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?

Thinking About God’s Creation

Autumn Evening on Eagle Lake, by Courtney Perry

I’m thinking and reading a lot about creation right now, in preparation for year two of the Christian Spirituality Cohort that I have the great joy of leading for Fuller Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry Program. (Another time I’ll write about what a joy it is to be in community with these 10 students.) In year one, Lauren Winner and I led the class through the history and theology of Christian spirituality; next year, Craig Detweiler and I will be teaching about spirituality, film, and fiction.

This year, my co-teacher is Brian McLaren, and we’re taking the cohort into the far north woods of Minnesota, to canoe in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, outfitted by Boundary Waters Experience. Our subject matter will be Christian Spirituality and the Doctrine of Creation.

One of the things I like most about Fuller’s DMin program is the aggressive amount of reading required of the students: 4,500 pages per year. That’s a ton of reading, especially for people who are working full-time jobs in ministry. It takes an enormous amount of discipline, but I have yet to field a single complaint about the amount from a student.

Just to make you jealous, the required reading list is below. I’ve broken the books into three categories, with Moltmann’s creation theology serving as our ur-text. Every one of these books is worth your time.

[Read more...]


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