Friday, August 24, 2007

Current Events and My Thoughts

You most likely have heard the news. However, I apparently have been living in hole. It has been on Fox News and the Today Show...I have seen none of the footage. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced a new concentration at the College at Southwestern, its undergraduate program. It is a homemaking concentration in the Bachelor of Arts in Humanities degree.

The College at Southwestern began in 2005. (The seminary itself began in 1905.) It only offers two degrees- Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. There are four concentrations in the BA in Humanities including history of ideas, education, homemaking, and music. There are three concentration in BA of Music- worship, performance, and composition.

There are several names that continue to be brought up in this "controversial" program. Dr. Paige Patterson, Dr. Dorothy Patterson, and Dr. Terri Stovall. Dr. Paige Patterson is the President of SWBTS and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been known to be center of other controversies in the past. I only had a couple of run ins with him while on campus. He is nice guy, and I think he means well. He is just one of those men that says what he believes and makes no apologies for it. His wife, Dr. Dorothy Patterson, I never really knew while in school. However, my seminary roommate did get to know here since she was int he women's ministry concentration.

Dr. Stovall is now the Dean of Women's Programs, but when I was at SWBTS she was a professor in the School of Education. I did have her in class and my roommate had her for several classes. I came to admire and respect her. She was fair. She was open with her students. And to be honest, she had this coolness to her as well. How many other professors claimed to be roller coaster fanatics, drive a red Corvette, or a Harley? From what I understand she has been seen on both Fox News and The Today Show.

First, I would like to point out this is one concentration. Not every woman who enrolls at The College at Southwestern has to choose the homemaking concentration. It is just an option.

Secondly, lots of colleges offer home economic classes or degrees. Mississippi College offered a degree in General Family and Consumer Sciences when I was there. I feel pretty confident that other schools have similar programs. (Apparently this program was modeled after one in California.)

Lastly (and I could go on, but will refrain), I trust Dr. Stovall. This isn't a degree that degrades women. Neither she or the rest of the staff believe women are incapable of learning. She does believe that a woman's first priority should be her home and family, which she says in the Fox article. Women who choose this concentration are still going to take theology courses, education courses, Greek, isn't some Mrs. Degree.

I don't think we should be asking whether or not a seminary/college should offer such a concentration. I think the better question is why is a seminary having to do this. Why are they having to teach the biblical roles of the family? Why are they having to go to college to learn to cook and sew? Why aren't they learning some of this in the home. I think that schools and universities are having to pick up the slack for what is not being taught in the home.

I know it seems odd for a single woman to be commenting on such things. That's okay with me. A lot of the critiques are saying that a concentration like this one is telling women they have no value. That there only role is to be Suzy Homemaker and Mommy. What is wrong with that? That is a very hard and noble job. It is one that the world doesn't value any more, but no price can be placed on it. I know many women who feel that this is their calling, and they are doing incredible jobs being a helpmate to their husband and raising godly children. It is a job that someday I hope to have.

I am not endorsing any of these articles. I just thought it would be nice to provide additional information:
Southwestern's Press Release
Baptist Press
Fox News
The Today Show


MLM said...

Some critics of it wonder why the school doesn't offer the classes for free, since homemakers who don't hold other jobs won't be able to pay back the student loans they got to cover tuition! :o)

My question is this: The description for the concentration says:

“Preparing women to model the characteristics of a Godly woman as outlined in Scripture. This is done through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family while continuing to equip women to understand and engage the culture of today. It is unique in that we recognize the need to challenge women both intellectually and practically. It is our mission to equip a woman to impact women and families for Christ.”

It's that first sentence that bothers me. It implies that a woman must be a wife and mother (and homemaker) in order to be a godly woman. I disagree and I think the Bible does too. I'd prefer it to say: "Preparing women to model the characteristics of a Godly *wife and mother* as outlined in Scripture." (And even that could be up for debate given all the roles that godly women in the Bible filled...roles *other* than homemaker.)

Anonymous said...

Mom and I were discussing this at lunch today. One of her ideas was that it helps prepare women whose husbands are at seminary and preparing to become missionaries since many times it's sewing circles, cooking, kids, etc. that help them have common ground with those they are trying to reach. If they didn't know how to do them, on what common ground would they build relationships?


Anonymous said...

I like your point about the failure of families to train children in proper biblical manhood and womanhood. I read in a homeschooling book that public schools started teaching home ec and shop because families were no longer doing that.

No doubt that the seminary will do a good job at training these women who will set the example.

Equally important is that the seminary begin training the men in proper manly behavior. Paige Patterson recently instructed his male students in how they should behave if a gunman attacks their school.

Men need to know how to use tools and fix cars. They need to be taught how to put family first and work second. It does no good to preach a biblically inerrant sermon if you are not practicing biblical manhood.

SWBTS and all schools that train men for ministry need to offer shop.

Jane said...

mlm- SWBTS actually has an amazing scholarship program. ;)

I see your point about the wording of the description. Obviously I am not on who thinks all women must be a wife and mother...if I was I am doing pretty poorly and fulfilling that role myself. However, I don't think that is what they meant to imply. Of course that is just my opinion...but at the same time I don't want to jump to any conclusions. I think though that being a wife and mother is one of the toughest jobs any woman can take on. (I would think you would agree!) Even thought I am not a wife or mother, dinner still has to be cooked, the laundry done, and occasionally that button does fall off and needs to be sewn back on! :-)

Michelle- I think you are on to something as well. I don't the percentage of graduates who go there and then head overseas, but I would assume it is a large chunk. Obviously not everyone actually follows all the way through. Some people end of in FL, but that is a whole other story! :)

Anonymous- Welcome, I have no idea who you are, but thanks for stopping by. I think you made an excellent point as well. There should be equal opportunities for men and women. I would not be surprised if something like that happened at some point. One of the things that I enjoyed about SWBTS is their stance on biblical manhood and womanhood. I may not agree with everything they do, but they are not shy is encouraging men to men and women to be women. Where else can you find a giraffe head in the President's office?