A rising star among fundamentalist universities has run into trouble. Cedarville University in Ohio announced the suspension of their president Thomas White following the dismissal of professor Anthony Moore for a prior history of sexual misbehavior. White, tenth president of this school with almost 3,800 students, may have misled his trustees about what he knew about Moore and when he knew it. And this lack of candor about Moore’s troubles in Texas before joining the Cedarville administration has trustees fuming. Stay tuned.
Yale professor Laurie Santos has seen a pandemic-propelled surge in the on-line enrollment for her class: 2.2 million people! The course? “The Science of Well-Being”. It is part of the increasingly popular discipline known as positive psychology, and many universities offer courses and a few confer degrees. The field has been popularized by books: Gretchen Rubin, whose 2009 book “The Happiness Project” is a top seller; Jonathan Haidt’s earlier “The Happiness Hypothesis”, and the Dalai Lama’s “The Art of Happiness,” published in 1998. The Yale course features Santos on video in her home teaching a small group of students how to adopt simple practices that cultivate happiness, such as maintaining a gratitude journal.
The first Thursday of May is, by law, established as a National Day of Prayer. It was first articulated by President Harry Truman in 1952. This year, actual prayer assemblies are being replaced by digital services distributed through social media. The official prayer guide suggests prayer for medical professionals and public health officials, first responders, our nation’s physical, emotional and financial health, and those whose lives have been significantly disrupted or even put in danger due to the current pandemic.
Lifeway Publishers, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, announced decisions to cut their budget by 10%, lay off scores of employees, and perhaps sell their new building. The shrinkage began in 2013 when they sold their western conference center, known as Glorieta, which was followed by the sale of their long-used headquarters in downtown Nashville, then the closing of their string of bookstores, and finally this year, the announced sale of their eastern conference center, known as Ridgecrest. The denomination’s oldest school, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, announced a 30% budget cut along with many staff and faculty terminations.
Congregations are creeping back into their sanctuaries, as theologians, politicians, judges, and even street protestors weigh in on what is necessary or appropriate during these days of viral pandemic. A federal judge in Kentucky ruled against the governor and in favor of a drive-in church. In Virginia, a pastor who claimed the “mass hysteria” around the virus pandemic is part of a media plot against President Trump, died of COVID-19. The conservative public issue magazine First Things published an article by a Roman Catholic cleric who addressed the issue of access to the sacraments and the resumption of public worship. The author called for a heavy dose of charity which demands “works of love, justice, and mercy on behalf of others”.