The Future of Schooling

This is Scot McKnight pondering the future of Seminary. Here are some fellow LCMS’ers bemoaning something very similar.

From Scot…

At MOOC (massive open online course) Divinity School (Mooc-Div), the seminary of the online future, students will work with degree granting organizations (DGOs) to fashion a seminary education without ever stepping foot on a seminary’s campus, if a campus exists, or meeting any of their professors.

Given the write up, Scot is not too enthused. The CSPP are not happy either. Let’s just say I’m a little different. There are some sad things about the passing of one form of education, but we have to deal with the world as it is. And dealing with that means dealing with two things as far as I can see: 1) the cost of education for something that most of the church considers at best “nice” and 2) what I think is the big opportunity to really tackle the complete breakdown of trust.

Both of these comments assume that this type of thing actually alienates and causes even more hyper-individualism. As far as I’m concerned, in the era of facebook, those are the starting facts. The other item is that I think this might put the focus back on where it should be, the local congregation. The time out of the local congregation would be reduced. And if they were smart the local congregations would use things like this as outreach vehicles. Instead of the prestige and “action” as it were being in going away and being taken out of the congregational context, the congregation becomes the learning community. If I look at history, I think that has been the paradigm in most places. Even at the dawn of the seminary system it was a congregation that “sent their best and brightest” for training expecting them to come back. This would rebuild that trust because the learning is taking place under the congregations nose.

A collection of reactions

1) This is the President of Union Theological Seminary answering Why Seminary?

…How do we discern a truth that can grasp us fully, and what is demanded of our lives when we stand, humbly, before this truth? A seminary education centers on thinking about the “why” of existence, and making it come alive in a vision for both what the world is, and could be…

Now I’m not sure that its the place of a humble parson to squawk back to such an august position, but if you are going to seminary to ask “Why?”, all you will get is what Job got. (Job 38:4) Her first question is the better one. You’ll have to read the rest of the article to realize that she is talking to two audiences. The problem is that for all her talk of standing before truth, I have a sinking suspicion that when she talks about “making church life more pertinent” she’s never actually heard the gospel. The most pertinent thing about church life is the proclamation of Christ for sinners. That is making us stand before truth, before The Truth as Jesus would call himself.

2) 10 Signs you should not be getting married in a Church. Are we getting to a place in society where it is acceptable to say such things? Green Shoots.

3) It has been in interesting week in “by heresies distressed” news. The Episcopal church was meeting in convention. The Onion couldn’t write some of their resolutions. The WSJ with an even tempered reflection. Basically the body is lost. There is no use shouting. The faithful remaining need to give serious consideration that it is time to find a new home as the heresiarchs consolidate what is left.

4) Not a counterpoint, but a decent reflection and something for those of us tempted to pride looking at the Episcopal church. The fact of the matter is that circa 1965, when all this stuff reaching its end point now really got going, “getting right with the culture” looked like a good and appropriate thing to do. Even the Vatican caught wind of it in Vatican 2 with aggiornamento. Discerning what are good and appropriate ways of being the church from ways that are heretical is not easy. And the truth is that we are sinners who see poorly. We hold these eternal truths in jars of clay. Which vessels are noble and which are made to break is a tough call.

5) Last snippet, David Brooks on “Why our Elites Stink”. Will the guy stop hinting around all worried about his NYT street cred already and just get on that soap box pulpit and say it – “What this group needs is conversion”. Ok, I’m not holding my breath for that, but that is really what the problem boils down to. The older leadership generation had its own sins (all the -isms that we rightly decry), but they also had a well grounded theology of human nature. If they themselves didn’t have faith itself, they still listened to what The Faith taught. That is not true anymore to all of our detriment.

The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this.

Instead of an Organist/The adaptability of Hymns

The hymn being sung is Blessed Jesus at Your Word LSB 904 [or Dearest Jesus we Are Here LSB592 the baptismal hymn].

German to English to African French. Acapella to piano to organ to drums. The Word translates. The Word incarnates within cultures. My only question would be what those African Seminarians think of that hymn. Do they see it now as part of their heritage, or is it something still alien or imposed? Hymns are or should be simple enough to ‘go native’ or become thought of as part of my heritage in my tongue. The cultural content of say pop-music or Hollywood or anything that tries to ape them is much higher. You either take it as an invading culture or you leave it. Its hard to translate Lady Ga Ga.