Thursday, October 29, 2009

Faithful Education

So I'm using "Taste and See" by John Piper for my devotionals, similar to how I've used Andrew Murray's "Waiting on God" and "Abide in Christ" which I've referenced on here a few times. Today, I read an short piece on Christian education. This is something that fascinates me, mostly because I can see it only from the outside as a Penn State student. However, it rings true, even for some that I've seen come through Christian elementary and highschools or even through the homeschooling world. I keep asking myself what it is that helps or hinders a student via an education clearly stacked toward raising kids into solid, faithful, Christian adults. That question is still relevant at a state school where we either box off our education from our spiritual lives (an "effective", but very shallow technique) or we have to daily wrestle to gain a Christian education, a truthful education in the midst of being lied to. In either place it takes constant supervision. But is it worse for the fish in the water to not appreciate it or the fish in pollution to know the value of water? Oho! Now there is an awkward metaphor for you!

Some excerpts and quoted texts from the devotional:

James Davison Hunter from his book "Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation"

We can see the multiple ironies of Christian higher education. On the one hand, Christian higher education historically evolved into precisely the opposite of what it was supposed to be, that is, into bastions of secularity if not anti-Christian sentiment. Contemporary Christian higher education, on the other hand, produces the unintended consequences of being counterproductive to its own objectives, that is, it produces individual Christians who are either less certain of their attachments to the traditions of their faith or altogether disaffected from them. Education, to the degree that it is not indoctrination, weakens the tenacity with which Evangelicals hold on to their worldview. In sum, the Evangelical education creates its own contaminating effects. And the more Christian higher education professionalizes and bureaucratizes (that is, the more it models itself institutionally after secular higher education), the more likely this process will become.

John Piper's thoughts:

Faith is destroyed when little academic minds and little hearts for God niggle away at magnificent and precious realities with no remorse...when there is no great love for God and His Word and no great passion to see the truth of God magnified and defended with profound credibility and authenticity...when faculty demonstrate their academic standing not in the really great and difficult task of constructive explication and justification of truth, but in the simple and adolescent task of deconstruction and cynicism.

Oof. That last part strikes home when I consider some of the professors I have sat under and am currently sitting under. Since I'm not a professor, nor am like to be one, I question this entirely as a student trying to take responsibility for my education. It becomes my task then as a student to do what I can to employ effective and faithful "constructive explication and justification of truth" in all my work. Confession: it is so much easier to do the latter. It can even be more fun to walk around feeling very proud of oneself in a cynical and deconstructive manner. Very humbling. Very challenging.

I think there are many other angles from which to develop this topic. Thoughts? Please be long winded. I'm a fan on long winded as long as it make sense.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Currently listening to: a playlist I made of folkish music (Jake Armerding, Sandra McCracken, Derek Webb, various Maryn songs, and one Fellowship of the Ring)

Currently watching: the tree between me and Nittany Mountain turn bright organge and yellow

Currently reading: too much.

Currently: behind on blogging.

I haven't died, contrary to Gretchen and Jen's opinion (though they saw me this past weekend so I'd hope that they stopped worrying!). Rather, life continues at the break neck pace it adopted day 1 of school. I've been hoping that things would "slow down" enough to justify posting but it never happened. Therefore, I must post without justification. Here, I hope to give you some updates on various activities and madness and also ask for prayer in these things that are running mad in the wake of things I've been processing since Beach Project.

(Why does it take so long to process summers and major life events? I suppose that is rather like asking why gravity comes from a spinning earth. And if you can answer that question, I probably don't want to know. It is more fun to make up reasons)

Resident Assistant:
My floor has kept their minds in order this year and no violent illnesses have occurred! Compared to last year at this time (when I had called 911 three times), I find this a great improvement. I'm still learning how to do this whole RA thing though. It is hard to remember my desire to see my job as a give and take relationship like a host, offering hospitality to my 54 students. I don't know all of them well at all and never see some of them. On my wing of the L I supervise, the girls seem to be interacting more than last year which is fun. They are all in the grips of midterms, so pray that they survive and don't kill each other in the process. I'm also struggling to find spaces to interact with the other RAs in. I like them a lot but have done a poor job of befriending them as I should. It is a strong group and I see them being fantastic leaders and teaching me so much, even though most of them are new and I'm the old hand!

This year, I've been leading a very small Bible Study in my room with girls from the South area. Kadi and Sang, friends from the past two years, are coleading with me and doing an amazing job with it. I've learned much from their response to the trial and tribulations of slim to none attendance and juggling many responsibilities. Being forced into the book of John has been wonderful, similar to my experience leading on Exodus this summer. Many "aha!" moments have continued in that respect. Leading a study is an art that none of us are great at but trying to improve. Sometimes, it feels like a very large rock being pushed up a very large hill. Pray that doors start opening here and that the few girls we have will find connections in Navs as a whole as well. Also, I'm meeting with Barb Baldner, a Nav staffer, each Wednesday for discipleship. This then is going to be turned around when I start discipling a student this week. The one on one relationships I have had since coming to school have been the most significant learning times and being able to start this training with a freshman (and a wva alum!) is incredible.

Theological Thursdays:
So these are more laid back, but some guys started it last year and it ended up in my room. Now we meet Thursday nights at the Duplex to talk out our faith, particularly how it applies to our lives at Penn State-- which, of course, is really us talking about life. Penn State isn't too different from the "real world" in many senses, but it is helpful to talk about these things in our Penn State culture and then look at it in a bigger picture. So far we've covered things from evangelism to church worship to homosexuality and gender roles to the "christian ghetto" we make for ourselves.

School Itself:
Good. Bad. Ugly. Fantastic. Stretching. Miserable. It varies, to say the least. On the bright side, I'm in two classes that are teaching me a great deal: fiction writing and disability theory. They are nothing alike but each is acting as a catalyst for a lot of other growing in my life. The other three aren't so grand at times, particularly "critical reading" which someone misnamed because it is encouraging "mindless theory non-application". Boo. But then again, even the more disappointing classes have forced me to do some serious double study. By this, I mean that I do some outside work for each course but this time using a Christian source for it. This not so often contradicts what I am learning, but brings it to life, shows me its usefulness, and where I'm not getting the complete story. This also means that if you walk into my room, the book shelf is literally spewing its contents around the room. I'm at least part way into most of them, which means I haven't completed a read in a looooooonng time. Perhaps after the semester ends, I can catch up on some of the fun reading and exult in the semi-completion of the library books. And praying for thesis stuff to fall into place would be much appreciated. It is being very unwieldy right now and has a deadline of Nov 6 to abide by.

Gretchen and the Shining Light Folks are amazing.

(This is the link to see the film of the Romeo and Juliet production I saw last week. It was fantastic and well worth watching)

Other (Concluding) Aside:
This day is too beautiful to be inside. I'm going to bike to the library at the very least before duty tonight and firedrills.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 10 by Wendell Berry

Now constantly there is the sound,
quieter than rain,
of the leaves falling.

Under their loosening bright
gold, the sycamore limbs
bleach whiter.

Now the only flowers
are beeweed and aster, spray
of their white and lavender
over the brown leaves.

The calling of a crow sounds
loud—a landmark—now
that the life of summer falls
silent, and the nights grow.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Through Miriam's Travel's

I have decided. I have decided by way of Miriam Eagleson sending me pictures and short emails about her trip to the North West and visiting Portland and Powell's (a book store that is five stories high and three city blocks long) and seeing mountains what I am going to do with my life after graduation. I have decided...

... that if all else fails, I will go live in Portland and work at Powell's.

A city of books. In Portland, in the valleys in sight of the great mountains, with water running through it. So amazing. I miss it even after only two hours in it two summers ago.

(At least SOMETHING has been accomplished in my hours of wasted time in Websters, the State College bookstore, today!)