The “Lure” of College (from last semester)

So, my cynical junior self wrote this post last semester when I thought the world was caving in around me.  I never finished it, so it’s quite undeveloped, but I think that it definitely had some potential.  I’ve learned quite a bit in the meantime, naturally, and will most likely post a response later.  From what I can tell, the main ingredient missing in this well-written critique, now that I look at it, is grace.  What do you think:

After attending college for any number of years (albeit, one-and-a-half, personally), you might notice an assortment of unofficial bandwagons that are immediately at your disposal.  Some of these include items, hobbies, pass-times, classes, and even causes.

There are plenty of them.  Longboards, ultimate frisbee, intramural sports, hipster clothing styles, weight (yes, weight), clubs, and the list goes on and on

For instance, almost everyone would agree that the chances of a person owning a Sector 9 Longboard after 3 weeks into their first semester of college are ridiculously high compared to pre-college years.  Most college-goers would accept this as fact.  Another adoptive bandwagon that has even enticed myself on more than one occasion is the pass-time commonly referred to as ultimate frisbee.  Yeah, sure, we all play ultimate outside of college too, but are there intramural teams that predominantly reign supreme outside of college campuses?  No.  Whether it’s an intramural or just a pick-up game, you can always find groups of people playing this on campus somewhere.

Now, this brings me to my next bandwagon.  It’s called “love.”  Fortunately, I was able to avoid this one altogether, for the most part.  You see, the drawbacks to this bandwagon are broad and all-encompassing, due to the extremely broad definition of the term.  And, unfortunately for the Christian community, it can all to easily become a buzz word… in my opinion, it already has.  The drawbacks actually allow you to be safe with your faith, allowing you to not step outside of your comfort zone (or if they do allow you to step outside your comfort zone, it’s only for a very short allotted amount of time).  They include causes like Invisible Children, and TOMS shoes, and short-term, VBS-saturated, prayer- walking mission trips, and other popular mainstream awareness programs that are readily available to all who have a few bucks to buy a t-shirt.  They, ultimately, eliminate the gospel message of salvation and replace it with feel-good-about-yourself copout deeds that can be done from the safety of your facebook account or three week adventure trips outside the US, ultimately undermining the very love that they wish to share with the world, replacing it with a selfish shallow love that is meant only to make the “doer” feel good and have a rich “spiritual experience.”  If you are a college student and you are not a part of one of these organizations, are not participating or supporting one of these short-term mission trips, or are not helping to bring our nation into an equilibrium of wealth, than you are looked down upon as being heartless and void of love.  This is what confuses me though:  I understand why these types of causes and organizations would be so popular on a secular campus, but why are they predominant on Christian campuses, such as APU?  These programs are just hitting the surface of the water, in my humble and yet strong opinion.

In my estimation, one of the main human drives and desires is to be a part of a movement that is outside and bigger than yourself.  This, as I understand it, is the corollary between the numbers of people flocking to social justice causes (and the like) and the reason for them doing so.  Think about it.  If we are going to be downright honest with ourselves, we can attribute this to the reason behind all religious movements around the world, INCLUDING Christianity.  Unfortunately, I have a blatant example:  Haiti Aid has been HUGE everywhere, including Azusa Pacific University, as it well should be; however, when a predominant chapel leader says something to the effect of, “I know that a lot of you guys are praying for the people in Haiti, but for those of you that want to step out and do something… ” I might get a little worried.  What this chapel leader just told a congregation of college students was that prayer isn’t equated with actually “doing something” to help Haiti.  I’m sorry, but the crux of the Judeo-Christian faith holds that the only way for God to start interceding and changing things here on earth is if we acknowledge that we can do nothing and only he can bring about change.  But you see, when our religious fervor is lacking, when we feel we haven’t done enough with our faith, when we feel like God is distant and we need to do something to get the “good [I might as well say emotional] feeling of God” back, we resort to scrounging for other things to fill the void that only Christ’s message of salvation and reconciliation can.  This is my explanation of the need to be a part of anything outside of ourselves.

Again, I must clarify that I in no way am opposed to social justice or the potential good it can facilitate.  I want to make the observation, though, that if you have probably read this far, you either completely agree with me, or you are shaking your head at how intolerant and ignorant I am.  This brings me to my next point:  I cannot speak against “love,” because of how broad a term “love” is.  If I do, I’m the bad guy.  This word masquerades itself as the all-encompassing “love is all you need” idea.  What we have on our hands is the new hippie generation, without the sex and drugs (well… more or less).

Alright, it’s unfinished, but I was tired of having it sit in my drafts folder for months.  What do you think? Am I right on? Should I be more gracious? More understanding? Something you disagree with vehemently? Let me hear it!

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    • laurmeliss
    • August 6th, 2010

    Let me say…

    1. I totally agree about the “unofficial bandwagons”, albeit might look a bit different at each campus (like I totally know what you mean by “weight (yes, weight)” but really haven’t experienced the whole long boarding phenomenon that you see at APU.
    2. Your new favorite word in speech and in writing is: naturally.
    3. I overall agree with what you are expressing about this “love” you are talking about, and I do think it was wise of you to say what you did in the last paragraph. I would tend to go a little more gracious than you did, as I don’t know people’s hearts, but overall, I think you’re on to something.
    4. I enjoyed your writing style, good job.

    • Thanks, Lauren!

      1. No longboards? Really? Davis doesn’t know what it’s missing!

      2. I only said naturally twice on this page… but yeah, the word is in the title too. haha!

      3. I don’t know if you saw my blurb at the top, but I did say I wrote this last semester, and may have written it while lacking a little bit… or a lotta bit of grace. =] I’m going to try to respond to this post in a FUTURE post sometime in the near… future? Anyways, yes, I’d say that a lot of this is a LITTLE critical.

      4. Thanks! I was surprised to read it after all these months. Usually I don’t like my writing style, but I thought it was okay. =]

    • John Hicks
    • August 6th, 2010

    A good amount of this is right on. Its kinda funny that most of these bandwagons are supposed peoples rebellion age when they don’t care what people think and whatnot lol. I also see a lot of the 10 day missions “trips” *cough* vacation *cough* as people looking for their own spiritual satisfaction more then helping the people they came to minister too.

    Now on to where I disagree 🙂

    From what I can gather you’re basically saying that humanitarian effort is taking president over evangelism, and that this trend is mostly based on people looking to ether helping their own appearance (not seem heartless and cold) or getting the happy “God” feeling. Also a good amount of these people wont do evangelism due to fear or whatever reason they wanna give ya. I agree with this and its sad, but most Christians in the US now a days are in it for the social group, God helps too I’m sure, but I have a feeling when freedom of religion is taken away many of us will gladly keep their mouth shut and find another social club. A lot of it is because the extent of the persecution is people thinking your an idiot. But I’m getting off track.

    The issue I had was you’re distaste when you thought your pastier implied that praying was equivalent to not doing anything. I’d like to point to you, James 2:20 “faith without works(good deeds or action mattering on translation) is dead(worthless barren).” God doesn’t want us to JUST pray, its great to do don’t get me wrong, but praying should be a constant, action is something that can only happen when an opportunity arises. Also I think your taking the “God does everything, I do nothing” thing a little too far. I understand that we deserve no praise for actions God has done through us and that we can’t do any of it on our own, that’s not what I’m talking about though. Throughout history, both modern and biblical, I can only think of a few occasions when God did something without using a person as a medium. This leads me to believe that, although he can, he rarely chooses to act unless he has someone to act through and most times he uses people who are already taking the leap of faith. Praying for something and not acting when an opportunity opens up is like praying your friend is going to get saved, but not being willing to talk to him/her about Christ.

    • Eric
    • November 9th, 2010

    tr;dr.

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