"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Toleration–Y’all Need More Of It

Paula Macklin was a teacher at the Tanner Christian Academy in Loughton, Mississippi.  She was a devout Baptist who had committed her life to Christ in 1994, taken Him as her personal savior, and remained guided by His teachings ever since.  She was one of Tanner’s best teachers, helping students to excel in math and science while providing them with a solid Christian moral and theological foundation.

This in fact was the mission of Tanner – to assure that every graduating student had what it takes to be a productive worker, responsible citizen, and unwavering soldier in the fields of the Lord.  Tanner always ranked at the very top of all educational rankings in the State, and fared well in comparison with private schools throughout the South.

A  few years back a national news magazine decided use Tanner as the centerpiece of a series of articles on faith-based education – an oxymoron, the editors felt.  It was about time that Creationism be debunked for the nonsense that it was, and that the charade of including it into science courses be exposed once and for all.  Although the magazine had long been criticized for its particular brand of gotcha journalism, the editors had never backed off from what they considered their journalistic principles of truth and transparency.

In fact the magazine represented progressive jingoism at its worst. Not only was there  was not one liberal cause that it didn’t espouse; but the editors went out of their way to demean, disparage, and if possible smear anyone who held opposing views.  Unfortunately this take-no-prisoners philosophy was not restricted to The Advocate, but to all progressive journals of the time.  Hymns to gay rights, the broken glass ceiling, abolition of rape and sexual abuse, a safe and green environment, world peace, and the downfall of the One Percent were sung every Monday, the day the magazine was published, and hallelujahs raised as congratulatory letters to the editor and generous contributions from passionate, committed readers poured in.  Readers bought hard copy and went online as much for the magazine’s pugnacious style as for its espousal of social causes.

The reporters for The Advocate were selected more for their pit-bull character and apostolic belief than their conversance with current issues.  They were all on a mission to promote a progressive agenda, and an ironic sampler stitched with the adage, “May the battlefield be littered with the sinful, prideful, and arrogant”, hung in the newsroom.  They knew they were right and righteous.

The principal of Tanner Christian had done his homework and knew the reputation of The Advocate; but he was confident in the ability of his staff and teachers to acquit themselves well and convincingly.  After all, the Lord was on their side.  Trevor Barnes, however, was not a sanctimonious man.  His faith in Jesus was profound, personal, and unshakeable, so he felt no need to trumpet his belief.  His Biblical knowledge was extensive and thorough, and he was considered an amateur scholar of Paul, the intellectual genius behind the Reformation and the religious philosophy of Martin Luther.  He knew what was coming, and he was prepared.  In fact he looked forward to telling his story and that of Tanner Christian.

Paula Macklin was chosen to be an important participant in the colloquy between the journalists of The Advocate and the school because she taught both ‘Old Testament Faith’ and senior ‘Biology’, both courses focusing in part on Creation.  She, like Trevor Barnes, was well-versed in the Bible, especially Torah.  She of course did not ignore the New Testament, but had so learned chapter and verse of the gospels in early childhood that the New Testament lived within her.  The Old Testament and its Mosaic Law was the intellectual foundation for her faith. 

The offices of The Advocate were in Bayonne, New Jersey – not exactly a hub of national journalism, but a city with a storied history.  The union movement had been very active in Bayonne, and a trusted disciple of Samuel Gompers had unionized both garment and transportation workers in the early 30s.  The Advocate, although a relatively new publication, felt that its spiritual roots were with Isaac Rabinowitz, Local 24, and the workers of New Jersey.  Bayonne office space was also far less expensive than New York or Philadelphia.

When the two young reporters on the staff of The Advocate pitched their story to the editor, he immediately backed the idea.  It was about time, he said, that investigative journalists of the Left take off their PC multicultural gloves and go after ‘those Southern redneck ignoramuses’.  Prior to giving this ringing endorsement of the project, he had felt caught in what had been called Progressives’ Dilemma.  Liberals were all for diversity, inclusion, and equality; but felt that they had an obligation to set the record straight.  Those Americans who believed in traditional marriage, opposed abortion, favored gun rights, and who disavowed Darwin could not possibly be invited into the progressive tent.  They were obstructionist, backward, and intellectually illiterate; and must not only be kept from the liberal circus, but eliminated.

Those in Mississippi who knew the reputation of The Advocate, but who also knew of the unshakeable faith and intelligence of Paula Macklin and Trevor Barnes of Tanner, had no idea what to expect.  The New Jersey pit bulls were angry, hungry, and on a loose leash; and the teachers and administrators of Tanner righteously prepared.

It would have been a fair fight if the journalists had done their homework and read Genesis and the Gospels carefully before coming to Mississippi.  They at least would have been able to engage the enemy on a level playing field; but Barnes and Paula Macklin ran rings around them.  In fact the lines of Genesis referring to Creation were only mentioned incidentally.  Instead they quoted Isaiah, Maccabees, Acts, and especially Romans and Corinthians to present and fortify their argument. 

They had correctly understood their adversary and knew that confronting him on the front lines would never be successful.  By demonstrating God’s complex purpose as evidenced in Torah, his explication of the Law and martial support of the Jews, they would address the nature of the journalists’ secularism and devalue it.  By focusing on Paul’s epistles in which he developed the intellectual foundations for Christianity, they were able to put Creation, the Fall, and Redemption into a historical and logical perspective.

In short, the Bayonne journalists were outgunned, outmaneuvered, and humiliated.  They had made the common progressive mistake of assuming that these backwoods squirrel-eaters hadn’t a brain in their heads, were addled by the corrupting influence of slavery and Jim Crow, and had never progressed since the days of the lash and the hangman.

This was not at all surprising.  Progressives have long been guilty of ‘conflation’ – linking unrelated events to make a point.  There is a link between climate change and the oppression of women, they say, because if more women were in power, then their particular caring and nurturing nature would lead to environmentally sane decisions. Mothers and Mother Earth were parts of the same universal dyad.  Guns rights are particularly advocated in the South because, racist to the core and worried as much about their colored as former slavers were of Nat Turner, Mississippians still want to be ready for the next insurrection.  Creationism does not devolve from Biblical exegesis but from innate, inbred stupidity, the result of inbreeding and incest. 

Progressives conflate so many elements of the liberal agenda that everything goes back to first principles – race, gender, and ethnicity.

So, the Bayonne journalists went back to New Jersey without a story, thoroughly thumped by Tanner Christian.  The story that did get published, however, was written by Paula Macklin and published in a Columbus, Mississippi newspaper.  It was respectful, honest, and complete in its reporting; but no reader sat on his hands. The goddam, meddling, socialist Yankees had been given their comeuppance.

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