Sunday, December 7, 2014

First cup: First steps: questions

This conversation needs to start somewhere; I know there are more questions, but these are, I think, a pretty good start:

• Institutions need to revisit their missions and strategic plans, looking carefully at the words written there and the assumptions, aspirations, and goals contained in them. But we also need to evaluate those plans with these kinds of questions: Where are the hard connects? What difference does this make and where does the difference show up in my place of work, in my course, in my class, in my syllabus, with my students? Where? Specifically?

• What are the non-negotiables? What is? What must be defended, so to speak, with “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” against all of the forces that seek to normalize and destroy difference?

• What do we mean when we say Christian (or Christ-centered)? Liberal arts? Diverse? Or any of the other words that populate our mission statements and are intended to be defining and box-creating either because we think they matter or someone else does? What does it look like? What does it sound like? Taste like? Smell? What metaphors may help it be clearer?

• I think, for us who live in that universe, the key word is Christian or Christ-centered. We need to struggle with that descriptor...modifier. What does Christian or Christ-centered mean—evangelism? discipling? conversion? following Jesus--and what in the heck does that mean? Its meaning, somehow, connects to "reign" language--what does that mean? What if it means “relational”--a flabby or profound word? What do those words mean about where I am in the classroom? Office hours? Who I eat with? How I develop my syllabi? How I steward my time and my own health? How I handle my complaints and how I treat my students? How administration treats/responds/cares for faculty and vice versa? Even, dare I ask, How I behave in faculty meetings?

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