On Beginning

Everyone experiences new things. By nature of who we are and the world in which we live, no one lives a completely sedentary life. From new jobs to new cars, from getting married to buying a house, from having kids to moving across town, we all encounter newness.

While many new experiences are joyful occasions, not all are. Sometimes new things are sad, uncomfortable, or even depressing. A new job, for instance, could indicate a step forward in a person’s career; it could also represent a changing career field that is now fraught with uncertainty. Likewise, a woman who has been married for fifty years experiences many new things after the death of her husband, few of which will bring her any joy.

Even when an experience is new and exciting, it can be accompanied by feelings of anxiety and loss. My first semester of college, for example, was a wonderful time, full of adventure, excitement, and opportunity. But it was still difficult to transition from the comfortability of home and the routines of high school that I knew so well. Yet even in their discomfort, new things can stretch us, helping us grow and learn not only about them but also about ourselves. Continue reading

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Blogging Will Return…

Pursuing Veritas Will ReturnWith final papers wrapping up this coming Monday, we will return to our regularly scheduled blogging in the course of the coming week. Thanks for your patience during this “comps/finals hiatus”. JJP

The Importance of (Liberal) Education

This article originally appeared at Conciliar Post.
Photo Courtesy of Richard Lee

Photo Courtesy of Richard Lee

Every year in America millions of dollars are spent on “education.”1 We have made K-12 schooling a priority, offered every child the chance at a high school diploma, and, more recently, emphasized the importance of a college degree. Yet despite this commitment of time, energy, and money not only are students falling behind internationally on test scores2 and graduating high school unprepared for college,3 but they are also often graduating college unprepared for their careers.4 This has lead many people to conclude that how Americans do education needs to change. Part of the solution to our education woes, I would suggest, is more precisely determining what is meant “education.” Continue reading

Reflections Upon a Move

Out with the old...

Out with the old…

It’s that time of the year again: time for school to start again after a few glorious months of fun, relaxation, and vacation time. Or at least, that’s how it used to be. In recent years, summer has meant work, as in, “Time to make money so you don’t die during the school year.” In addition to work, however, two of my past three summers have involved some a bit more time consuming (and expensive) than taking a vacation: moving.

Two years ago I left home, along with my wife a few months, and deposited myself in Winston-Salem (NC) in order to pursue a master’s degree in religion at Wake Forest University. While experiencing several long-distance moves whilst younger, there’s nothing quite like loading all of your worldly possessions (or at least those you don’t leave in boxes in your parents’ basement) into a car and moving twelve hours away from what has been your life.

We learned lots during our time in Winston-Salem. There were good times and bad times, fun experiences along with heartache, moments of celebration and periods of uncertainty and pain. We made some great friends and grew closer to extended family during our time in the South, and (I believe) emerged better, more balanced people as a result of our two years in North Carolina. Yet all good things must come to an end, and it was truly with a mix of sadness and expectation that we loaded up our moving truck last week (with the help of my brother Sam) and trekked some twelve hours west to Saint Louis, Missouri.

Twelve hours gives one lots of time to talk, and Hayley and I reflected upon our time in Winston-Salem during many of those hours. It was sad to leave yes, less for the place than the people whom we had grown to love. Friends from work and school will be sorely missed, though Facebook and (hopeful) return visits help dampen such pain. Having been born in North Carolina, there are family connections that will be missed as well. We began our time in Winston with one wedding of Hayley’s cousins and departed mere hours after another wedding, two bookends to some great times with family. Winston-Salem was, in many ways, the ideal place for Hayley and I to begin our life together, and we are thankful for all of the memories that were forged there.

... In with the new.

… In with the new.

Twelve hours in a moving truck also gives one lots of time to think, at least when one’s wife is napping. Moving offers opportunities. Chances to start fresh, forge new habits, meet new people, experience things not possible at the old place, form new friendship, and learn new lessons about life. There’s something exciting about moving to a new city to start a five-year journey to a PhD, complete with all the reading and research. it entails It will also be nice to be much closer to our immediate families – five hours is very (very) different than twelve.

But moving is challenging too. You have to learn where the grocery store is, figure out the place with the least expensive gas, navigate new traffic patterns and rush hours, find new internet service providers which are a pain to deal with (or is that just me?), find a new church family, and form a new community of friends. New jobs must be secured, new habits formed, and new experiences had, all of which can be rather daunting.

We are glad to be in Saint Louis safely, and excited to see what God has in store for us hear over the next several years. Thank you for journeying along with us here at Pursuing Veritas.

A Prayer for Writing

WritingBelow is a prayer for writing adapted from a prayer of Walter Wink found in his book Just Jesus (page 23 for those interested). I found Wink’s words a powerful reminder about our need to rely on the “muse” of the Holy Spirit when writing.

On this beautiful summer day, Lord, I bring my whole self, including my questions and confusions to you, and offer myself to be used by you in the process of writing. Deliver me from egocentric plots. Give me courage to rewrite with perfection. I do commit myself from you, O God, in life, in death. I commit myself to the truth, your truth. I will not be cowed by pain or use it as an excuse for resistance. I will not bend to laziness or ignorance. I will try to hold myself open to the depths. I ask for images and metaphors to flow as I write. I ask for help in revising this writing, to make it really readable. I ask for patience to do it right. May my writing and living honor your name and not my own. Amen.