Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Korean Translation

We received our copies of the Korean translation of The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness! It’s a beautiful book and an honor to see in print.

Any Korean readers out there making their way to this site (we’ve made a few Facebook friends already)? Please let us know what you think. Was it helpful to you? Do you have any questions? It would be great to hear from you.

Also, does anyone know how to purchase copies in the US?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hugging a Tiger: Saying Goodbye Well

Toward the end of Yan Martel's, Life of Pi, the main character Pi, who has just survived over 200 days on a lifeboat, feels his boat wash up on a sandy shore. As it does he watches his boat companion (a tiger he named Richard Parker) jump from the boat and run into the jungle. He reflects:

“I wept like a child. It was not because I was over come at having survived my ordeal, though I was alive. Nor was it the presence of my brothers and sisters [other humans], though that was very moving. I was weeping because Richard Parker had left me so unceremoniously. What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell. I am a person who believes in form, in the harmony of order. Where we can, we must give things a meaningful shape…

…I’ll tell you, that’s one thing I hate about my nickname [Pi], the way that the numbers run on forever. It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse. That bungled goodbye hurts me to this day. I wish so much that I’d had one last look at him in the lifeboat, that I’d provoked him a little, so that I was on his mind. I wish I had said to him then- yes, I know, to a tiger, but still -I wish I had said, “Richard Parker, it’s over. We have survived. Can you believe it? I owe you more gratitude than I can express. I couldn’t have done it without you. I would like to say it formally: Richard Parker, thank you. Thank you for saving my life. And now go where you must.”

Many college students this time of year are looking toward finishing final exams and engaging life’s next season (a summer job, sophomore year, a new place to live, etc.). For many, this transition means that friendships will change. Leaving high school is the first time many students realize that friendships don’t always last forever. As Pi notes, proper goodbyes are important. College can be an ideal place for student to learn to say good bye and end well.

Here are five ideas for doing just that:

1. Plan. Planning ahead will help you find time to say goodbye to people on your list (a professor, your RD, friends, your RA, the sandwich man, etc.)

2. Write a letter. Letter writing still holds a certain charm and allows one to be intentional with words. Also, people save letters.

3. Pack Early. This gives you time to savor the last moments before you move out or your parents pick you up. The rushed life (and goodbye) rarely work well.

4. Host a goodbye coffee, meal, 80’s party, or “insert favorite event here” with your friend or group of friends. Do what you love for a last time.

5. Mark the friendship with a photo, gift, or favorite memory. It may feel tacky but you will like the choice later.

Most of all, just try to say goodbye as authentically as possible. That in itself is an outrageous idea. It may not go perfectly but learning to say goodbye is something you will have to do again. College is the ideal place to learn to do it well. And…it has to be easier than saying goodbye to a tiger. Hugs anyone?

--Kyle Heys

Kyle Heys is a R
esident Director at Calvin College and regular contributor to the blog Live and Learn.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jubilee 2010

Kent Mast, Ocean City Beach Project alum, has created a highlight video from Jubilee 2010. Catch a glimpse of Don Opitz at 00:55!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Falling in Love... One Book at a Time

In high school I read a novel to impress a girl. It worked, I think. We’ve been married for almost nine years. The novel was A Time to Kill by John Grisham. I was never much of a reader growing up, but then I was given a new motivation: a beautiful girl mentioned that A Time to Kill was one of her favorite books. What was I to do? Rent the movie? That’s not a bad idea, but I didn’t want to blow this one. So I began to read.

Here’s what happened: the girl and I began dating, yada, yada, and I fell in love with reading! From the last page of A Time To Kill my senior year of high school until now, I have been a reader. All I needed was a book that I liked, that kept my interest, that was meaningful. I didn’t know books like that existed! Or, just maybe, could it be that my new found love had more to do with, well, my new found love?

Recently Living Jubilee has featured posts concerning writing, craft, work, and learning. In one way or another, they have caused me to think more deeply about my habits of reading. It’s no secret; reading has taken a hit in our culture of late. Many studies have shown that fewer and fewer people are reading. Young people, especially, are reading less and less each year. I can’t guarantee a spouse for every reader, but I can offer a few thoughts on what I’ve learned about reading over the years:

Reading takes time, patience, and discipline
. Perhaps the biggest excuse for not reading is that people think they are not good readers. For many, reading is difficult, slow and tiring. It still is for me. But here’s what I’ve learned: the more I read the easier it becomes. Like anything that requires training to do well (think sports, art, writing), your reading ability gets better over time. You need to practice.

Reading requires sustained motivation
. Not to take this analogy too far, but after my honeymoon period of reading, I needed a new reason to continue. The words of Jesus came to mind: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind.” Reading is one way to love God with our minds. There are other ways to love God with the minds we’ve been given, for sure, but there is something about reading that stretches our thinking. Or better, it gives our brain (a muscle, you know) a work out! Reading can be an act of worship and love toward God. Is there a higher motivation?

Reading slows us down, draws us near to God and energizes our service toward others
. Recently I heard a challenging sermon about the importance of drawing near to God. The pastor explained that when we draw near to God in prayer and study, we are brought into the mission of God. We begin to see the world as God sees it and respond, through the power of the Spirit, in the way God responds to the needs of the world. Reading often does that for me. With a book in hand, alone at a desk or library or coffee shop, I’m forced to think more deeply about an aspect of God’s world. As I draw closer, I’m reminded of the role I have to play in His-story, as a conduit of God’s love. Watching movies, hearing lectures or engaging in deep conversations are helpful too, but there is something about reading a good book, or meditating on a Biblical verse that moves me toward action. Reading requires focus. When I’m focused, I’m more aware of the needs around me and more likely to respond.

As you know, our faith is based, to a large extent, on the written word. Discipleship requires reading. And reading, I believe, brings us closer to the word made flesh. It’s not easy or always fun, but it is rewarding. No, my wife was not my reward for reading! I can’t believe you thought that. Although, the reward does have a lot to do with love, that’s for sure.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Christian Roommates

I can still remember my first day of college, and how uneasy I was meeting the guy that I’d be sharing a tiny room with all year long. His name was Gary, and as it turned out, we were night and day—that is he was Mr. Nighttime and I was Mr. Goodmorning. By the end of the year Gary and I were the only two guys on our floor who were still living together. We weren’t great friends, but we managed.

John Updike tells a story (The Christian Roommates) about two Christian roommates that were night and day. Orson Ziegler was the pride of his home town in South Dakota. He came to Harvard with all the right credentials—great grades, high IQ, athletic physique, and leadership successes at school and in his church. And he was sure that he was going to be a doctor just like his Dad. Henry Palamountain was also very bright, bright enough to be accepted at Harvard. The similarities between these two young men really end right there.

Henry was inquisitive, mischievous, spiritually eclectic, and socially peculiar. You’ll have to read the story sometime, because the delight of Updike’s writing is in the details and descriptions. If there is a “lesson” in this story, and I’m not sure that Updike really wrote this story to teach a lesson, it is this: the perfectly planned life can isolate a student from genuine engagement and personal growth. Ziegler had already decided what kind of person he was going to be, and nothing that he encountered during his college years really challenged or changed him. He was as judgmental and certain and driven when he left college as he was when he arrived. He had many opportunities to explore and to discuss things with his strange roommate Henry and others, but he preferred to keep his distance from unusual ideas and unusual people.

Much of the learning that you will encounter during the college years won’t come in the classroom. It will take place as you discuss things with your roommate and friends, as you encounter other cultures and customs, as you invest in a service project or a church youth group, and as you show grace to unusual people. Learning isn’t confined to the classroom and it isn’t simply acquired through hard work. Learning is as wide as life, and at times it takes place as we play and serve and wonder.

--Donald Opitz