Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I Went to a College You Never Heard Of

I wondered what I wrote on this day six months ago, and this is it. At the time, it was liberating to write. And now it's filler while we continue to decorate our monster tree.

By the way, the old head refers to our alma mater.

Out Beyond the Village Border/Pointing in the Air/Stand Her Towers Seen Far Distant/When the Day is Fair

I got my undergraduate degree 40 years ago, and for 40 years I never saw the name of my alma mater in print, other than on my own resume.

And not always on that. Sometimes when asked to write down for one database or another where I got my BA I have put down Landrith College.

Landrith is my wife's maiden name.

In this blog I have always referred to my undergraduate school as Whooping Jesus Bible College, which gets at the nature of the place or at least my attitude toward it.

In truth, the name of my alma mater is Taylor University. It has at last -- and I would speculate probably never again -- been prominent in the national news. It is the place where those two girls went to school -- you know; those girls -- who were in the terrible automobile accident and whose identities were switched as their shattered bodies lay on the highway.

One set of friends and relatives buried a beloved child, sister, classmate etc. etc. Another set of etc. sat by the bedside of etc. as she lay in a coma, from which to the general joy she is even now emerging.

But everyone had it backwards. She who was alive is long dead. She who was dead had a kind of resurrection, once somebody bothered to check the dental records.

What a story. It's been all over the place. Lowell Boileau, netking of Detroit and my old Taylor roommate, says: Think made-for-TV movie. (Editor's note: Instead, it was the basis of the plot of a recent CSI: New York, a plot with a particularly nasty twist.)

But I think: Taylor Taylor Taylor. It lives in memory while things more recent have faded. From one source or another, I hear that it has acquired some new buildings. What a bright and grinning place it is now, I am told. As fundamentalist Christianity has lacquered its public face in the U.S. in recent years, so has Taylor.

But my god it was a dungheap 40 years ago. It was ugly and desolate and isolated. Think Indiana death trip. Most of the buildings were old, and the newer ones were shabby. Buildings don't matter, of course. Academically, it was.... First word that comes to mind is mediocre, though I'm tempted to say,"Occasionally it rose to mediocrity."

I try that on my wife, who is also a graduate.

"I hated it I hated it I hated it," she says. "But I had a few good teachers."

She recalls them. Dr. Jim Young who taught drama and who was publicly castigated for doing a production of Saroyan's "The Cave Dwellers" in which one of the characters used the word "damn" right there on stage. I think it was the Dean of Students who stood up and walked out of the performance when that word was uttered.

Dr. Young left to teach at the University of Wisconsin

Then, my wife remembered the biology teacher who said you could think evolution was correct and also be a Christian. Shortly thereafter, he left to teach at William and Mary.

None of my English professors were that memorable. I tend to recall all the faculty members who were failed missionaries, jumped-up high school teachers, guys with MA's who (I was convinced) couldn't manage a Ph.D. program , the religious enthusiasts who did have Ph.D.s and who came running back to the strait jacket. (You read their bios. They never taught anywhere else. They were it in to the finish.)


The strait jacket. We couldn't drink, smoke or dance. We were allowed "occasional hand holding." We were required to go to chapel three times a week. But those were the shadows on the wall. The narrowness that mattered was intellectual, and I still feel its constraints.

You see, a school can be small with meager facilities and marginal faculty, but it still can be a wonderful place for a bright young person if it encourages curiosity and the questioning of absolutes, if it sees the wonderful hope in the scientific method. Taylor said think all you want as long as you arrive at our predetermined conclusion.

The sad thing is that I chose to go to Taylor because on some level I understood that if I started to think about the details of my narrow Christian faith -- of its contradictions and its esoterica -- that faith would be in danger. I worked at my intellectual paralysis. I cultivated it as if it were a mushroom, down in the dark basement, fed on shit.

But I couldn't keep it up. Once distant from my family, against my will I began to think for myself, and my faith evaporated, leaving a thin bitter layer of resentment behind. I kept my mouth shut, of course, for I was a good boy such a good boy, as horrible as that is to admit now. I was a silent critic. Without having wished to rebel, at Taylor to my delight I became a rebel at minimum emotional and intellectual cost because the environment in which I existed was so narrow that the most modest transgressions -- not smoking or drinking but merely sitting in the car or standing in the bar with those who smoked and drank -- produced the most exhilarating sense of moral banditry.

Now, my wife was different. She has always had more courage than I, so she voiced her doubts and was criticized and isolated. (She also fell into one of those "mean girls" situations common enough, I suppose, but even worse when sanctimony is added.) She got in trouble and was always on the verge of expulsion for the hated "bad attitude." I kept my mouth shut, and no one knew I was there.

At this point the attentive reader arrives at a question. (I tell my reporting students that one must understand the questions that arise in the reader's mind. Ignore them and the reader does not know whether you are a rogue or a fool. Indeed, the reader may square the circle by deciding you are both.)

The attentive reader asks why I didn't transfer out and why she who would become my wife did not do the same . (We didn't hook up until her last semester. Our sexual awakening was not a factor in our remaining. Though as sexual awakenings go, I am of the opinion it was first rate.)

We didn't because we were afraid to. We are ashamed that we were afraid, that mediocrity suited us so well. Taylor was the devil we knew; out there somewhere lay the devil we didn't know, even though we didn't believe in the devil. Today, we are ashamed of Taylor for being what it was, and that makes our shame all the greater for hanging around because we were scared of the big world, of parental disapproval.

But that's not all, as they say in the late-night TV commercials. This is where you get into the paradoxical nature of our feelings about Taylor. My wife and I wonder if, in fact, had we gone to some first-class state school or to some highly ranked private college that -- as timid as we were as a result of our having been raised up under glass, as it were -- whether we might not have retreated further into sectarian narrowness, frightened by all the secular temptations, including the temptation to think.

Was it a good thing for us to go to such a bad school? We got together there, after all, our attraction sealed by our mutual loathing of the place, and all our friends who said we were an odd couple whose relationship had no future have gone through more marriages and more relationships than democracy in Iraq has had false starts.

So: I don't know. It's a puzzle. (We have a friend whose parents met in a Nazi concentration camp. There's a puzzle for her to chew on.) We hated how Taylor was then. I suspect we wouldn't much like how it is now, since it sounds as if it is now just a little dangerous, if you think right-wing religion is dangerous. One of my old Taylor friends says the school is now considered part of the "Christian Ivy League." Whoa. Conundrum. Oxymoron. I googled that description and came up empty. I googled Taylor's academic ranking and discovered that among "Midwestern Comprehensive Colleges," U.S. News rates it just below St. Mary's College and Calvin College but better than St. Norbert and Ohio Northern University.

(But, you ask, how does it compare to Landrith College.)

What does it all mean, Alfie? I have explored these memories to prepare an answer to a problem the recent stories about Taylor have presented me.

It is a simple question: If I had a child and lost that child in a way so doubly cruel -- having learned that the "saved" child is not yours and that your child has been buried in someone else's name -- would I prefer to think that this dear lost child no longer sees through a glass darkly but now face to face, the face that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In other words, would I prefer the delusion to the pain?

No. No! Wrong question. It does not apply to our own childless circumstances.

The real question is what might I say to parents in that situation. I hope I would give them a big hug and shed tears, and if they said, "She's in heaven with Jesus now, isn't she?" I hope I would keep my mouth shut. But then, of course, later when as dear friends we talked knee-to-knee of those truths that only true friends share....

God, this is morbid and pointless. Suddenly I've conjured up a roomful of imaginary Christian friends telling me their babies are dead!? But then again Taylor was a place where I exercised my emotions, not my brain, and I think the deep insight gained during this ramble through memory is....

Life: a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel, an essay without an ending to those who blog.

And that's enough. If you blog.

Postscript: I am told that there has been a *mass emailing* of this link, which explains the number of hits and the number and the nature of the comments. It's not just Google at work. So far, some of the comments have been thoughtful and some foolish, rather more of the latter than the former I would say. But that's what I would say, isn't it? I read the comments with interest, but so far find nothing I have not heard before.

And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh.

29 comments:

david silver said...

that's a pretty powerful post michael.

but first, if your tree ain't decorated by now, you've got problems. what are you decorating, a forest?

and second, what a great description (a universal?) of what makes rich and not-so-rich learning environments: "You see, a school can be small with meager facilities and marginal faculty, but it still can be a wonderful place for a bright young person if it encourages curiosity and the questioning of absolutes, if it sees the wonderful hope in the scientific method. Taylor said think all you want as long as you arrive at our predetermined conclusion." curiosity is key.

and third, rock on to Eydie for speaking out!

and fourth, a massive exodus (word choice?) of profs to other schools is never a good sign.

and fifth, this is quite a paragraph: "The sad thing is that I chose to go to Taylor because on some level I understood that if I started to think about the details of my narrow Christian faith -- of its contradictions and its esoterica -- that faith would be in danger. I worked at my intellectual paralysis. I cultivated it as if it were a mushroom, down in the dark basement, fed on shit."

and sixth, apparently other people think taylor is a scary place.

and seventh, and most importantly, i wonder what current taylor university students and faculty think of the university. i wonder if they will find this entry and whether they will feel compelled (or allowed?) to post their perspective.

Andy Rowell said...

Michael,
I'm a grad of Taylor and a Taylor prof at the moment. I'm sorry you had a stifling experience at Taylor 40 years ago. I know your post was basically just a personal cathartic reflection not an attack on Taylor but I will make just a couple of comments. I was glad you acknowledged that Taylor is pretty strong in the US News ratings. That is one criteria which hopefully doesn't reward academic mediocrity. All I can say is that we take academic rigor and teaching excellence pretty seriously at Taylor. But it is an imperfect place and always has been. It is true that Taylor continues to be an explicitly Christian university. There are strengths and weaknesses to that. Hopefully, we are engaging rigorously with ideas far beyond Christian circles. If you are ever back for a visit, I'd be happy to have coffee. I'm a religion prof without my Ph.D.! Yikes. Narrow and uneducated! But I'm just a one-year appointment and applying to Ph.D. programs. I think you would enjoy chatting with our English and Communications department profs today. I don't think you would be disappointed in their academic rigor nor their engagement with ideas outside of the Christian bubble.

All the best,
andy

Robert J. Moeller said...

I Don't Wanna Be Like This Mike-

Wow. You have managed to confuse, anger, sicken, and bore me all in the same blog. What a piece of garbage your post and/or blog turns out to be. You teach what for a living? Remind me so I can be sure to warn any and all of the horrors that await them at your institution.

Now, in regards to your criticism of the University I graduated from...I regret that your experience was that painful and unpleasant. But, like most who go to Taylor and come away from it with the demented perspective that you obviously have, you are the only one to blame. I attended Taylor my first semester of college and hated it. I left, went to junior college back home and worked for a year. I visited other schools I thought would give me a better education and better experience. I ended up back at Taylor and graduated in 2005 with a degree in Marketing. My only regret is leaving the first time.

What is education? Is it just the degree that hangs on your wall? Is it just a means to an end (a job)? For most, yes. Taylor offers a unique chance to study specific disciplines inside the context of a Biblical worldview. Your heart and ability to see the benefit of such an experience is blackened and clouded by your sin and apparent anger towards God. I say this not as an ad homnyn attack, but as an easily obtained assertion based on your writing.

What makes you so angry? What makes you feel that it is necessary to spew such hatred towards a school that has produced outstanding, Godly men and women for over a century? You had a bad time and felt isloated in your own personal misery; so what? Deal with it. No one forced you to go. You missed the chance God provided you to enjoy your college experience, regardless of the shortcomings (in your mind) that school had.

Now you condescendingly condemn Taylor even though you've done little more than "Google" your alma mater in 40 years. What a shame. I do not dislike or resent you and/or your comments. I feel bad that you've reached the point in your life where bitterness has burrowed so deep in your sinful heart that you cannot see the forest for the trees. God is love. Let go of your self-inflicted resentment towards Him. Let go of your disdain for a university that seeks to further His kingdom by training His people for a life "in, but not, of".

Let me assure you that I was no cheerleader for Taylor much of the time I was there. I complained often. I pointed out obvious flaws and easily correctible mistakes the administration and faculty made. Could I have obtained a better scholastic education had I gone to Wisconsin or Miami-Ohio? Of course! That is not the point. The point is God had me where he wanted me. Knowledge is more than books and petri dishes and cynical journalism professors who reject the God that made them. You, sir, like me, know the Truth. One of has decided to hide it in his heart and that is where you and I part company.

I'll be praying for you and if I've offended you or gone too far, then I apologize. Please, for all of us, before posting anything in the future...take a deep breath and think about a dewey meadow or something.

Rachel said...

I've never blogged before but I thought your entry was worth a response. My boyfriend and I also met and naturally clicked over the fact that we disliked Taylor and the "rules". We lived in sin and year later found ourselves empty and longing for more.
There is a natural joy in those who know Christ and truly have experienced Him and that was something I lacked and eventually longed for. Fortunately my boyfriend and I came to know the Lord and His redeeming love and salvation during our sophomore year. We were then able to take advantage of all of the wonderful opportunities to come to know the Lord more fully - like the dreaded 3 mornings a week of chapel, small groups, and church/youth group, etc.
I guess your blog left me feeling sad that you don't know or love the Lord and that you laugh at and mock the hope we have in something much bigger than us and our knowledge, degrees....All these earthly things will pass away whether you want them to or not. Life is short, Mr. Robertson, and I hope that in 40 years from my May 2006 graduation that I won't be stuck pondering my college decision and rather praising God for the amazing chance to come to KNOW Him in a way I never had before. I too will pray for your heart and that you can one day rest in the knowledge that you have laid down the things of this earth for the things of above. P.S. you don't need to worry, I know Laura is in heaven because I knew her heart and her desires were for Jesus above all else...crazy as that might sound to you. :)

Andrea said...

Michael ~
I am struggling right now to produce a response that is appropriate yet worthwhile for your eyes to read. I am trying not to take to heart all the negative comments you wrote about Taylor yet I can't help it...do you know why? Because ultimately you were speaking these harsh words about my Jesus.

A 2005 graduate and fiance of a Taylor employee I can't help but say, as cliche as it may sound, Christ is everything to me. He is my reason to wake up in the morning, He is my reason to live with hope, and He is the only lasting relationship that I will ever have on this earth that will never disappoint me. It makes me hurt to hear that you don't seem to know Him like that.

Because of your post, I view you as a stubborn and bitter man who lost out on an experience like no other. I wish you could have experienced Taylor in the way that - could I be so bold to say this? - God originally would have loved you to experience it. Because of Taylor, Christ has challenged me emotionally and mentally (who woulda thought??)Do I get mad at God? YES...Does it feel good to do what I want most of the time? YES...Do I struggle with really giving my life fully over to Christ every day? YES But, He still loves me.

All this to say, I don't know you, I don't know what your convictions are or even if you have any and I am trying not to judge you but...I pray that Satan will no longer hide himself under your bitterness and negative attitude over a school that is "human" but really trying to live out Christ's purpose.

By the way - right now it is taking all of Christ's strength inside me not to comment on how rude, insensitive, cruel, and ignorant it was of you to bring up the accident that occurred last year. You have no idea what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Then why did you attend? I don't know why anyone would want to continue reading your pathetic blog. "I went to college, boo hoo, I'm so unfortunate!"

You want attention. Nice job, sparky.

But really, are you sure you attended college because you're acting like a junior high girl.

Anonymous said...

If I had read your blog in 2001 during my freshmen year and parts of 2002 believe me I would have agreed with most of it. For that matter, I still agree with some of your points. However, I must respectfully rise up in defense of a school that provided me with so much.

I'll commence with what I agree with. I hated most of my required classes. You are certainly correct that with the exception of a few dedicated and daring professors, rarely did I feel that most subjects were given a balanced treatment. To be direct and bland, many educators were not being fair to their students. I felt slighted and short-changed. Taylor may not be a poor man's school, but the education at times fell to that level.

The school does at times exude a blind-fanatasism. There are undoubtedly groups of people that are a cookie cutout of what evangelical Christianity is unfortunately headed towards becoming...stubborn legalism.

To answer the question that you never asked but I am sure you are wondering, no, students still can not drink, dance or smoke. Yes, you should be able to make your own experiences. Yes, you should be able to test the boundaries. But how big of a deal is that?

You didn't enjoy your experience. I understand, because I didn't enjoy TU until my third year. But the reason that everything began to turn around for me was that Taylor became what I made of it. I started to get involved, I sought out others like me that didn't fit the mold. Together we stayed up late and debated hot-button topics (abortion, homosexuality, etc...) politics, philosophy and The Bible. I started to question my teachers, and questioned others and even my parents, and although I came to the same ultimate conclusion as those that I debated, atleast I knew what I believed and why I did.

My point is you claim that Taylor never gave you a chance to examine another perspective from a spiritual and intellectual basis. You made the best of your situation from an intellectual standpoint. Your resume speaks for itself. You went on to graduate from the Harvard of the south. However, why did opt out of the more difficult task of honestly challenging the spiritual aspect that only ends in Christ's arms? You have only gone half way. No longer are you blind to doubt, but it is upfront and in your face. Take the journey a little further and come full circle.

Taylor didn't offer me everything that Boston University could have. But just as one of your previous responders stated, I completely believe that God placed me there to make me stronger. He taught me to examine everything before taking a stance. My faith is only stronger because of that.

My post is not about Taylor, or how often I wished I could have gone to the Upland Tavern and had a Miller Lite. This is my plea to you. Don't miss out on everything that Christ can offer you once you acknowledge Truth found in Him. Your eternal life depends on it.

- John in Carolina

Bob said...

Dear Michael,

Thank you for sharing your convictions so openly and honestly. It is in that same spirit I choose to share mine.

I found myself taking the somewhat same journey you did 30 years ago, only in reverse. You see I began my education at an Ivy League school and ended up attending a college similar to Taylor. In high school I attended two summers at a major elite university in Washington, D.C. As such, I was privileged to sit under professors from Dartmouth, UCLA, George Washington University, and Georgetown to name a few.

I was also privileged to sit in classes with the sons of state governors, diplomats, judges, and other luminaries. I remember particularly well the night I was invited to sit and watch the Democratic convention in 1972 in the same Georgetown townhouse as Bobby Kennedy's former speech writer, Robert Schrum. It was all pretty heady stuff for a 17 year old.

So why didn't I take up the opportunity to attend Dartmouth when my professor offered me a guarantee to admission if I would just apply upon graduation? Why did I choose to pass on that and instead attend a school of similar ilk as Taylor?

It was because of what this elite university and the other Ivy League schools (at least represented by some of their faculty) did not offer at the time -- a transcending spiritual purpose and direction in life.

During my time there I was offered by fellow students drugs and sex and careful instructions as to what to when a narc came down the hall. I was invited by guest professors on more than one occasion to go out and get drunk at their expense. In fact, one of my guest professors (who was male) kept my roommate (also a male) out all night taking him (alone) to bars --until my roommate put his hand through a glass window at a local pub and came home bleeding.

Now that I am perhaps a little bit older and wiser, I sometimes wonder just what type of "awakening" that professor had in mind for my young, naive friend. (You fill in the blanks.)

So after two summers I came to the disappointing conclusion that the only apparent values that existed among the majority of students and guest professors I had been introduced to was self-indulgence and self-promotion. While there were of course individual exceptions, on the whole I found little in their lives that spoke of genuine compassion, altruistic concern for others, and basic kindness. In a word -- I was disillusioned by their shallowness.

So, Michael, I probably made in your eyes the worst mistake of my life. I chose to pass on a Ivy League degree in favor of a Christian college. Yet, there 30 years ago I met some of the finest people of character and intellect I have known in my life.

During that same era, in a genuine twist of irony, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal came to my college to see why anyone would attend a school that had such constricting rules (the ones you apprently still rue to this day). Portions of my interview with him appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. My debate partner from high school who was attending Harvard University read the piece and called to say he wished he was enjoying his college experience as much as I was mine.

In another twist of irony, the Harvard commencement speaker his senior year was Alexandyr Soltzenitsn. He stunned his elite audience that day by saying that all the ills of the 20th century, including the Gulags, could be summarized in one sentence, "Men have forgotten God."

It was precisely because of the gnawing emptiness and shallowness I had experienced those two summers in Washington D.C. that ultimately I asked Jesus Christ to take over my life. You again, may pity me for such a narrowing and constricting decision, but it has proved to be the beginning of the greatest adventure of my life.

As such I have spent much of the last three decades working often as a pastor in inner-city, urban, multi-racial settings attempting to heal the hurts of racism, economic injustice, crime, drug use, and abandonment, all in the name of Christ.

One other thing you would likely find lamentable. I now have two sons and a daughter who have chosen to attend Taylor. And last spring I attended with two of them the funeral of one of the boys killed in the van accident you reference.

The deceased boy's father (an accomplished reconstructive surgeon) was a fishing buddy of mine, and exhibited none of the angry and lamenting tone of your piece. Rather, I found him to be a tower of strength and dignity and comfort to all of us. I can't help but wonder if he hasn't discovered the same something I discovered three decades ago -- there is a God and His strength is made perfect in our weakeness.

So thank you for sharing your life journey and letting me to share my journey with you. Life is a difficult journey for all of us is it not? I sense your sincere quest for the truth has not ended.

Cordially,
Bob

Alex said...

Phheeeeeeeww. I'm just glad you didn't mention the Taylor bubble.

Dusty D said...

Michael,

You are a sad, old man...

Here are a few facts about this 140-year old University which holds students from 48 states and 56 countries...

We have one of the highest reguarded Computer Science programs at at Liberal Arts school in the country with, 100% job placement rate BEFORE graduation...

We have had 95% acceptance rate into Medical Schools of students 1st choice, in the last 15 years (also one of the highest)...

Our Engineering and Physics programs (which have nearly 100% placement rate in graduate and medical programs) have recieved more government money to research than Notre Dame and Rose Hulman...We also have current contracts with NASA, the Air Force, and Standford University for our students to conduct research and analysis...So, just because you don;t think we are "nationally" known, I would check with NASA first.

We hold an alumni giving rate (which means people giving back to the school that they belived in to the extent to give generously and consistently) of 42%
which is higher than most liberal arts schools in the nation...Actaully, I would LOVE to see that statistic in The University of San Francisco, especially because you contribute to the students' experiences (when you see the LOW number, try not to take it personally)...

We also have a 92% students retention rate (one of the highest in the country), which means 92% of the students are staying all four years, check that one at your school too...

Taylor is not for everbody, you did not have to go there...I apologize that you did not have a positive experience, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good fit for others, who do you think you are? What have you gained from posting this? I don't know if you are filling your massive ego, but as a 60 year old man...this so sad because you are narrowing what God can do in a place that is committed to serving Him on every level. I hope you regret posting this.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. If there is any example of Taylor students being assholes, this is it. Come on guys, surely you don't think badgering this man will change anyone's views of the school. I'm going to guess that it was students like this with considerably narrow views of the school that pushed the blogger to his current sentiment.

I personally loved my time at Taylor, but I also recognize how it can be a lonely and frusterating place for people who don't fit the mold 100% of the time. And it is a pretty specific mold to fit.

How incredibly "Taylor" is it for us to start a post in anger, and then feel so guilty about it that by the end of the paragraph we are appologizing for your experience and promising to pray for you!

And name calling? Dusty, honestly, you should know better.

-Allison

Anonymous said...

One has to have tremendous sympathy, indeed admiration, for someone who has been able (as has apparently Mr Robertson -- and heartfelt congratulations to him for the accomplishment!) to overcome the SPECTACULAR arrogance, stupidity, and bigotry rampant at a fundamentalist religious college like Taylor.

In Pakistan and Saudi Arabia they have their Islamic madrasses, here we have our Taylors and Bob Jones and Libertys all such similars...
They end up producing Mohamed Attas and Osama bin Ladens -- we end up producing Dick Cheneys, Tom DeLays, Jerry Falwells, and Bill Frists. All essentially from the very same cloth, and all with the very same fascist self-entitlements. (No, folks, there's NO "difference" between Islam and Christianity -- BOTH are profoundly stupid exercizes in wasting time and in spinelessly avoiding reality. Both license -- encourage -- wholesale slaughter, rape, orgiastic destruction....)

Actually, the overwhelming vast majority of those who are Christians -- and the same for Mohammadans, Jews and all the rest of these self-indulgent affectations -- should be ashamed of themselves, simply ashamed of themselves, for their arrogant contempt for human intelligence.) The blatant STUPIDITY inherent in ANY religion, really -- and the sanctimonious self-importance of people so weak they unfortunately require subscribing to such laughable mumbo-jumbo in order to simply live their lives -- is a truly sad, sad testament to the state of human existence.

Hats off to you, Michael Robertson! You got out of here!

But now: (sarcasm on/) Watch out, Jesus is gonna git ya! Oh yeah! Jesus is gonna git ya!! Ooga-booga!! OOGA-BOOGA!... (/sarcasm off)

And I post anonymously because I work at Taylor -- hey ya gotta get a paycheck between real gigs, eh? -- and if my intellgence was found out, the paychaecks would end on THEIR whim, not mine.

Nate P. said...

Mr. Robertson,

I am a Taylor grad (class of ’04), and I am going to spare you the “oh come on, don’t bash Taylor, it’s awesome, you are such a jerk” speech. Well, I might leave the jerk part in there. But to be totally honest, when thinking about how much you hate Taylor all I could think of was how I couldn’t care less about anything in the world. You see, you are not a Christian (as you made crystal clear) and therefore you do not understand a few basic things, one of which, is that Taylor is a Christian community. It is designed to get the most of Christians, but Christians aren’t perfect. We make mistakes, sometimes awful mistakes. So I apologize for anyone who made you feel inadequate or ashamed during your tenure at TU. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul talks about how we need to judge Christians, not non-Christians. “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” Since you are not in line with my beliefs we will unfortunately never see eye to eye, and it is no use arguing whether Taylor is awesome or not. I can do that with a Christian, but not with you sir. I also cannot blame you or judge you for your beliefs. You have no foundation that your morals rest upon and how can I, or anyone, expect something from someone who does what they please and has no standards to live by but their own? You will do whatever you want to do. A dog will be a dog, I can’t blame it for biting someone or peeing on the floor. I am a teacher, and my 8th grade students will say immature things and laugh when our textbook says that soldiers stand “erect.” I can yell at the kids for not being mature, or I can realize that they aren’t mature and move on with life. And that is what I did right away when I read about your oppressed feelings towards my school.

So, you are probably wondering why I took the time to post if I couldn’t care less about you. I knew most of the people involved in the van accident. I was at the memorial service and I still spend time talking about its impact with some of the people who lost a loved one in that accident, you know, with “those girls.” I am disgusted that you used this tragic (it can only be described as that) accident to launch into some tirade that you have been wanting to say for 40 years about an institution that you no have no association with anymore. And then, you had the nerve to say that if you met these girls’ parents you are not sure you could nod your head as they said that their little girl was in heaven. Why did the fate of these girls ever need to be spoken from your mouth? How about, when your child dies, I make a post saying, “If I were to be with Mr. Robertson at his daughters funeral and he asked me if it was all going to be ok, I would have to bite my lip to keep from saying ‘you know, it probably wont be ok, you will probably be depressed for a long time, maybe commit suicide, and since you don’t believe in heaven your child’s life and all they accomplished evaporated into nothing.’” As a husband (and I assume a father) you should be embarrassed of that example you set for your family. Treating such a horrible situation so lightly, having no respect for the thousands of people who are still grieving and referring to my friends casually as “those girls.” I understand you are not a Christian, but I would like to think that people of all faiths can understand what is proper and what is not when it comes to dealing with the loss of a loved one. But hey, I can’t blame you; you have no foundation for a set of values. So try not to the pee in the house or bite someone, and the rest of us humans (Christians and non-Christians) will continue being respectful when someone perishes, instead of being like you dogs.

david silver said...

when reading over these comments (currently 13), i understand much, much less than i understand. a lot of that is because i am a non-religious jew.

that said, there is one line, by nate p, that i certainly don't understand. nate p says: "You [michael robertson] have no foundation that your morals rest upon and how can I, or anyone, expect something from someone who does what they please and has no standards to live by but their own?"

for the record, i'd just like to suggest, just put it out there, that michael robertson, to the best of my knowledge, does indeed have a moral compass. he's also got standards.

that's all.

mackenzie said...

how could you not like Taylor?
They have cookie dough night at the speciality bar in the DC!!!

Jeremy said...

I'll second Allison. I wasn't a Taylor fan until I went away from Taylor and then came back, but even then I was/am probably as cynical as you were/are. The rigid mold that is Taylor doesn't really have much in the way of wiggle room. That much is evident in the responses that I've read through. I was involved in the community that is Taylor in it's more artistic expressions, and I respected my professors as the accomplished individuals that they were, Ph.D's or not. As much as I disliked many things about Taylor, I still payed for my degree, and I even have a TU license plate on my car. I also have US Army stickers on my car that declare I'm a combat engineer, but I don't like everything about the Army, either, though it's ranked pretty high as the premier war-fighting institution in the history of the world. The point is, I chose to be a part of both of those institutions for a part of my life, and I have real gripes with them. Is my opinion, or any responses to Michael's opinion, going to change his bad experience? Or better yet, show Christ's love to the blogosphere? The majority of these responses just help Michael make his point.

Robert J. Moeller said...

Anonymous (the one posted at 3:19)-

First, let me say that it was very brave of you to post such a "well argued" blog posting and then you bravely left your name off. Probably because you believe in what you said so much.

I am glad that Michael here was able to overcome arrogance, stupidity, and bigotry he learned at Taylor just in time to become an arrogant, stupid, bigoted professor at a Liberal Arts(minus the "Arts") university.

Nice one though comparing Christians to Islamic terrorists. Does Rosie O'Donnell write all your material? I guess it is fair to compare evangelical, even fundamentalist, God-fearing people who do not subscribe to your brand of God-less morality (where exactly do those morals you claim Michael posses come from??? did the monkeys pass them on to us?) to the Islamo-fascists who cut people's heads off on their webcams and promise the destruction of Israel and the country you currently live in (America). I guess I need a state-school education to understand that correlation.

Put down your Manifesto and do some research into the country you selfishly/thanklessly take full advantage of and perhaps you'll find that the reason we are here is due in large part to the Almighty God you decry.

It is dense men and women as yourself who called for justice after an event like 9/11 and within a year went back to your "Bush is an idiot...No Blood For Oil" rantings. Something tells me from your last post that you probably voted for Nancy Pelosi. How can I tell, you ask? Complete lack of common sense, a rejection of Judeo-Christian principles that made America what it is, inability to recognize your TRUE enemies (radical Islam) and a detachment from reality (combined with an accute self-inflicted paranoia for people you do not understand).

p.s. I enjoy your mastery of the english language exhibited with words such as "mumbo jumbo" to describe the Bible which happens to be the basis for the Bill of Rights you undeservingly enjoy every day of your angry, bitter life. Go kick some Military Recruiters off high school/college campuses and leave the blogging to trained professionals.

Melissa said...

Michael-

No one said you have to like Taylor (although my time there was the best four years of my life).
But when you say heartless things about people who you never knew, but I did--- then that is when you have no right to type what you typed.
If you consider it okay to make light of tragic death--then you obviously have lost touch with reality.
Is the fact that I treat people with kindness when face tragedy that makes me narrow-minded? If being open-minded means being cruel and nasty, then I think I'll continue eating at Ivanhoes and reading the Echo.

Please show a little decency next time you liquor up and make a blog entry thats visisble to the whole world wide inter-web.

Sheila Albertson said...

Your wife said you don't seem like a very nice person in the picture you posted below...
Somehow I have a feeling the camera captured you pretty acurately...

Jessica said...

To all those who "hate" on Dr. J: Do not fear criticism. It makes us really look at what we are doing and question ourselves for the better. It take immense strength to reject an upbringing--and notice that he is saying it wasn't right for him. If you take his comments personally, perhaps you have some questions of your own to answer.--Jessica

Jeremy said...

Is name-calling what Jesus would do? Seriously, Robert J. Moeller, show us all the bigger man and show some of your professionalism by not making a stupid post on this man's website.

Robert J. Moeller said...

Jeremy-
Let me preface this with a quick acknowledgement that i am a sinner myself and would never dream to compare myself to our Lord...but, Jesus did get angry and at times even called people names. i know that isnt what our feminized, neutered culture wants to hear, but it is true. Christ spoke with an unapologetic zeal and passion when it came to what he beleived in. again, i am not saying everything i've said is Christ-like, but to suggest that He never defended what he believed in is an un-Biblical view. (Matt 21:12, Mark 11:15, Mark 3:5, John 2:13-22) Just a few references to back up what i am saying.

you might also remember when God displayed even a hint of sarcsim when dealing with old Job. he asked Job to let Him in on all the secrets he must know of how the world was formed or how the universe marches in perfect step. once again, i know He is God, and i am not, but if God (Christ) is to be our model than we can take away from Scripture that while He was a peace-maker, he knew when it was time to bear arms (figuretively).

Jeremy, if i have offended you personally than i am sorry, but i while not apologize for making accurate assertions on the comments made by someone who dared to compare my religion to the brand of radical Islam being practiced in many countries.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Dear blog author:
We recently came across your site, while searching for fellow christian bloggers.

A small group of us have started a new site called Christian Bloggers. Our prayer and intent is to bring Christians closer together, and make a positive contribution to the Internet community. While many of us have different "theologies", we all share one true saviour.

Would you be interested in joining Christian Bloggers? Please take a few minutes to have a look at what we are trying to do, and if you are interested, there is a sign up page to get the ball rolling. We would greatly appreciate your support in this endeavour.

May God Bless you and your blogging efforts. We look forward to hearing from you.

Craig Cantin
Christian Bloggers
info@christian-bloggers.com

Elizabeth said...

no one can tell you how to feel or not feel about your experience at taylor, so i will refrain from doing that. but please don't make blanket statements about taylor's academics. if you've done little more than google your alma mater in 40 years, i'm not sure that that gives you the authority to comment on the curriculum. as a professor of journalism, i would expect better.

Sunny said...

Robertson - my attention spam is about the size of a peanut. U were right about skipping to the comment part... So what's the verdict???

Anonymous said...

Michael,

... a difficult read for me. My eyes watered. I might have shed a tear. Maybe two.

I have 20 years in writing for money. I thought I’d done a pretty good job in terms of enraging my readers. But, I must own, I have never received such a long-winded, sanctimonious, patronizing letter as the treasure your correspondent wrote.

I am shamed and diminished.

Kindly write this lad back. We may have a star here. We need more, much more. Big picture. His world. His loves. His hopes.

Start tonight.

Patrick

Anonymous said...

i KNOW you are a sad old man possessed by satan and
that is why you are so much fun at cocktail parties.

reflecting back upon my southern upbringing, i think
that you could start with say, converse college or any
other small insular school and turn this into a book
project. one bible thumper college a month. you'll be
a full professor by 2008.

Anonymous said...

Jesus H. Christ, what the hell kinda school did you go to? :O)
Well, I guess they have the right to comment, since you're entitled to
your opinion and they are to theirs. But this is why I'm so afraid of
crazy Christian fanatics.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have a buzz going, at Taylor at least.

Feel free to post my response but please leave my name off it, if you don’t mind. I prefer to let that sleeping dog lie. The web has a curious way of consuming one’s time if names get attached. If my reply had the effect of, say, ending the war in Iraq or ending world hunger if my name was attached I would say put it there in 72 pt. type.

I have learned to choose my battles and a forty year old [gasp] tempest in a teapot is not one I choose to fight.

Taylor still sends me their alumni-mining magazine. I’m sure you get it two [<-spelling intentional]. It is slick and well done, but the relentless bible-thumping back beat makes me feel like some Karl Rove wanabee is lurking in the background having figured out, through polling and focus groups, that placing that message somewhere on every page is the best formula for getting into my pocket book. Religion first, academics second is still the message. Gag me.

I will admit to being mildly pleased at Taylor’s getting good ratings in US News & WR. Even though the Taylor of our day most certainly would not have surfaced in such a rating system, we don’t have to suffer the embarrassment that we graduated from a college that was both an insufferable theocracy and later a failed academic institution.

It appears that we attended Taylor at its nadir, when a certifiably mad president [BJ Martin?] wept and cried out to lead TU out of the wilderness of Upland to a new Jerusalem in Fort Wayne before an aghast faculty and a confused or snickering student body. I still remember his dreamy architectural renderings of a modernist campus in Ft. Wayne, like some Hitler in his bunker during the battle of Berlin still tinkering with his designs for the new city.

Following the quiet putsch that shelved him, Taylor appeared to change course and over the decades recover and move in more positive directions. Since I lost touch with it, I knew little of this until it re-emerged in the 90’s with its retooled alumni fund raising programs. So I am not inclined to lay into present day Taylor without onsite inspection to make sure they don’t still possess the same weapons of mass ignorance we had to contend with.

In some ways, when I look back, I oddly feel that I thrived there through the spirit of resistance that I was compelled to undertake, from refusing to join group prayer ... to posting anti-war slogans in my windows at Morris Hall. My disagreements, theological and social, forced me to sharpen my intellect and knowledge base to be able to stand my ground in the frequent debates they [and my contentious nature] brought on. Fortunately I met brilliant types like you, who were driven and determined to gain knowledge and know the rest of the world in spite of the distractions and obstacles to the contrary, and outlaws who allowed me to enjoy the vices of youth made still sweeter by defiance.