Wednesday, August 19, 2015

College Is Awesome

It's awesome in various ways. If you are a sensualist and a sinner, you have already thought of the words "drinking" and "free love". If they were in no way related to the good, it stands to reason, they would not be pleasurable. Do we exist for pleasure, however? And our own, at that? It would seem not. The pretense that universities exist for higher things strongly suggests that they once did. And I say that, not merely to suggest a wistfulness about days gone by, as if the days passing itself has caused whatever is lacking, but that what has been lost is truth about ourselves.

What is the purpose of knowledge? If I may be momentarily pedantic, the purpose of knowledge is to know. Whether what we know has any great value will depend on how well we order the various goods, and how well we share them. We become sharers of knowledge and even teachers because we want others to love, and therefore know, the highest things. The highest subject you can study is theology, because knowing and loving God is the highest good, to which all other goods are rightly ordered.

I'm going to assume you're going to make it. If you don't, well, don't pack in your life, because great people have done the same. Strive for excellence, but see high grades as the secondary end of being zealous to learn what's important, and why it matters. If you score well, it may not mean you know the thing in question; if you score fairly or poorly, it may not mean you don't. Don't get too hung up on this, if at all possible.

Especially if you have grown up in a Christian environment, you need to know that the temptations to act in a worldly manner are much stronger than you may have been told. Your greatest spiritual obstacle may be the wounded pride and shame that comes with finding out you're not--by yourself--as different as anyone else. I did not grow up in a Christian home or culture, but everybody surprises themselves in not a good way sooner or later. If you don't truly yet know God's mercy, you will, but it may be hard, at first.

You will need friends, and true ones. Do your best to find them, but don't be surprised when initial impressions for good and ill turn out to be wrong. True friends will help you be your best you; others will try to make you into someone else. There are seasons to these things, also, and that's fine. Yet I also know that I found the men and women who will share my whole life's journey, even those who will see my body committed to the ground in the hope of the resurrection, during this time. It's a special, privileged time that not all people get. You are not yet who you will be, but you are beginning to be you. Therefore, realize that sometimes, you need to give yourself a break, and others, you need to challenge yourself not to waste this opportunity.

If there is time, (and there should be) read or otherwise learn something that has nothing to do with your chosen field. The most insidious monster you will face--other than your fears--will be called Specialization, and it serves a god named Utilitarianism. It'll be great to get a job, obviously, and everybody wants to feel useful. But you are not the work that you will do. You are a person, and there is something about you (and other people) that can't quite be measured or managed without doing harm. Please try to remember this.

Don't sleep through class; you may see the professor in church (or elsewhere).

Good luck, kid. We're pulling for you.

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