SPU's President Responds. But What, Exactly, Is He Saying?

Comments

1
Boy, that's a fellow who's used to sermonizing.

I think the message is "love the sinner, hate the sin." How woefully inadequate.
2
http://www.phileaton.com/
3
I Like that he saysin Point 5:
We don’t want to dodge the specifics in some fog of abstraction

After dodging the specifics and never coming to a point for a thousand words
4
LOL!!!! This is EXACTLY the type of shit, and yes I said shit, that I heard at Whitworth in 1994. OMG!!!!!

*btw, it was a similar declaration that pushed me to realized the idea of god was simply a bunch of made up shit used by the strong to overpower the weak*

5
So, to review, Jesus is all about "patience, charity, chastity, and humility", and not so much about love and acceptance? Really? And "Christian Community" is not all that concerned with accepting everyone, but more about helping them lead the life they are "supposed" to...and we're to ignore Jesus and listen to tough love Paul...gotcha. I'm so glad I went to a pagan school, Christian schools are so confusing...
6
PS Cato...I am increasingly impressed you got out of there with your sanity and self-esteem intact. What a bunch of fuckwits they are...
7
I respect their desire to not promote something they believe is sinful (homosexuality). Unfortunately for SPU, we have laws that prevent that exact sort of discrimination due to the harms it inflicts upon the discriminated.

Shut the fuck up about the Bible already. We get that it says homosexuality is wrong in whatever nebulous/debatable terms. A flawed book based on oral traditions and teachings from people that we aren't sure even existed should have no authority over society.

Here is where they get to fall back on "in the world, but not of the world".
8
I'm reminded of one of the Far Side cartoons with the owner talking to the dog and what the dog hears.
In this case I got blah blah blah CHRISTIAN blah blah blah CHRISTIAN blah blah blah....
Wordle agrees.
http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3188772/…
9
@6, let's just remember I didn't go to SPU though Whitworth was/is pretty much the same on this issue.

And the best part? Eaton thinks he is being wise and keeping the "good name" of SPU from being tainted by "popular culture".

I mean this entire gay sex thing (they never seem as threatened by the lesbians for some reason) in their view is simply some trend or better yet a sign of the end of the world.
10
"...How can we model, in all we do, genuine Christian community? ...help them affirm the ancient Christian teaching on all matters of life?"

I think that is a lovely "reflection" by Dr. Eaton.

I assume he means that SPU will revisit the Christian Bible - the holy & sanctified Word of God - for guidance on this...the one that says that certain non-virgin women & disobedient sons MUST be stoned to death, and the one that gives guidance about buying & beating & having sex with slaves. Good times!
11
Man, what a blowhard. Of course, there's a lot of words being thrown about, but let's break down the basic issue, shall we?

It's not easy, there's a lot of verbiage to plow through. I also have no direct experience of the SPU campus to go on. I'm sure there is plenty of background information, but I'm just working on what the players are saying publicly.

SPU has a basic statement on sexuality, http://www.spu.edu/info/StatementonHuman… The Haven group meets to discuss sexuality (please note: they do not present themselves in their mission statement as a support group, either LGBT or otherwise. They do, of course, emphasize confidentiality and a safe environment.) They want to include speakers, topics, etc, which go beyond, but still include, SPU's statement. The administration feels that the basic statement is enough, thus there is no need for the group to exist. Thus, Mr. Jordan put out a statement saying that SPU wasn't interested in stifling discussion on sexuality. The inference being, that all discussion shouldn't stray from the basic statement.

And that's it. The controversy, in a nutshell.

Except, like all human endeavors, it's a little messy. There seems to be incredible reluctance for anyone in the administration (& probably their supporters) to discuss sexuality of any kind. When forced, they'll go to "the scripture" and leave it at that. Any questioning is dismissed as "post-modernism" (whatever that means.) They will fail, because the world has passed them by. They can control their own small part of it, but their students will continually want to keep up w/ things, and the reality is that humans will discuss sexuality, in all it's forms, in a much open & freer way than any of the ancient writers of the bible could have ever imagined. The talking will not go away, and what we're seeing is the last hold-outs struggling to fight their lost cause.
12
@4:

"the idea of god was simply a bunch of made up shit used by the weak to overpower the strong"

TIFTFY
13
Why in the world anyone would listen to anything this religious politico has to say is utterly beyond me. SPC/SPU has always been beyond the pale in terms of tolerance, and there's no reason to think it's otherwise now.
14
@12...perhaps I made an error or perhaps NOT...think about it. :)
15
I went to SPU (a very long time ago), and I can still translate Fundy to English. @1 has it right - love the sinner, hate the sin. "Don't get any of the gay on you, but be really nice about it."
16
Good crap, if he bends his language any more he'll break it. There is just no reconciling his form of Christian belief with community, love, and acceptance.

"We want the best for our students. Let us love our students even as we affirm our deepest convictions."

His deepest convictions are that they are irredeemably flawed. He can never give them what is best for them, which, ultimately, is advocacy. His ideology demands that he fail them. But he can't admit this.

"How do we embrace the Christian story when the truth and goodness of our story is decidedly contested by our culture?"

Answer: you repudiate your culture, and just be fucking honest about it. Make it clear where you stand -- in the middle ages, and at war with contemporary culture. At war. But he won't, because he wants to have it both ways. He wants to be able to say he's about love, but his ideology demands that his love stop here.

You are at war with the students you pretend to serve, you asshole. You want them to hate themselves.

This man is a liar, a hypocrite and a fake. The only truly loving and ethical response to the thundering dissonance between his holy book and the demanding requirements of love in this real and unfortunately "messy" world we live in is to tear that book up, sort through the pieces, put in a treasured place only the ones that advocate love, and put the rest on a shelf with all the other books. There is nothing "true and good and beautiful" about condemning people to silence, misery, and erasure.
17
If it sounds like Whitworth Cato, it's because Eaton graduated from Whitworth, taught English there and was the interim president before BIll Robinson.
18
Well said, Irena. These mind-boggling hypocrites really do want it both ways.

Their sanctimony & smug self-righteousness is being played out by Christian missionaries who travel to the third world to civilize the savages & spread the "Good News", which includes hateful & ignorant messages about gays, women & birth control. It's no surprise that gays & women are being murdered in Uganda & elsewhere.

The SPU community fully supports this mission to spread its own brand of Christian hate - couched in cuddly platitudes - to the rest of the world.
19
I'm an SPU alum. I was alarmed when I heard about Haven's having been dismantled, though I know very little about the circumstances. Contrary to what Pox says, I don't think Eaton is speaking in code. Here's one way to think about what he's saying: there's a difference between the deep values of a tradition, and the institutions that are expressions of those values. Often debates about sexuality are had at the level of institutions--fundies want to defend traditional institutions, progressives want to replace them. Eaton's talk about the ancient tradition is actually an attempt to deepen the conversation--to think about what the values are that are being expressed, and to let those values guide the discussion about what institutions we should put in place. So Eaton is calling out BOTH the fundies AND the progressives. He's saying that it's not enough either to preserve institutions (because they're traditional) or to replace them (because they're exclusionary)--a much deeper, positive task is called for, a task of revisiting the roots of the tradition and re-examining what they really mean.

The ignorant, knee-jerk dismissals of religious folk are getting really old--just as old as the ignorant, knee-jerk dismissals of homosexuals to which some religious people are prone.
20
I'm interested to see where this might go. It's unreasonable to expect that SPU is going to throw open their arms to homosexuality but, digging through all that blah blah blah, there seems to be a call to change the current situation. We'll see.
21
@15: "Love the sinner, hate the sin" -- God, what a mealy-mouthed phrase. Can we call it out once and for all? There is no love in it.
22
Are we sure this letter is about Haven? No mention of the club's name. No mention of homosexuality. Gay? Lesbian? Bi? Trans? Queer? Ally?

He can't even use the words...
stricken with fear? Or something else?
23
Irena @21: I absolutely agree, based as it is on flawed and delusional assumptions about human nature, morality, and the universe in general. On the other hand, it's a step better than the original version, which was "burn the sinner."

(I think your earlier comments @16 are very well written.)
24
Some Old Nobodaddy @11 (hat-tip for the Blake allusion!), well said, and since that Statement on Human Sexuality was only drafted in 2005, I'd say that Eaton's "many years" line sounds like the flabbiest of rhetoric.

Haven's situation highlights how close SPU is coming to enforcing thoughtcrime. After all, it's a discussion group, not a dating club, so when the university denies them space to meet, it's implying that students are breaking policy by daring to believe that homosexuality isn't a sin.

This reeks of homophobia for a lot of reasons, but especially because SPU has in the past (at least between 1995 and 2000) hosted a skeptics' cadre (cadres are meetings where students could get required chapel credits) where agnostics and atheists were welcomed with open arms. Not believing in Jesus? Fine. But being gay is apparently something else entirely.

That Statement on Human Sexuality, near the end, claims that "as a community of learning we recognize that our discussions and considerations regarding sexuality, whether in writing or in the classroom, must be treated with personal and spiritual sensitivity and with scholarly care." I'd say that the university is in violation of its own policy, both because it's failing to show any sort of personal sensitivity (responding internally to faculty and staff doesn't count!), and for failure to take in ANY scholarship outside of the Bible, and for cherrypicking scripture.
25
OutsiderP @19, I hear you, but I don't buy it. The letter starts out well enough, calling for transparency, but the paragraph about not being vague is the vaguest thing in it, and to appeal to N. T. Wright is code for adopting Wright's stance on homosexuality (which is that the Bible forbids it, and that therefore, it's a sin.)

I would feel more inclined to consider Eaton's letter as an attempt to deepen the conversation if he were to be more forthright about the fact that this is about Haven (as opposed to implying tacitly that it's about lots of clubs), and about homosexuality instead of being mysterious. He won't even go so far as to state outwardly that the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin as the basis for the university's policy. Instead, it's apparently just a "boundary" that students shouldn't cross. And I dare him to find evidence of anything in Haven's official statement that encourages unsafe sex or any other unhealthy behavior (which are of course risks faced by everyone who is sexually active, heterosexuals included.)

26
pox @23, I hear you, and I hope you didn't think I was criticizing you for bringing that line up. Nice to know it's been softened from burning to just hating. I'm feeling the love, are you?

Outsider P @19, that's a very generous interpretation, but there is nothing in this letter to suggest that either the particulars or the wider ethical issues have been grappled with at all. And so I disagree with you about this message "deepening the conversation". It doesn't. What new depth does it bring? What new information? What fresh insight?

It says, we'll try to do what's best for our students, and we'll consider the boundaries imposed by our ancient tradition. What's new or deep about this? What does it even mean?

It means nothing. There is no "deep" and there is no "conversation". It's a shallow monologue full of nothing but religious platitudes.
27
I've been wondering where this guy's been...he's got a real shitstorm on his hands.
28
It's a mess of Christian-right dogwhistles wrapped in a fog of obfuscation and repetition, but in plain English it says: "I hear what you're asking, and the answer is no."
29
I view this as encouraging. The chief executive officer of a nonprofit cannot make policy decisions like this--that is the role of the board of trustees. He is communicating to the students, the alums and the trustees that he's not going to blow off this issue. I expect he's going to take this under advisement, and propose changes to the board of trustees. This is a very conservative organization. You wouldn't be seeing this message from the president of many, many similar organizations. Keep up the (civil) pressure!
30
What a load of mealy-mouthed, paternalistic bullshit.
31
I went to a Jesuit college that was more accepting of its gay students in 1991 than SPU is now. Of course, they wouldn't allow the distribution of birth control from the health center. And they still won't marry the gays...
32
This is just a huge stall - politico speak that says "we're looking into this". I say we accept this like an adult speaking to Charlie Brown (Bawah, wah, wah, wah) and wait for the next, specific decision: Haven recognized? Haven not recogized? It's not the platitudes, it's the implementation.
33
I read just a few of these responses before I had to stop. Those who would call Phil Eaton a blowhard -- and much worse -- obviously know nothing about who he is. He's a thoughtful, very bright, compassionate person, a person who's trying hard to deal in a Christian way with something that concerns and upsets people on both sides of the issue. I may not agree with him or with SPU's dealings with its gay students, but I trust that he is doing his very best to deal with each problem that comes his way in a caring and compassionate way. He's a fine man, and he deserves better than the sophomoric name-calling I've seen in these posts.
34
My lovely ex writes a blog called "One Angry Queer," and has effectively translated Prez Eaton's ramblings for the under-educated - i.e. me. In case anyone else doesn't have a clue what he's saying, check this out:

http://oneangryqueer.blogspot.com/2011/0…

35
My lovely ex writes a blog called "One Angry Queer," and has effectively translated Prez Eaton's ramblings for the under-educated - i.e. me. In case anyone else doesn't have a clue what he's saying, check this out:

http://oneangryqueer.blogspot.com/2011/0…
36
Geez, such vitriol for a man I know as thoughtful, always compassionate, and as far from a blowhard as a human being can be. Why do we feel better about ourselves when we slam someone as accomplished and humane as Phil Eaton? Why do we disdain the whip-smart folks in our society and embrace the one-liners and non sequiturs of people who would like to reduce every ambiguous issue to black and white? Why don't we listen to people, like Phil Eaton, who are obviously putting their hearts and souls into improving the world? And why don't we give a guy like Eaton the opportunity to address us about his difficulty in coming up with a policy for SPU that recognizes and affirms both sides of a question that has dogged the church and related organizations for years? I love the fact that he agonizes over something like this, and I appreciate the fact that he shares with us his difficulty in coming to the "correct" conclusion. No matter what he decides, hearts will be broken and made bitter; he's painfully aware of that. And though I might not agree with his decision -- and chances are good that I won't -- why would I impugn his intelligence and his integrity when he's willing to step up to try to address an issue the magnitude of which has overwhelmed so many other schools and other institutions? Eaton is a good guy -- thoughful, brilliant, and dedicated to improving society. Why can't we read what he says, say "Thank you," and consider ourselves a bit more informed than we were before we read his letter? It's time for us to cut each other some slack and to give people some credit for nuanced thinking; true, we have to make an effort to understand what Eaton is saying here, but his ruminations are worth that effort. And he certainly doesn't deserve anyone's withering scorn .
37
Good post..!!Thanks for sharing..!!
good stay in wayanad
38
TeeMitch50,

Thank you for your comments here. You are pretty much the only person who left an intelligent non-hateful comment. What is it about liberals in general that leads them to declare themselves more tolerant and enlightened than others but then to engage in the harshest, ugliest, most judgmental, and intolerant rhetoric and behavior possible. The self-blindness and arrogance is stunning.