University coasting off the acknowleged ‘narrow ridge’

I entered college planning to graduate a semester early, if possible. Three-and-a-half years later, I find myself with only a matter of days remaining until I take my last final. It is a bittersweet feeling.

However, as I depart, there are three mutually-reinforcing trends that cause me to worry about the future direction of the university.

First is a lack of intellectual rigor among students. I do not mean to say that Whitworth students are not intelligent, because they are. The problem is that, by and large, there is little to no critical discussion of controversial ideas.

Like everyone else, we espouse critical thinking and talking about difficult issues, yet we seldom do it in a genuine way. For instance, take the recent presidential campaign. While there were attempts at having generic political events, there was no real discussion among the student body at large of the major issues at stake. Unlike most schools, Whitworth has no active political clubs, the ones that used to exist having fizzled out for lack of interest. Perhaps we are just too lazy, or perhaps we are afraid of disrupting or damaging our much-touted community. But what kind of community do we really have if it must be sheltered from serious debate?

This tendency to avoid confrontation is bolstered by a second trend: relativistic political correctness, also known as tolerance. There are two issues with this trend.

First, there is an unfortunate tendency for people to be conflated with their ideas. While all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, this deference should not be extended to their ideas or beliefs, especially in a university setting.

Having an intellectually stimulating environment requires that ideas be debated vigorously.

This requires a separation of people from their ideas; students need to be able to accept and process respectful criticism of their beliefs without having their feelings hurt. All people are equal, but all ideas and beliefs are not.

The second issue with tolerance is its one-sidedness. While we “courageously” bring up sensitive topics, they are almost inevitably examined from a single perspective. Issues of race are examined through the lens of critical race theory; gender issues are dominated by feminism; gay marriage is an issue of human rights; capitalism is greedy, socialism is beneficent; free trade is exploitative, fair trade is just; the Israelis are murdering oppressors, the Palestinians helpless victims. To be sure, there are good arguments to be made for each of these positions. But there are also very strong arguments to be made against them that students will seldom be exposed to unless they pursue them on their own initiative. Even if they do, countering the narrative on any of these issues is deemed intolerant, with dissenting students running the risk of being labeled as racists, sexists or bigoted fundamentalists. This is stifling to the intellectual health of the university.

The third trend, secularization, is perhaps the most disturbing of all. When I first arrived at Whitworth as a freshman, I naively hoped to find a Christian university that respectfully stood up for its principles. Like many, I hoped that criticism of Christianity would be allowed and alternative views examined. But I also hoped that Christian refutation would be offered. Though Christian accessories remain, orthodox Christian beliefs are increasingly abandoned as Whitworth seeks to remain relevant by following a step or two behind progressive society and secular academia. Former President of Whitworth Bill Robinson used to speak of the “narrow ridge” that the university walked between being too far to the conservative right and too much on the secular left. Considering Whitworth’s past record, and with official school recognition of gay marriage looking increasingly likely, the “narrow ridge” looks more like it was simply a stepping stone to get over to the left side of the mountain.

This is not the case for each constituent part of the university, but the overall trajectory is undeniable. Still, I am thankful for my time at Whitworth. I have been forced to truly examine and defend what I believe. In some cases, I have had to adjust my views. I sincerely hope every student gets to go through a similar process. Just a final thought: criticizing traditionally-dominant views is now the dominant view. So, if you really want to be a rebel, it’s worth giving traditional ideas a look.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

 

Lecturer describes the effects of love in politics

Christ’s love can have monumental effects in politics, an evangelist and peacemaker shared Monday, Oct. 1. Michael Cassidy is a political activist, author and founder of African Enterprise, an evangelical reconciliation ministry that has been crucial in healing post-apartheid South Africa. By following God’s will and listening to his urging, African Enterprise was formed, Cassidy said.

AE has been reaching Africa through leadership training, evangelism, reconciliation and community development in Africa for 50 years, according to africanenterprise.org.

The nature of the ministry was influenced through Cassidy’s experiences in America during the civil rights movement, as well as the extreme segregation in South Africa during apartheid, Cassidy said.

Cassidy came to embrace the messages of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the messages of evangelist of Billy Graham, he said.

“I came to the conclusion that the love ethic has huge political implications,” Cassidy said.

With that in mind, Cassidy began his movement to evangelize Africa and promote change through godly leadership. AE went to different political groups during the apartheid struggle and prayed with politicians from the far left and far right, Cassidy said.

Ninety South African politicians over six different weekends experienced a retreat at AE where they shared their autobiographies, told their visions for the new South Africa and heard the enemy humanized, Cassidy said.

“It’s a very powerful thing when you hear someone’s story,” Cassidy said. “You have to understand who they are and why they think the way they do.”

That is a foundation, but still is not enough. One can love individuals but that love must also go further into structures in order to bring social and political change, Cassidy said. Justice is love built into structures, he said.

Godly governance can result in major transformations of entire countries, according to AE’s website.

On April 27, 1994, elections were held in South Africa that marked the end of apartheid. Ten days prior, a prayer rally had been called because a surge of hostility between political parties threatened the lives of a million people, Cassidy said.

The Jesus Peace Rally was called in order to pray for a peaceful way forward through the first democratic elections, he said. Twenty-five thousand people attended the rally. Several of the main politicians from the various parties met in a VIP lounge of the stadium where the rally was held and came to an agreement about a way forward, he said.

Two days after the rally, those leaders announced that they would cooperate, thus avoiding an outbreak of violence, Cassidy said. The election was held over three days, and there were virtually no reports of violence anywhere in the country. It was a miracle, he said.

The United States needs love in its structures just as much as South Africa does, Cassidy said. He said he feels America needs an assembly of Christian leaders and visionaries across the nation who will speak to the social issues.

“I would love to see an American political system that has prayer as part of the system of government. I understand realistically today, that is hard,” sophomore Rachel Gerig said.

AE trains leaders by equipping pastors and citizens to think biblically and live out their faith in their place of work and influence, according to ,a href="http://africanenterprise.org/">africanenterprise.org.

Some of AE’s ideas and principles directly relate to Whitworth’s mission to “Honor God, follow Christ, and serve humanity.”

“Cassidy’s model of leadership meshes well with Whitworth’s inclusive and ecumenical approach,” said Gordon Jackson, professor of communication studies.

Gerig said students can demonstrate leadership at Whitworth even in small ways. She suggested talking to ASWU senators or participating in class as ways to do so. Sometimes, leadership starts simply with friendship, she said.

Cassidy encouraged students to seek God’s plan for their life and enter into it. God is faithful, he said.

“Whatever it is he has for you, He wants to lead you into it,” Cassidy said. “If I look back on 58 years of Christian experience, my testimony is to the faithfulness of God. He has stood by me.”

Kendra Stubbs Staff Writer   

Contact Kendra Stubbs at kstubbs15@my.whitworth.edu.

Following Christ calls for relationship and devotion

Being a Christian is more than just acknowledging the existence and presence of God, it goes beyond being able to say you have faith and believe God is real. James 2:19 says that even the demons acknowledge that there is one God. Acknowledging God is not considered unusual. However, Christians are not called to become part of the norm, but rather to stand out and be fully devoted followers of God. Being a follower is not just taking on the title of a ‘Christian’, it is a lifestyle, a daily proclamation of God’s love and  a glorification of His kingdom.

Of course we will never be able to live exactly like Christ, but we should strive to do so daily. We should strive to live out the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians, and put the Beatitudes, found in Matthew, into action. We should walk with courage knowing we are wearing the armor of God spelled out at the end of Ephesians, and go out and tell people that God has a hope, love and purpose for everyone no matter what.

Having a personal relationship with God is part of this lifestyle. This involves  spending time in the word and praying daily. It is making God your focus and the center of your life; not talking about God like He is not in the room.

This lifestyle also includes becoming the hands and feet of God. Christians are commanded all throughout scripture to take in the homeless, clothe the needy, give to the poor, love both neighbors and enemies and to respect authority. We are to live in such a way that people see the love of Christ portrayed through actions. James 2 says that faith without works is dead.

Having faith is just one step, and acknowledging God is just one part. Living a life glorifying His kingdom: that is what being a Christian is all about. It is being all in.

Francis Chan, pastor and author of Crazy Love, said, “He [Christ] wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”

You can’t say you have faith and not live it out, and you can’t only do good deeds in order to seal your salvation. It is a package deal; one cannot bring salvation without the other.

This lifestyle is different from those living for the world. It can be hard at times, really hard. Yet, in the end, it is worth it. Are you living a life that is glorifying God’s kingdom, or are you just acknowledging Him and wearing the title?

Haley Williamson Columnist

Williamson  is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications. Comments can be sent to  hwilliamson15@ my.whitworth.edu.