Another Seminary Hits the Skids, Firing Eight Professors

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The crest of General Theological Seminary in New York City.

I’ve been beating the drum that seminaries across the land are in a time of crisis. Here are some examples:

Now at General Theological Seminary in New York City, the flagship school of the Episcopal Church, a situation is happening that some describe as war. Eight professors, in conflict with the dean, walked out of GTS, refusing to teach, attend meetings, or participate in common worship, then they were fired. The professors wrote:

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Transgender Teens Are the Next Target of Minnesota Bigots

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The above full-page ad was run on the back of the Sunday sports section in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday. According to reports, it’s from a coalition of religious right and Tea Party activists who regularly oppose legislation meant to protect vulnerable communities. When they fought anti-bullying legislation, it was under the pretense of government intrusion in schools.

But this worse, way worse.

With an image of a shower and a rhetorical question about a boy showering with “your 14-year old daughter,” they go on to mischaracterize the rule that is being considered by the Minnesota State High School Athletic League. (You can read the draft policy here.)

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Weight-Watchers and Dietary Restrictions in Leviticus: A (Post)-Colonial (Sub)Liminal (Post)Postmodern Neopragmatic Reading of the 2014 Ikea Catalog(ue) [Five Questions for Peter Enns]

Peter Enns is a fellow Patheosian. Ooh, I like that. Patheosian. We also have the same literary agent, editor, and publisher. In spite of that, I’ve never met him. But I’ve admired him from afar. So I’m excited to post this email interview that I conducted with him. 

Enns cover

1. I love your book. You have the rare skill of being able to translate serious biblical scholarship into light-hearted and witty prose. Have you always been funny?

Not really. I had to take classes in funny during college and remedial classes in funny at night school. But after a lot of hard work, it’s beginning to pay off. So let that be a lesson to you young people out there, you can achieve anything if you apply yourself and keep at it.

All kidding aside, I’ve always been a bit of a jokester and it’s gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion, but sometimes it can lead to new insights and growth.

Of course, not everyone laughs at the things that make me laugh. For example, in my new book, The Bible Tells Me So, I compare the rulebook view of the Bible to a fake Chanel bag. Some people might be offended by this, but others – well the humor can disarm people’s defensiveness and open up a dialogue. Humor takes the familiar and twists it just enough that it becomes unfamiliar, so you can see it from a different angle.

Humor can also annoy people, which is my reason for getting up in the morning.

 

2. Are you tired of the Bible? I mean, seriously, do you ever get sick of it?

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You Don’t Know If God Exists…Or Doesn’t Exist

Friend of the blog and Yale philosopher Keith DeRose has a fascinating interview up at the NYTimes’s The Stone. On the heels of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s admission that he sometimes doubts the existence of God, Keith argues that no one knows whether God exists.

But, more politically unpopular these days, he argues just as strongly that atheists cannot prove — indeed, don’t even know — that God doesn’t exist:

The thought that God exists does strike many atheists as bizarre. But, in contrast to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, there are all of these theists and agnostics who do not find the thought of God’s existence bizarre, and I really think they ruin our atheist friends’ hopes for easy knowledge here. The basic point is that, when there are many other apparently sensible people who disagree with you, you need a good argument to claim that you know they’re wrong.

Keith’s point is that atheists can’t simply write off belief in a God because they find such a belief bizarre. That’s not a counter-argument.

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