The collegian president gestured energetically as he talked, his green polo shirt proclaiming his pride in the Pi Zeta Delta Wolverines. David was always energetic. Next year that energy for all things PCC would propel him to be the only African-American residence manager on this majority white campus.

“We’re really close to taking that Christian Service trophy this year!” he shouted, “I don’t want us to come in second place. We’re going to continue our tradition of winning!”

Cheers came from all sides of the crowded class room. I didn’t cheer. I didn’t even look up. As far as I was concerned this was a wasted hour that would be better spent studying or sleeping. But with so little sanctioned entertainment on campus a lot of students really seemed to enjoy the chance to whoop and holler and play games that resulted in someone vomiting up half a liter of warm root beer.

David continued on at full volume. “I want every guy in this room right now to raise their hand and promise to go out on Christian service this week. There are plenty of things to choose from: you can go down witnessing in Seville Square, you can do bible clubs, you can go talk to guys at the Boy’s Base…”

I groaned internally as he went on listing all the various opportunities for spending hours of your weekend out soul-winning. I was already taking eighteen credits of classes and working over twenty hours a week to pay my tuition. Even if I could spare the time, I was not at all impressed with the idea of going on one of these “ministries.” The brags heard in Saturday night hall meeting from the guys who claimed to have had double digits of people gloriously saved told me everything I needed to know about the true nature of these programs. I wanted no part of them.

Up in the front of the room David was wrapping up his plea. “Ok, guys. Raise your hands and make a promise to the Lord that you’re going to go out there and witness and help us win that trophy.”

Hands shot up all over the room. I glanced around and felt a little sick as i realized that I was the lone abstainer. In a few seconds every eye in the room was on me.

“Dow!” said David “What’s the problem, man? Make the promise so we can have 100% comittment!”

I shook my head. No. I wasn’t going to participate in a gospel charade just so he would win a trophy.

“C’mon what’s the matter?” he repeated and now grumbles were echoing from around the room.

“I’m not going to go on Christian service for a trophy or because I’m being forced into it.” I said quietly.

David seemed taken aback. “Oh, we’re not doing it for the trophy,” he said quickly. “We just want to go serve the Lord.”

I just shook my head again. It wasn’t true but there was no point arguing it.

“Oh, wait, you’re in the church choir,” he said smiling triumphantly. “We get Christian service points for that so you’re already covered.”

The angry stares aimed at my head abated and the meeting went on to the important tasks of hazing freshmen and finding somebody stupid enough to drink a glass of water that three other guys had already gargled.

My few friends in the collegian didn’t understand why I didn’t go along with the crowd that day. Peer pressure and public shaming is fine if you use it for good, after all. Two years later when I walked across the stage and received my diploma I still hadn’t been on a single Christian service outing. I hadn’t knocked on the door of a weary Presbyterian, wrangled a prayer out of neighborhood kid, or accosted a drunk on a city street. Strangely enough, I was completely at peace with that. I felt no grief at all.

If you’ve ever wondered where pastors learn their strong-arm techniques for keeping people in line, the training grounds are scenes much like this one. And that is a real shame.

181 thoughts on “Shame”

  1. *Doc Holliday not Doc Hollywood. LOL. Note to self – get off the phone before you post on SFL.

    1. Sexton at Crown also likes to collect expensive art and has the largest “Christian workers collection in the world” It always reminded me of the commie version on workers. 😀

  2. Lol! I love the way everyone has finally started ignoring Headless Unicorn Guy’s posts. 😆

      1. HUG isn’t actually a troll, but he does seem to be having a bad day. Usually, he has intelligent things to say, but not so much today.

        1. Yeah, I hadn’t noticed him before this as a troll. Still, bad day or not he was being a bit rude and obnoxious.

  3. My memories of society at BJU are rather muddled. I knew nobody on campus when I arrived, as I flew in from Asia, where my dad was in the military, and Bob Jones was generally considered a little too liberal for our circle of churches (not sufficiently baptist). After much agonizing, I ended up joining a society that was far too hip (in BJU terms; it’s all relative) for me and never really connected with anybody.

    Imagine my surprise, then, at the end of my sophomore year when I was elected chaplain. I was not a ministry major and had no aspirations in that regard, but I was one of two nominees (not sure how that happened), and the other was a rabid preacher boy that definitely was out of step with the rest of the society, so I was chosen.

    I lasted only a semester, as I was not re-elected, but I did manage to get pulled into whatever office it was that managed societies at least once: I thought it helpful in one of my challenges to refer to the NASB’s translation of a particular scripture passage, and I once suggested that we could spend less of our time criticizing other Christians, given our Lord’s statement that those who were not against us were for us. Neither went over well, though to the admin’s credit, they didn’t punish me or remove me from office.

    1. I was in the Colts, which was full of girls who were nothing like me. I always knew I never had a chance at being elected to office, because I just didn’t fit in-visually, if nothing else. These girls all looked the same, dressed the same, sounded the same. They seemed not to have any abilities/hobbies/interests that were different from one anothers’; all their time and energy seemed to be invested towards fitting in rather than standing out.
      The society president my second year was a girl who had gone to my home church, which wasn’t really that big. She never spoke a word to me during my entire time at BJU. That year, her two younger sisters got expelled (one of them for I know not what, the other for loudly announcing to her chapel buddy that she might be pregnant). I will never forget my encounter with their mother in the hallway when she came to help them move out. Keep in mind I had NEVER interacted with these sisters at BJU, and hardly ever at our home church. The mom stopped me in the hallways and said “Keep away from my girls or I will hurt you.”
      I stood dumbfounded as they left. I had no idea what she was talking about–I had never really paid attention to her girls one way or the other. We were in different worlds.
      A few weeks later, I was sitting in the back of a society meeting while the sister who was a society president babbled on in the front of the room, and a sister who hadn’t gotten kicked out sat one seat over from me. I noticed that she and a friend sitting next to her were texting back and forth, and I happened to glance at one of the screens. I saw the most vicious lies about myself being passed back and forth–including the claim that I paraded my naked body in front of the mirror in the communal dorm bathroom, and that I peeked through other girls’ shower curtains. I was mortified. They noticed me looking, and one of them texted “she’s reading this u know.” The other responded “I don’t care.” This gossip somehow made it up the ladder, because when I got in trouble with the dorm sup for other things, it was mentioned as if it were real.
      So, these are my memories of society. Not pretty. My only claim to fame was scholastic bowl–I took our society to the final round twice, notwithstanding the fact that I was the only person on our team who answered questions. For a girls’ society this was almost unheard of. It was disgusting how the girls would shower me with attention during scholastic bowl season, and forget me the rest of the time. I was a nerd in a sea of cheerleaders, so to speak.

  4. After reading some of these stories, I am thankful that my society at MBBC was actually enjoyable. I was part of the K.I.K.S. (Kung Fu Influencing Kids for the Savior) ministry about 10 years ago. It was a blast, I actually learned martial arts, and we used it as an object lesson of sorts for kids. I made a lot of great friends, and was able to be involved in a ministry that I loved. It’s changed, but it used to be that you could choose your own ministry. I am so glad I didn’t end up going to a more ‘hardcore’ Fundy U.

  5. Ain’t that somethin’. <– that's a joke for those who know David.

    I lived in his building two of my four years at PCC. He was actually not a bad RM. Definitely fundy, but he let us get away with more than some of the other RMs.

    1. LOL. I really did laugh.

      And David wasn’t a bad dude. In this story he was pressured by a bad system.

      I’m sure if we met today we could laugh about old times.

      1. I just realized that I knew Dave! so therefore we must have been incarcerated at the same time at PCC.
        I double-checked my yearbooks (yes, still have them) and sure enough, we were!
        my friend Du Yu was in your collegian. other than him and Dave I had no interaction with the Wolverines. 😛
        so long ago.

  6. When I was in college, we had International Ministry, which, because I was from Canada, I had to join. Basically, we wandered around two or three different University of Tennessee dorms that housed married international grad students, offering ‘Free English Class’ and trying to get a foot in the door.

    As a sheltered seventeen-year-old in relative culture shock, I had no desire to glad-hand somebody who could barely speak english and Gospel them.

    I made one contact that semester, talked to them twice, and then spent a lot of time doinking around Knoxville with my Ministry Partner checking out cool stuff.

    There were a lot of great connections made that year, but not by me. Lots of sitting around on orange crates in houses with no furniture, shopping in International Market with Chinese people, talking theology with a Ph.D. philosophy student.

    Unlike many of the outreach ministries, the ‘Free English Class’ did teach a free English class, and a good one at that. It was more an opportunity to make connections with people than anything else.

    And the next year I switched into the Bus Ministry…

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