Thursday, March 18, 2010

A deal with the Devil

I find myself at an interesting juncture lately, debating whether or not my family will have anything to do with Liberty University.

In case you don't have to know about such places (and living as I did in the best hippie bubble on the planet, I had no idea what Liberty U was until I moved here), a bit of background. Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, VA, a lovely 45-minute drive from here. Jerry Falwell founded Liberty U in 1971 and today it boasts a total enrollment approaching 60,000. It is a Baptist, Evangelical Christian institution and a bastion of right-wing conservative Christian culture. Students are expected to adhere to something called "The Liberty Way", a code of conduct that dictates a strict dress code and prohibits such sins as swearing, dancing and watching R-rated movies. (Interesting side-note: You cannot access The Liberty Way via the LU website unless you have a campus login and password. What's up with that? But since I am a helper, I found it for you HERE.) Not exactly the kind of place it would ever occur to me to go, even if Jerry Falwell wasn't involved.

And just in case you've been under a rock, refresh your memory about good ol' Jerry HERE. Or just take a look at this:

So. There's pretty much no way on earth I'm ever going to find common ground with anyone who feels like any of the above is a good idea. Is hate too strong a word to use here? Jerry Falwell must be one of the most evil people to have lived. His university is a sickening symbol of so many things that are wrong with our culture. I want no part of it.

But Ben wants to play hockey and Caitlin wants to rock climb. And you can't do either in Lexington.

But Liberty U has an ice rink. And a climbing wall. In a big beautiful facility which welcomes thepublic. The free skate hours are plentiful and a perfect match for our schedules. Same for the climbing. Their facilities are the closest and far and away the best in our area.

And I moved them here, to this dinky little town in the middle of nowhere Jesus-ville, USA. They talk about wanting to go "home" all the time and they mean Madison. They miss it so much - our family and friends, our community, but also all of the opportunities and resources we had there.

So after months of having to tell them that no, we can't do x, y or z here, I have finally discovered an opportunity for them to do two activities they've been yearning for.

But it means going into the belly of the beast. Giving my money to Jerry FREAKIN Falwell's hate machine. Willingly subjecting myself and my children to people who may actively hate us because we are Jewish, Democrat, ACLU members, etc etc etc. I think I'm just an abortion away from being the poster girl for everything "The Liberty Way" is against.

So what to do? There is no logistical or financial reason why skating and climbing at Liberty University can't work for us. Ideology is the only barrier. And is that right? My kids have had to give up so much since we've left Madison, and while they've gained oodles, is it fair to deprive them yet again just because Mommy hates right-wing Christian nut-jobs?

What to do? I think I know what Falwell would do. What would Jesus do? What would you do?

1 comment:

Lynch Family said...

I've been thinking and thinking about this. ON the one hand there is the "vote with your dollars/live you values" side and on the other there is the "my kids come first." I have no good answer--actually, I have no answer. My gut instinct tells me I would take my kid, and maybe some hand-picked reinforcement friends and go, enjoy the pool and the climbing and be loudly, positively WHO YOU ARE. You never know when a conversation will start or a mind will change.

I can't wait to hear what happens and I am sending LOTS of Madison-vibes your way!