A thought I had while eating hot dogs with friends today: What if Christian colleges and universities were to think of educating their students into distinctive charisms? And took as their models some of the charisms of the Roman Catholic religious orders?

  • Students called primarily to service would explore a Franciscan charism
  • Those called to preach and teach: a Dominican charism
  • Those called to live out their faith in commitment to a particular place: a Benedictine charism
  • Those called to a scholarly life, with its inherent cosmopolitanism and pursuit of intellectual communities wherever they can be found: a Jesuit charism

Each of these paths could be pursued within a single institution, if its faculty and curriculum were flexible enough. In an ideal world — which we do not live in, mind you — a structure like this could replace, or at least complement, the more typical pursuit of a “major.”