Article Title:Compass: Same Old Direction...
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:10th January 2008 - 11:15 am
Internet Archive link:
Story ID:5443
Text:Yet again, the Maxim Institute is running its Compass gathering for young adults at Auckland's Snells Beach. And for once, yes, there are differences this time around. After Logangate, the Institute has downplayed its fundamentalist identity, except when the interests of the National Party and Christian Right coincide, as was the case with the Electoral Finance Act and Sue Bradford's anti-belting legislation. The Institute doesn't cover up when Compass is undertaken, due to the fact that it is intended to recruit susceptible young adult/early university fundamentalists, who might otherwise end up taking social science courses, thinking critically about society, and losing their fundamentalist faith. This usually involves rote condemnation of Karl Marx (??), Charles Darwin and Peter Singer, for contributing to the state of post-modern western society. Conversely, there's also propagandising on behalf of old school dominion theologians like the late Francis Schaeffer (1912-1983). This is very Cold War of them, and one wonders who writes their agendas. Marx is way off the academic beaten track these days, apart from the ranks of fervent Trotskyite Marxists. It doesn't equip these youngsters to cope with Foucault, Derrida, Artaud, Bataille and Judith Butler, or any of the other luminaries of post-structuralist political and social theory on the contemporary left. However, Compass 2008 seems to have the same workbook and speakers as the last two conclaves. That said, though, there's the website, which indicates that the Institute is caught between conservative Christianities past and present, uncertain which way to turn. For instance, I was surprised to see positive mention of faith-state separation, and reference to Dutch evangelical politician Abraham Kuyper's theory of 'sphere sovereignty.' However, I took a closer look at some of the other questions and answers, and came to the conclusion that this was window-dressing. Gay people are virtuous, especially if we give up sex for celibacy. Extramarital sex is bad, as is masturbation, but contraception isn't (Oops- exit grumpy conservative Catholics, stage right...). Treaty? What treaty? And as for female subordination nonsense, yes, I'd downplay that too. The Christian Right has a shortage of female leadership and activists as it is, and it's rather silly at a stage of New Zealand history when we've had a female Prime Minister for the last nine years. Oh look, no questions whatsoever about climate change and Third World poverty, either. How are they going to reach out to post-fundamentalist new evangelical youth with that, one wonders. It's all very disjointed, even given the trendy postmodern focus on stories and worldviews. None of it coheres into a sensible synthesis of views. Come to think of it though, isn't that the Christian Right today for you? Craig Young - 10th January 2008    
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