At Divinity School, a non-Christian sect

“The Divinity School has a very open attitude to studying religion,” said Jay Ramesh DIV ’11, who also takes courses in the Religious Studies Department.
“The Divinity School has a very open attitude to studying religion,” said Jay Ramesh DIV ’11, who also takes courses in the Religious Studies Department. Photo by Sam Greenberg.

Like many first-year Yale Divinity School students, Elizabeth Bonney DIV ’12 has been studying Christianity this semester, taking courses such as “Introduction to Pastoral Care” and “Christian Old Testament Interpretation.” But unlike 97 percent of her peers, Bonney does not consider herself Christian.

According to Divinity School records, Bonney is one of nine non-Christian students who are currently studying at the Divinity School, which, while not an ordaining seminary, is still a Christian institution. The small minority of non-Christian students at the school said they are invested in the academic experience Yale offers but that they sometimes find themselves detached from the rest of the Christian student body of about 400 students.

Ramesh, an agnostic from a Hindu background, said he came to the Divinity School to further his study of religion.
Ramesh, an agnostic from a Hindu background, said he came to the Divinity School to further his study of religion.

Bonney is unique even among the Divinity School’s non-Christian students because she was raised in a Presbyterian family.

“I came here knowing I was interested in learning more about Judaism, but I was not necessarily convinced that I would be converting,” she said of her choice to study at Yale. In her first year here, after taking classes at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, Bonney decided to convert to Judaism.

Most non-Christians choose to follow the Divinity School’s Master of Arts in Religion track, which provides a mainly academic study of religion and Christianity, Associate Dean of Students Dale Peterson said. Bonney, however, is in the program designed for those entering the ministry, the Master of Divinity track, which supplements academic courses with training for religious leadership and preaching skills. She said she applied to divinity schools because she intended to become some type of religious leader; the skills she learns here could be applied to being a Jewish leader as well, she said.

“I figured I liked studying religion, and these extra classes could never hurt,” she said.


Ever since the first recorded Jewish student attended the school in 1956, the Divinity School has become progressively more religiously diverse, even though until 1968 the school’s bulletin said only Christians could be admitted. The Jewish student was admitted anyway because the policy was not universally enforced, Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge said, noting that the school now accepts non-Christians on a regular basis.

“Students who come from other faith traditions bring perspectives to the discussion of theological issues that can enrich the conversation and thereby enhance the ability of the school to prepare religious leaders for the future,” he said.

Jay Ramesh DIV ’11, an agnostic from a Hindu background, said he came to the Divinity School to further his study of religion, which is his passion.

“The Divinity School has a very open attitude to studying religion,” Ramesh said. As a student, he said he enjoys being able to take some of his courses in Yale’s Religious Studies Department, which he said was part of what attracted him to study here.

Like other students interviewed, Ramesh said everyone at the Divinity School has been accepting of his religious background.

The main challenge students like Ramesh face is not quite fitting in to the Christian fabric of the school, which touches many aspects of student life.

“For some people, until they step foot on campus, they don’t realize how pervasive that [Christian focus] is,” Peterson said. “Part of the challenge is that so much of community life focuses on worship and Christian events.”

Rachel Schon DIV ’11, a student of religion and English who is Jewish, said she came to Yale for its academic offerings. But occasionally, she said, students’ focus on their personal faith can interfere with the academics in her classes.

Schon lives in Davenport College as a residential graduate affiliate, and she said Davenport and the Slifka Center serve as her main communities on campus.

“I only go up there for classes,” she said of the Divinity School. “I don’t hang out there much otherwise.”


Many non-Christian students spend more of their time amid the looming Gothic towers of Yale’s main campus rather than the Georgian Divinity School facilities on Science Hill, where they take classes in other departments, said Anna Ramirez DIV ’93, associate dean of admissions and financial aid at the Divinity School. She added that these students tend to live off campus and are thus less a part of the tight-knit Christian community.

Even as a Catholic, Ramirez said that when she was a student, she sometimes found it challenging to be in such an overwhelmingly Protestant institution.

Bonney said that even though she is in the process of converting to Judaism, she has made an effort to stay closely tied to the Divinity School community, to the point that she still goes to optional morning Christian chapel services. She added that coming from a Christian background makes it easier for her to be part of that community.

In an attempt to create a community precisely for those who do not fit into the school’s Christian community, in 2006 Matt Riley DIV ’08, who described himself as being an atheist at the time, founded the group “Left Behind,” which hosts meetings and other education and dialogue events for Christian and non-Christian students. The group also started a talent show, “Divinity School Idol,” which Riley said shows a commitment to contribute to the broader Divinity School community.

“The Divinity School community immediately accepted us for who we were and recognized that we were a vital part of the community and that we had something positive to contribute,” he said.

Anthony Kesler DIV ’11 splits his time between the Divinity School, the Slifka Center and the Graduate School, where he takes classes related to the Near East. Kesler, who prays at the Orthodox services at the Slifka Center, said he was drawn to the Yale Divinity School partially because the University as a whole has a relatively strong Jewish community. Having graduated from Linfield College and Williamette University, both schools in Oregon with very few Jewish students, Kesler said coming to Yale allowed him to connect with a much larger Jewish community. He is interested in pursuing Near Eastern studies, which he said fits well with the Biblical concentration at the Divinity School.

Kesler said he appreciates that within Divinity School classes, the school takes an academic approach to studying religion.

“It’s a good community,” he said. “Most of the folks here are open to wrestle with new ideas.”


Alex Souto DIV ’12, who identifies with Christianity and Buddhism, said he thinks the school could still improve in terms of catering to students from non-Christian backgrounds. Souto, who has studied Kabala, a mystical branch of Judaism, and has observed Ramadan for four years, said he sees a multi-religious approach as necessary for training leaders of an increasingly global society.

He said the Divinity School must work harder to be open to a variety of theological approaches since students with more conservative theological views, or non-Christian views, might have difficulty expressing their viewpoints in class.

“There’s, at very least, tolerance [of other religious views] but not necessarily an understanding, not necessarily even a conscious effort, because it’s not what this institution is about,” Souto said. For instance, he said, sometimes others see his yoga, which he considers a serious religious practice, as a mere exercise routine.

Over the past five years, however, Peterson, the dean of students, said he has noticed the school becoming increasingly diverse.

But despite increasing diversity, Souto said he thinks the school would benefit from encouraging even more students from a variety of faith backgrounds to enroll.

“Having more students from other traditions would enlighten the understanding of Christianity,” he said.

Ramesh said the school can serve as a space in which non-Christian religious practices and beliefs can be explored.

“Our efforts to understand better the relations between Christian and other faith traditions may well also attract some students from those faith traditions interested in interfaith dialogue,” Attridge added.

The Divinity School was founded in 1822 when the Yale College curriculum was deemed insufficient for preparing church leaders.


  • *sigh*

    Bonney wasn’t Christian and didn’t know if she was going to convert to Judaism upon entry, but she just knew she wanted to be “some kind of religious leader?” Ideally (money grubbing televangelists aside) religious leaders feel called by God…not a vague, “what color is your parachute” plus “I deserve to be a leader” = “I want to be some kind of religious leader!”

    If you can’t even narrow it down to rabbi, minister, or nun, maybe the “call” is an immature one based on selfish desires. Too many of the lousy “religious leaders” (established or div students) I’ve met are in it for the wrong reason: the desire to be the obligatory center of attention in an atmosphere much less competitive than that for business leaders, lawyers, doctors, professors, etc.

  • Yale 08

    This is BRILLIANT satire!

    You guys nailed the Div School!

    I bet they are so embarassed over this!

  • @*sigh*

    One word: “Yale”

    Yale whores out its brand to any M.Div with the shekels.

  • Yale 08

    I first read this title as:

    “Yale Divinity School = a non-Christian sect”

    It certainly is!

    Shut that monstrosity down.

  • @Sigh

    The sophomoric comments made by the readers of the YDN never cease to amaze me. If Miss Bonney were interested solely in the religious spotlight, she could have joined one of several Christian denominations that do not require ordination to lead a church. Instead, she has committed herself to a rigorous course of study, and in the process, refined her understanding of her own faith. I would think her dedication and passion would make her uniquely qualified to lead any congregation that was lucky enough to have her (whether it be Christian or Jewish). A strong belief in God does not always accompany a strictly defined religious affiliation, much as an affiliation with Yale does not always signal a discerning mind (a point your comment has illustrated beautifully).

    Much in the same way that intelligence is

  • Recent Alum

    Wait, non-Christians are a *minority* at the Div School?

  • Yale 08

    “a rigorous course of study”


    Yale Divinity is a joke.

  • @7 and 4

    @7 All the Div students I’ve met knew how to read ancient Greek and Hebrew, which isn’t terribly practical in many other fields but still evidence of studying. They also are well versed in the historical context of the bible, something that is lacking in a lot of other religious leaders.

    @4 The ministers coming out of Yale Divinity are more liberal than ones from anywhere else. Do you really want to shut it down and let the non-ordained mega church preachers take over?

  • @#8

    “The ministers coming out of Yale Divinity are more liberal than ones from anywhere else. Do you really want to shut it down and let the non-ordained mega church preachers take over?”

    And there, friends, is an example of the rhetorical technique we call “a false dichotomy.”

  • YDS-Student

    Most non-Christian students at the Div School are M.A.R students preparing for Ph.D work. This is the primary purpose of the M.A.R program regardless of one’s religious affiliation. If anything it goes to show the strength of our program that non-Christians would select a Christian school over say a secular M.A in religious studies elsewhere. Bonney is the only exception I’ve personally heard of (though there is no strict rule saying M.Div students must be Christian, it is a ministry degree and without Christian ordination one is essentially forging their own career path from it).

    While I personally think #1’s words are true insofar as one should have a clear idea of where they are headed before studying for any professional degree, whether it be Div, Law, Med, etc. It also seems harsh to judge her (or the entire school for that matter) based on a change in religious identity. I changed denominations recently, and while the divide between Pastor and Priest is not nearly as large as that between either of those two and being a Rabbi, the point is that Bonney, and all of us, must serve in the place we think God is leading us to.

    I’ve come across Yale 08 before and as usual he basically offers nothing constructive here. I’ve asked him what his basis for evaluating theological education is, seeing as he is apparently an 08′ alum of the very secular UG college and presumably has no formal theological training. Likewise I’ve asked what his personal experience with YDS has been, whether he has taken classes there or attended Marquand Chapel. As of yet he has continued to respond with empty ranting. As such, I think from here on in unless he decides to provide a real argument for his feelings about the school based either in logic or experience, it would be best if we did not feed the troll.

  • Yale 08

    If you think YDS provides theological training, I have some Lehman Brothers stock to sell you…

    The religion of YDS is no different than the platform of the Democratic Party.

  • Not Blind Anymore

    Divinity school trains persons Jesus described as being blind. They leave the school and tries to lead other blind people. It is the classic case of the blind leading the blind. The Divinity school must get back to the truth of the teachings of Jesus so that the blind could see again.

  • The can read Greek and Hebrew?

    @#8, you are very generous in characterizing their reading and studying.

    If you join a language class with these people, you’ll see that they tend to aim low. So often I heard them moan “Why do we need to learn vocabulary and grammar?” and “Can’t we work on something more relevant like the Dead Sea Scrolls?”

    The exceptions were great but disappointingly rare.

  • YDS-Student

    @12 “Divinity school trains persons Jesus described as being blind.”
    Every Theological school has some of these. Just as every professional school puts out a few bad lawyers, doctors, etc.

    “The Divinity school must get back to the truth of the teachings of Jesus so that the blind could see again.”
    Yes, Because there isn’t any disagreement between the 20,000+ denominations about what constitutes “The truth of the teachings of Jesus”. It is as simple as you say.

    @13 Flat out falsehood. Comparing my UG languages courses to Div, Div is much more demanding. Have not heard any complaining either.

  • @#5

    “The sophomoric comments made by the readers of the YDN never cease to amaze me. If Miss Bonney were interested solely in the religious spotlight, she could have joined one of several Christian denominations that do not require ordination to lead a church.”

    I doubt Miss Bonney is interested in leading a charismatic/Pentacostal, storefront, and/or traditionally African American congregation, but thanks for playing.

  • @#15

    Clearly you haven’t heard of the Baptists? Unless you meant to imply that all of the estimated 33,830,000 followers were part of “traditionally African American congregations.”

  • #16

    Yeah, but it’s rare these days, and anyway, the Baptists set the bar really high in terms of, you know, believing in Jesus and having been saved by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ….they’re no Unitarians. And the woman in question doesn’t sound like she believed Christ is any more divine than the flying spaghetti monster on entry, which means she probably knows the Baptists wouldn’t be putting her up in a pulpit anytime soon to share her vague “religious leadership.”

  • @ #16

    …also, I’ve met close to 20 Baptist ministers in the last 5 years (white, African American, Hispanic)…and not a one of them from a large mainstream congregation didn’t go to seminary. (They’re all under 50 years of age, with congregation sizes in the hundred plus range.) Good work on the ad hominem argument though.

  • @18

    I wouldn’t try to use words you don’t understand, especially when they apply so well to your own posts. It undermines your credibility. Of course, in the eyes of this Baptist pastor, your argument didn’t have much to begin with.

  • @15

    …what you saying, bro?

  • anon

    “Alex Souto DIV ’12, who identifies with Christianity and Buddhism, said he thinks the school could still improve in terms of catering to students from non-Christian backgrounds.”

    Catering to students.

  • Yale 08


    During serious religious discussion, “don’t feed the troll” often refers to the YDS student hiding in the corner yelling about eco-theology or neo-paganism.

  • Alum

    I haven’t bothered with all the nonsense of many of these comments, but see that the usual self-satisfied posters “Yale 08″ and Hieronymus (what Jerome usually calls himself rather than his condescending “Sigh”) are at it again. If the OCD covers the Divinity School and other subjects that touch their hot buttons, you can be certain their invective will follow. I’ve never seen anything from them that indicates they have any knowledge to go along with their opinions. Give it a rest.

  • Recent Alum

    #23: Are you now trying to “out” YDN commenters as a way to pressure them not to express their views online? Why was this comment accepted? Leftists will never cease to amaze me in how low they will go to silence those they disagree with.

  • heh

    And the third member of the Cranky Conservative Troika shows up at last.

  • Recent Alum

    heh, if you are referring to me, I am really more of a centrist with some rightward leanings than a conservative.

  • Pasta Keane

    THis saddens me

  • Scientist, not Theologist

    I’m a scientist and an atheist, but I don’t understand why this is poses problems for others. What I do know is that any God is an intangible and no single religion seems to have pinned down the concept in a way that is confirmed even to them. Scientists used to be paid to try to understand the mind and will of God. Why wouldn’t you want someone who is supposed to guide others to explore the complete breadth of possible information?
    I was raised in a conservative congregation and even I know that claiming to know and enforce the mind and will of God is the ultimate heresy. Who are you to tell people what to study on their quest to understand (and help others to understand) God?

  • LawSchoolWidow

    I happen to know Elizabeth Bonney, and I know she feels whatever one might describe as a “calling” to be a spiritual leader. As someone already pointed out, a spiritual calling is not one and the same as a religious orientation. Indeed, spirituality is the sensual experience of belief, whereas religion is the practice and laws of a given set of people. Bonney is spiritual and on a path to figure out how to be religious. She chose the chosen (a smart move, in my book, but I’m perhaps biased), and I don’t think you can disparage her for this at all.

    Think of it this way: YDS is to Yale College as Union Theo is to Columbia A+S: technically part of the same university, might as well be in different universes.


    Hey! Hey! I want to be included in the cranky conservative troika too!

  • alas

    But then it wouldn’t be a troika.

    Also, you (and FailBoat too, I think) don’t really post enough to make it in. Sorry. Hiero, Yale 08, and Recent Alum are very reliable reactionaries.

    Then again, Hiero is slacking as of late, so you might have a chance…

  • Yale 08

    Only something living can fight against the current.

    Dead wood floats down stream.

  • Pierson 01

    Yale ’08, I don’t see why you’re so negative. Do you believe it’s the mission or should be the mission of the Yale Divinity School to promote your own religious views? Are you a student at YDS or a faculty member or administrator?

    No? Then why do you care?

    I agree that going to Div School to be a religious leader without a strong religious conviction or sense of vocation is puzzling, but why does her decision affect you? Do you feel that YDS should be simply a Trinitarian, conservative seminary without any sort of nonsectarian religious studies program? Why do you feel you get to make the call?

  • Yale 08

    Unless Yale commits to “making the call” then there is no reason for YDS to exist!

  • YDS-Student

    @ Yale 08

    If Yale made the call, it would do so in YDS’ favor. Seriously, have you looked at the undergraduate culture? Do you think Yale U would tolerate YDS if it was Christian in the traditional sense, If it had conservative seminarians who were all 100% dedicated to pastoral work coming down the hill to attempt the change the social and cultural trajectory of Yale College or the other schools? The school’s orientation as a liberal and pro-skeptic place is necessary for it to remain in harmony with the rest of yale. Because every other school is liberal and religiously pro-skptic as well. I say this as a conservative and pro-tradition Christian.

  • Yale 08

    A Div School divorced from traditional Christianity has no reason to exist.

    It can just as easily join the Religious Studies department.

  • Pierson 01

    @Yale 08

    You know, you post on here about how YDS displeases you because it doesn’t focus on hardcore conservative evangelical theology to the exclusion of viewpoints you consider deficient. You then post on an article about Slifka hiring a female rabbi, ridiculing the very notion of a rabbi who lacks certain bits of anatomy. Are you Christian? Are you Jewish? You’re certainly not both. So in at least one case, you post merely to express your disdain that people exist who are not like you: conservative, reactionary, sexist, and hidebound in your refusal to consider views that don’t accord with your ideology. Seriously, you should consider a hobby that doesn’t involve being obnoxious and intellectually dishonest.

  • Yale 08

    Questioning the mission of the YDS and the legitimacy of a female rabbi makes me “conservative, reactionary, sexist, and hidebound in my refusal to consider views that don’t accord with my ideology”?

    I love Yale. Questioning liberal beliefs is the only sin on this campus.

  • y09

    Actually, that is an interesting question. You said elsewhere that you don’t consider non-Orthodox Judaism to be valid , and you don’t seem to think non-conservative Christianity is either. Are you some sort of pan-religious conservative?

    And yeah, you do come off as highly reactionary and sexist; this has been pointed out before.

  • Yale 08

    There is nothing reactionary about suggesting that humanity is not on a constant march toward progress.

    Nor is there anything sexist about suggesting that a woman cannot be a priest or rabbi any more than a man cannot be a mother.

    Reality is not optional. Truth is not relative.

  • y09

    A man cannot be a mother because men do not have the biological capacity to gestate offspring. Biological capacity is not at issue for a woman being a priest or a rabbi. Please, try again.

  • Yale 08

    “Biological capacity is not at issue for a woman being a priest or a rabbi.”

    What is your definition of a priest or rabbi?

    Catholics cannot ordain women to the priesthood. The form of Holy Orders requires a male.

    Orthodox Jews, bound by the Masorah, cannot ordain a woman.

    This isn’t preference or choice, but ontology. These are transient options but the foundational truths upon which religions are built.

    I never would expect YDS kids to understand that.

    Some things are not subject to majority vote.

  • y09

    Priest: “a clergyman in Christian churches who has the authority to perform or administer various religious rites”

    Rabbi: “spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation; qualified to expound and apply Jewish law”

    So, what is your definition of biological capacity? Are you seriously arguing that the chromosomal makeup of a person makes them fit or unfit for being a priest? If someone has male features but two X chromosomes, can they be a priest/rabbi under your rules? How about XXY? What if they’re XY but have feminine features?

    And pre-emptively: do you have any scriptural basis for arguing whatever position you’re advocating?

    Also, not all Christians are Catholics, so…or are going to make the same argument there that you did for Jews?

  • Yale 08

    For Orthodox Jews and the majority of Christians, maleness is a priori for being ordained.

    The ability to perform certain religious tasks does not equate to fitness for ordination.

    Rabbi and priest are not simply jobs for which to be interviewed.

    We don’t make the rules. We receive them.

  • y09

    Nice job not answering any of the questions I posed.

    Yes, yes, they’re vocations. I know. But you’re saying that not everyone who feels a call to serve God through the priesthood should be allowed to, simply because of their sex. This is sexist because it discriminates on the basis of sex. And by denying women an authoritative position within the religion solely due to their sex and not their character/intelligence/any other attribute, it’s also misogynistic.

    And actually, we *do* make the rules. We may justify them through appeal to divinity or divine texts or whatnot, but ultimately the configurations of religious institutions is a human creation. And that includes the priestly class.

    I don’t know why I’m arguing with you; I have no expectation that you’re going to change your mind and suddenly see the light or something. Oh well.

  • Yale 08

    I hate the smell of relativism in the afternoon.

    Our feelings are irrelevant.

    If you are Christian or Jewish, you believe in certain Truth. That Truth has consequences.

    We might not like it, but we cannot change it. As contingent beings, we aren’t in a position to change reality.

  • Yale 2010

    @ y09,

    I’m Catholic. We believe that God is real. He sent his Son to earth to suffer and die and rise for our sins. He established a Church, which has received a great tradition of Truths. The Church is also granted specific and limited authority from God.

    Among these is the ordination of priests and bishops in the sacrament of Holy Orders. Since the priest stands as another Christ and Christ was a man, and Christ never ordained women; we cannot ordain women.

    As men are priests, women are mothers.

    It’s pretty simple.

    Obviously, if you reject the authority of the Catholic Church, you will not understand. But it’s not sexist.

  • Pierson 01

    @Yale 08

    See, here’s what I’m not getting. Yes, I understand that Catholicism does not ordain female priests, and that female priests and pastors are controversial in some Protestant groups. Yes, I understand that the “Orthodox” authorities do not consider women to be candidates for the rabbinate. I get that.

    Most Jews in the United States are not Orthodox. Many Christian in the United States are not Catholic or conservative Protestant. Your opinion seems to be that non-Orthodox Jews and non-conservative Christians are not entitled to worship as they see fit, and believe as they will. It’s especially bewildering because you seem to claim that Orthodox schools of Judaism and certain traditional Christian denominations hold superior claims to Truth, at the same time, whereas Jews clearly don’t consider Christian theology to be correct, and Christians clearly don’t consider Jewish theology to be correct. What is it about Orthodox (which is a title) Judaism and certain strains of Christianity that make them co-equal and superior to other brands? The only thing I can deduce is that the brands you don’t like treat women as equal to men, allow for diversity in thought, and probably do other things that gall you, like avoiding a fixation on sexual issues. Seems to me that it’s just tied in with reactionary, cultural conservative views, and that you don’t have a stake in the fight.

    Note also that the prohibitions against female rabbis and priests and pastors are not spelled out in the Torah or in the Gospels. They are the determinations of scholarly men who died a long time ago in communities far different from our own. Those men should be respected, but their word is not God’s word.

  • Recent Alum

    Pierson ’01: The leadership of the Catholic Church in the 21st centuryt is liberal across the board on fiscal issues and foreign policy issues, as well as on immigration policy, the death penalty, affirmative action, etc. Now, of course that isn’t good enough for the NYT to stop bashing them — the media will not be fair to the Church as long as it doesn’t endorse every single political position of the Left, including abortion and homosexuality — but it seems to be a bit much on your part to accuse Yale ’08 of being a right-wing political hack for taking Catholic theology more seriously than whatever is being taught at the Div School these days.

  • Get A clue

    Actually Christ did ordain a woman, the woman at the well. When he told her to go and spread the news of what she had learned, she became the first evangelist. That would be enough in any baptist church. Religion is a human institution that points towards a infinite truth. Human beings wrote the Bible, the Koran, the Torah etc… And with it they brought their own bias and issues. These people were men, so of course they wanted to keep women out. Thinking that the Bible was written by possessed zombies is foolishness to say the least and Bibliology- or biblical idology at the worst.

  • Yale student

    “entitled to worship as they see fit, and believe as they will…”

    We don’t get to decide. God decides. We receive His Truth.

  • Answering a “calling”

    I hate to say this, but it seems to me (and I have been the target of their sarcasm) that Hieronymus, Yale ’08, and Roflcopter are answering a “calling” just as a
    “minsiter” has a calling: theirs is, as Father Mapple says of Jonah in Moby Dick, “to speak truth to the face of falsehood ,though it be plucked out from under the robes of senators or judges” [or, I might add, “divines”.]

    Look at the enormous amount of psychic energy Yale ’08, for instance, has put into these 51 postings.

    You may disagree with him/her,and dislike his t/her taunts, but the impulse behind that consistent critique is a “calling” and should be respected as such, just as the young evangelist from Cheshire wearing an end-of-the-world sandwich-board who taunted and was taunted by Yale students in Beinecke Plaza first semester, was answering “a calling.”

    Note: fifty-one (now 52) posts is a large number for an article about an institution some call “irrelevant”.

    You have to honor the commitment of a great university to protect “ministry” (even non-traditonal Father Mapple kind of Jonah-minsitry) in a secular society run amock on on hedonism, materialism, and nihilism and to hone “minsitry” it with academic and theological “training”.

    As I write, those three forces (hedonism, materialism, and nihilism) are symbolically washing ashore in the Gulf Coast,in a tangled web of godless goo like an apoclyptic preview from Revelations.

    M.Div. ’80

  • Polytheism masquerading as monotheism


    God decides? Which God?

    This is the Protestant/Catholic conundrum. Does truth come from the priesthood of all believers or the Chief of all Priests?

    Add democracy to the mix of the Protestant Reformation and you get America’s fleet of Jesuses, from Jesus the gay-hater to Jesus the Prosperity Pusher: Polytheism masquerading as monotheism.

    It all depends on whether you want to be enslaved to a dogma/bureaucracy or emancipated to the boundaries of your own (Emersonian) mind.

    One of the values of a YDS education is that you can identify these distinctions and ignore the glib platitudes and pontifications of the “god decides” group.