Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tennessee Temple Closing

Although it didn't get as much press as the closing of Sweet Briar College in Virginia (a closing that is still being disputed and from what I read seemed premature), on the same day Tennessee Temple University announced its closing, or really its merger with Piedmont International University, which used to be Piedmont Bible College.

This has been harder for my fellow graduates and alumni of TTU (or College when I graduated) than it has been for me.  Working in higher ed, I know these things happen.  And I had long snipped my emotional ties to that institution, except for my many friends.  Of course, the transcript issue is a concern, but Piedmont will (have to) take care of that from now on.  I am not sure all of those people worried about transcripts really needed to be.  What do you need transcripts for except grad school?  Of course, I needed mine at 56 to apply to Georgia, so I have nothing to talk about there.

I have read the posts on Facebook, the reminiscing, the belly aching.  TTU was a place you couldn't feel neutral about.  That was one reason they had trouble with alumni.  The graduates either thought the place was (or became) too "liberal" and wouldn't support it, or they had traumatic experiences there and wouldn't support it.  Those who would have liked to for what they gained usually were in ministry and had not extra money for support.

I have thought about its own legacy in my life.  Six positives and some negatives.
Positives:
1.  Discipline.  Whether it's walking every day (something my gynecologist told me to do in my 20s and which I have followed faithfully and it has served me well. Two miles a day has helped my mental health, my immune system, my heart, my blood sugar, and to some extent my weight.  However, I know I am seen as the crazy walking lady, especially with my dogs); or Bible study, or just not procrastinating (a practice I do not understand), or paying my bills on time, living on that campus taught me to be proactive, to plan, to get it done, to be responsible.
2.  Bible study.  I was blessed to have a strong Biblical foundation.  Of course, the "place" didn't always follow the Bible's real teaching about leadership, church polity, and treatment of other believers, but what was taught was amazing.
3.  Awesome friends I can't even begin to list here.
4.  Appreciation of the arts and of course being in the communication field, thanks especially to Dr. Steve Euler.  In general, a good undergraduate education (but dated).
5.  A suspicion of people with "new ideas"  or charismatic personalities.  When some fad goes through the "Christian community"--whether The Shack or Bill Gothard or courtship dating or whatever, I roll my eyes and sit it out.  That may be natural for me but seeing gullibility at TTU really reinforced it.
6.  Forensics and debate experience.
Negatives
1.  My fleshly self-righteousness was more encouraged than discouraged.  Unlike my peers who think of legalism as just outward behaviors, I long ago recognized legalism as a problem within, and especially within me.
2. Therefore, judgmentalism continues to be a struggle for me.  Case in point, tattoos.  I don't get them.  Surely there is a better use for your money and skin than all those indelible designs (not even mentioning the Old Testament prohibition against them).
3.  See #5 above.
4.  Shame.  This is the worst one and the hardest one to explain.  I don't want to be outed as having gone to TTU.  Yesterday a colleague said she met a former colleague from TTU at a professional meeting.  I felt like a secret was out.  Of course, if someone asks, I'll tell them.  Maybe now I can write that my undergraduate degree was from Piedmont International University (I do not advertise my undergrad degree).
The shame also comes from a feeling of being complicit in what others suffered.
5.  A defensiveness about any perception of being taken advantage of or disrespected, since there was so much indirect disrespect of women.  However, this continues in the Southern Baptist Convention.
6.  Gaps in my undergrad education, as someone said, a lack of critical thinking because dissent was forbidden.  But I learned that afterward through being a debate coach there for several years, so that helps.

Comments appreciated.  I prefer to write on this blog, as it gives me more space for nuance.  Nuance is missing in all discourse now, as well as civility.

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