Up@dawn 2.0

Sunday, October 18, 2015

"Nones" in Divinity

Why are these "nones" enrolling in Div School more than in philosophy grad programs? It's not for the reason an associate dean for ministry studies at Harvard gave the New York Times:
"...philosophy and liberal-arts fields have given up on the project of finding a moral language, an articulation of values. That language isn’t found in many places. And when you find it, it’s not easy to abstract it. You have to connect it to a tradition.”
There are plenty of philosophical traditions seeking to articulate and apply a "moral language." Pragmatism is one.
In Harvard’s case, the influx of secular and unaffiliated students had one early and visible pioneer, Greg M. Epstein. In 2004, while already serving as the assistant humanist chaplain for Harvard students and staff members who are atheist or agnostic, Mr. Epstein enrolled in divinity school. He took classes in everything from existentialist philosophy to musicology to nonprofit administration, and he did a practicum in ministry with a cohort of Unitarian Universalist students, the closest thing he could find to atheists...
What? No open atheists studying at Harvard?! That's unlikely.

But it is clear that too many young "nones" are arriving in college without advance awareness of non-theological academic alternatives in the quest for meaning, value, and purpose. Secular humanists need to do a better job of broadcasting these alternatives. I do hope Chaplain Epstein and his peers will help with that.

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