Monday, August 13, 2007

I've Got the Wrong Degree

In case you missed the announcement at this year's Southern Baptist Convention, Paige Patterson announced that starting this fall, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will be offering a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a Homemaking Concentration. That's right, he's making the MRS. an actual degree at a seminary. Patterson claimed that in forming the new course of study, "We are moving against the tide in order to establish family and gender roles as described in God's word for the home and the family."

Open only to women, the degree includes 7 hours in design and clothing construction, 7 hours in cooking and nutrition, and 3 hours in "the value of a child." I'm not sure why they aren't teaching homemakers how to actually rear a child, but at least they will be valued.

I actually have nothing against a home economics degree. As Joy mentioned when I showed her this story, there are many skills she wished she had only once she had decided to stay home with Sam. But two things about this specific degree bother me. First, do you really need a seminary degree in homemaking? And second, will 23 hours, which would take about a semester and a half to fulfill, really prepare you? It seems as though they are going halfway in the program.

Besides, can men not be homemakers and Christians? There are two fathers on my street that would argue strongly that they can be. Besides, given how much housework and childcare I do even though I work fulltime and my wife does not, couldn't I benefit from these classes? Where does God say that men cannot do work in the home? I wouldn't trade my time with Sam for anything in the world, and I know that God has called me to be with him and a large part of his life. Can men training to be ministers or missionaries not have the same calling?

Ok, so there is a third thing that bothers me about this degree being created, and that is the way women professors have recently been treated at the seminary. As the Dallas Morning News reported, one of the only women teaching in the School of Theology, Professor Sheri Klouda, was fired last spring after five years (in other words, right before tenure) because she was "a mistake that the trustees needed to fix." *sigh* Only Dorothy Patterson, the seminary president's wife, remains on the faculty. I suppose I know too many women who have deep relationships with God, are extremely intelligent, have profound insights into theology and Christian life, and have taught me much about my own faith walk to believe that women shouldn't teach theology.

Ah well, might as well go with the tide, right? So here, courtesy of Rev. Ben Cole, is a lost homemaking skill, resurrected for your edification - how to thread a vintage Kenmore sewing machine.


Tad and Monica said...

Oh, the things I want to say but should never put in print...well, cyber-print anyway.

jeanetta said...

this irritated me so much i cant even put together a rational calm opinion right now.

Liz said...

My dad (who attended southwestern), said "Patterson is a Delbert." We (my dad and I) have been discussing women and the Bible and Paul's true teachings, etc., because he (my dad) is a Greek scholar. It's been interesting and enlightening. Patterson is not either.

Tad and Monica said...

Food for thought....did you know that Mrs. Patterson wears a hat as a symbol of her submission to her husband? So, when you finish this degree, do you receive a hat instead of a diploma?

Anonymous said...

Please know there are many of us currently at SWBTS that are embarrassed by this as well as Patterson's other goofs he continues to make. I am counting down the days until graduation.

Anonymous said...

I just want to clarify one thing--and please understand I am not writing in defense or offense(?)--the reason for the firing of female professors in the school of theology is not b/c the trustees believe a woman can not have a deep relationship with the Lord or teach theology, but that she shouldn't teach men, the majority of the theology students. I do find it interesting, though, that it is okay for Dorothy, as we eh-hem, affectionately call her, to teach men. A few months ago my dear hubby was doing some research--I can't remember if it was for seminary or after he graduated, and was reading an article on this very thing, written, with lots of Scripture included, by none other than Dorothy P. He made the comment to me that he guessed he shouldn't be reading the article since he was gleaning "theology" from it. Ah, the irony.

One last thing--it just occurred to me after reading your post that perhaps my 200 undergraduate hours didn't prepare me for my true calling as a SAHM. Even though I can already cook, clean, sew, and wipe rear-ends with the best of them, and even read and write, I'm thinking we should just chuck the whole ministry thing and go back to seminary so I can get an appropriate degree. What do you think? :)

BTW, please don't be offended that I am choosing not to disclose my real identity on this particular comment as I usually do. You never know who's hands this might fall into and, well, funding, you know. Those of you who know me personally will know who I am.

alicia said...

I'm beginning to suspect that there is a secret club of select conservative religious leaders that devises a rota each year. They take turns making decisions, changes, and/or public statements guaranteed to make national news and embarrass or frustrate Christians who are trying to show the world that we are reasonable people not clinging to 1952. Or 1852. Or perhaps just 52.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you my son for speaking out on this subject. Many years ago when your Dad was on the now dismissed (I use that term to be polite) Southern Baptist History Commission Board of Trustees, we met Mrs. Page. She wore a hat then and insisted that she was not instructing men in the "sense of teaching" them so it was fine for her to continue to do so.

Michael said...

Well, I don't have a problem with the degree itself, but I do think 23 hours is ridiculous. That's not a degree, it's Continuing Ed.

I also have a problem with the way female theology professors have been treated at SWBTS (there are numerous women in other departments), although none of the other SBC seminaries have women teaching in the Theology Department (SWBTS made headlines because they didn't keep the one they had). I think the professorial role is different from that of the pastor.

But, as a point of fact, Dorothy is listed in the Theology Department but she only teaches women's studies. I don't know if Klouda was given the option to only teach women or not, but as you said, the main problem with her teaching was that she taught men.

Stephen said...

Man, you know how to raise my blood pressure right before bedtime.

lauragayle said...

and now you know one of the reasons why I left the SBC and embraced the Episcopal Church. I was headed for the SB seminary at one time. and it just wouldn't have worked -- my own convictions are so at odds with the conflicted stuff that's embraced as "what's right" that I couldn't go through with it and still hear God's call.