Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Witch Hunt

 I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for three reasons.  First, I needed a Master's Degree in order to teach in a Christian college, and that was going to be at Anderson College.  Second, it was the school that both of my parents went to, and I knew many of the professors and staff.  Third, I was called by God to go there.  It seemed a perfect fit.
 One of the requirements for entry to the seminary was to take a personality test called the MMPI.  It was designed to weed out those people who were not mentally suitable for the ministry.  I answered each question honestly, as I thought that was what one was supposed to do.  Questions like:  "Have you ever smoked?"; "Have you ever drank?"; "Have you ever used drugs?"; "Have you felt like someone was following you?".  I answered "yes" to all of those.  I never heard any more about it.
 Also, one of my loves was James Bond movies.  I found a store in Dallas that sold old movie posters and bought all they had.  I put them up on my walls in my dorm room.  Each semester, they would have a contest as to which room was the coolest.  Mine always won.  The first Christmas I was there, I drove home for Christmas to pick up more stuff like records and posters.  As I was working the second Christmas, my boss didn't give me any time off, so my parents sent my Christmas presents to Ft. Worth.  I found a twig outside and decorated it.  I put on some Christmas music on my stereo.  I had one of the best Christmases for 15 minutes of it just being simple.  Things were good.  But then came January.
 I got the flu.  I was pretty sick and didn't feel like eating much, but I called down to the dorm office and asked someone to go get me some bland food.  This guy brought it up to me.  He had never been in my room before, and he saw my posters.  He immediately got offended by the movie poster for "The Spy Who Loved Me".  He told the Dean of Men, who had been in my room before, that I had pornographic posters on my wall.  I should note here that the seminary had changed from a moderate environment to a more conservative one, as it came to religion. 
 Things went from bad to worse.  Students, who had been in my room, were now putting messages under my door saying they were praying for me and praying that the demons would leave me.  The Dean of Men recommended that I be kicked out of school.  In fact, one morning I was asleep because I had an 11:00am class.  He walked in without knocking and woke me up.  His question to me was "Why did you come here?"  I told him that I was called by God to be there.  He walked out.  The Dean of Students was an old friend of my father's, and he was trying to keep me in, but there were several hoops I would have to jump through to stay.
 Meanwhile, the Dean of Men went to the girls' dorm and asked them one question:  "Have you ever been out on a date with Walter Durst?"  The questionnaires came back that no one had.  Many of the girls were in seminary to find a husband, so they could be a preacher's wife.  They didn't bother to ask me who I had dated, as I was very seriously dating Kare.  She was someone I worked with and not affiliated with the seminary.  In fact, Kare was an atheist, and she kept me grounded through all of this mess.  So, based on the question, I was branded "anti-social" and "gay".  I had had the "gay" label put on me before, even though it has never been true. 
 So, the hoops were established.  I would go to a psychologist for a month.  I would take down all of the posters off of my walls.  I would retake the MMPI.  And, I would have to meet with the seminary president for him to make a final decision to my fate. 
 The school had a psychologist on campus.  I went to see him.  In five minutes, he found there was nothing wrong with me, so we talked Dallas Cowboys football the rest of the time. 
 I did take down all of the posters on my walls.  It amused me that one of the posters was the Farrah Fawcett swimsuit poster, which a lot of guys had on their walls, but mine was offensive.
 I retook the MMPI.  I answered no to every question, where I had answered yes before.  The test came back, and they determined that I must have misread the questions the first time.
 I then went to see the seminary president.  His name was Dr. Naylor, and I had known him since I was five.  He told me that everything would be all right, and I could graduate.  There was one more stipulation.  I had to move off campus.  So, I moved into an apartment with three seminary friends, who were supportive of this witch hunt.  I stayed there for most of the summer, until about a week before graduation.  The landlord found out that I was staying there without paying rent, so I had to leave and find an apartment on my own, which I will write about later. 
 When graduation came, my parents came to Ft. Worth.  I was in the hall of the administration building with my father.  He found the Dean of Students and the Dean of Men.  Both told my father that this was all a  "misunderstanding", and they apologized to me for any embarrassment to me.  They did that, because my father was big in Southern Baptist circles.  My father was pretty mad at them.  I got to graduate.  I have a Master's degree in Religious Education with a major in Communications.  I celebrated with Kare.

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