13 May 2008

On, Concordia?

I'm from one of those families in which attendance at Synodical schools is genetic; I knew from grade school that I was destined to go to Concordia (Seward, in our case). But I have mixed feelings about carrying on the tradition, for the following reasons.

When I went through (I graduated in 2000), there were two main divisions of piety on campus. The first was Absolutely None, which was extremely upsetting to me when I first got there at the height of my late adolescent Pietist phase. The second was Evangelical Pietist, which revolved around the creation and disintegration of praise bands and organizing carpools to the "good churches" (ie those with sufficiently awesome contemporary worship) in Lincoln. Neither of these is what I want for my kids.

There was near total liberalism among the professors, corresponding to their respective fields. The science department barely pretended to tow the line on creationism. The humanities were overrun with feminist and socialist rhetoric. Since professors care so deeply about students, they were very willing to go out of their way to inculcate these values into students' personal lives, especially when the poor confused young souls came looking for advice outside of the classroom. (Although the intersection of piety and professors was kind of amusing: on the one hand they seemed to endorse the contemporary worship thing as the proper anti-establishment position, churchwise--but that put them in the same political corner as all those Huckabee-votin' gun-totin' fag-hatin' knuckle draggers! What to do?)

Anti-clericalism was through the roof in the so-called church work programs. Everyone's a minister, except those jerks who formally claim the title and don't think that 20 year old interns in skin-tight bra tops who maybe had time to do a little of their Doc II reading between their last hangover and the next party, and other problematic character types, should be teaching confirmation classes.

Add these things to the ridiculous cost of admission followed by untold years of low wages from the church (for those who go into "church work," as many of the pious think they should) leading to interminable loan repayments and I really can't see the point. I'd rather send my kids to a state school where I can tell them flat out, "Don't listen to anything your professors tell you," and they won't naively expect good behavior from their fellow students. I don't want to have to make excuses for people who would choose a Lutheran school (and even a Lutheran profession) but act just as debaucherous as your standard heathen, or for professors who have vowed to uphold the Lutheran confessions but are all too willing to loan out selections from their pro-women's ordination libraries.

I'd rather leave my kids in the spiritual care of a campus Higher Things chapter than whatever LCMS church is across the street or in vogue among other students. I'd rather have my kids meet a potential spouse through Higher Things than any LCMS-sanctioned entity or event.

I can only speak for the Concordia I attended, but in talking to other relatively recent alums (and it also came up in the comments on Mollie's blog), I've learned that I'm not the only one leaning away from wanting Synodical college for my kids.


Gauntlets said...

Concordia-Anywhere is out, as far as we're concerned. Unless something major shifts within both the CUS and the Synod before our kids are college-ready.

We've looked at this place: www.phc.edu but it appears to be more of the same, just with a homeschool-friendly focus. So.

At this point, I'm thinking the best route is state schools, especially for our daughters. And I will magnanimously allow them to apply to any state school within an hour's drive of people we trust, so as not to condemn them to Huskerdom.

Not that there's anything wrong with Huskerdom. Look . . . I'm just saying . . . Hey! Get off my back!

Only twelve years until we start the process. Gotta think these things through. ;)

Lora said...

I didn't go to a Concordia school, but I worked at a Lutheran summer camp, so I met all the people you are talking about and was rather infected by their ideologies.

I attended a small school in rural Utah. I knew I couldn't trust anything theological that came out of the mouths of my professors -- they were either Mormon or liberal. But the morality codes of the students were either Mormon or liberal, so in many ways I was safe. I knew I wasn't going to date anyone Mormon (and you could tell from the outline of their garments), but I could hang out with them and not get into trouble.

The Lutheran churches, and even the Episcopal churches were safer because when you are in a place that you are persecuted, somehow, the gospel means a heck of a lot more to you.

However, I had my head on straight on those issues. I saw many friends who would "never be Mormon" fall in love and voila...they were converting.

In the end, I would agree with you though. My preference is that at least for the first two years, my kids would stay home and get there general eds out of the way. Where we live now, there are plenty of schools with in 30 miles where they could get many degrees, and almost any degree within 150 miles. But, who knows what God has planned for our family in the future?

Gauntlets said...

Here's the other shoe: State schools eat people alive. I watched a lot of my high school classmates get chewed down to their bones by UNL, and some still pay the price. Concordia was much safer in the worldly sense, even what with all the she-god talk.

I've recommended Concordia to troubled kids in the recent past and Concordia didn't disappoint me. If I end up with a troubled kid I will probably re-consider Concordia before sending her into the meat-grinder. However, if my kids turn out according to plan, then I will be better able to trust them anywhere. Time will tell.

Kelly said...

Sounds like my nominally Lutheran alma mater, though it is not officially run by the LCMS or even the ELCA. At campus visit days the pietism ran rampant, then when you tried to attend a service at the big, beautiful chapel, there was a woman and/or GLBT person in the pulpit.

Unfortunately, whether state or private, most universities have been overrun by the elitist left. One more reason to be glad that grad school was not an option :).

Liz said...

I graduated from a state university (2001), and would recommend it. I was talking to one of the high school gals at my church and recommended she consider the same. I said if she felt called to missions or ended up marrying someone in ministry, her debt load would be substantially less. Plus, she'd have plenty of witnessing opportunities. Of course, I wouldn't recommend state schools to everyone, but I also wouldn't recommend Christian colleges as much as others would.

elephantschild said...

My Dh is a Concordia grad, I'm a state university grad. These topics have been under a lot of discussion around here lately, mostly because of the info that Mollie posted at Augsburg1530.

Sadly, I don't think there's anything wonderfully unique about a Concordia (*except* for Organ and Church music) that can't be found at a cheaper university with an excellent confessional campus ministry.

Time will tell. Things may change.

Dizziness said...

Ditto here as a 2000 grad from CURF. I was disenfranchised from any church work through its DCE program, only in 2005 to get over it and enter seminary.

Some of my classmates attended other liberal arts colleges and have the scholarly marks to prove it. In the end, you make it what it is. CURF can be a great school if you've got a fine sieve to sift out the good from all the bad.

Perhaps, "Concordia" is like a bulls-eye for Satan's fiery darts?

Pr. H. R. said...

Hillsdale, of course, is my dream for the youngin's.


The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Besides what I espoused above (Lora), I would also have to say Hillsdale College is on my short list. St. Johns College, or another good classical school are directions that I encourage the kids as well.

Reb. Mary said...

Ah, this brings to mind one of the most disillusioning weekends of my naive young life and my Concordia (CUW aka Mequon) career...

One of my first weeks at college, my very social roomie and I were invited to spend the weekend at a cabin with a bunch of pre-seminary/campus ministry types. Safe and innocent enough, right? What I didn't know yet was that the pre-sem guys fell into distinct categories (someone should do a whole post on that someday, incidentally), and one category, comprised mostly of PKs, was the, er, drunken sot category.

So when the alcohol started flowing freer than the river Jordan, I convinced my roomie to leave. (Long story short: I didn't do the drinking scene in college. Not like I freaked if someone popped one open in my presence, but it was pretty clear that these folks wouldn't even be funny drunks. Nothing of clinical interest a-tall). Unfortunately, said roomie informed one of the jolliest partiers that we were leaving. He grabbed her car keys and hid them, passing out shortly afterward. So, we were stuck to watch the fun unfold.

Never have I heard contemporary-praise-band-
I-love-Jesus-songs sung so heartily as they were that night by those underagedly-and-grossly intoxicated ministry majors as they piloted a pontoon boat out on that lake, the beer bottles clinking all the way. Like a twisted version of the Garrison Keillor vignette, but surreal rather than funny.

So I almost transferred to Wheaton, actually. Got as far as interviewing and being accepted. Then realized that with a little extra effort + those AP scores I could finish college in only 2 more years at CUW. (And then started seeing more of a certain dark-haired, blue-eyed pre-sem guy who was decidedly not in the aforementioned category...and the rest, they say, is history...)

Reb. Mary said...

On a less personal note, CUW was infected with all the problems Rebekah notes, across all the disciplines, while I was there (grad. 2000) and it's only gotten worse since then, if my reading of the alum mag and other hearsay of goings-on is accurate. Financially, they're doing better than ever. Concordian-ally, not so much.

But they do have the BEST handbell choir, of the Concordias or of most anywhere else, if I do say so myself. Choir, I might concede (sorry, Dr. Kosche--not your fault).

elephantschild said...

I'll echo the handbell endorsement -their director played at my wedding.

Mequon is my hubby's alma mater, but he's 42 - I'll have to ask him what the "drunken sot" rating was when he was there. (He's a PK and was *almost* a pre-sem major.)

Rebekah said...

Wow. Glad you survived, and let us here proclaim that any Concordia related event involving church worker types and cabins should be avoided at all costs. My experience with one got me out of the DCE program (thank God).

This also explains why you're such a spring chicken! You must be the only person in the world to have gotten in and out of a Concordia that fast.

Reb. Mary said...

EC--Behnke played at our wedding too! (organ, not bells)

And perhaps in the interests of fairness I should add that the hard core drunken sot category was composed primarily of miscellaneous churchworker/Lutheran ed/campus ministry types, with only a few *actual* pre-sem majors included (some of whom thankfully left the program and the school!). Still. Rebekah's experience clinches it: College, cabins and churchworkers apparently don't mix well.

Spring chicken, HA!

Bryan said...

Short comment, since I am a brother. So much agree with your post! I am a '96 CURF alum whose entrance in their DCE program certainly helped me discern God's call into the pastoral ministry. And by the way, the drunken sot pre-sem students always seemed to be a lot more honest (and more fun) than the morally superior pretender pietists. My wife and I will encourage our children to corrupt their minds through more affordable institutions of debauchery.

Rebekah said...


Sir Cuthbert said...

Much-admired ladies,

Although it has been some time since you discussed this, I believe I have something pertinent and helpful to say. A couple of people mentioned it before, but I can speak from personal experience. Send them to Hillsdale!

Hillsdale has its share of drunks, heretics, and assorted other jerks, but most of the students are serious and well-behaved.

The faculty is wonderful. They have not been over-run by the Left and are unlikely ever to be. Go to www.hillsdale.edu and subscribe to Imprimis; I'm nearly sure it's free.

They have parent-teacher conferences every year and actively try to keep parents involved and informed.

Recommended advisors (some may retire before your children reach college age): Dr. Lucy Moye (History, my advisor), Dr. Mark Kalthoff (History, Lutheran, home-schooler), Dr. Stephen Smith (English), Dr. Thomas Connor (History), Dr. Bradley Birzer (History), Dr. Tony Swineheart (Biology), Dr. Chris van Orman (Chemistry), Dr. Olga Muniz (Spanish), Dr. Thomas Burke (Theology), Dr. Michael Bauman (Theology, make sure your kids are thoroughly catechized: he considers it his duty to make students defend everything), Dr. David Whalen (English), Dr. Paul Moreno (History, home-schooler), Dr. Thomas Kranawitter (History, home-schooler).

Besides the virtues of the College, they can attend St. Paul's church (LCMS), where we have two excellent pastors, both of whom almost certainly will still be here in twelve years. We do not have contemporary worship and never will as long as our current pastors or elders remain.