This has been a solemn week at Enema U. We have had a long series of orientations and convocations, I have heard the school fight song played reverently in lofty chambers.... and somewhere it suddenly dawned on me: I work in organized religion. Actually, to be specific, being a professor is a lot like being the pope. Please consider the following evidence:
Professors are infallible. At least as far as my students think--I can burp in class and three students will write it down in fear that it will be on next week's test. Students today never challenge authority. Not only will they believe everything on the internet, but after fifteen minutes of blurry PowerPoint slides, a couple of maps and a few B&W photos of famous dead white men, I can get a class to believe that George Washington bombed Hiroshima. That is speaking ex cathedra!
The job is for life. As soon as the Council of Cardinals (more commonly known as the Committee for Promotion and Tenure) votes in approval and tenure is granted, there is very little chance of removal from office. Some departments on campus have less turnover than the House of Lords or Congress--with pretty much the same result. After a few decades of stagnation, quite a few professors become about as spontaneous as stalactites.
We all drive the Popemobile. Well, most of them are actually Toyota Priuses. Prii? Prions? As far as I am concerned, it takes religious fervor to believe that an electric golf cart with weird windows is really a car. And the Prius is worse. Actually, this is a very common religious tenet among faculty. After careful study of the sacred text (The Gospel According to Rachel Carson) you will learn that living the perfect life (No Nukes! No Fracking! No Exxon!) will return us all to a sustainable Garden of Eden. (No Fracking Way!)
We spend our days in contemplation and reading. Ah, the pursuits of the mind. We slowly walk in unison through the cloisters to the library. If you listen carefully, you can hear our chant: Deus bonus est, Deus bonus est, Domino finem fecerit pizza.
Now that you mention it, we speak Latin. Go to any graduation and look for the faculty--we're easy to spot. "We be wearin' satin and speakin' Latin". The school motto, Veni, Vidi, Velcro (I came, I saw, I stuck around) is prominently displayed. The campus is lousy with Latin inscriptions. A few of us even know what they mean.
We dress alike. Papal robes. Caps and gowns. We all look like we are wearing some old woman's ugly dress. The Pope has a better hat, but the faculty don't have to wear ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz.
During our sermons, people try unsuccessfully to stay awake. Now this is a problem that I personally do not have in my classes, but I hear that some of my associates have had a few students drift off during their scintillating lectures. While history is never boring, evidently quite a few historians are.
A few...um....decades ago I took a required class in Medieval European Architecture. Meeting in the afternoon for two and a half hours, the class sat in the dark, looking at endless slides while the professor monotonously droned, "And here we see another fucking old Carolingian church..."
Or at least, that is what I remember before I fell asleep. The only other place I can remember being this bored was church.
Neither the pope nor faculty are likely to get laid. Not only is this officially frowned upon, but as a group, we professors just aren't very cool. (There evidently haven't been any really cool, sexy university professors since the 1960's!). For the faculty, sex on campus is unlikely (except for those who teach Animal Husbandry).
And, last but not least, just like any other organized religion, we take people in when they have nothing but beliefs, and force them out when they begin to know something.