The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

This is a guest article submitted in the early part of December 1996.

Thus far, I have merely been a spectator in the various discussions that your newsletter has inspired on the policies and various goings-on at PCC. I have now decided to enter the arena, so to speak, and would like to submit some observations concerning the college.

I was a student at PCC for a full four years and graduated in the Spring of 1995. I never rose above the “rank” of APL (although I kept myself out of trouble and had few demerits–I think that I wasn’t out-going enough to be appointed to anything else). I was mostly interested in my studies and did little in collegians or other social activities. I gained a great deal from
my years as a PCC student ( I met my wife to be, I made many close friends, I accrued a great deal of practical knowledge from my classes and I learned to grow spiritually). All of those things were extremely beneficial to me, and I thank God that PCC was there to provide a place where I could get a good education and enjoy a spiritual atmosphere. I say all of that as a preface to my remarks concerning the issues that you have been discussing with the other Voice subscribers. I want it to be clear that I am not possessed with a hate complex toward PCC, nor do I have a bad attitude concerning the Hortons and the other college administrators. I have very little use for those who gripe about the college simply to hear themselves gripe. I much prefer forums where the participants simply express genuine concerns. (I believe that your newsletter is such a forum).

I am certain that my title will be viewed as somewhat cryptic in light of the subjects at hand; after all, what does an old Eastwood movie have to do with PCC? I think that the title is somewhat descriptive of the activities at PCC and will explain it as follows:

THE GOOD: PCC provides a spiritual atmosphere within which to learn and grow as well as extending its ministry to all the world through A Beka Books and touching many lives for
Christ.

THE BAD: PCC has problems with its policies, attitudes and general outlook on spirituality.

THE UGLY: PCC refuses to acknowledge any internal problems and instead, insists that the only problems that the institution has is with those who point out problems with the institution.

I was glad when I found The Voice in that your newsletter acts as a “city of refuge” for comments concerning the college. Even those who preside over staunch defenses of the college should admit (if they are honest with themselves) that students, staff and faculty do not usually find a warm reception when they present their concerns to the administration. An independent forum concerning PCC has been much needed for some time now. [Although due to past events, we are no longer “independent.” – eds.]

A few choice issues:

1. (The Authority Issue) PCC’s administration advocates the idea that “questioning authority” is the same as defiance of authority. Also, when you come with a question about a policy you are almost automatically dismissed with the “God wills it” answer. That answer worked great during the crusades, and it seems to have a good deal of effect at PCC as well. I remember the one issue of the Voice where the writer stated that he questioned Dr. Goddard concerning the college’s rules for student marriages. Dr. Goddard dismissed the man as being out of God’s will because he
challenged something that “God had layed on Dr. Horton’s heart to put into place.” What kind of answer is that? To assume that challenging a human policy (because it is based on what God “lays” on the heart) constitutes a challenge of God Himself is to say that the human (in this case Dr. Horton) is a flawless interpreter of God’s will. I have great respect for Dr. Horton and what he has done (I’m certain that he is much more spiritual than myself), but I do not quite think that one should be accused of challenging God because he challenges the policies of a man. That “God wills it” answer is much more common than some might think (and a great deal more subjective than they–administration–might ever have stopped to think about). I heard it myself a great deal when I was a college student. I really believe that much of what is policy at PCC is merely the opinion of the Hortons as to how people ought to live based on their own personal preferences. It hardly
suffices as an effective answer to the policy question, though.

2. (Vague Rules) As mentioned in The Voice, one problem with the “No Devotions in the Commons” rule is that it is extremely vague in its boundaries. What constitutes devotions? Vague rule definitions lead to extremely subjective rule enforcement and punishment. A person has little else but his own opinion to go on when he is told that he should not allow students to have devotions in the Commons and is given no real definition of what devotions is (in the Administration’s view). As a recent former student, I know well that students are quite upset with vague rules. How are
they to know when they have violated a rule when there is no real standard for telling them where the boundaries are? I myself ran into this when I once approached by an assistant dean of men concerning PCC’s music policy. I was informed that there really was no uniform policy and that it was primarilly left up to the residence hall managers’ “discretion.” That was a real comfort, I assure you. This area could use much change. If you are going to make rules for the students, Administration, then please tell the students (and not at DC) where the boundaries are.

3. (Image) I believe that this is one of PCC’s greatest failing points. It is not that the college does not promote a good image (or that it is not important to be viewed in a positive light), it is that the “image thing” often comes to dominate everything else in the ministry. Consider the ensemble members as an example of the overexaggeration of image. Ensemble members are required to dress differently than other students and are expected to act differently. The Administration does this in order to set the ensemble members up as ideal students and representatives of PCC. I understand that to a point, but I wonder if the Administration truly knows how the ensemble members are viewed. Perhaps a few words that I have heard students use regarding ensemble members would be in order: “arrogant,” “fake,” “stuck-up,” and “plastic” come to mind immediately. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of ensemble members are quite nice to be around. Other ensemble members begin to think that they are better than the other students. I’ve seen both. The superiority complex that many ensemble members get can cause real problems when they are placed in positions of authority (floorleaders, R.A.’s, etc.) The Administration needs to be aware of this problem. Let me state it this way: “Setting someone up on a pedestal raises them above the rest.” Somewhat obvious, I’m sure. The point of saying that is that many times, the person’s attitude also goes up with him. This becomes evident immediately when the person begins to treat others like they are truly beneath him. This often happens with ensemble members. I know that it is basic human nature; however, as Christians, we are cautioned against elevating people. It is our job to elevate Christ. He is the only one who deserves it (and the only One who can “handle” it).

Other times, the image problem is revealed in the publications. Example: You would never find “mixed” groups allowed in some of the positions and places where they are depicted in PCC publications. Many an “Update” cover illustrates this point beautifully. The problem? It presents a false image. Many a student has come to PCC and found life to be quite different than the publications presented it. If we are to go to such lengths to present an image, shouldn’t it be an accurate image?

In closing, I would like to point out again that I have no hard feelings toward PCC. I would simply like to see the problems that are discussed in this newsletter addressed in such a way as to effect positive change. I have presented a few of the problems and I hope that my words cause some of you out there to think about things a bit differently in the future. Let’s do our best to preserve and expand “the good,” to eliminate “the bad,” and not to be “ugly” about it.

Fearocracy

In the time I have spent in this ministry I have found that fear dominates staff, faculty, and student. It is neigh to impossible to get an honest opinion about anything that a person might disagree with about the school. Why is this so? Is it because they do not believe that they are right? I should hope not. Is it because they fear spreading a bad attitude? Not usually. Is it because they are evil Bob Jones spies bent on destroying this college, and they don’t want to be caught until their wicked scheme of obliteration comes to fruition? Most unlikely. It is because they fear for their jobs, or college careers. The idea presented by one of the readers that a student should be able to go to the administration and discuss some disagreement is good in theory, but not in fact, at PCC. If someone were to attempt it, they would most likely not be kicked out/fired right away, but they would win much disfavor with the administration. They would be labeled as a dissenter. The opinion of the individual was important to Christ. Why is it so disdained here?

It saddens me greatly to see the damage done to those young students who come here to learn about, and love Christ, yet are ridiculed and mistrusted by their “leaders.” The damage done to their Christian lives is incalculable. I try to do what I can of “damage control,” but sometimes nothing can be done. Some rebel, others get depressed, many fall by the wayside. Why? Because they were wicked people? Some perhaps, but not all. They fall because they expect this Christian organization to be full of learning, and loving, and yet they find that even the administration, the ones who should be the leaders and therefore more mature, have a harsh, and unloving spirit that is hardly Christian. Even if a student rebels he should be loved as a Christian brother, not disdained as if he has no value. Yes, maybe he will have to be kicked out, but love him anyway. Is this not the teaching of Christ? It is sad to see that even those who keep a good attitude towards the “ministry,” but choose to continue believing differently
are treated as outcasts.

I mentioned before that fear is dominant. Fear should be dominant among those who wish only to disobey, but what of those that want to simply be right? What of those that sincerely, and with full conscience disagree with the school in an area? Should they fear? Is the purpose of authority to make good men fear trying to make the system better? or others better? or themselves better? Why is PCC authority causing this reaction among good God-fearing people? It seems to me that the school is attempting to get the people to fear the administration as they (the people) would God. They fear
disagreeing with the college at all. Who other than God should someone fear disagreeing with even when that person has a good attitude?

The administration always has said that people should obey authority no matter what kind of attitude the authority has, but shouldn’t a Christian authority be able to take correction even from someone with a bad attitude? Yes, it may be authority’s need to put that attitude “in it’s place,” but
does that mean you should not listen to them at all? Does that somehow negate the ideas behind his arguments? I see no reason that this should be so. It seems to me that the administration is asking their students to be more mature than they themselves are willing to be.

Some Words From a Long-Time Christian and Public School Teacher

I must say that reading the student voice brings back memories, many not so good. I was a student in the “old days” and I see that not much has changed. When I came to PCC there were only two buildings and we had all our classes in the elementary and high school buildings. We had to cross the tracks every day for lunch, dinner, church, and classes. Many times a train caused us to be late. That has all changed, but apparently, many things are still the same.

I have been a teacher for 17 years now and at least in my opinion a successful one. The first eight years were spent teaching in a Christian School and the last nine in a college prep public high school.

I still remember vividly, especially since StudentV has reminded me, of such unnatural and ridiculous concepts as 1. being socialed, 2. the dating parlor, 3. the no touch rule, 4. never being allowed to question authority, 5. the demerit system, 6. 10:30 lights out, 7. the dress code, 8. the whole D.C. situation……..I could go on and on! I am almost 40 now and I still can’t get over how I was treated when I was 20. I have a son in the tenth grade who is starting to consider his college options and I cannot in good conscience recommend PCC.

If I was so unhappy there, why did I stay? Well, once you have invested a year into a place, it is difficult to transfer without losing ground. I went to PCC, yes because I believe the Lord led me there, and because of its emerging reputation of training teachers. I have to admit that in some respects, I was much better prepared for teaching than many of my colleagues starting out. However, my philosophy has changed over the years. I am now proud to be a Christian serving in the public schools. I might add that I met my wife there and we look back on our dating life at PCC and consider it most unusual. It is truly a miracle that we conceived our lasting relationship under such (what now seem unthinkable) circumstances.

PCC seems to be in the business of hiring robot teachers that train robot students, or at least that is what it appears they are trying to do. I would like to see a study of the turnover in faculty at PCC. What many students may not realize is that faculty are not treated with much more respect than the students. I have known many, many to go to PCC to teach for a few years and then move on.

What Dr. Horton has established in Pensacola is much like a commune. A core of long standing teachers and administrators (not many) have been brainwashed, in my opinion, into believing that this is all of God and
functions as the almighty “MINISTRY”. When anyone questions the authority, be it student or faculty member, they are dealt with immediately and severely. I marvel that this has all continued now 22 years (much longer if you include the K – 12 school). Is this because God has raised up this Ministry….? I won’t touch that one.

I admonish studentV for its courage. It is finally possible to speak out without fear of reprisal [this, unfortunately, is not entirely true anymore – eds.] – although I am sure every effort is being made. College students need to be questioning authority and be allowed to speak their minds. They need to be able to make mistakes and learn from them, regardless of what may happen to the “Mininstry’s” reputation. As a parent of three, I am learning to give more and more freedom to my children as they get older, along with more responsibility. To send them to PCC and take away their freedom is not what I can encourage in good conscience. I was a witness to many a student that when crushed by the almighty power of the student handbook (and its inhumane enforcement) rebelled in a way that they would not have otherwise. Hasn’t Dr. Horton learned in all these years that severe restriction and unnecessary rules are counterproductive? I guess not! I might also dare to suggest that Mrs. Horton may be even more responsible than Dr. Horton. Of course we will all answer some day and that includes myself and the Hortons.

I live in the “real world” with all its problems, not in a make believe world of PCC. I must say it has many resemblances to extreme teachings of other groups I will not mention here. I submit that Christians need to take a part in public institutions and not withdraw into their own private worlds. I am reminded of Jesus and the many times he dealt with the individual person and not the letter of the Old Testament law. I don’t think it is too far a stretch to compare PCC with the Pharisees and other groups in the Bible and in history that have been caught up in legalism.

I know this must all sound like sour grapes, but I am not bitter against PCC for the years I spent there. I earned a degree at PCC. I believe I have had an impact on my students for many years and I am very involved in my Church. My children go to the public schools and I support them and have become involved in their education. It is my belief that nothing will change at PCC until Dr. Horton leaves (he has no
children to pass the baton to like Bob Jones). This is not to be hateful at all, but I am simply stating what I think is a fact. Thank you for letting me share some of my opinions.

A Time For Change

There seems to be a great debate in The Student Voice about motives and change. This is not what The Voice should be about. Life’s decisions are all about right, and wrong. Whether or not change occurs because of The Voice is up to God (and I certainly hope change does occur, for it is needed). The question is “Should you agree or disagree with the issues presented in The Voice?” Is the school right or wrong about what they are doing? I would like to deal further with the motives issue.

1. You cannot judge my motives or those of the editors. It is impossible, so why try? What you can judge is the validity of our arguments. Let me illustrate it this way. Is stealing wrong simply because your pastor says so? What if Hitler said so? Is it any less of a truth because of the character of the person saying it? What if someone said it, not to spread a Biblical truth out of love, but to make sure you didn’t steal from him? Is it any less valid? What if he said it with a bad attitude? The point I’m trying to make is that if someone said that stealing is wrong, yet he was a thief, or he said it with a bad attitude, or he had the wrong motives, it still would be truth. Let us say that Adolf Hitler gave a lecture on why Christ was God, and he gave all the right reasons. He doesn’t have a good character, and most likely would have a bad attitude and the wrong motives. Because of this I would scrutinize what he had to say more closely, but truth is truth, regardless of the character of the messenger or the attitude
and motive behind the message. The only good question is, “Are the facts and arguments correct?” and if they are correct, then “What will you do with the facts and arguments presented?” This is why I am glad that the editors decided to remain unknown. I can focus on the facts, and pray about what I should do about them.

2. The only things you or I or the editors can judge is what the Bible (and therefore God) judges. In my opinion, the editors have done nothing that is wrong. It is also my opinion that PCC HAS done things that are wrong (spreading legalism, being uncaring of fellow Christians, attempting to stop free speech and thought, and implementing an incorrect view of authority). I also would like to say that I do appreciate the editor’s “sharp” sarcastic style. It is not harsh enough to be cruel, yet it adds a “point” to the facts. It remarkably resembles the Apostle Paul’s style (no I don’t think it is inspired, nor do I believe the editors to be apostles or anything like that. It just happens to be the way Paul, under inspiration, handled problems with fellow Christians who seemed very much unwilling to listen).

I also would like to make a comment about the issue of the editors not making comments to the opposing opinions that are sent in and printed in The Voice. I DON’T LIKE IT. I do not consider myself to be extremely intelligent, logical, or an extremely gifted writer. I am, however, a thinker, and many times I see the faulty logic of a disagreement, but I just can’t seem to put my finger on the problem, or properly state what that problem is. I like the editor’s comments, because it saves me the time and energy of finding the fault. I usually come to the same conclusions as the editors, but it takes me longer. Also, it makes me have to deal with the facts. I have no holes where I can ease my conscience. The editor’s excellent logic in their refutations cause me to be able to focus mainly on what I will do about the truth, instead of focusing on what the truth is.

It’s time for a change – time compare PCC to the truth.