Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shaking The Dust from My Sandals

My husband graduated from Southwestern Theological Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas in December of 1994. The president of the seminary when he started was Russell Dilday, whom Robert admired and respected. Dr. Dilday was ousted from the seminary in a coup of sorts when the largely fundamentalist board of trustees voted him out the day that labor was induced for our first son. Robert was very upset and the big headline announcing the Dilday had been "overthrown" was the front page headline of the Adam's souvenir birthday copy of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Next they brought in Kenneth Hemphill as president, a more conservative choice. He wasn't terrible and it didn't have much impact on the remaining few months of Robert's time at seminary. He remained at SWBTS for 9 years and then Paige Patterson was voted in a president, a big move far to the right and nestled right in the bosom of fundamentalism.

As an alumnus, Robert gets a quarterly issue of the Southwestern News, which has human interest stories about happenings at the seminary, accomplishments of alumni, etc. He never reads it, but I thumb through it periodically. It usually makes me so angry and/or nauseous that I avoid it. However, I picked it up and scanned the major articles tonight while cooking dinner and now I need medication for high blood pressure.

In a nutshell, Paige Patterson is whack! The last time I read the Southwestern News, which resulted in an eye twitch, the news that vexed me before had an encore in this issue. Patterson is a big game hunter and he leads "Game Banquets" which serve the multi-faceted purposes of male bonding, gluttony (I suspect--it is a pet Baptist sin after all), evangelism, and extolling the virtues of "biblical manhood." What is biblical manhood? Well, as a woman I don't dare enter the male conclave, but I can speculate that it includes hunting/gathering, chest-thumping, and keeping the missus busy in the kitchen. Just to clarify, I am not dissing women in the kitchen...if that's where they want to be. While I am in feminist in that I believe I can be and do anything that a man can do (with the exception of anatomical constraints, like peeing while standing up), part of that feminism comes in the loose boundaries of previously compartmentalized gender roles. Men can cook and clean, if they want to, and women can do car repair and yardwork, if that's their yen. I will also state that I do tend to prefer some stereotypical gender roles. I do the bulk of the cooking for my family, but not because I have to. It's because I want to. We have a true partnership and take up the slack for each other depending on the season of life, busyness, and personal preferences. I suspect that doesn't happen in Patterson's house.

Furthermore, this whole concept of big game hunting gets me. This one article states, "He has also taken down some of the world's most dangerous game, including a lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, hippo, crocodile, and an Alaskan brown bear." Here's my question...WHY? While I am not a fan of hunting, I am not morally opposed to it, if the meat is going to be consumed. Hunting for pure sport though? Absolutely reprehensible! I firmly believe that God gave man dominion over animals and clearly indicated that we could use them for food. However, I believe that dominion includes good stewardship and care of animals. One of my friends, who happens to be a Nigerian Muslim, told me how he gloated when he first killed an antelope with a bow he had made. He put a notch in his bow to record his kill. He said that his grandfather took him to task for bragging and being proud of killing an animal and taught him to respect the life of the animal and express thanks for the gift of food that had been given. That's what hunting should be like. Unless you are about to be eaten by a lion or attacked by a crocodile, there is no reason to kill for sport and entertainment. And, by the way, an unarmed wild beast isn't "dangerous" compared to a man with a high powered rifle.

As I continued flipping through the alumni magazine I scanned another article about students evangelizing people waiting in line for the grand opening of a pizza restaurants. My feelings for this type of evangelism aside, here's what the article said:

The group shared the message of salvation with many, including Alex, a student at Texas Christian University; Jay, a lesbian; Todd, an employee of Toppers (Pizza); and Santiago, a 17-year-old high school student.

Everyone in this "cast of characters" is listed by vocation (or student status) except for "Jay, the lesbian." What the heck? First of all, how did they know Jay was a lesbian? Did she have a butch haircut (could have been growing out after chemo)? Was she wearing a shirt that read, "I <3 other chicks?" Did she have a rainbow bracelet on her wrist? Or does she just randomly announce her gender preference for sex to complete strangers? Even if the SWBTS students did actually somehow know for sure that Jay was a lesbian, why is she the only one singled out for her sexuality? Why not, "Alex, a heterosexual; Jay, a lesbian; Todd, a heterosexual open to exploring bisexuality, etc.?" When I pointed this out to Robert, he remarked that what jumped out at him was that there was a bland vocational-type modifier for every person except for Jay, who was labeled as a sinner. She just had a scarlet letter L slapped upon her chest. So if they were doing sin-assignment, maybe the list should have read, "Alex, the porn-addicted college student; Jay, the lesbian; Todd, the lying racist; and Santiago, the bully and luster." (For the record, I don't know Alex, Jay, Todd, or Santiago---just trying to make a point).

Aside from the inspiring articles, there was an advertisement for a women's conference...The Art of Homemaking. You too can be encouraged and uplifted by keynote speakers such as Michelle Duggar. (Back when we were in seminary, we were all kind of fans of birth control). This is because at a graduate seminary, you can get a degree in homemaking. There is a whole prototype house to practice those baking, sewing, greeting your husband, and fetching his slippers kind of skills. And if you are a woman who wants to get a Master of Divinity degree? (The same degree my husband earned there). You can earn that degree, but with a few feminine alterations. Instead of taking expository preaching, you have to take women's ministries in the local church and in lieu of advanced expository preaching you must take expository communication of biblical truth. Women can't preach, silly girl! But oh, since you won't be taking all of those hard-hitting preaching and theology courses, you get one more elective than the men do, so you could take fundamentals of clothing construction or the value of a child instead. I only wish I were kidding. And all of the female professors who were there when Robert was as student...professors who taught theology, ethics, philosophy, and missiology? Gone. There are a handful of female faculty who remain---to teach voice, piano, childhood education, and women's studies.


You were a really great seminary at one point in time SWBTS and we have many fond memories. Seems like that all left with Dilday. And no, we won't be donating when you solicit from us.

Edited to add: Want a good book on homemaking that isn't so rigid, even though it was written decades ago? Try The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

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