Since I’m speaking at Harvard today*, I thought sharing this bit from Hanna Rosen’s God’s Harvard would be appropriate (and it’s a fascinating read). The president of Patrick Henry College, whose mission is “to prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding”, accidentally divulged his strategy to get young earth creationism in the public schools (italics mine):
But there’s one hitch with this model: Many evangelicals, especially the older generation, are not like Catholics or German immigrants. Historically, they’ve had a much harder time leaving the ghetto. [President] Farris does not want to make any compromises. He doesn’t mind excluding people or making them uncomfortable. Patrick Henry’s statement of faith spells it out in plain damnation English: anyone who is not us shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity. Conscious torment for eternity. Stew in that, Sam Harris. Biology classes make no concessions, either. Patrick Henry teaches that the earth was created in seven literal days and is about six thousand years old. Farris knows that in the sophisticated circles he wants his students to travel in, saying the earth is six thousand years old is the social equivalent of admitting you have two wives. But so be it. Better that than give the world another Maureen Dowd.
Farris is not interested in adapters who bend to the will of the mainstream. He wants shape-shifters who can move between two worlds with their essential natures intact. He wants updated versions of his twenty-year-old self, less hotheaded, more conscious of their paper trail. “You don’t stand up in the public schools and say, ‘We’re going to bring prayer into your schools and we’re going to do it with this bill right here right now,'” Farris told his constitutional law class, putting on his best faux Southern preacher delivery. “You do something smarter than that. You talk about intelligent design. You talk about teaching evolution and the facts that support it and the facts that negate it and pass a bill that says they shall both be presented in an evenhanded manner. And then you discipline your supporters to keep their stupid mouths shut.”
Farris wants spies in the land of Canaan–although as anyone who’s ever read a spy novel can tell you, Canaan leaves its mark, especially on the impressionable young. Farris may have his own particular vision for how the Joshua Generation will take over the world. But if he believed in modern adolescence, it might occur to him that the Joshua Generation might have their own ideas.
I do agree with him, however, about Maureen Dowd, but opposing evolution to stop her is a little extreme. Then there was this part (that has nothing to do with evolution) which is very sad and tragic (italics mine):
Farahn was homeschooled partly because of the quality of the local schools and partly because of her dancing. For a few years her mother drove her to a ballet school an hour away. When she became really serious about dancing, at age fifteen, her family moved to North Carolina, where her father had inherited a house from his family and where she joined the North Carolina Dance Theater. “How you feel when all the emotions inside you are about to explode, that’s how I feel about dance,” she once told me. As she got older, she got used to being the only serious Christian (“meaning the prude”) in any production, and the other dancers got used to her; when they went partying after rehearsal they knew not to invite her along.
In her senior year of high school, Farahn’s best friend at NCDT was another dancer, a boy named Kevin. He invited her to his senior prom. When she went to his house to take their prom pictures, another boy was there, also dressed in a tux. “Oh, he’s my other date,” Kevin explained. When they got to the prom, the guy continued to hang around them, and then he and Kevin “started power-grinding.” Farahn got really upset and decided to go to another party she knew about, but that scene was barely better. “People were drinking too much and playing truth or dare and spin the bottle and making out in front of everyone.”
She met up with Kevin again after midnight, and they drove to a Waffle House together.
“Did you have sex with that guy?”
“Do you think I’m a bad person if I did?” he asked finally.
“That’s not up to me. I think you need to ask yourself that question. You profess to be a Christian, so what do you think?”
At 3 A.M., she called her mother, sobbing, “Mom, I want to come home.”
Later Farahn wrote Kevin a letter: “I’ll always be your friend and I’ll always support you if that’s the lifestyle you choose to live. I think you’re a believer but I think you’re mixed up.” Kevin lived with his grandmother, and Farahn wrote to tell her that Kevin was using girls as a cover. The grandmother wrote back, saying that Farahn was Kevin’s only true friend, which “really broke my heart,” said Farahn. “I’ll always love him.” A few years later, she ran into him in Miami, where he was dancing with the city’s ballet company. “I don’t think I’m gay,” he told her, and said he’d been to Genesis, an evangelical group that “cures” homosexuals.
Farahn told me this story as we were finishing up breakfast. “You remember him, don’t you?” she asked Donna.
“Sure. You did the right thing, Farahn,” Donna said. “If you love somebody, would you encourage them to destroy themselves? It’s an abomination to God, and as Christians, we can’t accept it.
A gay repressed conservative Christian. Who woulda thunk it?
I’ll be blogging some more about Patrick Henry College in the future. Not because I particularly enjoy making fun of them, but because the Republicans actually seek these bozos out to work for them. Want to live on a compound and be crazy, fine. But running the country is a different matter.
*Too late, you already missed it.
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