A Glimmer of Hope at (Anti)Liberty University

Calum Best, 22, who graduated from Liberty in May and who has spoken out against Mr. Falwell’s political activity, called the move ‘a victory.’

‘It feels like they did it more because they were embarrassed, more than because it was the correct thing to do,’ he said. But, he said, ‘it’s great that he is gone.’

‘He is the one who holds up Liberty’s culture of focus on money, material well-being, political nationalism,’ he said. ‘Without Falwell gone, we can’t really change any of that.’

Ruth Graham’s last piece for Slate, Why That Falwell Jr. Yacht Photo Was the Final Straw before she moves to the New York Times. Graham quotes Marybeth Davis Bagget who taught English at Liberty for 17 years and resigned this spring after publishing an op-ed calling for Falwell Jr.’s removal based on his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

“One man cannot act this way without many enablers, and any meaningful reform of the school will require a thorough and brutally honest inquiry into the LU culture.”

Amen to that.

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Wednesday Required Reading

1. Canceled Races Aren’t Stopping Endurance Athletes From Setting Wild New Records. I’ve been lethargic lately, postponing and/or bagging workouts altogether. Maybe I should try to take one of these records down, but which one? Wonderland in 18 hours? With the help of an electric mtb.

2. Is Your Blood Sugar Undermining Your Workouts? Uh, maybe that’s my problem seeing that I’ve been hitting Costco’s cakes hard all summer.

3. Garmin reportedly paid multimillion-dollar ransom after suffering cyberattack.

4A. Liberty University Poured Millions Into Sports. Now Its Black Athletes Are Leaving. 4B. Photo appears to show Jerry Falwell Jr. with zipper down and arm around a woman. I recommend college presidents, to the best of their abilities, keep their zippers out of the news.

5. Shira Haas of ‘Unorthodox’ on Sharing the Joys of Her First Emmy Nod. I dare you to try to watch Unorthodox’s four episodes over four days.

6. Make Pizza … On Your Grill. Then invite me over.

Thursday Assorted Links

1. Young Americans are having less sex than ever.

Jean M. Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, said . . . ‘First, adolescents and young adults are taking longer to grow to adulthood. This includes the postponement of not just sexual activity but also other activities related to mating and reproduction, including dating, living with a partner, pregnancy and birth.’ These reproductive trends are “part of a broader cultural trend toward delayed development,’ Twenge said, and had not occurred in isolation. ‘It is more difficult to date and engage in sexual activity when not economically independent of one’s parents.”

What about the not young?

“. . . researchers were also quick to point out that the trend of ‘growing up slowly’ did not explain why sexual activity had decreased among older and married adults, noting that ‘the growth of the internet and digital media’ could be affecting sex lives. ‘Put simply, there are now many more choices of things to do in the late evening than there once were and fewer opportunities to initiate sexual activity if both partners are engrossed in social media, electronic gaming or binge-watching,’ Twenge added.”

This sentence is pick up line gold.

“A number of health benefits have been linked to regular sex, including reduced stress, improved heart health and better sleep.”

2. Khruangbin, you had me at Thai funk.

“Khruangbin (pronounced KRUNG-bin)gets its name from a Thai word that means airplane, its members are low-key and shun the spotlight, and its music is an atmospheric collage of global subgenres, including reggae dub, surf-rock, Southeast Asian funk and Middle Eastern soul. In an era of oversized pop gloss, where the music is loud and the characters are even louder, how did a band like Khruangbin break through the din?”

Who knows, just glad they did.

3. What it’s like to be black at (Anti) Liberty University. When are Falwell’s legal beagles going to send me a cease and desist order?

A former employee confided in Ruth Graham:

“‘I suppressed so much of my humanity as a black and queer man in being here.’ He remembered being called an ‘Oreo’ to his face, being introduced as ‘the black friend,’ and being asked during Black History Month why there’s no White History Month. ‘I want to be hopeful, but until the university recognizes their past history with racism, apologizes for it, and enacts significant policy implementation from the board level, I do not foresee any changes for students or staff.'”

4. ‘The Bureau’ Is an International Hit. Why Did Its Creator Hand It Off? Starting the final season. Nervous about life after The Bureau.

Catching Up With Anti-Liberty University

If this Dustin Wahl Twitter thread is any indication, maybe Jerry Falwell’s spell on Anti-Liberty University is more tenuous than meets the eye.

Wahl, a 2018 A-L-U graduate, uses his grandfather’s pic as his profile pic.

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Related. ‘Does not reflect the God of the Bible’; LU professor resigns after Falwell’s mask tweets.

Dr. Christopher House:

“As an African American man and Christian pastor, I am horrified and appalled that the president of the largest Christian university in the world would knowing and intentionally use images that evoke a deep history of racial terror of people of color in the U.S., specifically individuals who look like me, for the purposes of making a political statement to the Governor of Virginia.

I was brought into LU to generate the kind of dialogue that challenges the ideas, narratives and ideologies that underlie the very images Falwell intentionally used to make a political statement to the Governor of Virginia. Falwell did so at the expense of Black people and Black pain. This is abhorrent, evil and sickening! This does not reflect the God of the Bible!”

A-L-U’s tax exempt status is a travesty.

Anti-Liberty University

My proposed new name for Jerry Falwell Jr. University more commonly known as Liberty University.

Maybe my shade is best explained by envy, ALU’s endowment is $1.4b, that’s “b” for a billion. And I’ve never been invited to speak there, which is sad because guest speakers get designer M&Ms among other swag.

There’s been some great reporting on ALU in 2019. For example, start here and then follow up with Ruth Graham’s The Buffer in Slate.

Graham is illustrative of one of our nation’s greatest treasures in this dystopian age, highly skilled, deeply committed journalists who continue to do great work despite their colleagues disappearing in an industry hemorrhaging jobs. I can’t fathom the self confidence it takes to commit to journalism today. Thank goodness the Ruth Grahams of the world have a lot more courage than me.

In her most recent piece, Graham tells the story of Falwell’s number two, David Nasser, ALU’s “Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development” who makes $349,000 a year to lead ALU’s mandatory convocation (church) services on campus and to provide spiritual counsel to students.

Nasser’s “spiritual counsel” is mostly about tampering down dissent when offered to students bold enough to question the administration.

Paragraph to ponder:

“When I asked Falwell about the idea of a ‘culture of fear’ at Liberty, he referred to an English professor who has been outspoken about her objections to Trump. ‘Ask Karen [Swallow] Prior about that,’ he said. ‘She’s never had any repercussions.’ Prior, Liberty’s highest-profile faculty member, announced the next morning that she was leaving the school after 21 years, citing reasons that included creeping administrative oversight over faculty work. (Falwell tweeted after the announcement that she would be “greatly missed.” Prior declined to comment for this piece.)”

Maybe Falwell will prepare a little bit more before Graham’s next visit. Scratch that, given her hard hitting critique of Liberty’s “academic” culture, I’m sure she’s persona non grata. No more designer M&Ms for her.