Devotees of academic-freedom controversies in higher education have been following with great interest the ongoing saga of Hamline University, the St. Paul, MN school that fired an adjunct faculty member after she displayed an artistic depiction of the Prophet Muhammed in class — and a student complained (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 13th online).
But now, Ground Zero for Divinity-Related Kerfuffles has shifted to Indiana, where a history professor at Valparaiso University was discharged last week after showing a Mormon painting of Jesus Christ in his senior seminar, “Utah: State, or State of Mind?”
A male sophomore in the course said he was traumatized by the portrait, which, he claims, makes Jesus resemble “the love child of Kenny Loggins and one of the Beach Boys. There’s no way the Son of God could look like that. Everyone knows that the real Jesus bore an uncanny resemblance to a young Mick Jagger, leader of the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band. Just watch any YouTube video of Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount during his legendary Water-into-Wine concert tour in Northern Israel two-thousand years ago; he moves just like Mick does on stage when he’s performing Start Me Up.”
In announcing the termination of the professor in question, Valparaiso President José Padilla commented that “this student makes a legitimate point. I’ve seen the video. Jesus was the original Rolling Stone. We had no choice but to take action.”