It was now over a year ago that, in a conversation with some friends here in town someone, we came up with the idea that we need to have some sort of event or avenue by which we could channel some of our thoughts and conversations to the college campuses in our town. Despite the slow process, we have worked our way into setting up a club on campus here at our local community college that focuses on discussing the tough questions of faith, meaning, God, doubt and skepticism. We have spent a little more than a month on the ground on campus. That is not much. And yet there are a few things I am learning right away from the weekly meetings and coffee chats.
First of all, it was so interesting to see the openness and interest from students of different backgrounds and beliefs being open to further discussion. Asking questions is at the heart of growing up and its great to see that continue to happen today. Second of all, it was really cool to see how willing people are to exposing themselves to people who’s perspectives don’t necessarily align with theirs. In a culture where we are more and more segregated by our ideas and beliefs, we still have a common drive to know and learn from each other, despite our differences. Thirdly, we see that disagreement is in abundance, and its not easy to confront. We cannot just wash over the the fact that there are true fundamental differences in how we see the world. The only question is, what do we do about those differences? Do we wall ourselves off from our neighbor? Or do we open our lives to each other and learn to have honest and challenging relationships?
This brings me to a fourth point worth pulling away from this quarter: relationships. Our pursuit of truth in life must happen in community. We want to stimulate challenging thinking and have real conversations on life’s toughest issues. We can’t do this without other people. In an age where we are often divided by our technology, it is easy to build our lives away from the real presence of real people. As we enter the cross roads of ideas we know that we are not mere brains on a stick. We are living, breathing individuals. The ideas that surround us are the desperate attempts of individuals just like us in their wrestle with reality.
A large number of America’s founding colleges and universities were built on the foundational quest for truth. This is especially important to be as a Christian. The christian notion of truth is that it is self attesting. It doesn’t need to be forced down people’s throats. It just needs to be challenged on the real stage of ideas. This has also been one of the central convictions of the greco-roman civilization which in many ways gave birth to much of Western thought and culture. Its also a basic component of being human. We are always in search of truth. Even if you believe there is no truth, you hold to that truth and try to justify it against other ideas.
It is sad to see that very often this is disappearing today as we entertain and distract ourselves into oblivion. We allow social media and political correctness to create walls between us and dehumanize our relationships. When we steer around the “controversial” issues, we steer clear of that which makes human relationships meaningful. We look forward to more challenging conversations in the coming fall quarter. Feel free to join us even if you are not a student. You can keep up with the email updates on the WCC Well Said Club here or check out the Facebook page @wellsaidwords for updates.