The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities is seeking a Christian way out of a contract. It seems, according to a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, that Edward Blews was released from his $300,000 position “without cause” (I know how that feels—not the $300K part, but the “without cause” aspect), and he wants this resolved “in a Christian manner.” To the tune of two million dollars. That’s Christian if anything is. Christian higher education counts for a fair proportion of schools in the United States, while the CCCU, defining itself as “Christ centered” has only 120 members in North America at the moment. It was founded in 1976. Ironically, my old alma mater does not find itself on the list, although Grove City College often proclaimed itself as God’s Country Club during my years on campus. Among the services listed on the CCCU website is advocacy and public policy, that will allow them the “crucial right” to hire “only persons who profess faith in Jesus Christ.” And perhaps, who can’t afford a lawyer.
Academic freedom has been on my mind a lot lately. Conservative Christian views seldom benefit from academic inquiry. These views, most of which are decidedly modern, are passed along as a package with political riders, and strive to see themselves as counter-cultural, although, in fact, they resemble the 1950s more than the 2010s. I have no idea why Blews was let go, but I do know that “without cause” hides a multitude of sins. In my case, it was shorthand, I think, for just being too liberal. I was doing a great job, but endangering the morals of majors, I guess. Teaching critical thinking does have a price tag. I don’t see seminaries on the CCCU member’s A-list at all.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that we need to understand more about human religious motivations. Reason alone cannot satisfy brains where emotion may be just as critical to thinking as logic is. I know that when I’m depressed all thoughts seem to flee, except the most dismal of the lot. Reason can’t penetrate this fog. Yet reason itself cannot be ignored. The facts it teaches are frequently uncomfortable—to scientists as well as religionists. There’s nothing fair about it. When it comes to legal agreements, however, we are at the mercy of lawyers. Ironically, those who head Christian coalitions of various sorts feel the need for financial compensation. A little lucre to wash down the humility of dismissal. “Without cause” can be the most unkindest cut of all, eh Marcus? Even Judas got his 30 pieces of silver, but the cash never satisfies.