Fired Up, Fired OutApril 30, 2008 4:09 am Personal, Political, Religion
Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill., requires faculty and staff to sign a faith statement and adhere to standards of conduct in areas including marriage. This is, after all, the origin-place of evangelist Billy Graham and the home of the globally evangelistic Billy Graham Center.
It’s also the place that made national headlines on Feb. 20, 2003, when it lifted its then 143 year-old ban on student dancing. (Whoa! Next thing you know, they’ll be apologizing to Galileo.)
It would be weird to work or go to school in such a place, don’t you think? And yet some choose it, you have to believe deliberately. It does have a pretty respectable academic history.
Here’s a young man (I guess; he kept his identity a secret) who became an atheist halfway through his college years at Wheaton (he just graduated in December), and chronicled the journey in a blog called “Leaving Eden.”
Nov. 29, 2007: “Now is the time when all of my final papers and projects are due, all of which must be from a Christian perspective. Before I started I thought, no big deal, I know what the Christian perspective is, and anyway it’ll be kind of fun using words that I haven’t used in a long time, like sanctification, eschatology, spiritual discipline– not to mention the whole language of Wheaton evangelicalism that I worked so hard to become fluent in. / But man, it sucks. It actually makes me feel a little bit ill to have to do this.”
Okay: Student. He got into it, discovered he couldn’t believe it, and had this uncomfortable deconversion along the way. It sucks the way it feels in the turbulent early moments of it, but the end result is going to be a lifetime of freedom. So bully for him.
Ha. After devoting 20 years of his life to teaching at Wheaton College, Kent Gramm, a popular professor at Wheaton, was recently dismissed after he got divorced – apparently not according to approved New Testament principles.
” … Every year, the college [...] must evaluate the divorce of a job applicant or a staff or faculty member and consider whether it matches the exceptions laid out in Matthew 19 and the writings of the Apostle Paul.”
Professor Gramm has been in the nest there for two decades, helping support that biblical worldview, backing the full mission of the college, probably steadfast in believing that he was doing the Right Thing.
And now it comes and bites him in the ass.
I’m torn between poking fun and being supportive, between saying “Ha! Now you know how it feels, don’t you? You know at last what that exclusivist worldview does to OTHERS, dumbass!” and “Poor guy. I hope this is the first of many such realizations as he travels up out of that pit.”
Either way: Sorry, Professor Gramm, you had to have your mind forced open on this business of divorce and the issue of family privacy as it relates to an enforced Christian worldview.
And best of luck in rethinking some of your other ideas along the lines of what Christianity, and religion generally, really is, and really does to people.
You have a long, long road stretching out ahead of you, as you face the possibility of arduous and uncomfortable freedom – the freedom (and labor) of discovering your own independent meaning of life, and your own set of rational morals.
I hope you make it.