Many people around the country this week were preparing for and celebrating Valentine’s Day. So I thought I would read two biblical passages about love. These passages reminded me of why I don’t want to love: John 17:20-26 and 1 Cor 13:8-13.
In John 17, Jesus reminded me that my love of fellow Christians is supposed to reflect at least something of the love Jesus shared with the Father. I realize that I cannot actually demonstrate the real love shared amongst two members of the Trinity; for that love is perfect love. However, this passage is a reminder that I am to show a radically different love toward fellow Christians than our culture generally understands. I am to demonstrate a love that is described in another passage, 1 Corinthians 13. This passage reminds me of how much I don’t want to love.
This year’s Superbowl show featuring Beyonce began with a quote from famous football coach Vince Lombardi. “Excellence must be pursued, it must be wooed with all of one’s might and every bit of effort that we have each day there’s a new encounter, each week is a new challenge. All of the noise, and all of the glamour, all of the color, all of the excitement, all of the rings, and all of the money….these are the things that linger only in the memory. But the spirit, the will to excel, the will to win, these are the things that endure (echoing off).” Lombardi states what it takes to excel in a sport, but it could be extrapolated out to the pursuit of excellence, in general. All the glitz and glamour fades, but the spirit and the will endure.
This quote was immediately followed by a mix of Beyonce’s songs. Here’s a few of the lyrics pulled from the first minute or so of her musical mix:
“Baby, it’s you…you’re the one I love. You’re the one I need. You’re the only one I see….Look at me, I’m begging you not to go….say you’ll never let me go…I think about you all the time.”
By Jerry Walls
The Manti Te’o saga is one of the most extraordinary stories I have ever heard, and as a proud graduate of Notre Dame and a heavily invested fan of the Fighting Irish, I make no pretense to be an objective observer. As new details continue to be disclosed, I WANT Manti to be vindicated, I WANT the evidence to come out in his favor. Even if he is not without some degree of fault in the matter, (and it seems clear he is not), I hope I can honestly retain a positive view of one of the most popular players in Notre Dame history, and the winner of several post season awards.
Now many people, including me, have wondered how he could possibly have fallen so hard for so long for a hoax, first reported by “Deadspin,” that in retrospect, involves a number of rather implausible details. Interestingly, however, one of those who have come to Te’o’s defense is the maker of the documentary film “Catfish” and the TV show by the same name that explores cases of people who have been hooked by internet romances that turned out to be fraudulent. As the author of this film and show explained, Te’o fell for it largely because he WANTED it to be true. And anyone who has seen the clips of Te’o talking about “Lennay” before the hoax was exposed can easily see this. Manti wears his heart on his sleeve, both on and off the field, and it is hard to deny that his feelings for “her” were intensely real.
This semester I taught my first two sections of Introduction to Logic. Of course, I love teaching students as per my undergraduate degree in education. What I specifically love about teaching students is the learning process. It is a rich experience to see people grasp a concept and then utilize that concept in their lives.
My students grasped the importance of good argumentation and reasoning and then began to utilize this learning in their lives. I heard stories of interactions with friends and family members. I listened to their exasperation at the material fallacies present in the presidential and vice-presidential debates. I smiled as I saw their faces light up when they realized they could make good arguments for their beliefs.
The best part for me was realizing that they were learning to “love God with all their mind” as part of Jesus’ commands in Matthew 22:37.
These students live in a time with much negative press towards the Christian faith in mainstream media, as well as from best-selling new atheist authors. Our cultural environment can feel somewhat hostile and degrading to young Christian students. For example, Sam Harris’ states that ““Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings.” Richard Dawkins views religious teaching as “child abuse.” The student, who hasn’t been taught to break down these arguments, may uncritically accept some of these conclusions as true. Conversely, when we teach students how to criticize and analyze an argument for validity, they can thoughtfully engage with some of the poor arguments espoused by these prominent figures in our society.
The university is supposed to be a place where students can think through ideas, evaluate them, and search for what is true. That is what we hope to encourage at Houston Baptist University: that every student should search for what is true. College students are a time in their lives when they are moving from accepting the teachings of the authorities in their life (clergy, parents, youth ministers) to examining these claims for themselves. This is a time when they begin to “own” their beliefs. Unfortunately, Bradley Wright’s research demonstrates that university professors, in general, still harbor the most negative feelings towards Christianity in our country (specifically evangelical Christians). To quote the famous NASA line: “Houston, we have a problem.” Well, Houston, we also have a solution!
Parents and students, when you are looking for a world-class education, don’t forget to include places where students will be mentored to actually think for themselves. Come to Houston Baptist University! We want to help you love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
 Harris, Sam. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (New York: W.W. Norton & Company),173.
 “..in the same way as Amnesty works tirelessly to free political prisoners the world over, we should work to free the children of the world from the religions which, with parental approval, damage minds too young to understand what is happening to them.” Richard Dawkins. “Religions Real Child Abuse.” The Dawkins Foundation website. Available from: http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/118. Accessed November 30, 2012.
 Bradley N. Wright. Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Told. (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House).