Academia and Christianity


#1

I don’t know if this necessarily belongs in this forum but this is my favorite so I want to post it here :smiley:

Anyway I want to become a theology professor and teach in a university setting. The problem? Although I love the idea of teaching and working with students I absolutely hate the fact that 1) academia is overwhelmingly liberal; 2) that academia is very anti-religious; and 3) that academia is hostile to religious thought. It pisses me off and I hate the idea of having to deal with this on a daily basis (unless it really isn’t all that bad after all). But I really want to teach to try and counter this secular nonsense through my example and my courses. All of this is prompted by studies I have seen showing that not only is academia overwhelmingly liberal but that departments have been known to deny tenure or senior positions to any professors who don’t tow the line.

And as a Catholic theologian (God willing) I intend to be a thorn in everyone’s side by relentlessly and boldly teaching the faith in my university and department :smiley:

Just thought I’d rant a little! :thumbsup:


#2

LotusCarsLtd,

I STRONGLY encourage you to get into academia. We need to fight to take back academia, and that means we need people willing to get in there and prove the "liberal" theologians are actually wrong on any point that is not in full communion with the Magesterium.

I am highly educated and fancy myself an apologist. In my life's calling, I cannot be in academia, but I am convinced that much of our societal woes stem from the filth and garbage that liberal academics have fed into the minds of our young adults in college.

Get in there and fight. You will suffer, of that I have no doubt. Jesus himself promised such suffering to those who follow him. Accept it as a cross to bear and earn merit for yourself and hopefully save souls in the process.

I will pray for you.

God Bless,


#3

[quote="LotusCarsLtd, post:1, topic:189040"]
I don't know if this necessarily belongs in this forum but this is my favorite so I want to post it here :D

Anyway I want to become a theology professor and teach in a university setting. The problem? Although I love the idea of teaching and working with students I absolutely hate the fact that 1) academia is overwhelmingly liberal;

[/quote]

As an academic myself (Assistant Professor of Chemistry) and a Catholic Republican, I can tell you that while academia is overwhelmingly liberal, academics also put a heavy emphasis on collegiality. We might disagree with each other on politics, but at the right school, that all takes a back seat to educating our students. Other disciplines and departments might be different, but at least in the various departments I have been in, most of the time those political disagreements end once students are involved.

2) that academia is very anti-religious;

Again, this is going to depend on the school and the department. Some are very much neutral, some actively support the religious preferences of their faculty. Some actively oppose them as much as is allowable within the law. Try not to make blanket statements such as this.

and 3) that academia is hostile to religious thought. It pisses me off and I hate the idea of having to deal with this on a daily basis (unless it really isn't all that bad after all).

It generally is not that bad, nor is it daily, nor does it necessarily happen at all.

But I really want to teach to try and counter this secular nonsense through my example and my courses. All of this is prompted by studies I have seen showing that not only is academia overwhelmingly liberal but that departments have been known to deny tenure or senior positions to any professors who don't tow the line.

To a certain extent, you can't anger people who might be on your tenure committee. But that doesn't mean you have to constantly refrain from speaking your mind. I'm not tenured (yet) but I try to convey my opinions in a manner that won't earn me too many enemies. You may have to tow the line for a while and not make waves, but my feeling is that it's more important to have good scholarly work and good teaching than it is to be a "yes" man.

And as a Catholic theologian (God willing) I intend to be a thorn in everyone's side by relentlessly and boldly teaching the faith in my university and department :D

Just thought I'd rant a little! :thumbsup:

So that right there will make sure that you don't get tenure anywhere. Two thoughts came to mind on this: 1. if you are a thorn in everyone's side, then you are going to make yourself enemies among the faculty and thus not get tenure; and 2. it seems to me you have a skewed view of what it means to be in academia. As a member of the faculty, you are expected to educate your students in how to think like a theologian, how to be a theologian, how to argue like a theologian. In short, you are to educate your students! You are NOT there to proselytize or convert them, you are NOT to promote your faith to students or faculty. While that is a noble calling and one that comes from God, it is not the job of a faculty member. In fact, at most colleges and universities, if you promote your faith to students and faculty, you will most likely be fired.

I applaud your desire to be a professor, and it is an immensely rewarding experience. I question your motivations though. Depending on the college/university, you will often have to sacrifice of yourself for the better of your students. You must respect their beliefs. If you feel that you have a calling to spread the Word, consider becoming a deacon or a priest. Or a line of work that might not be in academia.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter from inside academia. Things may be different in different schools and departments, but I think mostly what I wrote is broadly applicable to most departments/schools. My two cents.


#4

How much investigation have you done into this, Lotus? Do you have a solid orthodox Catholic theology professor that you're working with to lay out a plan? Have you looked into the various PhD programs that interest you? I think the people you need to be talking to right now are current orthodox Catholic professors as well as doctoral candidates, as they will be able to give you far better advice about the lay of the land than anyone here.

I know a few great ones at Notre Dame, and I'm sure there are others on this forum who have contacts at many other universities, if you don't have a good person to talk to.


#5

I also question your motives. I think the aforementioned post is very well written. Don’t go into a profession for the wrong reasons. It sounds like you are more annoyed with the current faculty and want to go into Academia and ‘be a thorn in their side’ to spite them rather than provide a strong education for the students. The students are those who you should focus on.

I disagree here. I think no one has more influence over a child’s life than the parents followed by the child’s peers/friends. If parents do a good job at raising their children they should in theory select good friends who will only further enforce good values.

They have more impact on a person’s life than a professor who we are exposed to for 5 months of our life after the majority of our values have been defined.


#6

[quote="LotusCarsLtd, post:1, topic:189040"]
I don't know if this necessarily belongs in this forum but this is my favorite so I want to post it here :D

Anyway I want to become a theology professor and teach in a university setting. The problem? Although I love the idea of teaching and working with students I absolutely hate the fact that 1) academia is overwhelmingly liberal; 2) that academia is very anti-religious; and 3) that academia is hostile to religious thought. It pisses me off and I hate the idea of having to deal with this on a daily basis (unless it really isn't all that bad after all). But I really want to teach to try and counter this secular nonsense through my example and my courses. All of this is prompted by studies I have seen showing that not only is academia overwhelmingly liberal but that departments have been known to deny tenure or senior positions to any professors who don't tow the line.

And as a Catholic theologian (God willing) I intend to be a thorn in everyone's side by relentlessly and boldly teaching the faith in my university and department :D

Just thought I'd rant a little! :thumbsup:

[/quote]

As long as you pick the right college to get your advanced degrees, I would this is a very good idea. We need more Catholics in high academic positions.


#7

I'm confused as to why this is an issue. If you're going to be a theology professor, then you aren't going to end up in universities that are hostile to Catholicism. What kind of "anti-religious" (to use your words) university would be teaching Catholic theology, anyway?

I understand that some Catholic universities rebel against orthodox Catholic teaching, but to call them "anti-religious" is a stretch.


#8

I disagree here. I think no one has more influence over a child's life than the parents followed by the child's peers/friends. If parents do a good job at raising their children they should in theory select good friends who will only further enforce good values.

They have more impact on a person's life than a professor who we are exposed to for 5 months of our life after the majority of our values have been defined.

Right on parents, but where do parents learn the values to inculcate into their children? From their parents to some extent, to be sure; however, they also learn them from going to college and being exposed to "new" ideas for more like 4-5 years rather than 5 months. This period in a persons life is quite impressionable and is the time in which it is most likely a person will make altering changes in philosophy.

Relatively simple ideas can be conveyed in a short time, and can have life-altering impacts, especially in a time when young adults are breaking away from their parents and making a philosophy their own. The fact that they are of "majority" does not mean that they have the solid catechesis and maturity of judgement that comes with years of experience. Young adults are very easily swayed by sophist arguments that appear on their face to be good, but upon deeper analysis are fundamentally flawed. They are even more easily swayed when such philosophies justify sinful behaviors in which they want to engage, or confirm such a person in a sinful lifestyle, or even cause a person to keep silent when he or she should caution a friend against a life choice that is objectively gravely disordered (homosexual relationships come to mind).

The primacy of personal choice as the defining good and the concept of moral relativism, which appear to be the de facto liberal philosophical bases, are good examples of this problem. This mindset, which has taken deep roots in academia, is very attractive at first but leads to people defending as "good" objectively grave evils such as abortion, euthanasia, artificial birth control, homosexual "marriage," and sexual promiscuity to name just a few. These grave evils have taken hold due to the apparent justifications provided by the above philosophies, which are defended by liberal academia.

Additionally, our leaders and professionals are trained in this environment. Policies are made and advocated by academics based on the underlying philosophies described above. This thought has a profound influence on how leaders and professionals behave when they enter their respective fields. Collectively, their decisions affect society profoundly. People in power, such as the president for example, might individually have the power to change the course of society.

The results of the successful hold of liberal thought in academia are clear. We see it in the election of our officials, in the appointments they make, in the sophist arguments that are pitched to the public, and in so many other ways. We see it in the population implosion in Europe and in the very way we have setup our Western societies. We are so concerned with being "neutral" on positions of morality and religion, that we are fostering an environment in which giving up our very identities and even possibly our souls is attractive as being "good."

Do I blame liberal academia for all our problems? No. Are all liberal ideas evil? No. However, the fundamental bases of choice and moral relativism in liberal philosophy as being the defining goods are gravely problematic, and academics that have supported and defended this underlying liberal philosophy have made our problems much worse by propagating a philosophy that leads to objectively evil results.

While I am not in academia myself, I am intimiately familiar with it through family and friends. I know just how hostile it can be. While usually not overtly hostile, the hostility manifests itself in subtle ways under the guise of disinterested reason. I find it highly ironic that while most liberals vigorously defend the free exchange of ideas, they actively - if not overtly - seek to censor the exchange in their own environment.

Would I suppress ideas? No. However, the balance has been lost and it needs to be restored. We need to return academia to the position that there are absolutes in right and wrong, and that there are evils that simply should not be tolerated under the name of "tolerance."

I applaud your desire to be a professor, and it is an immensely rewarding experience. I question your motivations though. Depending on the college/university, you will often have to sacrifice of yourself for the better of your students. You must respect their beliefs. If you feel that you have a calling to spread the Word, consider becoming a deacon or a priest. Or a line of work that might not be in academia.

I agree with this assessment, but I still encourage the OP to get into the good fight.


#9

Be very careful.

I'm going to get my Ph.D in English, and I hope to jump into the academic field.

It is extremely, extremely left wing. The humanities more so than the economics field.

Yes, there are exceptions-but for the most part, it's tougher on people who lean toward the right, and especially tough on religious people.


#10

I'm at the tail end of my doctorate in English/Higher Education and am working as an adjunct/researcher. It's all progressive group think in academia, and every field is identical. It's just a matter of relevance. When in a physics class, political philosophy does not come up as frequently. When it arises, you can guess the outcome.

Focus on educating students. Make them think critically, including analyzing things you agree with. Considering the parental void today, you might be the only one to give them some of the tools necessary to avoid complete indoctrination.

If you enjoy working with students as I do, focus on that aspect. It will make the political evil much more bearable.


#11

One thing you could do is to get an ecclesiastical degree (i.e., Doctorate in Sacred Theology) instead of the secular Ph.D. that seems to be more common nowadays.

By the way, it's "toe" the line (see here).


#12

For me my desire is spurned by the many statements I have seen (particularly Christifidelis Laici) speaking of the need for good religious teachers and this really resonates with me. My particular interest is Church teaching on sex and marriage and I want to focus on this as my area of study.

As for my reasons for wanting to do this (and this is the case for most of my life, including my reasons for being a Catholic) is simply because I am attracted to it and want to do it. As with most everything in my life I have a strong disconnect between my intellect and my heart…so I can readily tell that I am attracted to something and want to do that particular thing but cannot tell you for the life of me why I want to do that thing. This goes for the Rosary, academia, my interest in starting a band, etc. I know I like these things and want to do them but I cannot (even when speaking about it with others) explain why. But don’t worry, I am praying and discerning so I do have a way of telling what I should and shouldn’t do.

But for me I like the concept of teaching in a university setting and teaching the faith. Not proselytizing but teaching people why the Church opposes abortion, or why it believes that the Eucharist is the actual body of Christ, and so on.

On a related note: I will undoubtedly have students, for instance, challenge me on abortion. My intent would be to charitably reason-through their arguments and try to show why abortion is immoral and why, for instance, a particular argument in favor of it is flawed. Is this the way to go about doing things?


#13

Yes, assuming that the discussion is on-topic, this would be an appropriate way of dealing with something during class, as long as you do not allow the students to hijack the class and prevent the material of the day from being taught.

I assume you will be teaching in a Catholic university because you want to go into theology…so it is less likely that engaging the students in this way would get you in trouble with your department (although still possible).


#14

[quote="LotusCarsLtd, post:1, topic:189040"]
It pisses me off :

[/quote]

I know that this expression is an 'acceptable' phrase in the secular world, but I think a few people here might be a little offended with it, especially since it is not necessary. You could have said something like: "it upsets me a lot", or many other expressions.

Otherwise, God bless you on your journey.


#15

That is a possibility. Although I’d prefer to be in a secular humanities department, I do realize I’d likely end-up in a Catholic university. I just hope I can find a job…they seem scarce for theologians even in good economies (although it’s several years off before I’d even enter graduate school).


#16

In your post, you also said that you wanted to be a theology professor. This is not going to happen in a secular humanities department.

You could become a “religious studies” professor in a secular department, but a theology degree will not prepare you for this, and you would not want to study this anyway.


#17

[quote="ack, post:16, topic:189040"]
In your post, you also said that you wanted to be a theology professor. This is not going to happen in a secular humanities department.

You could become a "religious studies" professor in a secular department, but a theology degree will not prepare you for this, and you would not want to study this anyway.

[/quote]

Works for me :D

On another note, how is the job market for theology professors? Bad?


#18

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