O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

I Was Wrong: Calvin and the New Pornographers

It’s impossible to take back a blog post, but I need to take back what I wrote about the decision of Calvin College to disinvite The New Pornographers from a scheduled concert at the university. Yesterday I complained that it was a bad idea for the school to cave in to a few confused individuals. For a Christian university in the business of engaging their culture, it seemed a poor choice to back away from that goal just because some people couldn’t understand the irony of the band’s name. Just because it had the word “pornographers” in it didn’t mean they were connected to actual pornography. It all seemed really dumb.

Then, in the comments to yesterday’s post, we suspected that those individuals who complained were big financial backers, or powerful alumni, and that the university was letting an influential, literal-minded few call the shots — at the expense of the school’s reputation.

Well, I was wrong. We were wrong. 

There’s a danger with snap judgments, armchair commentary, and the immediacy of blogging, especially when you read a news item and realize it has the potential for humor. I saw the press release about the cancellation and asked the same questions everyone did (“Why didn’t they anticipate this backlash at the beginning?”). Then I dug around and found a list of bands that HAD been allowed to perform at Calvin. Barenaked Ladies. Bruce Cockburn. Jimmy Eat World. What if THOSE names were taken literally? The gears of snark began turning, and instantly I had a post in mind. It could discuss Christianity and culture, make a joke or two, and also introduce a thought-provoking point. So I started writing. Fifteen minutes later, I hit publish.

It was easy.

Last night I heard from a past acquaintance who is now on the staff of Calvin College and has been intimately involved in this situation. (I had no idea he worked for Calvin, or had even changed jobs.) But he got in touch, and explained to me a bit of the back story behind this situation.

• The primary outcry about the band’s name has not come from major donors, board members, or people of significant influence at the university, but rather from members of the Calvin community who have been deeply hurt by pornography. Porn addictions. Damaged marriages. Divorces. These families understand the irony of the band’s name, but because pornography has had such an devastating effect on their lives, ANY apparent acceptance of it — even the tacit acceptance of a band with a name that trivializes pornography — has come across as hurtful. Regardless of the rationality of the whole thing, it causes pain. And I totally get that. If someone you loved had been murdered…and then a band came along calling themselves The Happy Murderers, it’s no stretch to understand how that could be painful.

• While Calvin might have anticipated the kind of knee-jerk moral reaction I railed against yesterday, they don’t seem to have anticipated the deeply personal reaction that actually occurred. Upon being confronted with this, they had a choice to make:

1) The university could have compassion on these members of their community who had been wounded by pornography. They could acknowledge their pain, stand in solidarity with them, and cancel the appearance of The New Pornographers. In doing so, they knew they would invite the scorn of the media and the music industry and bloggers like me. It would be inconvenient and would court bad publicity and could damage the perceived relevance of a culturally engaged university.


2) They could overrule the concerns of these few in the name of cultural engagement and rationality. This would have avoided not only the massive PR hit, but a whole lot of inconvenience, too. They could have enjoyed the show and kept Calvin out of the media. But in doing so, they would know it was at the expense of people they cared about — people for whom the mere mention of pornography caused serious heartache. In the name of relevance and cultural engagement, they asked themselves, is it worth it to further injure someone who is deeply broken? Is it Christian?

That’s the question the planners of the event had to ask themselves. As I understand it, they weren’t under any pressure from board members or alumni or anything like that. No one threatened to withhold or withdraw support. The only pressure came from their own conscience.

Do we listen to the pain of our brothers and sisters in Christ and strive to protect them from additional turmoil? Or do we ignore them so we can have a cool concert and avoid negative publicity?

Calvin College chose the difficult path of compassion, knowing full well what the result would be. They chose to side with their community and to identify with their friends’ pain, knowing it would cost the school greatly. They did it knowing it would make the institution look foolish, but they did it anyway. I can’t think of a more admirable, honorable, and deeply Christian act.

They made this decision not because anyone feared actual pornography would take place on-stage with The New Pornographers, but because pornography has wounded the lives of those they loved and they felt it was important to acknowledge that. They couldn’t in good conscience ignore it.

So I need to apologize. The conclusions I jumped to were the conclusions Calvin College knew their critics would reach. And from the outside, they may still seem valid. But as a fellow Christian — someone who believes in grace, mercy, and compassion and strives (but often fails) to practice it — I cannot and should not fault them for the decision they made.

Jesus didn’t command his followers to be culturally relevant no matter the cost. He did command us to love our neighbor and comfort the broken-hearted.

Calvin College made a tough choice, but I respect them for it, and I offer them my apologies.

You may still disagree with me, and that’s fine. Some probably still think they should have anticipated a backlash at the time of the first invitation, and maybe that’s true. But here’s what I’ve learned:

Rather than thinking too hard about it or investigating the story, I took the path of least resistance and most blog hits. Jokes and snarky commentary are easy.

Calvin could have taken the easy road, but didn’t. They took the hard, compassionate road, knowing how it would come across. They did it anyway. I think they did the right thing. I am impressed.

Mea culpa.

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Danny Bixby

posted September 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

That’s some serious humility going on in here. Good post man.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 10:05 am

Thanks. I jumped to the wrong conclusion because I was frustrated with your conclusion. Sometimes I hate the Internet! : ) This post is the very best of you. And the very best of Christianity at its root. It was only when I was explaining the event to my husband that the thought struck me, “Of course, just the name pornography belittles the real struggle that so many people have with that destructive issue.” I know, a day late and a dollar short.
I’m going to put myself in a blog time out. Again, thanks.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

It’s cool that you admit you were wrong. Seems like Calvin went a little overboard to me … a band called “The Stupid Broads” playing at my college wouldn’t affect me, a woman who’s sensitive about being called unintelligent.
But if they don’t want to have the New Pornographers play, that’s their call. *shrug*

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Seaton Garrett

posted September 21, 2010 at 10:12 am

400 items in my Google reader. Yours is the one I click through to read. “I was wrong”, “I’m sorry” are powerful, and rare words. I’m much more inclined to listen to what you have to say in other matters because of what you said in this post.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 10:31 am

Thanks for swallowing your pride and revisiting this, Jason. These were powerful words. This also makes me stop and think about how the culture has accepted pornography as no big deal, when it really is the starting point of destroying so many lives.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Ken Summerlin

posted September 21, 2010 at 10:34 am

This is the very kind of honest writing that makes me a loyal reader of your blog.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 10:53 am

ok…. i am sorry, too. thanks for the information and for your honesty.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

GREAT post today. Now added to my file of great quotes: “Jesus didn’t command his followers to be culturally relevant no matter the cost. He did command us to love our neighbor and comfort the broken-hearted.” I’m no expert, but I think with this post you drew out what the Body of Christ can look like online. How do we “build each other up” on such a surfacy medium like blogging? Your vulnerable and personal post today answered that question. I feel challenged by your message: that someone unexpectedly forced your perspective wide open. (Where do I need this, Lord?) I feel encouraged by your willingness to share your journey so publicly. (This is what it’s about.)

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T.J. Schley

posted September 21, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Mad props, Jason, for admitting your mistake. I’m with Seaton: words of apology and humility are rare in the world, and rarer still the public blogsphere.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I’m glad Calvin is sensitive to the needs of its community, but I still disagree with their decision.
The Barenaked Ladies played there, and their name (not the band itself) could just as easily be associated with pornography. On that note, does anyone know if the Barenaked Ladies show was greeted with the same reaction from some folks?
Maybe a better solution would have been for the people struggling with pornography to stay away from the show, as well as for the college to keep the advertising for it low-key.
At my old church, we had people who struggled with alcohol addictions. While we wanted to honor them by not drinking around them or asking them out to a bar, we didn’t feel the need to petition the city to close all the bars in the area, either.
Again, points to Calvin for being aware of your community’s struggles. I also respect Jason for apologizing when he felt he had wronged someone; that takes humility and character. I just think there was a better way the college could have handled the decision.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Or they could have invited the band, listened to great music, had a discussion about the name AND started a campus-wide discussion about how pornography harms intimate relationships–and offered resources for people on campus who are hurting.
Yes, the mere mention of pornography can cause heartache. Has porn caused heartache for me and for people I love? Sure. But I don’t think the options you mention are mutually exclusive.
If they are, that only creates a climate in which one of the deepest and most painful struggles for many Christians (i.e. porn) is something to be hushed up and avoided instead of acknowledged on the path to healing.
I don’t think Calvin did anything virtuous by “taking the PR hit” as you put it. I think they are still missing continual opportunities for open conversation about important issues, and they’ve gone many steps backward in their practice of showing hospitality toward artists.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I’m not sure why you would post a blog like this without naming the person who supposedly gave you Calvin’s official reason on why they made the decision. “A friend gave me the whole scoop” doesn’t exactly smack of believability. Forgive my doubt, but it’s far too easy to say things anonymously. Calvin hurts itself by staying so quiet in situations like this, but if the college or this employee would like to come out and say this publicly, my esteem for them would rise significantly.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I don’t know if you saw it yet, but Hemant at Friendly Atheist posted a response to what you wrote today.

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David Congdon

posted September 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

No, you were right the first time, and here’s why. It isn’t an act of love toward a few people in the community for a school to cancel what would be an excellent musical event (I would know since I’ve seen them live). It is rather an act of selfishness on the part of those who complained that they believe the school should cater to their emotional sensitivities at the expense of the rest of the student body. It shows a lack of maturity and an inability to put aside one’s own qualms in favor of the community that they are supposed to love. In other words, it’s a failure of love on the part of these victims of pornography. It’s a problem with our culture of victimhood that remains an epidemic in American society.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm

What a breath of fresh air this is. I have become increasingly uneasy with the reverse moral superiority that is increasingly evident among so many progressive Christian writers/bloggers. It’s an easy trap for us to fall into — believing We are Right and They are Wrong.
I’ve learned the hard way, too, that as satisfying as a kneejerk reaction can feel, it has the power to do lots of damage.
Thanks for undoing yours.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Perhaps Calvin College is being compassionate toward those hurting from pornography. Perhaps you are correct.
Nevertheless, I do not agree that the band ought to have been uninvited. The New Pornographers are known for putting a lot of thought into their music, and though those who have been hurt by pornography might not enjoy the band name, there are others (possibly far outnumbering the other group) who have not affiliated the name with the music and would like to listen to and enjoy the music of the New Pornographers. I’m not saying we ought to be distasteful in our advertising of something with a name that has caused others pain. I’m saying that everyone has the option not to support the band, whereas many more have been deprived of the opportunity TO support the band.
Essentially, it’s a lose-lose situation.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm

As a student of Calvin College, I appreciate your apology, and thoughts about what we’re going through as a university. My initial reaction to the cancellation was an assumption that donors had once again exerted their overly powerful influence over the school. Then I read the official statement made by the Student Activities Office. You are right when you say it wasn’t the donors, it was compassion for those who struggle with pornography. So Beth, I don’t believe this is made up, I heard the same story.
And to Hannah’s comment, Calvin DOES engage in conversation about pornography. There have been many discussions, panels, and lectures about the subject as well as broader themes such as sexuality. There is a counseling center that helps those who struggle with addiction to porn, and the Residence Life department is dedicated to recognizing symptoms of addiction, and connecting them to the counseling center. So no, I don’t believe that canceling a concert is a lost opportunity for discussion.
Once again, thank you Jason for your support of my school. We struggle, as all humans do, in following the path of righteousness and compassion.

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Jason Boyett

posted September 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

To answer Beth, I didn’t use my friend’s name because he asked me not to. Simple as that. He felt free to give me background but not the freedom, at this point, to speak publicly as a representative of the school.
I get the impression, however, that a more public statement may be forthcoming.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Compassionate my butt. This reasoning makes zero sense. Is a mere mentioning of pornography going to hurt people? If so, these people are going to see the word plastered all over the place for weeks because of all the uproar related to this. It’s not like they couldn’t see THAT coming.
I bet you can’t find a word in English language that WOULDN’T offend someone out there. This kind of ridiculous self-censoring is retarded, and has the exact opposite effect.
A few years ago a paper mill closed down in this city. Lots of people were left unemployed, and lots of sadness and tragedy ensued. Did they ban The Paperboys or Steve Miller Band? No.

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Michael Reaves

posted September 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Call me a skeptic, but I still believe this is about big money contributors, alumni, parents of students, etc. I have a hard time buying the story that this was a compassionate response to those damaged by actual pornography. Incredible. Most likely, this is just a spin for the public so Calvin won’t look so foolish. And I believe you have been duped into helping your Alma Mater save face.

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Jason Boyett

posted September 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm

@Michael Reaves:
Calvin is not my alma mater. I have no ties to it, other than knowing a couple of people there.
Knowing those people, I would be very surprised if this were just spin. I’m a skeptic about many things, too, but not this.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 3:39 pm

I’m sorry, but no, that is total bullshit.
Would they cancel the Crash Test Dummies because of students who have been hurt in some way by car accidents?
I have no doubt that some minority of their student population has been hurt by pornography. In any largish population you will find people hurt by everything under the sun, in some way.
However, their statement that this is about protecting the feelings of some of their students is a thinly veiled line made by people who have moral objections. This isn’t about protecting anybody, and I have a really good bridge to sell to any person who believes that nonsense.
Calvin is in the wrong here, and they damn well know it. The only reason they made this decision is somebody’s twisted version of religious morality, and no amount of statements otherwise will make that not the case.

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Ryan P

posted September 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Do we listen to the pain of our brothers and sisters in Christ and strive to protect them from additional turmoil?
That’s the same argument that’s been used against the Park51 community center. That two entirely different things are conflated in the minds of people who have been harmed, therefore, the right thing to do is to be sensitive and not have a concert or build a community center.
Certainly it’s the college’s call to make and there is something to be said for being sensitive, but you can find any number of people who are offended or personally hurt by any number of things. Widespread pedophilia in the Catholic Church likely caused a great deal of pain, but nobody ever suggests shutting down the Catholic Church, even though their very existence is likely painful for some.
My divorce caused me great pain, but if I suggested that no TV station run that episode of “The Simpsons” where Milhouse’s parents split up and Luann Van Houten starts dating one of the American Gladiators (Pyro?), people would tell me to suck it up and get over it. And no one would applaud the sensitivity of the TV station that took that episode out of circulation.
And so on.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I agree with Otto. You will always find a way to offend anyone about anything. This was not an act of compassion.
So I think the band should change their name for one night call themselves Michael Servetus and play to crowd of calvin students who miss the irony.

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Kevin Cox

posted September 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Sorry, Jason, but you were right the first time.
So let me get this straight: Because some people have been hurt by pornography, a band that happens to have the same word in its name gets canceled? I’m all for compassion, but this is taking it WAY too far. So is Calvin not going to allow a performance by the Killers either? How about the Strokes? Is Calvin going to show the same sensitivity to victims of car accidents, suicides, heart attacks, diabetes, meth addiction and depression if similarly named bands are slated to appear? I’m curious where the line gets drawn.
I’m betting that in this case, it isn’t the harm that the “P-word” has done as much as the morally objectionable connotations of the word. And so, good Christians, you must show your outrage!
BTW, the New Pornographers are involved in several charity projects for causes such as AIDS and ALS. But, you know, they got that word “pornographers” in their name, so they must be, you know, eeeeee-vil.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

This still sounds like just an excuse. The Bare Naked Ladies played at Calvin College a number of years ago. If we take their (your?) argument and apply it to the Bare Naked Ladies, shouldn’t they have also been cancelled? I’m sure that they are not lying when they say they got a response from people who are dealing with pornography issues or whatever… but I cannot believe that this is the PRIMARY reason that they cancelled the show.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm

It is refreshing to read after a young man, who unlike our political leaders, can stand boldly and say, I was wrong. I am sorry. Thank you, and keep writing.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Here’s my suspicion. (Warning, snap judgement ahead) Those who are saying you were right the first time are pretty young, and possibly not married. You learn a lot about compassion and sensitivity with age and with marriage. Having heard Calvin’s explanation, I think they did they right thing. When people express hurt…and I know the kind of pain some feel in this situation…it’s unkind to say “tough…deal with it”. I think you are right to apologize (as would I) and they did the hard, but Christ-like thing in this case.
The goal is always to be more like Jesus in our interactions and choices.
Also Hemant Mehta’s response reveals the lack of understanding of non-Christians on so many things the Bible teaches, like sex. It is not at all a friendly response, and the comments below are even worse.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Who are we to judge a community’s choice about what band that community hosts? We aren’t even members of the community! We have NO say.

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Kevin Cox

posted September 21, 2010 at 5:14 pm

MainlineMom, I’m glad you warned that you were making a snap judgment, because I’m not young and unmarried. I’m 40, Christian and have been married for 13 years. I think the Christ-like thing to do would’ve been to accept the musicians as human beings rather than make a reactionary judgment about their character based merely on the name of their band. Remember the pharisees who turned up their noses at people based on superficial reasons such as their appearance, while Jesus embraced them and ate with them. Just some food for thought.

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jeff fleming

posted September 21, 2010 at 5:18 pm

I am sure that I appreciate your honesty and humbleness to be willing to admit that you were wrong if you felt you were. That is all I am sure about though. Part of me says the best way to protest is not to attend the concert if you are offended. Part of me appreciates the actions of the College all though the band did not change their name after they were invited. Part of me thinks that we live in a culture that is becoming so sensitive that almost anything could and would offend people so how do we protect everyone’s sensitivities?

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posted September 21, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Please don’t make snap judgments against people who had an opinion that differs from yours. (By the way, we don’t have to be single and young just to think that Jason was right the first time.)
Our disagreement with the college (as well as Jason’s new assessment on the situation) doesn’t mean we’re telling struggling people to just “deal with it” while refusing to be Christ-like.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Also pointing that snap judgements tend to be almost always wrong; I’m not young, and not unmarried.
Look, I think compassion is awesome. There are billion things going on all the time where we could show more of that. But compassion has nothing to do with what went on here. As always, attempts to censor something bring the topic out more. If these people really were hurt by bare mention of the word, they’re getting TRUCKLOADS of it compared to what would have happened if the concert would have happened as planned. That’s not compassion, that’s rubbing pornography on the victims noses.
Sensitivity and compassion are cool. But even the basic concept of censoring a band based on a flimsy connection to some people’s personal struggles is a perverted distortion of judgement.
Jason got it all wrong in this post. Supporting a shady censorship move is not cool.

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Paul Chaplin

posted September 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I enjoyed reading this thoughtful, compassionate, and humble reflection. Also, I agree that the Calvin admin’s intentions were good.
However, I disagree with the decision profoundly. Just a couple of reasons:
1) Naming a band “The New Pornographers” simply doesn’t imply taking pornography lightly. If their music contained seedy lyrics and oppressive and unhealthy themes, the name would suggest something different. I believe this also because…
2) The name doesn’t necessarily refer to pornography in the way we usually first think. Of course, the name is deliberately ambiguous in its meaning (we know part of the inspiration, but that is different). In fact, many have interpreted the name as referring to a description of rock music as “the new pornography.” This was a reference by a US PASTOR!! I’m not condoning that particular use, but it serves to show that words often have many shades. Jimmy Swaggart (the pastor) wasn’t suggesting that rock and roll was a new kind of “depiction of erotic behaviour” (Merriam-Webster definition #1), but rather, say, a “depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction” (M-W def. #3).
“Pornographic,” then would in fact be a very adept adjective to describe contemporary American 24-hour news media. Perhaps the band are raising a criticism of culture in their name. Perhaps, more likely, they are ironically referring to the over-reacting fears of a conservative Christianity that feared rock and roll music. How IRONIC now that this possibly ironic name, directed NOT at Calvin (which has, and will continue to have, an excellent track record of discernment and creative cultural engagement), has perhaps in this incident come to describe Calvin. The college has, for all intents and purposes, decided that the name itself “The New Pornographers” is too pornographic.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

I think another aspect of this that may be overlooked is that pornography is one of, if not the most common struggles, or dare I say sins that Christians deal with today. It’s easily accessible and can easily be something that is unseen and unnoticed until relationships are damaged. I don’t know whether or not this brings the word pornography more into the sight and mind of people who were hurt by porn at some point, but it does show compassion for them in, at the very least an attempt to sympathize with their pain. The best explanation that I’ve read so far above is that it was a lose-lose situation for them. Clearly (in my opinion) they had the foresight to know of the kneejerk reaction the word “pornographers” would have caused because they are a part of a church that has a very conservative background. Unfortunately, I think they missed the possible revival of old wounds. Honestly I don’t think it was a lot of people complaining and calling for this, but more likely a few people who had heart-wrenching stories. That may not be enough to justify it for some, but I find it hard to believe the compassionate aspect of this can be missed. Those are just my thoughts…oh and Rogue Wave is playing there tomorrow night…and they are AWESOME!

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posted September 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I don’t think Jason has to apologize for anything. You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, and you shouldn’t judge a band by its name. The New Pornographers are an intelligent and musical group with thoughtful lyrics and beautiful, inspiring songs. “Challengers” stands out in my mind, for one. If Calvin’s student body is so full of sex perverts and porn addicts that the mere mention of pornography prompts a canceling of a concert, then they don’t deserve the New Pornographers.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Seems like Calvin made the right call. I think most people would have done the easy thing and let the concert happen. Instead, they seem to have stood up for what they believe in regardless of bad PR.
Apparently for Calvin, the problems of pornography are viewed as more serious than enjoying a couple hours of music. I agree with that for sure.

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Travis Thompson

posted September 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

I don’t know that I’d say Jason needs to apologize, but I definitely appreciate getting this angle on the story.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 1:04 pm

If this “compassionate” explanation is the real one, then it reflects even more poorly on the college than the alternative (pressure from donors/alums). It’s understandable to be sensitive to financial pitfalls right now, but you could use the “argument from hurt” to justify pretty much any ban. Which makes it a horrible precedent to set, especially for a school that fancies itself a “liberal arts” institution and claims it wants interaction and dialogue with non-Christian culture.
Anyone deeply hurt by experiences with suicide or suicidal thoughts? Better not cover Sylvia Plath in literature classes. Isn’t that the most compassionate response?
Anyone devastated by experiences with alcoholism or drug addiction? Better not book the bands Gin Blossoms or Everclear – we need to be compassionate, after all.
You could extend this reasoning on, and on, and on. Is it going to happen every time someone comes forward and describes how they were hurt by something remotely-related to a band’s name, a movie’s subject matter, or a book’s contents?

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posted September 24, 2010 at 3:47 am

That’s a dangerous stance. Pornography exists because there are people who want to see it. The addiction is a weakness for sure, BUT, removing temptation does not actually address the problem. It’s like saying you don’t smoke anymore because there are no cigarettes. I suppose that IS one solution, but it has not actually addressed what’s really going on, and will very likely be replaced with some other vice to satisfy whatever chasm there is between the life you live and the life you desire.
You can take away the crutch, or ignore it, but it doesn’t unbreak the leg.

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posted September 29, 2010 at 9:57 am

I know I’m quite late to this discussion but I wanted to add my two cents . . .
I think it’s possible that this is one of those situations where the moral difference between the two decisions (continue with the original plan to let the band play or cancel it for the people in the community who are sensitive to the name) is not very great. Sometimes hard decisions are difficult because the cost/benefit analysis for both options are so close. I respect Calvin’s decision, but I also don’t think it would have been such a bad idea to let the band play. It would be nice if the university still paid the band as if they had played in order to make up for the effect their choice had on the performers. (maybe?)
What I most appreciate about Jason’s post is that he didn’t leave us with a single story. In his first post, he gave us a somewhat strong perspective on the situation, which included his dismayed disappointment in the university. When he learned new information, he adjusted his stance and apologized for assuming things. He retracted the strength of his critique and disappointment, and that alone says something about his character regardless of whether or not Calvin’s choice was truly the best decision.
Jason also did well to further engage in dialog and acknowledge that the reasons for cancelling the concert were actually not so clear-cut nor necessarily so deserving of scorn. Calvin may still have made a poor choice, but Jason maintained his integrity and showed his capacity to listen as well as critique.
It is true that this kind of humility and honesty is rare and valuable among not only Christians and bloggers, but among most people. I really appreciate this attitude when I see it, so thank you Jason.

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posted September 30, 2010 at 5:11 am

Unfortunately Calvin has said they are committed to continue booking controversial artist in their line-up.
Spiritually trading: diamonds for pebbles, gold for wood, silver for dross, joy for depression,

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posted October 4, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Perhaps if people complained that they had been deeply wounded by Imamura’s The Pornographers (the bizarre film that inspired the band’s name, which, arguably, isn’t even really about pornography, and certainly isn’t a glorification of it) this would make some sense, but obviously that’s not the case.
Where I disagree the most is the claim Calvin “didn’t take the easy road.” Caving in is always the easy choice, particular when it’s caving into ignorance.
BTW, any outcry at Calvin over the Prince center for those murdered by Blackwater’s founder Erik Prince? Didn’t think so.

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Calvin Alum

posted October 11, 2010 at 9:48 am

I’m not buying it. Your story only makes Calvin look more absurd and frankly WORSE, as if that’s possible. I find this latest excuse completely infuriating. When I was a student at Calvin in the 90s, there were at least two college “academic” events that did knowingly HURT students and community members. In 1993, Calvin invited evangelist David Noebel to give a lecture on homosexuality. His basic premise is that homosexuality is one of society’s “most serious social problems.” Needless to say, his lecture was full of right-wing hate propaganda. Did the college exercise compassion for gay members of its student body and staff? Obviously not. A few years later, the college invited author Charles Murray to give a lecture on his book, “The Bell Curve”– which asserts that some races are inherently inferior to others. When word got out that Calvin had invited a racist to speak at the college’s high profile “January Series,” a small group of concerned students of color tried to stop the event. Calvin said this was an opportunity for dialogue and discussion. The event would not be canceled. Again, the college was not concerned about how this event might deeply hurt vulnerable students and perpetuate the subtle racism already prevalent on the 95-98% white campus.
“Do we listen to the pain of our brothers and sisters in Christ and strive to protect them from additional turmoil?” At the end of the day, Calvin College has always conveniently selected who is worthy of their “Christian compassion”. Pornography victims & abusers, yes, but gays and minorities never.
“I can’t think of a more admirable, honorable, and deeply Christian act.”

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Jason Boyett

posted October 11, 2010 at 11:08 am

@Calvin Alum:
You’re right, of course. Acting with Christian compassion is indeed honorable and admirable, as I said, but if it’s not applied consistently it becomes much less admirable. Because then it looks like favoritism to certain people with issues. I didn’t know about the Noebel or Murray lectures and cannot defend them, other than to say perhaps the administration officials who made the decision in the New Pornographers case weren’t in charge back then. In any case, there’s surely no historical precedent to draw from.

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Trevor Zylstra

posted October 20, 2010 at 6:54 pm

> They made this decision not because anyone feared actual pornography
> would take place on-stage with The New Pornographers, but because
> pornography has wounded the lives of those they loved and they felt it
> was important to acknowledge that. They couldn’t in good conscience
> ignore it.
This excuse is not “in good conscience”. It is namby-pamby, wimpy, not worthy of Calvin. To put it another way, it is lukewarm. If the band is not judged on their merits, but because their name might possibly be misunderstood by people in a way that offends someone somewhere, then no band, no musician, no artist in any medium worthy of the name artist can ever show at Calvin.

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posted March 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm

No further update on this? It’s really hard to take an “anonymous tip” seriously.

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posted August 27, 2011 at 7:29 pm

will not listen to the new pornographers again. no more sweet talk for me. Terrible name for a what i thought was good band. ugh

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