by Sasha Tremento
The Reverend Lowry Jenkins, president of Shepherd’s Field College in Pallamie, Alabama, is also director of the Creationism Alliance, which for a decade has pressed for Creationism to be presented along with evolution in K-12 and college science curricula as a viable and respected theory. Yesterday, however, at a specially called assembly, he revealed that his activism was staged as an elaborate piece of performance art.
Jenkins told stunned faculty and many of the small rural college’s 1,800 students that he was actually a performance artist named Gregory Blanchard, from Babylon Town on Long Island. Prior to getting his divinity degree and MBA, the NYU theater graduate worked, Jenkins said, as an actor, nude model, filmmaker, and performance artist. The Creationism Alliance has raised $15-million, most of it channeled toward legal fees in curricular and textbook-content battles around the country.
Jenkins said of those contributions, “That’s okay. Religion is all art, so I just think of the money I’ve helped raise as support for an elaborate millenia-old creative cooperative with a bold, somewhat hallucinogenic vision. It’s in constructive tension with science and breeds what I consider to be an inspirational set of neuroses.”
Jenkins’s career as a minister and college administrator, who quickly rose through the Shepherd’s Field academic ranks, was a piece of “life art,” he explained, “blending Stanislavskian praxis and performative contextual resonance” into “an extended experiential reference magnet.”
He did it, he said, to complete his doctorate in theater at the San Francisco College of Theater and Dance.
“This is first rate,” said his dissertation adviser, Bill Shandlin. “And Greg-O filmed it, of course, and kept extensive journals, so I think the documentation will be quite riveting.”
“I’m stunned, I’m speechless,” said Charlene Burns, president of the Shepherd’s Field board of overseers, which has scheduled an emergency meeting for this Friday. “He was so charismatic in the pulpit, his sermons so heartfelt. He spoke to so many associations and at so many campuses. How could he have done so without really believing what the Bible says about the earth’s origins, and man’s.”
“It’s not that I don’t believe in Creationism,” Jenkins explained to puzzled reporters following the assembly. “I believe in it as a belief, and what’s real is what’s real to those who perceive reality in the ether of their shared cognitive dissemblances.
“While decade upon decade upon decade of thorough and expansive empirical research has confirmed the validity of evolution beyond any iota of a rational doubt, the irrationality of Creationist belief is a rationality unto itself, a gorgeous and dignified construct of intellectual materials at once soluble and impervious. That’s what the whole piece was getting at. I’m sure some here at Shepherd’s Field, whom I have considered and will always consider not just dear friends but fellow artists, will be disappointed in me. But I think that soon they’ll start to understand the nature of the piece and its beauty.”
“I’m trying to think Christian thoughts here,” said Marissa Charney, a sophomore at Shepherd’s Field. “He’s so convincing in his sermons about hellfire and the abyss, I haven’t figured out yet if God’s mission for him is to warn us of that abyss or to fall into it as an example.”
“I think we’ll all pray on this,” said Greg Mordem, a senior and the student government president, “and look for the lessons to be learned.”