Thursday, April 27, 2006

God’s Next Problem

A friend of ours was the editor of the Discovery-Times Channel’s new, compelling 1-hour documentary, God's Next Army, about Patrick Henry College, a six-year-old evangelical college on the outskirts of Washington, DC, which is intent on becoming Christianity's answer to the Ivy League, but more than that, is planning to conquer the battlefield of American politics.

The kids on the steps of Congress (from the HPC photo gallery)

As documentaries go, this one is extremely fair-minded in the way it permits its subjects to make their case to the viewer. The image which emerges from the many interviews onscreen is of an homogenous student body, 99% blond-white, most of whom were home-schooled by highly motivated, evangelical parents. Their teachers, too, appear cleancut, poised, friendly and self-assured. Overall, old-leftie prejudices aside, this crowd appears as non-threatening and promising as they come.

You’re prepared to forgive them the fact that they teach everything “through the Bible.” Who cares if their biology teacher employs Creationism? Who cares, even, if the school’s president, Michael Farris, poo poos the value of liberal arts and the classics, vowing instead to use the biblical prism in his approach to learning. You can go a long way with a biblical prism, and Creationism doesn’t scare me, and neither does the theory of Evolution, by the way.

Well, OK, the literalism of one Science teacher was a bit of a surprise, as she explained all geological changes being the result of the Deluge. I mean, it’s a cute Toireh, with the boiling waters turning the dinosaurs into soup, but away from the Shabbat lunch table it seems less than scientifically useful. But, again, what do I know (and care).

Here’s where the thing starts unraveling. PHC prepares its students, in the most unabashed way, to be tomorrow’s leaders of the Republican party and the world. As such they’re trained to beat the pants off of all other college debate teams. They are focused, informed, fast on their feet and, apparently, lethal.

It’s tough to understand the difference between a sharp debater and an actual scholar. They often appear very similar. I’ve long since given up on 24-hour news shows with their relentless matches, but those are the places where you can see master debaters who know nothing at all about much of anything, but defeat their opponents, hands down.

Frighteningly enough, in the American marketplace of ideas, a good debater usually beats out a good scholar. Hey, this nation always chooses the good looking, friendly seeming guy over his opponent in presidential races. Kennedy over Nixon, Clinton over Dole, Bush over Gore.

But even more scary is the agenda these supposedly Christian lads and lasses are carrying out into the world, and, most emphatically, into the power halls of DC. It’s all about prohibiting same-sex marriages and abortions, and, amazingly, about revoking the estate tax. That last one is justified biblically with some verse about God owning the whole world, “not the state.” But, wait a minute, you want to ask, if God owns it, how come your grandchildren get to keep it? Oh, stop it with your logic, this is America, we can barely understand the slogans, you want we should hear your rebuttals?

Here’s what’s missing from these whitebread Americans’ Christian agenda, as they peddle their pitches in congressional offices, on behalf of God’s Official Party: Any empathy for the poor, for the sick, for the elderly. Any concern for the well being of the planet. Maybe it’s there and the film has neglected to show it, but, somehow, I don’t think so.

The evangelical Me generation has managed to shape the gospel in its own image at HPC, and it’s soldiering up to retake what it sees as its rightful inheritance. It’s not as bad as bikers and neo Nazis, but it comes pretty close. Bikers and neo-Nazis you can still call the cops on, in many cities. These guys will be your cops.


Blogger James Fletcher Baxter said...

The missing element in every human 'solution' is
an accurate definition of the creature.

The way we define 'human' determines our view
of self, others, relationships, institutions, life, and
future. Important? Only the Creator who made us
in His own image is qualified to define us accurately.
Choose wisely...there are results.

Many problems in human experience are the result of
false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of diversity. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes
his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall
that his other features are but vehicles of experi-
ence intent on the development of perceptive
awareness and the following acts of decision and
choice. Note that the products of man cannot define
him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-
making process and include the cognition of self,
the utility of experience, the development of value-
measuring systems and language, and the accultur-
ation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
creative process, is a choice-making process. His
articles, constructs, and commodities, however
marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idol-
atry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth's own
highest expression of the creative process.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and
significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean
fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the
forces of cause and effect to an elected level of qual-
ity and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a
natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and
bestows earth's title, The Choicemaker, on his
singular and plural brow.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the

Let us proclaim it. Behold!
The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV


3:53 PM, April 28, 2006  

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