Friday, December 2, 2011
The Vanishing Lutheran University...
California Lutheran University is an intentionally diverse community committed to inclusivity and respect for the dignity of each individual. As such, we seek to be a place of welcome for students, faculty and staff who are or come to know themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons.
Why is sex the first thing that always gets mentioned when you talk inclusivity and respect for the individual?
Simply put, everyone is welcome here. CLU’s students come from more than 20 countries and 30 different denominations and faith backgrounds. So no one is an outsider. That is one of the most deeply held values in the Lutheran tradition and nowhere more evident than on our campus. As a student at CLU, your personal convictions and beliefs will be respected and honored.
Why on earth would it be a hallmark of Lutheran values that Lutherans respect your personal convictions (unbelief) and honor your beliefs (translate that pagan or no beliefs whatsoever)? Was not the purpose of the Lutheran university to bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ?
It seems to me that either we would be better served to cut loose such "Lutheran" schools from their "Lutheran" identity and heritage and let them have everything except the chapel as long as they agree not to call themselves Lutheran or refer to their Lutheran legacy ever again OR to make our Lutheran schools truly Lutheran with the central focus upon the chapel, our life together in the daily offices, and our Lutheran Christian conviction in the classroom.
ELCA has apparently chosen to have secular schools with a thin veil of Lutheranism as a nod to their past (or, more importantly, to the donors who are generally Lutheran and who think Lutheranism a good thing even on the college campus). Missouri has apparently chosen to talk the good talk but to put contemporary worship in the chapel, support an evangelical identity overall, and, with the ELCA, make sure that donors know that they are Lutheran! Others are smaller but more focused in their Lutheran identity (Bethany in Mankato, for example).
I fear that it may be that Missouri's schools are only a few degrees to the right of the ELCA colleges. With Valpo truly in the LINO (Lutheran in name only) camp, the whole image of the Lutheran university may be slipping completely away. And that, my friends, is a great tragedy.
I am just old enough to remember when attendance was taken at chapel and chapel was the pivot on which the whole college day balanced. The liturgy was pathetic or completely missing, the homiletical art was uneven, but the pipe organ and the hymns kept our Lutheran identity present (that, and an occasional sung Matins!). It was not perfect but these schools were a whole lot more Lutheran than they are today... and that is a tragedy of loss that we may not fully understand until the schools have completely slipped from our grasp.