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Is tenure a divine right?

Dean Redtape banged the gavel, and the sound echoed through the paneled room. "Let this hearing come to order, please," he bellowed. "We are here to discuss the possibility of granting tenure."

The crowd which had gathered for this meeting murmured quietly as Dean Redtape continued. "Is the subject of the hearing present?"

God stood up from his seat at the table. "I am, Dean Redtape."

"Very well," the dean continued, "the committee will now hear the tenure case of God under Section A, Part 1.4, Paragraph 10, Line 6 of Rules and Regulations of the Faculty and Monotheistic Deities."

God sat back down and took a deep breath. The tenure selection process had been getting noticeably tighter and tighter for a long time. God knew that He was going to have to fight long and hard to convince this committee to grant Him tenure.

"Well, Mr. . . ." the dean looked down at his folder, "God. Would you like to open with a statement?"

"I would, Dean Redtape."

"Keep it brief."

God stood up again and looked down at his note cards. Then he remembered that he was all-knowing and put them away. "I am here in the hopes that the committee will see fit to grant me tenure on the faculty of MIT. I think that the number of students who follow my, um, `lectures' every week is sufficient to show that I am deserving of a permanent space on the faculty. I would like to point out some of the positive aspects of my interactions with students, faculty, and . . ."

"Thank you, that's quite enough," interjected Dean Redtape. "I think we're all reasonably familiar here with your record. You're a . . ." he looked down at his folder again, "you're a major deity, right?"

"Yes," God answered. "In fact, in many traditions I'm the only deity."

"Fine, fine." the dean muttered, "That will be duly recorded by the committee. Now, would you please outline some of your research?"

"Well, I've been intimately involved with eons of research on the human race."

The dean peered forward, interested for the first time. "Really? What sorts of research?"

"Well, under many beliefs I am creator of the first human beings, and I have been involved in many behavioral experiments since -- including failures at Sodom and Gomorrah, and a rousing success named Job."

Dean Babble perked up for the first time. "Now those were experiments!"

"I hope that the committee concentrates on more than that, though," God said.

"Like what?" asked Dean Babble.

"I am a loving God, worshiped and believed in by millions. My followers are found all over the earth. I am caring, and I do not discriminate

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who

Associate Opinion Editor Bill Jackson '93 isn't going to go outside during lightning storms for a while.

against the sick, the oppressed, or the weak. I hope that the committee understands this."

"Yes, yes. How many students are in your classes, God?" inquired Dean Redtape.

"Hundreds come each week, some more often, some less often."

Dean McYawn looked up for the first time, interested. "Is your class a required course for freshmen?"

"No," replied God. "It is simply faith in a greater power."

Dean McYawn, thinking the greater power God was referring to the Committee on Discipline, accepted it and went back to sleep.

"Do you mean to tell this committee that hundreds of students are in your classes, and you don't register them through the Registrar's Office?" Dean Babble asked.

"I don't ask my followers for registration, or forms. I ask them to love their neighbors, and . . ."

Dean Redtape once again cut God off. "That's fine, fine. Can you tell us what you've published, God?"

"Published?" God looked at the dean, confused.

"Yes, yes, you know, published. We need to know what papers you have published, to know what good you are to MIT."

"But, I am good for MIT. I provide faith and comfort to many students."

Dean McYawn woke back up. "Just tell us what you've published!"

"Well," God said, "many volumes of my word have been written by many wonderful people."

"Grad students?" asked Dean Babble.

"Believers," God corrected, "people who accepted my word on faith and wrote it down."

"Sounds like Grad students to me . . ." mumbled Dean Babble.

"I have it here that the first publication of your word was by one Gutenberg in the 15th century," said Dean Redtape.

"Yes," responded God. "That was the first use of movable type."

"However, that was quite some time ago."

"Many copies of my word were hand-printed before that," said God.

"That's hardly the way of a scholarly journal," interjected Dean McYawn.

"Yes, can you tell us what you've published lately?" asked Dean Babble.

God paused. "There have been many re-interpretations of the original text. In addition, some religions have added new volumes."

"I'm sorry," said Dean Redtape, "but that just seems like more papers on the same work. I think the committee is ready to make a decision. God, would you step outside?"

"But I'm omnipresent."

"Hey," Dean Redtape retorted sharply, "You may be God, but I'm the Dean here."

So God left, and the committee voted 2-0 to deny God tenure. Dean McYawn, who was asleep, was counted as an abstention. Which just goes to show you, even lecturing Gods can't get tenure around here if they devote too much of their time to teaching others and not enough to hard-nosed research.