As is my custom, I’ve been reviewing academic catalogs and admissions literature from a great many theological schools across the United States, which is, generally speaking, a most pleasant endeavor. Every so often, however, I encounter one thing or another that makes my blissful stroll through these printed materials come to a screeching halt. So grandiose are these derailers that I decided to officially proclaim awards to the chiefest of them, and thus to share them with all of you, my gentle snowflakes. Enjoy!
The Award to the Most Asinine Name for a Course goes to the Moravian Theological Seminary (Bethlehem, PA) for their course SEBO 943: Baby Can You Dig It? Archaeology and the Hebrew Bible (also here). Surely no further comment is needed. No, wait, let me say this: how do you suppose that looks in a transcript? Better not be planning to go on to grad school! Which is odd, because this is exactly the type of course that someone wanting to go on to, say, doctoral study in Old Testament would want to take. Oh, but maybe whoever named this course believes the OT teaching market to be tragically saturated, and is doing all they can to save poor, unsuspecting seminarians from a life of misery by ruining their chances of getting into Harvard. Sigh. Such admirable commitment to student welfare!
The Award to the Most Pathetic Promotional Piece goes to Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI) for their Ever Wonder What People Think of You? brochure. Well, do you? “We did,” say they, “so we asked! Here’s what he heard…” There follow 10 blurbs about the seminary, 8 of which were written by faculty members. Maybe it’s just me, but I had the impression that asking others what they think of you means asking, well, not yourself, but other people (who, again, are not you). Unless the “we” in question is the Admissions Office as opposed to the Seminary as a whole, in which case each of these well-credentialed Faculty failed to actually answer the question. (Which is entirely possible, given that they all hold earned doctorates.)
The Award to the Course Name Most Likely to Cause a Double-take goes to Drew University Theological School (Madison, NJ) for their course BIBST 178 [EDIT: now BBST 678] The Literature of the Emerging Church. This course, listed under “Advanced Courses on New Testament and Early Christianity,” is actually a “historical and theological study” of the Pauline Epistles considered “deutero” by some (like whoever wrote this course description), the Pastoral Epistles (which apparently are not even deutero-Pauline!), Hebrews, Revelation, and the Apostolic Fathers. To most readers acquainted at any level with current developments in Evangelicalism, however, the name is more likely to suggest that the writings of Brian McLaren and Rob Bell will be the subject of an advanced class in Biblical studies (!!!)―and Google agrees.
And of course, I have already announced the Award to the Most Absurdly Po/Mo Theological School in the World.