|Flowers, in my back yard|
(A few thoughts I have on Stanley Fish's recent essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the cultural analysis as helpful in understanding the meaning of "world" in Romans 12:1, and expectations of the same effect on the Church as on the University.)
As American educators know, the idea of the "university" as an institution for a broad education for life is going. This especially affects the liberal arts.
Attendance in the humanities is low. In response, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point is proposing to eliminate 13 majors, including history, art, English, philosophy, sociology, political science, French, German, and Spanish. (See here.)
What is the purpose of a university? Is it to educate? Or, is it to function like a trade school, preparing clients for career opportunities? Stanley Fish thinks it is the former. He writes: "The university’s obligation is to be true to what it is and to resist turning over its mechanism of judgment and decision-making to some purpose not internal to its proper operations."
We must, writes Fish, identity the university's "core activity."
Fish believes universities have surrendered to metricization. "The rest of the world is preaching instrumentalism, assessment, outcomes, employment statistics, and metrics."
That is American culture. Universities are near-fully conformed to its worldview. Hence, the university is no longer a university. Fish thinks the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point should remove the word "university" from its appellation.
The same point can be made about the Church in America. Much of it has been shaped into this world's mold. How can we know this? We can infer it when the language of the Church is increasingly instrumentalist, using assessments, outcomes, statistics, and metrics (How many? How big? How much?).
When such methods and concerns predominate, the Church's core discipling and equipping functions are less attended, and perhaps eventually removed. (The Church as equipping people for ministry, which has nothing to do with entertainment.) The purpose of the Church is lost. The appellation "Church" should be removed.
Followers of Jesus have an obligation to be true to what Church is. We must resist turning the Church over to some purpose not internal to its proper operation.
WARNING: THIS WILL NOT BE POPULAR.
Because, in our world's mold, "only what can be measured is worth knowing." (Ib.)
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