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22nd and 23rd Week PhD: Manuscript and Retreat

The semester is almost done. I have skipped a week or two of blog posts. Last week was reserved for working on our advanced worldview manuscript. My manuscript, as you know from last post, was about comparing and contrasting individualism with a Christian worldview. Even though individualism as a worldview centers on self and self-sufficiency as the solution to redemption, there are a few commonalities with a Christian’s view of the world. Beginning with Luther, salvation was thought of as an individual, personal journey rather than being something that had to be made through the intercession of a priest. An individual’s relationship to God is important. Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you don’t or can’t love yourself, then loving others is hard. But this does not mean you have to love yourself above others (Philippians 2:3-4).

This past weekend I was part of a retreat that ACU does about four times a year. They invite faculty and staff (about 15) for a 24-hour retreat called StillPoint. The point of this retreat is to come to the quiet and answer the will of God. We learned about creating time for quiet, solitude, and prayer with God just as Jesus did. It was a time of renewal, focus, and peace. The book that was used to create this retreat is Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence by Ruth Haley Barton. Finding time for quiet and solitude in this busy world can be a challenge, but when you do, you will find that moving from solitude to community to ministry as Jesus did. This concept was made clear to us by Henri Nouwen in an article from Leadership Journal that explains how Jesus needed time with God in order to be on the same page as his Father (to discover his Father’s will). The same is true for us. Take some time, 5, 10, 15 minutes away from the internet, your phone, bills, television, and even family to spend time with God. He wants to spend time with you. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:7, NIV).

Blessings to you and yours.


16th Week PhD: Individualism and Consumerism

Another week gone, and still there is much to do! Also, my mom is doing better after surgery and continues to recover. Thank you to all of you who are keeping her in your thoughts and prayers.

This week the focus for me was on the discussion post for the Advanced Worldview class regarding the prevalence of individualism versus consumerism in our world in general and in education. According to our textbook, written by Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford in Hidden Worldviews (2009), individualism is “the belief that the individual is the primary reality and that our understanding of the universe and lifestyle should be centered in oneself” (p.  27). From the same textbook, consumerism “absolutizes consumption by believing that we can find fulfillment by accumulating wealth and everything that comes with it” (p. 45). In the case of the world in general, I believe individualism (selfishness) is more prevalent since individualism causes consumerism. Finding fulfillment usually means our own fulfillment, which is just a form of individualism. James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (NIV). Adam and Eve ate from the tree of life in order to be like God (Genesis 3:5-6). Individualism, the desire to be put “in the God-position” has caused “every evil practice” (Wilkens & Sanford, 2009, p. 42).

Consumerism is rampant in education, especially higher education. Students are now viewed as consumers or customers. Making a profit is the goal for most institutions. Building better buildings, better programs, attracting more students are all incorporated into vision and mission statements without actually being stated. Too often the intrinsic value of higher education is lost in the sea of consumerism. Investing in buildings that are already there, students that are already there, and faculty and staff that are already there would seem to be the most profitable by being good stewards of what God has already given. Luke 12:48b (NIV) says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Blessings to you and yours.

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