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Dorm Life-Is This Biblical?

February 23, 2012

I’ve been thinking a little about life in the college dorm, whether at a Christian or non-Christian college. There are both pros and cons to the environment that the dorm creates. Sometimes I’m glad that most of my friends live in the same building as I do. Sometimes I feel like the social environments created by the dorm destroy any opportunities for quiet reflection or academic seriousness. Sometimes I just go to the library.

One thing that came to mind in the thoughts about dorm life and the pros and cons thereof was the story of Daniel and his friends at the University of Babylon in the book of Daniel. The interesting thing about this is that although Daniel and his friends have a conscientious objection to what goes on in the college, what they are objecting to is not what is going on in the classroom. It’s what’s going on in the dining hall. The Bible doesn’t give us stories about Daniel and his friends refusing to take PSCI 215: Fundamentals of Imperial Government, or MAGI 101: Intro to Astrology. Instead, the Bible tells us a story of Daniel and his friends refusing to eat meat offered up to idols.

I think part of what comes out through this story is that corrupting influences don’t usually come through the overt ways. A person’s friends will almost always be more influential than his professors. It’s not what is being taught that is that important. (Most of it is gen-eds anyway.) It’s the culture of the institution. As a person going to a Christian college, I find this plays itself out often. The culture of the dorm is not the culture of the classroom or chapel. It’s far and away a better environment than Beelzebub State University,  but I feel like there is a serious divide between theory and practice when it comes to mature Christian living. Daniel and his friends didn’t blindly accept everything U Babylon threw at them. Instead, they engaged the Babylonian culture, and they engaged it at it’s most important level–not what was going on while Professor Balthazar was lecturing, but what was going on when everyone was hanging out.

And it’s at this point that I want to address entertainment standards. Yes, entertainment standards. I’m aware that in the unlikely event any person from my college reads this, they will instinctively label me a Puritanical legalist. I’m not a complete prude when it comes to entertainment, and I feel a little bit like the pot calling the kettle black when I’m writing this. But when Christians interact with non-Christian culture, they should be actively engaging with it, not passively submitting to it. I feel like my generation (me included) does not actively think about the movies/Youtube videos they watch and the music they listen to. We listen to it, it makes us feel good, we’re happy, we move on. We don’t stop to think about whether what is being presented brings greater glory to God, what the worldview behind it is, whether it presents truth or a lie. In a quest to be relevant, we have let the world dictate its norms to us. We are engaging the culture, we are engorging it. And then we wonder why non-Christians don’t take us seriously.

Questions? Thoughts? Philosophical cheap shots?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2012 4:56 am

    A lot of good stuff. We don’t have dorms at NSA, but the students certainly spend a lot of time together, and entertainment standards are definitely an issue.

  2. February 23, 2012 5:23 am

    My first comment is that life in an engineering dorm consists of: 1) Homework 2) Homework with other people 3) Weeping about homework and 4) switching to business.

    Your points about the “behind-the-scenes” are good tho. Keep it up.

    • February 23, 2012 8:57 pm

      I don’t live in an engineering dorm, so I wouldn’t know. What is homework. Some of the non-English majors that I know talk about that often. From what I know, “homework” seems to be similar to what the Music Majors call “Practice,” but considerably less rewarding.

      • February 25, 2012 4:59 am

        When you live in an apartment, a significant portion of time is devoted to “not cleaning.”

  3. Toni permalink
    February 23, 2012 12:42 pm

    I am sharing your post with my class today. We have just finished our study of Psalms and using them as a form of worship. Now comes the leap. From somewhere in the discussion, one of my seventh graders shared this thought on what he had learned: Since you [teacher] told us about using the Bible when we watch movies and to think about what the movies are saying, I just don’t go to the show as often. Most of that stuff is just bad. (It’s a paraphrase, but the gist is there.) I was thrilled. He is beginning to see how to use the Bible as the filter for what he consumes.

    When he goes off to college, I hope he makes this same observation: you have to use the Bible to filter what you consume, even in the dorm. This is where the rubber meets the road for a lot of young people. You now have to decide how much of a filter you want the Scriptures to be; you have to own it more and more. Pursue holiness.

    • February 23, 2012 8:59 pm

      Thanks for this, Aunt Toni. You were one of the first people to introduce me to the idea of actually thinking about the worldview behind art/entertainment rather than just passively sucking it up. I remember learning so much in 7th/8th grade literature class.

  4. Nico Lasta permalink
    February 25, 2012 2:49 am

    This, sir, makes one think.

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