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To The Well VO LU ME 1 I SS UE 1


PARKER MARSHALL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Chattanooga, TN Class of 2020

Edenton, NC Class of 2019

Business Journalism and Economics

Religious Studies

DANNY EICH

DAVID RAY ALLEN

EDITOR

WRITER & EDITOR

Charlotte, NC Class of 2020

Shelby, NC Class of 2018

English

Religious Studies

DAVID BUSSELL

HANNA WATSON

WRITER & EDITOR

POET & EDITOR

Charlotte, NC Class of 2020

Wichita, KS Class of 2020

Computer Science

Public Policy and African, African American & Diaspora Studies

GRACE HILDEBRAND

ANDREW BORROR

WRITER & EDITOR

WRITER & EDITOR

Charlotte, NC Class of 2020

West Lafayette, IN Class of 2023

English Studies

Ph.D. candidate in Human Movement Science

KELLY BUMB

MARYRACHEL BULKELEY

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

Tucson, AZ Class of 2019

Black Mountain, NC Class of 2018

Journalism (Graphic Design)

Journalism and Latin, PPE minor

LYNSEY MEISSNER

MEREDITH KATIBAH

WRITER & PUBLICIST

PUBLICIST

Waxhaw, NC Class of 2019

Charlotte, NC Class of 2020

Human Development & Family Studies

Public Relations

CALEB CLARKE PHOTOGRAPHER Charlotte, NC Class of 2020 Visual Communications

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BRODIE HEGINBOTHAM

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Table of Contents 04

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR PARKER MARSHALL

CONCEALED CONCEIT ANDREW BORROR

AN INTERVIEW WITH KEN MEYERS GRACE HILDEBRAND

ACHING DESIRES DAVID BUSSELL

HOW THE GOSPEL REDEFINES DISABILITY LYNSEY MEISSNER

THE PLACE OF BELIEF IN A PLURALISTIC WORLD BRODIE HEGINBOTHAM

LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR DAVID RAY ALLEN

POETRY VALERIE LUNDEEN & HANNA WATSON

MARGIN NOTES BRODIE HEGINBOTHAM & PARKER MARSHALL

END NOTES

Our Mission To The Well is a journal of Christian thought at UNC that exists to proclaim the resurrected Christ who gives hope to the hopeless, rest to the weary, and peace to the suffering.

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Dear Reader, This publication is for UNC. We see goodness in the kindness of the people here, the university’s intellectually rigorous climate, and the campus’s physical beauty. Carolina is a special and unique environment because of these things, and we hope to contribute to its goodness. We are literally writing to “the well,” or the Old Well, as a symbol of the people at UNC. Liberal and conservative. Believer and skeptic. Science and liberal arts major. To all who are invested somehow in this place, we invite you to read. This journal is for you. To The Well is meant to engage readers in an imperative quality of the university, the pursuit of truth and meaning. Specifically, it is to be a platform for those who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ to share how their faith influences the way they understand the world. Too often, we believe, questions of real truth and meaning are neglected in the classroom. We learn about a subject but are rarely invited to consider how our knowledge of it relates to our comprehensive worldview. Our hope is that To The Well will give students the opportunity to process such questions. Beyond this, our staff wants to spark conversations on campus. We are not simply Christians writing for other Christians. Rather, we want to offer a starting point for all members of the university community to engage thoughtfully with one another about their respective worldviews. In that spirit, we invite you not only to read this journal but to discuss it, too. You may be turned-off by the notion of a journal of Christian thought. The word “Christian” can mean different things to different people. To understand what it means for To The Well to consider itself a Christian publication, we look to a story from the Bible that is not told often but, I believe, is beautiful. One day, Jesus was walking to the home of a prominent religious leader. At this point in his ministry, he had gained some notoriety for performing miracles, and it didn’t take long for a large crowd to form around him wherever he went. People pressed against him, hoping to hear a word or share a request. Amidst the crowd was a woman with a bleeding problem for many years. Convinced that if she could simply touch Jesus she would be healed, she pushed her way through the

crowd. She reached out only barely to brush Jesus’s body. Jesus stopped. “Who touched me?” he asked. Appalled by such a question in a large crowd of people, his disciples reminded him that many people had touched him. But Jesus knew someone hadn’t just touched him, but reached to him, clung to him if just for a moment. The bleeding woman stepped forward and confessed. Jesus, filled with compassion for the woman, looked to her and said, “Go in peace, your faith has made you whole.” The woman walked away, healed from her bleeding. For us at To The Well, to be a Christian is to be like that woman. She didn’t rely on her own understanding of the technical, theological specificities of who Jesus was and what he came to fulfill. Simply, she reached for him, pursued him with faith that he would heal her. So it is with our staff. We are united in that we all know the need for a savior and believe the person of Jesus Christ has fulfilled that need. In this first issue, and in future issues, we will respond to weighty questions. We will strive to articulate thoughtful understandings of the world in light of what we believe. We fully acknowledge that what we write will be subject to disagreement and oftentimes worthy critique. In the end, it is not our own ability to formulate systematic theological opinions that gives us hope, but the gospel story of Jesus Christ. It is only his death and resurrection that frees us from brokenness. My hope is that this truth will be visible in everything we publish. Our first issue’s theme is “Deeper” because we as a staff have seen the gospel story add new depth to the things that we love. Our studies, work, hobbies, and relationships all gain new significance in light of the work of Jesus. In this issue, we take a closer look at this significance. Thank you for picking up To The Well. I hope you enjoy it.

Parker Marshall Editor-in-Chief

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Concealed Conceit FINDING BAL ANCED HE A LT H I N A CULT URE O F E XT RE M E S By Andrew Borror

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n my experience, people gravitate toward one of two extremes: the health freak or the couch potato. Some of us obsess over health. We can’t enjoy a meal because we’re already thinking about the next one. The calories. The bloating. The salad for lunch because I’m having pie later (just a sliver). On the contrary, some of us scarcely think about health. If we mention it, it’s in the form of a joke about how we should run more regularly or cut back on the Cookout trays. Personally, I fall into the first category. As someone who studies exercise physiology, I wish I could say my passion for exercise stems from a pure desire to be a good steward of my body. But in reality, it’s driven by anxiety. I am anxious about how I look, I am

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perturbed by the fear of loneliness, and I am longing for acceptance. I struggle with body image because I think people will like me more if I’m physically attractive. Our culture seems to think that this is an uncommon problem for men to have. But is it actually? Without diminishing the societal pressures placed on women to be thin, I think it’s worth vocalizing that men can struggle with body image too. For some men, it’s about being perceived as strong and muscular. For others, it’s about being lean. I long for friendship, which is a good thing. But when that desire gets warped, it manifests itself in anxious striving and feelings of low self-worth. Somewhere along the way, I began to believe the narrative that my value is based on the opinions of


others. If I look good and perform well, I will develop meaningful relationships. Ironically, I’ve found that the rigid schedule and discipline required to maintain exceptional fitness have done nothing but hinder my relationships. My means of seeking friendship is the very thing preventing me from obtaining it. There’s simply no time to be inconvenienced by a friend, I’ve got to get in a workout! At a glance, it appears the solution must be higher self-esteem. People need to see how beautiful they really are and what they’ve accomplished. They need to stop worrying about everyone else’s opinions and live by their own standards. In my life, however, I’ve come to realize that the problem isn’t self-esteem at all, it’s selfobsession. The problem isn’t that I don’t love myself enough, it’s that I’m too focused on myself to begin with. I’m full of pride. C.S. Lewis points out that the antithesis of pride, humility, is not thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less.1 Deep connections and freedom from anxiety come through focusing on others, not thinking more highly of myself. The more I’m focused on myself, the more I am disappointed by the standards that I can’t meet. This is what is beautiful about the message of Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, He calls us to an absurd standard. The whole point is that we can’t live up to it. Jesus died to free us from the illusion that we can find freedom through

perfection. He’s not pressuring us to become a prettier version of ourselves. He’s calling us to accept that He has fulfilled the standard, so we don’t need to. We don’t have to anxiously strive to please others. We don’t have to hide behind a flawless social media façade. Our value is not dictated by our appearance or performance. My value is not determined by the condition of my body.

My means of seeking friendship is the very thing preventing me from obtaining it. Now, my perversion of fitness does not mean health is inherently deceitful or to be disregarded. In fact, it’s vital. We ought to be good stewards of our bodies—they are gifts from God that grow and change, sweat and create. Our bodies are designed to move! Getting regular exercise and eating wholesome foods require time and effort, but the benefits are innumerable. Being healthy

frees us up to do the things God created us to do. We can live with exuberance and longevity, see our grandchildren grow up, more astutely manage our resources, and be more potent members of society. Granted, health is not completely in our control; there’s an element of grappling with God’s sovereignty and accepting the restraints He has placed upon creation. However, we clearly have some control over our well-being and how we treat our bodies. For me, a deeper look at my struggle with body image revealed that it’s actually a twisted form of pride. We’re meant to rule our bodies, not be ruled by them. Some of us are ruled by our body’s desire for comfort or convenience. We seek immediate foods replete with additives and avoid the discomfort of exerting ourselves physically. Others of us are ruled by calorie counts and rigid workout regimens. In either case, we are satisfying the demands of our bodies. If we orient our lives around this satisfaction, whether driven by comfort or physique, we are not living in freedom. Health is a good thing, but it’s not the thing. It’s not meant to dictate our value. Rather, our value is found in God, who beckons us to steward our bodies well and participate in His redemption of all things.

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KEN MYERS A N I N T E RV I E W W I T H

By Grace Hildebrand

A FORMER JOURNALIST with NPR,

producer and host of Mars Hill Audio, and author of All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture, Ken Myers is a leading voice on the relationship between Christianity and culture. I had the opportunity to sit down with Myers and have a conversation about faith, vocation, and the university. Reading some of your work, I have noticed a theme of searching for a unified vision for the university. How have you understood the idea of a unified vision for academics? Various academic disciplines would benefit from understanding how the knowledge they are pursuing correlates with the knowledge from other disciplines, so there can be an understanding of

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the whole that is being produced in academic work. I think philosophy and theology are in a place to orient the disciplines with each other. However, what I think is happening in modern higher education is that philosophy and theology are specialized disciplines that really don’t reflect on the whole of human experience and the whole of knowledge the way they could and the way they have in the past. How do you understand the intersection of the gifts we receive from God and what we pursue in the university? Paul says we have been given gifts for the building up of the body. We are not given gifts just so we can delight in having the things. Although we do, and, as it happens, when we serve the

building up of the body, because of the gifts that God has given each of us, we actually find it a delightful thing. People find a vocation, find a calling, and those that find vocation in academic work, who take delight in a particular aspect of knowing the world, can share that knowledge with others. I think that academic vocations are a kind of gift. One of the criticisms against the modern university is that there is a type of “careerism.” People do work in their discipline for the benefit of the people in their discipline. It gets narrower and narrower, the more advanced you are in your discipline, the fewer people you are serving. I think that’s partly because universities no longer encourage a common good that can unite all of us. When that confidence about a shared common good is no longer there, people do pursue private interests.


When was the first time you experienced an intersectionality between a spiritual gift and your pursuit of education? When I was in college as an undergraduate, my study was principally focused on film theory and aesthetics, so I was in the arts. Early on, I realized that there was a practical hostility between people in the arts and Christians. A lot of Christians were suspicious of the arts, and a lot of people in the arts were suspicious of Christians. And so that was my first sense that there was a fracturing of these two aspects of human experience that were once much more united. If there truly is an institutional pressure to pursue private interests, how do you think we can discern our selfish desires and the passions God has placed in our hearts? There need not be a conflict between what- let’s use the term “career advancement”- between career advancement and serving the common good. There sometimes is. Part of the problem is built into how some of the disciplines, or how the management of some of the disciplines, has developed. Therefore, when Paul says you are given gifts for the building of the body, you are given gifts to build up the community, whose destiny is to actually be fulfilled as a picture of the love that is present between the members of the trinity [the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit]. At some deep level, we still retain

that. But I do think that there is a tendency to serve private interests. There is an institutional pressure to pursue private interests. What advice would you have for college students struggling to find the discipline to which God is calling them in the midst of the university setting? I think that what I have found is that first, the reflection of the humanity of Jesus represents a fully theological account about our humanity and about creation and our place in creation. This idea provides a kind of foundation for thinking about all kinds of academic disciplines. If our understanding of the consequences of the gospel are too hyper-spiritualized, then we don’t have the kind of foundation to give us the incentive or the imagination that would help us to think about various aspects of life in creation that are covered in different academic disciplines. How, then, could a faith deeply rooted in the gospel work as a way to make sense of other disciplines, rather than push them away? If God is the creator of all things, then everything is really only understandable in light of God. If God is the creator of human beings with all of the capacities they have, to pursue political life, social life, or artistic life, then to bracket God out of consideration as we think of those things is to have an incomplete understanding of what those things are.

If God is the creator of all things, then everything is really only understandable in light of God. LIKE MYERS, I BELIEVE the apostle

Paul when he tells the people at the church in 1 Corinthians that each of us has a special gift from the Lord. These gifts, as Myers agreed, delight us, letting us use “the manifestation of the Holy Spirit” and use them for what is known as “the common good.” The church, making up the body of Christ on Earth, is built by the community of members, each utilizing their gifts from the Lord to their highest potential in glorifying God. This idea doesn’t always go precisely with the modern societal pull for education. Although majors seem to be drifting towards being more specialized and independent from one another, God is responsible for everything studied in each discipline. Our passions, the desires God puts on our hearts, help us determine which of these areas of study is best suited for our talents and gifts. The gospel shows us that the love of Christ is sufficient, that in him all of our deepest longings are fulfilled. This overcomes the pressure of finding societal “success,” as God grants us more than we could ever imagine.

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Aching Desires TA KI N G A C LO S E R LOO K AT THE DEF INITIO N O F SIN By David Bussell

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hy are you reading this?

Why did you decide to take time out of your day, open this journal, and read through it? What did you do before reading this? Why did you do that thing? Why did you watch that show, go to that place, or read that book? Let me up the stakes a bit. Why do you spend time with the people you call your friends? Why are you studying what you’re studying? Why are you at UNC? I ask all this primarily to bring you to one key question: Why do you do the things you do? One possible theory, which reflects the thinking of philosopher James K. A. Smith, is simple: It is because humans, at the very core of who they are, have desires.

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This may seem anticlimactic for the amount of rhetorical questions I just put you through, but pause for a moment and think about what that statement is saying. If we are desiring beings more so than we are anything else – that is, if we are beings whose most foundational stirrings are desires that by nature want and have to be satisfied - then these desires will manifest in how we live our lives. Essentially, our routinely-lived lives are extensions of these core desires. At this point, I am not so much talking about what one could call “common desires” (i.e. the desire for a Cookout milkshake or the preference for a certain song), but rather the desires that never seem to quite leave us, the ones emanating from the heart in the form of our deepest longings. A desire for peace,

security, justice, friendship, and joy are but a few of such longings. In Dr. Smith’s view, we would say we love the things that we hope can satisfy these core desires. He elaborates, “We are essentially and ultimately desiring animals, which is simply to say that we are essentially and ultimately lovers. To be human is to love, and it is what we love that defines who we are.”1 Pictorially, Smith imagines humans as arrows, oriented by our desires and aimed at that which we hope can fulfill them. Yet if humans can be represented by arrows being aimed at something, might it be possible that our aim is off and pointing at the wrong target? Perhaps the best way to answer this question is with another. What comes to mind when I


write the word “sin”? Immediate religious – maybe even hyperreligious – connotations and overtones? Perhaps for some of you, bright red letters against a dark background commanding you to STOP SINNING flash in your mind. For others it may be a tattered metaphorical rule book in your mind’s eye. Others still, perhaps a vague sense of darkness that plagues the world within and without. Or maybe you reject my question and its concept completely. Whatever your answer, consider first a case study proposed by Augustine, a fourth century theologian: “A man committed murder. Why? Because he loved another’s wife or his property; or he wanted to acquire money to live on by plundering his goods; or he was afraid of losing his own property by the action of his victim; or he had suffered injury and burned with desire for revenge.”2 Augustine gives a crime – or for our purposes we might say “sin” – and then gives four different but plausible explanations for why someone might sin in this way. But that’s not what’s unique. The more compelling idea is how closely together he links a horrible act with good desires – desires for love, comfort, security, and justice. This – the hazy intermingling of the good and evil – is where sin gets its power. Contrary to how sin is often discussed in our culture (as well as in some of our churches), which reduces it to the mere breaking of rules or crossing of lines, sin in reality is robust; it interacts with us and we feel its effects (Romans 7).

We feel it when we turn once again to that thing we know will leave us feeling empty and wanting more; it comes to us at night to bury us in shame; and it seeps through our bodies as poison threatening to drag us into a restless sleep. It is because sin is a perversion of our desires, ultimately twisting the arrow away from the One who can fulfill them and curving it either back in on itself or pointing it at some other, insufficient target. But how can this be? How can something so dead act so alive?

How can something so dead act so alive? For you who doubt or disagree, consider this: what if the world were created by a loving God, and in this world God created humans, the jewel of his creation, in order that they may know him and enjoy him forever? It follows then that humans would have a capacity (or desire) to fundamentally love God. But then, what if a horrible disease infected God’s creation, simultaneously perverting all that God had made while still leaving traces of the pure creation? Humans would still have desires that yearn for a relationship with their Maker, but ones that only make sense in a fallen world (i.e. a want for peace, justice, rest, etc.). However, these desires now have

the disease to contend with. This is where the glory of Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, shines forth. See, because Jesus knows what it’s like to be human (Hebrews 4:15) and because he has conquered by his resurrection all sin and death (Colossians 2:14-15), the cure for the disease and all its ramifications – especially our tainted desires – is there for the taking. Do you long for love? Receive the eternal, steadfast love of Jesus (Psalm 136). Do you seek comfort? Turn to the God of all comfort and he will be near (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Do you yearn for security? Rest in the open arms of the Father (Psalm 91). Do you cry for peace and rage against war? Look to the Prince of Peace and the one who will wipe the tears from your eyes (Revelation 21:4). Do you want to be known? Entrust your heart to the Lord who knit you together and knows you perfectly (Psalm 139:13). Do you feel purposeless? Accept the King’s invitation to live a new life with him – that you might enjoy one another forever – and to him – that others, by your influence, may share in that Joy as well (Ephesians 2:10, 1 Peter 2:9). The next time your hands are empty and you’re wondering “Why this? Why again?”, turn your eyes upon the Lord of Glory, the One who, with eagerness and joy, satisfies those aching desires.

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How the Gospel Redefines Disability By Lynsey Meissner

Before I go on, I feel I need to acknowledge that I have never felt the pangs of marginalization or lived with disability. I do not know the depths of the reality of life with disability. I write this because I am compelled to do so by the sheer beauty I have witnessed in the lives of my brothers and sisters with disabilities. This beauty, I fear, the world overlooks.

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hen encountering disability, people often fail to notice the person with a disability at all. Our eyes seek out efficiency, novelty, and allure. Our glance passes over anything that does not seem to offer us instant gratification. We are hardwired to seek comfort and avoid those who are different from us. Much of the time, difference is seen as threatening. We are afraid of saying the wrong thing, appearing awkward, or offending the other party. When interacting with someone who is different from us, we often find that the conversational charm we rely on in our circle of comfort falls short or doesn’t translate. As the conversation continues, we become increasingly aware of our own lack of knowledge and understanding. Difference reveals to us our deficiency and if there’s anything we strive to avoid, it is that. Our weakness terrifies us. I see this so much in the culture of UNC. We hide our limits. We pretend like we know things that we don’t because we want people to think that we’re intelligent. We don’t rest because that would mean giving up that one extra activity that we are trying to tack onto our schedule. We wear ourselves down and beat ourselves up in an attempt to be seen as perfect. The ideal UNC student is someone who makes amazing grades, doesn’t struggle in class, holds a leadership position in the most well-known extra-curriculars, has a great group of friends, is fun and likeable, and still has time to take a shower and

look like a human being on any given day. Someone without flaws. I believe that if we truly look at our lives, however, we find that it never measures up to this standard. Why do we hide our weaknesses and inabilities? We have been taught that strength and weakness are dichotomous. The Bible tells an entirely different story. A story in which strength and weakness are not pitted against one another, but one in which strength comes from weakness. It is the story of a holy God who chose to enter into weakness. A God who walked among and chose to be associated with the marginalized rather than the powerful. A God who defeated death not with a sword or bow, but with His arms outstretched in the most vulnerable of positions, bloodied and beaten on a cross. A story in which strength and weakness are found at work together. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9) And I see that same story unfolding in the lives of my friends with disabilities. I see it in Kevin’s unfettered and unrestricted dance moves, his arms and legs moving in every direction to the beat, with a determined yet rapturous smile on his face. In Christine and Marcy’s ever consistent and hopeful encouragement as I stumble

through the chords of a song during morning worship. It’s there in Jon’s jokes and Eddie’s prayers “to always remain close to God forever.” There too in Jeff ’s genuine concern for the well-being of his friends. These people have been labeled weak and labeled ones in need of help, but they are the brothers and sisters in whom I often see Christ the most. Could it be that the ones we have labeled as in need are actually the ones that we need? In 1 Corinthians 12:22, speaking of the Church, Paul states “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are in fact the most indispensable.” The friendship offered by people with disabilities is indispensable. It is valuable and it is real. Without pursuing it, our churches, our communities, as well as our view of the Gospel are severely lacking. With a Biblical worldview, the world is turned upside down. Joy comes from suffering, the last become the first, and strength is found in weakness. We no longer have to prove ourselves because our worth is found in Christ. As we turn away from comfort and pursue difference with a Gospel driven, world upsidedown approach, we will find much in common and much to be offered to one another. So let’s seek to embrace those with disabilities. Although it may be uncomfortable initially, it is so worth it. There is beauty and strength to be found.

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THE PLACE OF BELIEF IN A PLURALISTIC WORLD By Brodie Heginbotham

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ow do you determine which worldviews should not be allowed to exist in our society?” This was my question to a Religious Studies graduate student here at UNC, when we struck up a conversation one day last fall. A speaker was coming to UNC who had been an anti-protester at Charlottesville’s Unite The Right rally in August of last year, and my friend and I began a conversation about what ideologies should not be tolerated in society. “I guess the only worldviews that shouldn’t exist are the ones believing that other worldviews shouldn’t exist.” His response intrigued me. The irony of it was not lost on him. He knew that by his own declaration, the worldview he presented should not be allowed to exist.

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But I knew what he meant. In a globalized society, if we don’t make space for other beliefs and worldviews, even ones that starkly contradict ours, there will be violence. This has led to a new unforgivable sin in modern society: intolerance. If an ideological group decides that all other groups, or any other group, should no longer exist, they will not have a place in our society; and for good reason. With the spread of a globalized culture, groups from different cultural, religious, ideological, and historical backgrounds are living, working, learning, and governing together for the first time in history, and this whole project — the project of globalization and harmonious living — can crumble if people start asserting dominance over other worldviews. So pluralism is the answer.


Some Christian thought leaders have raised issue with pluralism, arguing that it weakens the truths and traditions from which Christianity emerges. This argument could be used for any faith or ideological belief. By embracing a pluralistic society, the ancient truths of our worldviews could be diluted into a kind of vague relativism. This is the danger of the globalized melting pot, and this is why some are fearful of a pluralistic society. It seems like many of these fears simply misunderstand pluralism. Lesslie Newbigin, writing in England in the 1980s, defines a pluralistic society as “not merely a society which is in fact plural in the variety of cultures, religions, and lifestyles which it embraces, but pluralist in the sense that this plurality is celebrated as things to be approved and cherished.”1 A pluralistic society not only has multiple varying worldviews represented, but desires that multiple varying worldviews are represented. As I will point out in more detail, this does not mean that any individual need abandon the conviction and dedication that he or she has for truth, rather it means making space in the public society for people who may disagree in every way. It means that one must love his or her ideological enemy. Pluralism does not mean that Christians need to be less dedicated to their faith or scripture. In fact, the fear that many Christians have surrounding pluralism is misplaced. Don’t forget the society from which our faith emerged. In ancient Rome, religious pluralism was commonplace. Roman Paganism

was not a cohesive religion, but actually comprised thousands of religions, with different views of the world. Paganism and its thousands of variations combined with Judaism, Christianity, and eventually Manichaeism (an Iranian dualistic religion that thrived in late antiquity). This society was the petri-dish of early Christianity. So religious pluralism is no stranger to the Christian faith, in fact it feels quite at home there. Bart Ehrman, a New Testament scholar here at UNC, describes how the Edict of Milan, which the emperor Constantine wrote to legalize Christianity, was the first government document pronouncing religious freedom.2 Of course, the “Christian state” of the Roman Empire unfortunately turned to violence and conquering in the name of Jesus, because they abandoned the religious freedom of an earlier age, but nevertheless the beginning of the Christian faith was born in a kind of pluralistic society. In fact, a pluralistic society is the ideal situation for the Christian mission. The Christian mission is, as Newbigin puts it “to proclaim and propel.”3 Christians are to proclaim, he explains, the message of Christ’s gospel. This they should do without shame, as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans “I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”4 So the Christian mission is on one hand to proclaim the theological truths of the Scriptures, encouraging other people to follow Jesus as well.

The university, the hospital, and the laboratory were born from the Christian mission of propelling the world forward. On the other hand, the Christian mission is to propel society forward. Newbigin writes that “the coming of the gospel into any society introduces the vision of a new world, a different world, a world for which it is legitimate to hope.”5 This is the part of following Jesus that involves ushering the kingdom of God into the earth through scientific progress, medical advancement, creation care, nonviolence, and love for one’s neighbor. This is the mindset that brought about the era of Western progress to begin with. The university, the hospital, and the laboratory, were born from the Christian mission of propelling the world forward. Mark Sayers, an Australian pastor and cultural commentator, notes in his book “The Disappearing Church,” that Post-Christian culture is “moving beyond Christianity, while simultaneously feasting on its fruit.” He points out that “PostChristianity intuitively yearns for the justice and peace of the Kingdom (of God).”6

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So if this is the mission: to proclaim and propel, what does a pluralistic society offer? Is there room in this society for such a mission? As I understand it, a pluralistic society allows people the freedom to listen. When the gospel is proclaimed in a controlled society, where worldviews are few, and are not free, the result is either rejection or compulsion. Such a society will either outright reject the gospel of Christ, or force it upon people, turning a message of freedom into chains of imprisonment. Evangelism is a beautiful project in a pluralistic society, where disciples can be made and people can begin a new relationship with Jesus freely. Such discipleship will always come at a cost. Relationships may change, hardships may result. But a pluralistic society offers an openhanded environment wherein people can honestly examine their hearts without fear and hear the gospel of Jesus. So we can honestly proclaim his gospel best in a pluralistic society. The Christian mission of propelling is also best done in a pluralistic society. Bringing the Kingdom of God to the earth involves having peace and progress while the project of evangelism continues. If the aim of Jesus is to establish God’s eternal Kingdom in all the world, then in the meantime we can usher in the characteristics of this Kingdom (things like nonviolence, education, love, etc.) as we wait for the manifest presence of the eternal King. Pluralism is a

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good environment for this because, as the graduate student showed me, it asserts that no harm will come to anyone if they happen to disagree with us. Pluralism aims to be nonviolent and loving. This sort of society ameliorates the Christian mission of propelling. So in my view, Christians should take refuge in the pluralistic society because it allows us to pursue our mission.

Christians should take refuge in the pluralistic society because it allows us to pursue our mission.

As American society, especially in universities, continues to grow more diverse in its ideologies and religious views, Christians shouldn’t worry. This isn’t a failure or hindrance of God, it merely shows that the mission of propeling society toward a more free and peaceful world is succeeding. One thing to avoid, however, is plurality of the self. An ideal pluralistic society does not insist that an individual believe in multiple, discrepant

truths. This is the mistake people often make when they hear the term pluralism, and there are many who champion such a pluralism. But the maintaining of multiple incoherent truths is at the expense of reason and logic. One can be a member of a pluralistic society and believe that Jesus is the only way to true human flourishing. There is no need to sacrifice conviction and dedication. There is a kind of pluralism, then, that can be unhelpful. If a culture collectively demands that each person hold to the view that multiple contradicting truths can be valid, and this culture claims that people without this view are not welcome, that would be unhelpful, and that cannot be called pluralism. Pluralism is the presence of multiple people representing different worldviews, not the dominance of a single worldview. Even if a dominant worldview is called “pluralism,” it cannot be truly pluralistic if it restricts the presence of other, contradicting views. The best pluralistic society is one in which all people decide to value one another’s presence without the loss of their deeply held beliefs. This is the mission of the modern West, and though it may spook the religious fundamentalist at first, there is no need for concern. In a society like ours, life is valued above all, and grace and truth will support it.


By David Ray Allen

T

he chorus of my childhood was Atlanta Braves baseball. While most of my friends were playing with GI Joes or riding bikes, I was preparing for my inevitable rise to fame as the Braves’ shortstop. At school I daydreamed about being up to bat with thousands of fans watching, at home I threw a ball off the garage wall until my mom or dad called me in for dinner, and at night I fell asleep watching my heroes play ball on TV. One of my favorite parts about baseball was the amount of games. There are 162 in the regular season and then the playoffs, which my Braves were always in. As I matured, however, the thought dawned on me that it must be really hard to play that many games. I figured for the players it must be tough to give your all day-inand-day-out. With that long of a season one game could surely seem meaningless. Because rain, shine, win, or lose — there are 161 more. I went on a trip to visit baseball stadiums recently with my dad and brother to celebrate my brother’s high school graduation. One night I sat in Fenway Park, an

iconic baseball stadium, next to a baby. I imagine his dad will one day tell him about how he held him in the bleachers for nine innings as the crowd roared and how minutes later the Red Sox won on a walkoff hit. There, what may have felt like a meaningless game to the players on the field — just one of 162 — meant much more for the 30,000 people crowded in the stands. For baseball players there are thousands of games in their career if they’re lucky, which may make it easy to look at an afternoon game in the middle of June with fewer than 5,000 people in the stands as relatively pointless. Nobody is really watching, and there are bigger games ahead; so who cares? It’s easy for regular people to take a baseball player’s mentality when it comes to loving our neighbors. Sometimes I find myself thinking that my small interactions mean nothing. It won’t affect them, nor will it affect me, so I may as well say what feels good and forget about the people in the crowd. In doing this, we forget what it feels like to be a kid at a baseball game. We’re forgetting how minute interactions can lead us to grand dreams. When the

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potential for impact of our daily conversations seems insignificant, it is easy to fall into a state of complacency toward the people we do life with. This state of mind lends itself to an attitude that says it is OK with writing checks to charities, but fails to address loving the person down the street who has different politics. We often don’t want to get our feet dirty. Instead, we cut the check, feel good about our contribution, and fail to ever understand what others are going through. But loving your neighbor is not a clean task. It’s one that requires getting both feet deep in the rich, red mud and coming together with friends and foes alike to make this world a better place, which is what makes it so rewarding. Isn’t one of the best feelings in the world getting clean in the shower after a long day of working? Seeing the dirt fall from your hands and the crevices of your toes? Loving your neighbor is not always the easiest choice. It is not always convenient or simple. Because we live in a broken world, it can often be a tough, dirty act. In “Liturgy of the Ordinary,” Tish Harrison Warren breaks down a day into ritual acts — from waiting in traffic to brushing teeth to sleeping to making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She explains that these simple actions are a type of liturgy, which comes from the greek for “public works” or “work for the people.”1 Often we get caught up in the idea that words like liturgy and holiness can only be sought out inside a building with a steeple, but that’s simply not true. Liturgies are public works, not private experiences. Warren argues that God created this world and

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called it good, and therefore even our mundane actions like packing a PB&J for lunch and making our beds have a type of holiness in them. She wants her readers to know that every little action we take affects how we perceive ourselves and others. Often, it seems, people are affected by the way a mom is smiling when she picks up her kid from school everyday or a cashier is always warm and helpful at the grocery store. It’s the idea that changing the way we get ready in the morning or building in time to read and write can change us more than novels and sermons. When we make it a routine to spend time in prayer or to learn new things, it can change our entire way of living.

It can change our entire way of living. We all have these stories of our crazy habits. Maybe it’s the way you put on socks or the way you make your bed — we all find ourselves deep in our routines in the mundane. We build them up to a point to where it’s hard for them to fail. Maybe we can’t even picture our life without certain routines. I find myself wondering what would my life look like if I built up a routine of loving my neighbor? When I went into interactions with a cashier at a bookstore or my parents at the dinner table, what if


my first thought is always figuring out what I can do to be of service to them? What if I had that ideal so deep within me that, just like my snack before bed, it became a part of who I am? How much different would our houses, communities, and world look if on a daily basis we made a habit of being better to our grandmas, mail carriers, and bosses? In the late great David Foster Wallace’s now famous commencement speech at Kenyon College, he talks a lot about how adulthood consists of many dreary, daily practices. Foster Wallace explains how easy it can be to get upset with everyone around you and see a situation from your “default settings” and your inherently self-centered point of view. But for Foster Wallace, these are the moments that define us. “The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop,” Foster Wallace said. “But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.”2 Foster Wallace argues that our lives can be completely changed by the mentality we bring into our

daily routines. Instead of building up nonsensical anger on the freeway or in the store, we need to realize that everyone else is in the same spot we are. So instead of bringing ourselves and others down with us, we ought to strive to lift others up.

Developing a loving routine involves being more present. Developing a loving routine involves being more present. “Present” is a buzzword I often hear at churches and ministries, but in its purest form it’s something we should all aim to be. It can begin with putting the phone down at the dinner table, but we have to go deeper. It’s listening to a friend who lost a relative and just being there. Not talking and interjecting yourself, but simply allowing the current moment and the people we are with to be valued. Instead of listening to the world and treating our neighbor as a means to an end, we should live in the moment and enjoy the people around us. One of my first visits to a Braves game was on a sticky July night. Nomar Garciappara and the Red Sox were playing, and although I was a die-hard Braves fan, Garciappara was my favorite shortstop in the league. I stood in the front row of the stands for thirty minutes before the game just yelling his name over and over.

“Noooommaaaaar! Nooomaaaarrrr! Hey, Garciaparra! Will you sign my autograph book?” My dad, who re-tells this story quite often, was ready to get to our seats before the game started and was losing some hearing from all of my yelling. Garciappara was too busy and had bigger things running through his mind than signing my book. But right before we turned to head out, Nomar ran over to me, grinned, and signed my book. I can’t tell you one other thing about that game. Who won, who played well, what the score was, nothing. But I do remember feeling like I was watching the game from the clouds because of my elation. Nomar signed my book. He saw me. He listened to me. Loving your neighbor in daily interactions is a lot like what Nomar did at that game fifteen years ago. For him, as he was warming up, it may have seemed like nobody was watching or nobody cared, but in reality, there was a kid with his glove reaching over the rails yelling his name. For us, it may seem like our “warmups,” or routines, don’t matter. Maybe it feels like our daily interactions with others are meaningless in the long run. But that’s far from the truth. For me and you, it’s our job to be the ballplayer who hustles down the first-base line on a groundout. Who tosses the ball to the crowd after the inning is over. Who signs autographs and high-fives the kid with your jersey on. Because every moment, every interaction, every day matters more than we’ll ever know. And we shouldn’t be afraid to get dirty.

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woman By Valerie Lundeen

you: contributor, provider, speaker. you, sequestered in a cul-de-sac of diluted benefit, distilled grace, and disembodied faith; you, with the bruise on your wrist manifesting that on your soul, you are seen! take down your hair and lift your eyes; repent, but don’t apologize; choose to savor rather than save. — you, hands stained with the ink of history which has confined your mothers, listen higher! believe in black and white, but only because they make grey. understand the context is not the mandate; your restlessness is logical. breathe, you. —

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you, master of the gracious, lift your hands— one palm outstretched, the other with raised fist. let that rain wash your self image; drink deep your sisters’ dreams and chase them with a gulp of raindrop. — you: collect the gravely bits on their perfectly paved highway; save the pieces for your daughters, and they’ll build a new road— narrow, as they say. this one will be curvy, asphalt rather than cement, traffic without signals. they’ll honk their horns but you’ll drown them out, your song too beautiful to ignore. you— yes, you—

woman.


john the baptist By Hanna Watson John the Baptist stood still, a pillar in the pulsing current. Rivers dripped down hands dipped in holy water. Rivers laced through ridges on fingers, the Spirit flooding every valley on their tips. John’s hands held Jesus, skin rough as Damascus road, heavy in his prophetic palms. Made mud by the Jordan, dirt from under his nails smeared the body he held.

Gravity quivered at the weight of the God he gripped who sank beneath the surface. Garments haloed His body; water chiffoned over His face. Through Jordan’s ripples the lucid sky prismed and glinted on His eyes: a thousand moons projected morning auroras above. As He rose, a hallowed voice evaporated cascading droplets before they splashed the surface and John’s breath bolted to catch this mighty rushing wind.

Sweat rolled from His neck, kissed John’s curled knuckles, gentle rain on a mountain range: this was different water, a holy of holy waters that raced down His shoulder to mingle with an everyday river.

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Mark 1:1-15 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” 1

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MARGIN NOTES

By Brodie Heginbotham & Parker Marshall

1: Mark is the first account we have of Jesus, written somewhere between 65-75 CE, and it begins with a striking idenitification. This identification is important because Jesus’s identity is a huge question for the gospel of Mark. Only the demons and sinners tend to know who Jesus, the sent messiah from God, truly is. In this opening line, Mark is pulling you in to be aware of Jesus’ identity, and watch as people struggle with discovering who he is. 7: John came in the fashion of former prophets, preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Ezekiel 18:21-22). However, his message is markedly more focused than that of the former prophets. Instead of preaching bare repentance, he preaches of a coming King who will usher in God’s Spirit to baptize people, washing their sin once and for all. 12: The identity of Jesus as fully God and fully man is important to Christians because it shows that the creator of the universe has actually experienced the world as a mortal. We read in the Bible that God allows our faith to be tested so that we may know him better (James 1:3), but often lament why that must be the case. In this passage, we see that God actually knows what it is like to be tempted as a human. He does not ask us to follow paths that he himself has not already traversed. 15: This is an inexpressibly important verse for believers. It’s the earliest look we get into what it was Jesus actually preached. It is brief and to the point: there is a new Kingdom breaking in, and its citizenship is open to all who will repent and believe. At our present political moment, the longing for a reformed government feels especially pertinent. The renewal that Jesus speaks of is often put in political terms. As Christians, we have faith that God is making all things new (Revelation 21:5). When we see political messiness, at home and abroad, we are able to have hope in a perfect King that is seated at the throne of universe and rules with justice and grace.


Endnotes CONCEALED CONCEIT 1. Lewis, C. S. 1952. Mere Christianity. New York: MacMillan Pub. Co.

AN INTERVIEW WITH KEN MYERS 1. Cor. 12:1-11

ACHING DESIRES 1. James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 51. 2. Augustine, Confessions (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 1992), 30.

HOW THE GOSPEL REDEFINES DISABILITY 1. 2 Cor. 12:9 2. 1 Cor. 12:22

THE PLACE OF BELIEF IN A PLURALISTIC WORLD 1. Newbegin. The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society. Page 1. 2. This is drawn from Bart Ehrman’s statement to The New York Times in Tom Bissell’s “Why Did Christianity Prevail?” 3. Newbegin. (129). 4. Romans 1:16 5. Newbegin. (130). 6. Mark Sayers, The Disappearing Church. (15).

LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR 1. Warren, Tish Harrison. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2016. 2. Wallace, David Foster. This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. New York: Little, Brown, and, Co, 2009, 76-78.

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To The Well: Deeper, Fall 2018  

Volume 1, Issue 1

To The Well: Deeper, Fall 2018  

Volume 1, Issue 1

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