Tag Archives: college

Student Modes of Attaching Pages

Least Favorite: Dog-Ear

Most Creative: Tiny Clothespin 

Most Practical: Staple

Most Versatile: Large Paperclip

Postscript to ‘the reality of pastoral gossip’ — a personal experience

After my sarcastic post a couple of days ago, I want to share a personal experience to demonstrate just how reckless some Christian pastors can be.

Some Christian pastors.

I started college at Western Carolina University, where I spent two years, Fall 1987 through Spring 1989.

(My first year, I was in Reynolds dorm, which had the advantage of being an older dorm with larger rooms, and the disadvantage of being pretty much at the high point of campus, and at a far edge.)

At the beginning of my freshman year, I attended a church and got involved with its college group.

I met a guy I’ll call A.J. Somehow we became buds, which was somewhat odd: I was a white freshman and he was a black upperclassman. (I try to remind myself that some churches can level social hierarchies and open racial barriers.)

Eventually, A.J. started to open up to me, and he had some real hurt and confusion.

He had shared some personal, private difficulties with the pastor of the church.

The conversation was supposed to have been in confidence, but the pastor told some other people on the church staff.

I realize I don’t know exactly what his difficulties were. I realize sometimes a private confession is scary enough to warrant alerting others. Ultimately I just don’t know, but I tend to doubt A.J.’s difficulties warranted sharing. Maybe they did.

Either way, the violation of trust did significant damage to A.J.

He started dropping by my room in the late afternoons and evenings. He would ask me, again and again, “Why? Why did he tell others?” Why, why, why.

A.J. was astounded, hurt, confused.

I was only 18 years old. With a September birthday, I had begun my freshman year as a 17-year-old. I knew less than nothing.

I tried to help A.J., lobbing weak suggestions at his grieved face, nothing I said finding purchase. He was going in circles, we were going in circles, stuck on the question of why the pastor had violated his trust.

My church back home was loosely affiliated with the church near campus. So at times, I even tried to play the pastor’s advocate. But A.J. would reason back at me — to him, there seemed no justification for the pastor to divulge the details of his conversation.

So many conversations. Then, A.J. disappeared for a while.

I welcomed the break. I couldn’t help him. All he did was talk and talk and share his misery. The relationship was becoming a burden to me. I didn’t want him to show up.

Right before he disappeared, I remember passing him in a dorm common area. He was shut down, turned inward, mumbling to himself, yet walking with purpose. It was strange, but he kept walking, and I didn’t want to get into another marathon conversation.

I later found out why he disappeared for a while. He had been in the hospital. He had tried to kill himself.

The night I had seen him mumbling to himself, he had taken a bunch of pills. Later that evening, he had placed his thick leather belt around his neck and tried to hang himself from the bunk bed in his dorm room.

I can’t say with any certainty that the pastor’s gossip, that his violation of confidence, was the direct cause of A.J.’s suicide attempt. He was already struggling. But the pastor’s gossip made it worse.

All this and the recent Ron Wheeler letter regarding Pastor Mark Driscoll makes me wonder what a good pastor really is.

Does a good pastor say the right doctrinal things?

Driscoll has been saying the right doctrinal things for his Reformed circles.

A.J.’s pastor was saying the right things for his church circles.

Does a good pastor have the right leadership skills?

Driscoll has had very good leadership skills for corporate America. He could get a legit NY Times bestseller by writing about gaining and keeping power.

A.J.’s pastor was dominant enough in his church circles to maintain a leadership position and a mantle of authority.

Yet what once grew later fell apart.

I thought, in the Christian faith, what genuinely grows never falls apart.
Ministeries falling apart, individuals falling apart

5 Books Before College: my own odd list

My list is not intended to represent Harold Bloom-worthy canonicity.

Instead, as a university English lecturer who teaches about 100 students each semester, I have focused my list on a few things important to me.

Reflected in my list below is my belief that mental and emotional strengthening is very important for students who are starting college and living away from home for the first time.

1. Understand how to navigate difficulties in your life through the lense of a psychiatrist who survived a Nazi concentration camp: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. With the exceptions of certain fraternity rituals and enrollment at The Citadel, nothing you go through in college will be as bad as a concentration camp.

2. Fine-tune your writing and listening skills, and be prepared to argue winningly in everything from your research paper to a dorm-room bull session: Thank You For Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs. This is a funny and easy way to learn about rhetoric, an essential art in college, whether getting A’s or getting, you know, that special someone.

3. Learn how to be decent, honorable, and sociable, yet live above the fray of everyone’s drama — and your own: The Essential Marcus Aurelius, introduced and translated by Jacob Needleman and John P. Piazza. This is a set of short sayings that helps reason play a healthy role in your mind and emotions, and it has stood the test of time.

4. Get a solid grip on several essential topics: Collected Essays by George Orwell. “Politics and the English Language” will give you powerful insight into both writing well and listening closely to politicians and salespeople — it’s like a short course in critical thinking. “The Art of Donald McGill” is an excellent bit of art writing. I dare say “England Your England” will help you see what’s peculiar about your own nation and culture, even if you’ve never been outside of them. “Shooting an Elephant” remains an outstanding example of “creative nonfiction” or “literary nonfiction,” especially in the tradition of the personal essay.

5. No, it’s not all relative: The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis. This densely written book might be a challenge for many of this fall’s freshmen, but slow, thoughtful engagement with this book will help you filter some of the free-range bullshit found on any college campus.

You can buy any and all of these books right here. Best wishes!

‘Studying less while the economy burns’?

Even if both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney can tap dance on water and heal the stupid with spit and dirt, nothing can stop the bad economic news to come….

Just in time, college students across America have launched a strategy to deal with this crisis: Study less.

Less studying, as you might recall, is a time-honored approach to getting a good job and staying ahead in a global economy that’s competitive and tanking.

Read the full column HERE.

5 Books Before College: Dan Golden’s list

Dan Golden is an editorial writer for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee

Mere Christianity — C.S. Lewis

Slaughterhouse Five — Kurt Vonnegut

Huckleberry Finn — Mark Twain

The Story of Civilization — Will & Ariel Durant

Also see Colin Burch’s 5 Books Before College and Charles Twombly’s 5 Books Before College.

5 Books Before College: Charles Twombly’s list

Charles Twombly is a former professor of philosophy and religion at Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga.

1. Alan Paton — Cry, The Beloved Country

2. Lillian Smith — Killers of the Dream

3. Alexis de Toqueville — Democracy in America (selections)

4. William Barrett — Irrational Man

5. Marilynne Robinson — [something by this author, fiction or essays]

C.S. Lewis College finds a home! Foundation obtains campus

Read this exciting letter from Stan Mattson, founder and president of the C.S. Lewis Foundation:

At long last! It’s difficult to believe, after so extended a journey, but the truth is, we are about to take a major step forward towards the long-awaited goal of establishing C.S. Lewis College.

It pleases me greatly to inform you that a news conference was held today in Northfield, Massachusetts announcing the purchase of the campus for the use of C.S. Lewis College by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Located in the greater Amherst area of northern Massachusetts, just east of the Connecticut River, the campus is the beautiful and historic former site of Dwight L. Moody’s Northfield Seminary for Young Women (later, the Northfield Mount Hermon School). NMH recently consolidated their operations onto their Mount Hermon campus, located five miles away.

For details on this rather extraordinary development, including the press release, announcement videos, and photos of the campus, visit http://www.cslewiscollege.org.

We invite you to rejoice with us on this joyous occasion, taking place most appropriately in this Advent season.

“Further up and further in!”,

J. Stanley Mattson
Founder and President
C.S. Lewis Foundation

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