The Methodist Fiasco

As an observer and critic of denominations, I watch the United Methodist Church General Conference from afar earlier this month. And it confirmed my opinion: Of all the screwed up denominational systems, the UMC is the most screwed up.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Will Willimon, a Methodist bishop, writing in The United Methodist Reporter:

Methodist Bishop Will Willimon

General Conference in Tampa made history as the most expensive ($1,500 per minute!), least productive, most fatuous assemblage in the history of Methodism.  Sunday evening’s “A Celebration of Ministry” fiasco was a metaphor for our nearly two weeks at church expense: four hours of belabored supplication by the General Commission on Status and Role of Women, five Ethnic National Plans, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, United Methodist Men, Girl Scouts, Africa University and a number of other agencies I can’t remember.  A subtheme of that long night: even though we can’t cite specific fruit, please don’t force us to change or to expend less on ourselves.

Even after suffering this abuse, General Conference succumbed to the agencies’ pleadings.  In a post-GC blog, Mike Slaughter (who with Adam Hamilton eloquently—and futilely—warned GC that we must change or face certain death) told the truth: “Our denominational systems continue to resist change by protecting archaic structures.  From our seminaries to boards and agencies, institutional preservation was a strong resistant influence throughout GC.  Entrenched organizational bureaucracies resist accountability …”

[Read more...]

There’s a Queer Underground at Biola

The purveyors of the website The Biola Queer Underground and contacted me, hoping that students and alumni of Biola who read my blog would speak out in support of them. Here’s a little something about them:

The purpose of this website is multi-dimensional:

1.We want to bring to light the presence of the LGBTQ community at Biola. Despite what some may assume, there are Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers at Biola. We are Biola’s students, alumni, employees, and fellow followers of Christ.

2. Biola’s value statement reads, “We believe that integrity and authenticity should be hallmarks of every believer. Our relationships should be models of transparency, truth-telling and unwavering commitment to the example set by the Lord Jesus Christ.” Although Biola may have good intentions in the way it handles homosexuality and related subjects, this does not foster the desired outcome of integrity and transparency among LGBTQ individuals. We speak for our majority in saying that most LGBTQ people feel isolated and fearful of rejection should we act with integrity and come out of the closet. Biola needs to take a close look at its fundamental values, first to question whether they are carried out, and second to discuss if identifying as LGBTQ is in fact contrary to these values.

3. We want to be treated with equality and respected as another facet of Biola’s diversity. Reconciling faith with non-conforming gender/sexual identities is our most important and difficult goal. This of course will take time. We begin by sharing a few of our personal stories and writings.

Find them here: biolaunderground.com.

Do You Pray?

I’m at the early stages of a book called, Why Pray? Why Some People Pray, Others Don’t, and What God Has To Do with It, and I could use your help. I don’t want this book to just be about why I do (or don’t) pray. (You’ll have to read the book to find out if I do or don’t pray.)

I’m happy if you’d like to write in the comment section about why you do or don’t pray, but I also want to give a confidential place for you to answer that question. There are pastors who read this blog and don’t pray — they’d probably rather not publish their doubts for all to see.

So, here’s a form where you can contribute your thoughts to my writing. And, in advance, thanks.

Ph.D.s On Food Stamps

Elliott Stegall, 51, who teaches English courses, picks up food assistance at the WIC office in DeFuniak Springs, Fla. "The first time we went to the office to apply, I felt like I had arrived from Eastern Europe to Ellis Island," he says. "We all had that same ragged, poor look in our eyes." (Photo by Jeff Haller)

Getting a Ph.D. is a nice feather in one’s cap, but that’s about it these days. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the number of people with PhDs who are struggling to get by. In fact, many are on food stamps.

One of the reasons is that more and more schools are hiring adjuncts, the slave labor of academia:

Some adjuncts make less money than custodians and campus support staff who may not have college degrees. An adjunct’s salary can range from $600 to $10,000 per course, according to the Adjunct Project, a crowdsourced database about adjuncts’ salaries and working conditions. The national average earnings of adjunct instructors are just under $2,500 per course, according to the American Association of University Professors.

The article goes on to note that the amount that adjuncts get paid is academia’s “dirty little secret.” We adjuncts — yes, I’m one — work with short-term contracts (or no contract), receive no health care or benefits, do not get to participate in the governance of the school, and can be fired or not renewed without notice.

I hustle adjunct jobs wherever I can. Three places that used me in 2011-2012 aren’t having me back in 2012-2013. I think I’ve got one new gig lined up for next year, and I applied for but didn’t get another one.

I’m not asking for pity, and I’m not on food stamps. But this is a reality in today’s world, and it’s an ugly one.

Wanna see how much an adjunct makes at your school? Click here.

Do you think that pay is fair, or unfair?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X