Monday, September 13, 2010

RESOLVING THE IRRECONCILABLE: Is There a "Soul-ution" for Southwest Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Convention? (Corrected at 8:00 pm)

As previously mentioned, the Comprehensive Compensation and Care Package (here) will be made available this week.

Copies will be distributed to Southwest Baptist University, the Missouri Baptist Convention, and First Baptist Church of Bolivar about Thursday, September 16.

Upon previewing a portion of the Package, a friend was disappointment that, if the first option were chosen, there would be minimal punishment for those who had broken trust by participating in the most severe unethical misconduct and crimes.

"Why should the Southwest Baptist University Trustees and staff be allowed to remain in leadership?  Why shouldn't they be fired and held to account for their misconduct?" the colleague asked, expressing dismay that Evil had appeared to triumph.

As this was discussed over several days, Marie sent a message, which explained, much to the surprise of her colleagues, her feeling about this venture:
Dear Friends,

You have asked some thought-provoking and worthy questions; I will try to address them.

In one key aspect, I differ from several of you: You believe that Southwest Baptist University is in some way "Christian"; however, I do not share that opinion.

Or, at least, I no longer do.

In order to engender some order from this abysmal terrain, I have had to build a new paradigm and accept a reordered perspective.

Over the last few years, I have come to accept that, as much as I might like it to be otherwise, Southwest Baptist University is not a Christian university.

Rather, Southwest Baptist University is a corporation ... nothing more.

A corporation -- such as, for example, Lehman Brothers, Monsanto, Exxon, or British Petroleum -- is "an institution that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members."

A corporation is an organized, legal fiction constructed for business purposes.

A corporation is not a church; it is not a member of the Body of Christ.  Nor, is it a Christian organization.

Southwest Baptist University is merely a nonprofit subsidiary of a larger, nonprofit corporation -- namely, the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Like many of their corporate brethren, the corporation of Southwest Baptist University -- particularly under the leadership of President and CEO Dr. C. Pat Taylor -- has become ingrained with a deeply-rooted, corrupt corporate culture, which is rife with self-serving mediocrity, self-justification and hypocrisy.

Following the tradition and customs of two past presidents/CEOs (Dr. James Sells and Roy Blunt, current congressman of the 7th District of Missouri and running for the the U.S. Senate), Southwest Baptist University encourages the appearance of "Christian values" as the objective of administrative public relations and discipline.

Few, if any, Christian principles are implemented in disciplinary action, or in the mediation of disputes and disagreements, or in interactions with students or the public.

If particular individuals do not serve the aims, designs and purposes of the corporation (usually, the financial, business or political purposes), those people are deemed worthless to the corporation.

This dehumanization permits the corporation to assault the dissenters -- savaging their characters, alienating them from family and friends, silencing and demeaning their questions, and, eventually, discarding their personhood.

In my mind and heart, this is an obscenity, a barbaric aberration, a sheer defilement of the Command of Jesus Christ to love your neighbor as yourself and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The pretense that those habitually perpetrating this fraudulent, shamming lifestyle are, in fact, Christians is an abomination, a raping of the the Body of Christ.

Further, to pretend that this conduct in anyway approximates the Truth of Christianity is nothing short of blasphemy.

I cannot participate in the spiritually violent "corporate life" of Southwest Baptist University, anymore than I would care to engage in drunken brawls, or the beating and torture of little children and puppies.

Although I do not claim to be perfected, I do know the difference between right and wrong.

The corporate cultures of Southwest Baptist University and their corporate facilitators at the Missouri Baptist Convention are wrong.

It is not that I don't forgive them for their continued wrongdoing.  As I've said previously, I don't hate them; I'm not bitter or angry at them.

On the contrary, I love them with fervent care and compassion.  Indeed, I want them to succeed and to overcome their weaknesses, to excel in being the institution that Christ Jesus intends for them to be.

But, I don't want to follow their lead, nor render obeisance by dutifully submitting to their corporate idols and false gods.

I don't want to mimic their actions, nor adopt their customary abuses, their modes of thought or their irreverent habits of life.

Regardless, in attempting to reach a compromise with this corporate entity, the reality of this culture must be addressed and conciliated with Christian ideals and perspectives.

The reason for the dissonance in this quandary is immediately apparent: our motives and goals are (and have been) in vicious conflict.

Whereas SBU's administration seeks to escape responsibility and to mute the cry for reform by seeking a "simple" solution (often by unethical and illegal means), I have searched for a "soul"-ution by a path that will honor God, while still acknowledging faults and misdeeds, and striving, with confidence, towards wholeness and restoration by the way of four goals:

1. Confession and Repentance
2. Contemplation and Reassessment
3. Compensation and Restitution
4. Commitment and Reformation

These restorative principles are grounded in the Spirit, Love and Wisdom of Christ.

As a Christian, I endeavor to follow Christ and abide in His example.  That they, as a corporate entity, wish to do the same is not at all certain, as far as I can determine.
Nevertheless, this is not the time to jeer them as they, crippled by their errors, stumble aimlessly on the darkened path.

Sincerely, I ask you:  Is it surprising that they, blinded by self-interest, would stumble on this dreary and treacherous path, slipping on this spiraling, sinister trail, so obstructed by cruelty, greed, and arrogance ... and washed out by so many tears?

At this point, what should be done?

Through this offer, I will provide what light I can on the path and hope that, through miraculous intervention, some one among those in authority at First Baptist Church of Bolivar, Southwest Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Convention may be given eyes to see, even through this impenetrable darkness.

Please pray that those acquainted with the Light will see the Way and help others along that Way.

My friends, will you pray that they will be enlivened by the Spirit, rising to dance and sing along the Way?

Those who insist on closing their eyes and remaining "blinded" by self-seeking expediency should not be permitted to mislead others into the miry, morass of the swamplands.

They must resign.

However, for those who are enlightened by the Spirit, this Way will become an opportune avenue for unprecedented revival and strengthening of the community bonds in the Spirit of Christ.

If they, as a corporation, choose to cleave to their reckless and wayward corporate identity, this promise of opportunity will become a highway, a robbers' road, of disruption, treachery and disrepute.

I leave the choice to them: They will choose the path.

You, my friends, assume that they will take the most "Christian" path and, thus, will escape much harm to themselves and this community.

Having endured their seemingly unending surplus of arrogance and misguided, self-righteousness cruelties, I am not so confident of the outcome.

I hope that your trust in Southwest Baptist University is merited and that they do, in Truth, select the more Christ-honoring Way.

Thank you for your prayers and your input in this process.

In His Love and Mercy, 

Marie O'Hara