“God’s Harvard”

If you were part of the group that helped provide support to the Soulforce Equality Ride visit to Patrick Henry College back in April, you may remember Hanna Rosin, the Washington Post reporter who was with us for much of that time. She has been working on a book about PHC, and it has now been published. An excerpt is available at Alternet:

On the issues that have come to define the modern Christian right, the students at Patrick Henry generally cleave to orthodoxy. During my year and a half on campus, I never heard any student argue that homosexuality is not a sin, or that abortion should be allowed in any circumstances. I heard people criticize Bush, but only from the right. After the 2004 campaign, I heard a rumor that someone had voted for John Kerry. I chased down many leads. All dead ends. If it was true, no one would admit it publicly. At Baylor University in Waco, Texas, a much older Baptist institution that’s lately been trying to modernize, the student newspaper defended gay marriage in 2004. Such a transgression is unthinkable at Patrick Henry — so beyond the pale that the possibility is mentioned only in passing in the otherwise-very-thorough student code of conduct.

Yet a Patrick Henry student is unlikely to be caught on camera giving a loony Jerry Falwell-style rant about gays and lesbians causing September 11. They worry about gay rights, but they worry just as much about mainstream culture’s thinking they’re homophobic. “Yes, it’s a sin, but so are a hundred other things,” one of the students told me, in a self-conscious nod to the “whatever” cadence of his peers. One day a CNN crew came to film a feature story on the school on the same day some students had made two snowmen holding wooden paddles. The snow sculpture was an inside joke about the students’ fratlike ritual, recently criticized in the school newspaper, of paddling newly engaged boys. But Farris was mortified. “Do you really want a story to develop that suggests a connection between PHC and those that have beaten homosexuals, etc.?” he wrote in an e-mail to some students who had defended the snowmen as a harmless prank. “PHC ‘a school for vigilante justice.’ Is that the image you want?”

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No, evidently the image Farris wants to project is this one, articulated by a blogger at Soulforce:

“The objective of this group [Soulforce] is not dialogue, but to silence our voice. Why should they care if we say that homosexual behavior, and note that I say that homosexual behavior is immoral. The reason they care, is because our voice coincides with their God given conscience. Their other objective is to drown out the voice of God, from their own hearts.”

…What sickens me most about this kind of statement is that the man unabashedly speaks for the hearts of the Equality Riders, their consciences themselves – literally from behind closed doors.

It’s not only unfair in the strictest of senses, it’s inexcusable, and I am tempted to say unforgivable.

Personally (me, Emproph), I walk this oh-so fine line of “knowing” the hearts of others when I post online, and am ever-tempted to cross it. I make every attempt to qualify what I say with evidence, partly because I know I often fail in this endeavor in my own mind.

By speaking for the hearts and minds of the Equality Riders in such a fundamentally disparaging way – at a PRESS conference – is not only to bear false witness, but to do so with the motive of spreading that false witness. It is a witness as to just how politically motivated that school is (and by “political” I mean dishonest).

Furthermore, by speaking for the “God-given conscience[s]” of the Equlity Riders (and by default, every GLBT person of faith), Michael P. Farris claims witness to what ONLY God could possibly know. And by so doing, Michael P. Farris, Chancellor of PHC, attempts to speak for God’s relationship with us. The ultimate heresy, the ultimate blasphemy, the ultimate idolatry.

More importantly and most irresponsibly, he does so without any attempt to engage the Equality Riders in order to ensure that his perceptions are accurate.

There’s just something within me that says there’s nothing more vile.

Well said, friend. And there is mounting evidence that some of PHC’s own students are not altogether comfortable with this heresy.

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5 Responses to “God’s Harvard”

  1. John Bullock says:

    I humbly and hopefully in a sense of good humor and best intentions to explain a line of reasoning… and hereby offer this response to the first post above.

    I’m fairly sure that, just as Hanna Rosin has said she has memorized Bible passages because they’ve been so often quoted to her by well-meaning if over-zealous (it takes one like me to know one) Christians… I figure that homosexuals who acquaintance Christians or encounter their rantings regarding “Sodomites” most likely have well-exercised their rejections and/or rebuttals to fundamentalist interpretations of Romans Chapter 1… but here goes another right-wing nut doing his Great Commission thing anyhow : )

    First, I agree that truly only God knows in totality each person’s heart or conscience…

    As Hanna Rosin might know from Jewish teachers, in Genesis 16:13 God is called “El Shaddai” “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees” by one who, according to my understanding, is the mother to the people we know as “the Palestinians”.

    And, God hears as He did in 1 Samuel Chapter 1 when “Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard…” EXCEPT that she was heard by God!

    And then there’s the time when God is choosing a new leader for His people in 1 Samuel 16:7 and He says of Himself, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”.

    But, for those who will accept the New Testament as the same God’s own Words, there are some things God has revealed to all of us in Romans Chapter 1 about some universal aspects of “conscience”… I’ve added emphasis for the phrases that I understand to refer to something that can be likened to what I mean when I use the word “conscience”… and I understand “conscience” to mean “con”+”science” or “with” + “knowledge”…

    (I perceive that “them” and “they” refers to the “men” or “mankind” of previous verses)

    19 …what may be known of God is manifest in them , for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

    One word in particular stands out to me in these verses when it comes to “conscience”; that word is “exchanged”, which is the same Greek word “metallasso” as found in both verses 25 and 26. I understand from Romans Chapter 1 that God is telling us that we all choose whether to hold onto our God-consciousness or not. And, God gives us here in Romans 1 a clear list of consequences individually and societally when we allow burning desires for what we might want to sear our God-given-conscience of what He is “saying” to all of His through the the conscience- may I coin the term “iGod”- He put inside of all of us : )

    Even if you don’t agree with the conclusions I’ve offered regardin Romans 1, maybe my explanation makes it clearer why some religious establishments don’t see value in starting dialogue about something when the operators of those establishments conclude that one party has already stopped listening to God’s personalized conscience-level monologue on the subject. Or maybe not… maybe I’ve justified my own monkish withdrawal into a warm comfortable cloister…

    So I prayerfully say along with everyone who has an ounce of unfried God-consciousness: God, please forgive me for so often failing to listen to your still small voice! Please light our way to Oneness in You and help us find a way to find Your Way.

    As an aside, I think Ben Stein’s upcoming “Expelled” movie will (somewhat slantedly) demonstrate how far the education establishment and Darwinists go in trying to fight God-consciousness. See ya’ at the movies!

  2. Jonathan says:

    John,

    I take that as an invitation for an EqualityLoudoun/PHC night out at the movies. Great idea! We can go eat out for Sushi afterwards. Please email info@… and we’ll set up “date night” as we call it in the Weintraub family.

  3. Jonathan says:

    John,

    I’m no Bible scholar, can you provide links to authoritative interpretations? I found The skeptical Romans 1 but I don’t think that’s what you would have in mind.

  4. David says:

    Here is a cool site that allows you to compare the various translations (I don’t know that it’s exhaustive, but there are a lot of ’em).

    John, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Are you from PHC, as Jonathan seems to assume? Please don’t be put off. We actually are perfectly happy to dialogue about this. I guess what I would say about your explanation is this: It does explain the perspective that Farris is expressing, but it doesn’t address in a satisfactory manner (to me, anyway) the fact that these interpretations are still human creations. A human being had to decide “this part is important to include.” And Paul himself was obviously a human being, expressing the cultural peculiarities of his time and place. I don’t see how you can get away from the fact that any definition or articulation of God-given-conscience is a human invention as well, and to elevate yours or Mike Farris’ or mine above another person’s own experience of God amounts to idolatry. How could it not?

    Another way of putting the same thing (I think it’s basically the same thing) is to simply say “if anything you think God is telling you contradicts my interpretation of scripture, it’s really Satan talking.” Now there’s a convenient way to avoid dialogue.

  5. David says:

    Ah, now I see.

    To put things in perspective (the use of the coined term “Darwinist” made me curious) here is some commentary on the movie “Expelled,” referenced in the first comment:

    Come February, we are going to be privileged to see a brand new movie that stars Ben Stein and portrays Intelligent Design creationism as the cool rebel oppressed by the stodgy old Darwinist bullies. Did you know that “scientists are not allowed to even think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator”? I didn’t either. I think a lot of scientists have thought about it and noticed that there is no evidence for such a hypothesis, and have therefore rejected it.

    This movie fits with the intelligent design strategy of declaring itself the victim of an unfair exclusion (which isn’t true, of course: they haven’t ponied up the science that would legitimize them), but interestingly, its central theme seems to be that Big Science has excluded god from the classroom and the lab “¦ it’s a raw demand for a violation of the separation of church and state and for the inclusion of superstitious dogma in science. That’s very convenient. It’ll make it easier to use the courts to keep their religious propaganda out of the classroom.

    Oh, and putting Ben Stein in short pants and playing “Bad to the Bone” does not make him a rebel. He’s a Republican apologist, and he’s not “cool” at all.

    Ben Stein also apparently doesn’t understand what science is.

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