I don't really keep up with Harding news. I get a letter updating me about English dept. stuff every so often, and I used to be on an email thing with alumni news. I think we get one of those magazines but honestly, I'm not sure.
But here's a tidbit that has somehow made its way even to my ears. There is a new Dean of the College of Bible and Religion. And who is it? you ask. It's Bruce McLarty, formerly the minister at the College Church of Christ in Searcy, AR.
Now, this is no ad hominem attack on Bruce, whom I know nothing about, really, except that when I went to Harding he was the College Church minister, and he happens to share a name with my dad. (I think he may also have a mustache, but I'm not sure.) No, it's not about him. It's about the fact that Harding has made a decision to hire someone for this position who is not qualified for it. As someone aspiring to claim a place in the academy, sweating it out, working my ass off, losing my sanity and my confidence and almost but not quite my religion, it pisses me off that a school I went to so obviously doesn't care about educational standards. It's quite the slap in the face, really. (So, you wanna teach in a university, do you, Jen? So, you're working on a doctorate? How cute! You should know, you don't really need to go to all this trouble! Just preach at a huge church next door to your school of choice for a few years...OH! Oops, can't do that, either.)
Maybe that sounded ad hominem. Let me say, then, that I really feel quite sure that Bruce McLarty did not angle for this job and it probably is as much a surprise to him as it is to everyone else. Not that I know. But it's hard to imagine that he approached Harding. I feel pretty sure it's the other way 'round.
And what does this tell us? Well, I think it tells us a couple of really interesting things. First, the obvious salient criterion for who is hired in College of Bible & Religion is not academic qualifications; it's "who can we trust to be orthodox." Second, it may also tell us that maybe there just isn't anyone with proper academic credentialing interested...which goes back to #1. Who in their right mind would want to teach at a school where you have to answer a multiple choice orthodoxy exam correctly?
For a much more informative and better written reflection on this, check out James Wiser's blog.