Bob Jones University: Epicenter of Fundamentalism's Future?

"a controversy over the future of both Bob Jones University and fundamentalism is raging. That fight centers on the presidency of Steve Pettit. Will he stay or will he go? Part of the fight centers on this basic question: what, exactly, is fundamentalism?" - Joshua Valdez

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WallyMorris's picture

The author of this article has one point which underlies everything else he says: BJU must move from Fundamentalism to a broader, conservative Evangelicalism if the school is to stay open. Music, Alcohol, Clothing standards are, to him, irrelevant.

Some people try to argue that BJU has not changed. That is obviously false. The school has changed significantly over the last 15 years. Tolerance of Redaction Criticism and ETS membership by the Seminary faculty are two of those changes. Missionaries I know who return to BJU for a visit do not recognize their school any longer.

One point is accurate: The supporting base of the school is shrinking due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond BJU's control.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

If the article is correct, it sounds like a circular firing squad may be forming on the BJU board to give the school the Northland treatment.  I've got no easy solutions here, as I don't see either wing, the fundamentalists or the FBFI/cultural fundamentalists, backing down.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

“If the culture of the school or the church stays fixed and the culture of the world changes, then we become odd, we become weird in the world’s eyes,” Jones said. “I don’t think that is good.” Bob Jones Jr.

 

"The institution has emphasized its fundamental, evangelical doctrinal position and has refused to be drawn into controversy with any evangelical group or groups concerning certain interpretations of the Word of God that separate many of God’s orthodox people." (Emphasis Mine)

Bob Jones Sr. Founder of Bob Jones University

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

T Howard's picture

If BJU reverts back to "old-time fundamentalism" and consequently dies a slow death, what is gained?

If BJU continues down its present course of eschewing the baggage of cultural fundamentalism while maintaining fundamental doctrines, it will be seen as a downgrade and compromise by the cultural fundamentalists.

I guess it comes down to whether you prefer the school to close rather than "remove the ancient landmarks" of cultural fundamentalism.

TylerR's picture

Editor

A school must attract students. These students often come from alumni networks and connections. BJUs alumni largely comes from the old days--the Jones dynasty has not yet been out of power long enough. This means a school's legitimacy depends in large measure on whether it can credibly represent itself as "safe" to the network from whence its constituents come. Pettit has gone too far for some, and the alumni have spoken. The trustees are responding. The result will be predictable, but perhaps a surprise is in store.

See this story, repeated many times, in the excellent book Fundamentalist U: Keeping the Faith in Higher Education, by Adam Laats.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

WallyMorris's picture

Interesting that people label something "cultural" in order to get rid of it. That is the same argument some people use to ignore Biblical teaching on sexual morals and marriage, i.e. "Teaching on homosexuality only reflects the culture of their time. We must change to be relevant and survive." Consumption of alcoholic beverages is another issue which people label "cultural" in order to stigmatize those who teach abstention. One person's "cultural" is another person's "Biblical".

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Dave White's picture

Winner and Loser if BJU board dumps Pettit:

  • Loser = BJU. The Fall 2023 Freshman class will be decimated
  • Winner = Pettit. He had an effective ministry prior to BJU and can easily pick up on that. OR: pastor a large church!
dgszweda's picture

I can remembers going onto campus with my grandfather in the 1980's.  He was a preacher and a good friend of Dr. BJ Sr.   He said a that time the school had lost its way, had compromised and totally deviated from its roots.  We often look at our past, place a stake in the ground and use that as the basis of compromise.  There is no doubt that there have been a few missteps.  To be honest there were huge missteps under Jr. and the III.  In a lot of ways, the school has gotten tremedously healthier from a Christian point of view than it was in some past periods.  It has shed some of the baggage and chartered a path forward.  My prayer is that the school doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I pray that the Board works with Dr. Petit to chart a path forward, addressing concerns, but also looking to the future.  If they don't, I forsee the death of the institution.  Faculty will certinaly leave and so will the students.  The old guard view in the FBFI is rapidly dying out and there are no young people or churches willing to continue coming behind them to hold the ground.

I will say this.  This incident is the single biggest rallying cry from graduates that I have ever seen.  It is bringing the alumni together like nothing else.

G. N. Barkman's picture

BJU has taken on new life under Pettit's leadership.  The student body has grown, largely through an influx of alumni children.  Most alumni, it would seem, support change.  There is a much stronger Biblical emphasis than there was during the twelve years I was there.  I listen to a weekly radio broadcast of the BJU chapel platform, and am thrilled to hear solid, practical expository preaching week after week, with Steve Pettit leading the way.  Pettit is an excellent preacher, and the students are responding enthusiastically. 

Although I am grateful for the "old" BJU, which God used in my life, it included some weaknesses which needed to be addressed.  I'm convinced the "new" BJU is better.  Count me as a strong supporter of Pettit.  I will be very disappointed if he is removed.  I fear his dismissal will be the death of BJU.

G. N. Barkman

W. T. O'Harver's picture

Could somebody with intimate ties to the BJU community help me resolve the conflicting narratives about the University that I am hearing? When our Christian school had a BJU recruiter present in 2014 (the only time that has happened), he told the students that the University had "over 5,000 students" that year. I distinctly remember this figure because I was impressed that they were still able to secure such large numbers of students. Someone told me this year, however, that the school is now running between 2,500 and 3,000 students.

This forum over the past week has disputed such claims by talking about how the "balcony of the Amphitorium was roped off around 2007" but now the "University is alive and booming again." Such testimonies are the exact opposite of what I have heard from active alumni and BJU recruiters for the past eight years.

Naturally, only one of these narratives can be accurate. Which one is true? Why does the opposing narrative exist? What basis does it have in fact?

dgszweda's picture

W. T. O'Harver wrote:

Could somebody with intimate ties to the BJU community help me resolve the conflicting narratives about the University that I am hearing?

It was not 5,000 in 2014.  It hasn't been 5,000 in a while.  The attendance is under 3,000 right now.  I want to say about 2,800 if I remember correctly.  They broke about 3,100 a few years ago.  This year the freshman class was down a bunch, which brought the overall numbers down, but it isn't clear if this is just a blip or a trend.

AndyE's picture

It is this kind of article that really worries conservative fundamentalists like myself.  BJU has always had strict standards regarding separation music, dress, and other things.  I appreciate the position BJU staked out on those things.  The school was unique and molded me spiritually in a special way.  I will always thank the Lord for it.  I don’t want the school to become another Liberty, or Cedarville, or Masters, or Boyce, or what Northland became.  I haven’t appreciated many of the changes like some have, but I have still sent my kids there and the school has been good for them.  I think it is possible to forge a common ground that accepts many of the changes while also protecting against some of the missteps that have occurred recently.  I believe, although I have no special insider information, that that is what the board is working on now. It won’t be easy and will likely not satisfy everyone on either side, but hopefully it can be done.

If that is successful, I think the school should prioritize two things to help with ongoing student enrollment: (1) update the dorms and (2) figure out a way to keep tuition down.  The dorms are so dated now and I think they are a real drawback. Big opportunity there.  Tuition is out of control.  If you are in-state, I think you get a significant break, but for those out-of-state, the costs are nearly prohibitive unless you do very well on your ACT/SAT or both parents are working with good-paying jobs. 

T Howard's picture

Andy, isn't BJU Press still subsidizing student tuition?

While I was a student at PCC, the Hortons were able to keep tuition crazy low because of Abeka. I think tuition was $5,000 per year.  Now it's $13K per year, with your fourth year tuition free.

G. N. Barkman's picture

A recently received publication from BJU listed current enrollment as a little above 3,000.  Enrollment had been declining steadily before Steve Pettit was installed.  It had fallen well below 2,000.  Any reported figure of 5,000 must have included Bob Jones Academy, the BJU elementary and high school.  (I graduated from BJA in 1966.)  I don't think university on campus enrollment has ever been close to that number.  The Amphitorium seats around 7,500.  The only times I have seen it filled was during Bible Conference or Commencement services when hundreds of parents and other guests increased the number. 

About ten years ago, a Greenville pastor of a large church with many BJU faculty, students, and alumni in membership, told me he felt like he was watching the slowly sinking Titanic at BJU.  At that time, he did not believe it could be rescued.  Pettit's leadership has reversed the decline.  In my opinion, he should be thanked, not removed.

G. N. Barkman

AndyE's picture

T Howard wrote:

Andy, isn't BJU Press still subsidizing student tuition?

While I was a student at PCC, the Hortons were able to keep tuition crazy low because of Abeka. I think tuition was $5,000 per year.  Now it's $13K per year, with your fourth year tuition free.

I don't think BJU press ever subsidized tuition.  BJU room, board, and tuition is now $31k per year!  But, hey, we do get $750 knocked off per semester for being alumni. Smile

 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

AndyE wrote:

I think it is possible to forge a common ground that accepts many of the changes while also protecting against some of the missteps that have occurred recently.  I believe, although I have no special insider information, that that is what the board is working on now. It won’t be easy and will likely not satisfy everyone on either side, but hopefully it can be done.

I hope that's what they are doing as well.  I think most BJU alumni are on a spectrum between those who don't want to change anything at all or even believe the university has already changed too much (and has been dead for years -- note the comment above about the same thing being said in the 1980s)" and continuing on the current change path.

From previous discussion with you, I have appreciated a few more of the changes than you do, and less than some of the Steve Pettit disciples.  But I think most of the "don't change anything" types are close to passing off the scene, and most of the current alumni realize some changes need to be made.  The argument is over which.

There's always going to be disagreement over what is simply a cultural change (e.g. having to dress up for class or dinner) and what is significant (e.g. changes in doctrine and biblical stances) and everything in between those (e.g. what constitutes immodesty?).  Even when you and I attended, Andy, women no longer had to wear skirts long enough to cover the ankles, even though that was a significant change from early in the university's history.  I'm sure there were heated arguments over whether changing that resulted in immodesty or not.

Things had changed over the life of the university long before any of the current crop of alumni parents have had to wrestle with changes today.  If the university had not changed their interracial dating rules, I would probably have taken them off the list that I was considering with my own children, but I would guess there are some parents who considered changing that to be immoral.

Looking back over the Pettit years, of course the university has made a few missteps along the way.  That will happen.  There will be no way to please all of the previous generations while still making the necessary changes and attracting students.  Their challenge will be what it has always been -- how to change what is necessary while still staying true to the Bible, and how to walk that well with the constituents who will be sending students.

From where I stand, I think Pettit has done a pretty good job, even with the missteps.  I think as the board considers this, they will have to be careful to not try to bring back everything from previous days.  There will not be a significant number of students that come from those circles (especially with the money necessary for tuition).  And yet, as you said, there are good reasons to not try to make BJU look like Cedarville, Boyce, or Masters.  However, they also don't want to be in the same boat as Northland, Pillsbury, or Clearwater, all of which do not exist today (not for exactly the same reasons).

I don't envy the board their job.  But they do need to avoid the temptation to try to bring back the "glory days," such as they were.  They need to remember Ecc. 7:10 - 'Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.'  It's not going to be easy to keep what is important and jettison what isn't, particularly since there will be no complete agreement on which is which, all while keeping enough students to stay open.  My personal hope is that they will continue with Pettit, while making a few changes to address things that haven't gone well.  They will need a lot of prayer and wisdom.

Dave Barnhart

W. T. O'Harver's picture

An individual has made the comment on this thread that BJU is at risk of forming a "circular firing squad" like Northland Baptist Bible College did. I have two questions about that statement:

1). Did Northland suffer an internal dispute among the administration like BJU is experiencing now? I thought they shut down due to continuous insolvency.

2). Would BJU ever get to the point where it had to close its doors? Those BJU alumni that I have conversed with boast that "the University has so many endowment funds from the old days that it can weather any storm off interest alone." I have been told that BJU, in a worst case scenario might have to dip in to the principal of these endowment funds, but that the University will continue to exist until Christ comes back.

Why is there now heated discussion on "disaster" and "risk" for the University?

 

AndyE's picture

dcbii wrote:

Even when you and I attended, Andy, women no longer had to wear skirts long enough to cover the ankles, even though that was a significant change from early in the university's history.  I'm sure there were heated arguments over whether changing that resulted in immodesty or not.

I wonder if that ever really was the standard. First I've ever heard of that.  It certainly wasn't the standard back in the Cleveland, TN days:

BJU in the good ol' days

AndyE's picture

W. T. O'Harver wrote:

Those BJU alumni that I have conversed with boast that "the University has so many endowment funds from the old days that it can weather any storm off interest alone." I have been told that BJU, in a worst case scenario might have to dip in to the principal of these endowment funds, but that the University will continue to exist until Christ comes back.

  I'm sure the board would love to find where that endowment is located!  

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

AndyE wrote:

I wonder if that ever really was the standard. First I've ever heard of that.  It certainly wasn't the standard back in the Cleveland, TN days:

Perhaps you are right about that, and I'm misremembering what I heard/saw in old library photographs.  The principle is the same, though.  There is no doubt that skirt length changed from the 1920's to the picture you posted.  What that a move towards more immodesty or was it just a cultural change?  I'm sure some would have said the former.

My point is that even in these areas there have been changes, long before it was the university that you and I both knew.  And some of the things from our time have most definitely changed for the better.  It's inevitable that when making changes you can't get everything right, and even when you do, it won't please everyone.  I'm still hoping and praying that they can thread this particular needle.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

W. T. O'Harver wrote:

An individual has made the comment on this thread that BJU is at risk of forming a "circular firing squad" like Northland Baptist Bible College did. I have two questions about that statement:

1). Did Northland suffer an internal dispute among the administration like BJU is experiencing now? I thought they shut down due to continuous insolvency.

2). Would BJU ever get to the point where it had to close its doors? Those BJU alumni that I have conversed with boast that "the University has so many endowment funds from the old days that it can weather any storm off interest alone." I have been told that BJU, in a worst case scenario might have to dip in to the principal of these endowment funds, but that the University will continue to exist until Christ comes back.

Why is there now heated discussion on "disaster" and "risk" for the University?

I guess I'd better answer you, WT.   Starting with the easier question, #2, I don't know the financials of BJU, but if BJU drops below a certain level of students, they could keep on going forever in whatever condition they're in while being almost completely irrelevant to the fundamental community (communities) as a whole.  So that is, in my view, a "bad case end game."

Regarding the circular firing squad, my interpretation is that what happened at Northland was linked to money, but the primary cause of that insolvency was a feud over the direction that the school would go.  To bring up an infamous example, whether Big Daddy Weave would be appropriate music on campus or not.  So there was financial insolvency brought on by a cultural shift on campus that significant supporters were not on board with, as far as I can tell.

Now I can't speak to exactly how accurate that article is, but if it's at all accurate, that means that the same kind of dynamics are gathering around BJU.  Whatever side of the debate you're on, that is not a good thing for them.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

Interesting that people label something "cultural" in order to get rid of it. That is the same argument some people use to ignore Biblical teaching on sexual morals and marriage, i.e. "Teaching on homosexuality only reflects the culture of their time. We must change to be relevant and survive." Consumption of alcoholic beverages is another issue which people label "cultural" in order to stigmatize those who teach abstention. One person's "cultural" is another person's "Biblical".

Wally, I was going to be a bit quiet about this, but in my view, this is probably one of the biggest things BJU needs to deal with.  Like it or not, increasing numbers of people who are otherwise fundamental in their theology are not convinced of  things like mandatory abstentionism from alcohol ("Did they take John 2 out of the Bible when I wasn't looking?"), listening only to older music styles ("Doesn't Psalm 150 say something about praising Him in dance?"), and the like.  As a rule, the arguments for these cultural rules are really rooted more in logical fallacies like guilt by association than by any real Biblical argument--at least not any that I've ever seen.  

And that leads, sadly, to "squishyness" on some very real doctrinal issues like homosexuality.   It does so first by creating a body of theology that isn't really Biblically based, and when you've got A & B that are on sandy soil, people start wondering if C & D are negotiable as well.  Second of all, when people use (e.g. music wars) guilt by association and other logical fallacies, what they've done is to reduce the ability of their constituents to make a good, compelling argument, especially when invective is substituted for argument.

And so if my position is correct, what we've got is a very unenviable position for BJU.  To get students in the future, BJU needs to appeal to this large group of fundamentalists who aren't convinced on the first group of issues, and to do so, they've really got to push the poor decisions and poor logic used to justify them to the side--and that probably includes doing things like taking Frank Garlock's books out of the BJU bookstore and the like.  But if they do, that won't go over well with the FBFI and such at all.

I wish BJU well (obviously I have my bias), but it's not an easy row to hoe for them.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

AndyE wrote:

 

I think it is possible to forge a common ground that accepts many of the changes while also protecting against some of the missteps that have occurred recently.  I believe, although I have no special insider information, that that is what the board is working on now. It won’t be easy and will likely not satisfy everyone on either side, but hopefully it can be done.

 

 

I hope that's what they are doing as well.  I think most BJU alumni are on a spectrum between those who don't want to change anything at all or even believe the university has already changed too much (and has been dead for years -- note the comment above about the same thing being said in the 1980s)" and continuing on the current change path.

Change is inevitable, most of us who are strongly critical of happenings at BJU are well aware of that. Nothing stays the same.

For me, the biggest problems are:

  1. Seemingly no (or little) operational policy in place to prevent scandals like the blasphemous fashion show and the invitation of Trevor Laurence to speak on "Christians in Sport" from happening. In our day, the checking system was much more rigorous, seemingly, or those in charge of Arts had more discernment. We didn't have a Sports department in our day, a huge misstep to add it, in my opinion. I don't see how it significantly adds to the University experience, or to the bottom line. That will likely not change, so a rigorous system of checks has to be in place and monitored.
  2. Stop making evangelicals into heroes. Evangelical writers are useful, we use their commentaries, but we don't have to hold them up as heroes to our preachers in training. We should emphasize fundamentalist ministry philosophy and train fundamentalist ministers.

Steve Pettit is (still) my friend. I think he has done many good things during his tenure. I think there are some things that could be done better, and there are some ways he has contributed to a breakdown of the strong culture that used to exist (the bluegrass band, for example). Overall, though, I think Steve has been mostly positive and if he is willing or able to implement a more rigorous system, I'm all for him.

On that last example, you can argue for or against the appropriateness of the style, but no one (I think) is going to cite bluegrass as high art, or as in keeping with the former philosophy of excellence we were taught. The culture of excellence was part of educating the whole man, which was also part of the rules structure in the past. Yes, some modification needed to happen (and has happened numerous times in school history). But I think overall the culture of excellence has deteriorated.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

On that last example, you can argue for or against the appropriateness of the style, but no one (I think) is going to cite bluegrass as high art, or as in keeping with the former philosophy of excellence we were taught. The culture of excellence was part of educating the whole man, which was also part of the rules structure in the past. Yes, some modification needed to happen (and has happened numerous times in school history). But I think overall the culture of excellence has deteriorated.

While it may be true that the culture of excellence has deteriorated over the years, I don't think your example holds up as a particular example of that phenomenon.  While we never had a bluegrass group for "Artist Series" during my years there (early 1980s), we most assuredly had student groups that played bluegrass with the blessing of the university.

One particular duo I remember even performed in the amphitorium for a big student event.  You might not think of that style as high art, but you would have been hard-pressed to declare their playing as anything other than excellence.  For one very memorable number they did at the finale, they stood very close together (it was guitar and banjo), and they proceeded to each use one hand on their own instrument and one on the other, so that both were playing both guitar and banjo, and it was hardly just simple strumming.  That whole performance blew me away, but that piece in particular showed their mastery of their instruments and the genre.

While I was there, we also had Christopher Parkening on classical guitar for one of the Artist Series concerts, and his performance was amazing as well, though completely different.  Sure, culturally, it might have been miles ahead of the bluegrass duo, but I'm not sure I could have told you which I enjoyed more -- both showed excellence, even though they were quite different.

I would agree with you on disliking re-adding the collegiate sports (which did exist in BJU's early years), but for a different reason.  It became quite clear to me that the money, effort, time, etc. spent on fine arts was not the same as pre-Bruins, which were now taking more of BJU's resources.  However, even that change might also be a recognition that the university needed to broaden its appeal in an area that (at least as far as I can see), is not in itself an indication of slipping biblically.

Dave Barnhart

Don Johnson's picture

dcbii wrote:

While it may be true that the culture of excellence has deteriorated over the years, I don't think your example holds up as a particular example of that phenomenon.  While we never had a bluegrass group for "Artist Series" during my years there (early 1980s), we most assuredly had student groups that played bluegrass with the blessing of the university.

 

Was bluegrass featured as a major promotional vehicle for the University?

 

The issue isn't bluegrass as such, it is the philosophy it represents.

 

dcbii wrote:
I would agree with you on disliking re-adding the collegiate sports (which did exist in BJU's early years), but for a different reason.  It became quite clear to me that the money, effort, time, etc. spent on fine arts was not the same as pre-Bruins, which were now taking more of BJU's resources.  However, even that change might also be a recognition that the university needed to broaden its appeal in an area that (at least as far as I can see), is not in itself an indication of slipping biblically.

Broadening the appeal? I wonder how many students really are coming to BJU because they now have a mediocre sports program? (other than the athletes)

And spare me the cries, "they've won championships." Sure.  What level? Mediocre level. When they organized a soccer match against Furman, they didn't fare so well, as I recall.

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

dgszweda's picture

I think many of us who say the school is slipping because of A,B, C are diluting the past of the school.  I have been hearing this since as long as I can remember, I went to school at the beginning of the '90's. Considered the heyday of the school in terms of enrollment and both Jr. And the III were heavily involved.  We had many bluegrass bands playing.  Some onstage.  Everyone thought the school was slipping when we began showing Hollywood films in the 1991 in the FMA, or when TV's were put in the dorms.  Hats were stricken from the rule book.  Another controversial slippage.  We had Ian Paisley and even Jr. Saying all kinds of crazy things from the pulpit.  And we were told to laugh because it has the blessing of the school.  The school became involved in politics during this time and we had questionable speakers in chapel. Church attendance policies were changed and some churches like Southside were on the list (where the pastor road a Harley that the church gave him down the middle aisle on Sunday evenings).  We were taught that interracial dating and subsequent marriage was an abomination before God.  I could go on and on during my time from 1989 to 1994.  People were crying out at the changes or supporting ones that look ludicrous today.

Let's not fool ourselves because Stephen Pettit is playing is a Blue Grass band for crying out loud.  He was in many of your churches preaching and playing this style of music ("Go Tell it on the Mountain" from his 2004 album).  We all played BlueGrass at the Wild's. Come on!!!!!!!

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

Broadening the appeal? I wonder how many students really are coming to BJU because they now have a mediocre sports program? (other than the athletes)

And spare me the cries, "they've won championships." Sure.  What level? Mediocre level. When they organized a soccer match against Furman, they didn't fare so well, as I recall.

Well, I'm certainly not the target for their new sports program, as I believe I made clear.  I have no idea what has been won and what hasn't, and I've never attended a single Bruins game in any sport.  I would think it intuitively obvious that BJU is not going to compete at anywhere near the highest sports levels unlike Clemson just down the road.

However, I would hope that studies were done to show the cost/benefit ratio of an intercollegiate sports program before it was implemented, and that any recommendations were seriously considered.  Anyone on the board at the time should definitely have been asking pertinent questions, as many of the university's supporters would perceive such a program as either a waste or mission-creep.

Dave Barnhart

dgszweda's picture

As the leader of the FMA night clean up crew when Christopher Parkening was there, we had to clean up so much beer backstage it was ridiculous. I am not saying the school supported that, I am sure he snuck it on but he was either drunk when he went on stage or afterwards.

Bert Perry's picture

....let's not forget how Cantus (a men's quintet) came to campus a few years back. I saw them locally around 2015, and when reading their bios, learned that most of them have husbands.  Great singers, but.....

Regarding the fashion show, I'm glad that BJU is trying to interact with fashion, but when I looked at the pictures, it was mostly themes I've seen at "homeschool prom"; one takes off the rack clothing and tacks some things on to cover up what it didn't at Target or Kohl's.  In other words, the fashion student in question somehow made it to senior seminar without learning how to sew or how garments are, or ought to be, constructed.  My niece, a fashion graduate from the U. of Michigan, managed the same.

Put gently, there is a LOT of upside for BJU to show people how it's done if they would require their fashion students to learn how to sew and construct garments.  Simply tweaking stuff that is off the shelf does not cut it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I have no idea what the inter-collegiate sports program costs, but I'm sure it's not cheap.  However, it is my impression that fundraising has soared by millions of dollars under Pettit's leadership.  That would seem to indicate widespread support among alumni (mostly) for the changes at the school, including sports.  Sports may "pay" indirectly because it generates enthusiasm among a certain class of people who like sports.  I believe most big name universities claim their sports attract far more money than they cost, even though they are very costly.

I say all this as one who is ambivalent about BJU inter-collegiate sports.  It doesn't excite me, but neither does it concern me.  If school leadership believes it will achieve a worthwhile goal, why not?  Sports or no sports surely hasn't become a fundamental of the faith, has it?  The over-all effect of the changes inaugurated by Steve Petitt is a growing student body, new enthusiasm for the school both on campus and off, and robust financial health.  Criticizing sports seems like nit-picking.  Where were all the champions for the "old" BJU when it was going down the tubes?  Were they rallying behind it, recruiting students for it, and raising money for it?  Or were they voicing their criticism and concerns.  That's a weakness within the culture of fundamentalism.  It tends to foster a critical spirit toward almost everything except itself.  It assumes it can correct everyone else, but seems unable to see where it may need correction.  Mote/ beam, anyone?

G. N. Barkman

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