I don't want this to get around, but I've got a confession to
make: when Cornhusker athletic teams go up against Jayhawk athletic
teams, I'm more likely to be humming "I'm a jay jay jay jay Jayhawk
from down in Lawrence on the Kaw," instead of whatever it is that Husker
It's because when I was at an age when we form jockstrap
allegiances, I lived in Kansas. I was growing up when KU had basketball
players like Clyde Lovellette and B.H. Born and Wilt Chamberlain. They
whomped the Huskers much more often than not.
But while the Jayhawks routinely won the basketball games the
Huskers routinely humiliated what passed for the KU football team. I
got over that after 20 years or so and just accepted it as The Way Things
Then suddenly it was 2005 and the football score was 40-14.
KU had the 40. Nebraska had the 14.
I suspected Divine Intervention. You know why?
Because the Kansas Board of Education votedjust days before the
game (don't tell me it wasn't planned that way)in favor of requiring
the state's public schools to teach Creationism in science classes, and,
according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, to tell the students
they had to decide between belief in the Bible and belief in evolution.
Tell me that's not the origin of the 40-14 score. When God calls
the plays, there's not much doubt about the outcome, is there?
Anyway, I thought I had good news for Cornhusker fans: I was
going to announce that the KU dominance over the Huskers was a one-time
thing in football, and that the Huskers were about to start another
long string of footballand basketball!wins over the Jayhawks. I was
even going to predict that the Husker basketball team was on the cusp of
whomping the Jayhawks by 30 points in Lincoln and by 40 points in Lawrence.
I was going to argue that the eastward flow of the Kaw River was
going to get miraculously reversed and magically connected to the
Kansas City sewage system. And that Mount Oreadthe site of the KU
campuswas about to turn into an extremely active volcano.
And even more bizarre, I was going to predict that the Jayhawk
basketball team was going to finish dead last in the conference.
Why, you're probably asking, did I think all that was about to
And my answer would be that certain KU faculty had unknowingly
asked for it. And the most guilty, I was going to tell you, was the
faculty in the Religious Studies department.
Here's why: the department was planning to offer a spring
semester course called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent
Design, Creationism, and Other Religious Mythologies."
It was that last word that was going to cause the thunderbolts.
I thought that because I took it seriously when Steve Adams, chair
of the Kansas Board of Education, said Kansans had to decide between
belief in the Bible and belief in evolution. And I believed the chair
of KUs Religious Studies Department, Prof. Paul Mirecki, really meant it
when he said this in response to Adams:
The Truth, Mainly
"The KU faculty has had enough
.Creationism is mythology.
Intelligent Design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make
it sound like science. It clearly is not".
And that's when the doodoo hit the fan. Made me want to head for
the storm cellar, but we don't have one.
Prof. Mirecki seemed to have administration support.
The KU provost, David Shulenburger, said "It is unfortunate that
the course title's reference to mythologies has been misconstrued. The
terms 'myth' and 'mythology' are common in the academic study of
religion and not an affront."
The KU chancellor, Robert Hemenway, said that evolution is "the
unifying principle of modern biology."
So I figured that talk like that was surely going to result in
some kind of Divine punishment of KU, and that the campus would be
riddled by thunderbolts.
And most important of all, the KU athletic teams would not only be
playing against Nebraska. They'd be playing against God. And that
would be good news for the Huskers.
But then in Friday's Journal-Star, all my forecasts of KU's
athletic and academic disasters went down the tube.
Prof. Mirecki announced that his class in "Special Topics in
Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Other Religious
Mythologies" had been cancelledeven though 25 students had already
signed up to take the spring semester course.
The cancellation is good news for KU's athletic departmentwho
wants to play against God?but maybe bad news for Nebraska and the
rest of the conference.
We'll just have to wait and see. If the Jayhawks whomp Nebraska
in their basketball encounters, it may be a sign that the Deity has
Or it may mean that She just doesn't give much of a damn.
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail