Each of the candidates in training, including Baxter, were given an appointment, with the Transylvania Reformed Global Missions Psychologist, during their orientation week, in order to review the battery of personality tests that they had take before being accepted to TRGM.
When Baxter had received the test 6 months prior he decided to be a little proactive in his test taking. He knew a little bit about these tests having volunteered to be a ‘guinea pig’ for a older friend of his who was doing some Ph.D. work that required her to give some of these same kinds of tests to a control group. She had asked Baxter to be a part of her control group and he, wanting to help her, agreed with the stipulation that she explain to him a little bit how the tests ‘worked.’
“They are really not that difficult Baxter,” she offered when her agreed upon explanation finally came.
“The way these tests work is that they create a standard by compiling and collating responses that are received from those who take the tests. Once the results are compiled and collated those results are reified into numbers and percentages which are made the standard for future tests and test-takers.”
Baxter thought on that for a bit. Finally he responded,
“Doris, do I understand you to mean that it is the responses of people who take the test that end up becoming how average and normal are defined for future people who take the test?”
Doris replied affirmatively and went on to explain,
“Every time the tests are taken by somebody their results become part of the standard for what is being measured. So, for example, should we desire to be looking for obsessive compulsive behavior in people, we would find that in someone by looking at their answers that were in excess to whatever the compiled and collated answers from these tests would tell us.”
Baxter asked, “Doris, what if the tests were taken by a culture that was largely obsessive compulsive?”
“Well, I guess that nobody would be discovered to be obsessive compulsive then,” she replied.
“What if the tests were taken by a culture that was largely dysfunctional,” Baxter pressed.
“Baxter, I know what you’re getting at,” Doris replied. “This test does not provide answers that are anchored in absolutes. The norm in these tests is sliding according to those who take the test.”
Baxter repeated himself, “Doris, what if the tests were taken by a culture that was largely dysfunctional?”
“Well, I would think that normal people would be found to be abnormal since the norm would be established by the abnormal,” Doris finally answered.
“Thanks Doris,” Baxter said. “One more question Doris. As someone who is interested in this psychology stuff can you explain to me how this methodology doesn’t replace God’s Word as the standard with Man’s tests responses as the standard via his collective responses? In these tests we have gone from God’s Word the standard to man the standard. I mean God didn’t take the test and yet this methodology acts as if he did.”
“Baxter, that’s not a question,” said Doris, “that is a accusation.”
“And a damn good one” Baxter thought.
“It sure doesn’t seem like this psychology stuff has come a long way since it began by feeling the bumps on people’s heads,” Baxter said as he took his leave of Doris.
When Baxter had received the tests from TRGM he decided that he might be better safe than sorry about the results, since he had heard more then one horror story about people being rejected for the mission field due to their psychological tests results, so he visited a pagan friend of his across the street who worked as a Pharmaceutical Engineer at Pfizer and asked his buddy if he would take the psychological tests for Baxter under Baxter’s name.
Baxter’s neighbor loved to operate on a quid pro quo basis and so he asked Baxter,
“What will you give me?”
“Will a couple of six-packs be enough incentive,” Baxter asked.
“Sure,” Marc replied. “Should I take those tests before or after I polish off the six-packs” he asked capriciously.
“Better take them afterwards” Baxter said. “It’ll make for better test scores.”
The next day Baxter dropped off the tests with his name and information on it already filled out along with a couple six-packs of Budweiser.
Baxter knew that Marc was an unbeliever. He had spoke many times to Marc about Marc’s harem of revolving girlfriends and had warned him that all those uppers that Marc took to keep going were eventually going to catch up with him. Marc hadn’t yet hit the wall of his sin but Baxter knew the time was coming when Marc would be willing to listen to him with more interest. Until that time Baxter kept up a sincere friendship.
Baxter figured, given Doris’ explanation about the tests, that a comparatively well adjusted pagan like Marc would score better on these exams then somebody like himself who was really quite counter-cultural.
And so on the day after Baxter had given him the tests Marc showed up with both the completed tests and the Bud empties to return. As he handed the tests and the empties to Baxter, Marc offered;
“That was a strange test.”
Baxter smiled, took the completed tests and the empties from Marc, and good naturedly said, “Yeah, I know, that’s why I asked you to take it.”
They both had a good laugh and Marc soon left. Baxter grabbed the TRGM envelope stuffed the completed tests in and after applying the proper postage dropped it in the mailbox.
Now, 6 months later, the time of truth had arrived. Baxter showed up at the TRGM Shrink’s door at the appointed hour. He was tempted to stretch out on the couch but he figured the Shrink had probably had that gag pulled on him a thousand times.
Dr. Darryl Meanswell opened their time together with a word of prayer. Upon saying ‘Amen’ he opened up their conversation with small talk asking how Baxter was doing at orientation. Baxter hit all the proper reply buttons and things were going smoothly.
Dr. Meanswell, said, “Baxter, I wish we had more time to go over these tests more thoroughly but since we are on a schedule I think we need to get down to business.”
Meanswell continued, “There is nothing in your tests that serves as a red flag to us that would prohibit you from serving on the Mission field with TRGM. The tests seem to indicate that you function well.” You seem to have a real affection for people…”
Here Baxter smiled and envisioned all the affection that Marc had for all those revolving women.
“And the tests seems to indicate you have boundless energy…”
Baxter could barely contain himself as he recalled Mr. Upper’s (Marc’s) 24-7 schedule.
Meanswell paused, and asked Baxter, “Does that sound like you Son?”
Baxter barely had enough energy to reply, “Yes sir it does.”
Finally, Dr. Meanswell, pointed out the bar on the test that indicated Baxter’s high intelligence, and said, “Baxter, the Mission field needs smart people. You’ll be a real asset.”
Baxter always knew that Marc didn’t get to be a Pharmaceutical engineer by watching the three stooges, but he also figured his plan to have Marc take the psychological tests was its own unique stroke of genius.
“These tests never miss,” replied Dr. Meanswell. “I don’t know how the church operated without them all these years.”
“Hard to believe, isn’t it Doc,” said Baxter.
Meanswell spent the rest of the time talking about some predilections that tests had pointed out that Baxter should beware of about himself. Baxter, compliantly agreed with each one.
Soon the shrink time was over and Dr. Meanswell dismissed Baxter.
Baxter, left, looking forward to telling his non-Christian friend Marc how ready for the Mission field he was.