Thursday, September 14, 2006

Our Non-Ideological Ideology

The seminary I go to has a policy about gender-inclusive language. Now, I'm not a big fan of gender-inclusive language (come on, grow up people), but I don't mind it per se. If it was just a simple policy about gender-inclusive language, I wouldn't even bother blogging about it. But our gender-inclusive language policy is absolutely hilarious.

Now, I'm not going to quote it, because that might overly-identify the seminary. You might accuse me of making it sound worse than it is. Whatever. Here is the outline of how I read our gender-inclusive language policy.

  1. Language is not inert, but defines an ideology (they did not use this word, but this is essentially what they were saying)

  2. Here are some suggestions about gender-inclusive language

  3. Here are some absolute requirements about gender-inclusive language in the seminary

  4. This policy is not meant to push an ideology, but to increase awareness about gender-inclusive language

Did you see it? Point #1 is that language creates an ideology. Point #4 is that we are controlling your language, but it's not an ideology.

This is what drives me nuts about the liberal mindset. They freely point out everyone's ideological bias except their own. They can't even admit to when they are clearly establishing an ideology even by their own definitions. As I said, I have no problems with their guidelines at all (except as a general why-change-the-English-language-just-for-you type of thing), but they want to say that they aren't establishing an ideology.

This is real important for liberals. They want to be carriers of the truth, and therefore the idea that their thoughts and actions are constrained to an ideology just like everyone else's is an idea that they simply can't handle. They pride themselves on not requiring belief statements and not being fundamentalist. But they can't see that this is the same thing. They are just sneaking in a belief statement through the back door here. They just need to get over it, and admit that they have standards of belief. These aren't things that can be deduced from first principles, but they are required for participation. Just admit it! Is it really that hard!

Of course it is, because they can't be "respectable" academically and have a belief statement. But yet they have a required ideology. It even matches their own definition given in the policy itself!

The irony is amazing.


At 9/14/2006 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow my fellow seminarian! Enjoy the journey into depth.


At 9/17/2006 12:44 PM, Blogger John said...

I go to Asbury -- the most conservative Methodist seminary -- and it has strictly enforced rules on gender inclusive language.

At 9/17/2006 6:01 PM, Anonymous cseminarian said...

The point I was making was not inclusive language == liberal (though I think it is). The main point I was making is that they were doing by what was their own definition as establishing an ideology, and then claiming that they weren't.

The policy itself stopped short of requiring you to use female references to God, which is good, because otherwise I would have had to quit based on my general agreement with this guy's thoughts.

At 9/18/2006 2:03 PM, Blogger Oloryn said...

John: last I knew (I went to Asbury College), Asbury Seminary wasn't a Methodist seminary, but an independent seminary with roots in the Holiness movement. Have things changed since the 70's, or am I just getting overly persnickety about your terminology?

At 9/25/2006 4:11 PM, Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

This issue is not REALLY important for me, but I have often felt it both amusing and enraging that the very same folks who tell me that "to control language is to control people" and "language is an insturment of control and stifling dissent & diversity, blah blah blah" are perfectly willing to put in place policies designed to control how we use our language and prevent us from expressing our own diversity! I think the best word for this is "hypocrisy," and you will find such policies at every single United Methodist seminary.


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