The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches

By Hughes, Richard T. | The Catholic Historical Review, October 1999 | Go to article overview

The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches


Hughes, Richard T., The Catholic Historical Review


The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches. By James Tunstead Burtchaell, C.S.C. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1998. Pp, xx, 868. $45.00 clothbound; $30.00 paperback.)

In The Dying of the Light, James Burtchaell offers a copiously researched, eminently readable, and highly subjective account of the ways in which churchrelated colleges and universities in the United States-as Burtchaell tells the story-have broken faith with their founding religious traditions. This book is history, but it is also a jeremiad, a lamentation for what has been lost. Essentially, this book is the story of how many church-related institutions of higher education have made their way down the slippery slope that leads to secularization.

Burtchaell tells his story by focusing on seventeen institutions representing seven different Christian traditions: Congregationalists (Dartmouth and Beloit), Presbyterians (Lafayette and Davidson), Methodists (Millsaps and Ohio Wesleyan), Baptists (Wake Forest, Virginia Union, and Linfield), Lutherans (Gettysburg, St. Olaf, and Concordia at River Forest), Catholics (Boston College, College of New Rochelle, and Saint Mary's of California), and the Evangelicals (Azusa Pacific and Dordt).

According to Burtchaell, the slippery slope is greased by a variety of factors: a deep foreboding on the part of church-related colleges and universities that religious institutions are intrinsically inferior to non-religious ones; a fear that an institution's forthright Christian identity might somehow place it in the camp of right-wing extremists; a shift from liberal arts to professional studies or adult studies or remedial studies, often in response to financial exigencies; the failure of institutions to hire faculty; recruit students,and appoint administrators and board members whose commitment to the founding denomination is beyond question, prompting a numerical decline of denominationalrepresentation in the student body, the faculty, the administration, and the board: the loss of denominational control and, in the case of Catholic institutions, the decline of religious orders in terms of both numbers and influence; the role of faculty who exhibit little or no interest in maintaining a vital connection with the founding denomination or in nurturing any sort of religious sentiment in their teaching or in the curriculum; the failure of faculty, administrators, and board members to explore how Christian theology can, in fact, sustain the life. of the mind; the role of well-meaning presidents who subtly redefine the religious mission of the institution in an attempt to either broaden its constituency or make the institution more academically respectable, or both; the tendency of presidents and other administrators to engage in -double-speak" as they seek to portray the institution in one way for this constituency and another way for that; the progressively vacuous language that institutions employ for purposes of selfdescription, e.g., from "Catholic" to "Christian" to "spiritual" to "value-centered-- to 'religious"; and the visible loss of nerve that is apparent in the evolution of institutional mission statements.

Of all these factors, the most critical in Burtchaell's view is the failure of church-related institutions to maintain their denominational particularities. Thus, the subtitle of his book: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from their Christian Churches. But one must ask, since Burtchaell never makes it plain, why he regards denominational particularity as so important. The answer to this question is not immediately self-evident, especially in light of Burtchaell's own contention that some faith traditions bring to the table an intellectual tradition that can sustain the life of the mind, while other faith traditions do not. In such a case. why should not Christian particularity give way to a broader Christian witness? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.