When I served a church with a columbarium, I imagined where I wanted my ashes. It’s morbid, I know. But it’s a professional hazard. It’s the sort of thought that we have when we bury people so often. I want to be spread in nature. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I want to become a part of the life and soil of the pulsing ground.
The cost of tuition has has gone up 1,200 percent in 30 years.The odd thing is that when a person takes full advantage of the educational system and earn a Ph.D., then the very same universities that have been trying to convince us that education is worth that much inflation, turns around and tells the Ph.D. that their hard work is worth about . . . 1-3K per class for an adjunct teaching position. So the value of education is being cut by the very same people who are trying to sell us an education.
You’re asking small churches to give money to seminaries, some of which have massive endowments. Do you know how many secretaries some of these seminaries have? Their secretaries have secretaries. And they keep adding vice presidents. The weirdest thing about the addition of all the management? The student body keeps dwindling. Many of these seminaries have residential student bodies that are the same size of our small church.
Our intellectual architecture is being dismantled. But it is also being reassembled. I use the architecture metaphor because I believe that what we are creating will be in place for many decades to come.
Seminaries that use computers in teaching are often tempted in one of two directions. They either oversell the importance of the technology or underutilize it. They either promise the congregational equivalent of a flight simulator, or else use PowerPoint as a glorified overhead projector.
The recession has forced seminaries to undertake cost-cutting measures that affect people, projects and their own best-laid plans for sustainability. “The current economic environment has magnified any weaknesses present in seminaries,” according to Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools.
Support the Christian Century
The Century's work relies primarily on subscriptions and donations. Thank you for supporting nonprofit journalism.