Christine Kindberg, Alexa Adams, Dr. Jeffry Davis, David Warren, Elise Bremer, Mike Turner, Alyssa Keysor, Dr. Sarah Borden, Josh Williams, Stephen Weller, Kirk Walker, Andrew DeCort, Ryan Hodgen, Barbara Phillips, Aaron Wang, Christopher Manzer, Dave Warren, Ben Ashworth
*We suspect that this is an incomplete version of Fall 2007. If you or someone you know can help the current Pub staff to find a complete version, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.*
I remember virtually nothing from my freshman orientation three years ago except one admonishment that has stuck with me. During a session that had to with education at Wheaton, the speaker, a senior, stunned me with these words: “Learn for others, not for yourself.” Huh? I came to college to learn who I was, to prepare for my future, my career, my life. I came to fill my mind with knowledge. I was concerned with the arrangement my books in my room, my classes, my major, my schedule, my opinions, my budding friendships. What does my college education have to do with others? Everything. The people and ideas I have encountered melted my naive opinions and assumptions. The more that I learned about the world and myself, the more I realized how little I actually knew. As my horizon grew larger, my future grew dim and my “knowledge” turned into dust. For a while I felt disoriented and undone; a serious college education will do that to you.
I have heard people say that Wheaton is easy, not in terms of academic workload, but in the sense that it is a respite for Christians in the “secular” world. I suppose Wheaton is easy if you donʼt think when you encounter difficult ideas, questions, and situations. Perhaps youʼre certain that you really have thought things through and it just so happens that you were mostly right. But that, as William James has suggested, is merely rearranging your thoughts and opinions on a shelf in your mind; itʼs not thinking.
The reason that easy, ignorant routes arenʼt viable options is because they arenʼt ethical ones. The academic world, in itself, is pointless. Knowing for the sake of knowing is meaningless. Unless knowledge leads to wisdom and is used for the good of others, it will turn to dust along with us.
Though I am uncertain about what it means to really understand and not simply reorganize prejudices, I believe that there are ways to foster deep thinking. Naturally, reading, writing, contemplation, and dialogue — the things The Pub seeks to encourage, are on the list, but I would like to suggest one more.
To borrow an idea from the eminent philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas, we must welcome the other. We must embrace other ideas, opinions, and beliefs. We must ask difficult questions and reconsider our convictions in the light of others. This struggle to understand seems so foreign, yet it is very much a part of what it means to be human. And so reader, I challenge you: learn for others, not for yourself.