Friday, August 13, 2010

#183-Gateway College of Evangelism

Editor's note: Yesterday Ryan posted his take on an experience from years past at the fine institution of CLC. In spite of it being an openly subjective testimony of his take of the time he spent there, people felt this didn't do justice to the institution itself. As if the institution actually had a voice and in that voice an objective and unbias view of itself. Everyone's experience in life will be different. How they perceive things will be up to them, their past cultural experiences, and the timing of which they encounter the "thing." So for someone to say, "Ryan your view of CLC is wrong." That to me is so precious. Two weeks ago someone told me "you should feel awful about yourself." I knew that I should have, but I didn't, so I laughed. One may come to my house right now and see the messiness of it and be horrified. Another may feel "at home" amidst the messiness.


That said, for Gateway, I will be presenting another former student's experience at Gateway who wished to remain anonymous. To me his take is fascinating in many respects. First of which (and much like Ryan's experience), the college is not so much defined as a building or a place where learning happens, but rather is based on the personalities of the hired personnel that work/taught at the college. As for me, while I have never been a student (and thus my grounds to speak for it are minimal), I am actually a fan of Gateway. While I have heard complaints about some of the staff and kind of an "old guard" of teachers, there are several fascinating teachers there who have made an impact on my own life. Gateway's building is an old jesuit college which is AWESOME, because the architecture is so sweet. Honestly, when I visited for the first time, it was the first building I had seen that made me proud to be a part of the movement. I wish someone, somewhere would raise a couple million for the building's complete renovation (because some of it is decaying and run down), because to me  I would rather renovate that building awesomeness than start constructing a new building any day. Plus the sanctuary, complete with old stain-glass windows (with bible scenes), is by far the coolest sanctuary I have ever attended that is affiliated with our movement. For all of the above reasons, whenever an adolescent asks me (and my ignorant opinion) which bible school I recommend, I always tell them Gateway. Not to mention (and I know this is such old rhetoric that it's hard to believe), that I can attest first hand that if any bible college is trying to work towards accreditation, it is Gateway.


That said: I now present to you the former student's take on his experience....(I don't know any of the people he is referring to in the post and I still laughed)....


The testimony





I can remember it plainly. It was the last summer I would spend at home before I was to take on the world and experience the beast known as "Bible School."  I was sure that 700 Howdershell Road. was not ready for me, but by golly, I was ready for it. I had even received my district's Sheaves for Christ Bible School scholarship, the planets had aligned, and the moon remained full for days. What other signs could I ask for? I was raised in an ultra conservative (soon to be liberal) UPC church where I used my talents as a musician to play for the Lord and what not. My foundation was vast and thick, not (in my opinion) easily shaken. 

Then I arrived. I definitely wasn't ready for what was about to happen. Within my first few months there, I had witnessed the horrors they don't tell you about. The cold showers, the poor facilities, the run-down classrooms, the outdated fixtures, the outdated faculty, and so much more. Also left out were the secret agencies hidden within the student body. There was the GBI (Gateway Bureau of Investigation), the GIA (Gateway Intelligence Agency), and the GSA (Gateway Security Administration) - all of which had separate leaders who reported to the campus pastor, which leads me to my next point. 

**Note to reader: the true names of the following individuals have been altered to protect their precious, precious egos and prestigious reputations among their fellow Word bearers in the United Pentecostal Worldwide Fellowship. If you are insightful enough to figure out who indeed they are, I command you to go down to the local movie house and buy yourself a cookie. You deserve it.**

Whitebeard the Whimsical -- don't get me wrong, Reverend Clark Whitebeard is a stand-up guy. Great wife, great kids, and a great way of making you spill information. He was able to convince you that the information you held was a matter of campus security and hell fire resistance. He always led you to believe that he already knew that which he did not, causing you to only give him fresh information and implicate peers in crimes against humanity such as movie going, white building invasions, etc. If your offense was that of a movie viewing at the demon houses (which have great cookies by the way), he would immediately look up the movie on the Focus on the Family website, read the rating that right-wing Christians gave it, and dole out a necessary punishment. Reverend Whitebeard wasn't much of a musician lover. Preachers have first priority in the Kingdom, because we all know that God is a Respecter of them that say His word rather than sing it. Clark Whitebeard has since moved up from being Campus Pastor and is now an Administrator. 

Talapia the Terrible -- such a young fish in such a large pond. He came after Whitebeard the Whimsical and brought his iron fist with him. Fashioned from solid iron, layered with pure gold, and held up by a stepping stone upon which stood the not-so-illustrious Reverend Talapia. A recent graduate of Gateway, Reverend Talapia seemed to be the perfect choice. He even said it himself when he told the student body "I'm not called to be a pastor, I'm called to be an evangelist." That's right...the students knew that he wanted to be their campus pastor. Especially at 1:00am, dressed in a full suit - even a vest - he would burst onto a dorm floor in search of a young man who had impure thoughts mere minutes before...and around 4:00pm when he would be enjoying an afternoon delight in the form of a passionate kiss from his wife in his very own office. Times of parking lot monitoring were also in play. If you were dare outside of the dorms after 11pm during the week, you were a sure threat to the peace and quiet. Reverend Talapia and his wife were constantly seen sitting in their vehicle, picking off late students like flies. He was in control. What more could a man ask for? Like his predecessor, Reverend Talapia disliked those of the musical persuasion...for reasons unknown. Little did he know, his reign was so mighty and respected that students involved in the musical persuasion actually turned to the Missouri District Superintendent for a solution of how Reverend Talapia could be removed from that position (fiction starts here) and placed in a higher position where he could carry out his true calling of a people lover. Reverend Talapia only lasted for one year. Triumphant, he moved on, and nobody cares where he went.

I'll stop with those two. Not because I am not familiar with Sample the Beloved, but because one has only so much ability to praise individuals' work that I have become weary. Sample the Beloved has since stepped down and McClintock the Magnificent will be taking his place this coming semester.

The incoming students at 700 Howdershell Road really have a lot to look forward to - the new music director has thrown out the previous music director's vision, the new president is a micro-manager, their new peers will still be sexually active in front of the pipe organ (and in the field - and in their car - and in random fields - and in the basement - and several other places), Sis. Marks still smiles, Sis. Scott still frowns, the roof still leaks, the tunnels still stink, the white building still has evil spirits on the third floor, the stained glass windows in the chapel still have demons in them, and so much more. By the way, since the time that I attended, new fixtures have been installed (in some areas) and new pipes that carry hot water - though cold showers are still a norm., the classrooms have been remodeled and air conditioning installed for the benefit of fat teachers with special wives who rant about fat preachers and their trophy wives.

Gateway is a place that you can grow spiritually and shrink mentally. I recall one evening that I was laying in my bed, minding my own business (dealing with family drama...can't even explain) when I heard a noise in the hallway. I then remembered that the men of 700 Howdershell were going to be taking communion that evening. Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone pounds on my door. Given that you don't know who I am, it will be hard for you to picture the frustration that rose within me as the pounding grew more intense. I never moved from my bed. I simply was not in the mood. I was frowned upon for not attending such gatherings, but praised and given a right to turn down my nose at those who were once like me when I was present. These "vespers" were lightly attended unless there was some sort of event, special speaker, video games, video of a preacher, or if prayer was truly the focus. Don't get me wrong, we could schuck corn with the best of them and froth a fine pile of saliva bubbles when the glory hit and our brethren knelt down and laid hands on our feet to pray for us because we had offended them by standing up for post-modernism rather than defending ankle-length skirts and denouncing Disney movies - these prayer meetings and spiritual gatherings were rarely the highlight of the week. It was the fleshly desires to box until we drew blood, shoot airsoft guns at each other and take the "pain" like a man, or hunt raccoons and skin them for all to see that caught the attention and attendance of most of the male types. Halo was a regularly attended event in many a dorm as well.

Don't get me wrong, Gateway is a place of serenity and hope. You can learn how to stay in church very quickly, and you can learn how to hate church very quickly. Ultimately, it's not a bad gig - given the partnership with Missouri Baptist Bible College. My time there allowed me to meet and network with incredible people who I still keep in contact with today. Changed my life forever.

5 comments:

  1. Wow. Never been a fan of Bible College, but this definitely solidifies why. Thanks.

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  2. Now this is satire. I don't think anybody expects anything less. There's a difference between satire and a biased recounting of history. We read this blog for opinions, so we can hardly complain about being offended by them. But badly written posts with no clear main point? You can bet we'll complain about those. I actually think Ryan's post could have been better if it had been longer and elaborated on some of the issues he was trying to being out. That's the sort of effort that makes the difference between an insult and an opinion.

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  3. My two bits worth:
    There is a bit of the "I survived Gateway" feeling for all the inconveniences (cold, water, poor internet connection, loud students up late,) buy I can say I loved my experience at Gateway. I even went to Community College for an Associates to prepare myself for the level of studying homework would require in college for Bible College, since I knew my high school study habits were atrocious. So first year of G8way, good study habits in hand, I get almost straight A's. A fellow classmate even said I was known to be in the "super-over achiever" group. Until the class that I realized no one else read the homework (well very few) she asked a question in class that was plainly covered in the 1, yes one (short chapter even), chapter of reading assigned. Either no one else had done the reading either or did not feel like voluteering the info because the teacher had to explain for the next half of the class.
    Sad to say my following years of G8way, I did not do all the reading, doing anywhere from 0 to half. What is the point when the teachers go over the "important" material for all those that don't read. Not sure whether my grades suffered from lack of reading or horror at how many research papers are assigned (5 in one class, but 3 of those were only 4 pages the others 8-12) requiring a minumim of 4 sources, but if you wanted an A (meaning exceeds expectations, above average) it was best to use 2 sources a PAGE. This wasn't required in every class, but at least half of the ones I took. If only I had been better at blowing snow in papers perhaps I would have continued to flourish acedemically :) If they were giving away accredidation just for the amount of work assigned, Gateway would definately been accredited 5 years ago.
    Not to say I didn't learn a lot at Gateway. I tend to remember most of what I read and hear (just can't always remember where I learned it.) I learned a lot about how to study the Bible, some of the best commentaries to read (and worst) Saw a lot of messing around, but also how God would impact the lives of these people I wouldn't have ever expected to do anything, and become passionate about God, prayer and people. Bible college helped me come out of my social recluse shell, gradually while I was there and then later running into former classmates at conferences and conventions and talking through that common Bible College bond. Just last week a former classmate told me they couldn't believe how much I was talking (perhaps a polite way to say shut up) :D
    Someone once told me that college level teaching isn't so much about imparting knowledge, but teaching people how to learn. Anyone can look up something online, but the hunger and love for learning, that is something that can only be fostered through great teachers of which Gateway has many. Of course there were personality quirks and things that annoyed me about all my teachers, but never did I doubt any of their love for God, the Bible, or people demonstrated through teaching and tears in class, conversations at meals and in prayer during chapel.
    I made this entirely too long already, but one thing I will say about Gateway was it sure helped my studies at the trade school I went to afterwards. I was so relieved to only have 3 papers in 14 months that I sailed through them and all the multiple choice quizes and tests. Yes, I made strait A's the whole time I was there. They asked how could I pass A&P and Kinesiology (the 2 hardest classes) so easily. My reply? You've never been to Bible College, have you? :)

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  4. Yeah... I really miss Gateway.

    I miss the instructors who have absolutely no experience in teaching anyone other than 5 year olds. Who read straight from the book without actually, you know, teaching.

    I miss watching R rated movies with my peers (sometimes by "borrowing" the TV from the library). We were considered among the good students.

    I miss going to church so much that I didn't ever want to go to church again. (I do attend regularly... just not twice on Sunday, every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, Wednesday night, and sometimes Friday and Saturday night too.)

    I miss the shock-filled whispers about folks getting caught giving into thier lust... by people who simply hadn't yet (or since) been caught.

    I miss the adoration of people who thought I was wonderful (because I dressed and publicly behaved as though I believed everything they taught for fear of being publicly persecuted) even though I was really confused and hurt and screwed up spiritually.

    I miss the indoctrination of all things UPC... especially the teachings about fear-based control that ministers should have over nearly every part of your life.

    I miss the years of torment. Wondering why I had no peace about their hypocritical standards. Wondering why the people who were lauded as fine Christian examples only looked holy... but had very little love or holiness inside. Wondering why we condemn everyone but UPC people to hell.

    Yeah - I really miss that old place.

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