Censorsing Tim

hear-no-evil.jpg Long ago in a State far, far away, I went to Bible College.

Please don’t judge me.

One of the rules at our school was that you weren’t allowed to have TV’s in your dorm room. This was primarily due to its’ distracting influence rather than its’ power to corrupt us. Nevertheless, it was a rule and if our floor monitor (junior Gestapo) heard canned laughter emanating from under the dorm room door, we’d get busted. Which, at Bible College, generally meant extra bathroom duties for a week or two.

One of our rituals at our school was Friday night movie night up in the Chapel building. The giant projection screen went up and the old school movie projector with the spools, the tickety-tickety sprockets and the lulling hum of the cooling fan lit up the darkened hall with seductive images. O.K., not so much seductive images, more like Disney images. Church-goers from all over town would turn up for the free movie and we’d generally enjoy things like the exciting adventures of the Apple Dumpling Gang or other Disney “family” movies.

My friend and roommate Tim had given the faculty member in charge of movie night a list of movies that would a little more interesting for us than The Apple Dumpling Gang or the following Friday’s feature, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again. They weren’t officially Christian movies but they had themes and stories that would make us think, lead to discussion and sometimes be visual metaphors for the truths we were being taught. The list was filed away for future reference and like Indiana Jones’ crate of the Lost Ark, never to be seen again.

Tim was always coming up with something to mess with the establishment. Once, during our weekly floor devotions, he got both of us in trouble. Once a week all the guys on our floor would meet together one evening listen to someone practice a mini-sermon on us and then share prayer requests and take a minute to pray. Tim managed to move us into the ‘heretics’ zone by suggesting one night that we needed less information when we shared prayer requests and more time praying.

Typically a prayer request went something like this: “Could you all be praying for my friend up in Dennis (a girl’s dorm)? I can’t tell you her name but she’s been seeing a senior who is planning to work on the mission field and I’m afraid that she’s crossed some lines physically with him, like I think she has with all the guys she’s gone out with, and I’m just very concerned about her relationship with the Lord. I can’t tell you her name, but Jesus knows who she is and can see her in her corner room on the first floor of Dennis even now as we’re sharing together. I just want her to come to repentance, even while she’s sitting right next to me in Old Testament History class, Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 11 a.m., not to my left but to my right.”

Tim said something like, “We don’t ask for prayer. We gossip.” He said stuff like that all the time that led to awkward moments of silence and then friendly invitations to go ahead and miss the next meeting or meetings or take the whole rest of the semester off from floor devotions if we wanted to.

I don’t want to say that Tim was directly responsible for the end of movie night on campus. I think the growing popularity of VCRs – remember those kids? – was what killed movie night. But one day, shortly before the end of movie night, Tim went in to see the faculty member who ran the night. I think he’d already given up on seeing a Kurosawa film ever get from his list to the Chapel screen. What took him there was the previous Friday night film. It was Disney but it was a film full of so many things that were antithetical to what following Jesus looked like (we’re not talking bumbling thieves who turn out to be good guys here) and it was such a painfully stupid film in every other way that Tim had to wonder why nothing from his list was ever seen but anything with “Disney” over the title made it onto the screen.

Next week we had one more movie night. After that the Chapel screen was forever dark.

The week after that, Tim rented a laser disc player (the future of home entertainment in the early ‘80s), bought a giant bag of popcorn and took over a TV at a local ministry’s office and ran his own movie night with me. I won’t tell you what we watched but I will tell you it was an independent film that Walt Disney would NOT have liked. I loved it.


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in bible college, Friends, God, movies, Rambling. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Censorsing Tim

  1. Tim Stark says:

    Yes, there are so many reasons that I am so non-fondly remembered by so many of our college contemporaries. We’re just scratching the surface here, and I’m sure it’s much better that way.

    The movie was _World’s Greatest Athlete_, wasn’t it? And, while I like Kurt Russell in just about anything, that script was so clumsily overloaded with reeking secular humanism and goofy logical positivism (painfully lightweight “entertainment” fluff that it was) that I couldn’t believe anybody honestly considered it “the safe stuff.”

    What did they EXPECT, man?! 🙂

    Where did they think we learned to be go for the jugular against all that silliness? 😉

    Go figure: They had us in Chapel singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” in class reading _The Universe Next Door_ (so we’d see what not to believe), and then, for movie night, they showed us that dishwater-dingy-drippy movie full of Disney’s early-70s version of Whitney’s “The Greatest Love of All (is inside of me).” 🙂

    Pablum. Bunkum. Hokum. 😉

    I was about as bugged that we seemed to be the only ones concerned about the thinly-veiled neo-pagan philosophy lesson (did anyone else notice?!) as I was by the fact that they showed that movie in the first place.

    Wow, Brian, I’m really glad that I’ve got you around as my accurate memory bank, ’cause I didn’t remember at all that I had done the right thing and talked to someone in authority about that situation. I’ve been carrying around a sense of responsibility for a long time, thinking that I just complained behind their backs.

    Thanks sincerely, man, for clearing that up.

    I didn’t remember offering my own suggestion list, either. What a goofball, huh? Who did I think I was exactly?

    I do remember that I was awful proud of them for eventually showing _Chariots of Fire_ (and there was no need to give anyone a hard time for the 4-minute disclaimer about “bad language” to cover them for the 2 crude words in the film). There’s something about “fresh water and salt water not flowing from the same spring,” and I could totally understand their concern that the chapel would echo with praise at times and, in that case, with a crude expression of disgust. They didn’t want any unnecessary confusion of negative feedback. That all made good sense to me. That was a great night. I wish that had been my idea.

    Yes, I definitely had some extra bathroom duties to deal with at “The College Whose Middle Name USED TO BE ‘Bible’.” There’s no question that it was wrong of me to break that “no tv” rule even once. I chose the college, and I knew the rules going in– my fault, completely.

    I like to think that I was singing praise songs more than quoting favorite movie lines while I scrubbed those stools.

    I hope THAT memory is accurate …

  2. Tim Stark says:

    Of COURSE, it’s Jan Michael Vincent, not Kurt Russell. Like I said, my memory isn’t worth much sometimes …

  3. brianmpei says:

    and they did some serious voodoo in that one!

    I don’t trust my memory, to be honest, but some things are too good to forget!

  4. Brad says:

    I hope Blade Runner was in there some where.

  5. brianmpei says:

    It did indeed get there Brad.

  6. Tim Stark says:

    the voodoo … oh, yeah … RIGHT, the VOODOO! I always make this stuff too hard. There I was, worried about philosophical stuff, and the demonically-rooted, soul-possession, zombie-enslavement religion was right there in front of us the whole time … good thing it was rated “G,” huh?

  7. Allison says:

    I loved The Apple Dumpling Gang…and any sequel to it. However, I was in grade school at the time…I’m not sure how much I would have liked it for my college amusement.

    Although…we had a student movie channel that repeatedly showed Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Bodyguard. I’m guessing you never watched those on your movie night. You should consider yourself lucky. I would pick Pollyanna, The Moon Spinner, Escape from Witch Mountain, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, That Darn Cat, Herbie, The Parent Trap (okay, you get the point- I watched a lot of Disney movies in grade school) anyday over our student movie channel selections.

    I absolutely love your recount of the gossip disguised as a prayer request. Takes me back to my youth group days.

  8. brianmpei says:

    I’m pretty sure they made us sit through ‘Darby’ but you’re right, they never showed us ‘Fast Times…” That would have seriously cut in to their financial support base!

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