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Wheaton Problems Pt. 2: Read Think Pray Live.

January 19, 2013

In my last post, I covered three different types of complaints that I hear at Wheaton College and talked about distancing yourself from the “Wheaton Culture.” In this post, I am going to give four concrete steps to dealing with Wheaton Problems (or any large-scale problems in a group.) The four steps are: Read, Think, Pray, Live. Yes, I stole these from Tony Jones, because it makes me cool.

This guy has to be legit. Just look at those glasses.

Read:Many Wheaton students are disturbingly provincial. They only know one side of an issue, or worse, only think that there are two sides to an issue. Our thinking is often not broad enough to  encompass the issues that we deal with. One way to solve this problem is to read. Good writers give us perspectives on issues that we don’t have. Since they’ve spent time writing and revising, their thoughts are more developed than those we find in conversation. And they often don’t share our biases of time and place, so they can jolt us out of our comfort zone. If you think there is a serious issue on Wheaton’s campus, read about it as much as you can. For example, if you don’t like the Wheaton dating scene, start reading about it. Read I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Read I Gave Dating a Chance. Read the great authors to see what they have to say about romantic love. Read Chaucer and Shakespeare and Spencer and Austen and Eliot and Chesterton and Lewis and Hauerwas and Piper and everyone else. If you have read at least semi-widely on a topic, you have enough knowledge to have a view and defend it on grounds that are more than “it’s my opinion” or “everybody believes it.”

This, however, is not quite what I meant.

Think: This goes hand in hand with the reading. Its not enough to merely parrot everyone you read, although that would be preferable (and certainly it is legitimate to agree with an author wholeheartedly on a given subject–we don’t want to fall into the fallacy of being “edgy” for its own sake). Think about the arguments given and whether they are sound. Talk about these things with your friends. Write or converse or take a walk and think about them. If there is a legitimate problem on campus, the answer will probably be complex and multi-faceted. Of course, you don’t want to be a navel-gazer who only thinks and never acts. But you need to make sure your beliefs and course of action are sound before you act. An important part of thinking is making sure you know the other side and understand the motivations of people who do not agree with you. There are always factors that influence people’s actions. Find out what they are.

Pray: Probably the most important item on this list. Many people have concerns about Wheaton’s campus life, but apparently don’t think that they are important enough to bring before the Lord (Unless they aren’t Christians, but that is a different story). Which do you think is more effective: telling your friends about problem x or talking to God about it. If there are problems on Wheaton’s campus, we are going to find the solutions on our knees. This especially pertains to spiritual problems. Many times when I think to myself about the spiritual poverty of Wheaton’s campus, I forget my own lack of spiritual discipline. We need to avoid setting ourselves up as examples that the rest of the community should follow. Instead, we should focus on our own spiritual problems and relationship with Christ, which will, in time, show its fruitfulness. Don’t like the Wheaton dating scene? Pray about it. Think Wheaton students have a shallow faith? Pray about it. Think that people at Wheaton are too judgmental? Pray for them. The difference between praying for change and complaining about the status quo is the difference between a saint and a pharisee.

Live: Now that you have read, thought and prayed about the issue, it is time to implement your solution, which is managementese for “Git ‘r Dun.” There’s not much to this step other than just doing it. Don’t worry about what other people might say, just get out there and live. I find that this is the simplest, but hardest step in the chain.

You don’t have to be the amazing warrior to take down the problems of life.

It is not enough to say “stop complaining.” There has to be an alternative to complaining. I hope that this has helped everyone, and I pray that we all will be at once more content and more ready to change the face of Wheaton College or wherever it is exactly you are. I welcome your thoughts and comments on the issue.

Current Listenings: The King of the Delta Blues by Robert Johnson

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