A Closer Look at GRACE’s Final Report on Bob Jones University

“Though much in this report will understandably cause readers to grieve, GRACE is encouraged by the willingness of Bob Jones University to take the unprecedented step to voluntarily request this independent investigation and to make these difficult findings public," stated GRACE executive director Boz Tchividjian. "Such institutional transparency is too rare and will hopefully set a positive precedent for Christendom and the watching world."

GRACE's Final Report on BJU

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Zena

The release of GRACE's FINAL REPORT: FOR THE INVESTIGATORY REVIEW OF SEXUAL ABUSE DISCLOSURES AND INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES AT BOB JONES UNIVERSITY, which we discussed in a previous post, has prompted considerable media coverage since the report's release on December 11, 2014.  Here is how a local news station covered the story a few days ago.

FOX Carolina 21

The Christian media as well as secular news outlets have begun to weigh in on this 300 page report.  For example, The Washington Post featured an article entitled Bob Jones University apologizes to victims of sexual assault. In it was a stunning quote from a video apology by the current BJU president, Steve Pettit, (see below).

“I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize to those who felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault,” Pettit said, according to a statement on the school’s Web site. “To them I would say—we have carefully listened to your voice. We take your testimony in this report to our hearts. We intend to thoroughly review every aspect and concern outlined in the investigation and respond appropriately.”

According to a Gleanings post (Christianity Today), the report should have been released back in March, but the firing and subsequent re-hiring of GRACE delayed the process. The Gleanings article included the following statement found in the Final Report:

Regarding past president Robert Jones III, who left the presidency in 2005 and currently serves as chancellor, the GRACE report states, “As president of BJU during much of the time that was the subject of this investigation, Dr. Jones, III is ultimately responsible for many of the difficult findings of this investigation. [He] has also repeatedly demonstrated a significant lack of understanding regarding the many painful dynamics associated with sex abuse.”

The Guardian, a British newspaper, published an article about the BJU scandal entitled:  Sex abuse report: Bob Jones fosters culture of victim-blamimg.  It contained some interesting information, specifically:

In November 2012, BJU’s board of trustees asked Grace to investigate the school in response to complaints about the its policies and procedures for handling abuse claims made by people abused while attending the school or earlier. It terminated the contract in late January, then reinstated it in late February. The investigation concluded in June, and Grace noted that it was an important step in improving how the school responds to sex abuse.

The report was created by a team of Grace investigators, including mental health professionals with expertise in child abuse, child abuse prosecutors, and clergy members. The investigators created an online survey, then conducted 116 interviews, approximately half of which were with people who self-identified as victims of sexual abuse. The others interviewed were staff members, pastors, counselors, former students, and other people who have dealt with sex abuse claims made by students.

As you might imagine, The Daily Beast just published an article with an interesting title – Church Sex Scandals Are Rooted in Theology.  And actually, who can blame them for being so matter-of-fact about the hypocrisy they have observed in the Christian corners of society.  Just take a look at the opening sentence: 

At this point, there are so many sex scandals among conservative religious organizations, we’re no longer surprised by any of them. The latest revelation—that for decades, the evangelical Bob Jones University blamed victims of sexual assault and discouraged the prosecution of predators—should be shocking, but probably isn’t.

Such honest criticism is well-deserved.  But the article goes on to expose those beyond tha walls of BJU by stating:  

Of the 166 respondents to the BJU survey who reported sexual abuse, about half of the abuse took place before they came to the university…

Not only that, the report by GRACE revealed the following, as stated in The Daily Beast article:

The university’s responses, though, were depressingly familiar. Only 7.6 percent of victims were encouraged by BJU staff to report their abuse to the police. Forty-seven percent were actively told not to do so and 55 percent said the university’s attitude toward abuse reports was “blaming and disparaging.” Women were invited to confess what they had done to entice the abuser—the wearing of revealing clothing, for example. And if their bodies “responded favorably,” then they, too, had sinned.

The piece goes on to state:

Of course, a sexually repressive Christian university blamed immodest women for “enticing” rapists. That is what conservative organizations, religious and secular, have done for centuries.

No doubt many loyal readers would agree with the article's contention that the 'deep roots of rape culture … may not be so easily uprooted'

Regarding the 'deep roots' of sexual abuse, this may prove to be a crucial time for BJU because a South Carolina solicitor has launched an investigation into how the university handled the reporting of sexual abuse in order to 'determine if state law was broken or if there was obstruction of justice'.  According to a recent article – Solicitor to look into Bob Jones University:

The Greenville News reports Solicitor Walt Wilkins also hopes anyone who wants to prosecute abuse will contact his office.

Wilkins’ investigation stems from a report issued Thursday by a Lynchburg, Virginia, group that works with churches and other Christian organizations on the proper ways to prevent abuse and how to work with victims. According to GRACE, the teachings of the university as well as counseling served to re-victimize students.

As the Final Report by GRACE states:

At this moment in history, Bob Jones University has been given an exceptional opportunity to be a voice of hope, compassion, and love that many victims of sexual abuse so desperately need(ed) and desire(d) during their time on campus. If Bob Jones University responds to these expressions of pain and loss with repentance and genuine commitment for substantive change, it will begin to comfort the afflicted while reflecting a love for the One who is able to heal and transform individuals and institutions.

We will be watching to see how BJU responds to Solicitor Wilkins' investigation, and we predict that many other Christian organizations will be monitoring the situation very closely…

Lydia's Corner:  Genesis 39:1-41:16   Matthew 12:46-13:23   Psalm 17:1-15   Proverbs 3:33-35

Comments

A Closer Look at GRACE’s Final Report on Bob Jones University — 161 Comments

  1. “The Greenville News reports Solicitor Walt Wilkins also hopes anyone who wants to prosecute abuse will contact his office”.

    God bless him in his efforts. There have been all too many bandaids slapped on the cancer that is sexual assault/abuse.

  2. Once again, I’ve got to ask the question…..a year from now, 2 years from now, will anything have really changed?

  3. Regarding the deep roots of sexual abuse, I wonder if the things people are taught in Christian institutions about the fundamental relationship between male and female doesn’t really look a lot more like Genesis 3:16 than not. If we believe that we are new creations in Christ, why do we, in effect, teach boys and girls that they are doomed to live a Genesis 3 life together?

    What if we taught a positive, affirmative, dare I say Gospel message to young people that they should love and respect one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. And that teaching should start at the very top in the leadership. We are teaching a way of relating to one another that is fundamentally fallen. And we are pretending that our failures do not require repentance and forgiveness but rather hiding. When I say “we” I don’t mean every individual Christian or church or institution, but rather Christians generally.

    What happened at Bob Jones is a normal human and worldly response, but Christians should not be normal in that sense. I think that instances of sexual abuse are seen as exposing the lie that Christians are already perfected, and we want to hide the evidence and shut up the witnesses so that we can maintain our reputation which only exists within our bubble. We are into reputation management rather than being transformed by the Spirit. And all the rules and regulations and laws and legalism cannot transform someone. Only the Spirit can do that, but we keep obstructing his work by insisting we can do it ourselves.

  4. K.D. wrote:

    Once again, I’ve got to ask the question…..a year from now, 2 years from now, will anything have really changed?

    This is indeed the crucial issue. It seems clear that BJU had a huge internal struggle in the hiring of GRACE and then allowing them to even continue with their work – an indication of the inclination of any institution, religious or secular, to cover up even the most abhorrent of its deeds. Because of this, BJU’s hiring of GRACE and release of its report is a monumental step in addressing sexual abuse within an organization and I hope it becomes the standard for the way for organizations to respond to failings in responding to incidents of abuse.

    As you noted, this will still be all for naught if BJU isn’t willing or able to change its culture to prevent these things from happening again. This culture change will be extremely difficult to achieve, particularly given BJU’s conservative Christian views on women, and I am praying that BJU will be able to accomplish this in the face of all the internal resistance it will face.

  5. I have a question:

    I have heard it said, in effect, that because God allows ____________ to go on, and doesn’t step in to stop it or correct it, means that we should exercise patience in dealing with _________ in the church. That patience is one facet of the fruit of the Spirit is brought up as the reason for exercising patience.

    So, what I hear is that we shouldn’t do things that are deemed to be outside of the Fruit of the Spirit to effect change in the church.

    The problem with this, as I see it, is in figuring out who defines what acting in accord with the Fruit of the Spirit looks like. It’s seems awful easy for someone to label another as “unloving” because they just don’t like what is said to address an issue.

    Another problem I see is that it seems to be way too subjective and an excuse to cover up wrong doing. My experience has been that the focus is shifted to the tone of an email or the lack of communication skills, without ever addressing the substance of the communication. This sounds like blame shifting to me.

    The whole idea seems like faulty thinking, and faulty theology to me.

    What do you think?

  6. @ Gram3:

    @ JeffT:

    BJU has a real problem in that it has to keep its doors open and its slots filled to survive financially in the face of the competition. If fundamentalists believed what gram3 believes and still wanted to be conservative then they would send their children to Liberty and not BJU, and in fact thousands and thousands of people are doing just that. Liberty has better academic offerings, low prices compared to other schools and the opportunity to keep the price even lower with on line offerings which save money in residence costs for the students, thus being able to compete financially anywhere in the country including South Carolina. But in the eyes of hyper-fundamentalists Liberty is liberal and straight from the pit. I have heard that out of people’s mouths, it is not just something I read or imagined. So how is BJU going to compete with that unless they are more strict in dress and behavior rules and more rigid in biblical understanding? I am sure that everybody knows that people also have the options of other similar schools and bible colleges which just have not gotten into the same public problems that BJU has. A fellow I know went to Tennessee Temple and wanted his children to do the same instead of liberal straight from the pit Liberty, for example. What exactly can BJU do about its basic theology and still stay in business, given the population segment it aims to draw from?

    Evangelicalism may be trying to offer itself as fundamentalism light, but I still run into fundamentalists who are not buying it because it is “light.” And speaking of other meanings for words and such, light can be understood as compromise in some circles, and compromise can be seen as serious sin, and there you go.

  7. I wish BJU luck. I wish all schools good luck in dealing with this issue. 40 years ago sexual assaults were a problem at Texas A&M. Today, sexual assaults are still a problem. Why can’t we change this paradigm?

  8. Nancy wrote:

    Evangelicalism may be trying to offer itself as fundamentalism light, but I still run into fundamentalists who are not buying it because it is “light.” And speaking of other meanings for words and such, light can be understood as compromise in some circles, and compromise can be seen as serious sin, and there you go.

    Most fundamentalists I knew from the days I spent in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church considered evangelicals to be liberal heathen devil pagan compromisers. It was pretty much a part of the party platform, right along with the historic fundamentals, separation, secondary separation, and King James-onlyism (which they actually plagiarized from the Seventh Day Adventists, but who’s counting?).

    So yes, Liberty would be far too liberal. For some fundies, even BJU was too liberal because they compromised on King James-onlyism!

    On an almost unrelated note, Robin Williams once said, “I’m Episcopal, that’s Catholic lite. It’s kind of like, same religion, half the guilt. It’s frightening!”

  9. I wonder when men in the church will rise up and believe that the curse of sin has been broken for women, as well as men. I wonder when we will begin to discontinue the projection of the shame of Eve’s sin on women God has called holy and dearly loved. I wonder if we accept that there is no inherent shame in one’s gender just as there is no inherent honor in one’s gender–would we see less systemic abuse? I wonder…

  10. @ Nancy:

    That’s a great point I hadn’t thought of. The fact that BJU has to adhere to an extremely conservative view of gender to maintain its niche in the college student market, is going to make it very difficult, if not impossible, to change its culture in the ways necessary to create a culture that discourages rather than encourages sexual abuse.

  11. I read the whole referenced article in the Daily Beast and I want to note that the article is not some unbalanced assault on christian fundamentalism. The article mentions that this thinking can also be found in judaism and islam and in secular thinking. I think they did a good job with that article, though I exercise caution when people want to talk about sexual repression without clearly stating what exactly they mean by that and what exactly they consider a non-repressive sexual atmosphere.

    One of my children went to a state university in the early eighties and ran into a wide open party school. I could tell tales but will refrain. Anyhow she transferred at her request to a moderately conservative school (by our standards) and we were thankful for the opportunity to do so. As far as I know no repressive disability set in because of it. Just saying.

  12. Doug wrote:

    I have heard it said, in effect, that because God allows ____________ to go on, and doesn’t step in to stop it or correct it, means that we should exercise patience in dealing with _________ in the church.

    Sounds like a variant on God Allows Slavery, so Slavery is Christian.

  13. K.D. wrote:

    Once again, I’ve got to ask the question…..a year from now, 2 years from now, will anything have really changed?

    “Glory be to the Father,
    And to the Son,
    And to Bob Jones III.
    Rules without end, Amen.”
    — forbidden BJU student rhyme

  14. Cousin of Eutychus wrote:

    I wonder when men in the church will rise up and believe that the curse of sin has been broken for women, as well as men. I wonder when we will begin to discontinue the projection of the shame of Eve’s sin on women God has called holy and dearly loved. I wonder if we accept that there is no inherent shame in one’s gender just as there is no inherent honor in one’s gender–would we see less systemic abuse? I wonder…

    Excellent comment!

    When my daughter was in 10th grade at a Christian school, the guys in her Bible class ganged up on the girls and blamed them for the fall. Then several days later the male students apologized to the female students by presenting each one of them with a long-stemmed rose and an apologetic note. Hopefully, it was a lesson learned by all the students.

  15. Deb wrote:

    When my daughter was in 10th grade at a Christian school, the guys in her Bible class ganged up on the girls and blamed them for the fall.

    The apology and rose was a nice gesture, but where did they even hear such an erroneous fact? And interesting that they used it to humiliate the girls without a thought to their feelings. A seed was planted somewhere to both girls and boys.

    How sad.

  16. Nancy wrote:

    Liberty is liberal and straight from the pit.

    OK, that made me laugh. Liberty liberal? I understand that their online offerings are quite good, and I think that over time that model will be more sustainable than the on-campus bubble. I accidentally first typed “bibble” and maybe that is an apt term for places like Boyce or BJU.

    Kids were sent to my mother’s college to straighten them out, or keep them flying right, but she says that didn’t work out. Legalism never does. The Spirit must change the heart. And we must stop teaching things which address the Law and not the work of the Spirit.

  17. nmgirl wrote:

    I wish BJU luck. I wish all schools good luck in dealing with this issue. 40 years ago sexual assaults were a problem at Texas A&M. Today, sexual assaults are still a problem. Why can’t we change this paradigm?

    Well, I think one reason is that powerful people will do their will against less powerful people. That works out in various ways and places, but that is the nature of fallen human beings. When women are in unchecked power roles, I think the same principle applies. It’s not a gender thing but an opportunity to sin due to relative position thing.

  18. @ Doug:

    I definitely think it is faulty theology and faulty thinking. What it really usually means is that it is uncomfortable for the person thinking that way to confront the sin. It is easier to make an excuse or a false equivalence. The fact is, if it doesn’t affect someone personally, it doesn’t usually matter until the effects become personal.

    That, BTW, is a confession about how Gram became a raging feminist who scares John Piper. I didn’t think about the issues, first because I was not exposed to the 200 proof version, and because my life is easy. But then some things occurred which were 200 proof, and that made the abstract a lot more concrete. Then, when I started investigating the whole thing, I saw how artificial and manipulative the whole system is. And how it is *not* biblical, nor does it have anything to do with the fruit of the Spirit.

    Now, when it comes to abuse of children, I saw a church totally melt down due to improper handling of the matter. It didn’t split 2 ways. It melted down. And very publicly so. Same with another church that did not handle an inappropriate relationship between a staff pastor and a woman. That got really ugly, and there were True Believers who thought that pastor was being persecuted for his great faith.

    I guess I’ve seen this too many times and in too many ways and have become somewhat emb*ttered. Which, as we all know, is the very worst thing one can be.

  19. Lydia wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Doug wrote:
    I have heard it said, in effect, that because God allows ____________ to go on, and doesn’t step in to stop it or correct it, means that we should exercise patience in dealing with _________ in the church.
    Sounds like a variant on God Allows Slavery, so Slavery is Christian.
    Very close. Check this out:
    http://sbcvoices.com/the-bible-and-slavery/

    Wow. I wish I would have waited to eat. That was nauseating.

  20. Gram3 wrote:

    OK, that made me laugh. Liberty liberal?

    Liberty is definitely liberal compared to BJU, Tennessee Temple and numerous similar schools and bible colleges. When my daughter was a student at Liberty in the mid eighties, for example, she was able to keep a car on campus and go off campus for various reasons not limited to church or school. For example there was a rule against going to movies in Lynchburg and there were demerits if you were spotted doing it, but you were not shamed or thrown out of school, so lots of kids got caught doing it. The boys and girls were not only given the opportunity to get together but were required to go to mixers and various activities for the specific purpose of getting up with each other with one aim being to pick out and marry someone with the same values and background. Failure to participate in the mixers earned demerits. This was required mingling. I knew somebody once who had a girl child who threw herself into that activity with incredible enthusiasm and who used to sneak off campus in her car with whatever current boyfriend hidden on the floorboard of the back seat with dirty clothes for camo en route to the alleged laundromat. All in all it was a good way to visit the sites in that part of virginia, including how romantic is Meadows of Dan. Bible was a required course(es) but KJV was not. There was a dress code which was not out of line actually with the larger secular society. What I am describing is not BJU style fundyville, but it is definitely conservative by today’s standards. It did indeed have more rules that we did at home, but nothing that was going to precipitate mental illness or apostasy, you know.

  21. JeffT wrote:

    This culture change will be extremely difficult to achieve, particularly given BJU’s conservative Christian views on women, and I am praying that BJU will be able to accomplish this in the face of all the internal resistance it will face.

    When they get their arses sued off a couple of times and it results in a few HUGE pay-outs, trust me, they’ll step into the 21st century with regard to women’s rights and women’s sexuality.

  22. Cousin of Eutychus wrote:

    I wonder when men in the church will rise up and believe that the curse of sin has been broken for women, as well as men. I

    When the money dries up. You would not believe how much of the money comes in because of women– for many reasons.

  23. Nancy wrote:

    BJU has a real problem in that it has to keep its doors open and its slots filled to survive financially in the face of the competition.

    It is not even accredited, is it? I mean, you cannot even transfer BJU credits to a state university, can you?

  24. Lydia wrote:

    When the money dries up. You would not believe how much of the money comes in because of women– for many reasons.

    For BJU, it looks like the money may be ever so slowly drying up.

  25. Victorious wrote:

    A seed was planted somewhere to both girls and boys.

    I think it’s up to forward thinking homes with parents who will not be afraid to push back against what their kids might hear in their Sunday schools or from the pulpits, namely that the Bible ‘teaches’ no such thing as a gender and role-based based hierarchy.

  26. Lydia wrote:

    It is not even accredited, is it? I mean, you cannot even transfer BJU credits to a state university, can you?

    BJU has made noise about trying to become regionally accredited. I think they’re having to pretend that they want accreditation because it’s harder to sweep issues that stem from their lack thereof under the rug. With that said, the requirements are extensive, and they run afoul of said requirements by, for example, having notoriously educationally inbred faculty, and having people teaching things they aren’t certified to teach (*cough* Jim Berg *cough* “counseling” and so forth). I’d be surprised if they ever follow through with it.

  27. Lydia wrote:

    It is not even accredited, is it? I mean, you cannot even transfer BJU credits to a state university, can you?

    I don’t know. I have no first hand knowledge of BJU, but I have first hand exposure to some seriously fanatical baptist fundamentalism, and I have known kids sent off to unaccredited bible colleges, well unaccredited for the purposes of transfer to state schools. I think the bible colleges have their own evaluation system, but I don’t know for sure.

    Anyhow, some of these people actually seem to think that everything about US culture is to be avoided if possible, and there does not seem to be much reasoning behind it. I knew some people once who went shopping on Sunday and charged stuff on a family member’s credit card (with permission of course) thinking that somehow that did not break their rule against shopping on Sunday since no payment actually came directly from them in their name to the vendor or the credit card company. Once it gets to levels like that I quit trying to figure out any of it.

  28. Nancy wrote:

    I don’t know. I have no first hand knowledge of BJU, but I have first hand exposure to some seriously fanatical baptist fundamentalism, and I have known kids sent off to unaccredited bible colleges, well unaccredited for the purposes of transfer to state schools. I think the bible colleges have their own evaluation system, but I don’t know for sure.

    I first heard about their lack of accreditation on this blog a while back when a guest post was written by a former employee there. It blew my mind any parent would send their kid to an unaccredited college. What is the point? I guess to work in that world which is very limiting.

  29. Muff Potter wrote:

    When they get their arses sued off a couple of times and it results in a few HUGE pay-outs, trust me, they’ll step into the 21st century with regard to women’s rights and women’s sexuality.

    I think there are laws about civil rights and employment laws and such, but what laws are there about women’s sexuality? What I mean is, what do you mean by women’s sexuality in this aspect?

  30.   __

    “Raging Hormones, Raging Bull?”

    hmmm…

      A christian university professional once quipped, they have rules in campus sexual conduce in place, but as they recognize that they are impossable to enforce, (hence) they rely on an honor system as opossed to strict enforcement.

  31. Lydia wrote:

    I first heard about their lack of accreditation on this blog a while back when a guest post was written by a former employee there. It blew my mind any parent would send their kid to an unaccredited college. What is the point? I guess to work in that world which is very limiting.

    Well, I knew a girl who was high school valedictorian in a public school who went to a non-accredited bible college, did a double major in elementary ed and bible, married a preacher and was then a non-state accredited teacher in a little church school. At the time that school would not hire any state accredited teacher since that would be compromising with the evil secular world and besides no telling what contamination had happened to the accredited teacher in her schooling process and even if not it is already evident that the state accredited teacher is a compromiser which is about as bad as you can get. Seriously. State accreditation as a teacher would keep people from getting a job as a teacher in that school.

  32. What amazes about all of this and much of Christianity is that people twist the bible and what it says to verify anything they want to say, do, purpose in their heart, esp. the one about slavery.

    Jesus spoke about every life issue when he said to love God with everything you have and your neighbor as yourself. If people did this what a world we would all live in.

    The we wouldn’t have this BJU raping going on, wouldn’t have homelessness, people starving, wars, etc.

    What makes it all sadder is that we as Christians have the words in our good book, but some just want to keep beating others up with their interpretations, i.e. sin was Eve’s fault. Can those who keep using that, move on.

    It is high time we at least love one another as ourselves, even if we can’t love God 100%.

    Look, I realize I am the first person who needs to live this command out, but I am just sick and tired, esp. after reading that slave article/comment, of all this craziness, esp. among so-called Christians because they can’t seem to love their neighbor in a self-sacrificial way, or even if they do, in their heart they still hate/blame/despise them. They only do love their neighbor for the applause of men and maybe to impress God.

    Sorry for the rant, I am with you guys on this, I guess these things like what has gone at a BJU remind of the need we all have for a savior since we can all be so sinful, each in our own way.

    If only we could love one another as ourselves.

  33. Gram3 wrote:

    I definitely think it is faulty theology and faulty thinking. What it really usually means is that it is uncomfortable for the person thinking that way to confront the sin. It is easier to make an excuse or a false equivalence. The fact is, if it doesn’t affect someone personally, it doesn’t usually matter until the effects become personal.

    Sure seems like it to me. I mean, imagine the abuse that could be justified by that line of thinking. Some of these ideas just seem to be so pervasive within all strata of US xianity. I hear them from time to time in my own small tribe, and I know they come from the influence of the Christian Celebrity Publishing Machine. I wonder if it wont take a complete revolution to overcome it, and if that is even possible.

  34. I guess I should add that some people must not love themselves too much based on the way they treat others.

  35. OCDan wrote:

    I guess I should add that some people must not love themselves too much based on the way they treat others.

    i do think that may be part of it, and that idea needs explored. I read something one time that you could not love others as yourself if you did not love yourself first. This incessant emphasis on what a wretched sinner everybody is all the time must be a factor in this.

  36. OCDan wrote:

    I guess I should add that some people must not love themselves too much based on the way they treat others.

    Or, they love themselves too much, and that is one of the many reasons why they abuse others. It’s all about them and their personal gratification.

  37. Speaking of, the annual christmas card from the new (2 years) pastor at local SBC mega came to our house the other day. It consisted of two cards, one with the picture of the preacher’s family outside somewhere in the summertime and the words Merry Christmas. So far so good. The other card was a message from the preacher’s wife about how her son climbed a tree after he was told not to and her son’s disobedience reminder her that she and we all are disobedient to God and need to repent. There followed a two paragraph quote from Spurgeon about how people are disobedient and need to repent. The card ended with a reminder that at this christmas time we need to repent and apply ourselves to holiness.

    No unto us a child is born. No peace to all or joy to the world. No birth of the savior. No thanks be to God. N-o-t-h-i-n-g except how disobedient we all are (sins not specified) and need to repent.

    If the leadership and the churches turn to joylessness as virtuous, even at christmas time, where is the love for God or for mankind in that?

  38.   __

    “Jesus spoke about every life issue when he said to love God with everything you have and your neighbor as yourself. If people did this what a world we would all live in…” ~ OCDan

    Unfortunately, kind folks who do these things today, are ridiculed and picked off.

    The devil is on his way?

    hmmm…

    (sadface)

    Sopy

  39. Nancy wrote:

    disobedient and need to repent

    I hear this all of the time! Just today in an email from a “co-congregant”. I was explaining how unhappy I was on how my most recent conflict with church manglement was going and I got the repent message. It’s like an involuntary “Gollum-like” reaction to any spiritual problem. I picture some of them hunched over their precious (ESV MacArthur Study Bible) and belching “repent, repent…”

  40. New Leaked Audio: Pettit Contradicts GRACE, Reassures “BJU is Safe”
    From “BJU News – All The News That They Won’t Print.”
    http://bjunews.com/2014/12/15/new-leaked-audio-pettit-contradicts-grace-reassures-bju-is-safe/

    BJU President Steve Pettit had a message for the University family: BJU “is a safe place,” and “most” of the abuse issues the GRACE report identified “happened to people before you were even born.”

    Contradicting the findings of the GRACE report on several points, Pettit claimed that the University has “a solid approach toward counseling people.”

  41. Nancy wrote:

    i do think that may be part of it, and that idea needs explored. I read something one time that you could not love others as yourself if you did not love yourself first. This incessant emphasis on what a wretched sinner everybody is all the time must be a factor in this.

    Yep. This is related closely to the false belief that getting your own needs met is selfish.

    You’re only supposed to serve others, it is assumed by a lot of Christians. If I had a nickel for every time I read on a Christian blog, or heard a Christian sputter, “You’re supposed to go to church to serve, not be served” I’d be very wealthy.

    For anyone who believes it is wrong for them to get their own needs met, or if you believe it’s wrong for others to get their needs met, I would like to point you to books by Dr. Cloud and Townsend (who are Christian psychiatrists), such as “Boundaries” and other works.

    (It’s actually opposed to the Bible to tell Christians it’s wrong for them to have needs or to hope or expect others will help get them met. The Bible repeatedly tells Christians to go to other Christians if they need help with anything. You’re not supposed to be totally self-reliant all the time on everything.)

  42. @ Nancy:

    It would be interesting to see if BJU would fall under the sexual harassment laws. of course anyone can sue anyone or any organization but would the court uphold a sexual harassment claim if found guilty at BJU? I ask this because SWBTS got by with gender discrimination because they claimed in court they were a church. and churches can do just about anything to people short of murder. that is why you should never work for one.

  43. Doug wrote:

    Or, they love themselves too much, and that is one of the many reasons why they abuse others. It’s all about them and their personal gratification.

    I’m not sure how related this is, but I’ve read new research that’s come out in the last few years that throws conventional bully wisdom on its head.

    It used to be people assumed that bullies (both kid bullies and adults) harass people because they come from broken homes and pick on other people to shore up self esteem (it makes them feel better about themselves to put others down, supposedly).

    Those type of people do exist, I guess, but in the newer studies, where researchers in one study hooked known bullies up to brain scanners, the researchers discovered that when told to visualize themselves picking on someone, the pleasure centers of the bully’s brains lit up like fireworks.

    When they asked “normal” people hooked up to the machine the same thing, the non-bullies did not experience anything in the reward center of the brain.

    The study also showed bullies have a very high level of self esteem, to the point they feel entitled to bash other people.

    Another, similar study was done that showed the same results – people who regularly bully others do so because they enjoy it.

    Bullies don’t harass and bully because they are poor, abused, misunderstood people who have low self esteem. They need to be taught empathy. They don’t need to have their self esteem built up, which runs contrary to old school interpretations of abusive people.

    Maybe some of the people in churches or Christian universities who cover up abuse have some of the same root issues as the bullies in the studies?

  44. Nancy wrote:

    Well, I knew a girl who was high school valedictorian in a public school who went to a non-accredited bible college, did a double major in elementary ed and bible, married a preacher and was then a non-state accredited teacher in a little church school. At the time that school would not hire any state accredited teacher since that would be compromising with the evil secular world and besides no telling what contamination had happened to the accredited teacher in her schooling process and even if not it is already evident that the state accredited teacher is a compromiser which is about as bad as you can get. Seriously. State accreditation as a teacher would keep people from getting a job as a teacher in that school.

    She’d be in dire financial straits if she wanted to leave said husband and try to support herself and her children. She’d be out of a job for the sin of separation/divorce, and without means to work elsewhere, apart from the pineapple cannery or something. On a side note, I really do wonder how many of the relationships in these fundamentalist belief systems are abusive (spiritual, financial, emotional, physical).

  45. Nancy wrote:

    The other card was a message from the preacher’s wife about how her son climbed a tree after he was told not to and her son’s disobedience reminder her that she and we all are disobedient to God and need to repent.

    And don’t preacher’s kids just love being used as public lessons to all… Oh bless.

  46. Nancy wrote:

    The other card was a message from the preacher’s wife about how her son climbed a tree after he was told not to…

    Unless the tree was actually on fire at the time, give her son a hi-five from me!

    It angers me more than many things that might seem worse that so much of the church chokes under the suffocating dead hand of “smothering mother” * leadership. Jesus’ approach to the disciples was just the opposite. Jesus didn’t bat an eyelid when Peter wanted to walk on the loch too. He didn’t rebuke Peter until the latter sank. And even then, it wasn’t, There, I told you it would all end in tears. It was, you of little faith – why did you doubt? – emphasis mine.

    * I use the phrase because it rhymes, but the problem is not confined to women.

  47. Lydia wrote:

    @ Doug:
    Because it is easier to say “repent” then it is to seek after truth and justice.

    So it’s just a matter of pure laziness then, to blame the victim?

    I have noticed the concept of justice is so absent from my tribe that I think people are afraid to utter the word. They are afraid that “social” might be tacked on to the front end by mistake, and they would get labeled as a liberal. Nope, can’t even use those two words in the same sentence.

  48. @ Nancy:

    Putting aside the Christmas card’s lack of mention of the birth of Jesus (the reason for the holiday), the tree analogy would not have worked on me, and I find those strategies by Christians to be very strange.

    When I was a kid, I took it at face value that God says in the Bible I’m a sinner because all are sinners, so fine. I knew I was a sinner.

    However, as a kid, I saw the heck and grief my older siblings put my mother through, as they constantly acted up and broke rules. I over-compensated by being the good, angelic daughter. If my mother told me not to climb a tree, by doggies, I refrained from climbing the tree.

    I was also hyper obedient to other adults and authority figures. Growing up (and kind of even now in the present) I cannot relate to examples like the one your local SBC mega preacher wife used in the card, about her son disobeying her and consequently falling out of a tree.

    That did not fit my paradigm growing up, I was very good about following rules. I did not rebel or fight my parents or sneak around behind their backs and cut up. I was a goody goody in private as well as around my parents.

    I wonder if Christians who trot out such examples do ever realize those examples are foreign to folks like me who grew up as total goody goodies? I was extra careful as a kid to obey mom and dad (and teachers) all the time.

    It got to the point as I grew older that my older siblings resented me and called me “Sunday school girl” and other derogatory names, because I was the “good kid” in the family. (Bear in mind, I was just living my life, I did not act arrogant towards my siblings, or think I was better than them. I never intentionally tried to make my siblings feel bad about themselves, they just did).

  49. @ Doug:
    Yes, they have a real problem with the concept of truth and justice. we are told that we will get it in eternal life. whenever I hear a church leader teach that I always think of that passage in Matthew about getting your reward now. Not wise thinking.

    As one mega church elder once told me: I will know the truth when the world is on fire. it was just a little inconvenient for him to seek after the truth of a situation in this life.

  50. Haitch wrote:

    On a side note, I really do wonder how many of the relationships in these fundamentalist belief systems are abusive (spiritual, financial, emotional, physical).

    Some time ago I say a report of alleged stats as to domestic abuse occurrence broken down as to the job of the man in the situation. I do not know how accurate it was. Military, police and fundamentalist preachers were at or near the top of the list. It would be interesting to see where they would rank now.

  51.   __

        In the light of the ‘findings’ of this G.R.A.C.E. report, – what a privilege, more rather, what a joy it is to attend BJU?

  52. Daisy wrote:

    I cannot relate to examples like the one your local SBC mega preacher wife used in the card, about her son disobeying her and consequently falling out of a tree.

    Nancy made no reference to the wee chappie falling out of the tree. I’d be surprised if he did. Children are good at climbing trees.

  53. @ Daisy:

    Nobody fell out of a tree. The kid had been admonished to not climb a tree, because his mother was in the parking lot of the church talking to somebody and she wanted to look like the perfect mother, or at least that is how she told the story. None the less the kid climbed the tree. At this point the mother felt convicted that just as her son had disobeyed her by climbing the tree, even so she and we disobey God and therefore must repent. She never said anything in particular that she did for which se was needing to repent, just that we all had to repent. This was not a tale of retribution. It was a story of somebody so focused on the general sinfulness of humanity that she could not even relate to christmas for needing to preach repentance, but without any indication of repent for what. And in this focus on sin, sinfulness, the ubiquity of sin she forgot christmas. Of course in the process she got to show us that she is reading Spurgeon, that would be Saint Spurgeon, and that she is taking the job of preacher’s wife to new heights of rectitude, and she reminded us that she is a “former” teacher, the implication being look how great I am in the role model of women who do not work, have strict rules for children, am focused on beating up on myself for whatever sin she was not telling us about and of course I really really read Saint Spurgeon.

    Young daughter to whom the card was sent slung it at me in disgust. I thought how sad that things have come to this, but how typical of some of the mess I have read from comments on TWW.

    As for me, her story is not glad tidings of great joy. Sorry she missed out on that chance to spread the good news. They have about 5,000 or so on the rolls (not in weekly attendance) to whom this message was apparently sent, and at least some of those folks needed to hear that a child is born and a new day has come, and eventually all will be well. Well, I really did think that, but I also thought quit focusing on yourself and lay off your kid, lady. We are not impressed.

  54. Nancy wrote:

    she wanted to look like the perfect mother,

    I wonder where she get’s her image of God from? Like having a father who hits his kids at breakfast just because they might do something wrong that day.

    I have vowed now to ask “why?” whenever I am told I need to repent. Depending on how they usually define the word, I am quite sure that I will not be repentant to their liking.

    You have to wonder if the cross made any difference at all to some of these people. If that makes me a filthy, rotten sinner, then so be it. Jesus hung out with those types.

  55. Nancy wrote:

    What I mean is, what do you mean by women’s sexuality in this aspect?

    Sorry for any nebulosity Nancy, what I mean is that women have a right to wear whatever they so desire (within reason) in expression of their sexuality as a whole woman without being the target of unwanted advances from men and preachers who insist that they’re ‘asking for it’.

  56. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Nancy made no reference to the wee chappie falling out of the tree. I’d be surprised if he did. Children are good at climbing trees.

    Well, okay, but this is nit picking.

    The point of my post was that a parent wrote a note or card citing an example of a time her kid disobeyed her, and it had something to do with a tree and tried to teach folks a lesson from that, that all are disobedient to God and need to repent.

    Those kinds of examples mean nothing to folks who grew up being ‘too’ obedient to parents and teachers.

  57. Muff Potter wrote:

    women have a right to wear whatever they so desire (within reason) in expression of their sexuality as a whole woman without being the target of unwanted advances from men and preachers who insist that they’re ‘asking for it’.

    I totally agree. Now, who gets to determine ‘within reason’?

    What do you mean by ‘in expression of their sexuality as a whole woman’?

    Who or what confers this ‘right’?

    Your post needs a lot of unpacking, it seems to me…

  58. I remember how in some of the ministries I was in they had presentations or talks to the females about dress, and what “modesty” was. The buck was passed to the women in ways that today make me tick. Women were taught of as “tempting” guys by how they dressed, looked, etc… Women were often viewed as tempting men and encouraged to wear dresses, not expose skin, etc… Who knows maybe in some segments of Christianity women can wear burkas to church as that solves the problem. Oh and as for guys who are gay…maybe all guys can also wear a burka so they don’t tempt gays who are still in their fundagelical closet and struggling. Oh what the hell…everyone wear a bukra. Problem solved!

  59. @ Nancy:
    When i 1st saw yourcomment, i misread “St. Spurgeon” as “Stalin.”

    I am boggled that *anyone* would send out a card like that for any readon whstsoever, let alone claim it had anything at all to do with the birth of Christ.

  60.   __

    “When The Bow Breakz?”

    …the G.R.A.C.E. report went forward because?

    hmmm…

    …wasn’t it because they could no longer ‘contain’ the situation?

    letz review a bit:

    Kathryn Joyce on Sex Abuse at Bob Jones University (Part 1 & 2)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiLESWzok7o
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXI8Z8RYBHU

    …a ‘stigma’ is bad for business?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux4XTt23-9U

    stigma : a mark of disgrace associated with a particular behavior of a certain christian university : “the stigma of silencing the sexual abuse victim”
    Associated verbiage: shame · disgrace · dishonor · ignominy · opprobrium, the drying up of funds, and feeder school’s forwarding students. 

  61. @ roebuck:
    There are men who say women should wear clothing that totally conceals their form so that their breasts, backsides, legs, etc. are not hinted at. And, if there is a hint, then that is what causes men to lust. It’s the woman’s fault. That is what was said in counseling at Bob Jones.

  62. Eagle wrote:

    Oh and as for guys who are gay…maybe all guys can also wear a burka so they don’t tempt gays who are still in their fundagelical closet and struggling. Oh what the hell…everyone wear a bukra. Problem solved!

    Great, then we’d have Piper explaining the need for gender distinctive burkas and how unisex burkas are an attack on the Gospel.

  63. @ dee:

    I understand all that, Dee. But my questions were sincere, and haven’t been addressed. We all live embedded in a culture. In some cultures, it’s full burqa for women. I happen to believe that’s very wrong. In some cultures it’s a simple head covering. In some cultures men simply do not wear shorts. Right or wrong? Exactly.

    My point was that MP’s post was ambiguous on many fronts, and needs some clarification. Who DOES determine what’s ‘reasonable’ for women, and men for that matter, to wear? Who or what DOES confer ‘rights’ to this and that? It’s culture-bound, that’s what.

    While I agree with what MP said, it seemed to me an overly idealistic statement, and we live in a real world. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to change it, but…

  64. Tim wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    New Leaked Audio: Pettit Contradicts GRACE, Reassures “BJU is Safe”
    And Julie Anne at Spiritual Sounding Board did an analysis of Mr. Pettit’s recent chapel talk complete with her excellent running commentary.

    To answer my prior post, it sadly appears there may be very little culture change at BJU as a result of the GRACE report. That chapel talk by Petit seems to really be saying ‘the report has been issued, we accept it, nothing more to see hear, move along’

  65. Lydia wrote:

    Very close. Check this out:

    http://sbcvoices.com/the-bible-and-slavery/

    What was the purpose of Barber’s post? We are supposed to be doulos to Christ? OK, that’s right. But that has exactly zero to do with whether one human should be enslaved to another. What he does not understand about either slavery or economics is pretty significant. The amen chorus in the comments shows that some young Baptist pastors are clueless about some very important issues. Seriously, does anyone have any idea why that post was a good idea? I’m totally missing it. Employment is not slavery, at least in the West with reasonable labor laws. It is not difficult to distinguish between those two very different things.

    Speechless. Well, at least now that I’ve made my speech.

  66. Muff Potter wrote:

    When they get their arses sued off a couple of times and it results in a few HUGE pay-outs, trust me, they’ll step into the 21st century with regard to women’s rights and women’s sexuality.

    Sadly, I think you may be right- don’t change because it’s the right thing to do as a Christian (or any other human with an once of morality), do it because it’s cheaper that way.

  67. Eagle wrote:

    Oh and as for guys who are gay…maybe all guys can also wear a burka so they don’t tempt gays who are still in their fundagelical closet and struggling.

    Let’s just say that based on my anecdotal experience and statistics from research on obesity in the religious vs. society at large, I don’t find myself with nearly as many temptations within the church as outside of it. Never mind the fact that in my church, few guys dress in a flattering way (and if a guy is well coordinated, it’s thanks to the tireless efforts of his wife). /stereotypical gay snob mode off/ 😉

    JeffT wrote:

    Sadly, I think you may be right- don’t change because it’s the right thing to do as a Christian (or any other human with an once of morality), do it because it’s cheaper that way.

    As I understand it, BJU didn’t make significant movement on its racism until it faced legal and financial (i.e. taxation) pressure. Then there was the PR disaster that was its interracial dating policy, which may have been connected with the loss of its tax-exempt status, but I’m not clear on that. All I have to say is that if even the Mormon God changed his mind about black people before you did, you have no place to be lecturing anyone on morality!

  68. roebuck wrote:

    Who or what DOES confer ‘rights’ to this and that? It’s culture-bound, that’s what.

    Which culture gets to decide, especially here in America? We are diverse. We have the long jean skirts of the Duggar movement and then we have the Daisy Dukes of the bayou and the hijab of the Muslim. It is impossible to come up with one standard.

    Then, we have a Bob Jones saying that skirts of a certain length are wrong and some choir director saying that a full figured woman should not wear a T-shirt. Whose rules? Who gets to decide? I say it is impossible to come up with a cultural standard that applies to all people.

  69.   __

    “Bob Jones University is taking an unprecedented voluntary step in requesting this independent G.R.A.C.E. investigation…”

    hmmm…

    “We have a solid approach toward counseling people where we are ‘helping’ those who have been… who have experienced sexual abuse or assault…”

    (bump)

    Yeah,

    …We just tell um, “shud up or geed out…” ?!?

    🙁

  70. dee wrote:

    WhoWhose rules? Who gets to decide? I say it is impossible to come up with a cultural standard that applies to all people.

    Which is funny because that’s EXACTLY what many pastors are trying to do today. They say Christians need to “take back” the culture. Which probably means keeping any outside opinion from having influence or effect.

  71. I don’t think we need or should have a uniform cultural standard for clothing. It is not up to christians to tell other people how to dress. But clothing does make a statement. For example we know what statement people are making with the preppy look, or the baggy pants falling off the fanny look, or the long string of pearls dangling in the punch bowl look, and on and on. Why on earth would christian women not deliberately decide what statement they want to make and then try to do that? I am not suggesting a dress code, though if you google modest clothing it seems that some groups have given some thought to modest clothing and there are people who market to various groups. Actually, some of the stuff which meets the LDS and adventist standards looks OK, but some of the stuff for stricter groups is kind of odd.

    Nonetheless, there is the scriptural admonition to do all to the glory of God, and I am thinking that individual christians need to try to see what that means in their own lives and circumstances and then try to do that in clothing as well as in everything else. This would, of course, vary with the situation and the cultural trends, and the age of the person, and their financial status and such, but in any case some thought should be given to this area of one’s life.

  72. @ Eagle:
    Thank you! My dress code at my job states that females should not wear low cut tops so as not to distract the salesmen or cause behavior problems from the men. My first reaction to this was outrage. Yes it is a business environment and business appropriate attire is required but I am not responsible for any other male’s behavior based on how I am dressed. In fact I find that I receive the most attention from men when I am more covered up, despite my wedding band. Go figure.

  73. @ Nancy:
    Just so nobody makes us all wear Mao suits! (Only half joking, though I’d take one any day over the Little House on the Prairie look that so many QF types go for.)

    It really bothers me that anyone would try to create and enforce absolute standards of dress. I got heat back in the 80s for what some saw as an androgynous look on my part, but i had an extremely boyish figure at the time (not anymore!), and the people in question had very, very podunk-type ideas about how men and women should dress. Plus they were comps, i was an arty type and I’ve always been a jeans a t-shirt type (when not needing to dress up, though i was so self-conscious about my knobby knees that i hated wearing skits as a kid and still do, unless they’re below the knee and truly comfy).

  74. @ numo:
    I think at heart these people were uncomfortable with women wearing pants, though i doubt they’d have been willing to say thst out loud.

  75. __

    “My House Shall Be A House Of Prayer…”

    hmmm…

    —> Lord, bind up the wounds of those injured by BJU officials, N’ set those who have been abused free.

    Let your eyes ‘ever’ be on these little sparrows…

    (in Jesus name)

    Amen!

    (tears)

    Sopy

  76. dee wrote:

    I say it is impossible to come up with a cultural standard that applies to all people.

    Certainly true in America. But that was partly my point. Legal ‘Rights’ are conferred by a society, and when that society is as culturally fragmented as here in the U.S., who decides? And how do you get there?

  77. @ Gram3:
    The only thing I can make of it is that Barber wants us to believe that certain types of slavery is not that bad and can even be good.

    it is the same underlying premise used to excuse David that we discussed on another thread.

    in reading that blog post and the subsequent thread, it seems it would be healthier to stay out of Southern Baptist churches.

  78. I have some well, conservative feelings about a dress code in a school setting….I worked in a district that required a tie and when I changed to another school, the coat and tie remained as part of my dress the rest of my career…..but I digress….one of the biggest problems I saw was new college graduates, females. I know I am going to get grief here, but somehow, they didn’t understand that the short skirt or the low cut blouse would draw interest from their now 15 year old charge….or perhaps they did….

  79. K.D. wrote:

    one of the biggest problems I saw was new college graduates

    Yep. We have here a young teacher from New York on her first job as a teacher, though she went to college here, who had to be reminded that (a) you have a class half full of adolescent males and (b) this is the south and you are sending the wrong “message” perhaps without even knowing it. She got her act together, so apparently she just was not thinking-or was testing the limits. Everybody says she is going to be a good teacher, BTW. There are no “rules” about what she does on her own time, but the school is its own place and does have some expectations as well as a written dress code for teachers. And I am talking public school.

  80. @ Lydia:

    I can see that this is a concern for a lot of people-the article I mean. We all see slavery from the perspective of our national history, and understandably so. I do not condone slavery at all so do not misunderstand what I am about to say.

    Some of us have previously been presented with slavery issues that had nothing to do with the US. For example, in a course on the history of medicine I remember the discussion of physicians as slaves in Rome. Some were Greek captives, some were born into slavery and trained as physicians, and some who knows. The matter of how they were treated, what was their market value as physicians, what sorts of patients they treated, what their relationship to any patient might be, how much if any autonomy for decision making relative to the practice of their skill they may or may not have had, what sorts of skills they might have had and whether that was determined by the fact that they were slaves, what level of respect if any was attached to the position etc. The question has been raised as to whether Luke was or had been a slave, in thinking of just what his relationship to Theophilus might have been, and given the issue of physicians as slaves during that time under Rome.

    Then there has been the issue of physicians basically kidnapped and held captive essentially because their skill was needed: think Dr. Zhivago of literature fame. That apparently has been a big issue in various times and places. None of all this, not US slavery and physician slavery in antiquity or by kidnap all put together, even scratch the surface of the issue over the years and in various cultures. I am thinking that we ought not refuse to think about it and talk about it and investigate it historically and cross culturally and such merely because our own history is so painful.

  81. Nancy wrote:

    I am thinking that we ought not refuse to think about it and talk about it and investigate it historically and cross culturally and such merely because our own history is so painful.

    I was not aware that is what I was doing or the even blog post was doing.

    one of the things that really cheered me on the last thread was that Dr fundystan had the nerve to say out loud what I have always thought about David. I see a disconnect many seem to have with the so called heroes of the Old Testament and God’s intention for his creation. just because Abraham had a slave and treated him quite well does not mean it was God’s intention. Same with poor Hagar.

    Like Gram I was trying to figure out the overarching point he was trying to make.

    if he just said ‘I qm going to look at the history of slavery’, that would be one thing. but it tends to come off as an apologetic for certain forms of slavery. even classifying Western employment as a form of slavery.

    there is a comment in the thread now by Alan Cross who i think gets it right.

    I actually love talking about these sort of things but it often gets me in trouble because I’m not always politically correct. :o)

  82. Eagle wrote:

    Oh what the hell…everyone wear a bukra. Problem solved!

    ummm, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who has a fetish for the burka. For some, this could be the garment that causes them to stumble. So, maybe the solution is to be a non-sensory human.

  83. @ Lydia:

    I did not mean that you were refusing to talk about it, but it is a rather forbidden subject in our culture–the idea that the subject would even be addressed from a historical viewpoint. Maybe that is a geographic thing, I sure don’t know.

  84. Nancy, maybe it is sort of like the Pilgrims (Puritans) as an uncomfortable subject in some evangelical circles?

  85. dee wrote:

    There are men who say women should wear clothing that totally conceals their form so that their breasts, backsides, legs, etc. are not hinted at. And, if there is a hint, then that is what causes men to lust. It’s the woman’s fault. That is what was said in counseling at Bob Jones.

    Men (and women for that matter) do not need eyes to lust. Which is why the law never solved the sin problem. Men and women don’t need eyes to see either, nor do they need ears to hear. Counseling aimed at senses is about as idiotic as counseling aimed at the olfactory nerve.

    BJU doesn’t get it. The Islamist doesn’t get it. Anyone who tries to hide the human form doesn’t get it. We all know that it is really an issue of the heart don’t we?

    Thankfully Jesus came to solve that problem at it’s root, once for all. The BJUs of the world simply reveal the inadequacy of their dependance on the law as a sin management tool. Eventually the curtain is pulled back on all such oppressive and abusive systems. Would that the “church” had the intestinal fortitude to not only work actively (as in be an activist and advocate) for the relief of the victims of abusive religious systems, but to work actively for the dissolution of such systems world wide.

  86. K.D. wrote:

    but somehow, they didn’t understand that the short skirt or the low cut blouse would draw interest from their now 15 year old charge….or perhaps they did….

    Yeah, we had the unforgettable relief teacher who wore a black g-string underneath a tight white skirt. Absent minded or deliberate? It drew derision and lack of respect from the boys in our class though, as there’s probably a cut-off age where you shouldn’t pull those kind of stunts anymore.

  87. Corbin wrote:

    Which is funny because that’s EXACTLY what many pastors are trying to do today. They say Christians need to “take back” the culture. Which probably means keeping any outside opinion from having influence or effect.

    And a further question is – which Christians need to “take back” the culture? And what aspects of culture?

    John stated that “…the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. The Law isolated lepers and those with other skin diseases; Jesus healed them. “Christian culture” would, presumably, make sinning illegal in some way. “Kingdom culture” (for want of any clearer label for it) would actually provide workable answers for people living in a fallen world.

    What about, for instance, God’s opinions on unemployment and working poverty? When the major employer in an area is faced with closure, does God have any ideas? If so, are they any better than the odd soup-kitchen for those left jobless and unable to feed their families? What happens when there’s a great deal of need and few resources to go around? Does God have a particular opinion on who the most deserving people are? If so, does he have an opinion on exactly how the others can **** off and die? If not, can he do the Five-Loaves-And-Two-Fishes Thing with few resources? Can God still bless a whole region the way he did the agrarian economies of the Old Testament? Can he create jobs, for instance?

    Now, I happen to think that there are answers to those questions, and millions more like them. But they demand a Christianity that is a whole quantum leap more imaginative and mature than what – with no disrespect – either sola scripture, or tradition, have thus far produced.

  88. Lydia wrote:

    if he just said ‘I qm going to look at the history of slavery’, that would be one thing. but it tends to come off as an apologetic for certain forms of slavery. even classifying Western employment as a form of slavery.

    Exactly. There could be great benefit in discussing the various kinds of slavery, why slavery existed or was tolerated, the underlying social or economic considerations that allowed slavery to continue, etc.

    The problem is that he mixes up two things which are very different. Being in slavery to Christ is a contrast to being enslaved to sin and the evil one. We are bondslaves of Christ because he bought us out of the marketplace, so to speak. He is our Kinsman Redeemer. All of those metaphors describe our relationship to Christ. They do not pertain to one human being enslaved by another. It makes me think he is trying to justify one person being over another, which is a theme lately in the SBC.

    I can identify with your remark about making politically and churchily incorrect statements. 🙂

  89. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Now, I happen to think that there are answers to those questions, and millions more like them. But they demand a Christianity that is a whole quantum leap more imaginative and mature than what – with no disrespect – either sola scripture, or tradition, have thus far produced.

    That sounds like an interesting discussion for the Open page. I would love to hear about your ideas and experiences. Would you consider that?

  90. If we look at the whole of the NT, it talks about laying down our “rights” for the good of others. When everyone does this, it works. Our first impulse, though, is to make a rule. And that is what needs to happen in a secular setting such as a workplace. But it should not be so in the church.

    So, my suggestion is that we create a culture where the rule is that no one makes rules for anyone else, but everyone is concerned not to cause a problem for anyone else. No one tells anyone else how to dress or behave, but all dress so as not to draw attention to themselves, whether that is the QF look or a black g-string or a guy in shorts and flip-flops at church. Believe me, male feet are a major distraction for me at church. And not in the way that a g-string might be for a guy. That means that women and men don’t flaunt their social or economic status. In short, it means abandoning the pursuit and exhibition of the markers of status that are worldly.

    The few women who make a point of always wearing a hat or scarf in church are violating this principle because they are making a show of their holiness. That’s just a different kind of showiness that is considered acceptable or even desirable, but it is still showiness.

    That is my modest proposal.

  91. Gram3 wrote:

    her. It makes me think he is trying to justify one person being over another, which is a theme lately in the SBC.

    it is exactly that theme that was problematic for me too. and that theme comes in all shapes and sizes. one of them is that all forms of individualism are sin. he touches on that with his definition of libertarianism. it is thought to be automatically selfish.

    I have seen this theme so much in Christian circles I trust a little of it even when it is rationalized using scriptures out of context, of course. and that is what he is doing with the slave metaphor in the New Testament. it’s almost seems like he is working from the assumption that since God did not outlaw slavery it was his intention. God did not outlaw polygamy either.

    I have seen people wronged by Christian leaders and told ‘why not be wronged that’s what Jesus said’. as if being wronged by another Christian is somehow pious. that thinking is all over evangelical circles.

    they tend to present a caste system as God’s intention and your being on the lower end of the cast as pious. the New Testament says if you are a slave be a good slave and if you can get your freedom, do it. but many cultures have matured past that in wisdom seeing any form of slavery as cruel. and that is a good thing.

  92. Lydia wrote:

    I have seen people wronged by Christian leaders and told ‘why not be wronged that’s what Jesus said’. as if being wronged by another Christian is somehow pious. that thinking is all over evangelical circles.

    they tend to present a caste system as God’s intention and your being on the lower end of the cast as pious. the New Testament says if you are a slave be a good slave and if you can get your freedom, do it.

    Kristian Karma supported by pious proof-texting. That’s what it seems like to me.

  93. Lydia wrote:

    they tend to present a caste system as God’s intention and your being on the lower end of the cast as pious.

    Note that those who do always see themselves at the very top of the caste system, Holding the Whip instead of feeling it.

  94. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    And a further question is – which Christians need to “take back” the culture? And what aspects of culture?

    Ask Calvin in Geneva.

  95. Haitch wrote:

    So, maybe the solution is to be a non-sensory human.

    Brain in a jar with no sensory organs at all?

  96. roebuck wrote:

    Legal ‘Rights’ are conferred by a society, and when that society is as culturally fragmented as here in the U.S., who decides?

    Whoever is in POWER, of course.

    And how do you get there?

    By any means necessary.

  97. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    You make my point. Standing on ‘(fill in the blank) has a right to (fill in the blank)’ sounds good, but in the end, it’s those in power doing what they perceive they need to do to stay in power…

  98. Haitch wrote:

    Yeah, we had the unforgettable relief teacher who wore a black g-string underneath a tight white skirt… there’s probably a cut-off age where you shouldn’t pull those kind of stunts anymore.

    True. It’s over ten years since I last got away with that one.

  99. Gram3 wrote:

    Believe me, male feet are a major distraction for me at church.

    Well, you should leave them at home.

  100. @ roebuck,
    You wrote:
    1)I totally agree. Now, who gets to determine ‘within reason’?

    2)What do you mean by ‘in expression of their sexuality as a whole woman’?

    3)Who or what confers this ‘right’?

    4)Your post needs a lot of unpacking, it seems to me…

    Fair questions, and they do merit some point by point replies:

    1) I have every confidence that women of intelligence and discretion will know what attire is appropriate for a bordello and what’s in good taste for out and about in public settings. ‘Within reason’ is just that, plain ordinary good sense.

    2) Women’s sexuality is not confined to the act itself, but rather an expansion and diffusion of nuance in the way she dresses, carries herself, and uses accessories.

    3) A woman’s right to apply these principles is inalienable and she is endowed with this right by her creator. It is not ‘conferred’ by any human agency or Ecclesiastical fiat.

    4)I hope this helps and stands in as a brief unpacking.

  101. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Well, that’s an idea that would be anathema to many. Sola Scriptura is the law of the land, anything else is seen as an offront to orthodoxy. I think we need to talk to people about how this either proof texting or paganism thinking doesn’t really help. “Kingdom culture” is a term I’ve only heard N.T. Wright say. What do you mean by it? What you’re saying sounds similar and I agree, but I don’t want to confuse what you’d mean with the way he uses it.

  102. Muff Potter wrote:

    Sorry for any nebulosity Nancy, what I mean is that women have a right to wear whatever they so desire (within reason) in expression of their sexuality as a whole woman without being the target of unwanted advances from men and preachers who insist that they’re ‘asking for it’.

    So are you saying that there are “unwanted” advances and “wanted” advances or all advances?

  103. @ Corbin:

    Indeed – sola scriptura is a sacred cow. I know I often say this, but no preacher believes in it, nor has there ever been a preacher who believes in it. Otherwise he wouldn’t preach!

    I’ve not read much N.T Wright, but what I have read I really like, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he and I were barking up a very similar hymn-sheet with the phrase “Kingdom culture”. Actually I’ve heard it from several different sources in different contexts, which is why I used it with some hesitation.

    Jesus never offered a soundbite-definition of the Kingdom, of course, but described it in parables. In the same way, it’s a bit hard to define exactly what Kingdom culture would look like, but a couple of apple points might help:
    The Kingdom of God is… righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit – that is, the Kingdom is in the Holy Spirit, and so Kingdom culture is dependent from day to day and maybe even from moment to moment on the leading of the Holy Spirit.
     Kingdom culture has to be based around God’s priorities, and sometimes these are surprising. In Ezekiel 16, God says that what he really hated about Sodom was not …shudder… homosexuality but that they were complacent and arrogant and didn’t care about the poor. God’s presumption is in favour of the downtrodden, the weak, the fatherless or widowed, and those things generally that are despised in respectable human society.

    That’s not much detail, but I have to finish off the credit-card reconcile before we watch the second-last episode of Numb3ers.

  104. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Well, you should leave them at home.

    No can do. My brothers in flip flops who cause me to stumble don’t live with me. Gramp3 is very careful to wear socks and I am likewise considerate of his sensibilities.

  105. @ Gram3:

    Ah – my bad. I assumed you owned two or more disembodied ones and practiced juggling, or something, with them during the sermon.

    I have ADHD, so I’m permanently distracted. For instance, I currently have the Iron Maiden song “Run to the hills” – or at least the opening guitar riff thereof – in my head, because we’ve just been watching Numb3rs as a family. It in turn loosely reminds me of a rather crude song I learned when in Venture Scouts. Speaking of which, one of my fellow Venture Scouts had a name that sounded slightly similar to something that need not detain us because actually that reminds me of when I went for a run around Kandersteg (in Switzerland) on summer camp, and obviously “Kandersteg” sounds like “candle stick”, though for some reason that association has never gone anywhere in my head. But I first heard of it from a chap called Adrian Davis, or Adie (i.e., A.D.) as he was known. Another member of the unit who was also known by his initials, though in a different way, was Ian Diamond, or Id. Which of course reminds me of the film “Forbidden Planet” – monsters from the id, you see.

    Sorry – what was the question?

  106. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Yep, that’s basically the same definition Wright uses. This really goes against the American Evangelical assumption of America as Israel reborn. Is there a sense of that in the UK?

  107. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Sorry – what was the question?

    I don’t know. I think we were talking about squirrels. Or shiny objects. Or shiny squirrels. Or something like that. Oh, the laundry’s done. BRB.

  108. numo wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    Gosh, don’t ever go to a casual dress service at a beachside church!

    Oh, I’ve spent enough time in beachside communities to know better. Flipflops would probably be the least of the uncovered problems.

  109.   .

      __

    “Proverbial Religious Dumpster Divers?”

    BJU has certainly destroyed its reputation.

    (bump)

    It has waited until the money was down, the feeder schools and destination IFB churches started to wonder what was up with the testimonies and media coverage before doing anything to help these young people.

    Now their lawyers are telling them to settle?

    🙁

    Ching! Ching!

  110. Gram3 wrote:

    Regarding the deep roots of sexual abuse, I wonder if the things people are taught in Christian institutions about the fundamental relationship between male and female doesn’t really look a lot more like Genesis 3:16 than not. If we believe that we are new creations in Christ, why do we, in effect, teach boys and girls that they are doomed to live a Genesis 3 life together?

    You’re right, that’s what I think, too. Kids aren’t being taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ; they’re being indoctrinated into a belief in a world where, for all they hear at college, our Lord might as well never have been born…… 🙁

  111. Josh wrote:

    Most fundamentalists I knew from the days I spent in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church considered evangelicals to be liberal heathen devil pagan compromisers.

    Yeah, that’s pretty well the party line, isn’t it?

  112. Doug wrote:

    You have to wonder if the cross made any difference at all to some of these people.

    In a word, no. They don’t want the cross; it might get folks to thinking that God is a God of grace, & then who would pay their salaries?

  113. Corbin wrote:

    Eagle wrote:

    Oh and as for guys who are gay…maybe all guys can also wear a burka so they don’t tempt gays who are still in their fundagelical closet and struggling. Oh what the hell…everyone wear a bukra. Problem solved!

    Great, then we’d have Piper explaining the need for gender distinctive burkas and how unisex burkas are an attack on the Gospel.

    Oh my word, you almost made me spray my monitor with my tea again. You are so right, that is exactly what he would do!

  114. Corbin wrote:

    Yep, that’s basically the same definition Wright uses. This really goes against the American Evangelical assumption of America as Israel reborn. Is there a sense of that in the UK?

    There is the crackpot doctrine known as “British Israelism”, which holds that the British (and, through them, the US) are descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel who were exiled in Assyria and never heard from again. It has all the half-baked proof-texting and cherry-picked data nonsense that you would expect of a crackpot doctrine, but it is exactly that – nobody other than a lunatic fringe takes it remotely seriously.

    Otherwise, the idea of anybody being Israel reborn just doesn’t hold here. In fact, when it comes to getting involved in politics at all, it’s quite interesting to look at the few things that will even partially unite Christians. Gay marriage, assisted suicide and Jerry Springer The Opera (years ago, it was The Life of Brian) more or less complete the set.

  115. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    descended from the ten lost tribes of Israe

    I never heard of any evangelical assumption that america was israel reborn, but goodness knows there is enough foolishness within american evangelicalism it would not be surprising if somebody thought that.

    There is, however, some LDS doctrine about native americans being (or partly being) descended from either the lost tribes (that was the way I first heard it) or from simply a band who migrated from Jerusalem around 600 BC to this continent (which is what the encyclopedia of mormonism is saying.) I believe they also think that Jesus made a post resurrection appearance to these people. There has been some mention? teaching? of a north american site for either the second coming itself or else an appearance associated with the second coming. LDS doctrine/teaching gets modified from time to time in one thing or another, and I believe there have been some moderations in this area. None the less, the association of a genetic line with jews from roughly the period of the exile, if not the exile itself, seems to still be part of their belief system.

    The increasing infiltration of LDS ideas into some neo-cal thinking, not necessarily in this area however, has been mentioned time and again here. One cannot help being concerned about this sort of thing.

  116. @ Nancy:
    People don’t literally say that America is Israel reborn, but they act just like it. By this I mean that they apply all the Old Testament promises to America because “we were founded as a Christian Nation!!” So if we don’t turn down all the Gayness and put the Bible back into Schools, then God’s gonna nuke us. Look at Sodom and Gomorrah!!

    Each pastor tweaks this plan to accommodate his personal style, but it generally stays the same.

  117. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Lol, my dad has been talking about that idea for as long as I can remember. Only he says the Danes are decended from the “lost tribe of Dan”. Danes, Dan, huh? See the connection?!? XD. And no, I’m not joking.

  118. @ zooey111:
    YAY!! I don’t want to hurt your computer but I thoroughly enjoy making people laugh. Even though that was an obvious joke, someone had to say it.

  119. @ numo:
    Which is diffrent from the “British Israelite” stuff that Nick mentionef, though it was espoused here in the US by Ted Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God (pretty stridently, in fact).

    For more of what Nick is speaking of, see William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem” (which was set to music as a hymn and is a very nationalistic one indeed).

  120. numo wrote:

    The Puritans who settled in Massachusetts literally believed that they wrre “the new Israel.” No joke!

    Good grief and sakes amighty. I did not know that. How did they arrive at that idea?

  121. @ Nancy:
    They had a pretty apocalyptic focus – thought they were literally building the New Jerusalem. You can find plenty of reading material on it – it’s where things like Manifest Destiny and American exceptionalism come from.

  122. @ numo:
    Am on phone, so pasting book and website links is tricky. If Hester comes by, I’m sure she will hook you up with good sources.

  123. @ Corbin:
    And to focus on the inevitability of people of white European background having the right to take all of the land where native people live (includes Native Hawaiians and the Inuit in Alaska, not just Native American/First Nation peoples).

  124. numo wrote:

    For more of what Nick is speaking of, see William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem” (which was set to music as a hymn and is a very nationalistic one indeed).

    It’s NSFW, but this is where I first heard of that hymn…

    “‘And shall my sword sleep in my hand’ Not a good idea, you’re going to roll over and cut your bits off”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51RFemgPvT0

  125. @ Corbin:

    amighty, not almighty I have no explanation for where that saying came from, but then there are just a lot of things I have no idea where they came from or what they mean.

  126. zooey111 wrote:

    Josh wrote:
    Most fundamentalists I knew from the days I spent in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church considered evangelicals to be liberal heathen devil pagan compromisers.
    Yeah, that’s pretty well the party line, isn’t it?

    I wasn’t even aware I was attending an IFB church. I found no difference in doctrine between a conservative evangelical church that was connected to a denomination and the BBI church. On contrary the BBI seemed less legalistic than the conservative evangelical denominational church. I have some independent baptist sympathies. I don’t like the cooperative program because it takes missions away from the local church. Missionaries don’t have on obligation the visit the local church, as opposed to a society method where missionaries have to worry about funding their mission. I agree it is nice that SBC missionaries are taken care of but they should have the obligation to visit local churches was my feeling. I like women and fully respect a women preaching the word, which would make me a liberal heathen. A woman can have a call to the ministry just as much as a man. A women can witness to a man and preach to men as far as I am concerned. What right do I have to say it is not of God. If people are saved by the efforts of a woman evangelist that all I can say is “praised be God.”

  127. @ Mark:

    I guess I have no IFB sympathies whatsoever, for a number of reasons. I’m sure [if they knew all about me now] they’d consider me beyond redemption, destined for hell no matter what. So it’s kind of hard for me to care.

    As far as getting missions done most efficiently, not making missionaries visit hundreds of churches each time they come home for “vacation” is definitely better for their health and – not to sound crass, but – job performance (besides, it’s not much of a vacation; listen to stories former missionaries tell of trying to not trip up on the myriads of neuroses found in IFB churches across the country). It’s not like the SBC has always treated their missionaries the best, but I think there needs to be a balance, and the IFB method is far from ideal.

  128. Josh wrote:

    @ Mark:
    I guess I have no IFB sympathies whatsoever, for a number of reasons. I’m sure [if they knew all about me now] they’d consider me beyond redemption, destined for hell no matter what. So it’s kind of hard for me to care.
    As far as getting missions done most efficiently, not making missionaries visit hundreds of churches each time they come home for “vacation” is definitely better for their health and – not to sound crass, but – job performance (besides, it’s not much of a vacation; listen to stories former missionaries tell of trying to not trip up on the myriads of neuroses found in IFB churches across the country). It’s not like the SBC has always treated their missionaries the best, but I think there needs to be a balance, and the IFB method is far from ideal.

    What you write is true, but at least visiting one church, such as a home church, wouldn’t be a burden. The lack of connection between a local church and a missionary I feel stifles missions. There can be a happy medium between a cooperative program and the personal relationship missionaries have with local churches in society method. The cooperative program has de personalized the relationship between the local church an missionaries. “We don’t know who our missionaries are or what they do but we are really into missions.”

  129. Josh wrote:

    @ Mark:
    . I’m sure [if they knew all about me now] they’d consider me beyond redemption, destined for hell no matter what.

    So sorry for your experience. I don’t believe anyone is ever beyond redemption and shunning can be because of the silliest legalistic interpretation or “application” of Scripture. I am not IFB and I believe there is a big tent of people who are saved. It would probably be more accurate if I describe myself as a non denominational “moderate” egalitarian evangelical. The moderate and egalitarian would definitely make me a liberal heathen to many, if not all, IFB. There are independent churches that are Baptist and are definitely outside the IFB pale such as Elmbrook Church and other churches. I also feel a certain degree of caution towards denominationalism.

  130. @ Nancy & numo:

    The Puritans who settled in Massachusetts literally believed that they wrre “the new Israel.”

    …and some folks still believe that. I once attended a Doug Phillips speech (in person) in which he claimed that America was in covenant with God because of the Mayflower Compact. See also the (very high) rate at which “if my people which are called by my name etc.” is thrown around in reference to America, even though in context it’s about national/ethnic Israel.

    And if that was supposed to be “who are” instead of “which are” up there, oh well. I guess I’ve been singing with Anglican choirs too long. 🙂

  131. numo wrote:

    For more of what Nick is speaking of, see William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem” (which was set to music as a hymn and is a very nationalistic one indeed).

    You know me Numes, contrary and Divergent to a fault. Blake’s Jerusalem contains not one line with a bent toward Nationalism. Blake in fact despised the British Mercantile System and its abuses on the home front and abroad in the Colonies.

  132. Josh wrote:

    It’s not like the SBC has always treated their missionaries the best, but I think there needs to be a balance, and the IFB method is far from ideal.

    That is the way I see it also.

    And another problem with the IFB system is that the missionaries are not equally financed. One family may have enough while another family may be living in poverty, without even the possibility to use their at-home furlough to work and make up the difference. I hear this personally from an IFB missionary.

    One other thing: furlough is theoretically a time when MKs can re-connect with their own culture. Difficulty with that (having two cultures and not really belonging to either one) has been a big problem especially for some MKs. One of the people in the chaplaincy department of the local university medical school did some research on the problems of MKs and wrote a book on this, but I have forgotten both her name and the title of the book.

  133. Nancy wrote:

    One of the people in the chaplaincy department of the local university medical school did some research on the problems of MKs and wrote a book on this,

    I think it has TCK or “Third Culture Kids” in the title…

  134. @ Muff Potter:
    @ numo:

    The first verse ends:

    And was Jerusalem builded here, among those dark satanic mills?

    Blake’s answer to his own rhetorical question was, of course, no.

    The fact that the poem has caught the public imagination to such an extent, and for so long, is testament to the power of music. Charles Parry’s tune, and orchestration (arguably, Elgar’s later arrangement thereof is even better) is among the most stirring sounds anywhere in octatonic music.

    If “Jerusalem” had been set to one of the songs in a My Little Pony movie, it would have died the death many years ago.

  135. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    “British Israelism”

    That thinking is also in Australia – I used to be on their mailing list when I was at school. When I realised how racist it was I got myself off it pretty smart. White supremacy in a nutshell.

  136. numo wrote:

    And to focus on the inevitability of people of white European background having the right to take all of the land where native people live (includes Native Hawaiians and the Inuit in Alaska, not just Native American/First Nation peoples).

    The list of disenfranchised isn’t insubstantial when you start to add them all up…

  137. Haitch wrote:

    The list of disenfranchised isn’t insubstantial when you start to add them all up…

    Had my life taken a different tack, I’d probably consider a paper along the lines of:

    Native America: Mythos, Reality, and the Road Forward

    Trust me, it would never hold up under peer review. Tenure or not, they’d be howling for my ouster not half-way through the Abstract. And the grand irony in that place and when? I’m of Native American descent myself.