Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Winding Down for the Summer

The past month was busier than I had hoped, precluding me from following up on all the Baptist higher ed goings-on I mentioned in late April.  Still, we commented on a few stories of interest:
  • Most alarmingly, we shared the news that an OBU student was asked not to return to his/her campus job and was bullied by senior administrators for questioning the new Fine Arts dean's re-direction of the department.
  • We had two posts on the apparent lack of editorial independence (or judgment) at The Bison, OBU's student newspaper.
  • We commented on OBU's selection of U.S. Representative James Lankford as 2013 commencement speaker.  In the end, Lankford's congressional duties precluded him from being available to address the graduates.
  • In Kentucky, state Baptists revolted against KBC-affiliated Campbellsville University as news spread that a biblical literalist who taught religion there initially had his contract non-renewed.  We assessed the situation and commended KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood for his masterful handling of the situation.
  • I came clean about my love for the Gaither Vocal Band. Really!
  • We congratulated the OBU Class of 2013 and reminded them that, even though the positives strongly outweigh the negatives, OBU's reputation suffered needlessly during their 4 years.  They were done a disservice and their investment was devalued.
I may post a few more stories in June relevant to OBU in particular and post-Takeover Baptist life in general.  But things will be winding down.  Over the summer, I'll offer occasional commentary on news relevant to Baptist higher education.  And I certainly invite others to submit book reviews, offer perspectives, or share their stories.  We can use the summer as a time for community building.

Many of you disagree, but I perceive that things have stabilized significantly at OBU over the past 18 months (coincidentally, the same span of time this blog has existed).  Sure, things have happened that made moderates roll their eyes (OBU administrators cozying up to SBC elites, the surprising number of right-wing hard-liners preaching in Raley Chapel this spring, etc).  And it was extremely distressing to learn that in the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, all usual and customary practices for faculty searches have been discarded.

But every indication is that plans to re-make the OBU faculty in the image of the post-Takeover SBC have been thwarted.  We remain concerned about the situation in the College of Fine Arts.  We will be watching the leadership transition in the College of Nursing as closely as possible.  But the administration seems less inclined to be as openly hostile toward the faculty as it was a couple years ago.

Time can heal.  Understanding can grow.  People can learn from their mistakes.  I assume that OBU and BGCO leaders want the best for OBU.  We've seen so many other schools that fundamentalists have virtually destroyed.  I hope no one wants that for our beloved OBU.  It's true that OBU suffered a significant setback early in the Whitlock presidency.  But we are still in a lot better shape than almost all Baptist state convention-affiliated colleges.

Finally, I need to take a break.  Fundamentalism drags me down.  This effort has not been conducive to my own spiritual formation -- an evolution I have long neglected but one that I intend to pursue.  I trust you will all understand.

Our Facebook and Twitter communities will remain active, but blog updates will be few.

If anything comes up or you want to discuss any issues relevant to OBU, Baptist life, or anything else, feel free to email me.


1 comment:

We invite you to join in the conversation. However, anonymous comments are unwelcome.