a journal of Christian thought at Stanford University
ON LOVE Aimee Precourt DOWNWARD MOBILITY Jonathan Lipps GLOBALIZING ETHICS Jonathan Scrafford THE RETURN OF THE FATHERS Kevin Kambo Plus Reviews, Opinions, Arts and more...
Volume I, Issue I Spring â€˜08 Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
O magnify the lord with me; and let us extol his name together. Psalm 34:3
Contents Our Vision
Letter from the Editors
The Return of the Fathers
Belief and Doubt at Stanford
An Interview with David Jones
Missions: Going the Second Mile
Out of Service
God is Love
Opinion: Christianity, Creativity, and the Glory of God
Opinion: An Interview with Russell Berman
Opinion: Christianity and Politics
Arts: Poems by Shannon Wong and Natalie Wiesen
Vox Clara Staff
Feature Fruit of the Spirit
Our Vision Vox Clara is a journal of Christian thought. It seeks to provide a forum through which students of Stanford University can explore and discuss the meaning and role of religion in their lives. We believe this question is not adequately addressed in the Stanford community, and is a danger alluded to in Jane Stanford’s inscription on the north wall of Memorial Church: “There is no narrowing so deadly as the narrowing of man’s horizon of spiritual things. No worse evil could befall him in his course on earth than to lose sight of Heaven. And it is not civilization that can prevent this; it is not civilization that can compensate for it. No widening of science, no possession of abstract truth, can indemnify for an enfeebled hold on the highest and central truths of humanity. ‘What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’” For those of us at Vox Clara, spiritual truths are found in the person of Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God, who became man, died and rose again for the salvation of all men. He is not a thing of the past, something simply referenced in the pages of the Holy Bible that we turn to once a week, but is the truth that pervades our entire lives, our hope in a world that is beyond human solution. It is through Him that we interpret and understand the world around us. Using this journal, we seek to express to the Stanford community that religion is not a set of arbitrary rules and prohibitions, something that limits or takes away our freedom, creativity or indeed ability to live, but rather an affirmation that sheds light on everything, imbues it, vivifies it and redeems it all. We at Vox Clara have come together, each with our own experience and from different Christian traditions to more deeply explore how faith illuminates life, and how life enriches faith. And we invite all to join us in this important conversation. Simply put, we are trying to give an account for the hope that is within us; the hope that we cherish. We are engaging the university community as Christian scholars, artists, thinkers, workers, students, children, parents, lovers and sufferers. We do not wish to impose our belief, but propose our views to everyone at Stanford who, like us, is searching; searching for meaning, for truth and for Love. And seeking collectively, we will speak with a clear voice and voyage together, elevating each other’s lives in the process. May the Spirit of freedom guide us.
Vox Clara Staff
Aimee Precourt Kevin Kambo
Design Editor & Historian
James Plank Michael Lin
Letter from the Editors Words cannot express how excited the staff of Vox Clara is to present to the Stanford community the first issue of Stanford’s only and perhaps first journal dedicated to exploring the intersection of Christian thought and contemporary culture. We committed to the idea of a magazine a little over a year ago and ever since then it has been a bit of a journey of self-discovery. Starting simply from a hope and a prayer, we have had to learn (or invent) the rest on the job, as they say. Still, it has been an enjoyable experience of growth. The current issue is drafted around the theme of Love, given that love is at the heart of our faith. The two great commandments of Christianity are commandments of love – love for God and love for our fellow man. For this reason it seemed only logical that this would be the concept on which to found this journal itself, and not merely this first issue. It is in the service of Love that very different confessional perspectives and personal histories were able to commit themselves to a single spirit and vision, a profound and moving testimony to diversity in unity. It is therefore our hope that that this sentiment will be evidenced clearly as you read through the pages of this journal. Christianity is not a religion that turns its back on the world, but rather exists to live in it, challenging and in turn being challenged by the sphere of humanity. A lot of hard work, then, has been put into making the journal accessible to any reader – Christian or not – without, of course, compromising our core beliefs. And so we welcome feedback from every reader – Christian or not. Indeed the success of this somewhat daring project depends on the reciprocity found in such a relationship; we need you to tell us what we are doing right and what we can do better. We invite you, therefore, to explore this publication and find out how you might fit into its purpose – a sincere dialogue of beliefs. Whether you are Christian, of another faith, agnostic or atheist, we hope you appreciate the need for discussion about those questions salient to our age. The perennial questions about the nature and final end of man, as well as the more modern inquiries concerning the supposed tension between religion and science, the relationship between faith and reason, or the question of religion and violence. May you find material here to inspire even more of those middle-of-the-night conversations even if you do not share our premises or conclusions. We, for our part, will strive to make Vox Clara an accurate reflection and clear voice of the Christian tradition. Aimee Precourt and Kevin Kambo Class of 2008
a note on our name In the words of the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, we think of Christianity that, “it is at her [Christianity] centre, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests that at the centre of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice.” All of us at Vox Clara acknowledge this voice of Jesus Christ and believe that in this confusing, clamorous world, His voice is the only true voice, forming the foundation of our hope and strength. For this reason, we have chosen Vox Clara, a Latin phrase which translates as “clear voice,” as the name for this publication.
The Return of the Fathers Kevin Kambo In the last few centuries interest in ancient figures called the Fathers of the Church has grown. These are influential teachers and writers from Christianity before the terrible schisms. The new concern is due to resurgent interest about the early Church and what being Christian was really like in those days – apart from the constant threat of being thrown to the lions, that is. Gifted in scholarship, oratory, rhetoric and commentary, the Fathers often played significant roles in the development of Christian doctrines and the proposal of the Christian faith to the world. They are distinguished not so much by their Gandalf-esque beards, but by orthodox teaching, holiness in life and belonging to the ancient past. That last criterion, though, is a bit artificial because in their day and age the Fathers were, well, quite modern. In fact, there is not much keeping certain Church leaders of recent times from being admitted into the club. For those interested in the Fathers, however, there is the troublesome interpretive preoccupation these days with the “influences” shaping the author, his “political motivations”, his “secret” something or other, and less with the content of the texts themselves. In the introduction to one translation of De Incarnatione by Athanasius of Alexandria, C.S. Lewis laments this problem and the misfortune of many readers who out of an understandable but unfortunate shyness rely too much on modern commentaries and are afraid of reading the original text themselves. Lewis with characteristic charm phrases it nicely: “[The amateur] would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about ‘isms’ and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what
[the ancient author] really said.” Too often the experts and the professionals are too excited about their own theories about the man, and not about the man’s message. This phenomenon is not limited to the sphere of historical interpretation but can be noted, again, in the treatment of certain Church leaders of our day. Too often those who might be considered the Fathers of our own epoch are pigeonholed or disfigured by refraction through ideological lenses and judged by this age’s interpreters without regard to what they actually teach. The interpreters of this age are the journalists. But, who are the Fathers? Well, if we may regard the Fathers as those who held orthodox teaching and lived lives of holiness, then Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) and Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) are modern equivalents. Like the Fathers of old, theirs is to strengthen their brethren and, in the words of the Athanasian Creed, keep the Christian faith whole and entire contra mundum – against the world – if necessary. It is rather amusing how the press are unable to explain John Paul’s “rockstar” status “despite” his “archaic” views on many issues, showing that he and his Church were surely “out of step” with the spirit of the age. Yet John Paul (the Great) was one of the few voices in the world that could at once console, comfort and challenge it. “Do not be afraid!” he exhorted a world still recovering from the Second World War and staggering under the threat of communism. It was with lived experience that he guided Central and Eastern Europe from under the shadow of communism; with deep insight he authored one of the most daring theological works of our time, his Theology of the Body; and he was a tireless
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
defender of the unity between faith and reason not unlike the old Apologetic Fathers who had to defend the faith against the pure reason Greek philosophers. Joseph Ratzinger inspired this piece by his recently concluded yearlong instruction to the Church on the topic of the Fathers. He draws his own inspiration from the greatest of the Latin Fathers, Augustine of Hippo. For him, Augustine is “a friend, a contemporary.” Indeed this is one of the hallmarks of Ratzinger’s thought. He engages the ancient authorities as contemporaries and himself has acquired a Patristic hermeneutic – his thought and insight are as one of the old Fathers, yet with the experience of our time. For example, regarding the young Augustine, Ratzinger remarks that at one point “he had always loved Jesus but had drifted further away from ecclesial practice, as also happens to many young people today.” Reading that I will never be able to look at those “spiritualbut-not-religious” souls quite the same way. Ratzinger’s Christianity is certainly not of the holier-than-thou, I’m-saved-and-you’renot vintage. He is keenly aware of the evils perpetrated by Christians and Christian nations throughout the history of western civilization and the insufficiency of “the clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly, are so frequent in the Church’s human history”. Addressing university students he once explained that the mark of holiness “does not run through historical time, in an outward sense, and cannot be drawn on any map; it runs through our own hearts.” For Ratzinger all men – believers and non-believers alike – suffer
under the burdens that weigh us down and for which there are no easy fixes. Ours is indeed a time so starved for spiritual significance, drowning in distraction after distraction. Silence and stillness are feared, and we cannot even get as far as the bathroom without being connected to our iPods. Ratzinger perceives with clarity that the “desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love” is vast in our lives. To those youth who tragically refer to themselves as “accidents” he cries out with a paternal forcefulness, “Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” He finds his faith to be a source of hope and strength. Ratzinger is passionate in his faith and so naturally feels that all spiritual worldviews are wrong inasmuch as they exclude Christ. In a culture whose orthodoxy is atheism and whose dogma is karma, a person who has strong convictions comes across as a fundamentalist. Yet the delicacy with which Ratzinger treats those who hold differing views from his own undoes such a caricature. While the myth of the sinister High Inquisitor was easier to sustain when then Cardinal Ratzinger was effectively the guardian of Catholic orthodoxy, his elevation to the papacy has let his not-so-little light shine and banish the shadow of the bogeyman. Yet the commentators still insist on being perplexed by the man and are continually offering conflicting accounts at once of a stern disciplinarian and a shy and meek academic. And as with the Fathers there persists among too many journalists a banal preoccupation with irrelevancies and disregard for the message being proposed. It was amusing to see the cool reception
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
of Ratzinger’s solicitous yet firm defense of the divinity of Christ in his book Jesus of Nazareth by secularists. The Economist article on Raztinger and his book was titled An Author and his Subject and went on to make the point (ever so politely) that strong doctrinal convictions might not contribute to interreligious harmony. This nicely illustrated the fact that they really did not realize that for Ratzinger, God is The Author and the pope is but His subject and that the pope’s opinion on any matter can still be summarised in the timeworn joke: Is the pope Catholic? The starkest instance of the confusion about this man to date surrounds the address delivered at the University of Regensberg about a year and a half ago. The address at Regensburg was a vigorous defense of faith and of reason. Reason here is understood as man’s capacity to seek and find the truth. Concerning faith Ratzinger stressed the fundamental right of all persons to freely exercise religion and that coercive religion has no place in our world. Christianity by its nature is not coercive because it must respect the inviolability of every man’s conscience and thus the truth claims of the faith can only be proposed and not imposed, as John Paul once explained it. Showing that he would not be held back by a “prudent” or soft ecumenism, Ratzinger pointed out that this is a discussion that needs to take place within Islam, a point he highlighted again by personally baptizing a convert from Islam this Easter in Rome. Yet the central theme of the speech was the need for the rehabilitation of reason. Ratzinger is unimpressed by the scientism and empiricism that limits the concept of truth to the realm of what is scientifically verifiable. Such an approach reduces the human sciences, such as philosophy, anthropology and history, and forces them to “conform themselves to this canon of scientificity” and of course excludes the question of God. The idea of goodness and ethics becomes hollow since “the subjective ‘conscience’ becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical.” This widespread phenomenon can be seen in the reluctance of college students to condemn the evil in some acts performed in other cultures, such as human sacrifice or ethnic cleansing. “Who am I to judge? There is no universal moral law,” goes the tired old refrain. And the weakening of our fidelity to Truth and Goodness means that the third transcendental, Beauty, is also lost since there is no standard by which to gauge it. So many jokes about modern art exist simply because too much of modern art is a joke. Art now contents itself with exciting pleasure where once it inspired joy;
no longer does it attempt to raise the spirit of man but rather appeals to his base desires in the name of realism. Without a sense of transcendent values then beauty is abandoned for the sake of utility and shock-value. Even within some spheres of Christianity itself, mystery has been abandoned for “accessibility”. Ratzinger is grieved by this loss of the sense of beauty because for him Christianity’s truth is encountered best not in abstract argumentation but in the beauty of the person of Jesus Christ. As John Henry Newman said, “It is as absurd to argue men, as to torture them, into believing.” In an earlier discourse Ratzinger explains that the beauty of faith can only be found in “the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb” in whom and in which the person of Christ is interpreted faithfully. Without truth and beauty the world becomes “the first circle of hell”. In short, Regensburg was an appeal for the elevation of both faith and reason in a bid to recall Europe and the West from the edge of nihilism. And in this respect Ratzinger stands quite alone, Athanasius contra mundum. The other inspiration for this article is the visit of Joseph Ratzinger to the United States in mid-April. Predictably there were no shortage of supposed experts and interpreters offering their opinions of what the real significance of the trip was to be, and its lasting significance. I would like to invite you, instead, to forget about the commentators and judge the man yourself on the grounds of his words. Listen with your own ears, read with your own eyes. Can any good come of it? Come and see. Kevin Kambo is Editor-in-Chief of Vox Clara. Citations: Joseph Ratzinger, What It Means to be a Christian. San Franciso: Ignatius Press, 1965, 2006. ___, Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985. ___, Inaugural Homily. Rome, 24 April 2005. ___, Faith, Reason and the University. Regensburg, 12 September 2006. ___, Wednesday catechesis. Romet, 9 January 2008. ___, Wednesday catechesis. Rome, 16 January 2008. Clive S. Lewis, Introduction to translation of De Incarnatione by a religious of C.S.M.V., London, 1944. Photo: Mark Garten
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
Belief and Doubt at Stanford An Interview with David Jones In early March, Stanford's Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) invited renowned pastor, Christian apologist and author of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism to speak before an audience of Stanford community members about questions surrounding Christianity and belief. After the event Vox Clara met with RUF's campus minister, David Jones, and asked him about his impressions of the talk and its relevance to Stanford students today. Why did you want Tim Keller as your speaker? There are a multitude of Christian intellectuals who are able to thoughtfully and graciously engage the good questions people have about Christianity. But we wanted Tim to speak because he is an extraordinarily gifted communicator with a remarkable ability to connect with 21st Century students. He has a wealth of experience dialoguing about Christianity with some of the brightest thinkers in our country. But perhaps most importantly, he personally takes doubt seriously and believes thoughtful questions deserve thoughtful answers. I think this makes him a good fit for Stanford. In many ways, Stanford seems to be a “culture of doubt”. People here generally regard themselves as critical thinkers. Students are also somewhat suspicious of religious truth claims – often with good reason. The default mode is to believe that intelligent and fruitful dialogue about religious faith is impossible. I think bringing someone like Tim Keller to campus shows that it is indeed possible. Are talks like these generally useful? How does one gauge their success? I think we tend to either over-value or under-value these kinds of events. It’s like walking a tightrope. You can fall off on either side. On the one hand, we expect one talk to answer everyone’s objections and satisfy the intellectual curiosities of every person present. That is way too much to expect. But on the other hand, some of us greatly underestimate the value of something like this to pique interest or move someone from thinking Christianity is crazy to thinking it is plausible. My hope is that Tim’s talk and his Q&A would have helped both
Christians and non-Christians to a better understanding their own doubts, as well as lighten the load of obstacles to belief in God. The fruitful conversations that an event like this might engender are a wonderful measure of whether it was “successful” or not. Are talks like these timely given the fashionability of New Atheism? Absolutely. In this [Winter] quarter alone we have heard from Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Lawrence Krauss. We have also heard from Francis Collins, Jay Wesley Richards, and Tim Keller. I think it is enormously beneficial to a university – ostensibly the “marketplace of ideas” – to hear all sides in a conversation about God that is very much near the forefront of our present cultural conversation. What perspective did Tim Keller bring that was different from Francis Collins and Jay Richards? I had the privilege of attending all of these events. Collins and Richards mainly focused on questions arising from the realm of science. I believe Tim was a fabulous complement because he addressed more cultural, historical, and existential dimensions of the “God question”. What do you think is the most challenging point Tim Keller offered to his audience? This is probably my own personal take on the matter, but I believe Tim challenged the simplistic separation of faith and reason that has too much traction in our culture. He argued that all worldviews – religious and non-religious – involve faith-commitments, and I think that is a note too seldom sounded in present discussions. We too quickly polarize faith and reason, as if this worldview is based on faith alone while that worldview is based on reason alone. I think Tim was rightly more nuanced, articulating not only that we reason to faith but we reason from faith. This is something readily acknowledged in a wide variety of contemporary philosophical literature, but for some reason is rarely wrestled with in popular discourse. If this point alone could be
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
granted, it would vastly change the way the whole discussion about God is framed. What did you like best about the talk? There is so much I could say. But personally, the ethos of his talk was my favorite part. I am often disappointed with public debates about religion because each side seems to be “preaching to the choir” No difficulties with one’s worldview are acknowledged. No patience is exhibited with those who do not (yet) see as you see. Tim embodies something different. He is convinced of what he believes, but he understands and struggles with the honest and challenging questions that other worldviews bring to the table. I thought he respectfully engaged a wide variety of barriers to belief: the problem of evil and suffering, the accusation of arrogance, the history of violence in the name of God, the cultural conditioning dilemma, etc. But it was the way he did it, giving the best articulation of the objections before interacting with them, that sticks out most to me. Do you have any comments regarding the lack of opposition to his arguments from the audience (for the most part)? Perhaps he persuaded everyone? No, in all seriousness, the Q&A was certainly not combative. But I think this has a lot to do with how Tim conducted himself. He was respectful and charitable to those with whom he disagreed. This created a climate where honest and open discussion could take place, rather than agitated accusations and ad hominems. But I would go further and say that all the questions – regardless of WHO was asking them – were challenges to his presentation, in one way or another. Whether they were asked by a Christian or non-Christian, I do not know. But questions such as, “What makes Christianity different from Islam and Judaism?” or “What about the street problem of evil?” or “How can we believe in a God we cannot prove?” or “Couldn’t a better religion than Christianity be conceived?”, were significant topics worthy of their own lectures. The audience seemed primarily Christian, were you expecting this or were you hoping for a more diverse audience? I don’t know how to quantify the make-up of the audience. But the intent of the evening was to engage both Christians and non-Christians. Based on what I have heard since that evening, I think this was accomplished. Numerous students have mentioned the on-going conversations they are having with their non-Christian
friends they invited regarding the existence of God and the uniqueness of Christianity. Tim told me that during the book-signing held afterwards several people approached him and said, “I’ve never considered myself a Christian” or “I’m at best a Deist” or “I don’t yet believe there is a God,” but “I was very intrigued by what you said tonight. I’ve bought your book and plan on exploring in more depth some of what you addressed. We’ll see where it goes.” This is an enormous encouragement to me and to the students who planned this event. Tim came across as a very experienced apologist. Should younger Christians learn apologetics? Both young and old! I believe the Scriptures command all Christians to be “ready to give a reason for the hope within you”. That will look different depending on the person. It doesn’t have to sound like Tim Keller – or Francis Collins, or Jay Wesley Richards. But if Christians plan on having any significant impact on the world around them, they have to deal honestly and patiently with the questions that are raised. I would add that Christians themselves have doubts – most of the same ones that our culture voices. So learning some of the reasons for faith is vital for one’s own spiritual health. What would you recommend to young Christians of today: The Reason for God or Mere Christianity? Why? I think both are marvelous examples of Christians trying to deal with the stumbling blocks to faith. Lewis was a literary genius. I don’t think anyone can turn a phrase or work a metaphor like he did. But he was writing in the mid-20th century. Tim’s book is fresher, dealing with more recent objections to the Christian faith. He writes in a post-9/11 context, which is in many ways radically different from what went before. He also interacts more substantially with contemporary literature. No book will “do it all”. But both of these are great places to start for someone looking to explore the Christian faith. There are countless others that can aid you on your spiritual journey. David Jones is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and has served with Reformed University Fellowship at Stanford University since 2003. He received his Masters of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and graduated from the University of Tennessee magna cum laude with a B.A. in Philosophy in 1996.
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
Downward Mobility Jonathan Lipps Most people in our generation of young, twentysomething people, seem to recognize that we have a responsibility to change the world in some way. Because of technological advances (and other cultural factors), our world is smaller than ever before, and we have become aware of a bewildering array of needs that beg meeting, problems that beg solving. We’re unable, as our parents may have been, to think just about our own little place and not address the wider concerns of a rapidly-changing world. There are a few of us, of course, who in full awareness decide to seek only self-aggrandizement, money, power, and a life of self-gratification. But for the most part, it has become, dare I say, popular to think about the world’s problems and how they might be solved or ameliorated. And if this is actually the case, excellent! But, it seems to me that there are two broad ways we can go about facing these problems: the way most of us tend to do it, and the way Jesus did it. Most of us, including myself, tend to answer the question, “How can I impact the world for good?” with this train of thought: 1. The world’s problems are bigger than myself as an individual. 2. Therefore, if I want to do something about it, I need to get in a place where my individuality counts for more than it does now (as a young college or post-college person). In other words, I need to get into some position where my desire to help the world can actually command more resources than those already available to me. 3. Getting into those positions, whether in politics or business or large non-profits, will take a long time of working within these various systems, but there aren’t really any other options. 4. Therefore, I should pursue opportunities which promise to increase my own power and sphere of influence, that I might use these for good.
And so, we try to move “upwards”, into the upper echelons of society or a global business community, or the US government, thinking, “When I arrive at a position of power, then I will be able to use my authority to effect dramatic change.” This kind of thinking makes sense, especially from our cherished, modernist, Western perspective where change is implemented “top-down”, in a cascade from those with more power to those with less. In fact, this paradigm seems so obviously the one to adopt that it has been a weight of responsibility to many of us personally, as people who have, perhaps, at least some opportunities to move “upward”. From our experiences at Stanford or another university, we could move easily into strategic places in Silicon Valley. Or, the more erudite of us might pursue Ph.Ds and become respected authorities on questions of science, philosophy, or theology. Who knows—maybe one of us is the next C.S. Lewis! (Or insert your favorite author here). Whether or not those possibilities are probable doesn’t matter—the fact that they are there at all has made us ask whether we don’t have a responsibility to grab hold of those opportunities to effect “top-down” change on a large scale. Those of us with talents in the political arena are faced even more acutely with this question. At the same time, if we call ourselves Christians and believe (as I do) that somehow Jesus effected the best kind of change possible for the world and indeed is calling us to do the same, we are confronted with this: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
So, the man who, if we believe the Scriptures, had the most potential authority of anyone who walked the earth, intentionally chose not to exercise that authority. His strategy for change seems to have been, perhaps somewhat obtusely from our perspective, to become the least of women and men, serving them rather than ruling them. God, in other words, chose not to be God, but to be a creature, to be like us. His answer to the problems of the world was not to “fix” them from on high, as he assuredly had the ability to do, but to live in the problems along with those affected by them. Jesus’ choice frustrates me, because it seems inefficient. I can even imagine his friends and family, at that time when he chose to leave his profession of carpentry, accusing him of foolhardiness in discarding a growing business. We might further imagine that he was the best carpenter in the region, with a clear “upward” path to greater power and influence in that arena. But without a second glance, he left behind that path, and chose a “downward” path instead—wandering the wilds with a group of men and women, staying at sympathizers’ homes, hanging out with the unintelligent and socially ostracized, and literally as well as symbolically emptying himself for these unworthy recipients. I can clearly picture those who knew him since the days when he sat at the temple and conversed with the rabbis as an equal, as they commented on his last few years of ministry, shaking their heads and sighing, “He had so much promise! He could have been a great teacher; but then he had to go waste his life with those roughnecks and tax collectors.” Right under their noses, God’s great work of world-redemption was flowering, but it was not recognized because of the manure in which it had chosen to take root. The question is, would we have recognized it? Probably not. And so I wonder, in a fearful sort of way, when I look at Jesus’ choice—is that how I’m supposed to be? Is that how we’re supposed to be? Never mind the theological reasons for such a choice, but on a purely visceral level, could we handle our friends and families thinking that we’d left behind promising “upward” paths for less efficient “downward” ones? So much of our identity has been wrapped up in that “promise”, in our potential for “great” things from the perspective of our culture. Could we give that up? I don’t know, but I do know that some of us are not afraid to wrestle with the question. We have only to look as far away as East Palo Alto or San Francisco to find people quietly building the Kingdom of God after
having left behind opportunities to serve in more “topdown” ways. And they’re doing it without trumpeting their success or using it as an “in” for keynote address invitations on the Christian conference circuit. Or, if these locations are too close to home for us to pay attention (for as we have read, a prophet has no honor in his home town), perhaps our eyes are willing to see what individuals are doing on other continents, like Africa? Still, the Western addiction to efficiency, and the admittedly-wise-seeming feeling of obligation to use our abilities most strategically, are strong. Hanging out with AIDS orphans in Kenya for an extended period of time seems “good”, but is it the most good I can do? No, certainly to do more good I need more money, and that means I should pursue a career in investment banking… and so the paradigm is propagated. But every time I read that passage from Philippians, I’m struck with the alien nature of Jesus’ intentional involvement with pain and suffering. It’s so different from the way that we naturally think about dealing with those problems that it draws us in, magnetized. It seems like there’s no way it can work! Yet through his laying down of all power and authority was born the most miraculous sequence of events in human history. So I think, what would happen if we turned our idea of social change upside down? What if all the brightest and most proto-influential people of our age decided, rather than to pursue an “upwardly mobile” philosophy of change, to hang out with the dejected and downtrodden of our world, becoming in truth one of them? The inexorable (and for some reason acclaimed) march of “Progress” would certainly lose momentum. We might not have new, cool technological toys. If we let our apocalyptic imaginations run wild, we could see the transition causing the dawn of a new Dark Age! But in return, might we not get peace, justice, unity, love? At least, that is what came of Jesus’ unique response to the problems we face in our world. And it’s certainly true that as much as we’ve tried other ways to solve them, we haven’t even come close. Maybe, just maybe, we should think more about this strange idea of “downward mobility”, since, against all intuition, it seems to have been the path that God himself chose. Jonathan Lipps, after living in most of the southern states and Papua New Guinea, came to Stanford and completed his BA and MA in Philosophy. He is inspired, among many things, by what happens when good and provocative thinking meet with a love for God and his kingdom.
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
SecondMile Amy Brown
As a Christian at Stanford, I’ve been part of a church, everything that 2nd Mile has meant to me. I have so a fellowship, and a Bible Study since the beginning of many stories, so many thoughts, so many pictures, my freshman year. While I’ve grown a lot due to my and I couldn’t bear to think of keeping any of them participation in these groups, the thing that has had the out. What follows is a collection of loosely connected biggest impact on my time at Stanford is something a thoughts about some of the amazing ways that I have nd little different. 2 Mile, the brainchild of Steve and been blessed by my participation in 2nd Mile. Lori Stenstrom, is a ministry that seeks to go “the extra I want to start by talking a little bit about the mile, because that’s what [Jesus] did for us.” Practically, community aspect of the projects. Spending all weekend this means that Steve and Lori, along with a dedicated working with a group of strangers can have a strange team of volunteers, regularly go into East Palo Alto effect – by the end of the weekend, you aren’t strangers and spend their time rebuilding homes and schools. anymore! At the 2nd Mile projects, I have made and Think “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”, only with strengthened many relationships not only with other a former Stanford quarterback on the megaphone, and students, but also with adults and children from outside a cast filled with Stanford students the Stanford community. And and local adults and children instead We have to be able to trust God while I may not know any of them of the professional crew of the real enough with our work and our at the beginning of the weekend, show. busy schedules to step out in by the time Sunday night rolls The first 2nd Mile project took around, I feel like we are all part faith and donate some of our place midway through my freshman of a community. It is amazing to year, and while I initially planned time and resources to others. spend a weekend working in this on going, I soon realized that I had community – it paints a beautiful a big midterm the day after the project. I decided to picture of the way that the body of Christ should stay home and study. I told my small group leader that I operate. Each of these people is drawn to the project by had decided to stay home, and she talked me into going a specific reason, whether it was because of their interest “just for a couple of hours.” My couple of hours turned in service projects, because a friend dragged them along, into an entire weekend - I couldn’t pull myself away or because they had heard about it through their church, from the project. I realized once I got there that this but all of them join together to serve the East Palo Alto project was far bigger than my midterm. community. nd Since that first 2 Mile, there have been five more While most of these volunteers have heard about similar projects, and they have had such an incredible 2nd Mile at some point before, one of the coolest impact on my life that I can’t even begin to do them things to me about these projects is the way that God justice. I set out to write this piece about six weeks ago, brings people who have no idea what the 2nd Mile is. and have struggled since then to try to put into words We’ve had 2nd Mile regulars go to Home Depot or
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
IKEA to buy supplies and come back not only with the materials, but also with new volunteers! I experienced this phenomenon when my friend and I went to Costco to buy food for the volunteers; standing in line with 20 rotisserie chickens and four boxes of chocolate chip cookies is not normal, apparently, nor is wearing paintsplotched t-shirts that say “2nd Mile” on the front. We had numerous conversations with people in line, and with the clerks at the checkout counter. These types of encounters are almost regular occurrences for 2nd Mile volunteers. When one of us has a conversation with someone at a store, and that person shows up at the project site the next day, I always realize once again just how strongly God is working in the hearts of his people, drawing them to serve each other in this way. There are always moments like this at these projects in which truths about God become very real to me, usually in new ways. And when I reflect back on the weekend over the days that follow, I always find that I have learned something new about God or about the way that he works in and amongst his people. Having said that, I think that one of the lessons that I took away from one of our most recent projects was about teamwork, about meeting another person where they are. I spent a good deal of the weekend teamed up with my friend Katie Riley (who, incidentally, I got to know at an earlier 2nd Mile project) working to paint the various rooms of the house we were working on. Before we could do any painting, though, we had to put tape along the edges of anything we did not want to accidentally paint, and taping is kind of a tedious task, with no real, visible results. Once we got each room taped, we still had to prime the walls, and then apply two coats of paint. So painting each room really
took a great deal of time, and trying to do a room alone would have taken forever. But each time when I began to tape the room, Katie was there to do half. “I’ll meet you halfway” became the theme of our weekend, and it served to illustrate to me the way that God is willing to come and meet us at whatever stage we are in, and how we need to do that for each other as well. There are so many other lessons I have learned from the various 2nd Mile projects (from how God works in the darkest parts of our lives to how to install insulation), but it would take an entire magazine to share all my thoughts about the 2nd Mile experience. Instead of sharing all of those thoughts, I just want to share a couple of concluding reflections. First, service is not something that we do out of convenience. Here at Stanford, there is always something else competing for our time, always some reason not to go. If we wait to serve until it is convenient for us, we are never going to leave our rooms. We have to be able to trust God enough with our work and our busy schedules to step out in faith and donate some of our time and resources to others. What I have seen through my participation in the 2nd Mile projects is that when I can trust God in that regard, I end up with a new perspective on school that totally rejuvenates me. One of our most recent projects took place last spring quarter, right before finals. While I didn’t think this was the best choice of timing, serving all weekend was such a good reality check going into finals. Finals week is always so focused on the individual, and 2nd Mile is pretty much the furthest thing from that. 2nd Mile is about working with others for others, it’s about people coming together and working together to serve other people and show them how much God loves them. And while I go into each 2nd Mile weekend focused on what I can give and how I can serve, I always come away feeling as if I were the one being blessed. For more information, visit www.2ndmile.com. Amy Brown is a senior from Sunnyvale, CA. She is majoring in Sociology and hopes to work in athletic administration after graduation. When not building houses in East Palo Alto, she can usually be found on the tennis court either playing tennis or cheering on the Stanford teams!
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
Out of Service Kindel Bedore The other day I needed to get some more gas for my car. I usually like to watch the prices and when I think they are as low as they ever will be (especially before they soar sky high again) I fill up my tank. I’ve found this gas station that has gotten my attention and fills my mind with curiosity and confusion. Casey’s gas station advertises its unleaded plus gasoline for less than the regular unleaded gasoline. I’m still trying to figure it out, because that logic just doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Why in the world would any half-way logical business want to sell better gas for less? On my scouting expedition to see if this nonsense was actually true, I pulled up one day into the gas station. Sure enough, to my surprise (and almost disgust) I found that the unleaded plus was $2.09. Interestingly though, the unleaded was not labeled for its price per gallon. How tricky, I thought, for those who are not paying attention. It is our tendency to assume that regular unleaded will be cheaper; but here, if you are not careful, you will end up paying more for the lesser gas. The story gets better. A week or so later I decided to get some more gas. I was still excited about my new find of better gas for less. I brought a friend along to fill up her car too… I figured that I had better share my good fortune. As we pulled up into the gas station I noticed that all the gas pumps had yellow plastic bags over the nozzles. To my horror and frustration, not a single nozzle was uncovered. Each plastic bag had the disappointing news: OUT OF SERVICE. Not only was I disappointed I could not get my “good gas,” but I was also confused and frustrated that they would have every single nozzle closed. What was going on? A hundred different scenarios popped into my head as my friend and I started joking about the situation. I couldn’t help but allow that gas station to make an impression on my mind that got me thinking. The two questions still remained in my head. Why advertise the better gas for less? And why close down every single pumping station? It is almost as if they were making promises to lure customers in, but then were unable to fulfill them. So, customers like my friend and I had to leave the parking lot feeling deceived and ripped off somehow. Have you ever felt your life was like that gas station? On the outside to passing persons, you look very intriguing. There is enough quirk about you that makes people think, “Is this too good to be true?” Yet, once they stop and “test the merchandise” of our hearts and character, they find that they have been deceived. For our spiritual lives have been covered with a yellow bag announcing: “OUT OF SERVICE.” Again, I have to stop and ask the question: Why pretend to “sell” something you cannot back up with hard proof? Why pretend to be someone you are not? If you find yourself in this state, first take down the false advertisement and then start working on getting yourself back “in service.” How do you do this? It’s called Grace.
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
Feature Fruit of the Spirit What are “fruits of the spirit”? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. Galatians 5:22
The characteristics listed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians as “fruits of the Spirit” are, interestingly, characteristics desired by almost any human being. Inevitably, however, the reality of our humanness keeps us from perfectly reflecting these characteristics all the time. The key difference in someone aspiring for these attributes and a follower of Christ is the latter’s realization it can’t be done on their own. Christ, living in them, is the agent of change. In the end, as the Spirit works to transform their desires and attitudes, these attributes are not something Christians decide to do but become a part of who they are. Anyone can show these characteristics to the world…the key difference in the Christian and non-Christian is that while one simply views it as something they choose to do, it is a natural outpouring of the transformed heart of the Christian. What is love? Love—a commonly used word in our culture, yet a concept so hard to define or compartmentalize. For the Christian, the ultimate expression of love is found in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. All other love stems from the perfect love of God, and our actions of love are not based on a feeling, but are a response to the awe and wonder we have towards Christ, His sacrifice, and His infinite mercy. Love is the power that allows mercy and selflessness. It is, then, the greatest good and most powerful force in the universe.
Biblical Thoughts on Love
Your Thoughts on Love
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 44-45 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4: 12 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37 -40
Love hinges on sacrifice. Jonathan Scrafford, ‘09 Biology Love is a word that should not be taken lightly. It is an affectionate way of expressing both devotion and commitment. Joshua Doty, ’08 Political Science Love is unexpected. Heather Purnell, ’09 Psychology Love is an eternal commitment between two or more people... The depth of concern for the other person is as great or greater than the desire to live... It is something that lives and never can be killed and persists against all hope, in purity and trust. Larisa Lehmar, ’08 Biological Sciences, Slavic Lang. and Lit. I wish that English had more than one word to characterize "love" but the type of love that amazes me day in and day out is the love that our Father in heaven has for us because it truly is UNCONDITIONAL. Stacy Sprando, 5th year senior Human Biology To love is to freely give yourself to another so much so that their happiness, hopes, trials and sufferings are in a real sense your own. Kevin Kambo, ’08 Chemistry [Love is] like a light in darkness, and worth everything in the world. Liz Tricase, ’08 Communication
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
Feature Fruit of the Spirit
A Meditation on Love We encourage you to read this short meditation contemplating the love of God, and pray if you feel compelled. Much of the Christian faith involves active participation as we are called to constantly search and grow in our relationship with the Lord through prayer, fellowship, worship, etc. May this help you comprehend even more fully the vastness and greatness of God's love and bring you to ponder how that may affect your everyday life. The meditation is taken from the Grace to You website (www.gty.com), a wonderful source we encourage you to explore. The devotions section of the website has both a daily "Drawing Near" and "Strength for Today" lesson if you're looking for a great way to get plugged in each day!
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
If believers fulfill their constant debt of love, they will have a continual attitude of sacrificial humility. Origen, an early church father, wisely said, “The debt of love remains with us permanently and never leaves us. This is a debt which we pay every day and forever owe.” The primary reason you and I can pay that debt is that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). God’s own love to us and every other believer is the bottomless well from which we can draw and then share with others. If we have this wonderful, supernatural resource of love through the Holy Spirit, it only follows that we must submit to the Spirit. When we do so, all the enemies and impediments to humility—pride, unjustified power-grabbing, selfish ambition, pratisanship, hatred— will melt away. What an overwhelming thought to consider that such humility can be ours because God Himself, through His Spirit, is teaching us to love as we yield to Him. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 At every turn we see humility going hand in hand with godly love. As explained in Galatians, genuine love never turns its “freedom into an opportunity for the flesh,” [5:13] meaning that love does not seek personal gain or satisfaction in relationships with others. Humility, the understanding of our significance and the acknowledgement that all men share this intrinsic worth, is a firm base on which to found our relationships. We recognize the value of every life, and this precludes the desire to use each other for purely selfish reasons. Furthermore, Paul teaches us in his epistle to the Romans that we love each other all the more in our actions that help lead each other to grow in love. He says, “It will not do anything to cause another Christian to fall into sin or even be offended in his conscience” [14:21]. Love that is from God will “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [us]” (Ephesians 4:32). The greatest test of love and humility is the willingness to sacrifice for the good of others. As we have already seen in our study of humility, Jesus was the ultimate example of this (Philippians 2:5-8). Our supreme demonstration of humility is when we imitate Him: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethen” (1 John 3:16). Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for an occasion today to show some facet of biblical love to another person.The Lord will present you with opportunities. Further Study: First John 4 is a wonderful chapter on God’s love and its meaning for believers. According to the apostle, how can we know the truth from error? What benefits derive from God’s love? For more meditations, visit http://www.gty.org/Resources/DailyDevotion. Adapted fom Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
Globalizing Ethics Jonathan Scrafford “I am a citizen of the whole world,” uttered Diogenes the Cynic over two thousand years ago in Greece. If everyone were a citizen of the world, what laws could bind them? Are there any principles common to humanity? In Diogenes’ time, a consensus among Greek thinkers came to be known later as moral cosmopolitanism: the notion that since moral principles apply universally to all humans, all humans share equal moral status and deserve equal treatment. In modern times, globalization – by developments in communication, economy, and technology – is breaking down barriers of space, race, government, and even nation. However, moral relativism, insisting that moral status varies by culture or individual, has created moral barriers worldwide. Should these barriers fall as well, in the name of moral cosmopolitanism? As implied by the philosophical development of cosmopolitanism among ancient Greek sophists, and as necessitated by the world’s current trends towards globalization, universal moral principles must exist and the human global community should work towards finding them. Establishing Moral Universalism There is a true law, right reason, agreeable to nature, known to all men, constant and eternal, which calls to duty by its precepts, and deters from evil by its prohibitions Cicero Diogenes of Sinope (412-323 B.C.) is often credited as the first recorded cosmopolitan. By declaring himself a “citizen of the world,” he introduced the idea that all humans should be equally treated, regardless of national citizenship. This implies that humans share some form of moral status, in the sense that equality of treatment implies equality of value. Diogenes’ declaration of global citizenship is considered a primordial argument for moral cosmopolitanism. Moral relativism argues the opposite of moral cosmopolitanism: that ethics is determined not by global standards but by various contextual factors. For
example, many would argue that morality depends on circumstances leading up to a moment of moral choice – deliberate acts of killing, stealing, or lying may not be wrong if events of the past justify them. Other relativists might say that such acts may not be wrong if they bring about beneficial effects: events of the future justify the action. This line of thinking is central to utilitarianism. Diogenes would criticize moral relativism for such reasons, based on his view of time: “Neither is the future an assured possession, nor is the past a retrievable commodity. Our plans for the future [and] our remembrance of times past easily fall apart… because in fact neither the past nor the future exists.” –Diogenes Thus, Diogenes gave ancient support to a pillar of moral universalism: moral standards are not relative to circumstance. At the moment of choice, one should live in the moment, when only the agent, the object, and the principles connecting them exist. Later development of moral universalism by Aristotle pushed the notion that moral principles are global in scope. He began his work Nicomachean Ethics by establishing that some actions are good or bad in themselves, regardless of utility: “Adultery, theft, murder… and suchlike things imply by their names that they are themselves bad… It is not possible, then, ever to be right with regard to them; one must always be wrong. Nor does goodness or badness with regard to such things depend on committing adultery with the right woman, at the right time, and in the right way, but simply to do any of them is to go wrong.” –Aristotle Actions themselves are the same for all humans: what is
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
relative is their utility to humans within a given context. Aristotle would insist that the same moral principle by which rape is wrong for person X in place Y would declare rape wrong for everyone elsewhere. He went on to discuss the importance of means and ends to ethics. Ethics is about making choices, so he first defines choice: “Wish relates to the end, choice to the means; for instance, we wish to be healthy, but we choose the acts which will make us healthy”. In other words, good intentions do not justify an otherwise bad action. He then defines choice as “deliberate desire of things in our own power.” In other words, what transforms desire to genuine choice is deliberation. He continues this line of logic directly by defining deliberation:
In reality, actions – both good and bad – are chosen, not wished. Because moral principles concern actions, they concern means. While the ends of a given means are wished and relative to context, the means themselves are chosen and universal, though context can certainly affect which means are available to different individuals. Therefore, although as citizens of different countries, humans experience different ends, as citizens of the whole world, they choose the same means, which are appropriately held to global principles out of context.
philosophers. Thomas Aquinas discussed this issue in the thirteenth century in his Summa Theologica, making the observation that although the universal principles of ethics may apply to all men, some may not know them: “The truth is the same for all, but is not equally known to all: thus it is true for all that the three angles of a triangle are together equal to two right angles, although it is not known to all.” However, there remains hope that knowledge of these principles is attainable, since they uniquely relate to human nature: if Diogenes and Aristotle were correct that some moral standards applied to humans universally, then such principles must correlate to human nature, and could thus be known by study of human nature. As can be etymologically inferred, moral relativism (localism) is opposite moral universalism (cosmopolitanism) and embodies the proposition that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is not absolute or universal, but relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of a group of persons. It is more an observation than a theory. It cannot be logically analyzed because it defies deductive logic: at the moment of a conclusion being drawn, a relativist could simply claim that the issue is relative, so all conclusions would be unfounded. As a result of this limitation of relativism, one is forced to consider the conflict of universalism and relativism practically rather than rationally. Heather Widdows of the Center for the Study of Global Ethics, addresses their usefulness in the modern world in her essay “Global Ethics: Foundations and Mythologies,” published in the anthology Global Ethics and Civil Society. She points out that moral relativism hinders effective international diplomacy:
Universalism and Relativism Cultural relativism is a wholly unacceptable ethical theory because it is impossible to live with the doctrine’s severe consequences. If there are no standards, everything is possible, and if everything is possible, torture, forced expulsion, systematic violation of human rights, denial of freedom, and religious persecution are not wrong. Heather Widdows
“Relativism cannot be enough for global ethics, which must engage with ethical debates and issues across national borders and value frameworks… To say that differences should be accepted as unchangeable is untenable when one considers the practical issues of making international laws and agreements” –Heather Widdows
Although moral cosmopolitanism did not undergo much development for hundreds of years after Aristotle, the idea that there was truth to ethics expanded in the centuries following the Middle Ages. During this time arose the notion that humans could actually discover the universal principles discussed by Greek
As we enter a world of globalization, this consideration is especially important: in a global community, humans of different cultures must be able to agree upon certain values and principles, rather than accept all differences and create a highly differentiated community.
“We deliberate not about ends but about means. For a doctor does not deliberate whether he shall heal, nor an orator whether he shall convince, nor a statesman whether he shall produce law and order… Having set the end, they consider how and by what means it is to be attained” –Aristotle
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
Moral Cosmopolitanism in the 21st Century As humanity embarks upon the process of globalization, it can no longer do without a common code of ethics… In all the variety of cultural forms, universal human values exist and they must be brought out and emphasized as the guiding force of all development” Pope John Paul II The philosophical contributions of Diogenes and Aristotle would be little use if they did not have practical applications to humanity. Currently, the issue of “global ethics” is a critical stepping stone to a peaceful human future: through communication and transport technology, modern globalization is connecting societies the world over. Where, then, do ethics fit into a globalized scene? In the spirit of relativism, some conclude that no morals apply to the international community and that the only morals in international society are the subjective values associated with each society. In order to function in a globalized 21st century, however, the citizens of a pluralistic world must search for a set of universal principles by which humans may analyze actions’ goodness or badness independent of the innumerable societal contexts in the world. The only way to discover such principles is through honest and rigorous dialogue between societal groups: dialogue in pursuit of a truth, rather than as an exhibition of opinion: only when people understand that there are answers (rather than merely opinions) to questions of moral principles can they discover them. In his essay “The Case for Contamination,” the prolifically published Ghanaian-American cultural theorist Anthony Appiah addresses the issue of cultural uniqueness in a cosmopolitan world. He explains that in the process of globalization, “the fear is that the values and images of Western mass culture… are threatening to choke out the world’s native flora.” This could be argued against moral cosmopolitanism as well: that adoption of global ethics would squelch cultural diversity and force homogeneity. However, “cultural consumers” – as Appiah refers to members of a culture – could adapt global ethics to suit their own needs and customs. Most cultural practices could continue without change, or be modified in accordance with certain universal human standards. Adaptation is perfectly natural to culture, which must evolve and change anyway in order to survive in a changing world. Cosmopolitanism is not about everyone doing the same things: it’s about the global search for truth. Moral
cosmopolitans simply recognize that there is moral truth, and that humans must search for it: “Cosmopolitans believe in universal truth… It is not skepticism about the idea of truth that guides us; it is realism about how hard the truth is to find” –Anthony Appiah Globalizing Ethics For the first time in history, humankind faces common collective problems, has to find collective solutions, and needs to act as a collectivity Bhikhu Parekh, Center for the Study of Global Governance Global ethics is nothing new. Philosophers have known about the possibility of universal moral standards for all of humanity for thousands of years. Until today, however, it has only been philosophy: discussing an international moral community while living in a time of exclusively local moral communities. Modern globalization has now transformed the philosophy into applicable social theory. In a globalized world with stilllocalized ethics, anything goes anywhere, as justified by local and cultural contexts. However, there are global ethics, moral principles international in scope and applicable to all humans. With the knowledge that they exist, the differentiated peoples of this globalized world must enter into discourse to discover these “collective solutions,” lest local ethics cause conflict in a global community. And in this discourse of morality, from family homes to college campuses, we must demand of the question “what is right and wrong?” not opinions, but answers. Citations Appiah, Anthony. “The Case for Contamination.” Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York Times: 1 January 2006. Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. David Ross. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1989. Widdows, Heather. “Global Ethics: Foundations and Mythologies.” Global Ethics and Civil Society. Ed. John Eade and Darren O’Byrne. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005. 74-88. Jonathan Scrafford was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. He is currently a junior majoring in Biology with plans of entering medical school following graduation.
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
God is Love Natalie Wiesen You may have heard it said before that God is love. That sounds really nice, but when I stop to think about it, I wonder what this really looks like. If I was One man “up there” somewhere and had all these little creatures made in my image, but much lower than I, how could I express my love to them? I think the answer that would pop into most of our minds of what God’s love to us looks like would be what Jesus did for us on the cross. That is how we see God’s love most severely shown to us. Love so severe that it led Jesus to a gruesome death on a cross. He took our rags and filth upon him so that we could have the glorious white robe of a perfect King; sounds like a pretty unfair and scandalous trade to me. I want to talk about another way that God is love that I often forget about or fail to think about realistically. It is wholly incredible if you do stop to think about it. This love is found in the Trinity. God is love because of the Trinity. Now, I have never quite understood the Trinity and never quite will here on this earth. But I imagine that if we lived in just a two dimensional world, instead of the three dimensional world around us, we would not be able to quite fathom how six squares made one thing called a cube. In just a two dimensional world, six squares would be just that—six individual squares. I would not be able to really understand such a thing as another dimension that would make it possible for six squares to make up one cube. But I guess that is the position we creatures are in when it comes to God. He is One, but three at the same time. And I mean three persons. Three persons in One being? Crazy. God is not limited to the time and space of our world (gasp), so he is not limited to just three dimensions either (another gasp). And he is certainly not controlled by our brain capacity to understand or control him. It is very much the opposite. We live and move and have our being only in Him alone (Acts 1:8). And yet for all this mystery, power, and hugeness, he is so very near and personal.
Now, onto the actual statement that God is love because of the Trinity. Before the creation of this world and for all eternity, there has always been a community of beings in the Trinity. They have perfect community with and love for one another. They do not need any of us humans to have fellowship or community. But we get to share in their community of three in One. Let me say that again. Me, little human me, gets to be a part of the community of God Himself! It is a mindboggling truth that when I put my belief in Jesus, the Person, I then have actual, literal, real fellowship with God himself—with all three persons of Him! Maybe this truth can have more color with a little example. When an ordinary girl kneels down to pray in her room, there is so much more going on than one would think. Her goal is to interact with God, maybe talk to him, maybe listen a little, receive from him… you know, the usual. So God is outside of her, but God the Spirit is also inside of her, motivating her and empowering her to pray at all. Jesus is next to her just covered by a paperthin veil hiding him from her sight, but next to her nonetheless. He is helping her to pray and praying for her. Jesus is also the road upon which she is figuratively walking across to even have access to the Father. So God is the thing to which she is praying, God is the thing inside of her as the motive and power to pray, and God is the road along which she is traveling to her goal. So we are being brought to God by God. We are not being brought to God by ourselves, which is easy to subtly and/or subconsciously believe. The life and community of the Trinity is actually going on in that little room in, around, and outside of that girl. And she is very much a part of that community the whole time. So now consider that verse again in Acts 1:8 : We live and move and have our being in Him. I think the key part of that verse is the word IN. In Him. Literally IN HIM. When we live and move about all day every day, we are IN HIM. He is inside, right next to, and all around, outside of us.
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
He literally consumes us, and yet the more we let him have his way in our lives, the more uniquely ourselves (i.e. who he created us to be) we become. A win-win situation if I have ever known one. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at some words of Jesus in John 17:20-26 when he is praying not only for his disciples but for all who will ever believe in him. He says, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.” So he prayed that we would be in them. That we would be in the community of the Trinity—one with them. And then flowing from that community, we can be one with other followers of Jesus. So we only have true unity and community with other believers IN and THROUGH the community of the Trinity. When I walk into a room filled with other Christians, we all have instant community available to us (and I am talking about real true community stemming from God himself ) simply because of the Trinitarian Presence in, beside, and all around us. It is not something we create, but rather something that we enter into. And it is only made possible because of the community of the Trinity. Now a little note about pride. The funny thing about pride is that we think we can actually give something to God apart from him. We usually think that when we kneel down to pray, we are doing something for him, apart from him. We run about working and learning and even acting like Jesus because we think that we have something to offer to him, apart from him. We get very tired sometimes doing this, for this really is a hard life. But then we remember that “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose,” (Philippians 2:13). We hear his precious whisper beckoning us to just be still and know that He is God. He says that his yoke is easy and his burden light, but this statement only has meaning insofar as we are completely abandoned and surrendered to him, holding nothing back from his Lordship and complete authority. For he also tells us that unless a seed first falls to the ground and dies, it cannot grow into any kind of beautiful harvest. Only when we lose our lives for his sake will we find it IN HIM (again, those words: in him). So at the end of the day, God calls us simply to be humble and willing-- willing to give him everything and humble enough to truly know that we do not change our insides. When we do begin to truly become more like Jesus from the inside out, we cannot take any pride
in this at all. The true and right response is to fall to our knees in praise and thanksgiving, for thanksgiving prepares the way for the Lord! When we “sign up” for Christianity, we are signing up for him to make us perfect and holy just as he is perfect and holy. He will not stop until we are just that. None of us will reach that “perfection” here on earth, but he will make us perfect for eternity, and he wants to get as far as he can get here on Earth. Remember though, all we really do is allow the change, and all we can practically do is put on the clothes (or the mask) of Christ: serve others, be kind, submit to others, give up our rights for the sake of others, etc. We can also “cut off an arm” if it causes us to sin, or put to death the misdeeds of the flesh no matter how hard it is (for we are no longer slaves of sin with the Spirit working in us…don’t ever think you just have to sin. That is a lie no matter how convenient it is). When we step out in obedience and put on his clothes, he will slowly turn those clothes into our permanent, real outfit—our own skin and our own body. But we would be foolish to think that we made our own skin like that. All I can boast about is Jesus Christ as my Lord and his grace that changes me from the inside out. I have the freedom to just be a part of the community of the Trinity, enter into his love (the love of those three persons), and let him have his way in my life. Because God is love, I can only love when I am in him. I can only love when I allow his love to enter deep into my soul. True love is only found in him and every attempt to love apart from him is but a shadow, a bleak attempt at copying. How beautiful it is to be filled with his kind of love that is truly merciful, truly serving, truly submissive, truly kind, truly powerful, and truly HIM. But how can I get this? Only through intimacy and community with him, with the three persons of Him. Only through entering into that Triune circle of gushing life and love can I be connected to the true source of love. I have to get close to him and receive from the source of living water. The invitation is open, His hand is extended, He is waiting patiently. That love is quite simply the meaning of our existence. Natalie Wiesen, a native of Denver, graduated in 2006 from Stanford in Human Biology and did gymnastics all four years. She is now working with her husband for a non-profit ministry called Kingdom First Ministries. They help run Cardinal Life on campus and coordinate projects like 2nd Mile.
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
Christianity, Creativity, and the Glory of God Allen Jameson I consider myself a musician. I have played guitar the product of the creative energies of humans, who are for over four years, mandolin for one, and am trying products of the creativity of God. to gradually increase my meagre abilities in singing and Humans, according to the Biblical narrative, are set playing piano. Over the past six years I have become apart from the rest of God’s creation because God made increasingly passionate about music itself and its uses. them in His image (Genesis 1:26). What this means After people know this about me, it usually surprises exactly is a complex and beautiful mystery, but one people that I am ignorant about the giants of classic rock important aspect of it is that we have some reflection like Led Zepplin and Aerosmith, and popular artists like of God’s creative nature as part of our own human Coldplay and Jack Johnson. makeup. I started loving music in a Humans, according to the One conviction of the Christian environment. I loved it Biblical narrative, are set apart Christian worldview is that God’s because when I worshiped God with design in creation has purpose, from the rest of God’s creation and that our joy and satisfaction firm and vibrant lyrics of praise and hymns that included solid music, because God made them in His will come through fulfilling those I felt whole. I came from a church purposes, including enjoying a good image. background where sometimes I relationship with God. Concerning would feel that everything I was singing in worship music then, the most joy and satisfaction will come was true, and my mind was benefiting from the song, when we use music as God intended it, and a good place but my emotions, my body, were not drawn into the to start is to look at the purposes for which God made worship. us image-bearers with attributes such as ingenuity. That may have been how I started to realized that That itself is an explosive and controversial topic. God loves music. Music, like the tapestry of galaxies One short answer is that we, like everything in creation, spread across the universe or the intricacy of the ecology were created to glorify God – to begin to explore this, of the any small piece of the Amazon rainforest, is a see texts like Matthew 5:16 and 6:9-10, Isaiah 43:6-7, beautiful thing that God created with which to take joy 1 Corinthians 10:31, and Philippians 1:11. Our being and to bless his creation. Although music is found in made in God’s image serves to represent Him and glorify nature, in the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, Him in all of creation. Part of my spiritual journey has the music that I refer to is of a more complicated nature been spent realizing that this isn’t the cost and sacrifice – rather than being an element of creation itself, it is of the Christian life, but the joy and benefit of it.
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
Genuine joy and satisfaction will come from fulfilling our purpose of honoring God in everything we do, and realizing that we are not the center of the universe, but that God is the center of existence. Now, an obvious solution is to point first to worship and “church” music, and then to “Christian” pop music. I would say much of the existing material in both these categories does glorify God and is worthwhile, but I want to put my practical focus elsewhere because ending there would be an unsatisfying conclusion. To do this, I will quote first Saint Paul and then Saint Augustine. Saint Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Augustine said regarding our affections, “For he loves Thee [God] too little who loves along with Thee anything else that he does not love for Thy sake.” Saint Paul does not tell us always to think about (and by extension talk about, write about, etc.) only God or theological things. A soldier’s sacrifice for his country is noble, and we should think about it and certainly write songs about it. Romantic love can certainly be pure and lovely, and Saint Paul would certainly approve of songs that talk about it rightly though never mentioning God. A purely instrumental score is often excellent and worthy of praise. But, popularity is not a qualifier Saint Paul mentions, and furthermore lyrics that run against Biblical values are certainly excluded by this list. Augustine’s assertion, however, is that even something true and right can become an idol and dishonor God if we love it apart from God instead of for God’s sake (see Mark 12:30 and 1 Corinthians 10:31). If we do not thank and praise God for the good thing (not always explicitly, of course), we pervert its purpose and rob God of His glory. This is a strong statement, but I believe it is true in view of Romans 14:23 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. To bring this home, let me take a couple of examples of habits that do not live up to this standard. Many songwriters I have talked to write songs by combining catch phrases and emotionally charged words, without thought towards either the truth of what the song actually says or how it reflects God. Others are driven by learning to play popular songs, regardless of whether it glorifies violence or sexual humor or godlessness. These habits boil down to two motivations: the desire to be praised, or the love of a potentially good thing to
the extent of making it an idol. There is no formula for a good and holy work of art. God has given Christians great freedom, and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any style or theme of music. I know Christians who play 70s classics, modern rock, and jazz standards with the right motivations, and those who write songs about girls and adventures, who honor God in their creativity. They have learned to question whether something is right, rather than whether it is not wrong (see 1 Corinthians 10:23). So let us be creative and love the beauty in the world, while growing to love and enjoy God more and more fully. Allen was born in St. Louis, MO but spent most of his life in Fresno, CA. He is thankful for the blessings of a family and church that have helped him grow as long as he can remember, and grateful for the Lord’s loving guidance throughout his life. He is studying Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2009, and loves music, including playing guitar and mandolin. He also enjoys rock climbing, amateur gymnastics, ultimate frisbee, the Spanish language, and reading.
Christian Art Resources Christian Music Town is a one-stop hub for album reviews, new artists, and sheet music. Visit: www.christianmusictown.com I Lift My Eyes Ministry offers a fairly extensive listing of everything from Christian music to visual arts to performing arts. Visit: www.psalm121.ca The Narthex Project is a developing website that includes photography of existing Christian art and allows you to edit its upcoming information pages. Visit: www.narthexart.com
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
An Interview with Russell Berman Tristan Abbey You can learn a lot about someone by how they treat religion. Professor Russell Berman is a man who respects it. He agreed to meet in his office at 8 AM one October day. Quite the early riser, he bikes to the train and rides that to campus each morning. This is not a man who takes his day lightly. Carpe diem and all that. Professor Berman joined the Stanford faculty in 1979. He completed his undergrad at Harvard and doctorate at Washington University. He has worked in both the German Studies and Comparative Literature departments, runs the Introduction to the Humanities (IHUM) program, and is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. This rich professional background lent itself well to the wide-ranging interview that was to follow. Pope Benedict, Regensburg, and the University I started with some quotes from Pope Benedict to loosen him up. Given Berman’s background, the papal visit to the University of Regensburg in September 2006—the speech in which the visible head of the world’s Catholics quoted a Byzantine emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought forth “things only evil and inhuman”—served easily enough as some lowhanging fruit for discussion. “A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering in the dialogue of cultures,” the pope had said. “I hesitate to paraphrase the pope,” Berman replied after some thought, “but I’ve taught his Regensburg Address in a number of seminars. I find it an extraordinarily interesting, intelligent, and important
statement.” He explained the pope was referring to “a modality of secular culture that does not even want to engage in discussion with faith or the possibility of faith. That’s not an insistence on an imperative or inescapability of faith, but it’s really a call to dialogue to impress the importance of a positive spirituality in the intellectual world.” This, Benedict’s central point, is “an important and vital insight into the state of intellectual culture at the beginning of the 21st century. Not everyone has to be a believer, but it’s psychotic to claim that religion doesn’t play a significant role in the life of humanity today.” The Regensburg speech asks the university, in the broadest sense of the term, “to surpass its disciplinary specialization and reintegrate a transcendent dimension. That’s not interdisciplinarity in the California variety, but I think they exist in the same universe. They’re both criticisms of a narrow scientism.” The next quote came from Pope Benedict’s May 2006 speech to the Canadian bishops. He stated: “The attempt to promote a vision of humanity apart from God’s transcendent order and indifferent to Christ’s beckoning light, removes from the reach of ordinary men and women the experience of genuine hope.” “There are a lot of people who don’t the accept the light of Christ,” Berman responded, “but again, it’s impossible to think Christianity out of the world.” He continued: “Ultimately, what’s at stake in both quotes is the recognition that in human affairs there’s something that goes beyond human affairs, that’s what he refers to as ‘transcendence.’” Cultural relativists mistakenly reframe “religion solely as a local practice,” relying on “positivist, scientistic views of the world,”
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
when in actuality religion is “a lively participant in human matters today.” Religion expresses, recognizes, and surpasses “the merely given,” and is “the guarantor of human creativity and freedom.”
said Berman. “I don’t see us returning to that. But…it turns out that a lot of the material that had been on the core list is still there and is still taught frequently. It’s just not being taught under compulsion, and that also might be a good thing.”
Religion and the Humanities Given religion’s role in the world, I asked what America and Europe: Secular and Not-so-secular role he sees for it in the humanities. As before, he Professor Berman’s other specialty is trans-Atlantic thought for a moment before responding. “If you look relations, which he explored in his 2004 book Antiat the founding grant of Stanford University, there’s Americanism in Europe: A Cultural Divide. He argued, in a specific prescription of secular instruction, so this part: “Americans and Europeans advocate very distinct is not a seminary. On the other hand, there’s also an philosophical stances, especially regarding matters of appeal to teach, to think about some fundamental individual responsibility and the role of the state.” values that involve questions of freedom and liberty, He elaborated during the interview. “Europeans, and that presumably also includes liberties associated especially Europeans who are not recent immigrants to with religion.” He explained there exists both a “strong Europe, tend to be more secular than many Americans, argument” for “the derivation of liberty from religion” especially Americans who are not recent immigrants to and a “much more narrow civil rights the United States. And those nonargument, the liberty for religion.” Cultural relativists mistakenly immigrant populations in both IHUM, the mandatory freshman— reframe religion solely as a local venues still have a hegemonic role or “first-year”—humanities program practice, relying on “positivist, in their cultures.” he runs, has come under sustained The roots of this divide can criticism from conservative circles scientistic views of the world,” be found in “complex features of over the years. Many at The Stanford when in actuality religion is alternative structures of modernity.” Review, for example, regard it as an “a lively participant in human He argued that differences in the ineffectual shadow of its predecessor, evolution of the separation of matters today.” Western Civ. The critique rests church and state played a large principally on one fundamental role. “The separation of religion point: there is no core canon of Western thought to from political structure evidently has been fruitful which all students are exposed. for the thriving of religion, although that might seem Berman might be expected to be sympathetic to counterintuitive if one were take the authoritarian this view, as a Hoover fellow. He explained, though, stance that the way to promote religion is to mandate that IHUM “mandates an experience for all first-year it by the state.” State support for religious institutions students but also integrates choice.” He continued: “I “may well contaminate religion.” In contrast to Europe, don’t think choice is bad. I think choice probably has “the vibrancy of institutionalized religion side by side a whole lot to do with freedom. I also think a shared with political institutions in the United States generates experience has something to do with community. And a productive tension.” In sum, “the distinction between we struggle with that balance, and I think that’s a good the paradigmatic European and the paradigmatic thing.” American seems to be that West Europeans are less Berman said that the Religious Studies department involved in religion and expect more from the state, “participates in the program vigorously.” IHUM whereas Americans expect less from the state and are courses “may well address religion, religions, texts more involved in religion.” that have a sacred character, or address religious Berman was quick to qualify his argument as “a nuance questions themselves.” IHUM, then, is “an invitation of a difference” about the “fundamental predisposition to students leaving high school, entering university, to in how life’s travails are addressed.” But there are other ask fundamental questions about interpretation, values, differences that may have more serious consequences. and ultimate meanings in life.” Many are concerned that Europe is slowly fading away, As for the perennial Western canon? “I think we gave due to low birth rates and high levels of immigration that up for various reasons, some good and some bad,” from Islamic countries that could drastically reshape the
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
continent and its culture. The Vatican is among the institutions most concerned. Where Pope John Paul II’s focus had been the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, at Regensburg Benedict “gave indication that his primary mission is to Western Europe.” This was, according to Berman, “out of a concern that Western European culture was succumbing to a post-spiritual decline,” not out of Euro-centrism. The Regensburg speech essentially asked Western Europe to “reflect on whether it has any spiritual values and where they come from.” Berman doesn’t share “the absolute pessimism” some have about this issue. “You hear dire predictions of a kind of culture war in Europe. There may be instances of that…on the other hand, it’s not as if immigrant populations arrive and stay immobile and unchanging. There are certainly groups within immigrant populations who want to maintain cultural immobility, but there are others who want to benefit from integration and assimilation possibilities.” He cited Brick Lane by Monica Ali and Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini as examples of novels with strong themes of “immigrant optimism,” with which, he added, “proponents of liberal sensibility” often struggle. Islam and Jihad Those who attended the “3 Ex-Terrorists” event last spring—co-sponsored by the Stanford College Republicans and the Stanford Review—may recall that a bearded humanities professor gave the introduction. Professor Berman has since shaved. “I found their presentations interesting and animated,” he said during the interview. “They were strong proponents of their views and I admire people who have views and are prepared to express them. Their account was sometimes too un-nuanced, and I tried to ask them to elaborate on this, but they could not bring genuine differentiation into their account.” The big question, though, is whether Islam is a religion of peace, as the president asserts, or one of violence, as the ex-terrorists claimed. Berman rejects the latter: “I think that jihadist ideology is an enormous threat to Muslims and non-Muslims, and it is disturbing to hear people sometimes minimize that threat. But I think it’s crucial to distinguish between jihadist ideology and Islam….There are just too many varieties of Islam, there are too many ways to be Muslim in the world to think that the result is only jihadist ideology. That’s just bad stereotypical thinking. But I think one can recognize that
without burying one’s head in the sand and pretending that there is not a jihadist war.” And so we return to where we started: If you don’t take religion seriously, does that make you more susceptible to burying your head in the sand about the jihadist threat? Berman thought for a good long while before responding: “Probably.” If one “does not recognize the authentically spiritually explosive character of religion as such—and that’s all religions—then there might be a predisposition to see jihadist ideology simply as the ruminations of a few local cranks. But there is something extremely powerful in religion, and that is all religion, that is about calling the world into question, and one can call one’s world into question in ways that are strongly spiritually creative and productive and lifechanging, but you can call the world into question by being life-destroying as well. So religion is serious stuff because life is serious stuff. So, yes, I think a culturalist reduction of religion might well lead to a disregard for the issues at stake in jihadist terrorism.” Pope Benedict, for his part, “tried to open” a discussion with Islam at Regensburg. Both religions “share an interest in maintaining a space for religion in human discussion,” Berman explained. “That is to say, religion should not be crowded out by an ideological secularism or by a utopian science. At the same time he was underscoring that these were two different religions, and…he tried to initiate a discussion about theological underpinnings of that distinction.” Russell Berman—proof that there exists a rich, intellectual, and religious-friendly environment at Stanford. Tristan Abbey is a senior in the History Honors Program at Stanford University. He is a San Diego native. Russell Berman is the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
Christianity and Politics Scotty McLennan Many new commentators these days speak of American politics as a struggle between the Christian right and the secular left. But what about the rest of us Christians? On many of the hot-button issues like abortion and gay marriage, I’m personally on the political left because that’s where my reading of scripture leads me. There are lots of people, on the right and on the left, who go the next step to say that religion should not be involved in politics at all. That’s hard for someone like me to hear who, during my formative college years in the nineteen-sixties, was religiously motivated by the likes of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Rev. William Sloane Coffin to get involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements. We had a Baccalaureate speaker at Stanford in 2004, the Rev. Jim Wallis, an evangelical minister, who’s been in the news recently for organizing a televised presidential candidate forum this summer for the three Democratic front-runners entitled “faith, values, and poverty.” During the 2004 presidential campaign he was responsible for ads in national magazines and newspapers, which began “God is not a Republican or a Democrat.” It insisted on the importance both of Christians looking at the presidential candidates through Christian lenses and also of understanding that sincere Christians could conscientiously choose to vote for either Bush or Kerry for reasons deeply rooted in their faith. Responsible Christian citizenship involves identifying all the religious issues which have political implications, getting thoughtfully involved in the election process, and avoiding becoming a single-issue voter. The ad insisted that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue and then asked whether one’s positions on abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, war, and HIV/AIDS all consistently obey the biblical injunction to choose life. The other broad areas that Christians were
urged to consider on a biblical basis were caring for the poor, protecting the natural environment, truth-telling, defending human rights (especially relating to torture), and seeing evil not only in our enemies but also in our own policies. Tens of thousands of Christians endorsed these principles by signing an online petition. And they weren’t only Christian liberals like me. There were plenty as well from organizations like the National Association of Evangelicals, founded in 1942, and now representing millions and millions of conservative and moderate Christians across the country. That organization has reminded us that Jesus followed in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets in announcing a kingdom of God “which would be marked by justice, peace, forgiveness, restoration and healing for all.” It also insisted that “As Christians engaged in public policy, we must do detailed social, economic, historical, jurisprudential, and political analysis if we are to understand our society and wisely apply our normative vision to political questions.” And it counsels that Christians practice humility, employ the language of civility and avoid demonizing those with whom we disagree. I believe that religion must speak its ethical vision in the public square, on the right and on the left, because pastoral care and liturgy and religious education behind closed doors are not enough; we’ve always needed the voice of the public prophet to tell us when we’re enslaving and oppressing each other, and to encourage us so to act in the world so as to help bring about what Isaiah calls a new heaven and a new earth, where no more shall weeping be heard and the wolf and lamb shall feed together. Scotty McLennan has been Stanford’s Dean for Religious Life since 2001. In addition to his ministerial and administrative duties, Dean McLennan teaches undergraduate and Graduate School of Business courses.
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
Oh that I am such a creature weak, nothing more than breath and dust; there is something lovely that I seek but I am fighting all my fleshly lust and I squander all Your gifts like sand swirls in waters cold and deep and dark; guide me with Your good and tender hand upon my cheek where harried shadows hark beating like a salmon’s crimson gills tossed upstream and falling back to earth, I am chasing sunlight over hills beyond this span of planetary girth; but until we trust in Christ and tree, what hope is there for sinners to be free? Shannon Wong
A world still shattered, humanity broken Why do our souls still wreak of despair if Jesus is my token? I’m longing for home, my soul is sour Indwelt by the Spirit, where is the power? I want beauty for ashes and contentment in the dark Habitually looking in all the wrong places, so badly missing the mark I thought I was good, but wretched I am Destined to share in the lion, but called to walk in the lamb A world of upside down, glory in the shame Losing life to find it, serving is the fame Trying to follow your footsteps illuminates my need More grace needed to move from here, patiently awaiting your lead Sometimes I’m confused between heaven and earth I’m trapped in this flesh despite my rebirth Then the light goes on and I more clearly see That the experience of my depravity is a severe mercy Natalie Wiesen
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
Aimee Precourt is a senior Human Biology major from Pasadena, Texas. She is planning to take a year off and work as a HumBio CA while she applies to medical school and will be getting married in July.
Kevin Kambo is a senior Chemistry major. He is from Nairobi, Kenya, is a fan of epic literature - ancient and modern - and plans on studying philosophy after Stanford.
Lauren Elmore is a senior Economics major from Bloomington, Indiana. She will be doing financial consulting in the area next year.
Kelly Fee is a junior from St. Charles, Illinois. She is majoring in International Relations with a focus in Comparative Political and Historical Analysis and also pursuing a minor in Spanish.
Allen Huang is a sophomore from Irvine, California, though his heart will always stay in neighboring Tustin where he went to high school. He’s a Classics major with a love for Homer and all things epic.
Allen was born in St. Louis but spent most of his life in Fresno, California. He is studying Mechanical Engineering, class of ’09, and loves music, rock climbing, amateur gymnastics, ultimate frisbee, Spanish, and reading.
José-Armando Perez-Gea is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and Public Policy, with a secondary major in Economics. Los Angeles, Mexico City and London are a few of the places he calls home.
Sylvie Rousseau is a Human Biology major in the class of 2010. She is from Muncie, Indiana, and attended Yorktown High School.
Michael Lin is a Biology major from Saratoga, California, who will be graduating in 2008. This fall, he will be attending medical school at UCSF. In his free time, he likes to sleep and play basketball and guitar.
James Plank is a junior from Bellingham, Washington and is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He is excited to be engaging with members of the Stanford community in this important discussion on faith.
Vox Clara, Vol 1, Issue 1
Closing thoughts Thank you for reading Vox Clara. It is our sincere hope that you come away enlightened about Christianity. Whether you are a skeptic, seeker, or believer, we encourage you to continue exploring the faith. We leave you with these thoughts: The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender. William Boothe Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what God is doing- because it’s already blessed. Bono Nothing you can do can make God love you more. Nothing you can do can make God love you less. Mark Burlingame Thankfully, God’s expectations are quite different than people’s. God doesn’t expect us to always please others… God doesn’t expect us to change hearts or save the world – that is His job. God simply asks us to be faithful and do the best with what He has given us. He desires us to simply reflect His goodness, His glory and His grace to the watching world. When we are able to stop and realize what God requires of us, all the weight of others’ expectations seems to melt away. Bart Millard
Questions? Comments? Want to get involved? Email: email@example.com
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
Stanford Journal of Christian Thought
Published on Mar 9, 2009
Published on Mar 9, 2009
The Spring '08 Issue of Vox Clara, a journal at Stanford University dedicated to exploring the intersection of Christian thought and contemp...