Just around two weeks ago, Pat Sorrells, a Concordian opinion columnist, wrote about Concordia and how we fail to fulfill our mission statement. Throughout the article, he made several argumentative points as to why the campus struggles to meet its own personal ideal and what departments have a major role in the blame.
The end of the article wrapped up with an overly dramatic and argumentative statement: “It is not a goal to which anyone strives to accomplish anymore, and it is in the very least, unethical and false advertising. Concordia needs to get its priorities straight.” As a blanket statement, I can slightly understand and hear the frustration in his voice, but the statement is way too forward and throws away whatever progress Sorrells made throughout the article. If anyone is going to make a claim that large, especially stating that no one on this campus attempts to follow the Christian life, there should be hard, fast statistics that prove his claim. Generalizing the entire student body in under two sentences probably was not the best way to go … unless Sorrells’ point was to poke a hibernating bear.
In addition, the article itself was wishy-washy in its claims. For example, Sorrells’ contrast about the chapel requirement left me confused. Was he happy to not have mandatory chapel anymore? Or was the lack of a religious requirement what was bringing the college down? Personally, I am relieved that chapel is not a requirement for students. I myself have a schedule that is locked and loaded down, and I do not have wiggle room to fit in much else. I also don’t think that any campus should ever force religion onto its students, no matter if the campus has a religious heritage or not.
My last real frustration with the article was how poorly the religion department was treated. I myself have never interacted with the religion department, or even taken a religion course yet. However, even if I personally do not know the atmosphere of the classes, dragging a department down for something they are supposed to do is unacceptable. From my understanding, the religion courses offered at Concordia are here to educate people on religion and to study it with a scholarly perspective. The classes are not meant to preach and pass on the Word of God, but they are meant to show students the art of religion by examination, discussion, and questioning. Religion itself is a concept that does not have a right or wrong answer. It is all a matter of belief.
Both this article and the one written by Sorrells are just opinions. The original article made an argument that our campus is not dedicated to its own mission statement. Sorrells entered stakes in the ground to hold the blame against the religion department and the executive decision to remove the chapel requirement. I, however, think that said stakes might just be rotted with a couple of termites. There is a difference between having an opinion and searching for something to blame. I hope that next time, the opinion articles lean more towards the prior, especially since our campus strives to achieve a sense of diversity and inclusiveness. Maybe our campus is not as ‘dedicated’ to the Christian life as before, but we should all still be dedicated to our campus motto: Hearts Together.