Saturday, October 23, 2010

My impressions so far! (part 2)

by Carl Mattias

Hi again!

While my first impression was the cultural differences I feel that I have to mention something about the academic differences I have experienced!
The classes I take here at Luther are different in many ways from the ones I take in Sweden.
In Sweden, we have something called "National Agency for Higher Education" (called "Högskoleverket" in Swedish). The purpose of this agency is to oversee the higher education in Sweden and make sure taht it stays objective and secular. Unfortunately this applies to theological studies as well. Meaning that someone who is study to become a pastor in Sweden cannot do something that could be interpreted as religious. (e.g no internship, no CPE, no praying in class and definitely not preaching!). The seminaries have to follow these guidelines if they want to be able to graduate their theology students. How is this possible?
In 1949 a man called Hedenius published his book "tro och vetande" (belief and knowledge). Hedenius was a Professor of Practical Philosophy at Uppsala university and a famous opponent of organised Christianity. The main line of argument in his book was that it is not possible to have a rational debate about religion. Theology can not be classed as knowledge, but belongs outside it as "quasi-knowledge". Therefore Christianity is irrational and the study of religions and their development should be separated from theology and become a non-religious academic discipline.
This had a major impact on Swedish academics and the ideas of Hedenius are followed to this day.

Some schools outside the bigger universities, such as my own, realize that this is not a good thing if you are studying to become and pastor. In my school we try to get around this by having courses that gives no credit and goes "under the radar" where we can learn and practice how to preach and do some internship. But since we get no credit for it and still have to fulfill the criteria of being "academic", making the "religious" elements have a small place in our education.

With this background I am sure you can understand my bliss when, in one of our first classes, my teacher here at Luther Seminary says that the goal of the course is to make us better at having bible studies and preaching!


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