I’d like to begin this post with a picture. This is a picture of all the people at Gutenberg College that I hate, and hope to — through the insidious use of rhetoric — slander and publicly malign:
Incidentally, the above is also a picture of how many fucks I give about people critiquing my critiques of Jack Crabtree’s Summer Institute and Ethics of Sex in the Bible presentations without even taking the time to read the presentations.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, I want to tell you a story:
I have a rather fantastical imagination.
When I was in graduate school at St. John’s College, I would repeatedly plot out my life from grad school until retirement. It included a timeline for things like “Win a Pulitzer” and “Direct 3 movies” (with intricate details about what those movies would be, and I even started the screenplay for one). I had a list of every book I wanted to write, with the titles chosen in advance. It also included earning two Masters, two PhDs, and JD.
Like I said, I have a rather fantastical imagination.
One thing that was always a constant on my life-plotting fantasies was teaching at Gutenberg. Even after I finished grad school and began working as a lowly barista, I dreamt about being a Gutenberg tutor. I was excited about what I learned at St. John’s College (having seen firsthand the pedagogical model that Gutenberg was aiming for); I was mind blown by the rich history of religion, philosophy, and literature in China, India, and Japan; I was interested in taking what I learned — both in terms of dialectical skills as well as Chinese, Indian, and Japanese thoughts — back to the college that inspired me to attend St. John’s in the first place.
Obviously, that never happened.
There are a number of reasons why. Some have to do with Gutenberg. But most have to do with my own self — such as, I eventually realized I’m tired of teaching. I spent my high school, college, and graduate school years teaching speech and debate to homeschool students. I didn’t have it in me (and still don’t) to pick back up the mantle of an academic teacher. I’m more interested now in using what I’ve learned to become an advocate. I am interested in bringing awareness to abuse and neglect within homeschool environments. And part of that involves standing up for LGBT* students and alumni, which is why I am so outspoken about the complete carelessness and abusively vulgar language that I see coming from my alma mater’s current series on so-called “biblical sexual ethics.”
I know what that carelessness and language does. I’ve seen it first-hand.
That’s why I care.
As I’ve been speaking up, however, there seems to be this growing feeling that all this controversy is me versus Gutenberg, or that I hate Gutenberg, or that I want to slander the college and cause its death. Inherent in such feelings, of course, is an underlying assumption that critiques are always personal, destructive, insidious, or anti-.
Honestly, that assumption doesn’t bother me in one sense: I am completely used to, and thus numb to, such an assumption from the conservative Christian homeschooling world. Criticisms are taken personally, disagreements are automatically “mean-spirited.” That I would dare criticize the Holy Grail of homeschooling means I must be the spawn of Satan, must want to burn homeschooling to the ground, or must be a bitter, angry child.
What does bother me about this assumption, though, is that I expect better from my alma mater than the conservative Christian homeschooling world. I’d expect the Gutenberg community to do the work of researching the source material in question before making judgment; to tolerate spirited, emotional critique; and to distinguish between such critique and animosity. Most people seem overwhelmingly willing to give Jack all sorts of benefits of the doubts regarding his statements (even to the point of not reading his actual statements), yet I must be above board in word and deed. Otherwise I must be the spawn of Satan, must want to burn Gutenberg to the ground, or must be a bitter, angry alumnus.
I don’t mind being above board. Sometimes (like only once) I get snarky and make an entire post out of memes because I’m too emotional to express myself in complete sentences. But even then I bent over backwards to simultaneously express love and respect to the person who has triggered me. But who is holding Jack accountable? Where is the demand for compassionate and intelligent presentations? Where is the groundswell among alumni to put our alma mater’s feet to the fire when racial stereotypes and abusive language is displayed publicly?
I’ll be waiting.
And really, I’ll be waiting. Eagerly. Because I care about Gutenberg as much as I care about homeschooling: deeply, immensely, and viscerally. If I didn’t care, I’d pull a Lot and never look back.
To conclude, I’d like to share another picture. This is a picture of all the hateful feelings I have towards homeschooling: