The Tragic Death of an Adjunct Professor

I’ve written about being an adjunct professor before. While I’m grateful for the three schools who currently employ me as an adjunct prof (St. Cloud State University, United Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary) and those who have done so in the past (Rochester College, Andover Newton Theological School), one cannot help be see that the crisis in academia is coming to a head. Adjuncts currently make up over half of all teaching positions in the U.S. — we work without tenure, without insurance, without benefits.

The class I’m currently teaching pays me $267 to teach a 2-hour class — that does not include prep time.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette carries this story that backs up the meta-trends, about a long-time adjunct professor at Duquesne University who died in her front yard of a heart attack, penniless and without insurance (HT: JR Rozko). The writer, an attorney for the union that has tried to organize Duquesne adjuncts, writes,

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An Online Youth Ministry Course

I’m teaching a one-month, online youth ministry course through Andover-Newton Theological School next month.  Here’s how they describe their LEARN offerings:

The Local Education and Renewal Network (LEARN) provides access to the learning resources of the Andover Newton community through the LEARN On-line Seminars. LEARN Seminars offer education and renewal experiences for both laity and clergy, tailored to meet specific needs. They are conducted entirely on-line and do not require students to attend classes on the Andover Newton campus.

In my course, we’re reading one book, my Postmodern Youth Ministry, and here is the description of my course:

In the past few decades, youth ministry has come out of the basement and become a major aspect of many churches’ ministries. And as youth ministry has become more professionalized, it has continued to evolve. Youth ministry faces many challenges in a pluralized, postmodern age, and this course will investigate the changes that must take place in this current era.

There’s still room for a few more folks in the course — it’s a great opportunity to get some CEU credits.  Check it out: Andover Newton Theological School » » LEARN Seminars Spring and Summer 2011.

Does God Require Blood?

That’s the question that Mark Heim, professor of theology at Andover Newton Theological School asked his class this morning as I sat in. Mark thinks not, and he explicates that idea in his excellent book, Saved from Sacrifice: A Theology of the Cross.  Therein, Mark explores Rene Girard‘s brilliant theories of mimetic desire and the scapegoat mechanism in common in human culture.

That reminded me of a great podcast interview at Entitled Opinions in which Robert Harrison of Stanford interviews Girard on these very notions.

A lot of former evangelicals have been looking for a rich and rewarding understanding of the atonement without the violence inherent in the “penal substitutionary” theory in which God demands, or at least requires the blood of his perfect son to assuage his wrath.

It also got me thinking about the contest we ran at Emergent Village back in 2008 looking for alternative metaphors for the atonement.  That contest was judged by Mark Baker, who has also written on the subject, and won by Steve Sherwood.

The atonement isn’t quite the hot topic it was couple of years ago, but it’s still an animating question for most who follow Christ.  It’s good to be reminded that, along with Mark’s book and Scot’s book, there’s yet another good treatment of the subject.

A Special Post for My Class

This semester, I’m teaching a class at Andover-Newton Theological School called, “Pastoral Uses of Social Media,” and this week we’re looking at blogs and blogging.

In addition to our usual online discussion boards, I’ve asked them to come over here and engage in a conversation with those of us who read and comment on this blog.  I’ve told them that Seth Godin has called a blog a “megaphone combined with a telephone,” and that seems to be what this blog is for me: both a bully pulpit and a place to write personally, and even to interact in the comments (though I don’t do this as much as I should).

So, for those of you kind enough to comment on this post, please tell the class does this blog or blogging in general have any importance in pastoral ministry?  If so, what importance?

The class will also be involved in the comment thread, so try to be nice to them.