The quote in the title of this post comes from Grant Kaplan’s piece “The Crisis in Catholic Theology” published last week at America. Here is a taste:
Today, although concern for the future of Catholic universities remains high, relatively little attention has been given to how the current crisis in Catholic theology endangers the viability of the institutions that house them. Revisiting these two articles not only sheds light on the current crisis, but also suggests that the issue cannot remain an intra-theological debate, but must be on the front burner for university administrators.
Instructors of theology, like almost all university educators, sense that something deeply troubling is afoot at the roughly 226 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States. The pandemic has increased the likelihood of an almost certain future: Dozens of our Catholic colleges and universities find themselves in financial peril, with some already shutting their doors and more on the brink of doing so. Cost-cutting measures have made reliance on adjunct professors and non-tenured faculty members the norm. Today’s students, often with a firm nudge from university marketers, increasingly choose a major in disciplines outside the humanities. As publications like the Chronicle of Higher Education remind us almost weekly, the humanities face continued marginalization despite increasing evidence of the broad civic and social harm that results from neglecting them.
These wider contextual elements present unfortunate consequences for theology in particular. Compared with the 1990s, fewer Catholic parents encourage their children to pursue Catholic higher education at all, let alone a theology major. With decreasing numbers of students majoring in the humanities, the discipline of theology struggles to find footing.
Read the rest here.
Most Christian colleges and universities–Catholic and Protestant–are abandoning a commitment to the humanities. The questions raised by these disciplines no longer have the power to shape a campus culture. I wrote about this at Insider Higher Ed back in 2016, but today the situation is worse.
COVID-19 destroyed the culture of our campuses and we need a robust humanities presence to rebuild it.
Race, politics, theology, and debates over COVID-19 have divided our churches and we need a robust Christian humanism to bring clarity, reconciliation, and healing.
We are living through what is probably the greatest threat to American democracy in my lifetime and colleges and universities–and the donors who fund them–are abandoning the humanities. Future historians will chronicle the consequences of these choices for the nation and the church.