Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Radical Reality Rally

Our school was offered a free rally by the Stockton-based organization Radical Reality. The rally was designed to be a life-affirming, positive experience that incorporated demonstrations of strength and martial arts into a narrative of life lessons.

Our school has declined this offer. I agree with this, but not for the reason cited. See, I think there's enough self-esteem "stuff" out there for our students. And I don't believe in one-time-only programs like this any more than I support one-time-only staff development speakers. Such things can be enjoyable and perhaps entertaining, but 20 minutes later are forgotten. To have more than a fleeting impact there needs to be a larger, longer-term program in place.

But that's not why our school turned it down. No, we have faculty members who are concerned about a possible "hidden message" in the presentation because of Radical Reality's "affiliation with a religious organization". I discussed this with a fellow teacher and we came up with the following two points:

1. If the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wanted to hold a rally, our lefties would probably support it in the name of "diversity training".
2. Heaven forbid that a peaceful God promoting self-esteem and brotherhood with all people be presented in any way near a public school.

What is the "religious affiliation"? RR's founder was the chaplain of the Oakland A's. He worked with the Power Team, a group (using similar feats of athletic prowess) whose performance I was compelled to attend one morning while in the Army. Learn more about the founder and RR here.


steve-o said...

See, I think there's enough self-esteem "stuff" out there for our students. And I don't believe in one-time-only programs like this any more than I support one-time-only staff development speakers.

--> Roger. Regardless of the purpose or motives, these things are rarely worth the admissions fee. My office sent me to a $400 seminar with Zig Zigler and gang. Very funny, lots of good quips, left me energized and ready to take on the world... for about five minutes.

Darren said...

To agree with a commenter on my follow-on post, I've always said this:

Self-esteem is the *result* of achievement, not the cause of it.

Phyllis S said...

Excellent book on this topic-Coach, by Michael Lewis. And just FYI, the 'Wrestling for Jesus' team is coming to my town's fall festival in September. Yes, 'Wrestling for Jesus'. I'm not joking.

Darren said...

You seem surprised, Phyllis. I'm not sure that there are too many activities that are prima facie bad. As a result, most anything can be done with the goal of glorifying God.

Hey, even Satan's music has a strong Christian segment now! Christians--co-opting all the good stuff since AD 29!

Phyllis S said...

Not surpised or think it's bad. Their name is just so...stereotypical southern joke punchline material that I wanted folks to know it was real. Doesn't excuse the case of the silly giggles I was overcome with when informed of their existence, but then, that's my path to Hell.

Darren said...

My path: I thought the movie Saved was hilarious!

Phyllis S said...

Saved was a totally brilliant movie. I even liked the Home Alone kid in it.

Anonymous said...

You think that because there is a "hidden" message behind what Radical Reality does that it's a reason to make fun of what they do, then you are all ridiculous. Have you ever attended an assembly? They are powerful, and not just because its a "say no to drugs and gangs" but because they share about how they came out of shady places and made something positive out of their lives. And the "church" service is optional. They are not shoving it down students' throats. None of you have any right to say anything. All your dumb comments are due to ignorance. You don't know what you're protesting.

Darren said...

I wrote this post over a year ago, and today--11/14/06--I get the comment above.

Anonymous commenter--to whom are you addressing your comment? No one who wrote hear disparaged Radical Reality at all. Who exactly is the "you" you refer to?

Please *read* the posts before you comment on them. It makes for a more pleasurable experience for all of us.

Dean Baird said...

Sorry to be so tardy on commenting...

There was nothing hidden about Radical Reality's message when they visited Rio in the 1990s. After the big show, students referred to the assembly as "breaking bricks for Jesus." Those clever kids saw right through stealth proselytizing.

Radical Reality kinda blew their cover when they publicly invited Rio's public school student body to an "even better show" to be held that evening in a local church. (Shall we ponder the nature of *that* spectacle?) They proceeded to push fliers for the Christian program into students' hands as the assembly was dismissed.

By its own public admission, Radical Reality is an "evangelistic ministry." The only "hidden message" involved is that they don't state their true nature when trying to book themselves into public schools. Radical Reality is on a mission from God. I wish them well, but they're not welcome to promote Christianity at my public school.

And I'll say that my efforts in keeping Radical Reality away from a second appearance at Rio are something I'm proud of. I was happy to give the heads-up to the school's administration. None of them were at Rio when RR blindsided the school in the 90s. I was merely acting as institutional memory.

Some parents found out about the issue (not from me directly) and took up the cause at the district level. I don't know if they succeeded in banning RR from other district schools.

A colleague in Wisconsin just put the kibosh on a similar group's effort to proselytize at the public schools in his area.

Oh, and though you clearly enjoyed a fantasy about what would happen if an Islamic group tried to hold a similar rally, methinks you know me well enough to know I would have taken similar measures against them. Of course if they were as stealthy as RR, they might slip past me once. Radical Reality did.

But you know there's an old saying at Rio. "Fool me once, shame on--shame on you. Fool me--you can't get fooled again!"

Anonymous said...

listen whehter its a self esteem seminar or not, radical reality should be in every school in the world. There message is simple and powerful. i am a product of that team. They challenge people not motivate them.

Anonymous said...

I personally enjoyed RR.
Students don't have to go to the church program if they don't want to. They teach life lessons to kids, and the kids love it themselves

Anonymous said...

Everybody always says RR is a threat to schools and students.
The church programs are optional and nobody is forced to go. Also, RR focuses on teenagers. At this age, kids could make their own decisions. They could chose whether or not to believe what RR says. But it's definately not a bad thing to watch them. They DO give good advice to kids in everyday life. Either way, the kids get something good from it. (entertainment + good life advice)
definately a must see

cammy said...

I just came upon this site for your comments to RR. I was one of those who came out of this ministry. You said that there's enough self-esteem stuff out there. Well, if there was then how come we have, teens committing sucide, having sex, doing drugs, getting drunk until seriously sick, 12 and 14 yr.olds and up raping young girls and young men or even children being kidnapped. You say that they have a hidden agenda. Well, so be it, because it brings hope to a very sick generation that has homeless, fatherless, drug using mothers and needs hope and answers where I don't see any one else giving answers. If their message brings hope to a dying world, then what is wrong with that? If it helps someone to stop doing drugs, quit drinking, stop raping and have hope, how is this wrong? If it's because it is also offered in a church, then you have missed the point that everyone has an agenda. The question you should be asking is,"Is this going to change someone's life for the better?" Will this keep another person of the streets and out of prison? These are the questions you should be asking. Is the end result better for a hurting person? By at least one person like myself being affected by this ministry, I stayed away from the very things that hurt people and was able to be a productive person in society, because of the hope of JESUS(yes, there's that taboo word) and now my children are the next generation that will have something to offer. Don't be the one to stand in the way of someone else receiving healing and hope and having a destiny. Let people have a free choice to choose what they want to with the information they receive. That's a Republic. Don't make the the choices for them-whether they should hear this message or not-that's Communism. I encourage you to help someone find their destiny in life not hinder it!

Darren said...

Cammy, it would be helpful if you would:

1) Be clear who or what you're addressing,
2) use some paragraphs, and
3) use a little more logic and a lot less emotionalism to make your point.

Doing these things would have the following benefits:

1) make it easier to understand your point, if you have one, and
2) make it easier to take you seriously.

Amazing. Today's 7/8/07 and I received/replied to Cammy's comment today.

Ben said...

I would like to comment on your implication in the original post that the "religious affiliation" of RR is something innocuous. It's clear from the other comments that RR's affiliations go far beyond the founder's previous work history. For crying out loud, they close their assemblies by inviting kids to see them at church!

I don't doubt that your school might welcome a speaker from CAIR, but I strongly doubt that the speaker would try to convert your students or recruit them to a worship service.

Your "heaven forbid" comment is meant to be sarcastic, but I whole-heartedly agree with it. I have no problem presenting self-esteem and brotherhood at a public school. I do have a problem presenting "a peaceful God" who represents those values at a public school. And I have a much bigger problem with organizations that not only present that God, but actively seek to convert students into worshippers of that God.

Public schools are not the place to win souls for the Lord.

Amanda said...

I know every RR member personally. I have been to countless assembly's and services.

They without a doubt have an incredible message, albeit at this point somewhat dated. I think its something kids should hear.

However, they should not solicit their CHRISTIAN assembly's to their high school audience. I, for one, am a Christian. Donnie Moore and the gang are from my Home Church, however. I would be deeply offended if my kid came up to me and said "mommy, this guy told me to go here if I wanted MORE self esteem."

The two need to be completely separate. Bait and switch techniques are sneaky.

Anonymous said...

What if your Child was making choices that would directly effect the safety and well being of their lives in the near future. I would greatly value a program that could share personal experiences of the dangers of those choices. I have personally experienced these school talks and seen first hands the choice changes students have made because of these stories.
The reality is this: More good is done by these than any harm ever.