A temporary holding place for this blog until such a time as a new site is launched.
Welcome to The Asylum. Just as before, Josh is always right.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Talking To Me 101: Lesson #1

This is a first in a new series I'm calling "Life Lessons" which will consist of several different "courses" such as "Talking To Me 101," "Words To the Unwise 207" and "Get It Through Your Thick Skull 116."  These will be memes you might like to share as you see fit.  Which means I'm asking you to share them.  Which means I'm begging you to share them.  Which means I'm so desperate for the hits that I'll literally resort to begging to make these things go viral.  Yes, it's pathetic, but so is most behavior on the Internet.  Deal with it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ferguson Is Our Petra Moment


Also, the people of Ferguson want and need an effective police force.  But perhaps their relationship was best summed up by this photo from earlier this week.  Not just ludicrously aggressive police facing off against an unarmed man, but also the fact that someone has clearly written "fuck the police" on the post box; something that, apparently, CNN did not notice when they were using this photo during all of their coverage!

-- John Oliver


If you're a friend or follower of mine on Facebook, you're familiar with a refrain (or some variation thereof) that I necessarily use more often than I'd like to have to:

Not a police state... not a police state... not a police state...

I call this "The Mantra of the Sheeple," and just in case you couldn't pick up on the intent, it's drenched in sarcasm.

We do live in a police state here in the United States of America.  You can blame any number of factors: the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the "War on Drugs," the giving of surplus military equipment from Iraq and Afghanistan to local police forces... and yes, every one of those factors is partly to blame.

But there's an overall theme here which escapes all too many United States citizens.  See, when it comes to the situation in which this country is currently embroiled, there are three types of people:

  1. The Sheeple
    These are the ones who do not recognize reality whatsoever; those who will deny with every last breath in their body that there is anything even remotely out of place about the ever-increasing use of excessive force and overwhelming intrusion of government -- on all levels; local, state and national -- into our private lives.  They have no problem with illegal searches and seizures taking place in the name of security at airports.  They have no problem with the same violation of inherent human rights via stop-and-frisk on city streets, nor do they see anything wrong with unlawful detainment at so-called "sobriety checkpoints" or "immigration checkpoints" along our nation's highways.  A SWAT team executing a faulty search warrant for $50 worth of meth ends up horribly disfiguring an innocent baby -- over which there is a federal investigation -- and the county in question is refusing to pay the medical bills on the basis of vague legal reasons for which they offered zero explanation?  Perfectly okay with these people.  After all, it's all in the name of protecting the community.

    In other words, Sheeple are like the two-year-old who doesn't want their picture taken, so they put their hands over their eyes, because if they can't see the camera, then obviously, the camera can't see them.  They refuse to acknowledge reality, because if they don't acknowledge what's happening all around them, it won't affect them... right?  Right?
  2. The Rationalizers
    These are the ones who may acknowledge that there are bad things happening and that people are understandably upset.  But in their minds, there is no police state, and the overwhelming majority of police forces -- from the top down -- are made up of good cops who just want to serve their community.  To Rationalizers, every questionable police action must have had some kind of justification, even if the officer in question is at fault, because police officers, to the Rationalizer's way of thinking, don't just beat and kill people for frivolous reasons.  When presented with the evidence that police officers today are woefully unqualified, inadequately trained and that the problem is systemic, intended to result in the outcome we're all seeing play out right in front of our very eyes, they shut down.  They refuse to hear it.  Corruption isn't a matter of concern, because there are those good cops there to balance it all out... even though they're overwhelmingly outnumbered.  And if, in a rare case, a Rationalizer acknowledges that disturbing ratio, they'll argue that the good cops' uncorrupted ways serve as an example to others, and maybe, just maybe, with a little hoping, dreaming and wishing upon a star, that'll fix things.

    What's more, Rationalizers do not accept the fact that those who do not stand against evil are complicit in it.  Now, granted, in reality, there is the very real risk that an officer who attempts to speak out against -- or even refuses to participate in -- the corruption will be targeted, their career put in jeopardy and their family put at risk.  But is it realistic, rational or logical to believe that absolutely zero cops are in a position and are willing to take a stand?  Of course not.  So where are these good cops?  Why do we not hear from them?  Why do we not see change being effected from within by these supposed good cops who feel safe and secure enough in their position to tackle the issue?  If the problem is truly not systemic, as The Rationalizers argue; if the problem really isn't as bad as it's being made out to be, the American law enforcement community should be bursting at the seams with these supposed good cops.  That clearly is not the case.  But don't tell that to The Rationalizers.  The cognitive dissonance it invokes in their brains will make their heads explode.

    Not coincidentally (because coincidence doesn't exist), the Fraternal Order of Police tends to fall under this category, which is evidenced in this case by the fact that one of their lawyers is representing Darren Wilson.
  3. The Aware
    These are the ones who see what's going on and acknowledge it for what it is: a wholesale shift in the task of policing from investigating crime and punishing those who actually commit it... to criminalizing all people in the false name of "protection" under the pretense of preventing crime, a feat which is literally impossible to accomplish, and is exactly what makes this a police state.  It isn't just the militarization of local police, nor is it strictly on a local level.  This includes the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, and many other federal, state, secondary and municipal agencies that have been given free reign to enforce whatever edicts that they pass down -- regardless of legality -- with unconstitutional methods, violence, and even lethal force, with no accountability required whatsoever.  The Aware understand that the old maxim, "absolute power corrupts absolutely," isn't actually the case, but that power attracts the power-hungry and corrupt.  This is true in politics, it's true in social settings, and it's true in law enforcement.

    The Aware also understand that the entire setup is intentional; that there are those with certain political and social agendas who use the power-hungry ambitions of the violent and corrupt -- along with the willful ignorance of the Sheeple and the denial of the Rationatlizers -- to bring about situations in this world which allow them to step in and say, "see?  It's all gone to Hell in a handbasket.  My ideas will fix it all."  Of course, the Aware know that those ideas will only continue the madness (because those ideas originated the madness), but they know just as well as the purveyors of those ideas do that the masses will buy what they're being sold.  It's an emotional sales pitch, one with very few truths, very many lies, and no honest intentions behind it at all.  And through either ignorance -- intentional or otherwise -- or just plain beaten, broken-down spirits and the hope that something, anything, will be better than what's going on now, the majority of people will take the bait, hook, line and sinker.

    Thankfully, this category is the fastest-growing at the moment.  More and more people are waking up.

Now before you jump all over that last bit and scream, "IT'S THOSE DAMN DEMOCRATS!" or "I HATE REPUBLICANS!" or "CONSERVATIVE HYPOCRITES!" or "COMMIE SOCIALIST SCUM!"... YOU'RE WRONG.  BOTH major political parties do it.  Several of the minor political parties do, as well.  Do you know why?

That's right: power attracts the corrupt.  And what is politics if not a forum in which to gain power?

But what does a St. Louis suburb have to do with all of this?  I mean, yeah, things really aren't looking good for the FPD right now.  Autopsy evidence seems to confirm the numerous eyewitness accounts, which themselves directly contradict the "official" police story of what happened with and to Michael Brown.  And that release of the security footage allegedly showing Brown robbing a store?  Classic distraction tactic meant to taint public opinion against Brown, even despite the fact that FPD Chief Thomas Jackson admitted himself that the robbery and the shooting are not at all related.  And sure, "Ferguson's Finest!" don't exactly have a sterling reputation.  But does all of this add up to the focal point for some sort of revolution against the police state?

The answer depends on many factors, none of which I can truthfully say will absolutely play out one way or another.  I can tell you what I'd like to see.  I can tell you what I like and do not like about what I'm seeing now.  But can I definitively state that this is the situation over which the entire country will rise up and put an end to a growing, very real oppression?  No.

What I can tell you is that this is the tipping point.  We can go one of two ways.  We will either take what's going on in Ferguson -- not to mention the recent police killing of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, the recent police beating and killing of Omar Abrego, also in Los Angeles (in the same neighborhood, at that), the mere probation sentence for a former cop who raped at least two women and possibly a third while on duty, the false arrest and imprisonment of Shannon Renee McNeal, and even such a trivial-seeming thing as the recent arrest of Danielle Wolf on the basis of hearsay for daring to utter the word "fuck" in public -- as causes for serious concern and deeper attention toward the situation, and begin working to remove the people from power who would use it against us and dismantle the institutions that they use to do so.

Or... we will continue to ignore our situation and allow the growing police state to grow even further out of control, into an unstoppable culture of tyranny and oppression which no existing political entity will ever fully put an end to.

At the risk of coming off blithely, there's a highly appropriate quote to apply here from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:

You must choose, but choose wisely.  For as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.

The metaphorical Holy Grail we're seeking today is a solution that will bring peace, safe communities, and an end to the intentional -- and even unintentional -- infringements upon our inherent human rights, especially those enshrined in the Constitution's first ten amendments.  Only one solution will actually work.  All the others will destroy us.

So the question this comes down to is: do we choose the flashy, jewel-encrusted solution, which is certain to damn us for all eternity, or do we look for "the cup of a carpenter?"

Saturday nights just won't be the same

Rest in peace, Don Pardo.  You were incomparable, and can never be replaced; only succeeded.  One can only hope the NBC engineers are up late tonight building the Don Pardo 9000.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Heaven is just a bit more bangarang today

One Saturday morning, maybe about 18 years ago now, my family had breakfast at the Original Pancake House on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. It was a rare treat when we went out for breakfast, so that made it fun to begin with, but when we sat down at our table, the table next to us -- of the same size, mind you -- was occupied only by a very hairy man with a bushy beard, wearing a dull T-shirt, faded jeans, a hat and sunglasses; doing his best not to be recognized. And it kinda worked. What was particularly amusing was that he had ordered a TON of food, and the family on the other side of his table from us kept offering him more, as if he were homeless (he did look the part) and needed to load up. It was funny watching him doing his best to politely refuse their offers while not giving away that he was, in fact, a very famous movie and TV star.

You entertained us even when you weren't trying to, Robin Williams. We'll miss you.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

To: Brent Ellis; Re: You, Sir, Are Lying


Where's the church? Who took the steeple?
Religion's in the hands of some crazy-ass people!
Television preachers with bad hair and dimples;
The God's-honest truth is, it's not that simple...

Jimmy Buffett -- Fruitcakes


Oh, if only we could hear a mea culpa or two from Spring Arbor University's administration.

We're not going to get one.  Not any time soon, anyway.  President Brent Ellis is digging his heels in ever deeper each time he speaks out on the subject of his university's recent Title IX exemptions.

Problem for him is, he doesn't realize that it's horse shit that his heels are digging into.

Ellis recently e-mail blasted SAU alumni with a letter full of, essentially, nothing that hasn't already been said before.  Which is to say, a whole lotta nothing.  He does state that, throughout this upcoming academic year, he will be "engaging in conversations with faculty and students" on the topic, but not only does his phrasing of that particular sentence call homosexuality and transgenderism "life style choices [sic]," it leads anyone with half a brain to understand that these will not be "conversations," they will be more along the lines of the world-famous Spring Arbor University Stern Talking-To™.

Feeling encouraged yet?  Neither am I.

Here are my other problems with what the letter has to say.

"This modification in the Department of Education’s guidelines surrounding Title IX necessitated Spring Arbor University to file for an exemption in regard to several components of Title IX including gender identity and sexual relationships outside of the biblical definition of marriage."

That's a lie.  The only changes made to Title IX -- and they weren't actually changes, it was simply a clarification of the existing statute -- were to include transgender people as a protected class.  The only changes Spring Arbor would have had to deal with would have been to treat transgender people as -- gasp! -- actual people.  God forbid!

"Spring Arbor University affirms the full humanity and dignity of every human being, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

No, they do not.  Not so long as the school continues to operate under the lie that gays, lesbians and transgender people are inherently sinful they don't.  You don't get to deny the biological nature of someone and still claim to "affirm [their] full humanity and dignity."  This sentence, in particular, is a bald-faced lie.

"Our exemption allows us to maintain these guidelines and is in no way a change of practice or policy."

What Ellis fails to explain -- the lie of omission upon which ALL of this is based -- is that none of these legal exemptions were necessary in order to continue enforcing the Student Code of Conduct. NONE of them. You'll notice how he never actually quotes the letter from the DoE to point out what "changes" made these exemptions necessary.  That's because there are no such changes.

"Our desire is for Spring Arbor University to continue to be a redemptive community where we each, in our brokenness and vulnerability, experience the grace of Jesus Christ and mutually encourage each other toward living lives that honor and glorify our God."

Then they should start behaving like it.

Basically, Ellis is simply restating that Spring Arbor will continue to deny the full body of science and psychiatry that proves inborn biological causes for sexual orientation and gender identity, and will continue to demand exemptions from federal law in regard to dealing with those whom they claim to love... all while, of course, continuing to accept federal funding.

Brent Ellis: you, sir, are lying.  You are in denial, you are acting upon hatred and willful ignorance, and you only continue to do more harm -- not just to your own university, but to the very name of Jesus Christ, whom you claim to represent here on Earth.

Now I challenge you, sir: do what your institution supposedly exists to teach others to do.  Learn.  Research the topics at hand and at least make an attempt to understand the people you are very clearly bigoted toward.  Encourage all Spring Arbor University staff, faculty and students to do the same.  If you truly set out to understand these people, at some point, you will necessarily break down and openly weep over how terribly you've acted and how horrendously you and the school have treated them over the years.

Maybe, just maybe, we might get a mea culpa out of you then.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Time To Refrain From Embracing


Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Regular readers of mine are well aware that I in no way tolerate bigotry.  I have spoken out against racism.  I have spoken out against homophobia.  I have spoken out against transphobia.  I have spoken out against opposition to marriage equality.  I have spoken out against sports writers being allowed to editorialize about the evils of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as if they were editor-in-chief of the newspaper in question (here's lookin' at you, Phil Morgan).  The list goes on and on.

As the Bible passage I've quoted above states quite accurately, there is a time for everything, and while the extended present time has been and continues to be that for speaking out against mistreatment of minority groups by society as a whole, the immediate time has come -- for myself and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others -- to speak out against an organization we hold very near and dear to our hearts: Spring Arbor University.

In case the ever-strengthening hurricane of national media coverage has avoided landfall on your patch of informational coastline, SAU requested and was granted exemptions from Title IX on the basis of sex, parenthood as pertaining to marital status, pregnancy as pertaining to marital status, employee leave (for pregnancy, childbirth and abortion) as pertaining to sex or gender identity, housing as pertaining to sex or gender identity, bathrooms and locker rooms as pertaining to sex or gender identity, and athletics participation as pertaining to sex or gender identity.

In other words: if you wish to be an employee or student at Spring Arbor University, you must be a heterosexual, cisgender, single person with no children living with only members of your same sex or as one half of a married opposite-sex couple (in which case kids are okay).  Gay, transgender, single fathers who once had an abortion and now live out of wedlock with their partner  -- or any singular or combined qualifiers in that list -- need not apply.  Because, according to SAU president Brent Ellis and his administration, those people aren't deserving of dignity.

I don't think I have to rehash the scientific or Biblical evidence that proves wrong every last premise in which this abhorrent position of the school's is based.  I've cataloged them all before, here and elsewhere.  If you need to refresh your memory, just read through some of my previous writings and you'll get the message pretty quickly.  No, what I want to talk about here today is specifically the problem as it relates to Spring Arbor University and how it needs to be fixed.

Now, before we go any further, there are three terms you need to know: liberal arts, The Concept, and The Bubble.

Liberal arts is an often misunderstood term.  No, it has nothing to do with politics, nor does it have anything to do with social issues.  To boil it down to its essence, a liberal arts education teaches you how to learn, not what to learn.  Certainly there are plenty of "whats" to learn, as well -- language, history, math, science, psychology, art, music, literature, et cetera -- but at a liberal arts college, you learn how to learn through the practice of learning those subjects.  The end goal is to produce a lifelong student, someone who constantly studies and makes well-informed decisions in all that they do.  Spring Arbor University is -- or, at least, once was -- a liberal arts institution.

The Concept is the short name for The Spring Arbor Concept.  Yes, that is an official, proper name.  Officially, The Concept is as follows:

Spring Arbor University is a community of learners distinguished by our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts, total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, and critical participation in the contemporary world.

Sounds like a great basis for a Christian university, doesn't it?  It is!  ...when it's being followed.  The problem is that The Concept is used in two ways that were not at all intended by those who wrote it.

The first, most obvious use of The Concept is by the students as an explanation for why something is not allowed.  "Against The Concept" is the phrase you'll hear repeated all around campus rather frequently.  Visiting an opposite sex's dorm outside of open hours is "against The Concept."  Skipping Chapel is "against the concept."  Reading erotic literature is "against The Concept."  Breathing is "against The Concept."  That last one is said in jest, but I'm far from the first person to say it and even farther from the last.  If you're doing something wrong at Spring Arbor, you're "against The Concept."  It's a great little reminder that you're in serious trouble whenever you so much as put one toe over the line, even by accident.

The other use of The Concept is by the school itself, which wields it as a weapon against the outside world.  "In this world but not of it" was a good enough standard for Jesus, but it's not enough for Spring Arbor University.  The "total commitment to Jesus Christ" has morphed into a "total commitment to the Free Methodist Book of Discipline," a document that is apparently so sacrosanct in the eyes of President Ellis that he even included it as part of the basis for his request "that the University may discriminate on religious grounds."  (I'm not making that up, those are Ellis' exact words.)

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but last time I checked the Christianity: The Forgiving rulebook, it still said that when you play the Jesus card, it renders all powers of the Man card ineffective with no XP given.  The Free Methodist Book of Discipline is a document of religious laws written by man to enforce compliance.  Jesus' words are teachings directly from God Himself, sent to spread and demonstrate His love for His creation.  The Book of Discipline did not come from Jesus' mouth.  Upholding it over Christ's teachings is bound to cause problems... and wouldn't you know it, doing so is causing problems!

Thirdly, we have The Bubble, which, like its counterpart, is shorthand for The Spring Arbor Bubble.  It isn't official, per sé, but it's no less real.  You've seen the show Under The Dome?  It's like that, only it doesn't do all the freaky Stephen King stuff.  In fact, when CBS first began promoting that show, my very first reaction was, "wait, when did Stephen King write about Spring Arbor?"  The Bubble is permeable, and there are those who find ways to escape and return as they please without notice, but by and large, the students find themselves trapped in it by The Concept and a general unwillingness to go out and engage in the surrounding community.  They see Spring Arbor as having everything they need to thrive as a Jesus-committed lifelong learner.  Critical participant in the contemporary world?  Bah... that's for after graduation.  And the mandatory cross-cultural term.  No need to waste time with it now.

So how does this recent move fit into the big picture at Spring Arbor University?

Well, basically, it doesn't.  At least not if you look at "the big picture" as what SAU was intended to be.  Approaching this from the position of what SAU was intended to be, these exemptions go entirely "against The Concept."  Let's look at The Concept again, shall we?  "Spring Arbor University is a community of learners" -- nothing wrong there -- "distinguished in our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts"--

Whoa, hold on there just a second!  What did we say "liberal arts" meant?  Learning how to learn, right?  And two of the subjects intended to teach us how to learn were science and psychology, correct?  So when science and psychology have very clearly proven (as I've pointed out many times before) that sexual orientation and gender identity are natural, in-born, biological traits that cannot be changed, it would be a foregone conclusion that those who are "distinguished in [their] lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts" would seek to fully comprehend and adjust their perspective to account for those facts.  Spring Arbor University has, with these exemptions, effectively disqualified itself as a liberal arts institution.

Let's continue: "[...] total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning"--

Whoops!  We've hit another snag!  Already!  Take a moment to think about what that phrase truly means: "Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning."  Jesus was quite obviously a loving man.  So pointedly, so outrageously, so arrogantly contradictory to convention, in fact, that the powers of the establishment, both religious and political, conspired to murder him.  He loved everyone He came across: tax collectors (the lowest scum of the political realm), prostitutes, homosexuals (need I reference Matthew 8 for the bajillionth time?), the poor, the diseased, the cursed, adulterers, and not less than a few promiscuous women.  He welcomed them all.  He showed love to them all.  When others turned someone away, Jesus embraced them.

In other words, if Jesus Christ is supposed to be the perspective for learning at Spring Arbor, they would be welcoming of people they perceive to be sinners. They would be showing Christ's love to those people.  They would be standing up against the modern Pharisees in the Christian fundamentalist establishment and opening their arms as wide as possible to everyone.  Spring Arbor University has, with these exemptions, effectively rejected Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning.

And finally, we come to the last portion: "[...] and critical participation in the contemporary world." 

Not again?!  Yes, I'm afraid so.  Gerald E. Bates -- the university's president for only one academic year after Gayle Beebe left -- gave this brilliant explanation of that phrase in his 2007 convocation address:

And, lastly, we are called to critical participation in the contemporary world. The word CRITICAL is critical to the concept. A chip in the river in some sense “participates” but our aspiration is to be world changers, counter-culturalists in the Jesus sense, Kingdom workers to do all we can to make wrong things right, to heal pain, solve problems, to advance justice, to bring people to God, in short, to do what Jesus showed us to be God’s priorities here on earth. We do not wait passively for the GREAT ESCAPE (the rapture, or whatever); we have work to do in the here and now. We maintain an invigorating tension with our world.

So now we have to ask ourselves: what is counter-cultural, in the Jesus sense, about Spring Arbor's actions in this situation?  Are they making any wrong things right?  Are they healing pain?  Are they solving any problems?  Are they advancing justice?  Are they bringing anyone to God?  Are they putting God's priorities ahead of their own?

Answer Key: Nothing, No, No, No, No, No, Hell No.

And here's the kicker, the coup de grâce in Bates' explanation of The Concept:

All of us have this choice before us—to be chips on the river of history, or swimmers, sometimes cross-current, sometimes upstream to find where the damage is coming from.

OUCH!  God damn it!  And I do mean that in the very literal sense of the phrase!  That is in direct contradiction to SAU's current positions!  That fucking hurts!

This brings me to my own personal experience at the school.  I was a student there as a freshman in the 2003-2004 school year.  I had been heavily recruited by the radio program, and apart from the University of Miami -- to which I was accepted but didn't attend for reasons of appeasing family -- Spring Arbor was my first choice.

I was battling some demons at the time -- both figuratively and probably real -- and I left after it became apparent that A: I was failing, B: I lacked the drive to continue in an academic setting, C: I had no money, and D: the only thing I really cared about was radio, and I was practically giving lessons on broadcasting from the day I set foot on campus because I'd already had eleven years of prior experience in the industry.

Basically, I wound up owing thousands of dollars for the opportunity to earn $7.40 an hour doing something I could have been doing anywhere else.

It was a lousy personal situation that wasn't entirely within my control for various reasons, but the people at SAU helped me make the best of it as much as they possibly could.  They went above and beyond for me, going out of their way to try to pull me out of my problems.  That wouldn't happen at most other schools.  I was (and still am) very grateful to the people there who made that effort, ineffective though it was at the time.

Despite my problems, for the most part, I had a great experience at SAU.  I made lifelong friends, I had new experiences I never thought I would have, I learned more about myself than I think I ever had in a single year up to that point... it had its bad moments, but it was largely rewarding overall.

Now, as far as LGBT issues go, they weren't a very major concern on campus at that time.  That's not to say they weren't a concern -- they were -- but they weren't the focus of attention.  Think back to that time.  The national conversation had more to do with terrorism and war back then.  Spring Arbor was no exception.

The Student Code of Conduct had, even then, prohibited "homosexual behavior."  I personally did not know anyone there who was gay; at least not anyone who was out to me, but I was aware that there were gay students on campus.  Despite that fact, there were no witch hunts.  No one in the staff or faculty, to my knowledge, was going out of their way to condemn gay students.  In fact, the attitude while I was there was one of -- gasp! -- welcoming, opening arms to people from various walks of life who had different experiences to share, so that we all could learn from each other.

Can the same still be said for Spring Arbor today?  Hardly.

Think back to 2007 now; the last time SAU made national headlines.  It was for almost the same reason as this time.  A professor of 17 years -- an associate dean, no less -- came out as transgender and began publicly transitioning.  Today we know her as Julie Nemecek, and she's a prominent speaker on LGBT issues here in Michigan, but that didn't come about without a fight from the university.  The whole thing started in 2005, when she came out to then-president Gayle D. Beebe.  As a result, she was demoted, given a new contract with a 20% pay cut, assigned only online courses, prohibited from appearing on campus as a female, prohibited from "discussing his transgender situation with Spring Arbor University personnel or students," and eventually fired.  She dragged the school in front of the EEOC and, two years later, basically won, agreeing to an undisclosed settlement.

That long, protracted battle didn't come without additional cost to the school, either.  Lansing Community College and several other schools across the state were building their "University Center" in Lansing, where the various schools would offer classes to LCC students who wouldn't otherwise have had access to them.  Spring Arbor was one of those schools.  Prominently one of those schools.  They were going to be one of the more heavily involved institutions in the venture.  But when the Julie Nemecek story broke, all hell broke loose.  The media pounced on it almost instantaneously.  Both schools were hounded by the public -- Spring Arbor for causing the problem, Lansing Community College for planning to associate with Spring Arbor.  The City of Lansing even got involved because they had just passed a non-discrimination ordinance that included LGBT language in it.  The uproar was tremendous, well outdoing what we're seeing and hearing about these Title IX exemptions today... at least to date.

In the end, LCC kicked SAU out of the University Center project, costing Spring Arbor a lot of money that they had already put into it and even more money in lost future revenue.

Did they learn their lesson?  Apparently not.

Now, let me put my own personal feelings on the topic aside.  From a purely political standpoint, Spring Arbor University should have every right in the world to exclude who they wish to exclude.  They could transform themselves into the Ku Klux Klan of higher education, and there shouldn't be a damn thing anyone can do about it.


And yes, that's a "very big 'if.'"  Nobody should be able to tell Spring Arbor that they can't exclude people IF they are not accepting money from the federal government.  Title IX compliance is required to receive funding from federal grants and loans.  There should be no exception to that requirement, religious or otherwise.  Why?  Because the federal government does not exist to give money to anyone, let alone religious institutions of higher learning.  But if Washington is going to insist on giving my money and yours to these schools, they cannot be allowed to violate federal law for any reason.  If you borrow money from the bank, you have to abide by the loan agreement.  This situation should be no different whatsoever.

Take Hillsdale College for example.  They fought Title IX throughout the late 70's and early 80's, and rightly so, because as the first college in the country to include a policy of non-discrimination on the bases of race, religion and sex in their 1844 charter, they found that federal demands to prove compliance were overbearing, intrusive and unnecessary.  Which, frankly, they are.  And, in 1984, after the Supreme Court ruled in Grove City College v. Bell that federally-funded student scholarships could be withheld if colleges refused to sign "assurance of compliance" forms, Hillsdale began rejecting all federal funding, thereby exempting themselves entirely from Title IX.  As a result, all 1,500 students are on privately-funded tuition, many of them on various scholarships made available only to Hillsdale College students by private donors, and the school has an endowment of $295 Million.

Spring Arbor University, by comparison, spreads their mere $9.5 Million endowment among almost 3,000 students... if you'll pardon the expression "spreads their endowment."  And don't get me started on that giant phallic symbol in the middle of campus.

Guess it pays not to discriminate, huh?

Now I'll put my own personal feelings on the topic back into the conversation.

As a former Spring Arbor student who has, in the past, been very proud to make that claim, I can no longer be proud to do so.  Not only have Ellis and company completely erased my pride in the school, I fully anticipate any future business dealings I'm party to requiring a renunciation from me of Spring Arbor's shameful bigotry and incredibly un-Christlike behavior.  And I shouldn't have to defend myself over a school on my résumé which, after I left, became a worldwide symbol of hatred and intolerance.  That's a personal detriment to my life caused by Ellis, the school, and many people whom I once thought better of.  There is no lawsuit that will undo the damage that has already been done.  There is no change of course that will entirely heal the wounds that the school's actions have torn open.  I now have to live with the consequences of their despicable choices, and that infuriates me.  That beyond infuriates me.  That makes me mad.  It makes me mean mad.

But it gets even worse.  I can deal with that aggravation.  That's peanuts compared to the greater issue at hand.  Spring Arbor University purports to be an entity in this world that shines as a beacon of the faith that I adhere to.  They are perverting it into something it is not and claiming that they represent values that all Christians share, and that I will not allow.  They do not speak for me.  They do not speak for anyone but themselves.  I will not sit silently while the school I once loved abuses my Lord's name in their acts of hatred.  I, and many others like me, are now forced to sever ties with Spring Arbor University because the school has become grossly antithetical to everything it was founded to stand for.

As verse five says above, there is "a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing."  This is a time to refrain from embracing.  I no longer embrace Spring Arbor University.  I cannot so long as they continue this bigotry and hatred.

As verse seven says, there is "a time to be silent and a time to speak."  This is no time to be silent.  I will speak out against Spring Arbor University for as long as these deplorable practices continue.  I must to satisfy my obligations as a critical participant in the contemporary world.

Brent Ellis can throw we alumni and former students all the bones he wants by facetiously praising us for enacting what we learned at his school, but we're not settling for that.  These policies will change.  It's only a question of when and how hard the Spring Arbor administration wants to fight their losing battle against reality.

Against Christ's love.

Against The Concept.

Special thanks to SAU Alumni For Equality for sharing this essay on their own blog, which can be found here.