Student Technology Use

John-Francis when he was 6, learning (in World of Warcraft)

 

On Wednesday Thom Barclay and I did a presentation at Galloway on how 21st Century Students Use Technology.

The PowerPoint Presentation and all the supporting materials are linked here:

Student Technology Use in the 21st Century

There’s a decent bibliography section on gaming and pedagogy at the end of the page.   Hopefully that will be the topic of a subsequent session.

 

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There is no “War on Religion” in the United States


Crusaders

Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople - Gustave Dore (Wikicommons)

With his usual surgical wit, Jon Stewart chastised the “Religious Right” saying, “You’ve confused a ‘War on Religion’ with ‘Not always getting everything you want.’”  He is spot on, but their confusion is not accidental.  The far right in the United States has come to realize that the only way they can justify their anger at being left behind by a culture that has moved into the twenty-first century is to hide their medieval priorities in religious rhetoric.  They know that “War on Stupidity” does not sell as well as “War on Religion,” but it would nevertheless be more apt.

To be clear, thanks to the First Amendment and our pluralistic heritage, you can believe anything you want about the supernatural, your god(s), other people’s god(s), the afterlife, and anything else that falls into the category of religious belief.  Claims about metaphysics are the provenance of religion, and neither the government nor your neighbor is going to force you to stop receiving the body of Christ in the Eucharist and start burning incense at a shrine to Ganesh.  No one is challenging your right to believe whatever you will about the Divine.

On the other hand, if you use your religion as an excuse to demand that we teach Babylonian myths instead of actual peer-reviewed research in our science classes – yes, the general public is going to stop you.  This is not because we dislike your religion.  In fact, many of us come from religions that also have those same Babylonian creation myths.  We are fighting back because we do not want you to make our children stupid.  We are not challenging your religion, we are challenging your right to use the schools to teach ignorance and illiteracy – we need an educated electorate and a literate, productive populace to survive as a nation.

Likewise if you want to tell women they do not have the right to choose if  they get pregnant, the vast majority of this country (including adherents of religions that teach contraception as sinful) will push back against your claim to authority over women’s bodies.  Like you, many of us come from traditions that were founded when people believed that women were property.  Thankfully, thousands of years have gone by since then, and we as a society no longer believe the heinous fallacy that the body a person is born in makes them belong to someone else.  In stopping you from pushing your patriarchal agenda, we are not going to battle against your faith, we are standing fast against your disgusting attempt to subdue, oppress, and control half of the population of this country.

Unfortunately, “religion” is not just used as a weapon to challenge the power of the female majority in the United States.  It is also used as an excuse for oppressing minority groups, most obviously in the right wing’s desire to withhold basic civil rights from lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender Americans.  As those of you on the far right have already realized, the ship has sailed and your stereotyped, provincial understanding of sexual orientation is no longer socially acceptable in this country.  If you are an anti-LGBT bigot, you increasingly have to keep your beliefs closeted or face the social stigma of being viewed as a Neanderthal (with apologies to the actual Neanderthals).  This is not the result of a struggle to overcome the influence of your religious beliefs.  This is America – the cradle of the Civil Rights movement – and we are not going to let you use any excuse to make our brothers and sisters second-class citizens.

Trying to paint yourself as the victims of a “War on Religion” may give you the sound bites and comforting rhetoric you need to keep from facing the reality of how socially unacceptable your worldview has become, but no amount of colorful phrasing changes the truth.  You cannot admit this to the press, your parishioners, or even yourself, but the real source of your anger and wounded pride is the realization that your anachronistic worldview makes you irrelevant in the modern world.  The American people are not at war with your faith.  Most of us come from the same faith traditions you do.  We are at war with ignorance, oppression, and bigotry – and until you let these despicable “values” go you will always find yourself at odds with a time and place that values knowledge, freedom, and inclusion.

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Christian Love in Rhode Island

Imagine a nation where schoolchildren gather under a state-sponsored banner imploring their nation’s god to help them grow “morally.”  Then imagine one courageous young woman taking a stand against the authoritarian inculcation of theocracy in that country, only to be labeled an “evil little thing” by its political establishment. Imagine if the same people who want the godlike morality of that banner taught in schools threatened the young woman with beatings and rape. Imagine the kind of medieval dictatorship that would foster this behavior.

Now, stop imagining and think of Rhode Island, the state founded by Roger Williams, a Christian clergyman who hoped to create a place where pluralism and absolute religious freedom would be protected.  It is there that a young woman named Jessica Ahlquist led a successful campaign against a prayer banner in her school. In so doing, she has become a target for the ire of far-right politicians and other self-proclaimed defenders of the faith.

Among Ahlquist’s detractors are Rhode Island State Representative Peter Palumbo, whose political accomplishments include preventing an illicit drive through at a Dunkin Donuts, and introducing an “Arizona-style immigration bill” into the Rhode Island legislature.  Palumbo described Ahlquist as “an evil little thing” who has been “coerced by evil people.”  To be clear, the “evil” Ms. Ahlquist has promulgated is the simple act of petitioning the courts to ensure that a minority group – in this case non-Christians – receive the full protection of the Constitution.

Following on the heels of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it is not difficult to recognize that what this politician has called “evil” is in fact nothing short of heroic.  Shortly before his death, Dr. King proclaimed, “And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, not polite, not popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”  Standing the tradition of Dr. King, and Roger Williams, a sixteen-year-old young woman has done just that.  She exemplifies what American citizens can be at our very best.

Unfortunately, the “Christian” response to her actions has demonstrated what we can be at our worst.  The screenshots of the social media posts about the District Court’s decision are nothing short of horrifying. One young woman tweeted, with no apparent sense of irony (or grammar), “I hope there’s lots of banners in hell when your rotting in there you atheist fuck.  #TeamJesus.”  Many others, in their zeal for the Prince of Peace, discussed the merits of various means of assaulting Ahlquist including a hope that Satan would “rape her” in hell and a more broad suggestion of a “holocaust to all the atheists.”

The tone and content of these posts reveal more than just the abysmal state of public education in America.  They also demonstrate the real nature of a debate that is often framed as one between “Christianity” and its opponents.  Those members of “TeamJesus” who are enthusiastically cheering for the beating, rape, and eternal torment of a young woman are not trying to defend Christianity.  If they were, they would follow the counsel of the Apostle Paul.

Instead, they are acting like crazed fans after their team has lost the Super Bowl.  This is hardly surprising, since the recent manufactured rage from the far right in defense of “Christianity” has nothing to do with preserving and protecting the teachings of Jesus, and everything to do with guaranteeing the privileges – and entrenching the prejudices – of certain powerful social groups.  The fight is not about religion, it is about the traditionally powerful team seeking to hold on to its social and political capital.  Talking about a war on “Christianity,” however, sells a lot better than a war on “our right to limit the freedoms of those who disagree with us.”

The candor of Ahlquist’s opponents offers a glimpse beneath the veneer of religious labels to make this abundantly clear.  Whether the topic is a prayer banner in a high school, adoption rights for same-sex parents, or school curricula based exclusively on science, those who claim the banner of the “Christian” Right are not working for Christian values.  They are fighting to protect their position of power within American political culture.  Jessica Ahlquist had the courage to stand against them, and now she is faced with the predictably vile and brutish responses that bullies have employed throughout history.  It remains for the rest of us to look past their crosses and Bibles to see the clubs and pitchforks hidden beneath them.  When we do, it becomes remarkably easy to see where the real “evil” lies.

 

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Why Shorter’s Demise Matters

Galileo faces the Church

A 19th century depiction of Galileo before the Holy Office, by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury (Wikicommons)

 

When the Board of Trustees at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia lost a long legal battle with an increasingly fundamentalist Georgia Baptist Convention, many of us held out hope that the faculty, students, and alumni would be able to fight back against the pernicious influence of fundamentalism.  Our vigil is finally over.  Shorter (now “Shorter University”) has drawn its last breath as a legitimate institution of higher learning.  On October 25, 2011, Shorter’s Board of Trustees adopted a collection of documents which, according to university president Dr. Don Dowless, are to serve as a “continuing affirmation of our Christ-centered mission.”

On the surface, that sounds like a fantastic idea.  A university centered on the teachings of Jesus would be an exciting place to study.  Imagine a learning environment where students are taught to question everything they had ever learned, and to never settle for pat, easy answers [John 8:1-11].  Think of a school where students are taught to reject the materialism and acquisitiveness of modern society [Luke 3:11] and give all of their possessions to the poor [Matt 19:21].  An education centered on the teachings of Jesus would constantly challenge both conventional wisdom [Luke 6:20-26] and religious traditions [Matt 5:38-39]. It would certainly  reject religious fundamentalism, just as Jesus did [Matt 12:1-12; Mark 2:27; 7:19].  Studying in such a place would mean joining into that beloved community of Jesus’ disciples who shared all their possessions with each other [Acts 2:44-47] and who shared constant fellowship in a setting that was free of prejudices of sex, social standing, or ethnicity [Galatians 3:28].

Unfortunately, the documents created by Shorter’s Board address none of these core biblical, Christian concepts.  Instead, they talk ambiguously about “truth” and “biblical faith” and a “biblical worldview.”   A little more digging reveals what they mean by these vaguely positive terms.  The “Statement of Faith,”  for instance, asserts that the institution takes the contradictory Babylonian creation mythology in Genesis as a literal, “historical account.” It even claims that there were two historical people named “Adam and Eve, from whom all human beings have come.”  For Shorter, then, being a “Christ-centered” university means rejecting the major academic disciplines of History, Geology, and Biology.  In addition, it means rejecting the well-established biblical scholarship that helps to preserve the value of these texts without requiring adherents to attain the cognitive dissonance necessary to take them literally.

The document goes on to outline other fundamentalist boundaries on the school’s theology, most of which would only matter to Religion scholars.  Where the consequences of this meticulously worded theology become worrisome, though, is in the “Biblical Principles on the Integration of Faith and Learning.”  That document states (and underlines) that “University staff will submit an annual plan with the letter of agreement that details how they will integrate the Christian faith into their specific areas of work.”  Viewed in light of the preceding document’s definition of what the “Christian faith” is, every professor at Shorter – not just their Religion faculty – is now expected to conform their curriculum to Shorter’s incredibly narrow, and intentionally academically ignorant, characterization of what “Christian” and “biblical” belief entails.

This “Christianity” of Shorter University has little to do with the historic faith of the Church.  Instead, it is a reactionary rejection of the past two hundred years of human evolution: progress that has given us ethnic and gender equality;  progress that has freed us from ignorance about our past; and, progress that has saved us from superstition when we study the world around us.  Since the Enlightenment, scholarship and study have toppled the authority of those who wish to indulge in prejudice and ignorance to advance their social and political agendas.

Consequently, fundamentalist groups like those now in charge at Shorter exist primarily to help those on the losing end of the Enlightenment reclaim the anachronistic superstitions that make their worldview possible.  Fundamentalists camouflage their rhetoric in comforting terms like “Christian” and “biblical” in the hope that no one will have the theological or biblical literacy to recognize the hypocrisy and deception inherent in their approach.  As a result, the greatest threat to their methods is an educated, literate populace – and so fundamentalists move their culture war to public school systems and, whenever possible, to institutions of higher learning.  Shorter’s new policies make this agenda abundantly clear.  Academic freedom at Shorter is now subject to an obscure and willfully obdurate understanding of “biblical truth.”

But the tragedy does not end there.  The most bizarre and offensive of all these documents is the “Personal Lifestyle Statement” which all Shorter faculty must now sign.  The document speaks of being “Bible believing Christians” and maintaining a “Christ-centered institution,” yet it makes no mention of pacifism, giving to the poor, rejecting religious fundamentalism, or any of the teachings of Jesus enumerated above and in the New Testament.  In fact, being a “Christ-centered” professor at Shorter means having only four concerns: 1. Loyalty to Shorter and the Georgia Baptist Convention, 2. Drugs, 3. Sex, 4. Alcohol.  Interestingly, the alcohol section is by far the longest and most detailed.  Apparently Georgia Baptist fundamentalists are still fighting the Prohibition battles of the last century.  That is particularly ironic since the Christ on whom the school claims to be “centered” famously made wine at a wedding [John 2:1-11] and was called a “drunkard” by his critics because, unlike John the Baptist, he drank alcohol [Luke 3:33-34].

Hypocrisy concerning alcohol aside, the statement on sexuality in section 3 is perhaps Shorter’s most tragic.  That section equates premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality – actively attacking the trend towards increasing inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in the larger Christian Church.  As most of Christianity, and most of Western society, moves forward in rejecting anti-LGBT bias, Shorter University has chosen to plant its Crusader’s shield on the hill of bigotry and intolerance.  As with all organizations that side with prejudice and ignorance, the judgment of history will record Shorter’s shame.

Shorter University has chosen to ally itself with those who want to draw a curtain of medieval shadow over the light of reason, learning and inclusiveness that sustains the work of a modern university.  In so doing, they have consigned themselves to the ignorant backwaters of self-perpetuating fundamentalist scholarship, and they will eventually disappear into irrelevance – as happens with all institutions that uproot education and then plant indoctrination in its stead.  By its own decision, Shorter University no longer matters in the modern world.

So then why should we care?  What happens at Shorter matters for several reasons.  First and foremost, the takeover and transformation of Shorter University should remind us all that education is a fragile thing.  Many of the world’s evils are shielded by ignorance, and if we do not work actively to protect rigorous, open, free research and study we will lose them to forces eager to destroy them.

Secondly, it matters because we cannot allow people to easily ignore or dismiss what has happened to Shorter under the heading of “Well, that’s just what they believe.  They should be allowed to teach what they believe.”  Belief, like every other aspect of human experience, must be held accountable for its consequences and conclusions.  Hiding ignorance and prejudice behind language of “faith” and “the Bible” cannot be tolerated.  Slaveholders and abusive husbands did the same for centuries, and we can never return to a world where religious rhetoric becomes a sacrosanct excuse for oppression and bigotry.

Finally, what has happened at Shorter matters because, if it becomes the norm in Christianity, it foretells the death of the tradition.  The Board of Trustees at Shorter College has chosen to define Christianity and biblical fidelity in terms of a small set of narrowly-constructed political issues.  Apparently, for them being a Christian means:  rejecting Biology, Geology, and History; oppressing LGBT persons; limiting academic freedom to narrow constructions of “truth” based on  3,000-year-old superstitions; and not consuming alcohol.  If that is what Christianity becomes, it will be meaningless and dead within a century.

Standing against the forces of fundamentalism at Shorter University and elsewhere is not simply about fighting back against a far-right and reactionary political agenda.  It is about preserving the ideals of post-Enlightenment education, holding religious beliefs accountable to the same standards of logic and cognitive health as any idea, and it is about preserving the expansive breadth of Christianity in a way that allows it to be continuously relevant to future generations.  Shorter University has made it clear that the school stands directly in opposition to all of these things.  The task remains for the rest of us to continue to move the world forward into a place where scholarship and faith instead work together to overcome superstition and injustice.

 

The Rev. C. Joshua Villines taught a wide range of courses – including Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Christian Theology, Church History, and Critical Thinking – as an adjunct from 2006 to 2008 in the Professional Studies Program at the former Shorter College.  He now teaches as an adjunct in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies at Mercer University.

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Shorter College is No More

Asesino alevoso, ingrato a Dios, y enemigo de los hombres es el que,  so pretexto de guiar a las generaciones nuevas, les enseña un cúmulo aislado y absoluto de doctrinas y les predica al oído, antes que la dulce plática de amor, el evangelio bárbaro del odio.  

(Treacherous assassins, ingrates before God, and enemies of humanity are those who – under the pretext of guiding future generations – teach them an isolated and absolute system of doctrines, and who preach into their ears, instead of sweet words of love, the barbarous gospel of hate.)

– Jose Martí

Galileo faces the Church

A 19th century depiction of Galileo before the Holy Office, by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury (Wikicommons)

Shorter College in Rome, Georgia is no more.  On the most basic, linguistic level, this is obviously true.  On June 1, 2010, the institution founded in Rome Georgia in 1873 as “Shorter College” became “Shorter University.”  But the soul of a college is not in its name, and the poison that eventually killed Shorter College was first injected into the school’s veins in 2005, when the college’s Board of Trustees lost a long legal battle with an increasingly fundamentalist Georgia Baptist Convention.  Many of us held out hope that the faculty, students, and alumni would be able to fight back against the pernicious influence of fundamentalism.  Our vigil is finally over.  On October 21, 2011 Shorter drew its last breath as a legitimate institution of higher learning.

On that day, Shorter’s Board of Trustees adopted the following:  “A Philosophy for Christian Education,” “Biblical Principles on the Integration of Faith and Learning,” the “Shorter University Statement of Faith,” and a faculty “Personal Lifestyle Statement.”   The purpose of these documents, according to university president Dr. Don Dowless, is to serve as a “continuing affirmation of our Christ-centered mission.”

On the surface, that sounds like a fantastic idea.  A university centered on the teachings of Jesus would be an exciting place to study.  Imagine a learning environment where students are taught to question everything they had ever learned, and to never settle for pat, easy answers [John 8:1-11].  Imagine a school where students are taught to reject the materialism and acquisitiveness of modern society [Luke 3:11] and give all of their possessions to the poor [Matt 19:21].  An education centered on the teachings of Jesus would constantly challenge both conventional wisdom [Luke 6:20-26] and religious traditions [Matt 5:38-39]. It would certainly  reject religious fundamentalism, just as Jesus did [Matt 12:1-12; Mark 2:27; 7:19].  Studying in such a place would mean joining into that beloved community of Jesus’ disciples who shared all their possessions with each other [Acts 2:44-47] and who shared constant fellowship in a setting that was free of prejudices of sex, social standing, or ethnicity [Galatians 3:28].

Unfortunately, the documents created by Shorter’s Board address none of these core, biblical Christian concepts.  Instead, they talk ambiguously about “truth” and “biblical faith” and a “biblical worldview.”   A little more digging reveals what they mean by these vaguely positive terms.  The “Statement of Faith,”  for instance, asserts that the institution takes the contradictory Babylonian creation mythology in Genesis as a literal, “historical account.” It even claims that there were two historical people named “Adam and Eve, from whom all human beings have come.”  For Shorter, then, being a “Christ-centered” university means rejecting the major academic disciplines of History, Geology, and Biology.  In addition, it means rejecting the well-established biblical scholarship that helps to preserve the value of these texts without requiring adherents to attain the cognitive dissonance necessary to take them literally.

The document goes on to make affirmations of traditional Trinitarian theology, evangelical doctrines of soteriology, and the meaningless modern doctrine of “biblical inerrancy.”  Outside the Religion department, these other claims are not necessarily as inimical to academic rigor as the claims of historicity in Genesis, but they are noteworthy in their narrowness and unambiguous Christian triumphalism.  It is perhaps not accidental that the shield on the new Shorter University logo looks like it fell off the arm of a Crusader who recently returned from slaughtering Jews, Muslims, and other “heathen” in the Holy Land.

Where the consequences of this meticulously worded theology become worrisome, though,  is in the “Biblical Principles on the Integration of Faith and Learning.”  That document  states (and underlines) that “University staff will submit an annual plan with the letter of agreement that details how they will integrate the Christian faith into their specific areas of work.”  Viewed in light of the preceding document’s definition of what the “Christian faith” is, every professor at Shorter – not just their Religion faculty – is now expected to conform their curriculum to Shorter’s incredibly narrow, and intentionally academically ignorant, characterization of what “Christian” and “biblical” belief entails.

The “Christianity” of Shorter University and its parent organization the Georgia Baptist Convention has little to do with the historic faith of the Christian Church.  Instead, it is a reactionary rejection of the past two hundred years of human evolution: progress that has given us ethnic and gender equality;  progress that has freed us from ignorance about our past; and, progress that has saved us from superstition when we study the world around us.  Since the Enlightenment, scholarship and study have toppled the authority of those who wish to indulge in prejudice and ignorance to advance their social and political agendas.

Consequently, fundamentalist groups like the Georgia Baptist Convention exist primarily to help those on the losing end of the Enlightenment reclaim the anachronistic superstitions that make their worldview possible.  Fundamentalists camouflage their rhetoric in comforting terms like “Christian” and “biblical” in the hope that no one will have the theological or biblical literacy to recognize the hypocrisy and deception inherent in their approach.  As a result, the greatest threat to their methods is an educated, literate populace – and so fundamentalists move their culture war to public school systems and, whenever possible, to institutions of higher learning.

Shorter’s new policies make this agenda abundantly clear.  Academic freedom at Shorter is now subject to an obscure and willfully obdurate understanding of “biblical truth.”  As a result, a Shorter University diploma is now meaningless.  Many of my friends who have taught for Shorter or who graduated from there are now putting asterisks on their resumes even as we speak.

But the tragedy of what fundamentalist politics has done to Shorter does not end there.  The most bizarre and offensive of all these documents is the “Personal Lifestyle Statement” which all Shorter faculty must now sign.  The document again speaks of being “Bible believing Christians” and maintaining a “Christ-centered institution,” yet it makes no mention of pacifism, giving to the poor, rejecting religious fundamentalism, or any of the teachings of Jesus enumerated above and in the New Testament.  In fact, being a “Christ-centered” professor at Shorter means having only four concerns: 1. Loyalty to Shorter and the Georgia Baptist Convention, 2. Drugs, 3. Sex, 4. Alcohol.  Interestingly, the alchohol section is by far the longest and most detailed.  Apparently Georgia Baptist fundamentalists are still fighting the Prohibition battles of the last century.  That is particularly ironic since the Christ on whom the school claims to be centered famously made wine at a wedding after everyone was drunk [John 2:1-11] and was called a “drunkard” by his critics because, unlike John the Baptist, he drank alcohol [Luke 3:33-34].

Hypocrisy concerning alcohol aside, the statement on sexuality in section 3 is perhaps the most offensive of the bunch.  That section equates premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality – actively attacking the trend towards increasing inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in the larger Christian Church.  As most of Christianity, and most of Western society, moves forward in rejecting anti-LGBT bias, Shorter University has chosen to plant its Crusader’s shield on the hill of bigotry and intolerance.  As with all organizations that side with prejudice and ignorance, the judgment of history will record Shorter’s shame.

Shorter University has chosen to ally itself with those who want to draw a curtain of medieval shadow over the light of reason, learning and inclusiveness that sustains the work of a modern university.  In so doing, they have consigned themselves to the ignorant backwaters of self-perpetuating fundamentalist scholarship, and they will eventually disappear into irrelevance – as happens with all institutions that uproot education and then plant indoctrination in its stead.  By its own decision, Shorter University no longer matters in the modern world.

So then why should we care?  What happens at Shorter matters for several reasons.  First and foremost, the takeover and transformation of Shorter University should remind us all that education is a fragile thing.  Many of the world’s evils are shielded by ignorance, and if we do not work actively to protect rigorous, open, free research and study we will lose them to forces eager to destroy them.

Secondly, it matters because we cannot allow people to easily ignore or dismiss what has happened to Shorter under the heading of “Well, that’s just what they believe.  They should be allowed to teach what they believe.”  Belief, like every other aspect of human experience, must be held accountable for its consequences and conclusions.  Hiding ignorance and prejudice behind language of “faith” and “the Bible” cannot be tolerated.  Slaveholders and abusive husbands did the same for centuries, and we can never return to a world where religious rhetoric becomes a sacrosanct excuse for oppression and bigotry.

Finally, what has happened at Shorter matters because, if it becomes the norm in Christianity, it foretells the death of the tradition.  The Board of Trustees at Shorter College has chosen to define Christianity and biblical fidelity in terms of a small set of narrowly-constructed political issues.  Apparently, for them being a Christian means:  rejecting Biology, Geology, and History; oppressing LGBT persons; limiting academic freedom to narrow constructions of “truth” based on  3,000-year-old superstitions; and not consuming alcohol.  If that is what Christianity becomes, it will be meaningless and dead within a century.

Standing against the forces of fundamentalism at Shorter University and elsewhere is not simply about fighting back against a far-right and reactionary political agenda.  It is about preserving the ideals of post-Enlightenment education, holding religious beliefs accountable to the same standards of logic and cognitive health as any idea, and it is about preserving the expansive breadth of Christianity in a way that allows it to be continuously relevant to future generations.  Shorter University has made it clear that the school stands directly in opposition to all of these things.  The task remains for the rest of us to continue to move the world forward into a place where scholarship and faith instead work together to overcome superstition and injustice.

The Rev. C. Joshua Villines taught a wide range of courses – including Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Christian Theology, Church History, and Critical Thinking – as an adjunct from 2006 to 2008 in the Professional Studies Program at the former Shorter College.  He now teaches as an adjunct in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies at Mercer University.

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