Mother Asks Question On This Parent’s Mind

Published 8:42 am Thursday, June 29, 2017

CHAPEL HILL — The tiny woman sitting down front in the great hall stood and asked a painful question: She’s sending her devout Christian daughter to UNC in August. Will the university screw with the girl’s head and make fun of her faith so much that she is coerced to abandon Jesus Christ to earn a diploma?

It’s open season these days to belittle Christians, abstainers, teetotalers, right-to-lifers, Trump voters and people who don’t buy the sky-is-falling global warming hysteria.

Heismann Trophy winner Tim Tebow has been ridiculed ruthlessly by Hollywood types for his joyful faith.

The woman related a horror story of another Christian student who was openly mocked by a professor at another college.

That mother’s question was the highlight of a two-day orientation last week as my son prepares to join the freshman class. We learned a couple of Carolina cheers and sang the alma mater during the rah-rah portion of the program. At other times, we learned about campus safety, the land mines of sexual consent, bullying in its ever-expanding forms, alcohol and marijuana abuse and mental health until I was ready to grab my son and flee to Advance.

Like the woman down front, I also wondered what college life will do to my child. Will he come back … crazy? Will we pay dearly for him to be reprogrammed to shun his native values, faith and common sense?

My second-born was exposed to the University of Oklahoma’s patriotic fervor, respect for Native Americans and red-blooded, unembarrassed support for America’s military. The college president — an old school Democrat, former governor and U.S. Senator — once scolded 90,000 rabid Sooner fans in the football stadium when they altered the end of National Anthem with “… and the Home of the Sooners!”

We don’t monkey with the National Anthem, he said. Sooner fans were also challenged to stay until the bitter end of the football game no matter what the score.

Oklahoma is cowboy country. Chapel Hill is the ivory tower.

Carolina, I fear, is a Bernie Sanders factory for political lefties and fair-weather football fans who leave after halftime … even when the game is close.

The UNC dean of students handled the mother’s question gracefully and respectfully. He said the right things. With the independence that college provides, students often examine long-held ideas and even their faith. It’s possible, he assured the mother, that her daughter will emerge with an even stronger faith in four years. But it will be her faith, not just what has been instilled by her parents.

I sympathized with the mother while realizing that iconoclastic, tenured professors can regard themselves as demigods, and fellow students can be mean … at any college.

I hope Chapel Hill is not my son’s “Valley of the Shadow of Death.” But it could be. So could Boone or Greenville, Raleigh, Cullowhee and Norman, Okla. Or even Advance. There is no “safe space” from different ideas, meanness, bias and prejudice.

Michael’s the youngest of his generation, the last to leave our nest. He’s shown good judgment … most of the time. Maybe I will have a little trouble letting go.

• • • • •

The corn in the field is tall and dark green because of the frequent rains this month. But another plant is also putting on a brilliant display. The daylily. I’ve never seen them in such splendor and abundance.

— Dwight Sparks