Problem of Evil and Suffering, Sandor Clegane Style

Why does God allow good people to suffer?

Why is God silent in the face of suffering?

Why does God not step in and stop evil?

Why do the wicked survive and the good perish?

These are as questions as old as time (see the book of Job and Psalms).  The first episode of season seven of Game of Thrones tackled them too.  Sandor Clegane, “the Hound”, has been around since the beginning of the show.  First he is bodyguard to the king, then he is a wandering fighter.  Filled with anger and contempt, Clegane is not afraid to tell it like he sees it.  Recently though his character-arc has started to turn towards redemption and he has fallen in with a group who worship the one true God (Sidenote: the world of Game of Thrones is filled with different religions but the specifics need not concern us here).

In the season premier Sandor is talking with Beric.  Beric has been killed in battle numerous times, but the Lord of Light keeps giving him his life back.

SANDOR: So why does the Lord of Light keep bringing you back? I’ve met better men than you, and they’ve been hanged from crossbeams, or beheaded, or just s*** themselves to death in a field somewhere. None of them came back. So, why you?

BERIC: You think I don’t ask myself that? Every hour of every day? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? What does the Lord see in me?


BERIC: I don’t know. I don’t understand our Lord.

SANDOR: Your Lord.

BERIC: I don’t know what He wants from me. I only know that He wants me alive.

SANDOR: If he’s so all-powerful, why doesn’t he just tell you what the f*** he wants?

The question is simple: if Beric’s God is so powerful, why doesn’t he just make himself known and be a bit more explicit in what he wants?

This conversation is happening in a farmhouse.  The previous residents of the house, a father and his daughter, are dead.  A few seasons ago Sandor had visited the same farmhouse and robbed them.  Though he did not kill them with his sword, his actions certainly put them on the fast track to death.  Witnessing their decaying bodies, he seems remorseful, in his own hardened way.  The remorse is more profound as he knows they were better people then he, that he should be dead, as should other killers, and the family should be alive.

SANDOR: There’s no divine justice, you dumb ****. If there was, you’d be dead…and that girl would be alive.

Why do innocent children die and murderous warriors survive

Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? – Psalm 10:1

I’m not interested in discussing answers to this question right now, as pointing out how great it is to see the question raised in such a popular television show.

Not only is Game of Thrones master storytelling, but it brings up these sorts of ethical questions (for some it is whether to watch the whos in the first place!).  That is one of the reasons I taught a workshop at the Student Conference on Game of Thrones and Tolkien, comparing the hopeless world of Thrones where evil seems to triumph with the hopeful world of Tolkien where powerful forces bend the arc of the story towards justice and goodness.  Along with that, I encouraged them to keep their minds and hearts turned on when they watch television and movies so that they can engage with their peers around the questions, messages and worldviews found and expressed within those stories.

In other words, how do we answer Sandor Clegane’s question in the real world?


Beloit College Mindset List , Class of 2019

Every year Beloit College releases their mindset list to give us a window on the world in which incoming freshman have grown up.  This list is always a fun and enlightening read.

When I speak to churches about campus ministry, I say that working with college students does require us to speak a new language in some way.  It is not quite the same as traveling to a foreign country and literally learning a new language.  But we are shaped by our culture and times and there are assumptions and experiences people in my generation have had that are totally different then the generation ahead of or behind mine.  For example, with every year the terror attacks of September 11 become a more distant memory.  Everyone alive then can remember where they were at when they heard, but soon it will be an item for history books.

Here are some highlights from the list (or read the whole thing): http://../../js/modernizr.jsThe Mindset List: 2019 List/jquery/jquery_latest.js<!–//–>/jquery/jquery_latest.js<!–/reason/js/jquery.reasonAjax.js–>

3. They have never licked a postage stamp.

4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.

5. Four foul-mouthed kids have always been playing in South Park.

7. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.

9. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.

10. Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.

11. Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times.

13. “No means no” has always been morphing, slowly, into “only yes means yes.”

14. Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.

16. Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off it.

18. They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.


22. Phish Food has always been available from Ben and Jerry.

24. When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their large phones, usually in cars, for emergencies.

25. The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.

26. The eyes of Texas have never looked upon The Houston Oilers.

27. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online.

35. At least Mom and Dad had their new Nintendo 64 to help them get through long nights sitting up with the baby.

36. First Responders have always been heroes.

37. Sir Paul and Sir Elton have always been knights of the same musical roundtable.

38. CNN has always been available en Español.

39. Heaven’s Gate has always been more a trip to Comet Hale-Bopp and less a film flop.

40. Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.

43. Humans have always had implanted radio frequency ID chips—slightly larger than a grain of rice.

44. TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks.

46. The proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.

47. They had no idea how fortunate they were to enjoy the final four years of Federal budget surpluses.

48. Amoco gas stations have steadily vanished from the American highway.

49. Vote-by-mail has always been the official way to vote in Oregon.

50. …and there has always been a Beloit College Mindset List

Another Day, Another Study Shows Shrinking Affiliation to Christianity

I’ve seen a bunch of news stories on a new Pew Research Center study that shows a decline in the percentage of Americans who identify as Christians as well as growth, especially among those born since 1980, of those who identify as non-religious.  This group includes atheists, agnostics and those who may believe in God but do not identify with any institution.

I want to comment, share a witty story from campus or something, but I am coming up blank.  So I’ll just share some links and you can read for yourself:

The Rise of Young Americans Who Don’t Believe in God

A remarkable 25 percent of Americans born after 1980, the group often known as Millennials, are not religious…It’s not clear that Millennials will become more religious as they age, either.

America’s Changing Religions Landscape

But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%. And the share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also has inched up, rising 1.2 percentage points, from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2014. Growth has been especially great among Muslims and Hindus, albeit from a very low base.

The drop in the Christian share of the population has been driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics. Each of those large religious traditions has shrunk by approximately three percentage points since 2007. The evangelical Protestant share of the U.S. population also has dipped, but at a slower rate, falling by about one percentage point since 2007.

Self-Defeating Religion

The number who self-identify with historic denominations and movements has declined, and the number of “unaffiliated” has gone up. That category is not primarily agnostics and atheists, but people who say they are “nothing in particular.”

Why I Don’t Give a Straight Answer to Every Question

“Yeah, but Dave, what do you believe is the right answer?”

One evening during our recent Spring Break trip I was sitting at dinner with two member of our team.   The student who asked this question is Heather.  Heather has been a member of CSF for over three years.  In that time I have gotten to know her well and I am impressed with her spiritual maturity and thirst to grow in her faith.  We have had many conversations, from debates over politics to arguing differences in our theological beliefs.

The discussion on this night moved from topic to topic – the college dating scene, gay marriage, the nature of hell and what it means, at its core, to be a Christian.  When Heather asked me what I thought about some of these topics, I would offer a couple different answers, honestly pointing out where sincere Christians differ.  If she shared a point, even one I agreed with, I would offer the opposing view, just to make her think.  After a while she got frustrated, wanting me to just tell her the answer!

But I have come to believe that simply telling people the answer, or at least what I think the true answer is, may not be all that helpful.  It is worth more to give a variety of viewpoints, to ask questions and keep the discussion going in order for the student to figure out what she thinks the answer is on her own.

That said, there are some subjects where I am much more willing to offer a clear-cut and definitive answer.  If someone asks me how to be saved or who Jesus is, I will answer and be more committed to my answer.  But on most other topics, on the sort of secondary issues that Christians disagree on, I may share what I think but I am more likely to work to get the student I am talking with to think things through.

The goal of campus ministry is to help students become more like Jesus, to grow and mature in their faith.  While I make no claims to be an expert, I have learned that this sort of change happens, and sticks for the long-term, when students begin to discover truth and Jesus and answers for themselves.  So maybe I am simply back at the old adage about giving a man a fish versus teaching a man to fish.

My prayer in this is that Heather, and students like her, would continue to take the steps to grow in their faith.


Beloit College Mindset List Class of 2018

Every year I enjoy the Beloit College Mindset List.  

Of course, every year it makes me feel older and older.  The first one on the list notes that this year’s freshmen were in kindergarten when the planes hit the World Trade Center 13 years ago.  Wow.

Here are some highlights from this year’s list.

1. During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center.

4. When they see wire-rimmed glasses, they think Harry Potter, not John Lennon.

5. “Press pound” on the phone is now translated as “hit hashtag.”

6. Celebrity “selfies” are far cooler than autographs.

7. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has always been the only news program that really “gets it right.”

14. FOX News and MSNBC have always been duking it out for the hearts and minds of American viewers.

17. Courts have always been overturning bans on same-sex marriages.

18. Joe Camel has never introduced one of them to smoking.

20. Citizens have always had a constitutional right to a “dignified and humane death.”

21. Nicotine has always been recognized as an addictive drug requiring FDA oversight.

23. Hello Dolly…cloning has always been a fact, not science fiction.

24. Women have always been dribbling, and occasionally dunking, in the WNBA.

28. Parents have always been able to rely on a ratings system to judge violence on TV.

33. There has always been a national database of sex offenders.

35. Yet another blessing of digital technology: They have never had to hide their dirty magazines under the bed.

37. Bill Gates has always been the richest man in the U.S.

38. Attending schools outside their neighborhoods, they gather with friends on Skype, not in their local park.

39. While the number of Americans living with HIV has always been going up, American deaths from AIDS have always been going down.

40. They have no memory of George Stephanopoulos as a senior White House advisor.

43. Two-term presidents are routine, but none of them ever won in a landslide.

45. One route to pregnancy has always been through frozen eggs.

46. They have probably never used Netscape as their web browser.

47. Everybody has always Loved Raymond.

48. “Salon” has always been an online magazine.

52. U.S. soldiers have always been vaccinated against anthrax.

53. “Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.

54. Their collection of U.S. quarters has always celebrated the individual states.

55. Since Toys R Us created a toy registry for kids, visits to Santa are just a formality.


Free Hot Chocolate, Candy Canes and Prayers

“Oh, and we’ll also offer to pray for people.  We’re Christians, its what we do.”

I don’t recall if those were the exact words Andrew, president of CSF, and I wrote in the event registration form, but they were close.  For the last couple years CSF has done a sort of “Christmas outreach” during the last week of class.  We order hot chocolate from the dining halls, set up a table and offer free little cups of hot chocolate to students as they walk by.  We also have a basket full of candy canes and other chocolates.

We also put out a box and ask students if they have anything they would like us to pray for.  As we said, we’re Christian Student Fellowship, so we pray.  It goes with the “Christian” territory.  We also figure that even students who may be a bit leery to prayer most of the time would not mind any bit of help they can get with finals week approaching.

The event was last Wednesday and I left after helping set up.  When I returned hours later the prayer request box was overflowing!  If you wouldn’t mind, feel free to offer a pray for some of these requests, listed below:

*Please guide me in the right direction when it comes to my love life.

*Pray for me to pass my exams.

*Also pray that the new year is good to me. Pray for my friend Maria and for her pregnancy to go well. Pray that God brings peace to the Latino Unity Club and most of all pray that God is in control of all our lives.

*Pray for mom

*Please pray for me to pass all my finals – 13 people said this

*My niece is very sick and needs prayer

*I pray for forgiveness and peace and true happiness

*Please pray for my uncle in the hospital – not sure what is wrong yet.

*I’d like to pray for everyone and their families as we come close to holiday break. Also for everyone to do good on their finals. Also for my aunt who is in the hospital.

*Need prayer for finals week; and for my first Christmas without my family

*I pray that I will work hard on my finals but more importantly that everyone has a safe and warm place for Christmas.

“Dear God, I would like to thank you for all my blessings. I believe in you and trust you to break curse of bad things happening.

*I would like you to pray for those on campus who lost people around this time of year; and those dealing with the aftermath of losing loved ones, that things will get better.

*Pray for PSU Berks

*Pray for my family and that my life will get together

*If someone could please pray for my mother and aunt; its their first Christmas without someone special

*Pray for strength, understanding and wisdom; for transferring from this school and for God to guide me

*My friends to focus on studying instead of going out and partying.

*Conflict within the US and middle east to subside.

*I pray that I do well in college. I want to pray for protection now and over the break and make sure my friends all have a safe break and see them next year.

*Good health to all our loved ones

*Pray for my relationship and my mistake to be forgiven ; pray for my family

*Pray that these people find truth

*May God bless you

*God help me with my math exam.

*God bless my family and loved ones. And Pray for my enemies.

*I pray my mom makes it another year

*Dear God. May I pass all my finals and classes with As. I want to keep my family and friends healthy and happy.

*Going through tough financial times – hoping next year will be good and God ; for a wife and spiritual guidance

*Keep my cancer from ever coming back

*Family unity; spiritual strength; heal my heart from pain

*Winter is bad because I have Seasonal Anxiety Disorder

*I hope I do well on my finals and get accepted into graduate school

*Strength fro my family who is suffering from loss of my grandfather

*For God to take away my greed for money and lustful addictions; strength to follow God’s path and to spread the Gospel

*Watch over my family; protect me and Marco

*Pray that I pass my bio 129 final. Its very important to me. I will study very hard; also to get help on my other finals

*Please keep my family safe and warm; hope all have a blessed and safe break

*Trying to get answers to some things in my life and pray that I may have discernment to know what God is talking to me

*Pray for those that have little or nothing

*Help my parents to love each other again

*please bless my family and friends with whatever daily trials they undergo

*Pray for Laney in hopes she can become healthy enough to spend Christmas with her family and become cancer free (This one has actually taken a turn for the worst, which you can read more about here.)

*For Pat and his fathers health; that he makes it through the holidays

*My health, my boyfriend and his family, my family and for this school – Amanda

*My little brother Nicholas – has a rare genetic disorder called Microdeletion of the 17th chromosome (Koolen de- Vries Syndrome)

Spiritual and Religious Discussion Night (Q and A!)

Last night at CSF we had a discussion night.  Or a question and answer night.  Honestly, we call it a lot of things.  It is something we do 1-2 times each semester.  We go off of our usual format and simply talk about whatever questions and topics students want to talk about.  Students each get a slip of paper to write down their question.  I am the one who gets to give an answer but on most questions  I give people a chance to offer their input.

There have been times in the past when we get a lot of new people, including many who are not Christians.  Last night we had a few visitors, but it appeared that most in the room would consider themselves Christians.  So the list of questions below can provide a small window into the sorts of questions students on secular campus who are Christians are asking.  I am sure on another night or in another place the questions might be different.  That said, I find it somewhat surprising that certain topics are absent (creation/evolution).

Here are the questions we go last night:

How do we know if the voice we hear is God’s and not our own?

Since I am a Christian, how can I not conform to the ways of my non-Christian friends?

Why do some people not like to keep their child so that someone else has to adopt them?

Why do parents give up their kids? Why can’t God perfect us to be good parents and kids?

Why is there evil in the world?

I have a Christian friend who is bisexual.  How do I tell them that what they are doing is against God?

Is it okay to be gay?

Are you allowed to date at a young age?  Is there anything in the Bible against it?

How does Islam differ from Christianity? What are the key beliefs of Islam?

When you get a cold, do you really need to pray for healing?  After all, non-Christians recover just as quickly without prayer.

Can women be pastors? Explain.

What are your opinions on modesty? (Male and Female)

Why do Christians think they are better then others?

The Bible tells us that “thou shalt not kill”. How do things like war factor into this? Is war a good thing or is it bad?

Do people such as police officers who may shoot/kill someone suffer the punishment of murder, as said in the 10 commandments?

Do you think native american indians will be saved even though they used to believe in many gods and didn’t know Christ? How come?

Alcohol and Assault

Yesterday I came across this article by Emily Yoffe on Slate – “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk.”  Yoffe writes on how drunk women on college campuses are much more susceptible to male, often sober, sexual predators.  She is clear that she is not blaming women, assault is the man’s fault.  But choosing not to get drunk is one way a woman can protect herself.

Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

In her article she mentions many cases of sexual assault where alcohol played a role, including most recently the horrifying story out of Maryville, Missouri.  She ends her article by reminding her target readers, female college students, that safety begins with them.

Articles like this take guts to write because it will be said she is blaming the victims.  Yoffe takes pains to say she is not, and I do not think she is.  It would have been great though to have a companion article with a similar title: “College Men: Stop Getting Drunk.”  If it is a woman’s responsibility to do as much as she possibly can to keep herself safe, it is a man’s responsibility to understand consent and not rape and assault women.

A little while ago (literally like 20 minutes) a friend of mine posted what could have been such a companion article by Tyler Kingkade from Huffington Post: “Why Don’t We Start Telling Men Not to Drink as Rape Prevention?”  This article brings up some good points in response to Yoffe’s.  But it seemed to be a little idealistic, specifically this phrase:

A woman should not have to fear that if she reaches a certain Blood Alcohol Level, one of her friends, acquaintances or even boyfriend might sexually assault her.

I fully agree, and I imagine Yoffe would too.  Yet we live in a world that is a broken mess and there are lots of things that we wish we did not have to fear that we do.  In a perfect world women could trust all men around them to treat them with respect.  On that note, in a perfect world there would be no rape or assault.  Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world

Kingkade ends his article by writing, “But in terms of stopping sexual violence, let’s start with teaching people not to rape and go from there.”  Yes. Amen.  And as we go from there we need to remember that not everyone will learn this lesson.  Because not everyone will learn this lesson, Yoffe’s argument still is helpful.

I try to be a realist.  I work with college students and I know (or at least think I know) how prevalent alcohol is on a college campus.  The majority of students get drunk and are not shy about it.  I’ve had students tell me about it…and I’m a pastor for goodness sake!  Again, we don’t live in a perfect world.  In a perfect world people wouldn’t need to drink themselves silly to have fun.  In a perfect world there’d be no more drunk driving or alcohol poisoning.

If we want to limit sex assaults in the real world we need to have a comprehensive view that includes points made by both Yoffe and Kingkade.  Like so many things, it is not an either/or, it is a both/and.  Such an approach would include lots of teaching.  Let’s teach our sons not to rape and assault women.  No means no.  For that matter, no response because she is too drunk to say “yes” also means no.  Let’s teach our sons and daughters that you can have fun without getting drunk and to remind them that bad things happen when you are drunk.  Stopping drinking on campus is not going to happen, but maybe we can begin to get people to drink a little less.  In this, we can also teach people how to be as safe as possible when partying.

And finally, let’s teach women that sexual assault is never, ever her fault: A Short Guide to who is to Blame in Cases of Sexual Assault


Are Christians Anti-Science? (You Lost Me 8)

In You Lost Me, David Kinnaman states that “Millions of young Christians perceive Christianity to be in opposition to modern science.”  The rest of this chapter goes on to analyze the data that says many young adults walk away from faith, or become disillusioned with faith, because it appears to be opposed to modern science.

One of my personal regrets when I think back to my own college days is that I did not take more science courses.  Along with that, I did not study as vigorously in the courses I did take as I should have.  I took the required nine credits in science and moved on to what I really wanted to study, things like history and religion.  Over the years I’ve found myself fascinated by aspects of science and on a regular basis I’ll read books (or watch videos like this)  in an attempt to learn more about everything from the theory of evolution to string theory.

I wish I had taken more science courses in college because I recall being rather arrogant.  My belief was that since I was a Christian and had the Bible, I knew how God had created and I knew evolution was not it.  I could laugh at those who thought humanity had evolved from monkeys (I don’t think I realized at the time that the theory is that we have evolved from a common ancestor we share with monkeys, so monkeys are our cousins according to the theory).

In the years since then I think I’ve learned humility.  It has been an important lesson to learn.

Now I work in campus ministry, leading a community of Christian students on campus.  What strikes me as interesting is that when I meet students who are Christians and science majors, they tend to think the theory of evolution holds strong explanatory power.  These students continue to have Christian faith, but they also cannot refuse to believe what the evidence appears to show.  On the other hand, it is often students who major in something else, those who have little knowledge of the science, (like me when I was in college) who reject evolution.  I have not taken a study on this, it is just my perception of the students over the years.

My advice to any sort of student I meet, regardless of their major,  is to encourage them to study.  God has blessed you with a brain, you’ve been commanded to love God with your mind, so apply all your intellectual faculties to the subject and learn as much as you can.  If you pursue a degree in science, become the best scientist you can be.

My advice to Christians who have been taught that evolution is an enemy of faith is humility.  Just because we have Christ does not make us experts on everything.  I usually refer them to the words of Augustine, writing 1000 years before the theory of evolution came along, are extremely helpful:

 “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous things for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show a vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but the people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books and matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learned from experience in the light of reason” (Augustine Genesis 19:39)

I think the best thing we can do for young people is help them avoid the two extremes, both of which say the same thing.  Some on the Christian side and some on the atheist side say that you cannot believe in evolution and be a Christian.  Such blanket statements, especially when made by Christians, are just wrong.  Instead we ought to encourage students to study and learn and help them integrate their faith with science, whether they believe in evolution or not.  More than that, my goal is for students to become disciples of Jesus which has a lot more to do with how you treat other people then how precisely you think God created the world.

Whatever individuals think about science and faith,  I think this quote from Kinnaman makes a vital point:

the very fact that science invites participation lends its authority more weight than areas of inquiry that don’t. Dialogue, creative problem solving, living with questions and with ambiguity, group brainstorming, the opportunity to contribute—these are highly valued by the next generation. To the extent that we in the Christian community insist that young adults should just accept our “right” answers, we perpetuate a needless schism between science and faith.” (Kinnaman, David (2011-04-01). You Lost Me (Kindle Locations 2223-2226). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.)

Science invites participation.  I was listening to a podcast (I forget which one) and the statement was made that scientists do not sit around talking about what they know, they sit around talking about what they do not know yet.  Science is a field that pushes young scientists to make their mark by discovery.

Faith, at least from the perception of young people, is more about authority: believe this book, believe this sermon and don’t ask questions.  The challenge, I think, is to help people see that Christian faith is not just about submitting to archaic rules and notions of the universe.  Instead, it is about entering into a beautiful and exciting relationship, one filled with mystery and discovery, with the Creator of the universe.

College Mindset List – Class of 2016

I love reading the Beloit College Mindset list each year.  It gives us a window into the world of students entering college, a world that is viewed quite differently from those of us who have been around this planet a bit longer.

Here are some of my favorites from this year’s list, for the class of 2016.  But you can read the whole thing if you want.

3. The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.

5. If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.

6. Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds

7. Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker’s long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.

8. Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge

9. They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”

15. Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.

29. They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”

34 Billy Graham is as familiar to them as Otto Graham was to their parents.

35. Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.

43. They were too young to enjoy the 1994 World Series, but then no one else got to enjoy it either

55. Mr. Burns has replaced J.R.Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television.

68. They watch television everywhere but on a television.

73. Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes.


As always, a fantastic list.