Monday, May 18, 2009

Christian Enclaves-- Places One Can Run and Hide

There were a couple of interesting articles in our local paper a week or so ago, both sent out by the AP. In a way, they both dealt with education and the attempt to create "Christian enclaves"-- protected places where Christians can run and hide.

The first that caught my eye dealt with Domino's Pizza founder, Thomas Monahan. Monahan is a Roman Catholic. He has started a project in the Naples area of Florida that is a bit reminiscent of the religious utopian experiments of the early 19th. century. He is creating a town, centered around a college that he foresees as being a distinctively "Catholic" experiment. At first, he proclaimed that no store would sell contraceptives or pornography. The Cable T.V. would carry no adult content. Due to complaints by civil rights activists, he has since backed-down on these proscriptions, but such guidelines are still highly encouraged.

At the center of Monohan's town is Ava Maria University, a quite conservative Catholic school. In the article in question, reporter Mitch Stacy quoted one student speaking about the benefits of the school. The young woman commented, "It's just nice to go to a school where you don't feel challenged in your faith."

A second article described how Falwell's Liberty University was "infiltrated" by a senior from Brown University who enrolled as a student while secretly planning to write a book about the experience. He expected a lot of mindless fundamentalism. He found it, to be sure. He also found students trying to make romantic "hook-ups" in Bible class, dorms full of gossip, hip-hop music, and secret viewing of R-rated movies.

I imagine these things are at Ava Maria as well. After all, even many priests are far from sainthood. The world is a funny thing. You can run, but you can't hide. And there is always the problem of the second generation that may not be as "enthusiastic" as the first. It will be interesting to watch the progress of both Ava Maria and Liberty over the years. The 19th century utopians could not sustain their ardor. Can the Falwellians and the Monohanians?

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