20 March, 2006

Now they're talking!

Over at Three Hierarchies, CPA references a NYTimes article about the debate team at Libery College. The post is called, "Betcha Didn't Know That About Jerry Falwell," and odds are he's right!

CPA picks the high points from the article, but I enjoyed the whole thing too.

I have advocated debate here, for the same reason that I hope to keep participating in the Vox Apologia symposium. Knowing that my ideas will be tested by someone and rejected if weak makes me study that little bit harder. It sharpens me, and I appreciate that.

All that said, I am NOT advocating the kind of debate on which this article focuses be practiced here.

I have judged at one home-school debate weekend. These kids were very serious about their debating, and I got to judge 4 matches. It was really, really tough. I mean, it was not fun at all. I needed to make judgements over and over, and then defend my positions to these kids who knew what they were doing much better than I did. After it was over, though, I loved having had the experience. I would definitely do it again, but not without experience on the other side of the table.

The subject of this article is competitive debate, and it is a pure sport - not in any way dedicated to finding the truth. It is even athletic. The competitors speak at 350+ words per minute, and breathing becomes an issue. The judge must know the subject inside and out to understand the arguments. And for 92 minutes, the competitors must listen flawlessly, take brief but accurate notes, adjust their arguments based on those notes, perform confirming research under stiff time pressure, and after all that speak on their feet while running in their minds - 5 times a day for 2 or 3 days.

That's an 8 hour marathon a day, burning every brain cell they've ever had.

Anyway, CPA ends the article with some great questions. My answers are in red.
  • Is the entrepreneurial instinct rampant in evangelicalism good?
  • This sounds like an ongoing discussion about which I am in the dark. On the whole, though, we should play the game from the soles of our feet to the last hair on our heads. The guy who plays with his head will do well, but it's not enough. You've got to play with heart and sweat, too. Entrepreneurial efforts sound like a good thing to me. Now, if CPA means advertising, marketing, and organizing the church like a business, then that's horrid.
  • Should Jerry Falwell feel proud or ashamed of _____________ ? [You ought to have to read this to find out what it is] ;-)
  • I tell about my ________ story. What's the fun in being ashamed?
  • Should Christians in their vocations play the game like everyone else?
  • Yes, or you don't belong in the game. I work for a company that trades energy (think Enron, but in Ohio.) Moving electricity with paper is a crime, and Enron went down for it. The answer for the Christian trader in 2000 was not to stay with the company and fail to trade as much electricity as everyone else. The answer was to call the ethics line and/or quit. Every large company has an ethics line, ombudsman kind of a position. But if it's ethical, then play to win.
  • Should they want to win as much the world wants to win?
  • Yep. It is one of the many joys of life as given by God.
  • Are Christians team players, or individuals?
  • Christians are people, with human failings. On a debate team you MUST be a team player, or you are useless. If the kids at Liberty are winning like this, they are team players.
  • Will playing with the secular schools cause you to lose your faith?
  • This is a large issue in the article. I would answer that most Christians are given such a weak founding in their faith that yes, this is a risk. We pitty-pat around the difficulties of our philosophy, instead of facing them head on, early on. This costs us.
  • Do you have to have a theology of glory to train "champions for Christ"?
  • ? What is a theology of glory?
  • "Champions for Christ" does not mean anything to me, either. No debate victory can bring glory to Christ. It is a sporting event (especially the way they play). A Christian might bring glory to Christ while debating, but it won't be by winning. It will be by living out divine Love. Unrelated to competition.

Funniest line in the article:

There are building sites all over campus, including the recently dedicated LaHaye Ice Center, a hockey arena donated by Beverly and Tim LaHaye, an author of the "Left Behind" novels. Considering LaHaye's apocalyptic beliefs and Falwell's own eschatology, this focus on the future is reassuring.

I would love to get a chance to debate some day, but this kind of sport debate does not jazz me. I am probably too deliberate a person to do well at it anyway. Still, it is a fabulous builder of character and intellect in my opinion. Those kids profit from their time behind the table, I'm sure.

It's infinitely more valuable than football (in the same way that money is more valuable than debt.)


Milly said...

I'll stick to the shallow end of the pool. We have ORU in these parts. :-/

CPA said...

Theology of glory (vs. theology of the cross) is a concept of Luther's. You can find more info about it here. Basically Luther's idea is that theologies which focus on the glory of what we can do for God are theologies of glory, while those that focus on our inability to do anything and hence God's need to do for us, are theologies of the cross.

codepoke said...

OK. So the theology of glory is a bad thing. Amen to that.

Thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

If you're afraid of boogeymen, don't you dare go to Yahoo and type in "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," or "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal." The Tribulation Trio, BTW, is now one place because Falwell's Liberty University now hosts the Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy and the Pretrib Research Center headed by Thomas Ice. B.N.

codepoke said...


You look to be a Falwell-bot of some sort. Interesting that someone would go to so much work to credit/discredit him, but whatever. I will return to this post some day when I think about it again. When I do, I will delete your comment unless you convince me that you are a human.