This post revolves around Huntington University’s theme for the 2007–08 academic year. For information regarding it see: their theme website, coverage on a United Brethren news site (hideous site by the way), and, for more discussion, the Assistant Director of Campus Ministries’ blog. For those on Facebook and/or at Huntington, this post was duplicated for a group here.
This discussion of Christ-centeredness is pretty silly, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, the origin and nature of this campaign is far from “Christ-centered”. This idea has been floating around for a while, with certain influential people at Huntington being interested in pushing it through to be realized. Since finding out that the CCCU is going to formally promote this Christ-centered theme next year, Huntington has jumped the gun and is doing it now. Some would say this is being done in order to appear to be an example, to be set ahead of other Christian colleges in the CCCU. Of course, seeking recognition for being “Christ-centered” sort of fails right away, doesn’t it?
But let’s assume that the origin of this campaign isn’t enough to discount it, particularly due to some degree of speculation involved in the above paragraph. Okay, I can accept that. But, so far, this idea of “Christ-centeredness” has been foggy at best. If one were to sit in on a faculty meeting, one might see many different understandings of this concept, as well as a frustration that it is being pursued without much forethought and before a solid idea of what it means can be conceived and agreed upon.
But even if the origin of this program is more than it appears, and even if the concept is lacking any consensus on Campus, maybe it is still worthwhile. After all, couldn’t something created with less than admirable intentions and managed improperly still do good things?
At this point, I fail to see what extra meaning can be gained from the concept of “Christ-centeredness” in light of the word we already have: Christian. I’m drawn to asking why we feel we need another word, another descriptor, and even what meaning we feel has been lost from the original word that makes us look for another. The cynical side of me says that, in Christ-centeredness, we are creating only another category with which to separate Christians from one another. That side says that we shouldn’t attempt to make ourselves seem even more Christian than Christian by creating yet another level with an ultimately ambiguous meaning. That cynical side of me can be pretty loud.
But perhaps the cynical side of me should shut up. Maybe Christ-centeredness holds some kernel of meaning which makes it worthy of being the year’s “focus”. Perhaps there is some significance in a Christian college proclaiming itself to have Christ at the center.
I can’t think of anything significant about it.
In Closing, For the Moment
I would argue that this program is an example, one of many aimless, vacuous programs and efforts that have taken place at Huntington during my time here and are indicative of even larger problems I’m probably not qualified to talk about. I would also argue that while good things may come of these efforts and subsequent events at Huntington, they will happen in spite of, not because of, the program itself.
Personally, I expect little when it comes to new ideas and directives at Huntington. Maybe I am only jaded (Sanders, chapels, and ridiculous billboards—Personalized to U, seriously?) and should be more optimistic, but they aren’t giving me much to work with. Christ-centered? Okay, I’ll use your words. But for me, Christ-centeredness involves academic excellence: you know, that silly thing we strive for in between chapels and weekend getaways. Rather than explore this thing called Christianity (we’ll use my word now) in what will probably be (speculation) a relatively fruitless effort and long winded day, I would love to have the time in the classes which are the reason I pay Huntington all the money in the first place.
I think that it is possible that the symposium could have beneficial effects…the only problem is that any good that could come of the symposium wouldn’t be all that great. One thing’s for sure, I definitely don’t see a serious definition coming out of it. Defining it would be “Like nailing jello to a tree” I think is the saying. Talking about Christ-Centeredness might give some sort of insight though, but it’s not going to be worth getting out of bed on a day off.
Furthermore, “Christ-Centered” is just a recruiting phrase we use to say that we are not only a Christian college, but that we are more Christian than those other colleges that don’t really mean it. Just getting rid of the phrase might do us some good.