Psychology put it, " . . . for a Protestant protesting, after my experience in the "Christian College", that is.)

    A graduating Senior in Philosophy - with full majors in History and English, and full minor in Education, resulting from all the various and sundry credit transfers, and such like - required to write a Bachelor's Thesis.  My Thesis Advisor suggests I consider the area of "Nietzsche's Influence on Rosenberg" - Rosenberg being Adolf Hitler's  philosophical "mentor".  So, of course, it becomes necessary to re-read such books as, Thus Spake Zarathustra - which I had read some time before, without taking careful notes, and extracting quotations - with of course, appropriate foot-noting, for "scholarly" work.

    I'm called into the office of the Jesuit College President, where I encounter my Thesis Advisor, along with a couple of additional Jesuit Priests - who had been teachers in former classes I had taken - and of course, the President.  President looks at me, tells me he has heard that I was considering the topic assigned, and . . . !  I am informed -  with indications of being kicked out of school if I dare to violate the President's edict - "You are not permitted to read Nietzsche.  He is on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum; and we will not permit you to read any of his works."

    Today they call the then UN-ACCREDITED little cow-pasture College setup a UNIVERSITY no less!  Oh, Yes!  And for a "gratuity" you can "exchange" the useless, worthless, good for nothingUN-ACREDDITED College Diploma for a brand new, slick design, one; telling everyone how you "graduated" from the "University", about 20+ years before it even decided to call itself one.

    Great education?  Of course!  Jesuitism at its VERY BEST!!!

    •  Ah, the black lists! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Nietzsche. . . . I don't know why people wanted to rehabilitate him in the 1960's, but sic transit gloria mundi. What put him on the Index, alas, was not what would put him there in my view. You're right, though, Jesuitism at its best and worst: the priests are all reading the black listed books, and then having their collars pulled by the leash.

      I had wanted to go listen to rural mountain churches and tape record them and scan them for rhythm. My idea was that there was a poetic/prosodic rhythm that was shared among uneducated pastors. They did not get trained in seminary, and yet they seemed to have a similar rhythm.

      I got encouragement, but I didn't get funding, so it remains just a good idea.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:51:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I went to Catholic schools. We studied the Quran. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    It's a true story and it didn't seem the least bit unusual at the time.  Of course Jesus appears in it.  As a revered prophet/wise man/teacher, not the Messiah or a deity. Otherwise, his story is recognizable as the Jesus of Nazareth.  His mother, Mary, is in the Quran, too. The Nativity is told a little differently without the manger. It's still the same basic story. This was after years of studying the Gospels and the OT.  There are other characters they have in common with the Quran too.

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:11:52 PM PST

  •  Tipped, recced, and shared on FB (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    I'm going to grab some popcorn for this one. :)

    For my humble servant, who has served me faithfully these many years, without complaint, I leave... a boot to the head.

    by basket on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:28:47 PM PST

  •  Christian Education is code for separation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    I was raised by very devout Catholic parents. I will not deny that I struggle with the church and other Christians not my belief in God or the bible. Where I live Christian Education is really code for racism. Funny that Christians that want Christian Education are upper middle class whites.

    •  In general, I have seen that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mickquinas, melo

      In the secondary market, I have sure seen "Christian" as a code for segregation of one sort or another. What has encouraged me, legitimately, is that the Christian evangelical colleges have sometimes been highly racially integrated. It is still massively segregated in a new way, but I was quite pleased that the place I am has double the African American population of average private schools.

      There is, though, a power segregation and a definite separation from whatever the in-group defines as the out-group.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 07:40:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  exactly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Geogre, melo

        Colleges are better than Elementary and High School. I have had parents blantantly tell me they prefer private and Christian schools as to not expose their children to "others" they don‘t want to associate with.

        •  A true story (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          At _ Country Day School/ _ Christian Day School, the student population was about 150, K-12. They got a new headmaster to try to make it a prep school instead of a segregation academy. (This is in North Carolina in a town where there is a very, very large Air Force base.) Years before, a family had offered $1.2 million to build a new gym.

          The school turned it down.

          The family wanted the gym named after the mother's father, and his last name was Italian.

          The basketball coach was told to "win games," so he got scholarships to kids with abilities. Then he was fired because the rich donors' kids weren't starters anymore. Plus, he had brought blahs into the school. See, they wanted to win games, but only if it meant an all-white, all rich team.

          Everyone's innocent of some crime.

          by The Geogre on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:06:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  17 years of Catholic education--7 schools (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    before I graduated from high school. I think I had most orders of nuns at some point or another.  I got a good solid classical education (including 3 1/2 semesters of Latin!).  It contributed greatly to my being a liberal.  I had nuns who had marched at Selma. In college I knew priests and nuns who marched against the war. I attended a lecture and a small Mass given by Hans Kung.  We studied Teilhard de Chardin in theology classes (one of my proudes moments was being told that Pere Teilhard would have approved of my paper on Humn to the Universe).

    Still, more than anything else, I was taught to think critically and to judge the rightness of an action against the standards of the Sermon on the Mount.  FOr that very reason, when I looked at the church's attitude toward the role of women, sexuality, gays, birth control and abortion--I found it lacking. ANd I walked away because I could not, in good conscience, pretend that I agreed with the official teachings.  

    The BEST Christian education sh0yuld first and foremost teach you to THINK.m It should encourage critical thinking about everything--including Christianity.   You'll lose some students, certainly--but at least the oens whos tay will know WHY they stayed, and they won't be the little robots whoa re only good for reciting Bible verses.

    As for Pensacola Christian COllege--I think  people have to experience it to get it. I lived  in P'coal for several years.  The poor kids would be forced to  trollt he streets to convert people. NOBODY liked them.   I felt so sorry for them  But this place is so crazy, they don't even allow students to look into each other's eyes for too long--forget holding hands.  They are, to put it simply, whackadoodle nutjobs weho think that Bob Jones and Oral Roberts are too liberal.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:20:38 PM PST

  •  The "hothouse flowers" of which you speak (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    are being created every day.  The reason is simple:  The "Christians" of which you speak do not trust youth to develop their critical thinking skills enough to take root.  Consequently, they have no roots and will develop none.

    John Milton had the audacity to think--a skill that has become anathema to the "Christians" of which you speak.

    As for teaching Areopagitica, good luck teaching that wonderful and insightful piece.  These people believe in freedom of speech only for themselves.

    Old Hippies Never Give Up!

    by ravenrdr on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:05:49 AM PST

  •  I wanted to thank you for this diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, northsylvania, melo

    I read it yesterday and I'm still thinking about it. It aligns with a lot of observations I've made over the last ten years or so.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:24:21 AM PST

    •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrypinder, melo

      It has its roots in that assignment five years ago. I didn't like the assignment, but it put a rock in my shoe. Ever since then, I thought, "One day, I may have to justify myself." That led me to think, "Why can't any of these people agree on what they mean? Why do they still seem to know what they mean?"

      For years, I thought it was just a language trap. Then I started to think -- no -- that would never have attracted people. There has to be some notion that they already have. Realizing that "education" is not a curriculum was the spring that opened the hinge for me.

      In other words, I've been chewing this cud for a long, long time.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 07:47:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Most highly wrecked (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, melo

    tipped, and tweeted.  

  •  Whew! /*Heavy*/ stuff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, melo

    @Geogre - Quelle une cri de coeur! I have read your posting several times because there is a lot to it . . . you have obviously spent a lot of time thinking about a very complex subject.

    I wish I were able to reply right now with more than an acknowledgement of what you must have been going through. I do have some thoughts, but they will take some organization. For now, I'll title them "Invasion of the Authoritarians."

    I don't know that, in the very short run, understanding the psychology and dynamics of the situation that precipitated your post will magically produce a solution on the spot, but I would argue that in order to appreciate the situation in which you find yourself, it would be most helpful to.

    A year or so ago, I wrote a diary titled "Authoritarians at the Gate." That article was about how our political system has been usurped by a minority of people who are out on the fringes of the right and describes the psychology of those folks. The same thing is happening, though less dramatically with Christianity in the US. Read the article, and wherever you see Republican Party substitute Western Christanity and wherever you see right-wing/Tea Party/whatever, substitute the term authoritarian fundamentalist.

    The point I'm trying to develop is that the wacko-bird fundamentalists are doing to Christianity in this country what the Tea Party is doing to politics . . .

    I know that this isn't probably what you were looking for in feedback to your post, but FWIW, here it is . . .

    I'm going to be working on a more coherent followup. I don't know whether I'll message you directly with it, or maybe post it as a diary entry. Reading between the lines, here, I see a very thoughtful, caring professional educator being exposed for the first time to the Christian Tailban.

    "The water won't clear up 'til we get the hogs out of the creek." -- Jim Hightower

    by lartwielder on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:06:48 PM PST

    •  Thank you for the reading (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lartwielder, melo

      I think the case that's developing right this moment is very, very, very close to what you describe. I can't say more, but when I said that we have a new president who is extremely controversial, I meant nationally so.

      Now that my mother is dead, there is nothing to keep me in this state, much less this place, and having a load of 90+ freshman comp students while simultaneously doing three preps of upper level classes proves, I think, that I'm no whiner. When there is galley slave level work and then some invisible, inaudible authoritarianism coming down, it's too far.

      Authority loves a vacuum. Whenever people are polite, authority likes to speak. Whenever people are hesitant to add more to their brief, authority likes to claim the brief and the power. Authority loves it when other people love peace and quiet.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:15:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  holy guacamole (0+ / 0-)

    i just read an extraordinary diary, one that fused erudition, glory of intellect and deep faith all into one of the most rigorously analytical pieces of well-written prose i have ever read.
    the comments are great too, and the diary makes a perfect counterpoint to greenmother's diary about the statue of satan, (with equally interesting commenters.)

    this level of articulation is impressive enough, but the fact of its addressing the thorniest issue in the wilderness society mostly is is what garners my respect.

    pedagogy, faith and inspiration all collide wisely in this excellent post, i feel my own faith rekindled to see such high-mindedness, such nuance and such self-examination all woven so well.

    with neuroscience calling us to question if all mystical experience could be stimulated with an implanted cattle prod, or is merely random synapses firing causing hallucinations, the very concept of religion will be endlessly up for grabs, and this is the psychological frontline for a political assault on Freedom of Thought. the diktat of conformism, unthinking rigidity, knee-jerk devotion and masochistic boot-licking of authority is wearing the lamb's mask, while concealing its long canines. they'd dare not admit it in public but they would like to make it a spiritual crime to be a freethinker.

    what is garlic to their vampire souls is that critical thinking reveals that christianity-as-they-conceive-it is at core a return to institutionalised fear, where every child is traumatised with tales of the boogeyman and then the kind, wise authoritarians will save them, but only if they unconditionally accept their unfettered authority.

    this is the equivalent of a spiritual lobotomy! if jesus had been cut from that cloth he would have praised the pharisees for their devotion to strict tradition by not picking a few seeds to eat on the sabbath, and would have applauded the moneylenders on the temple steps as savvy entrepreneurs.

    (yes i saw what i did there!)

    what drives the proverbial stake through the heart of their thoroughly hypocrisy-steeped argument is that jesus laid down his life as a martyr for the poor and unbefriended, those outcasts and rejects despised by the 'proper' people, and that is what made his love the greatest tale ever told, that's what makes it 'sticky' in the souls of all whose lives are being trampled on, the poor, the handicapped, the aged and the vulnerable, whether picking through a trashpile to in nigeria or working as a sex slave in the philippines. until poverty is substituted with welfare, till social justice has been established, the story of the poor carpenter's son who was crushed and tortured, derided and murdered because he stood up for the weak will always have a resonance greater than those of kings, war heros and star athletes. that's because you could strip away all the prophecy and still have a man who went up against the fascism of the roman empire, who spoke truth to power with such poetic strength the words have rung down through millennia.

    it's the complete antithesis of the supposed values of those whom this diary points at for trying to create a 'reality distortion field' which can be socially engineered into 'jesus camp' groupthink and pliable sheep, willing to sign up for war and slaughter in pavlovian response to orders from their 'betters'.

    diaries like this really nail the cognitive dissonance wreaking havoc on our world, the same one that creates nuke-bearing airforce rapture-obsessed bigwigs who would happily incinerate humanity if it 'brought us to jesus', just as surely as it powered the drive for destructive power during the inquisition.

    thanks, diarist for proving that not only can faith and intellect share the same bed, but they can foster some fine discussion and raise self-awareness, beautiful thought-children.

    usually it's like getting two magnets' repellent fields to play nice!

    why? just kos..... *just cause*

    by melo on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:37:06 PM PST

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