For those of you who aren’t into collegiate athletics, there are three schools in the process of leaving the Big East Conference in order to join other conferences where the money is better – (who is kidding who about amateur collegiate athletics?) Universities who are members of athletic conferences have contractual agreements with their respective conferences that set forth stipulations for leaving the conferences. Two typical stipulations (contractual obligations) are the payment of a fee to leave and a “notice requirement” that is often from one – three years. The notice requirement is in place to enable the conference in question to adjust its scheduling and to recruit a replacement school to take the place of the one that is leaving.
As is often the case when schools leave conferences, the contractual obligations mean nothing to at least one of the three schools leaving the Big East. This university’s attitude is, “We’re leaving and we’ll deal with it in court if we can’t arrive at an agreement.”
Here we have an academic institution that has entered into an agreement with other academic institutions, and when the agreement is no long to its liking it simply ignores its obligations and says, “Either negotiate with us or sue us.” Now I could write, “Is this how its English Faculty teaches students to interact with a text of literature?” but if I write that I have to acknowledge that the faculty may well have a “reader response” approach to literature, in which case the feelings of the students mean more than the text – certainly the university’s feelings, wants, and needs take precedent over any moral or ethical obligation to honor the text of it contract. The university reminds me of some of the pastors I mentioned in the previous post, forget the text and go with the pragmatic, go with what works.
I used to think that the legal system was the last bastion of textual integrity; but it is so no longer. In my business vocation I see again and again not only businesses ignore contracts, but courts ignoring the texts of contracts and imposing their own thoughts on the words that two contractual competent parties agreed to. Because this is the ethos of our judicial system, more and more people and businesses are willing to break contracts, not fulfilling their obligations because they know they have a chance in court to convince the court to ignore the words of the contract. And in any case, the expense of litigation is such that many parties would rather settle out-of-court; ethical and moral obligations no longer matter – it is a matter of getting the best deal that you can.
In a world in which words no longer matter, whether written or spoken, it is all the more important for professing followers of Jesus Christ to treat the Biblical text with integrity as opposed to using it for an existential joyride. Just because people don’t say what they mean doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t say what God means. And isn’t that how we descended into this abyss? “Has God really said you are not to eat of this tree? You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Do we really think that fidelity to the Word of God, to the text of Scripture is not important? Not critical? What would Adam and Eve say?