A Vision for College Life, a Sample Mission Statement by David Naugle
This particular column offers quite a few points to take issue with. The common theme in my web site is that a person is a social creature and that our friends, family and community and important to our well being. This prescription for a Christian life in a college environment is in so many ways counter to a human-focused life style.
The first part of this prescription is that worship is the central focus of the college group. The collegian must respond to god with awe and gratitude, grounded in an apprehension of the world. Is this human living or just some type of submissive slavery? A collegian should be learning to appreciate life and the wonders of our world as well as learning to interact with other adults in their chosen adult vocation. The college should provide an exciting learning environment for the student, not an intimidating one. One definition of 'apprehension' in my Webster's dictionary is: 'suspicion or fear, especially of future evil.' Such a tendency might follow when God is perceived as being at the root of all good and evil in the world, where the student is subject to the whims of this supernatural being playing with people and events as puppets.
The second part of this prescription is that the college community should be a group of believers. This prescription agrees that people are social creatures and that we need one another. However it is said that we can learn to love one another only after learning to love god. Somehow we are to express our love of God in our human relationships? Developing a close intimate bond with another human being requires the acceptance of our humanity, not its denial. This bond requires a trust in the other person, the recognition that everyone is unique and special, with faults and strengths. A supernatural being should not be so relevant to this intimate bond between two people.
The prescription continues with an observation that morally pure male and female relationships are a key to personal growth. However, some people are apparently called to a state of singleness, where God is served without distraction. So all intimate human relationships are distracting to our devotion to God?! The wonder of love between two people is the feeling of contentment that comes from that total mutual commitment - knowing that the other is as committed to you as you are to them. If this possible commitment in a loving relationship is a distraction to this devotion to God then how honest is this commitment to your partner? This 'morally pure' relationship implies that two people can never attain a complete commitment because the real commitment is only to God, and any relationships attempted with other people are a distraction to that devotion to God. This is an incredible denial of our humanity, that we are social creatures very dependent on our personal relationships with others.
The third part of this prescription addresses the division between sacred and secular lives. The vocation and work paragraph has interesting insights. Full-time Christian work is apparently the only eternally significant vocation so this means it is much more important to serve God than to serve other people? This is again a denial of our human nature. Supposedly, it is not important that we work with others, to the benefit of others, as we develop the bonds of our personal relationships and help those around us. Beyond that 'obvious' choice, the students should seek the vocation that God is calling them to. Rather than developing a better understanding of one's strengths and weaknesses as well as one's interests so that one's vocation is both personally rewarding and successfully, the student should be trying to discern God's plan. From what source is this calling to be determined? How will the student obtain this guidance but from some inner voices? Is this lunacy, to attempt to interpret voices or dreams as a sign from a supernatural God? This is a prescription leading to likely failure and unhappiness. A person's vocation should be based on the person, not on an unseen plan.
In the fourth part of this prescription, we read that God has graciously imparted gifts of beauty and recreation to men and women. Does this mean that anyone who takes on the effort to learn and develop such physical skills or who changes their physical appearance are going counter to God's plan? Students in high school and college must seek their strengths and weaknesses but also their dreams. Sometimes a person's 'naturally endowed' capabilities might be inadequate. For example some students find learning and tests to be rather easy whereas others must study or work much harder to achieve their success. A person's success does not depend on these gifts from God so much as the person's efforts to take on life's challenges with suitable effort.
The next part of the prescription mentions the ministry to the poor and needy. This seems so hypocritical. When everyone's lot in life is according to God's plan then any help to those in need is given only in the spirit that God wants it, not that the person wants to give it. A person that truly has empathy for other people will work to help others because it is the right thing to do as a human being, caring for other human beings in our community, not because God's plan causes inequality that must be addressed.
In the last part of the prescription, evangelism means that the believers should work to persuade others of this good news. The message is that one should act not in accordance with human concerns but rather human actions must try to follow God's plan for every person in every action. This evangelism would appear to have as its motivation an attempt to address the insatiable vanity of God by having everyone bowing to the Master with awe and gratitude, rather than seeking the well being of the human society.
My prescription of a college student is certainly different than that proposed in the above web page. Each college student should be seeking his/her unique role in the human community. Each person has strengths and weaknesses that shape their interaction with others. By selecting an appropriate vocation and seeking competence in that profession, the person will graduate with the confidence to provide the products and services that the community needs and with the skills that lay the foundation for a happy and prosperous life. This life may or may not include a lifelong partner, depending on the development of relationships with close friends and family. Each person is social creature and this social context is very important to recognize as a child matures into an adolescent and finally an adult.
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