geezeronthequad: So It Begins…
U-Haul drop offs clog parking lots. The stock in the parent company that owns Ramen noodles is spiking and should remain so for the next six or seven months. Buy now and sell in the spring along with your used books. Incoming freshmen stare at that first pile of books like the apes gawking at the monolith in “2001: a Space Odyssey.” Freshmen dorms in another time zone and latitude fill up with 400-500 strangers. Don’t worry though. C-47’s will transport to drop zones near the center of campus. Maybe buses if our school is in financial crunch. What can it all mean?
Colleges start another year and students have been dump zones for tons of advice on how to do well, make the most of the experience, etc. Much of this will be ignored only to be discovered in retro that some of it was pretty good. I would have studied more; learned to think better. Spending a minute or two with Matthew Lee Anderson or Tim Darymple will be good medicine somewhere down the road. Even if we don’t take their advice, we can pass it along and impress others with how insightful we are since these guys are sharp.
I can’t resist sharing a little of my own. Let me introduce Henry Venn, a pastor in England who, in 1777, sent his son, John, off as a new student at Cambridge University. His advice? “Rise early. Shun idleness. Read the Bible with prayer. Take care that your bed be thoroughly dry and lay for the first night in your waistcoat, breeches and stockings. Don’t let spiritual immaturity make you arrogant or excessive. Be chaste, sober and humble. Keep a diary. Study standing up. And every other morning attend your mouth and clean it well with snuff, which I find of great service to my teeth.” Doesn’t that just say it all? How could I add anything to that?
Just a couple of things to tuck away. It’s almost a lock that we will be doing a paper or two. When that happens, we should make every attempt to integrate our classwork with our faith both as a witness to our profs and to do some push-ups with our brains that will deepen us. When crunch time to submit that topic for approval draws near, you might want to take a look here, here, here, and here.
You’ll need some crash, let down, mental rest, unwind, take a break kind of things where you can pull away from the books and lose yourself. Here are a couple of ideas if we’d like to keep our brain purring on low idle while we do it. “Be Thinking” and “Theology Network” both come from InterVarsity in the UK. Not stuffy at all and a sharp take that differs from North America as the UK is more strongly steeped in postmodernism, secularism and pluralism. But we’re moving right along in the same direction. For those of us of a somewhat satirical bent who could use some community who agree that parts of our faith are more than a little weird, I introduce the gang at shipoffools.com. Think Monty Python geeks who love Jesus. THAT should draw in a few of us. For those of us who remember The Wittenberg Door (“The Door” for hardcores), meet their cousins.
A couple of recreational reads. “Surprised by Oxford” by Carolyn Weber talks about a student whom Jesus irresistibly draws to Himself in grad school at Oxford. With all the hand wringing about how the university is death to faith (It can be.), I love it when someone stands up and shouts that Jesus Christ loves the campus. Jesus Christ hasn’t forsaken the university; Christians have surrendered the field. The deeper the darkness, the brighter His light shines.
Read number two – a fiction called “The Veritas Conspiracy” by Shaunti Feldhahn. It’s about a Christian freshman at Harvard and how she gets caught up in much bigger things than she expected while struggling to just get started in college. Shaunti is a Harvard grad who gets the campus vibe just right. The Christian group rings true with what’s out there and the rest of the characters run true to type and seem real. Spiritual warfare is written about more intelligently than in many other Christian books – more subtle and nuanced with a bigger Kingdom picture in mind. Much fiction on spiritual warfare is cartoonish – not here. There are professors in league with the evil one (Some of us might have thought this in rash moments.) and there are students demonized as well (I can guarantee that more than a few profs have wondered about this.) A reader will come away with more than a good read.
Her book “The Lights of Tenth Street” could be a parable of the evils of sex slavery and abuse, such a passion with many students today. Many Christians know sexual abuse and its fallout. “Tenth Street” is good medicine. Read it and you will know exactly who to share it with. Both of Shaunti’s books can be scored on the cheap at Amazon. And now for some final words from a couple of old dogs. First, A.E. Whitman.
“If you knew that there was One greater than yourself, Who knows you better than you can know yourself, and loves you better than you can love yourself, Who can make you all you ought to be, steadier than your squalid nature, able to save you from squandering your glorious life, Who searches you beyond the standards of earth…One Who gathered into Himself all great and good things and causes, blending into His beauty all the enduring color of life, Who could turn your dreams into visions, and make real the things you hoped were true, and if that One had ever done one unmistakable thing to prove, even at the price of blood – His own blood – that you could come to Him, and having failed, come again. Would you not fall at His feet with the treasure of your years, your powers, service and love? And is there not one such (Jesus), and does He not call you?”
And Philips Brooks (my caps and note) –
“The great hunger everywhere is for life. All things are reaching up towards it. All living things are craving an increase of it. Into this world come Christ and announces Himself as that world’s Saviour and satisfier, in virtue first of his bestowal of vitality…’I come to you here that you may live, that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.’ So speaks Christ to the student…Of such life, and of brave, earnest students entering into its fullness, may this new year…be full.”
If you think this might encourage a student or those who love them, please share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, then think about joining Geezer 1, the online clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, theologians, artists, writers, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs and a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. They’re a sharp bunch and you will only make us better. Check it out and request to join or email us at email@example.com. If the Facebook dog eats your homework (and he sometimes does), we’ll ask you to resubmit.
Pease return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com