catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 10 :: 2003.05.09 — 2003.05.22


Higher education

On the first stop of our sporadic college tour to promote *cino, I sat down and had a discussion with a psychology professor at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.

She related to me the story of how, when she and her husband were faced with the decision of who would care for their children, they decided that he would cut back on hours and she would continue to work full-time. While not the path my parents had chosen to take, the idea of the husband as the primary caregiver to children was not new to me. For several of her male students, however, it was a revelation as momentous as the original wheel must have been. They were not intentionally sexist, or even ignorant, they were simply unaware of the choices and this professor's story will no doubt influence them when they have families of their own.

I came out of my meeting with her completely convinced if people only knew the lifestyle choices they could make to honor God with everything from grocery shopping to purchasing a home, they would make more radical choices! Not that there was a morally "correct" choice in her situation, but the philosophy behind her story was what got to me. That's *cino's niche, I thought, putting the choices in front of Christians so they can actively choose whether they want to live the American Dream or radically, faithfully and obediently live out God's dream. Fortunately, the illusion that exposing the choices would solve all of Christianity's problems was only temporary.

While Socrates was convinced that people who knew the right thing to do would make the right choice, Paul knew they wouldn't. He didn't. I don't. None of us do. Even though knowledge plays a key role in our character and our choices, it is not sufficient to change our minds. And that's partly why *cino's motto doesn't stop with "unite" and "learn," but goes on to give practical service equal billing with community and knowledge.

In the early years of his work with college students, Tony Campolo (who is a sociologist in addition to a pastor) realized that students' most effective learning takes place through doing. Since this discovery, he's developed numerous programs for students which allow them to serve while they're learning rather than feeling like they have to wait to serve their communities actively until they obtain a diploma. Learning can inspire service, but it also works the other way around: the things we do inevitably affect the way we think. The "learn" is inextricably linked with the "serve."

And just as important is the "unite." In this cycle of life experience, coming together in community helps us make sense of what we learn as we serve and helps us figure out how to turn our knowledge (sometimes paradoxical knowledge) into practical service. Being present in the community of believers also gives us an avenue for exposing the knowledge we've gained to others who, like the guys in psychology class, may be eager for a revelation.

I'm not saying that *cino has found the key that Socrates could not, but I do think the work we're doing has the potential to affect the community of believers in a positive way and perhaps even contribute to a movement that's already well underway, a movement of Christians who are not satisfied with "sacred" appearances, but long to be totally transformed in every part of their beings and in every part of their lives. This transformation starts with the knowledge of God's grace given through Christ's resurrection and thrives as we allow that knowledge to inform every aspect of our lives.

But we can't neglect to share the story of that transformation. Those stories have the power to refresh and inspire the community of believers and encourage solidarity so that "we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" (Eph. 4:14). Instead, we will be a community of disciples intent on speaking the truth, committed to a specific calling, and desiring with our whole beings to be like Christ.

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