The Assemblies of God and Campus Freedom

A thoughtful friend drew my attention to this story about North Central University and the Equality Riders. To summarize: gay activists are barred from holding events at an Assemblies of God university.

I find stories like this very interesting, because I find myself in the same situation as the Equality Riders. I am on a private university not exactly enthusiastic about my views and have to labor under certain restrictions as a result. Having said that, Stanford is much more gracious to me than North Central has been to the Equality Riders (even if the riders’ version of events proves to be exaggerated). I am allowed to be on campus, to hold meetings with other interested students on campus, and
to utilize campus resources.

At first blush, it seems that the Assemblies of God (who sponsors both my ministry and that of North Central University) wants to have it both ways: they want to be allowed to express their views via people like me at private universities while simultaneously denying other groups that right at their own schools (such as NCU).

I’m not sure that’s a completely fair assessment, since there’s a category difference between denominational schools and someplace like Stanford or Yale. These latter schools, although private, like to think of themselves as self-consciously neutral on religious and moral matters, whereas denominational schools have religious and moral
positions to which all students are required to conform. The upshot is that NCU can represent the student body in a way that Stanford cannot.

Still, it does seem a little hypocritical (the golden rule seems relevant in this context) and unwise. As a professional who works with college students, I assure you that NCU did everything they could to intrigue students with the Equality Riders’ message. If they truly wanted to sideline the riders, the administration should have invited them onto campus, given them a public forum, and then offered a calm and
thorough rebuttal. As it is, they’ve likely fanned a spark into flame.

And firing reporters for reporting is always a shortsighted move (although legal). Firing reporters always leaves people feeling suspicious–what is being hidden? Again, the way to derail any story is by being calm and reasonable in your response (supposing that you have a better case, that is). If the reporters write stories that the administrators find troubling, letters to the editor (or even an editorial column, depending on the paper’s governance) are supremely appropriate.

Still, I would be very interested to hear NCU’s official perspective on the events described by the Equality Riders. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to notice that the Equality Riders were hyping the level of force used by the university, so perhaps other details are also misleading.

[UPDATE: this is precisely the university’s assertion. They claim that the Equality Riders have misrepresented the events. Read the university’s response at http://www.northcentral.edu/news/soulforce.php

and also hear a message from the university president about the events.]

Gleaning #888

Automatically pulled from Glen’s ever-growing list of sermonic mulch (with which he may or may not agree):

Genesis 30.18: Leah interprets the birth of Issachar as God rewarding her for giving her servant to be Jacob’s wife. This is a great example of basing theology on poorly-understood experience.

Glen, Devotional 9/6/2000 tags: Bible Theology

Genesis 30.18: Leah interprets the birth of Issachar as God rewarding her for giving her servant to be Jacob’s wife. This is a great example of basing theology on poorly-understood experience.

Glen, Devotional 9/6/2000 tags: Bible Theology

Gleaning #2965

Over Spring Break in March of 2006, 30 Chi Alpha students from Bozeman, MT traveled three days by bus to New Orleans to help people recover in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina: “the most poignant moment came when a student, who is a relatively new Christian, walked into a ruined home and found a Bible still open on the kitchen table — where it has sat adhered by the original (and now dissipated) flood waters for months. ‘The Bible was opened to Psalm 90 where it says you are my dwelling place forever,

AG News #1246: April 19, 2006

Over Spring Break in March of 2006, 30 Chi Alpha students from Bozeman, MT traveled three days by bus to New Orleans to help people recover in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina: “the most poignant moment came when a student, who is a relatively new Christian, walked into a ruined home and found a Bible still open on the kitchen table — where it has sat adhered by the original (and now dissipated) flood waters for months. ‘The Bible was opened to Psalm 90 where it says you are my dwelling place forever,

AG News #1246: April 19, 2006

Terminology

Since shaving my head, many people have walked up to me and said, “I love the new hairdo!”

After a moment, a hesitant “or lack of a hairdo” creeps out and then, following a brief pause, they utter “or whatever” and finally a genial “whatever it is, it looks great on you!” escapes their lips.

To prevent further confusion, I offer terminological exactitude.

I don’t have a hairdo. I have a look.

So walk up to me and say, “I love the new look!”

See how much easier that is?

So I Was Pooping The Other Day

So I was pooping the other day and Dana came and started talking to me through the bathroom door. She asked to come in and I explained that Daddy needed his privacy. So she sat down outside the bathroom door and tried to peek through the gap beneath it.

When I flushed the toilet Dana began cheering and clapping.

“Daddy went in the big girl potty! Good job, Daddy”

Oddly enough, it made me feel proud of myself.

The Problem With Prayer Studies

I mentioned this to my students last night at Chi Alpha’s weekly meeting and I thought I’d pass it along here as well: there have been a whole series of double-blind studies on prayer, some of which show that prayer is potent and others which fail to demonstrate any benefit. Why such widely varying results? Because prayer studies are ridiculously difficult to construct, as highlighted by this humorous article from Scrappleface.

(2006–03-31) — A team of scientists today ended a 10-year study on the so-called “power of prayer” by concluding that God cannot be manipulated by humans, not even by scientists with a $2.4 million research grant.

The scientists also noted that their work was “sabotaged by religious zealots” secretly praying for study subjects who were supposed to receive no prayer.

There are just too many independent variables. How can you know that the control group is actually receiving no prayer? How can you be sure that the people who are praying are praying with faith? With the right faith? In the right God?

And then, of course, there is THE Independent Variable. What if, as the article suggests, God simply chooses not to be our lab rat?

I’m sure some clever scientists will someday figure out how to isolate the variables more meaningfully, but for now the studies tell us much less than the media would have us believe.

And for the record, it’s the media to blame for the hype. I’m sure the scientists are making appropriately cautious claims. Scientists almost always do.