Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part VI: An alumnus bug squashed

Prof. John Stackhouse sitting atop his endowed perch as Regent College’s Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, wrote (at Stackblog):

You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. Your rage and bitterness simply render conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.

Offline, I asked Prof. Stackhouse to kindly remove these comments from his blog, as they were ad hominem.  I told him I would not mind if he removed all of my other comments to that point, or that he could make suggestions as to how I should edit them to make them less offensive.  But he refused.  So I wrote:

I don’t understand why you would wish to create a public spectacle.  I am a speck of dust, a dung beetle in the scholarly and academic world compared to you.  You are an international speaker, an esteemed professor at Regent College, and writer of seven books.  I’m nobody.  What could you possibly have to gain from this?’

I want to write now about how Prof. Stackhouse has potentially undermined the relationship between the alumni and the school by squashing an alumus bug in this manner.  Higher education is an extremely expensive venture.  Typically schools depend on three major sources of funding:  (1) Tuition fees from students; (2) government grants; (3) fund raising, often among alumni.  For example, my wife and I have until last year, always made a small annual contribution to Regent College.

Ideally, alumni and schools have a cordial relationship of mutual responsibility.  A school has responsibilities to their alumni: (1) to maintain a good reputation in the community; (2) to help the graduates to find jobs; (3) to maintain a steady mission which is consistent with the school’s founding.  Alumni are responsible (1) to provide financial support for the school, presumably because they are now experiencing pecuniary benefits from the education that they received.  (2) They are also responsible for recommending the school to potential students –they are a recruitment wing of the school; a few years ago I recommended that my colleague apply for scholar or missionary in residence so that his wife could attend Regent College–she was accepted as a mature student and did extremely well in her program.  (3) The alumni have a responsibility to make sure that the school remain on track in achieving its mission.  Thus, debate, even passionate debate regarding school policy is normal.  I think we see such an example of that on Stackblog.   In this case, the debate was between an alumnus, me, and a professor, Prof. Stackhouse, and the subject was preferential hiring of minorities and women so as to address the apparent lack of diversity in the current faculty of Regent College.

What is not normal is that one of these parties then seek to destroy the other, as Stackhouse has done to me.  To be sure, the accusation of bitterness and rage is serious for Christians.  One only need to look at numerous examples of Christian paranesis in the New Testament where such sins are heartily discouraged.  Prof. Stackhouse’s apparent intention is to ban me permanently from the academy.  If he felt that it was wrong what I was saying, he could have very kindly confronted me offline and made suggestions regarding how I might edit my comments to ameliorate their tone.  He has complete control of his wordpress blog.  He can refuse to publish anything that he felt unseemly.  He can even remove the entire conservation if he like.  But he has chosen instead to squash this bug.

I wonder if Prof. Stackhouse discussed his public denouncement of me with the President of Regent College, with the vice President in charge of development, with the assistant in charge of alumni relations, or even with the other members of the faculty.  It is a matter which concerns them too.

Perhaps in some ways, the most troubling and revealing aspect of Prof. Stackhouse’s treatment of me is the hostility with which he treated my current attempts at investing.  “I hope you’re good at making people money as the ‘righteous investor’ you advertise yourself to be.”  The overt hostility towards my investing is deeply problematic.  Doesn’t Regent College need people who know how to make money to make donations?  So why would a professor mock the money making efforts of an alumnus?  Does he have something against making money?  If so, I think all the alumni need to be aware that their ability to give to the school and at least some of the teaching of the College are incompatible.

This is one of the problems of left wingers.  While they depend on those who create wealth, their policies are hostile to wealth creation.  It is revealing indeed that Prof. Stackhouse would mock the Righteous Investor–as far as I can see it wasn’t at all germane to the discussion, yet he was literally making fun of a couple of us for the apparent irrelevance of our comments.  It wasn’t always this way at Regent.  If I was open to becoming an investor after attaining a PhD in theology, it was due to the strong lay theology of Prof. Paul Stevens and the focus on marketplace ministry of Regent College.  My understanding was that Regent College was founded to be a place where lay people from many different professions, even business people, entrepreneurs and investors, could come and learn theology, so that they could intelligently integrate their professional activities with their Christian faith.  This is what made Regent College special.  In those days, Marx was read not for inspiration but in order to have a cogent Christian response to the teachings of Marxists.  Today, however, Regent professors and students are just as likely to join the anarchists and the Marxists in their protests against the Olympics or in some other anti-capitalist activity.  They have become, as Prof. Klaus Bockmuehl suggested, Lenin’s “useful idiots” (C. S. Lewis Institute speech, min. 9:53).  So we, I as an investor and my wife as a business woman, are deeply worried about the direction of the school.

This phenomenon is not unique to Regent College.  It is well known that university faculties across North America are far to the left on the political spectrum when compared to the population in general.  This left wing bias in higher education is achieved by blacklisting conservatives, as Prof. Stackhouse has done to me.  Eventually, the teachings of the university begin to conflict with and undermine the money making activities of their alumni.  At a certain point, however, the alumni must ask if they will continue to support a venture which has become hostile to their support.  If the university promotes measures which destroy the wealth making, then the relationship between the university and the alumni association falls apart.


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