Thursday, August 28, 2008

Overwhelmed and Underwhelmed

Meetings and more meetings. Meetings about meetings. I feel like I've had so much information tossed at me, with few connections or intersections, and no real time to process which I want/need to think a lot more about, and which I can put on a back burner. I would have done way better with one or two presentations today instead of five.

Why is it that when the Teaching Teachers to Teach group head gives a presentation, he stands at the front of the room and reads off his powerpoint slides of the TTT website? (Which have print too small for middle aged faculty types to read from the seating area.)

I had one moment of real happiness going into a meeting this week, when I saw a colleague who, last I saw her in winter, had been going through some sort of chemo and was looking tight in the jaw (in the way that seems to happen with chemo sometimes) and wearing a scarf. When I saw her now, she had a way more relaxed face and hair, and said she was feeling way lots better.

And I heard something very interesting, though I'm not sure how much to credit it. According to one person here, our residence hall student leadership is heavily evangelical Christian. According to the one person, the evangelical Christian groups pretty much control residence hall life, and strongly encourage their members to apply to become RAs and such. This same person says that Christian groups controlling residence hall life is a trend across many campuses.

Surprised me. Does anyone have a sense of this? Is it just something said to get folks like me riled up, or is there something to it?

An anecdote: when I went to college, the two guys (M and J) living across the hall had gone to a Catholic high school, and our crowd had talked about this because we'd all talked about what high schools we'd gone to as part of our getting acquainted chatting. Then one day, L suddenly asked M if he was Christian. I was all shocked, and thought that L somehow didn't know that all the protestant sects had developed from Catholicisms, so of course he was Christian. But after when M said that he was Catholic, and L said that meant he wasn't Christian, M explained (privately) to me that some evangelical Christians don't believe that Catholics are Christians.

The upshot, of course, was that I learned a little about evangelicals, with whom I had had no experience before. I knew nothing about evangelical Christians at all. I mean, I knew there were different groupings within Protestantism, but I had no idea that they didn't see all those groupings and all the different Catholic and Orthodox folks as belonging to the same broad group of "Christians."

Seriously, the most I knew about evangelical Christianity was that Jimmy Carter was Baptist or something, and talked about how he lusted in his heart. I don't remember anyone in my acquaintance being impressed by Nixon's being a Quaker, despite a generally positive characterization of Quakers by people I knew. Maybe he just didn't seem like much of a Quaker?

I meet with the special first year class tomorrow. I should start drinking now, because I'm really not at all ready.

I've already had one student athlete contact me to say that the team was doing an away practice and he'd miss class. I'm impressed that he contacted me ahead, indeed, but also irritated that the coaches scheduled a first year student to miss this supposedly important thing. I mean, it's important enough that the administration requires ME to be there, so why isn't it important enough for coaches to avoid taking first years to the away practice?

Having this come up already doesn't bode well for Friday's this semester, does it? Even I know that this student is going to miss a lot of classes for team travel and such. And they'll all be excused absences, of course.


  1. An "away practice"? Really" That's more than a little ridiculous.

    It annoys me every time I hear someone refer to "Catholics and Christians." It reflects no knowledge of church history. I have noticed that a lot of people don't notice when others say this. I'll be watching tv with a group and someone on tv will say that, so of course I roll my eyes or shake my head. Normally, I'm the only one who noticed the comment. So, I'd say that a lot of people don't know about that.

    As for the res-life thing - that is very interesting. I went to a church-affiliated college, but that wasn't so much the case back then. There was a group/type of RA who had been camp counselors, sometimes at a church camp. I guess this doesn't surprise me all that much when I think of the mission of certain universities like Patrick Henry or Liberty. It makes sense that this push would happen at other universities, particularly the evil secular variety. "Spreading the Word" is an activist position, and what better location to place evangelizers.

  2. Anonymous9:39 PM

    Your experience with the evangelical who didn't believe Catholics were Christians leads me to believe they were more Fundamentalist than Evangelical... though admittedly Evangelical does cover quite a wide range of ground from the Bob Jones's and Pensacola Christian Colleges of the world (extremely fundamentalist) to Liberty,etc (borderline fundamentalist - probably closer to that than anything else -but hey - they do allow women to wear pants - just not to class) to the more mainline yet still evangelical colleges like my own undergraduate alma mater...

    The reason the whole thing even comes up is because within the evangelical movement - being a Christian is dependent on having a relationship with Jesus... and thus SOME evangelicals (mostly fundamentalists) think that no Catholics could possibly be Christian therefore... Where as if they'd open their eyes they'd see that under the same criteria, half of their own church memberships aren't Christian either...

    I'm rather shocked if this is a movement - mostly because of some of the horror stories of residence hall life I've heard from friends who went to secular universities... If there is a movement I have the feeling its more in reaction to what has happened on campuses in the recent past than as a proactive movement on their part (though I find that if there really is a movement to "take over" the residence hall leadership - that's not necessarily what I think we need to be working towards as Christians)...

    an anonymous reader whom went to an Evangelical college that was pretty cool with a lot of things you wouldn't expect... and doesn't like evangelicalism getting a bad name on account of a subcategory of evangelical...

  3. Anonymous9:59 PM

    Yup, the dorms where I "profess" are controlled by the Christian group, Chi Alpha.

  4. The "Catholics are not Christians" thing is one that comes up around here from time to time. I was shocked the first time I heard it and thought that it was a regional thing. Some people will say the same thing about LDS here, too.

  5. Anonymous4:10 PM

    The reason Nixon doesn't scan as Quaker is because he was part of the Evangelical Quaker branch. Evangelical Quakers have organized services and pastors - they're basically like Unitarians or other Protestant sects, and they're more common on the West Coast, where Nixon was from.

    When most people think Quakers, they think of traditional Hicksite Quakers, like William Penn, with the silent Meetings and plain Meetinghouses, more common in the MidAtlantic/New England area.

    Plus, you know, bombing Cambodia = not very Friendly.