Louisiana College: Learning from Star Wars

Darth HankinsOne of my favorite events that I organized when I was at Louisiana College was a panel on the Philosophy & Theology of Star Wars. We had a panel with two theology professors, a history professor, and me. We discussed the Philosophy of Star Wars (which often is not consistent with Biblical theology) and then watched the movies all night long. It was a good exercise in how to think through the philosophy presented in popular culture. Over the last month I have been thinking about Star Wars, especially episodes 1-3. Those movies are really about the struggle of good and evil and the political maneuvering of the evil Sith. All throughout the movies the Sith Lord is manipulating the political scene. There is also in each movie a “public” face of the Sith.

One of my favorite quotes in the first movie is from Padme who, while in the senate chamber, says, “This is how liberty dies… to thunderous applause.” This speaks to an important truth. Evil often manipulates the situation so that people excitedly think they are doing the right thing. I can’t help but think of when Joe Aguillard was made President of Louisiana College. Most the conservatives of the state felt that a great victory had been won. Aguillard has been seen as a sort of Messianic figure for Louisiana College. Even as proof of his misappropriation of funds, forged documents, vindictiveness, and covering up alcohol, drugs, pornography, and sexual misconduct has come available, many people still see him as a hero of this war. But, in Star Wars, Count Dooku was the general who led the war. Ultimately, he died. Be the real power behind the Sith was Darth Sidious who later became the Emperor. He deftly manipulated the situation without anyone knowing it was him until it was too late. I think that is exactly what David Hankins has tried to do.

It was clear last year when Joe Aguillard was near termination that he survived only because of the direct influence of the Louisiana (Southern) Baptist Convention Executive Director, David Hankins, who has continued to solidly support him until last week. Hankins supported Aguillard despite the evils and abuses that have been so clearly documented. Hankins was quoted last year as saying, “Dr. Aguillard will remain president unless he is caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.” He should have added to that, “or unless he speaks ill of me.”

Last week Dr. Hankins found out that Dr. Chuck Quarles was not bluffing when he wrote a letter to the LC Board of Trustees claiming that he had recordings. (Read here) In the recordings, which were reported on by the Town Talk, Aguillard contradicts his public argument that there was a Calvinist conspiracy. He claims that Hankins was trying to push an anti-calvinist agenda and that Hankin’s views were “Bizarre.” The letter, which the recordings verify, show an Aguillard who is scheming against Hankins and involved in deceptive political machinations. Aguillard believes Hankins to be lying about certain issues and wants to catch him in those lies. But, they also show that Aguillard believes Hankins to be after his job and that Hankins wants his son Eric to become president of the College.

Once Hankins found out that the recordings which verified these claims existed, he turned on Joe. The reports were that a small “nuclear explosion” went off in the Baptist building and that Hankins immediately made calls demanding Aguillard’s resignation. Ultimately, Hankins was willing to over look all sorts of ethical issues but he could not handle the disloyalty and disrespect of Aguillard.

But, don’t forget, in the coming weeks that Hankins has been the quiet power behind Aguillard. Even if it is true that Hankins was scheming against Aguillard, he was also supporting him. It is similar to how, in Star Wars, the Emperor was supporting Count Dooku while he was trying to recruit Anakin Skwalker, who eventually became Darth Vadar. The Emperor stood by while he encouraged Anakin to kill Dooku.  In 2011, Hankins wrote a letter to the Town Talk which countered my open letter, of course without ever mentioning my name, but it was almost point for point. In 2013, he called an out-of-state college to try to get them to quiet a faculty member who was speaking against Aguillard. He also put pressure on pastors in the LC Board which eventually led to Aguillard’s “exoneration.” He was on the committee that investigated Aguillard yet, curiously, refused to hear the testimony of either of the whistle blowers. He knew about the Joseph Cole hotel incident cover-up. This year he continued to support Aguillard. He has been hand-in-hand with Aguillard’s evil. It seems that in 2013 Hankins and Aguillard made an alliance about fighting Calvinism which saved Aguillard’s job despite his ethical failings.

When it comes to the LC Presidency Hankins has consistently failed to do the right thing. So, treat the symptom. Aguillard must go. But, there is a deeper cause. Don’t let the infection fester.

Rondall Reynoso

Rondall is an artist, scholar, and speaker. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. He holds an MFA in Painting and an MS in Art History from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY and is completing a Ph.D. in Art History and Aesthetics from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.

Pin It on Pinterest