trains preachers of the Gospel, as understoodnby Dr. Bob, and it trainsnthem well, by its own lights, offeringncourses even in “missionary aviation.”nBJU-trained missionaries—flying andnearthbound — have extended thenschool’s reputation to some of the leastnhospitable corners of the globe.nBob Jones calls itself the “World’snMost Unusual University” (its radionstation is WMUU), and it may benright. Although it has a very Southernnflavor to it, the school has litfle to donwith the middle-sized Southern city innwhich it is located (and one gathers ^nthat both BJU and Greenville prefer it ‘nthat way). Visitors are welcome, althoughnthey must pass a guardhouse atnthe entrance to campus. Smoking isnforbidden, obviously. A discreet signnon the museum states that modestndress is required. (Fair enough: I’venseen similar signs in Orthodox Jewishnneighborhoods.)nWhen I visited Bob Jones one afternoonnlast winter, it was like steppingnthrough a time warp, back to a 1957nthat never really was. Although I was,nas a matter of fact, in the company ofnan interracial couple (Caucasian-nOriental), I don’t think we drew anyndisapproving glances on that score.nBut I was self-conscious for the firstntime in years about my modest crop ofnfacial hair.nThe dominant first impression ofnBJU students is one of healthy vigor:nfor boys, the muscular Christiannmode; for girls, the perky style I alwaysnassociate with cheerleaders. Closer examinationnreveals a pretty full complementnof tubby late-adolescents andnpimply ectomorphs, but these actualnphysical facts are effectively disguisednby a stern dress code. Young men mustnwear coats and ties, often suits. Youngnwomen wear over-the-knee skirts thatnlook weirdly sexy to anyone who was anteenaged boy 30 years ago. I amntold — I hope it’s true — that BobnJones women were forbidden to wearnmakeup until that became a mark ofnthe counterculture, whereupon theynwere required to wear it. I do knownthat BJU now offers instruction inn”cosmetology.”nAll students of both sexes are earnestnin appearance and restrained in demeanor.nMany look like the kind whonwould tell you that they have nothingnagainst good, clean fun. They looknready—even eager—to help the visitornwith directions, physical or spiritual,nor to explain why Billy Graham is anrenegade. Surely some students arenthere grumpily, because their parentsnthought it would be good for them, butnthey cannot be detected on sight—andnprobably a good thing for them, too.nThe school’s campus is modern, notnto say moderne—much of it in yellownbrick, late art deco. It is intensivelynlandscaped and largely maintained bynstudents. Boys are allowed to wearnblue jeans while gardening, althoughnit looked to me as if few choose to donso.nThe university is justiy proud of itsnmuseum of religious art, twenty-oddnrooms of it. Some of it is very finenindeed: we’re not talking about LastnSupper bedspreads here. All of the artnis old and European, which is to saynPapist. Some of the martyrs depictednlook even less comfortable than usual,nwhich I attribute to their incongruousnsetting. Ian Paisley must have beennalmost as pained himself at all thenreliquaries and portraits of bishops.nThe bookstore, nearby, offers thenusual assortment of T-shirts, mugsn(coffee, not beer), pennants, and souvenirs,nas well as some Most Unusualnbooks. One examines Satanism in rocknmusic. Another, called A ChurchnBuilt on Sand, condemns the liberalismnof the Southern Baptist Convention.nThe cover shows a church (with anmore than incidental similarity to thenSouthern Baptist church across thenroad from the BJU guardhouse) sinkingninto quicksand.nAcross from the bookstore is anothernlarge building, with an enormousnroom on the second floor filled withndozens of sofas. It is used for “dating,”nwhich means sitting and conversing,nunder supervision. When I was there,na handwritten sign announced “NonDating Friday Afternoon.” The roomnwas empty.nIn the same building is a state-ofthe-artnmultimedia center (excuse thenexpression), which offers daily presentationsnfor prospective students andndonors. My friends and I were neither,nbut went anyway. The production (bynthe BJU media department) is verynimpressive, very flashy, very wellnthought-out. Like the aviation courses,nit forcibly reminded me that BJU’snattitude toward the I980’s is not simplynnnadversarial. Bob Jones people are notnrigid traditionalists like the Amish.nIndeed, it may be a mistake to think ofnthem as traditionalists at all. It takes anlot of money to run a show like this,nfor instance, and BJU obviously has it,neven after taxes. A loyal constituencynhelps, of course, but so does modernnmanagement and the whole apparatusnof modern marketing, direct mail, andnall the rest. Old wine, perhaps, butnvery new bottles.nNo, the school admits modernity,nbut wants it selectively, and on its ownnterms. It does seem to regard the outsidenworld with considerable suspicion,nand vice versa. Not surprisingly,nthere is something of a fortress atmospherenabout BJU, and, for whatevernreason, many outsiders profess to findnthe place somewhat frightening. Thenmultimedia presentation has an oddnemphasis on how efficient campus securitynis; across town, at (SouthernnBaptist) Furman University, the folklorenamong liberal faculty membersnhas it that BJU is stockpiling arms.nI gather that the school did apply,nunsuccessfully, for permission to armnits campus police with automaticnweapons, and a conspiracy theoristnmight speculate about the connectionnbetween this alleged passion for weaponrynand the school’s links to thenProtestants of Ulster.nIt seems to me, though, that thosenwho find BJU scary tend to be liberalnProtestants, perhaps especially Baptists,nwho fear that they see in it thendark side of their own tradition. Annoutsider like me can look at it with angood deal more equanimity and, fromna distance, I find it an interesting andncolorful tile in the American mosaic.nUp close, it is, at worst, unpleasantn—and no more so than any othernexclusivist sectarian community. BobnJones poses no clear and present dangernto constitutional government orncivil disorder. Among its supporters,nthe rank and file, at least, are utterlynsincere in their beliefs and give up angreat deal in consequence. These are anstiff-necked people, and a peculiarnone, but admirable in some ways.nI don’t think they have the answer.nBut they’re not the problem. ccnJohn Shelton Reed has been writing anhook on Victorian Anglo-Catholicismnfor far too long.nMAY 1986/51n