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‘Laurus’ Ruins An Academic Career

This came in last night from a PhD candidate in English at a prestigious American university. I have changed identifying details at his/her request [UPDATE 12/20: I have further redacted it at the author’s request, to obscure identifying details. — RD]:

Dear Mr. Dreher,
You should know that finishing Laurus [1]is what finally put the nail in the coffin of my academic career. I realized, quite simply, that this is a novel that deserves to be read, re-read, and contemplated in its richness and spiritual depth but that, outside of a handful of institutions, it will never be taught at all. Or if it is, it will only be taught in a way that would instrumentalize and destroy its fundamental beauty and integrity. I thought at first that I could choose to persevere in this environment (in some sense even, appropriately, to mortify myself through this frustration!) in the hopes that I might be able to serve as a witness, to smuggle works of beauty, samizdat-like, into the hands of students who could appreciate them. However, even to cultivate such an “underground” movement within academia would require the Christian academic to give tacit consent to a set of ideologies that are fundamentally antithetical to the Gospel.

Dangerous book! [2]

My story: I did my undergraduate work at [a well-regarded liberal arts college]. I did very well [there] and I graduated [with tip-top honors]. So, naturally, continuing on in the study of English lit seemed like the inevitable course to follow. I duly prepared my applications to five of the best schools. However, when I asked for a recommendation from one of my favorite [conservative, Christian] professors, he told me, “Look, I’ll do this for you, but you really should find something else to do. Go to law school. Get an MBA. Just don’t go to graduate school. It will be bad for your soul.” Bull-headed undergraduate that I was, I thought he was overplaying his hand a bit. Bad for my soul? Really? Worse than business school?!

So, somehow I was admitted to [his/her current university]. Looking back at the utterly naïve application I submitted (I dared submit a writing sample that actually analyzed literature!), I’m surprised I was admitted anywhere. Off I went to [city], full of hopes that, even if things were not great, at least I’d be able to cobble together an education. I’m not going to pretend that [this school] is the worst place ever; in many respects, it’s maintained an institutional identity and sense of tradition that has protected it from succumbing wholly to the nonsense.

But I’ve also encountered lots of utter stupidity and outright evil. The worst incident I’ve encountered was related to me by a close friend whose judgment and accuracy I fully trust. The story merits recounting in its entirety because it shows what we are up against.

[Note from Rod: I’m not going to publish the detailed story here, out of an abundance of caution in protecting this grad student’s identity. It is enough, I think, to say that the class in this anecdote was a large literature survey course. The lecture for this class was on the work of a particular Christian poet. The professor allegedly spent nearly the entire class giving a one-sided, overly-sexualized account of a key Gospel narrative.]

So a few of the TAs are trying to figure out what exactly to do with a lecture on [the Christian poet] that had very little to do with [the poet] and a great deal to do with the prof’s misbegotten hang-ups over Christian theology. They decide that they will present greater documentary context for the incident, and let the students determine for themselves what they think (a novel idea, admittedly). Word gets back to the prof, and he’s dismayed that some of his TAs chose to undermine his lecture. This ends up in an exchange with a female TA, and he expresses his displeasure at her choosing to go off script in her teaching. After some back-and-forth between the two, this ends up with the prof telling his TA that she would be better off just to do what he says.

After word gets around to the other TAs, this all ends up with the teaching staff for the survey section meeting with the prof and the department chair for an airing of grievances. The exchange is recounted, which one would expect to close the matter. Instead, as it turns out, a majority of the TAs in the room supported the professor’s actions. The essential sense of these TAs was that they should just trust the prof. No public action was taken against the professor.

Here you have a group of people, most of whom would identify themselves as ardent feminists (including the prof), most of whom have no trouble prating on for hours about the unjust dynamics of power structures, the reification of the patriarchy, the hegemonic leveraging of social forces against the marginalized. Yet a majority of them have no problem with a male professor in a position of real power telling his female TA that she just needs to shut up and sit down. Now, was this silence partly because she was a Christian student? No doubt. But it’s even more a function of the essential cowardice of most academics. Most academics long to be academics so much that they are willing to go along with basically whatever they need to in order to ensure that they get to remain within those ivy-covered precincts. Sure, talk all you want about structures of power outside those walls, but keep your damn mouth shut about what happens inside.

I don’t blame those TAs entirely: for many of them, that very professor may prove to be the difference between their getting a job, a fellowship, or even completing their PhDs and their being out several years’ worth of work. Better just to keep your head down, nod along, and do what you need to do. So, again, this story is hearsay, but I trust the source, and I know enough about academia to believe every single word of it. This is where we are. It should scare all of us because even if this is something of an outlier example, there are more insidious and less dramatic versions of this that happen every single day. And this animus isn’t directed solely against conservative Christian scholars; it’s directed at anyone who doesn’t adequately demonstrate his loyalty to the regnant ideology. (There’s a reason why Camille Paglia teaches at an art college, not an R1 university!)

Look, even if you have the most traditional, solid little liberal arts college in the world, your instructors still have to receive their PhDs from somewhere. And the problem is that every reputable PhD program is so infected with this sort of rot that the people who get hired to teach undergraduates are people who have mostly learned that they’re better off just keeping their heads down and regurgitating the garbage that their grad school program is feeding them. They won the crap shoot of academic hiring because they were very successful at the academic game. There’s no incentive to disagree; in fact, there’s a very real disincentive to thinking in a way contrary to prevailing norms. If this mentality can afflict my [relatively traditional PhD program at a major university more conservative than many others] it can happen (and has happened) literally anywhere else. And these people are the ones who are reshaping those bastions of sound thinking into outposts of trendy academic folderol. You either get a good education and are unemployable, or you get a good job but are incapable of thinking straight. I’ve yet to see evidence that there is a third option.

I don’t honestly know what this means for Christian academics or for Christian parents who are looking to send their kids to college. The situation instills a certain despondency. I admire those academics who are looking to stick things out, but I worry about the cognitive dissonance that this choice will necessarily engender. Something will have to give. I would love to work in classical Christian education, even to start a school, but I’m far too young and impecunious to do the latter and live in an area where the former is not an option. After this semester concluded, I’ve decided to give up on being an adjunct, and I’m interviewing for employment elsewhere.

But I think this is the key: we have to form kids to think as Christians who love the true, the good, and the beautiful well before they ever get to college. We have to model for them Christian lives of heroic sacrifice, radical prayer, and firm commitment to fostering and handing on what is good. Kids see that, and they pick up quickly on what is good and what is worthwhile. We can inoculate them against the nonsense; we just have to start early and make it a source of joy and even fun for them. Eventually perhaps there will be the resources to create a Christian counter-academic culture outside of a handful of places; however, this will require some tectonic shifts in the landscape of American Christianity.
[Emphasis mine — RD]

There are ways out of and beyond academia; we just need more Christian academics who are willing to take them. Because the sad truth is, I think, that we either leave now of our own volition or we’re slowly squeezed out later on. We can take some comfort in the fact that we’ll be able to return to the ashes and rebuild a real system of education on the rubble. After all, Truth wins. And so does Love (real love, not sloganeering “love”).

Anyway, my apologies for the length of this. I really needed to clear my mind, and I value immeasurably the work that you do. I just wanted to give you some confirmation that things out there truly are as bad as you think. If you for some reason choose to excerpt any part of this for your blog, I’d appreciate your omitting my institutional affiliations and using a pseudonym for me. I’m still writing my dissertation, so I’d at least like to get that done without any fear of retribution (although I’m not going to pretend that the motivation to finish is really there anymore).

 

 

How often do you hear about a work of literary art whose truth and beauty convince people to abandon the teaching of literature?

To be fair, a conservative Christian friend who is an academic in this letter-writer’s field (though not at his/her university) has told me good things about the environment at that school’s English department. I have no way of knowing independently. I did check out verifiable details of the correspondent’s e-mail, and they were accurate. This person really was a student publicly celebrated for his/her academic performance as an undergraduate, and is currently a grad student at the university about which he/she tells the story.

UPDATE: A reader e-mails:

First off, thank you for chronicling higher ed’s cultural crisis in the way that you have. The first-hand accounts you publish are harrowing and have confirmed me in my choice to not pursue graduate work in the humanities. As an educator in a classical Christian school, I tell anyone who will listen (especially parents in the congregation where I worship) that they must find alternatives to the mainstream schools if they are at all serious about discipling their children in Christ. We’re discovering more and more that we must also find alternatives for ourselves for the same reasons that we must find them for our children, which, if I understand it right, is basically the point of the BenOp.

Obviously, part of the reason that we discipline ourselves is so that we can better disciple our children. I’m glad that the person who wrote you about leaving academic work has committed to volunteering with the Scouts and otherwise being active with our children. One thing caught my attention, though, that occasioned my email to you: “I would love to work in classical Christian education, even to start a school, but I’m far too young and impecunious to do the latter and live in an area where the former is not an option.” I don’t know this person or his situation, so I don’t want to judge him or to call what he wrote a “cop-out,” but it at least strikes me as a little too dismissive of his options and his potential for working in classical Christian education. The movement started ex nihilo with just a handful of people who, like the writer, had come to realize that our mainstream institutions are no longer an option for us. I would recommend he read about Doug Wilson’s experiences in starting Logos School (whatever else we want to say about Wilson). I would also advise him to start asking around in local churches. He would probably find that he’s not the only one in his area thinking to himself, “Gee, I wish we had a classical Christian school around here.” He will likely find parents who want their children to receive a distinctly Christian education and who are willing to sacrifice time and money to see it happen. He might also find Christians who are able and willing to fund it. It’s at least worth his time to inquire, and even if the initial inquiry goes nowhere, it might plant a seed that sprouts later on in his city.

I wish I could say this to him personally: I started teaching at a classical Christian school when I was 23, and I had no idea what I was doing. Neither did Doug and Nancy Wilson or anyone else who got into this movement. We’ve all had to educate ourselves over the years. The movement is starting to bear fruit, and we have several alumni who have come back as teachers, but most of the work is still being done by us neophytes. I’m almost 29 now, and my wife and I have two children under five. If we had to move to an area that didn’t have a school, we would be doing exactly what I’ve recommended he do: asking around and trying to get something started. I still don’t know as much as I’d like to know, and I’m not nearly as good a teacher as I’d like to be, but I’ve definitely made progress over the past six years. If a lug like me can do it, I suspect the man who wrote you can do it as well.

Keep doing what you’re doing, Rod. The things you write and the things that you publish from other Christians around the country are all a solace. Thank God for his Church. It’s good to know one’s not alone.

UPDATE.2: A young Christian academic working in the literature field writes:

The story recounted by this grad student is horrifying, and I have no doubt of its veracity.  That the system spectacularly failed in this incident, privileging a professor’s blatant verbal abuse in the name of ideological correctness (or, more pragmatically but perhaps even more tragically, in the name of simply not wanting to ruffle feathers) is indisputable.  If I were the TA on the receiving end of this kind of injustice, or even in the position of the letter writer, I’d be turning my papers in too (no academic pun intended).

The letter writer is correct, too, insofar as the groupthink inside today’s crop of academes is saddening and soul-crushing.  I just read the Lisa Ruddick piece you posted last week, and she absolutely nails it.  I don’t necessarily think there’s anyone at the top with a nefarious conspiracy to brainwash grad students into evacuating their selves and becoming compliant, theory-spouting drones.  (I’d love to see a sequel to Office Space set in a graduate English department, btw.)  But I’m sure that the vogue for intellectual sadism, for punishing the rubes who still believe in all the fairy tales that we enlightened moderns have moved beyond, is only a step away from the very real sadism of punishing a TA for refusing a prof’s anti-Christian bias.

That being said, I want to make a last ditch plea to this person not to give up the fight, not to simply accept that Christians in secular academia must “give tacit consent to a set of ideologies that are fundamentally antithetical to the Gospel” – not, in short, to flee Babylon.

I invoke Babylon deliberately because the prophet Daniel has been my model since the beginning of my academic career.  Daniel was selected, along with a few other exiles, to “learn the literature of the Chaldeans,” which was pretty much the equivalent of high culture paganism.  The king wanted him in his court Daniel had to soak in reams of myths that most of his fellow Israelites would have found blasphemous, and not without cause.  He was in a messy situation, but God appointed him to work with Nebuchadnezzar himself avatar of the spiritual forces arrayed against the nation of Israel.

Did Daniel have to make hard choices?  Absolutely, including, eventually, risking his life for the sake of his own version of the Benedict Option.  Did he decide that the answer was to make his escape from the king’s palace and flee for the theological purity of the wilderness?  Absolutely not.  Would a lot of Christians accuse Daniel of complicity with the godless pagans if he were alive today?  Probably.  Did Daniel learn a lot from his pagan overlords, such that the king found him superior in learning and wisdom to “all the enchanters” in the kingdom?  Absolutely.

We who persist in the academic underground live in Babylon, no doubt about it.  Through my time in academia I’ve encountered people who instinctively cast the persecution of Christians as a non-category, a phenomenon best described in strictly economic or cultural terms.  I’ve had to deal with assumptions that I am anti-Muslim, and I’ve had to sit in meetings where professors (whom I like) talk about The Lord’s Prayer like it’s an antiquated relic that “no one sitting in this room ACTUALLY takes seriously.”  But I’ve also had advisors to whom I am profoundly grateful, from whom I have learned a ton about the intersection of literary texts and political oppression, which has renewed my understanding of Christianity’s genesis as a faith against the Imperium.  I’ve had to wrestle with what I really think about things in a way I wouldn’t have been forced to otherwise. And I’ve met atheist and agnostic friends who are genuinely searching for truth, and pursue their studies because, against all odds, they want to find it.  Am I to believe that the risks of ideological pollution are not worth the reward of forging these friendships, and being perhaps the only person of faith (imperfect and messy and constantly failing though it may be) in their lives?

If I believe that, then perhaps I have to believe that Daniel made a mistake in not making a suicide run when the Chaldeans came for him.

Regarding cowardice – Jesus Himself said that spreading the evangelion required the innocence of doves AND the shrewdness of serpents.  In this context, one has to make a distinction between shrewdness and cowardice.  The TA’s in this situation should have said something (though I will add that this is a selective account that does not include the “back and forth” culminating in the STFU comment).  But am I obligated to state my theological understanding of marriage, which wouldn’t fit well on a bumper sticker, anytime someone mentions their live-in partner?  It seems like a lot of Christians would say “yes, you coward.”  I have to disagree.

Finally, I will say that, after spending seven years in [first-rank universities], I am teaching at a radically different (secular) institution.  My students literally cannot afford to worry about micro agressions.  I don’t know if I will stay a professor in the long haul, but if I leave, it will be for reasons that I share with my non-believing colleagues – the economic burdens that higher learning faces today, and the increasing reluctance of many universities to hire long-term faculty.

This might end up being longer than my initial email but I had to respond to this letter writer.  Teaching in Christian colleges and teaching in Babylon don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

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43 Comments To "‘Laurus’ Ruins An Academic Career"

#1 Comment By JonF On December 17, 2015 @ 5:50 am

Re: I realized, quite simply, that this is a novel that deserves to be read, re-read, and contemplated in its richness and spiritual depth but that, outside of a handful of institutions, it will never be taught at all.

IMO, it would make a good addition to a contemporary Russian literature class. And they still do teach Dostoevsky despite its strong Christian overtones so that’s hardly a stopper. (Heck, they teach Dante still too)
Apropos off nothing maybe, but my acquaintance with the Russian language is letting me catch some of the in-jokes in the book as I slowly proceed through it. E.G. the town of Mogylets being a gloomy place– mogyla is “grave” in Russian.

#2 Comment By MikeCLT On December 17, 2015 @ 6:12 am

Put your friend in touch with the letter writer if they both agree. The letter writer may need to know he is not alone. It may lift him from his despair.

#3 Comment By Chris C On December 17, 2015 @ 6:59 am

This sort of thing terrifies me.

I am a conservative Catholic who has only just started my PhD in history at a top university here in the UK. So far I havent run into much of this nonsense yet, although my department does seem to host a lot of seminars on feminism and queer theory. But I am just waiting for it happening and trying to figure out how I will respond.

All I have ever wanted to do is teach history at university level, but right now I’m not sure where I will end up.

#4 Comment By William Burns On December 17, 2015 @ 7:02 am

Heck of a commentary when the advising professor thinks getting an MBA would do less damage to your soul than a PhD.

#5 Comment By bmj On December 17, 2015 @ 7:04 am

Paging Alan Jacobs….

I sincerely hope that orthodox Christians don’t give up on the Academy completely. I have friends who routinely slag college because it’s too expensive, too “dangerous” for Christian kids, too unnecessary in today’s world. I think culturally we’ve turned college into a credentialing process (and a potentially unnecessary one at that, at least for some fields), but 20 years on, I still very much value my liberal arts education at a small, orthodox Christian college. It makes me sad to think that opportunity might disappear for other orthodox kids.

#6 Comment By Eric Miller On December 17, 2015 @ 7:32 am

It’s pretty tiresome to see this anecdotal stuff presented breathlessly again and again as though it were a national crisis. Many of us have been in academia for decades and have never encountered anything of the sort. Sure, this line of work has frustrations and noxious personalities like any other, but come on. “Every reputable PhD program is infected with this sort of rot”? This graduate student, who is already passing on a second-hand account(!), is prepared to make this claim?

[NFR: Well, why don’t you write a rebuttal? You know I’ll publish it. — RD]

#7 Comment By Elijah On December 17, 2015 @ 7:51 am

“Yet a majority of them have no problem with a male professor in a position of real power telling his female TA that she just needs to shut up and sit down.”

There was a famous ad exec – I think it was J Walter Thompson or Stanley Resor – who left the ad business because of the terrible politics and went to the University of Chicago. Where he found the politics ten times worse.

Only in academia could two contradictory positions be held at the same time!

#8 Comment By Raskolnik On December 17, 2015 @ 8:18 am

Maybe a kind of Christian (or at this point really just sane-person) John Galt solution is best. The crazies want the academy, fine, in the immortal words of the Special Man “Let ’em have it!” Eventually people will wake up to the fact that they are dropping the cash value of a small house plus a business loan for the opportunity to be berated by insane people, and that the degree they obtain for being thus berated isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on in the real world.

Related:

[3]

“According to Harrigan and Davies, between 1987 to 2007, 90% of the increased comparative value of a college degree came from the declining performance of high schools rather than the increasing performance of colleges; in essence, higher education has become more valuable because high school education has become exceedingly less valuable by comparison.” And that is despite the tripling in per pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, in the last fifty years.

#9 Comment By Liam On December 17, 2015 @ 8:37 am

Here you have a group of people, most of whom would identify themselves as ardent feminists (including the prof), most of whom have no trouble prating on for hours about the unjust dynamics of power structures, the reification of the patriarchy, the hegemonic leveraging of social forces against the marginalized. Yet a majority of them have no problem with a male professor in a position of real power telling his female TA that she just needs to shut up and sit down. Now, was this silence partly because she was a Christian student? No doubt. But it’s even more a function of the essential cowardice of most academics. Most academics long to be academics so much that they are willing to go along with basically whatever they need to in order to ensure that they get to remain within those ivy-covered precincts. Sure, talk all you want about structures of power outside those walls, but keep your damn mouth shut about what happens inside.”

Perfect Lesson N to the Nth of how easy it is to become what we say we wish to overcome.

IOW, we become our parents (but prismated).

Original sin and all that.

* * *

I was lucky to have a wonderful mentor in history at UVa 35 years ago (at a time when that department was relatively untouched by the worst academic trends of the past two generations) who did not seek to replicate in the academy. It seems this writer’s mentor needed to be more forthright, an and ample good reason.

Without succumbing to fatalism, Americans need to have a softer bite (dog-training language) on the But It Will Be Different For Me! thing.

#10 Comment By Captain P On December 17, 2015 @ 8:46 am

I think the problems vary depending upon your discipline even in the humanities. I spent time in grad school for philosophy at a large, mainstream state university just a few years ago and had a wonderful, non-ideologically oppressive experience there, even though professors and other students knew to some degree that I was a traditionalist Christian. Students did not report me for microaggressions even though I taught entirely from a canon of white, mostly dead males.
My guess is that English is one of the more problematic fields in academia due to the influence of critical theory and deconstructionism. There seems to be a lot of that in most religious studies programs as well. My read, though, is that history can be a good experience, along with politics, classics, and philosophy. If I were recommending graduate programs in humanities to interested students, I would say to stick to those disciplines and avoid literature programs (and, it goes without saying, cultural studies programs).

#11 Comment By Irenist On December 17, 2015 @ 9:13 am

[T]he problem is that every reputable PhD program is so infected with this sort of rot that the people who get hired to teach undergraduates are people who have mostly learned that they’re better off just keeping their heads down and regurgitating the garbage that their grad school program is feeding them….You either get a good education and are unemployable, or you get a good job but are incapable of thinking straight. I’ve yet to see evidence that there is a third option.

BenOpters need to create a third option. Rigorous programs whose graduates are eagerly recruited by other rigorous BenOp institutions. Like, really rigorous: not the “our acting program has Kirk Cameron” level of half-a**edness that passes for rigorous among all too many countercultural Christians. The Kirk Cameron stuff can turn graduates of BenOp programs into (deserved) laughingstocks for journal editors, grant writers, book publishers, etc. We can only beat the big universities by being as intellectually rigorous as they are at their best—not by cocooning into sheltered mediocrity.

I would love to work in classical Christian education, even to start a school, but I’m far too young and impecunious to do the latter and live in an area where the former is not an option.

The letter writer sounds like he’d be an extraordinary asset to a classical liberal arts program at the high school or college level. Can any readers here put him in touch with some opportunities? Let’s try to lend a hand to a fellow BenOpter if we possibly can. Rubber hits the road time, people. (Letter writer: would you be willing to reveal what metro area you’re in? That might help Rod’s readers help you.)

I’m hoping if we can reach a few of them before they get to college, perhaps they’ll be formed well enough to resist some of the nonsense.

Well, you were, letter writer: so praise God and be sure to thank your parents today! Of course, nurturing strong faith can still happen even when students go off to secular schools, through the context of Newman Center-focused dorms, etc., by which the creation of dedicated Benedict Option institutions can be supplemented (as it must be, for the foreseeable future) by a [4]for students of faith at secular schools (which latter, realistically, aren’t going anywhere anytime soon).

Eventually perhaps there will be the resources to create a Christian counter-academic culture outside of a handful of places; however, this will require some tectonic shifts in the landscape of American Christianity.

Indeed. We need to keep working to build BenOps for God’s people. And we need to power our work with prayer and fasting. The empire of worldly institutions is vast and formidable, but Christ’s love has conquered empires before, and will again.

#12 Comment By Astra On December 17, 2015 @ 9:24 am

I’m in academia and have no problem believing this story. I’m also sure that the liberal arts is no fun place to be a practicing Christian these days.

However, I don’t think it’s limited to being a social conservative in the humanities. I am in STEM and the stories I could tell: of snobbery, harassment, bullying, data stealing, undercutting of rivals, and most of all the silent throwing of troublesome souls under the bus because those at the top (tenured faculty) know they have it good and are fundamentally conservative in their outlook (if not usually in their voting record).

These things happen outside academia too, of course, but as the old joke goes, the fights in academia are so vicious because the stakes are so small. And it’s getting more tense and conformist as funding and support dry up.

I have loved my career and for all that I focused on the negative here, I believe the academic teaching and research model has been a net good to society. However, I think the student will be happier now that he is out of it. There is also a tendency in academia to think that anyone who leaves has failed, and that could not be farther from the truth.

#13 Comment By pitchfork On December 17, 2015 @ 9:40 am

I work in this business (I’m interviewing for jobs in English departments at the moment), but there truly is a lot of variation between different departments and schools. The cowardice that the letter writer talks about is endemic, no doubt about that, but I’m honestly surprised that Professor STFU wasn’t censured in some way by the department. That would NEVER fly where I did my own PhD, and it suggests some real dysfunction in the department in question.

Also, although there is some variation between different periods/sub-fields, the conventional analysis of literature is still the bread and butter of the field of English. If you look at books published by Oxford and Cambridge, for example, most of them are fairly traditional in their approach. And probably most of them in some way concern major, canonical writers. I’ve said this before, but there’s a strong contingent of humanists, both historians and literary scholars, who have no use for the kinds of wacky, strained readings of canonical texts that non-academics usually end up hearing about.

Also, there’s quite a bit of difference between N. America and the UK/Europe. My European colleagues have literally never heard of “safe spaces” or “micro-aggressions.” In the UK, especially, the emphasis is on research productivity rather than politics.

But that isn’t to say there isn’t cause for alarm. I doubt if an “out” orthodox Christian could get tenure without going above and beyond. If he or she were really productive and a good teacher, it would be difficult to deny tenure. But at the same time, I’m sure that every move would be carefully scrutinized, especially if a SJW-type were on the committee. So one major slip-up could be used as grounds for denial.

In other words, the climate is bad enough, but I also think it’s important not to overstate the case. Straw men and all that. I think the biggest issue for Christian academics is where they stand on gay marriage. It’s such a hot-button issue and non-Christians are absolutely hostile to the orthodox Christian view. Part of it is that they just don’t understand it. I’m not politically left or right and I believe fully in religious liberty, but even I had never read the sections of the Catechism on human sexuality and marriage until a few months ago, and I honestly believed that Catholic teaching on homosexuality was based in bigotry. I now understand the Church’s teaching on this (not sure where I come down on the issue), but you can bet your bottom dollar that most academics will never approach the issue with an open mind. So that’s going to be the major flashpoint for Christian academics.

#14 Comment By Surly On December 17, 2015 @ 9:49 am

I don’t know–all of these stories from anonymous people in the academy seem a little too pat for me and because they are so anonymous and with info changed to protect the guilty, it reads like those Newsmax pieces.

I know you mean well Rod, and I am sure that where there is smoke there is probably fire, but you aren’t doing your cause any good with these totally anonymous accounts from people hiding in the catacombs, so to speak.

When the Enquirer took down John Edwards, they had a libel-proof set of facts and they went on the record. Don’t you think you would serve the cause of journalism better if you quit publishing these one off anonymous accusations and instead piled up enough people with enough stories who would stick together that this could be published with the names of the colleges and the perpetrators and the victims? And that they would all stick together? Or have I watched too many inspirational movies about the power of the truth?

[NFR: I can think of at least two Christian academics whose accounts in this vein I have published in the past year, whom I personally know, and trust without question. I believe them when they say they could suffer very serious consequences if it were known in their universities, departments, and fields that they are believing small-o orthodox Christians. When people I don’t know personally tell me similar stories, I’m inclined to credit them, at least sufficiently to post their stories here anonymously. I point out what I have been able to verify about their identities (without compromising those identities, of course), and leave it to you readers to decide if the account is credible. I think it’s hard for many people to understand what it’s like to be that much at risk in the workplace. I remember a younger Christian journalist asking to meet me in a back stairwell at one newspaper where I worked, to talk about something going on in the newsroom that made her fear for her job (the big boss there mocked Christianity openly). I was out as an orthodox Christian, and some of our colleagues refused to talk to me because of it. Still, I didn’t really understand why this young Evangelical woman wasn’t willing to take the scorn of our colleagues. It didn’t occur to me until later that at that particular newspaper, I was in a significantly more senior position, and answered to a good boss who, though not a Christian, had a lot of sensitivity and integrity. That young woman was a lot more vulnerable, and she had mouths to feed. Maybe people like her ought to stand up and be willing to take what comes, but that’s easy to say from the outside, or if, like me, you’re on the inside, but in a more secure position. The Christians who really ought to be embarrassed are those who are secure, but who still remain silent. — RD]

#15 Comment By Bernie On December 17, 2015 @ 9:49 am

A Benedict Option exists today in Catholic higher education to try to escape the nonsense. The Cardinal Newman Society has extensively studied U.S. Catholic universities and colleges to determine which of them are “authentically Catholic” in their teaching and overall milieu. There are about 20 of them, only several of which are well known. They are listed here on the far left of the screen:
[5]

Call me simplistic, unrealistic, and/or backward, but if I had a child in the process of choosing a college, I’d encourage him to select one of these, if feasible, depending on his/her desired field of study, chance of scholarships, financial aid, etc. Additionally, I would be guided by the following beliefs, with which many commenters are bound to disagree:

The first thing I’d care about for my child is his eternal salvation – this ahead of a degree that would help guarantee his professional and financial success. Hopefully, he could attain both.

I’d try to persuade him NOT to attend an Ivy League and/or prestigious *liberal* college where the nonsense will be inescapable on campus. No matter how well-formed an 18-year-old may be, he’s not immune from the enormous influence of group-think nonsense.

No Jesuit colleges or universities! These along with such universities as Notre Dame, etc., are among the most prestigious Catholic institutions, but most or all of them require ALL students, regardless of their major, to take some theology and/or philosophy courses. These departments are the power centers that form young people in unorthodox and/or completely nonsensical religious thought. There are exceptions of course, but I wouldn’t want my child to play the odds.

If none of the orthodox Catholic colleges are feasible, I’d look at community colleges and secular universities that have strong Catholic youth organizations and centers. I believe the Cardinal Newman Society has done research in this area as well.

#16 Comment By Rick67 On December 17, 2015 @ 10:03 am

I started graduated school with the goal of becoming a professor (seminary or university) and for several years applied applied and applied some more for positions (not many in my field, the competition is brutal, and my academic “chops” are not that impressive) and… have concluded that my vocation is congregational ministry. (Many PhD/ThDs serve as clergy.) Yes, I barely keep a foot in the academic world, have taught as an adjunct several times, and generally enjoyed it.

The point is, even though I never got into academia as a full time vocation (classroom or administration), I do care, partly because (1) my children are in the last stage of undergraduate education and (2) the academic world does seem to exert some odd influence on the larger surrounding culture. And one could add (3) quite a few friends are academics with tenure (and impressive CVs). I will neither confirm nor deny that one of these friends attended a summer seminar where the professor in charge made some rather blunt anti-religious comments. Revealing.

I grieve for this fine graduate student and pray that G-d will guide him and his family to a joyful and fruitful vocation. And wholeheartedly agree that he needs to finish that dang dissertation and graduate. Even though I have never been hired as a professor… it is often wonderful to have a finished doctorate.

#17 Comment By Leroy Huizenga On December 17, 2015 @ 10:15 am

Your correspondent writes, “You either get a good education and are unemployable, or you get a good job but are incapable of thinking straight. I’ve yet to see evidence that there is a third option.”

I think that’s way too binary (as if binaries admitted of degrees). The situation, grim as it can be, is more of a continuum, I think. There are all sorts of places where one can get a solid education in whatever field–history, literature, philosophy, religion, etc.–and in all sorts of institutions one will find all sorts of professors and colleagues.

I’m also not sure it’s wise to simply run away at this point and withdraw. Conservatives (for lack of a better, more nuanced word) are good at picking up their marbles and going home to stew in their own juices, rather than engaging effectively, doing what they can, getting what they can out of it.

I think this person–and in my graduate work I saw some similar things–could probably run the proverbial gauntlet, practice proper discretion and decorum, get a good education, and be precisely the kind of person we need teaching literature, or setting up a school, or whatever.

And if he thinks the Boy Scouts is an organization immune from the sort of ideological colonization he thinks he’s experiencing in academia…well.

#18 Comment By Will Wilkin On December 17, 2015 @ 10:17 am

I’ve had a few professors who prefer to “lecture” about their own idiosyncratic ideas that are hardly or not at all relevant to the curriculum. That was true in the 1980s in a history department of a large and respected public research university. And despite a few wasted hours in such lectures, overall the department and the school and my educational experience were very stimulating and challenging and I had plenty of room to develop my interpretations and arguments, being graded and criticized only if the evidence or reasoning were weak, never for the politics or philosophical assumptions underneath.

My point? The anonymous student quoted in the above article gave no direct personal experience as to why a Russian novel’s beauty convinced him to quit academia. The jump to a second-hand account of a TA’s clash with a ranting professor seems trivial in the larger field of a university full of professors and students who must offer a wide range of views for his stimulation and collegial support. It seems whiney to base rejection of academia on a second-hand story of an arrogant professor who mocks christian theology. After all, non-academic world is also full of arrogant bosses and all kinds of thinking on religion and politics.

We have to recognize an ass for what he is, and possibly even still learn something from him, even if it is not what he meant to teach. As it turns out, the ranting and meandering professor I most recalled above was also a very accomplished historian who in office hours planted ideas and inspirations in my mind that still resonate…because they strike me as valuable and true.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 17, 2015 @ 10:45 am

A lot of this is warmed-over 19th century paternalism…Professors may be teaching the glories of American imperialism and absolutely unquestioned obedience to the prof’s preferred variation on Christian doctrine, or the prof may be teaching absolute reverence for the opposite, but by God (or without god) I Am The Authority. Which should of course make the current crop of little academic godlings cringe, but it probably won’t.

After some back-and-forth between the two, this ends up with the prof telling his TA that she had better just “shut the f— up and do what I say” (a more or less verbatim quotation; it included the STFU).

“Come the revolution, YOU’LL LIKE peaches and cream!”

You can’t be serious about socialist construction if you don’t take a good look at this line of humor, and read a good number of ex-communist memoirs. Doing both has kept me sane, without shaking my confidence in what really makes sense.

I don’t recognize the remotest resemblance to socialism in this professor, but his overwhelming hubris is comparable to the worst excuses for socialist leadership.

#20 Comment By Donald On December 17, 2015 @ 11:00 am

Well, I believe it, though I think that colleges run by conservatives will pull the same sort of crap, just in the opposite direction. Wheaton College, for instance.

#21 Comment By John On December 17, 2015 @ 11:04 am

What is this person doing volunteering for the Boy Scouts? That organisation is dominated by political correctness just as the university he worked at was. This is a repeat of the fantastic naivety and ignorance manifested in going to that university in the first place. Not that this naivety and ignorance is unusual; it is typical. The question of why it is typical is crucial – any suggested answers to it? I have no idea.

#22 Comment By Egypt Steve On December 17, 2015 @ 11:20 am

I’ve seen very similar cases of department chairs supporting abusive instructors against graduate students, in situations that had nothing to do with politics or ideology. There’s very often a strong desire to sweep problems under the rug in academia, and also very often a feeling that one’s colleagues deserve the benefit of the doubt.

But for any Ph.D. students out there, let me explain some additional facts of life for you.

First: when you’re someone’s TA, you teach the class the way they tell you to teach it. The students in the horror story were wrong to go off script, just as the prof., if the email exchange in the story quoted in the post was accurate, was extremely wrong to abuse her TA’s; and the departmental chair was gutless and craven to let her get away with it. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but the first rule in any employment situation is, you do what your supervisor tells you to do. This fact of life cannot be escaped by fleeing academia. In fact, the rule will be far more stringently applied in almost any other field the poster winds up in.

2. You are not working on your Ph.D. at Lake Woebegone University, where all professors are above average. Half of your professors are below average. 25 percent of them are terrible. Only 10 percent of them are really excellent, and fewer than 5 percent of them are the sorts of professors whom you will remember and admire for the rest of your life. Those are sad, brute mathematical facts.

Now, when faced with the inevitable class with a lousy professor, you have options. You can go into a fetal position in self pity; you can quit the field; you can try to find the one area in that professor’s realm of expertise that he actually can teach you something about, and latch on to that; or, if there is literally no redeeming quality to the professor, you can use him or her as a cautionary example of how not to be an academic. That too is a valuable life and educational experience.

One thing is for sure: no one ever got to where they wanted to be without being willing and able to overcome obstacles. One of your principal obstacles in academia will be unlikable colleagues, and the problems may have nothing to do with ideology or big ideas. Sometimes it’s all just about who has to teach the survey and who gets to teach the capstone seminar. Supposedly Henry Kissinger said, back in his Harvard days, that academic politics is so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low.

3. Wherever you go, there you are. You may find that problems follow you when you flee a bad situation, because you just might be part of the problem yourself — maybe a large part of it. Before you give up or blame others, take a look in the mirror, and make sure you are totally fine with what you see.

#23 Comment By ADL On December 17, 2015 @ 11:33 am

The academic rot was already developing when I was in college in the 90s. There were a few of us back then shaking our heads in disbelief at this development, but we were easily dismissed as the “looney right”.

Took 20+ years, but it’s finally out in the light. We’ve been vindicated!

#24 Comment By Hal Espen On December 17, 2015 @ 11:53 am

“After this semester concluded, I’ve decided to give up on being an adjunct, and I’m interviewing for a position with the Boy Scouts.”

So why all the elaborate anonymity and covering-of-rear disguise, even for someone who’s renouncing a career of cravenly remaining silent in the face of hideous academic macroaggression?

#25 Comment By Charles Cosimano On December 17, 2015 @ 11:55 am

I will admit that he lost me at the eagle scout. A personal predjudice that I freely admit to but whenever I hear the phrase it makes my skin crawl.

When I was an undergrad, my parents gave me a little book for Christmas about maneuvering around grad school. It was full of advice, including bedding the department secretary. While I never entertained lustful thoughts about the department secretary as she looked old enough to be my grandmother, (Sorry Ben Franklin, even I have to draw the line somewhere.) I did find it extremely useful when the time came for my orals to be close friends with someone whose mother was on the University board of directors. The fix was in shall we say. Over the years I came to sort of regret that. I am not averse to cheating (I managed to hack the library computer so I could keep books out longer than I should have.) but it would have been nice to know that it was solely my efforts that got the degree. Still, as Jesse Jackson’s one worthwhile public utterance went, we need to keep our eyes on the prize.

The truth is that if you go into academia with any shred of idealism you are going to be barbecued. It’s a game like any other and it can be a vicious game.

#26 Comment By Adam Kolasinski On December 17, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

“I’m not politically left or right and I believe fully in religious liberty, but even I had never read the sections of the Catechism on human sexuality and marriage until a few months ago, and I honestly believed that Catholic teaching on homosexuality was based in bigotry.”

This resonates with me. I am an academic in a field (finance) where most people don’t care about my social conservatism. Hence I feel free to discuss these things with my colleagues and no one takes disagreement personally, though we rarely do discuss these things.

One day when discussing gay marriage, I made the simple natural law case against it to two of my colleagues, and they were floored. They had simply never encountered it before. They just assumed the case against it was solely based on moral disapproval of homosexuality. I told them my argument isn’t new, that it was in all the SCOTUS legal briefs, etc. But they had just not encountered it before.

#27 Comment By Anne On December 17, 2015 @ 12:27 pm

The problem here is not as unique to these allegedly deteriorating times, culture-wise, as Christian trads seem to think. The small world of academia is biased toward whatever mode of thinking most academics adopted, like musical tastes, in their youth. And for now, that world is dominated by leftwing Baby Boomer radicalisms, esp. feminism and the many isms that flow from the sexual revolution (not “liberalism” per se, which along with more conservative values, held sway for decades previously). Younger academics have adopted these as well, as society at large has been influenced by the sexual revolution, but also because the Boomer left is still largely in charge and therefore the value system to emulate and please for anyone interested in playing at campus politics.

Society at large, on the other hand, although largely influenced by the sexual revolution, never adopted the entire value system of the Boomer left. On the contrary, the much larger world of America outside academia has been in the sway of economic and political forces diametrically opposed to most everything the Boomer left holds sacred.

In other words, the ideological worlds of academia and America at large are not in any way one and the same, yet so much conservative commentary seems to either equate the two or place them on some sort of continuum. Hence, this focus on the horrors of academia, and the idea that they represent America’s future, being just one step farther down the road to totalitarian chaos (another paradox).

This young man is talking about a problem very real to the conservative-minded trying to carve out a future in academia today. But just a few decades ago, left-leaning students were just as angry with the university establishment. Many on the left lumped the worlds they lived in into one big bad Establishment as well. And now conservatives seem to think they’re on top. I have no idea what the future of either academia or America at large will be. But if today’s fledgling Christian colleges and universities are any indication, the conservative alternatives won’t be much comfort to those who value openness and ideological diversity. All in all, though, rather than a continuum of bad to worse, I think the swinging pendulum may be a better metaphor for how America’s many worlds move forward.

#28 Comment By EngineerScotty On December 17, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

Perhaps a different school might be a good choice?

I avoided the Humanities department like the plague when I was in college–engineering snobbishness rather than politics–but there are thousands of colleges and universities in this country, and not all of them are the leftist seminaries you like to highlight in your blog.

Or perhaps self-study, rather than a degree, might be an appropriate course? The Ph. D track only makes sense if you really really want to stick around and teach and do “research”. More engineering snobbishness: the humanities requires patronage to exist as a professional academic discipline, and so will always be subject to the whims of those who control the purse strings; unlike engineering, you can enjoy fine literature–and even write about it–without having to endure the BS of postgraduate education. (You just won’t get paid for your hobby–though that well is drying up anyway–and your musings on the subject won’t be considered by certain journals. But if you’re not chasing tenure, why would you care?)

#29 Comment By DancerGirl On December 17, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

One academic field where Christian conservatives are openly writing, thriving, and articulating a framework for structured opposition to sweeping change is in the law. Progressives may have Windsor and Obergefell, but conservatives have Hobby Lobby, and might add Little Sisters of the Poor.

#30 Comment By Egypt Steve On December 17, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

Gotta disagree with Charles Cosimano. I still feel idealistic — actually more so all the time because I really love my students and watching them progress and succeed. All the angst in these threads is usually directed at English or gender studies or ethnic studies departments — but these are a pretty small part of what goes on at any university — even granted that the atmosphere in such departments is uniformly as bad as it’s made out to be here, and I’m not really persuaded that that’s always and everywhere true. There is still a lot of room in every university to make a big difference in the lives of students. You’ve got to put up with a lot of crap — that’s true. But what job is that not true of?

#31 Comment By Observer On December 17, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

I wonder if certain Catholic universities would be a better buffer for undergrads getting an education, those being small colleges dedicated to Church teaching. I’m thinking of Thomas Aquinas College, Christendom, Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, and Wyoming Catholic.

#32 Comment By Bernie On December 17, 2015 @ 1:52 pm

Observer,

All of your suggested Catholic universities are recommended by the Cardinal Newman Society as noted in my comment of 9:49 am.

#33 Comment By Michael Guarino On December 17, 2015 @ 2:04 pm

I think the problems vary depending upon your discipline even in the humanities. I spent time in grad school for philosophy at a large, mainstream state university just a few years ago and had a wonderful, non-ideologically oppressive experience there, even though professors and other students knew to some degree that I was a traditionalist Christian. Students did not report me for microaggressions even though I taught entirely from a canon of white, mostly dead males.

I had a similar experience at a relatively prominent philosophy program in the US as well. The thing is, the version of philosophy regnant in the Anglosphere is very, well, Analytic. The methods are almost mathematically obsessed with precision. The rest of the humanities have lagged behind on this, and in many cases they still support a basically anti-realist approach that allows anyone to be as unprincipled as they wish.

#34 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 17, 2015 @ 2:08 pm

It’s not just academia, but in government and business as well. There are a few people who just can’t abide, “Keep your head down, don’t make waves and keep the lid on,” and they lose in consequence their main chance and position.

#35 Comment By steve On December 17, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

I would hesitate to call the TAs cowards. They were in a pretty powerless situation. It was actually the job of the chair to protect them, and the chair failed.

Rather than not carrying out their task as assigned, they should have told the professor they disagreed. If an agreement could not be reached, then resign if it really went against principle.

#36 Comment By M On December 17, 2015 @ 4:23 pm

Consider working in a community college. I teach English in one and it’s great. Of course there can be politics and every school is different, but you might like it.

I teach many basic skills students, which is to say I teach everyone. The old, the young, the mentally ill, the autistic, the weathly and the poor are sitting in my class and while I sometimes want to bang my head against a wall, it’s a really unique environment I’ve seen nowhere else.

The faculty are mainly liberal with a significant conservative minority, but we have a job to do and we mostly stick to business. In fact, I was at a conference the day Obergefell came down and not a single person mentioned it. Our students need us too much to take work time for that.

I have asked myself if I would leave my job for one at a classical Christian school or something similar if one were to open near me, and the answer is no. Most of my students would never know such a place existed and would never be able to afford it if they did. Most of the real downtrodden who want to make a better life for themselves don’t go to private schools of any type–they go to community colleges. I am happy to help them move up the economic ladder, and I get to teach any novels I want and add all the Catholic teaching I want. And I do, but I rarely call it religion, not because I can’t but because most of my students don’t have the background or social capital to make their own decent opposing argument, at least not yet.
For your trans debate in the next thread, yes, I have worked with trans students. One, for example, has plenty of mental illnesses and I hope he grows out of it someday and goes back to being a man again. Another one though, was born female but is a male. I’d never believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself. Sadly, he rejected his family instead of the other way around.
I would love to live in a BenOp community and would consider sending my kids to a classical Christian school, but during the day, I want to teach everyone, all God’s people, and where I am, the school of here comes everyone is public community college.

#37 Comment By Anne On December 17, 2015 @ 5:28 pm

Corporate America and federal agencies may be committed to appearing “progressive” — or more to the point, not biased — on minority (mostly hiring and firing) issues, but they’re not really on par ideologically with the left of academia. And as so many academics have pointed out, even in academia, leftwing bias doesn’t normally extend across the board. This is a complicated country, where even a majority of those abandoning the churches profess to still believe in God.

#38 Comment By AJ Kinnaman On December 17, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

I think this issues transcends the experience of specifically Christian academics. Proper attending to the text would be sufficient to render said profs presentation indefensible. In any case, both the lecture and abuse of power deplorable.

Oth, if good scholars don’t stay in the game, you cede the field to the philistines.

#39 Comment By bacon On December 18, 2015 @ 12:36 am

TAC, mostly Rod Dreher’s contributions, are replete with tales of the challenges of higher education from both faculty and student points of view. Mr. Dreher is on both sides of the argument, I think. He deplores the SJW whiners and other PC wimps, but also those whose ideas and lifestyles are too liberal, not sufficiently Christian. Maybe that dichotomy is easy for him. Wouldn’t be for me.

I went to university after serving in the army. Only a couple of years older than the average freshman, but I now think with more than a couple of years worth of maturity and was able to cruise thru the BS and get a reasonable education without wondering too much about the meaning of life. The meaning of life is certainly worth wondering about, but later, not sooner. Maybe parents who want their children to have the intellectual freedom to really profit from a university experience should encourage them to grow up a bit, get pushed around and beaten up a bit, before they enroll.

[NFR: I don’t “deplore” people who are more liberal than I, even if I disagree with them. I do deplore the SJWs, who behave abominably. — RD]

#40 Comment By CatherineNY On December 18, 2015 @ 8:48 am

I can’t get too excited about this. When I was a grad student at one of the Ivies back in the mid-70s, I saw many similar things happen. There were always egomaniacal professors who treated grad students like this. The particular academic theories espoused at the top of the academic food chain may have changed, but the fairly brutal way in which they are debated and enforced has not. There was no email back then, so there wasn’t evidence to pass around and discuss online, of course! I once saw a really, really big name Ivy prof in my field absolutely humiliate one of his former students at a lunch at that student’s University, where the student had become a big name prof. It was grotesque, but I don’t think it was or is a rare occurrence in academia. One of the reasons I got out, the main one being (at that time) the lack of jobs in my field.

#41 Comment By Eamus Catuli On December 18, 2015 @ 10:49 pm

Late to this thread, but I agree with @pitchfork about all this:

Also, although there is some variation between different periods/sub-fields, the conventional analysis of literature is still the bread and butter of the field of English. If you look at books published by Oxford and Cambridge, for example, most of them are fairly traditional in their approach. And probably most of them in some way concern major, canonical writers. I’ve said this before, but there’s a strong contingent of humanists, both historians and literary scholars, who have no use for the kinds of wacky, strained readings of canonical texts that non-academics usually end up hearing about.

Also, there’s quite a bit of difference between N. America and the UK/Europe. My European colleagues have literally never heard of “safe spaces” or “micro-aggressions.” In the UK, especially, the emphasis is on research productivity rather than politics.

But that isn’t to say there isn’t cause for alarm…. the climate is bad enough, but I also think it’s important not to overstate the case.

Right.

#42 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 19, 2015 @ 11:52 pm

There were always egomaniacal professors who treated grad students like this. The particular academic theories espoused at the top of the academic food chain may have changed, but the fairly brutal way in which they are debated and enforced has not.

I can’t remember the title or the author, but during that period a fictional story was published in which various students and professors went around campus pulling guns on each other and kidnapping each other and marching each other around at gunpoint as they maneuvered to get a majority for or against adding a second semester of literary criticism to the required core curriculum. It all ended in a faculty meeting which collapsed into chaos as adherents of the two factions began piling desks and shooting from behind the barricades, one notably shouting “second semester criticism, over here” as a rallying cry.

Perhaps that was simply a distillation of what Catherine describes?

#43 Comment By Rick Freed On December 20, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

Rod I would suggest this:

“I am teaching at a radically different (secular) institution. My students literally cannot afford to worry about micro aggressions. I don’t know if I will stay a professor in the long haul, but if I leave, it will be for reasons that I share with my non-believing colleagues – the economic burdens that higher learning faces today, and the increasing reluctance of many universities to hire long-term faculty.”

are the primary issues facing academia today and not persecution by the left. As one of the responders suggest the left were the ones marginalized 60+ years ago. These things shift back and forth. Neither are great but that’s life.

Is there an issue with dogma that at times diminishes Christian values? Sure. But the main issues facing most academics are declining wages, overpaid administrators, tenure, high maintenance knee jerk students and long-term job stability.