What I Learned about the Bible from Undergrads

Today I’ll finish grading the final exams of the students who took “Introduction to the New Testament” this Spring at St. Cloud State University. It was my first foray into undergraduate teaching, and I heartily thank all of you readers who gave me advice about teaching undergrads. The most-given piece of advice was, “Own the Classroom.” I can’t say that I did that. Although I didn’t allow the students to call me by my first name, I cannot help but run a fairly informal classroom — you may have heard, but I’ve got a thing against hierarchy.

It seems that one of my dear students has entered me at RateMyProfessors.com, and my first rating is, um, positive:

[Read more…]

Would You Step on Jesus?

My friend and fellow Minnesotan, Jay Bakker, is known to throw his Bible to the ground during his talks, in order to break his audiences of their bibliolatry. At first blush, it seems like an act of sacrilege, but his point is that the Bible is ink on a page, whereas the Word of God is something more than that.

The always insightful Stanley Fish draws our attention to a class at Florida Atlantic University, in which students were asked to write the name “Jesus” on a peace of paper and then step on it. The governor of Florida was horrified, as were many others. But, as Fish reports, they got the story wrong. The professor is a Christian, and the exercise had a point:

[Read more…]

Atheist Undergrad to Christian Pastor: Don’t Be a Dick

A student at St. Cloud State University protests the preaching of John Chisham on campus on April 23, 2013. (Photo by Molly English)

When I first arrived on the campus of St. Cloud State University in January to teach Introduction to the New Testament, a couple of the students mentioned the preachers who come to campus. It seems that, as a Christian minister myself, they thought I should know how Christians are seen on campus.

Last Thursday, as class was about to begin, they asked if I’d been around the previous day to see the traveling preachers make their annual appearance. I hadn’t, so one student began showing me photos she’d taken on her phone.

You can imagine my surprise when I recognized one of the preachers: John Chisham, aka, “Pastorboy.”

Longtime readers will remember Pastorboy. He used to comment on this blog regularly (he was banned from commenting by me in 2009), and to post about me and others on his various blogs. He allowed me to interview him on video when my book, The New Christians, was coming out. And he was the lone protestor outside of JoPa’s event, Christianity21 – we had 21 women preachers speak at that conference, and he preached 21 sermons on the sidewalk outside (since, of course, women are not capable of preaching the gospel in his twisted theology).

Chisham is a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) pastor in Marshall, Minnesota at River of Life Alliance Church. But he regularly travels to preach his hate-filled “gospel” message at gay pride parades and college campuses. The StarTribune covered him at a gay pride parade here, and when he preached at Mankato State University in 2010, a bunch of students took him up on his invitation for them to come to his church — they came, and stood silently in front of the church bearing signs of their own. Of course, Chisham did not take this in stride but called on the university to sanction the professor who advised them.

As you see in the photo above, and the uncropped version below, this year the students at St. Cloud State also fought back against his hate. [Read more…]