Intermission: People

From the stories so far one might come away with the impression that every waking moment at PCC is filled with some fresh new horror being foisted upon the students. That isn’t exactly true. Horror is scheduled from 3:30-4:00 on alternating Thursdays. Please wear afternoon class dress for this event.

I do have some good memories from PCC — most of which involve one of two things: friends and music…

I would be remiss if on this 10th anniversary of graduation I didn’t take some time to remember the people at college who made life bearable. Of course there was my wife who for the brief time she was there saw my air general gloom as the perfect challenge for her perpetual cheer. But there were also summer work friends. Computer Science classmates. Roommates who introduced me to the wonders of tie checks, dumpster diving, comic books, Ramen noodles, gummy bear dioramas and Sunday afternoon drives to Alabama “just because.”

One roommate in particular deserves special recognition. Dave Tesone bounded into my life my freshman year of college, a big burly Italian from California who just couldn’t ever seem to take PCC (or anything else) very seriously. His good cheer and general amusement at the uptight machinations of the college helped teach me some very valuable survival skills for the rest of my time there. Sadly, Dave died in a tragic car accident only a few short years after transferring away from PCC. He is missed. May he rest in peace until we meet again in a far better place where there is never a light’s out.

There is another person who helped keep my sanity during my tenure and deserves a mention. Miss Bradford (now Mrs. Cole) graciously allowed a skinny not-quite-tenor who barely read music to join her Symphonic choir and then later (even after a disastrous audition with laryngitis) the Chamber choir. I don’t know how one person managed to have a will and graciousness strong enough to make a classroom a haven from the outside pressures that surrounded us but somehow she managed it. Week after week we would stand in that practice room and sing Ave Verum Corpus and for a few brief moments the stress and cares would simply slip away, dissolved in ancient beauty. It was not church or chapel but a choir director that saved my soul in those dark years.

So many friends. So many laughing faces both of those still loved and those only dimly remembered. I was blessed to meet some of humanity at their very best in that unlikely place. These were never the people in power nor were they good because PCC had mandated that they must be. They were often kind in spite of rules that would have constrained them to be otherwise. Often in such places acts of kindness must necessarily be acts of loving rebellion.

Of course, near the end I also experienced some of the worst of what people have to offer. But that’s a story for tomorrow…

53 thoughts on “Intermission: People”

    1. Ok, now I have several thoughts.

      1. I’m very sorry about the loss of your friend.

      2. I hope every drive-by fundy who comes here and claims you never post anything positive gets referred to this post in future.

      3. I’m looking forward to tomorrow… 😈

      1. I guess I did. I was SURE I’d be first!

        My experiences at BJU don’t match yours in this sense: I met far more kind people than unkind people at BJU. But as you noted, these were never the people in power. We did have a ton of dedicated, kind hearted faculty. I feel indebted to so many of them that I cannot list them all. And I worked for Bud Rimel, a terrific man and genuine Christian, who himself was later fired because he acted out of Christian compassion and charity for another person.

    1. Yeah, it’s a little easier considering it’s like 8:17 pm here 🙂 But I can’t help being in the wrong time zone!

  1. For me, it was Joe Mims and the Rejoice choir. We were the ensemble rejects, but that choir got me through school.

  2. It makes me thankful that my church didn’t believe in Bible colleges..that’s how independent we were, but I know many people who have gone to a Fundy U and I am thankful I was spared, since I was seriously considering going. Anyone on here ever been to Arlington or Heartland BBC?

    1. Is that Heartland in Oklahoma City? If so, we used to steal…um…”trade” bus kids with them.

      I’ve been on their campus a couple times and was always told how “liberal” they were compared to us at OBC. I wish I could say I went there instead. 😐

      1. Yes, Heartland in OKC. That’s sad that they are the more liberal between OBC and them. I’ve heard preachers from both colleges and I will take Heartland any day, which I suppose is like saying I prefer to be attacked by a honey badger instead of a wolverine. Only slightly less vicious of an animal.

  3. It wasn’t all bad at BJ. I did meet my husband there. I enjoyed linguistics and it did introduce me to certain aspects of music, art and literature that I would not have been exposed to otherwise.

    That’s about it though.

  4. Oh, Darrell….this brought tears to my eyes, because it was choir that got me through those 5 years at BJU. I know exactly what you mean about a haven and losing yourself in that “ancient beauty”. It’s the only thing I miss about that place. Thanks for this post.

  5. I had no experience with “fundy” colleges, but I can so relate to the escape of “music” I believe it’s a God-thing!

  6. Music was also the biggest interest for me while in the IFB and OBC. I was the tour group pianist, so I had the chance to play for every service I could fit in my busy schedule.

    That was so much fun for me! It was one of the most depressing things to lose once I left the movement too. Nobody in our area ever seems to need a pianist who plays old-time hymns instead of CCM. 😐

  7. I was also in symphonic choir. We always knew mr cole and ms bradford were dating. It was so obvious. It was funny how they kept trying to hide it

  8. There were many good people on staff when I was there. Mr. Goehring (sp?) was a great teacher and an even better person; respected that guy. Dr. Bowen was my faculty adviser; another good guy with whom I enjoyed conversing. Grussendorf – underrated, smart and funny. I remember when he showed us the old German movie Siegfried and didn’t blank the screen in time when the hero’s butt was shown. He chuckled and said “Oops.” Some poor, delicated soul(s) turned him in. He was a broken man the next class period; he apologized tearfully and dismissed class early. As we left, there were two types of facial expressions (three, if you count the blank ones) – the smug, “he-got-his” looks and the “seriously? somebody turned him in for THAT?” looks of disgust. Some of us commented aloud that some people needed to grow up.

    Anywho. Lots of good people down there on staff…

    1. Delicated – adj.; the state of being a tremendous wuss. Incapable of observing something and moving on, as they must make a big deal about whatever it was that caused the blood to race. Frequently mistaken for piety. Related: delicate. 🙂

      1. “The type that would ride through a sewer in a glass-bottom boat.”

  9. “May he rest in peace until we meet again in a far better place where there is never a light’s out.”

    Wonderful lines like this are one of the main reasons I still read this blog even after several years. Bravo!

  10. Performing “Ave Verum Corpus” is a glorious act of worship. I just heard my son’s (freshman) college choir sing this (a capella) in the old central campus building, while we sat on the balcony. The lovely notes wafted up to us, and we were surrounded by students who spontaneously began singing along from memory. An awareness of God’s goodness flooded the place.

  11. Wait a minute! Hold the phone! Are you saying that at PCC they wanted you to be able to read music in order to be in the choir?

    What a concept!

    You can graduate from a certain fundamental Baptist college in Northwest Indiana as a MUSIC MAJOR and not know how to read music. They don’t think it is important,so long as you can sing or play something after hearing it enough times.

    Hate to say, but that gave me a sliver of respect for PCC. 😯

    1. Actually, despite everything, the school had some very, very knowledgeable teachers in several departments–arts and lit mostly. Some of the music teachers there were insanely talented. I have no idea how they ended up at PCC, honestly….

    2. The lead singer in a trio I was in at church in the 80’s graduated from BJU with degrees in nursing and music (or so she claimed, she was found to be a bit of a prevaricator). Though she had a decent soprano voice, she could barely read music. I had to pound out the notes for her on the piano and even sing along with her over and over for her to get the melody. And then she was more often flat than not. She insisted that learning the melody and singing lead was SO much harder than the harmony parts, never mind that the other singer and I (harmony, always) often had to invent our own parts from the piano accompaniment. We were doing our own trio arrangements of popular CCM of the 80’s era. In rare moments of honesty she did admit that she wasn’t entirely sure how she managed to earn a music degree with her obvious lack of ability other than that she could “fake it.” She did have a lovely voice, though.

  12. I read all this rather bemused, as I attended “Satan U” (state college), and don’t have any personal experience with schools like PCC.

    Sorry to hear about your friend, Darrell; glad you had people to help you through the rough times.

    I remember my school times with fondness; I was in a good church, and growing in Christ, and learning to be responsible now that I was away from home.

  13. I also had many wonderful friends in ATI and in the IFB. However, my fundy mother has explained to me that all of them were corrupting influences, obviously, since I was friends with them and now I am no longer a fundy. Apparently, pretty much everyone I had any contact with is partly to blame for my fall from grace.

    1. Probably she thinks everything is to blame EXCEPT for the things that actually are: things like the hypocrisy, legalism, and lack of Gospel you found in the atmosphere in which you were being raised. (Forgive me if my assumption is inaccurate.)

  14. Only fundamentalism can reconcile the kindness of God to the world around us by defining kindness as strictly & ruthlessly enforcing the rules and saying it was kindness to help you conform to God’s rules.

  15. The music that soothed my soul was the nightly bluegrass jam sessions in the dorm, and fellows gracious enough to let a Canadian with no rhythm and little soul play along.

  16. Music at PCC….the “church” music that was allowed was pretty bland and dry, and certain teachers of it were brutal task masters (in piano, anyways). The classical and sacred music was something different. I studied with 3-4 of their Brazilian faculty. Holy cow! Those people were amazing. I owe almost everything I am as a musician to them. They were passionate and cut from a different cloth from the true fundies. I could not have survived my stay without them….particularly the violin/piano married couple. In fact, I stayed because of them.

  17. Besides BJU and PCC (who despise each other) what other Fundy U’s are there ?

    1. West Coast Baptist, Hyles-Anderson, Crown College, Northland U…

      Many of these belong to different “camps” or loose associations but they would all claim the title of both “baptist” and “fundamentalist”

      1. Ambassador Baptist College in NC

        Then there are the GARBC schools: Baptist Bible College of Clarks Summit, Cedarville, Faith Baptist Bible College of Ankney, Iowa. They were known as fundamental schools back in the 80s; I don’t know how they’re identified now.

        1. As a warning….little Golden State Baptist College in Santa Clara, CA (rival to West Coast, which is considered more Fundy-liberal) GSBC carrying on the Hyles’ brand of Fundamentalism.

        2. “Ambassador Bible College”… Wasn’t that started by Ron (not Ray) Comfort? He and his wife and daughters (along with Larrry Brubaker and his wife) used to do Revival meetings in our church. I remember loving their music… Mrs. Comfort played the Vibraphones (kind of an electric-enhanced version of the xylophone, Ron played electric guitar, Larry B. played everything, but mostly cornet and trombone, and his wife and 3? Daughters had great harmonies. They all overpronounced the lyrics in a strangely beautiful way.

          His preaching was typical dogmatic scolding, but he would intersperse his messages with long passages of memorized scripture (including chapter and verse references) and *always* end his sermon by transitioning into an acapella verse or chorus from an old hymn.

          I was always intimidated by his preaching (for all the wrong reasons), but their music cassettes were a blessing to me. He (I believe) went to Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (are they still functioning?) where my former Pastor attended (Charles Surrett) during the time that Jack Schaap was there (before he received his Beatific Vision of Jackie Boy Hyles). It’s a small (fundy) world after all…

          I seem to remember him telling our church, in that familiar fundy tongue-in-cheek braggadocio, that Maranatha was the most Spiritual of the Fundy colleges, because it was the only one whose name came from scripture.) I guess a case *could* be made for “Fairhaven” with some poetic license, but why quibble?

        3. Cedarville and the GARBC parted ways several years ago. It had veered more toward evangelicalism, but with some of the goings-on the last few years, and the retirement of the president this year, there’s a lot of people guessing it’s going to go back to more fundamentalism.

  18. PCC, West Coast, Hyles-Anderson, and Crown College of the Bible and Ambassador Baptist College are in separate categories than a Bob Jones or Maranatha. BBC and Cedarville would not even be close to them at all. Northland, Faith, and Appalachian would be in the middle of BBC/Cedarville and BJU/MBBC. But the Fundy Fundy schools would be the first group of PCC, WCBC, HA, Crown and Ambassador.

  19. Wow! Completely forgot about Northland. No way liberty is a Fundy school. BBC is a liberal Fundy school and cedarville is a liberal BBC and liberty is a liberal cedarville

    1. Whenever the media calls Liberty a fundamental college, I want to say, “Fundamental. You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

    2. Was informed this last week that NorthlandBBC has changed its name to Northland International University, a change apparently in keeping with a recent shift in perspective on pharisaism. I used to consider NBBC a smaller version of BJU–consequently [only] slightly more relaxed due to fewer crowd control rules being necessary. Essentially the same music, dress and dating rules though.

      Also was informed that the name change was not innocent because “they now have their own rock band.”

      This tidbit was relayed to me by the pastor of a Greenville BJU-tied church that dropped our missionary support because we had changed to a non-denominational mission agency.

      A week and a half later I’m still facepalming because this pastor whom I otherwise respect, former BJU Dean of Men, was primarily concerned out of all the possible issues with musical style.

      I tend to try to give people grace (or find some plausible excuse for their irrationality): the only thing I can figure is that as a non-musician he has pled non-specialist and consequently abdicated his interpretive role, swallowing the wacked excuse for contortionist hermeneutics that is the standard fundamentalist proof-texting on why rock ‘n roll music is bad.

      ‘Scuse while I kiss the sky, I mean facepalm again.

      1. It breaks my heart that believers not only separate from other believers over MUSIC, but actually denigrate, accuse, and condemn them over it.

        How can these people not read Ps. 150 or even Michal’s criticism of David’s joyful dance of praise before the ark and not be convicted? I know I was.

  20. It’s clear from reading these posts that there are so many factions in Baptistdom and its plethora of schools. I keep thinking that these factions are somehow going to try to assert their “standards” in heaven itself, and that if ANYONE is tempted to start a Homeowners Association (replete with exclusionary convenants and criteria) it will be the Baptists who try to do it! And when Jesus Himself says, “Alright! All you Baptists sit down and shut up for once, and listen to what I’ve got to say,” they’ll resist Him and remind Him of their standards, and compel Him to comply (just like they attempted to do when He was here on earth). Methuinks they have made God’s word “of none effect” with their rules, regulations, and “standards.”

  21. I went to Pillsbury many years ago. In no way were the staff/faculty/administration as ruthless as at PCC although I saw my fair share of terrible things happen to students and staff. I made lifelong friends there, although I have struggled and worked hard to compensate for the degree that I received after four years. I suppose you could say my memories there are bittersweet.

  22. I was blessed to be in the Speech and English departments and later around a lot of the Art and Broadcasting department. Because of this, I was able to have a very diverse group of friends who just weren’t all that into the crap, the hypocrisy, the rules and grace-by-merit. I had several amazing teachers (and some all-Fundy-all-the-time ones, too). That was what kept me there for my MA. I knew I wanted to keep studying with those peers and those faculty members. I was so saddened during my time in grad school there to see departmental and curricular changes there that, I could see, would soon weed out the independent thought and critical analysis and depth that made the Speech performance department such a sanctuary for “rebels.” It’s been quite interesting to me to see my fellow alumni on Facebook and such–as a general rule, those in the performance departments have spread their intellectual and spiritual wings far outside the box PCC tried to put them in, those in more straight-laced departments (education, bible, history) are so often still entranced by the realm of Fundy life. When I think about the school, I am blessed by tiny memories of creating a sanctuary of adulthood and counter-thought with people who enjoyed the small taste of freedom and life. At the same time, I’m saddened to think that when there were too many independents in the arts, the very process of filtering students and analyzing literature was changed to mitigate it. I’m glad I was there when I was, but still, I will always wonder who I would be and where I would be had I gone to a real university. Sometimes I wonder whether I would trade those moments for that alternate timeline. I don’t know. But I do know that my personal circle of friends is what kept me sane, what opened my eyes to reality, the only thing that brings a smile to my face when I think about being there. People–real, gritty, down-to-earth, foible-filled people–are those sparkling joys in the middle of that ugly box.

  23. I know Miss Bradford – she is the daughter of my mom’s cousin – and I have often wondered how she could stay in a place like PCC. So good to hear she was a true light!

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