Vol. III, Issue 3 | Spring 2010
The Faithfulness Of God C.S. Lewis Jesus as ‘Myth Become Fact’
China’s One-Child Policy A Conversation with Reggie Littlejohn
Letters from Abroad Religion in Paris and Florence
‘‘...abounding in love and faithfulness.’’
President C.E. Caruthers ‘11 Editor-in-Chief Allen Huang ‘10 Designer-in-Chief Steven Puente ‘10 Events Coordinator Tara Guarino ‘12 Finance Cameron Mullen ‘11 Public Relations Christina Littler ‘10 Section editors Caroline Chen ‘12 Madison Kawakami ‘11 Rachel Kelley ‘12 Nic Reiner ‘10 Heidi Thorsen ‘12 Staff writers William Tarpeh ‘12 Production James Chu ‘10 Heidi Thorsen ‘12 Board of Advisors D.G. Elmore Steve Stenstrom Andrea Swaney
The Most Important Thing I learned
Having Faith in God’s Calling
Understanding ‘The Sub Creator’:
An Exploration of the Importance C.S. Lewis Attached to Myth
Letters From Abroad
Always Faithful: Corrie ten Boom
Madison Kawakami Allen Huang
GUEST ARTICLES The Salt and Light Rebellion
Religion in Paris -
Colonel J. William “Bill” DeMarco
A Tradition No Longer à la mode Amie Pendleton-Knoll
Reflections on Reggie Littlejohn Talk
NEW FEATURES 9
An Interview with Reggie Littlejohn
REGULAR FEATURES Our Vision 4 Letter from the Editor 5 Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness 14 William Tarpeh
Letter from the President
Our Purpose Vox Clara seeks to provide a platform for believers and nonbelievers at Stanford to engage in dialogue that inspires a lasting response to the Gospel message. We espouse the importance of addressing issues of faith in the University community. As Jane Stanford’s words on the wall of Memorial Church warn: 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?’
which we live. Vox Clara seeks to express to the Stanford community that religion is not a set of rules that threatens our freedom or creativity but rather is the hope that pervades our entire lives. Simply put, we are trying to provide an account of the hope we cherish within us. We wish not to impose our belief but to propose our views to everyone at Stanford who is searching just as we are—searching for purpose, for truth, and for Love. As we seek collectively, we will strive to speak with a clear voice and voyage together, elevating each other’s lives in the process. From different Christian traditions and each with our own experience, we at Vox Clara have come together to explore how faith illuminates life and how life enriches faith. We invite all to join us in this important conversation.
We find spiritual truth in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who became man, died, and rose again for the salvation of all. Through Him we interpret and understand the world in
Vox Nostra A note on our name In the words of C.S. Lewis speaking on Christianity, “it is We at Vox Clara celebrate this voice of Jesus Christ and at her centre, where her truest children dwell, that each believe that His is the true voice. It forms the foundation communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in of our hope and strength. For this reason, we have chosen doctrine. And this suggests that at the centre of each there “Vox Clara,” a Latin phrase meaning “clear voice,” as the is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences name for this organization. of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of 4 Vox Clara, Vol. III, Issue 3 mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice.”
Letter from the Editor In the Old Testament, the word for faithfulness is related to the word for truth. They both come from the same root aman, which has connotations of firmness and stability. Faithfulness and truth also have a tendency to appear together in Scripture. Isaiah declared that “Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isaiah 25:1). John wrote that the words of God are “faithful and true” (Revelation 21:5, 22:6). Earlier he writes that Jesus is the “faithful and true witness” (Revelation 3:14), and that when he returns, He will be called “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11).
thus constantly faithful, and he is the Logos, the fullness of God’s truth made incarnate.
Many people these days yearn for more faithfulness, in our families, institutions, and communities. But the strong relation between faithfulness and truth may teach us a lesson and even give us a possible solution. Perhaps what we need in our lives is more truth. Only then will faithfulness begin to take root and grow. Faithfulness comes from truth. We are faithful to someone or something only when we hold it to be true. And a person or idea is faithful only when it speaks and acts in truth.
Jesus was faithful even in the midst of suffering, even during the pain of the cross. He went through it for us, and was faithful for our sakes. When we suffer and have our own crosses, we go to the cross at Calvary, and are reminded of his eternal fidelity. Suffering is one of the greatest reasons we seek faithfulness. We want someone to be with us always in the midst of our struggles. The person of Christ promises that and speaks truth into our lives so we know how to best live in this imperfect world.
Words and ideas only go so far in fulfilling our desire for truth and faithfulness. Faithfulness especially must find its nature in a person speaking words of truth. God sent such a person to us some time ago. He sent Jesus, the Word of truth made flesh, the Eternal Logos. He is eternal and
We hope that some of what you’ll read in Vox Clara speaks the truth, and that throughout your daily lives you encounter the Truth Himself, Christ. Whether you simply learn about Jesus or come to have a lasting relationship with Him, know that He is always there and always faithful.
Allen Huang Editor-in-Chief, 2009 -10
Vox Clara at Stanford P.O. Box 12109 Stanford, CA 94309 www.voxstanford.org | email@example.com
Cover Photo: James Chu
Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
Perhaps the single most important word of advice I’ve ever heard is that my worth is grounded not in what I do but in what I am. There is a contradiction at Stanford today: a contradiction that gnaws away at students, undermines friendships, and inhibits contentment.
in truth what matters most to ourselves and others is character. By character, I refer to whether you are a moral person, whether you are living up to values you hold dear, and what—no— who you care about. When we look at our resumes, a good number of us wonder why there is a gaping void
or a simple “tired.” Perhaps you too have experienced times when the amiable question “how are you?” ends up being answered with a list of what needs to be done. But the consequences of idolized meritocracy stretch beyond just being obsessively busy. A community that
There is a contradiction at Stanford today: a contradiction that gnaws away at students, undermines friendships, and inhibits contentment.
This contradiction is idolized meritocracy. Meritocracy itself is a powerful driving force that is built upon notions of rewarding people for the work that they pursue—whether they started an organization or earned a 4.0 GPA. Idolized meritocracy, however, moves beyond rewarding people for what they do to a more pernicious form: it attributes value to people themselves based solely on what they do. Whereas Jesus brings “life and brings it abundantly”, chaining significance and worth to accomplishment is submitting to a mercurial god whose thirst is never sated. The contradiction is that while achievement and the things we do are foremost in our quotidian consciousness,
instead of solid substance. I contend that this void arises from realizing that we have not made any gains in our character. For most of us, idolized meritocracy is a never-satiated desire to do more, because the accomplishment is never a true reward. Anytime we can either be busy or be busily pursuing some leisure activity that we’ve scheduled to avoid burn-out (so we can accomplish more later), we drown out this void. To avoid dealing with our uncertainties, we just keep ourselves working. Simply put, one symptom of our idolized meritocracy is that we are perennially busy. The question, “how are you?” is often answered with something on the lines of “Oh! Busy!”
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values being productive beyond anything else is one that ignores its members and ends up being so fragmented that it cannot function as a whole. By idolizing meritocracy, we ignore the needs of ourselves and others. Of all the things I hear about this campus— fantastic, beautiful, entrepreneurial, exciting, stimulating—loving has never been an adjective I’ve heard to describe Stanford students. At some time or other I have felt unloved at a place that prides itself on endless achievement. More than one of my friends has taken leave of absence from this campus because he/she felt completely overwhelmed with stress. This is not a stress of having too much work, but rather of finding the stakes
The Most Important Thing I Learned James Chu
Photo: James Chu
of failure so high, so monumental, that to leave is preferable. I hate sounding pedantic, but if you haven’t heard, suicide is still very much an issue on this campus. Take time to listen as one speaks of a grandparent’s death or a family divorce. Most of all, please stop to listen to those of us who are afraid of even letting any other Stanford student know—because that means we’re not quite up to par. Furthermore, as a community we are fragmented. The congratulations of accomplishment are poisoned with the jealous undercurrent that your forward momentum calls my sluggish progress into question. Accomplishment only exists in the field of competition— whether with oneself or with others. Granted, competition is a fantastic force that has powered the market and motivated countless people to create the lives that we enjoy today. However, idolized meritocracy assumes that what you do is what you are worth. When self-worth is the being bought or E than Kung is a item Bioengineering graduate sold on the competitive market, we student. He is often doing useless things like have created a destructive system. This climbing onto rooftops or catching wildlife. idolized meritocracy leads at best to burn-out, perhaps to depression and at its worst, to a fear of telling others about personal vulnerabilities. When your self-
worth hinges on your performance, how difficult admitting vulnerabilities must be. And so the story goes: your friend is doing a fantastic service project and instead of forwarding the email along to help her out, you hesitate ever so slightly because your own project is floundering. Perhaps more seriously, Stanford students want to feel like they were the founder of a project even if they recognize that their decision will not necessarily serve needs better. Our resources end up fragmented. I want to offer a hopeful, life-affirming alternative that allows space to applaud accomplishment, cooperate, and ultimately achieve more, not less. In short, I want to suggest that we pursue a character-driven life. Character enables us to both appreciate accomplishment fully and offer our criticisms. Because I recognize that your value is rooted in who you are and not in what you’re doing, I freely offer my constructive criticisms for why you are not being effective. Because applauding your work has no sway on my personal worth—whether you get an A+ or not may mean I score lower on the curve, but it does not change my self-value—I
freely offer my compliments to work that I admire. Character, furthermore, is a cooperative enterprise. Developing character demands that we listen with empathy to what others have said and done in the past and are doing and saying in the present. When what matters to me is who I am, I am not obsessed with being busy. I am willing to challenge you, learn from you, and engage on a deep level with you. In idolized meritocracy, on the other hand, your better performance necessarily suggests my lesser performance… and worth. Most importantly, a character-driven life is both fulfilling and productive. This is not a zero-sum game. Character is about who you are and what you believe—not what you accomplish. If you have truly come to believe that child slavery is morally wrong, your efforts will carry a burning passion that will ignite those around you. Character gives us the courage and urgency to speak up and act. Martin Luther King Jr. knew he was going to face a very real possibility of being killed if he continued, but he did so anyway because he knew that God’s heart is for those who are oppressed
Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
in this world. His character wasn’t the analytical kind that we students often easily partake in—“I think that’s the right thing to do.” His character was one that he so fully understood God’s heart and burning anger at the injustices of this broken world that he acted. I am not proposing that one needs to develop character before acting. The two are intrinsically linked. Character without action is stagnant and burdensome. By going into the
find value in the accomplishment, my worth does not lie in getting that A+ but rather in knowing I have put forth my very best effort. At this point, you might wonder how Christianity modifies this picture. Is it not written that we are saved by God’s mercy and by faith alone? The God we ought to serve demands nothing in return for our significance. By contrast, He commits himself to insignificance, to humility, and even to death for the sake
we are “in this world but not of it”, we frequently are part and parcel of idolized meritocracy. We trade in the answer to “how are you?” with a list of commitments. Even the evangelizing Christian may fall prey. Holding idolized meritocracy in stride, he treats the sacred mission as another task to accomplish, the people but benchmarks and crops to be harvested. It’s not difficult to recognize why others shun Christians who treat them as benchmarks: our
Our significance is found in Him, yet all too often we worship the manifold forms of merit.
world and engaging with it, one clarifies personal values. Merely sitting in a room attempting to clarify exactly what one believes can be frustrating. Neither am I suggesting that to be a character-grounded person is to ignore outcomes or to suddenly forget about the importance of effort or processes, either. On the contrary, the one who works only to find a vague sense of self-worth will stop whenever he/she has surpassed his/her peers. It will not guide us to end slavery or reform civil rights, because idolized meritocracy does not ask who we are or whether we are righteous and just. It asks not toward what ends I achieve, only that I continue to achieve. I of course do not want to suggest that accomplishment is meaningless. If my parents have sacrificed everything to let me come to Stanford, out of filial piety that A+ could very well be an act of admirable character on my part. However, unlike the one who works because of a vague sense of needing to
of building a relationship with us. Our significance is found in Him, yet all too often we worship the manifold forms of merit. Where I dismiss the Greeks for worshipping so many different gods that an altar was crafted for “the unknown God”, perhaps in our day and age I am no different. As such, there is no space for idolized meritocracy within a Christian worldview. More importantly, I argue that character nurtures our Christian identity and draws us to Christ. Ultimately, a life concerned with character necessarily realizes the depth of sin in this world. To simply consider one’s own moral standing is almost inevitably to recognize one’s own inability to achieve even a personal moral standard, much less God’s. Without Christ, I am unable to achieve righteousness. A character-centered life thus remembers that Christ is quite literally at the crux, and reorients all other priorities in succession. Yet even as we recognize that
James Chu is a coterm in sociology with a focus on educational issues in China. He enjoys long discussions, music, and delicious food.
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actions reek of hypocrisy because they treat relationships as a means to an end. In sum, when our work is detached from the drive and foundation of character—again, who we are, what/ who we care about, and our moral standing—we frequently lack the fiery passion and meaning that further drives us, and more importantly, we live lives that seem shallow, unfulfilling, and lonely. A character-driven life, I contend, is what as a university whole most—but definitely not all—of us lack. We have idolized accomplishment rather than focused on character. By the time we awake from our drive to accomplish and stay busy, college is already over. We are left with a huge resume and a network that spans the globe, but no sense of what really matters, of what is right and needs to change in the world, of who and what we love. Now that’s tragic.
An Interview with Reggie Littlejohn Reggie Littlejohn is an internationally recognized expert on China’s one-child policy . She is President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a broad-based coalition that opposes forced abortion and sexual slavery in China. She has delivered an address at the European Parliament, briefed the White House, and testified before Congress (the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission) concerning China’s coercive family planning practices. She has met with officials at the State Department, the Vatican, and the British Parliament, and has spoken at the Harvard Law School, George Washington University, and The Heritage Foundation as well. She serves as the one-child policy expert for the China Aid Association and Human Rights Without Frontiers. A graduate of Yale Law School, Ms. Littlejohn practiced complex commercial litigation for seven years and has represented Chinese refugees in their political asylum cases in the United States.
Vox Clara: Is there any change in the one-child policy in the near future, given changing economic situations in China? Ms. Littlejohn: Not according to the Chinese Communist Party. They just came out as recently as this year saying the one-child policy will be enforced for at least another decade. Vox Clara: So how are the Chinese citizens responding to the one-child policy, given that the economic situation has gotten better? Ms. Littlejohn: Actually it’s interesting, people who are wealthier are the ones who want to have fewer children. The desire to have more children decreases with education level. In fact in Shanghai, which is probably one of wealthiest cities in China, they’re having a real problem with their population in the sense that the birth rate is so far below the replacement level that the city is graying, and so the population workers are actually trying to encourage people eligible to have a second child to have a second
child. But it depends on who you ask in terms of what their response is. China has just finished a forced sterilization campaign in Puning City, Guangdong Province, where they forcibly sterilized almost ten thousand people between April 7 and April 27 of this year, and according to doctors they were forcibly sterilizing people between 8am and 4am in the morning. So if you ask those nine thousand five hundred people, they will have something different to say than some of the wealthier people who would choose to only have one child. Vox Clara: What do you feel about the world media’s response to the one-child policy? Ms. Littlejohn: The world media response is generally very disappointing to me. It seems as though every time any small thing happens that would show that there’s any equivocation on the part of the Chinese Communist Party, the world media blows it way out of proportion. For example, when the Chinese Communist Party decided to encourage certain eligible couples to have a second child in Shanghai, that is a very narrow exception. The world media completely mischaracterized that and said that China is dropping the one-child policy. So now there’s this perception in the world that the one-child policy is a thing of the past, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m so committed to this issue of letting people know that the one-child policy is currently enforced through forced sterilization, forced abortion, and infanticide. Vox Clara: And you’re trying to build a coalition of pro-life and pro-choice activists, what’s that like? Ms. Littlejohn: That is becoming increasingly effective. More and more pro-choice voices are joining the movement against forced abortion in China. For example, The Economist magazine came out in early March with an issue entitled “Gendercide” in which they identified themselves as being pro-choice. They said that they believe abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” which is a pro-choice
Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
belief, and yet they said that China should “scrap” the onechild policy –that’s the word they used—because of the gendercidal, sex-selective abortion aspect of it. This has contributed to the fact that there are now 100 million baby girls that are missing in the world. Now not all of those come from China; some are from India, some are from other countries, but what I’m saying is the pro-choice movement has finally realized that they need to oppose forced abortion because forced abortion is not a choice. Vox Clara: How did you get involved in this kind of work? Ms. Littlejohn: I am an attorney -- I’m actually a complex commercial and intellectual property litigator -- but I’ve also represented Chinese refugees in their cases for political asylum in the United States. My first client was forcibly sterilized by the Chinese Communist Party, and my second client was involved in the whole one-child policy forced abortion issue, and that’s how I became aware of the fact that this was going on. Before I represented clients for asylum, I knew that there was a one-child policy, but I did not have any concept of how it was being implemented through forced abortion, forced sterilization, and infanticide. Vox Clara: And what’s your take on how men are responding to these issues? Ms. Littlejohn: I think that men are also appalled by forced abortion and forced sterilization. You don’t have to be a woman to be utterly appalled by a woman being dragged out of her home in the middle of the night, strapped onto E than Kung is a Bioengineering graduate a table and forced to abort her baby. So there are a lot of student. He is often doing useless things like male voices that are rising up against this as well.
climbing onto rooftops or catching wildlife.
Vox Clara: Your website talked about a woman called Wujian, could you tell me a little bit about her?
Ms. Littlejohn: Wujian testified during the congressional hearing of November 10, 2009. She arrived in the hearing room with her entire head wrapped in a black scarf and she sat behind a privacy screen, because she was so worried that her testimony would result in persecution of her family that’s still back in China. She told the story of her own forced abortion. She got pregnant without a birth permit (you have to have a birth permit to get pregnant in China), and then she went into hiding to try to save the life of her baby. She was in a little shack in the middle of nowhere. She had no windows, no running water, no electricity, and her husband would come by once a week and leave some food for her. Then one of their neighbors came to the shack and said to her, “Wujian, I think you need to know that the family planning police are beating Photo Courtesy of Lisa Keating Photography up your father-in-law so severely that if you don’t give yourself up for forced abortion, it looks like he’s going to die.” So then she’s in this agonizing situation trying to decide between the life of her father-in-law and the life of her child, and while she’s in this state of agony, the family planning police found her, dragged her out of her hiding place, forcibly transported her to a facility where they were dozens of women who were in various stages of forced abortion, some of whom were writhing on the floor in pain. They stuck a needle into her belly, into the brain of her unborn child -- I think she was in her sixth or seventh month of pregnancy -- killed it, and then when it didn’t come out, they told her that she was causing lots of problems and that she’s a big troublemaker. They forced her down onto an operating table and took scissors and, with her lying there, fully awake, fully conscious, they dismembered her unborn baby, limb from limb, and pulled it out of her. Then the nurse actually took tweezers and showed her the little severed foot of that baby. And that’s why she called her testimony “My
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Little Foot, My Lifelong Pain.” That’s an example of one forced abortion in China. And just to give you an idea of the scale of what we’re talking about, in the United States we’ve had about fifty million abortions since the Roe v. Wade decision. In China, the Chinese Communist Party boasts that it has prevented four hundred million births through the one-child policy. That’s greater than the entire population of the United States. Vox Clara: Are there groups that advocate for these women, in or outside of China? Ms. Littlejohn: Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, my organization, is doing that. That’s our goal in life. We are an international coalition to combat forced abortion and sexual slavery in China. Now within China there aren’t any groups that I’m aware of because if people try to raise this issue in China, they get detained. For example, Chen Guangcheng exposed the fact that there were a hundred and thirty thousand forced abortions and forced sterilizations in just one county in 2005, and he’s now serving a four year, three month jail sentence. He has been tortured in jail and denied medical treatment. That’s what happens when people advocate against the one-child policy in China. So because I know what’s happening, and I’m American, I have freedom of speech, I feel it is absolutely essential for me to say something, because people inside of China can’t. Vox Clara: Are you hopeful about the future for this issue? Ms. Littlejohn: I’m totally hopeful about the future of this issue. I just don’t believe that any injustice of this magnitude can endure much longer.
For more information about Reggie Littlejohn and the one-child policy, please visit her organization’s website at www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org
Student Perspectives Reggie Littlejohn spoke to a group of Stanford students on May 13, 2010 in the Nitery. Ms. Littlejohn revealed the horrific truths of China’s one-child policy and shared her experiences that led her to her current work. Students heard about personal encounters Ms. Littlejohn has had with victims of the one-child policy and were invited to ask questions and engage in discussion. “Hearing Reggie Littlejohn speak really opened my eyes to the tragedies of forced abortion. China’s one-child policy is the cause of death for millions of children. I was really struck by the statistic that the Chinese government has killed approximately 400 million babies – that’s more than the entire population of the United States. I applaud Reggie’s fight for justice and for taking up a cause that is close to God’s heart.” -Reagan Thompson “The strength and passion with which Reggie Littlejohn discussed this horrific policy in China inspired and moved me. Her dedication to speaking out and fighting against forced abortion is remarkable. She is a testament to the power of individuals to attack the world’s saddest and most atrocious problems, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to hear her talk.” -Berkely Webster “Reggie Littlejohn did a fantastic job on raising awareness about the staggering problem of forced abortion in China. I think that it is also important for the Christian to remember why we are compelled to action in the first place. The Bible teaches that while we were yet sinners and rebels against a holy God, that Christ loved and died for us, taking on the wrath and punishment that we deserve. He did this so that whoever repents from sin and believes in Him can spend an eternity with God in Heaven, instead of receiving the just punishment of Hell. God promises to transform our minds so that the things that please Him will also become a passion for us. The Bible promotes the fair treating of women and speaks against oppression and murder. Because of these Biblical truths, we choose to take action on issues like this. Our action is first and foremost the result of loving Christ and being obedient to Him.” -Steven Puente
Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
Having Faith in “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31 To pursue any vision in life, you must have faith. When I came back from my first trip to China in 2004 to finish up my Masters degree in East Asian Studies, I was brimming with ideas – and none of them had to do with my thesis research. I had just spent nearly five months in China where I had built friendships with numerous Chinese, most of whom were students at such prestigious Chinese universities as Peking University and Tsinghua. As I got to know them better, they opened up and shared their stories with me. It was in this way that I not only received a little more insight into Chinese society, but also began to understand the incredible pressure put upon most Chinese students by their parents, teachers, and the rest of society to attain their definition of success in life. Lost in the relentless race to become successful on others’ terms, many young adults enter Chinese society having graduated without ever taking a good moment to introspect on what it is that they want or hope for in life, having had no opportunity to discover their life’s passion or meaning. As I reflected on these things I thought of how grateful I was for the extensive student programming and support services available at Stanford. Indeed, I had become quite involved at Stanford during my time as a graduate student and feel that much of who I am today is a result of Stanford’s dedication to the well-being of their students and encouraging them to become a positive
influence in society. Would that China’s students, and indeed Chinese society, I thought, be so blessed by the kind of atmosphere found at Stanford and elsewhere that promotes strong personal, not just academic, growth, where opportunities for life-learning and civic engagement thrive. This is not to say that Chinese universities don’t embrace similar goals for their students, but rather that, in my view, they are overshadowed by a prevailing socio-political environment that carves out one path to “success”, where second-best often isn’t good enough, and where the intense competition for such narrowly defined success leaves far more lifeless casualties than winners, even among those who finally “make it.” In trying to learn more about the situation, I have regularly engaged with innumerable students, administrators, and faculty who lament the state of affairs in Chinese education, but who often feel limited in their ability to change the situation, to impart new life into a soulless dragon. I had been so touched by the stories of my friends’ lives in China and the situation there that I desperately wanted to help in some way. I had ideas for ways we could work together and combine resources, but had no immediate plans of pursuing these ideas since I was still focused on getting my thesis written. However, God had other plans for me, as He soon revealed. Upon graduating from Stanford, a series of personal hardships put me in a position of trusting in God’s mercy and strength. This in turn led me to take my education in a direction in which I could truly help others and have a
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positive impact on society. This decision was furthered by my conversations with Chinese grad students at Stanford who encouraged me to pursue my vision to work with other Chinese on education reform and become involved in the welfare of a country they held so dear. Uncharted Waters The road wasn’t going to be an easy one. I turned down a couple good job offers on the East Coast and eased away from several other opportunities in order to start a non-profit with which to pursue my vision for East Asia. Suffice it to say that my family wasn’t especially thrilled about this idea. Although they always encouraged my siblings and me to pursue our dreams while we were growing up, it seemed clear that they were hoping for something a little more stable and profitable from their Stanford graduate. Not having a stable income hasn’t been easy. Donations have been few and far between, though I’ve been extremely grateful for what I’ve been given. In order to keep going, I have to make enough money working part-time to cover my expenses, and I often find myself living a precarious month-to-month existence. Sleeping on couches, taking buses or trains instead of flying, eating where and when I can, and spending hours locating the cheapest fare or price has become a necessity for survival – I had a grander lifestyle as a “starving student.” Fortunately, God has blessed me with a wonderful honorary family to take me in and friends who assist me however they can by helping to cover a lot of my basic expenses and treating me to activities I otherwise couldn’t afford. Nevertheless, living with such financial uncertainty can be incredibly
God’s Calling Tricia Bølle Photo: James Chu
stressful, especially when trying to plan for your future and further the impact of your work. I’ve often found myself despairing as to whether all the effort and sacrifice is worth it. “Why, God? Is this what you want of me? ... I just don’t know if I can do this anymore, Father.” This feeling of anguish is compounded by the frustrations and loneliness of doing business in China, where hard-fought progress can face frequent unexpected setbacks and the comfort of friends and family often seems so far away. Each time that I’ve come close to quitting – more often than I’d care to admit – God has always managed to let me know that He’s not done with me yet. Just a little bit more, a little bit longer. “But God. Surely…” Again and again, I’ve found myself thrust into a position of trusting God; putting my faith in Him that He will carry me through. And He has not let me down. It’s been extremely tough; I’ve faced so many trials along the way. But God is there. He is always there. I see Him deftly working through others – both in the U.S. and China – to bring about His will and keep me afloat. Just when I’ve plumbed the depths of my emotions, the Holy Spirit intervenes to bring me calm and purpose. Yet it is the Chinese people – many
of whom suffer for what they believe in – that God uses as a symbol of hope to inspire greater faith in trusting God, especially in the face of tremendous adversity. One friend just recently told me, “I actually lost my job because my supervisor didn’t like that I was outspoken about my faith. For a while I was upset and at a loss for what to do. But then I found a new job that, even though it pays less, allows me to interact with other people and be a positive influence in their lives. Though it was difficult at first, I am much happier now and I thank God for that.” Witnessing their faith – in its humanity and strength – lifts me up and pushes me onward towards God’s call, no matter the road it may lead me down. Knowing how they have been persecuted, and yet having my Chinese brothers and sisters turn to me with open arms of love and appreciation, to offer me support, leaves me humbled by God’s grace, especially when it was I who had supposedly come to help them. To have faith at all costs. To trust in God. To remember, as God’s greatest example to us, that when Christ was in the Garden, in full knowledge of the suffering he was to endure, he
responded in prayer, “Yet not my will, but Yours be done.” The Catherine of Siena Institute describes the charism of faith as extraordinary confidence in the love, power, and provision of God and the remarkable freedom to act on this confidence. Though it is still early in my spiritual journey to know whether I possess the rare charism of faith, over the three years that I’ve been involved in my non-profit work in China, I’ve had my faith regularly tested – often wondering if this was really God’s calling for me. Ultimately, it has been a deep, persevering faith and trust in God’s providence that has led me to where I am in life. And though I am uncertain of where the next day will take me, I am certain that I will never be alone on my journey with my faith in God as my guide. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.” – Jeremiah 29:13 Further Reading Salt and Light: Lives of Faith That Shaped Modern China by Carol Lee Hamrin (Vol. 1 & 2)
Tricia Bølle is a Stanford alumna in East Asian Studies who continues to work and volunteer part-time at Stanford. Her non-profit DEI in Asia (www.dei-asia.org) is currently working to develop student services programs for universities in China. Dancing is among her greatest passions in life.
Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
What are the “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 5:22-25 The characteristics listed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians as “fruits of the Spirit” are characteristics that almost all humans desire. Inevitably, however, the reality of our humanness keeps us from perfectly reflecting these char-
acteristics all the time. The key difference in someone aspiring for these attributes and a follower of Christ is the latter’s realization that it can’t be done on his or her own. Christ, embodied as the Holy Spirit in an individual, is the agent of change. In the end, as the Spirit works to transform a Christian’s desires and attitudes, these attributes are not something Christians decide to do but become a part of who they are. Anyone can display these characteristics; the distinction for the Christian is that these attributes represent a natural outpouring of the transformed heart.
Faithfulness: Moving into the Gap One of my best friends recently asked me who my favorite Bible character was. I was surprised at my lack of an immediate answer and that I had not seriously thought about that kind of question in years. That’s another story, but I decided my answer was Daniel. Of course, the next question was why him, and my response was simple: his faith. Daniel is the man of the Bible that I most admire for his deep and unwavering faith in God. Whether through his refusal to adopt Babylonian eating habits, his calmness in the lion’s den, or his testing through the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel consistently held fast to his faith. He went against societal pressure and apparent self-preservation to follow God. Daniel’s youth is also an inspiring example since his faith was so strong at such a young age. 1 Timothy 4:12 calls young people to “be an example to other believers in faith.” Daniel makes this ideal seem possible, and thus exemplifies a faith strong enough to surmount tangible challenges in life that we can only dream of facing. Faithfulness has myriad meanings, but the most significant is being full of faith. That of course begs the question of what faith is. Let’s look to Hebrews 11:1: Faith is “being sure of what we hope for, and being certain of what we do not see.” In other words, faith is the gap between what we can comprehend and what God does. God’s work is far too vast for us to understand completely, so we will always need faith to make up the difference between what we experience and what we
can process through our senses and constructs. We also need faith to allow God to work fully. Psalm 37:5 advises us to “commit our way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this.” Some people would say that God can’t work until we fully commit to letting him do so. One analogy is with letters—we may write them and seal them, but if we hold on to the corner and refuse to let them go, they are of no use since they aren’t released into the mailbox. Limiting our expectations to what seems realistic keeps God from filling his potential in our lives. Faithfulness entails removing all ceilings from what God can do. Of course, the ideal is much easier said than done; however, God can work a little more with each incremental amount of faith we give Him. We all draw our lines of faith in the sand. Faithfulness is letting the ocean of God’s power wash away our existing lines, taking a few steps forward, and drawing a new one. God calls us to push our standard of faith farther. We have to ask ourselves how far we will let God push us and how zealously we will follow him. If we are to grow closer in our relationship with our Maker, we must strive to have the faithfulness Photo: James Chu to recognize His unlimited potential. Thankfully, we do not have to develop this faithfulness on our own. Through the Holy Spirit, God works within us to help us grow to have a deeper faith in Him.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the Psalm 36:5 heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation Psalm 89:14 of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Love | Joy | Peace | Patience | Kindness | Goodness | Faithfulness | Gentleness | Self-control Photo: James Chu
William Tarpeh is a sophomore from Alexandria, VA studying Chemical Engineering. He loves to play soccer, sing, and be a part of Chi Alpha.
Understanding ‘The Sub Creator’:
Prolific author, Christian apologist, and literary critic, C.S. Lewis is most remembered for his mythical series, The Chronicles of Narnia. The concept of myth was not only a central part of Lewis’s fiction but also of his very identity. Lewis describes his path to faith as a series of smaller conversions from ‘popular realism’ to Philosophical Idealism, to Pantheism, to Theism, to Christianity, but the path does not end there. Even after Lewis’s final conversion to Christianity on September 28, 1931, he still wrestled with doubts and questions. One of his greatest perplexities was how the fact of Jesus’ incarnation and death – which he acknowledged to be historically true – was now supposed to impact and influence his life. To
that if I met the idea of sacrifice in a Pagan story I didn’t mind it at all; again, that if I met the idea of a god sacrificing himself to himself (…), I liked it very much and was mysteriously moved by it: again, that the idea of the dying and reviving god…similarly moved me provided I met it anywhere except in the Gospels. The reason was that in Pagan stories I was prepared to feel the myth as profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp even tho’ I could not say in cold prose ‘what it meant’ (427). Myth was inspiration, imagination, and, as Lewis describes it, “profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp.” Nonetheless, Christianity contains the same elements of myth as
of Christianity by enabling him to experience within it all of myth’s intrigue, creativity, and imagination. In his essay “Myth Became Fact” Lewis takes his own experience a step further and advocates for the universal necessity of recognizing Christianity as myth. He argues that, “To be truly Christian we must both assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to all myths” (141). The forceful implications of this claim are interesting, and initially surprising. “To be truly a Christian,” Lewis says, stating that without the dual acknowledgement of fact and embrace of imagination, one cannot truly be a Christian – a contentious claim! Does the mythic value of God dying and rising
“The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference—that it really happened.” – C.S. Lewis
him, the mere fact of Christ’s life and death, considered only as ‘brute fact’, or worse—allegorized into abstract doctrines—somehow removed the intrigue, creativity, and imagination of the event. In a letter to his close friend Arthur Greeves, dated less than a month after his conversion to Christianity, Lewis writes that H.V.V. Dyson and J.R.R. Tolkien, two close friends, had spoken to his quandary. Lewis explains that they have helped him to realize:
the Pagan stories which Lewis preferred: a God sacrificing himself, dying, and then returning from the dead. Encouraged by Dyson and Tolkien, Lewis ultimately recognized these mythic qualities and their power over him, leading him to write to Greeves that, “The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened” (427). This paradigm shift changed Lewis’s entire understanding
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from the dead offer something that the factual death and resurrection cannot? To Lewis, it does, to such a degree that he believes that someone who discounts the fact in the Christian story could be more spiritually alive than someone else for whom the story is merely factual (141). For Lewis, myth is not only experiential, but also a fortifier of Christianity. He argues that because Christianity was first a myth it thus, “carries with it into the world of fact all the properties of a myth” (142). As he uses it here, myth bolsters
An Exploration of the Importance C.S. Lewis Attached to Myth Sarah Scheenstra Photo: James Chu
Christianity, and the “Pagan Christs” and “parallel” stories, as Lewis calls these components of ancient myth, actually reinforce, rather than detract from, Christianity. In his letter to Greeves, Lewis argues that, “the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’” (427). Lewis suggests that Pagan myths and Christianity reflect and speak to the factual expression and power of God. Like the Old Testament law and prophecies, myth too points to the historical coming of Christ. It is one of the many pictures and signs sent by God to draw people to him. Filling us with great desire and pleasure, myth contains the potential to fascinate and enchant. This then is what Lewis means by “Perfect Myth” in his description of the marriage of heaven and earth as “Perfect Myth and Perfect Fact: claiming not only our love and obedience, but also our wonder and delight��� (142). Lewis’s understanding of myth lays the basis for much of the exploration and potential in his own writing. Paul Fiddes describes Lewis’s fiction in one
degree as part of the “myth become fact” cycle. Lewis, he explains, “is copying the creator in sowing the dreams which are open to becoming fact in the incarnation” (135). Fiddes’s proposition places Lewis’s stories beside the ancient stories about Balder, Adonis, and Bacchus. There is, however, a danger with Lewis’s endorsement of myth. The danger is limitation, and, more explicitly, the danger of limiting God or Christianity. A myth, and particularly a man-made myth, is in peril of leading someone to exclaim, “Yes! I understand!” when actually his understanding is confined only to the myth, rather than illuminated and expanded by it. Lewis preempts this concern by acknowledging that, “The ‘doctrines’ we get out of the true myth are of course less true: they are translations into our concepts and ideas of wh[at] God has already expressed in a language more adequate, namely the actual incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection” (Letters 428). For Lewis, the fact of Christ’s death and incarnation assumes real value only when coupled with the myth
of it. Perhaps this understanding is what is missing among so much of the Church today. There are millions who call themselves “Christian” and confess a belief in Jesus and his death and resurrection, but carry no excitement of this fact into their daily lives. They feel no wonder or awe about any of it because for them there is nothing either profound or meaningful in the death and resurrection of Christ. Perhaps Lewis writes to curb this apathy and awaken the wonder of myth in his readership. At the very least, his understanding of myth provides a tool with which the reader may now approach and better explore Lewis’s fiction. Works Cited
Fiddes, Paul S. “C.S. Lewis The Myth Maker,” A Christian for All Christians: Essays in Honor of C.S. Lewis. Ed. Dr. Andrew Walker & Dr. James Patrick. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1 9 9 0 . 132-155. Lewis, C.S. The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves. Ed. Walter Hooper. New York: Macmillan. 1979. 427. Lewis, C.S. “Myth Became Fact,” C.S. Lewis Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces. Ed. Lesley Walmsley. London: HarperCollins, 2000. 138-142. Lewis, C.S. “On Myth,” An Experiment in Criticism. London: Cambridge UP, 1961.
Sarah Scheenstra is a junior from Daba, Kenya double-majoring in English and Communication. She enjoys traveling, writing, and saying the word “hoover” instead of vacuum. Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
Dear Friends, As I sit down to write this, I am reminded of Paul, the New Testament’s very own globe-trekker and avid letterwriter. One day he’s sitting back, enjoying life, persecuting those Christians, and then BAM, he’s struck blind by the glory of Christ and takes up a life of travel, poverty, adventure, and persecution. It was a jump into the unknown with a trust and reliance on God to provide him with all of the strength, courage,
and home, I am learning even more what it means to be content in whatever situation I am in. I know that I long to feel comfortable all the time. But this is not the life that Christ calls us to. Periods of growth are never comfortable (Thus, the term “growing pains”). And if we’re not growing, we’re probably not becoming more like the people that Christ wants us to be. Here in Italy, I am very uncomfortable. Nearly everything is
Peace and grace be with you, wherever you are following after Christ.
and guidance he needed. Now the life I’m currently leading definitely lacks the poverty and persecution, but similarly, I find myself a foreigner in a place far from home doing my best to show Christ’s love to those around me. And the longer I’m here, in Italy, the more impressed I am by Paul’s faith and resilience during his travels that took him far away from his home. He writes in Phillippians, “[F]or I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Far away from friends, family, boyfriend,
different—from the language to the culture to the food. I struggle everyday to make myself understood with my limited Italian, and I become easily frustrated with my own desires to return home. What has been most challenging has been trying to find God in Florence. I am surrounded by majestic churches of great beauty, but they feel cold and distant from the God that I know. Many times, I have felt that these places feel less like houses of God, and, instead, more like museums and attractions. People flock here not to worship or praise God, but to praise and admire the works of man—namely Renaissance painters and sculptors. I felt this most acutely at the beginning of the quarter when I visited many of
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the churches in Florence. But then I visited Assisi with a friend from Stanford, and I saw some truly amazing things there. In addition to the people who had come to see the church for its architecture or paintings, there were a number of priests and nuns who had traveled from far and wide to visit the resting place of St. Francis of Assisi. Unlike at other churches I had been to, I was incredibly affected by the Church of St. Francis because of the devotion and respect I saw in these religious pilgrims. They had come to pay their respects to God in this sacred place—because here, in Assisi, God had done great things through the life of a man named St. Francis. I hope that if you ever visit a church in Italy, you don’t miss the point. Appreciate the paintings and the mastery of the artists, but don’t forget that God was the inspiration for it all. Finding a church community has also been a challenge. At home, I attend a Presbyterian church and I’ve been to only one Catholic service in my life. Here, in Florence, I am surrounded by Catholicism. It’s to be expected, of course, as Italy is the home of the Vatican and the Pope. But it’s a part of Christianity I’m still trying to understand. I attend morning and midday prayer twice a week at La Badia, a Catholic church, and I’m also spending time at
Letters from Abroad Madison Kawakami
Photo: James Chu
a Catholic monastery with the sisters of the Florentine Monastic Community of Jerusalem. The services at La Badia are in Italian, and I still need to keep an eye on everyone else as they carry out rituals that are altogether foreign to me. But I can see God in the lives of the sisters that I spend time with, and I hope one day to exude the peace and kindness that I have seen in them that surely must come directly from Christ.
the International Gospel Fellowship. It is a small congregation--not more than twenty people attended the last service--but it is somewhat familiar, and, while I explore these other avenues of worship and faith, I am thankful for the familiar. The worship music is more contemporary and the last speaker cited the lyrics of Hillsong in her message (in addition to Bible passages, of course). Furthermore, she
has continued to show His everlasting faithfulness. I have been blessed in so many unexpected ways, and I hope to continue to grow, however uncomfortable it may be, in Jesus Christ. Last, I would encourage you to pray for your friends abroad. I can assure you, they most certainly need it, and it is an incredibly powerful means of support. So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let me end with the words of Paul (a
If we’re not growing, we’re probably not becoming more like the people that Christ wants us to be.
I’ve also attended St. James, an Episcopalian church, and the International Gospel Fellowship, a church that feels the most like home. St. James, a self-proclaimed American church, is English-speaking and even serves hamburgers and hot dogs at its spring fair. But it still seems radically different from church at home, even though the English and American cuisine certainly do help with the homesickness. I am most excited by
spoke with a passion and conviction that I felt I could really connect to. From all of these churches, I am learning how to see God more fully, though it takes more of an effort in some places than others. And out of the U.S., it is enlightening to see that our God isn’t just an American God. He’s so much bigger than that. Despite all of my frustrations and those moments where I have been brought low, my God, even here,
follower of Christ who wrote letters from abroad too): “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Ephesians 6:23-24). Peace and grace be with you, wherever you are following after Christ. Sincerely, Madison Kawakami
Madison Kawakami is a junior majoring in English. She enjoys spending time with her friends, California sunshine, and the occasional fountain day.
Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
Always Faithful: Corrie ten Boom Allen Huang The author of Hebrews writes, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (11:1). Faith and hope are intertwined. Both seek the fulfillment of a good not yet fully realized. A person of faith keeps on believing that she will receive what she hopes for if it is within God’s will. Faith changes the way one lives. A faithful person orients herself towards the good that she seeks. When she faces difficulties, she continues to endure even if the path ahead is unsure or appears bleak. The very goodness of the goal itself is enough hope to motivate her. Sometimes the good that a person hopes for may be so great yet so daunting to accomplish that she becomes faithful not only to the goal itself, but to God, from whom all good things come. She believes that He is able to overcome any obstacles, and sometimes even let some occur, because it is through suffering and overcoming it that we become even more faithful and hopeful. As was once said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” The woman who said this, Corrie ten Boom, is an example of faithfulness in the midst of almost hopeless circumstances. She hid Jews in her home during the Holocaust, was imprisoned in a concentration camp, and then spent her life helping heal both the victims and perpetrators of that dark period, and telling people about that Engineer that helped her through it all. Her faith, hope, and love of God found their expression in her countless sacrifices for her friends, strangers, and even enemies. Corrie ten Boom was part of a Dutch Christian family. She, her father, and her sister Betsie lived in a house called the “Beje” above her father’s watch shop in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Corrie was involved in the family business and later on became the first female horologist in Haarlem. After Germany
invaded Holland in May 1940, the family became involved in the Dutch Underground and created a room in the Beje to hide Jews and others persecuted. At first, the room was only intended to house people transitionally as they were fleeing, but when a cantor from the Amsterdam synagogue was refused elsewhere, the family began taking in people permanently. The ten Booms would use their rationcards to provide for those hiding with them. Though they were Christians, the family did their best to help these Jewish people maintain their faith and culture even in those circumstances. They kept the Sabbath, celebrated Hanukkah, and provided kosher food. The family was aware that their work became more dangerous each day, as more found out about their efforts. Yet they remained faithful to this ministry. In February 1944 an informant betrayed the family, and the Beje was raided. A trap was set to catch anyone entering the house that day, and thirty people were arrested. The hiding place, though, was not found, and the four Jews and two Dutch Underground workers who were there stayed for 47 hours until other Underground members came to rescue them. Corrie and Betsie were sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s extermination camp. They were assigned to hard labor and lived on very meager rations. When they were in the barracks, their Bible became the center of their lives, and there they would hold worship services in the evenings. During this time, Betsie dreamed of having a home after the war that would provide for those who survived the camps, and Corrie was intrigued by her detailed vision of the house. Some time later Betsie passed away; before her death, she told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Three days after her sister died, Corrie was selected for release. Later it was discovered that she was released
Allen Huang is a senior from Irvine, CA, though his heart will always stay in neighboring Tustin where he went to high school. He’s a Classics major with a love for 20 and all things epic. Vox Clara, Vol. III, Issue 3 Homer
by a clerical error. As she transitioned back to life in Haarlem, Corrie spoke often of Betsie’s dream for a home for those hurt by the camps and the war. After one of these meetings, she was approached by a Mrs. deHaan, who told her of her five sons working in the Resistance. One had been caught, but during Corrie’s talk, she felt that the son would return, and that she would open her home for Betsie’s vision. Weeks later, Corrie received word that this son had indeed returned. When she visited the house, she saw that it was identical to the one Betsie spoke of while they were in the camp. She spent the rest of her life raising support for her home, telling her family’s story, and publishing Christian literature. In 1971 she published The Hiding Place, which describes her experiences in detail. While teaching in Germany in 1947, a former Ravensbrück guard approached her. She found it difficult to forgive him, but prayed for the strength. She wrote, “For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.” She also wrote that those war victims who were able to forgive were the best able to rebuild their lives. Looking back on her life, Corrie stated that “God does not have problems. Only plans.” Her faithfulness was based on her trust in Providence, that God would provide for her in any situation. She was faithful to the work entrusted to her, to give refuge to those under persecution, and later to work for reconciliation between oppressors and victims. The events that occurred in her life are a reflection of the faithfulness of God. Though tragedies unfold, He always recycles them for His glory and for His love of all His people. Further Reading Corrie ten Boom. The Hiding Place. 1971.
Magic Trick Nic Reiner
I had a string of bloody noses recently. It was the heat. I hadn’t had a bloody nose in a long time. When I was younger, I had them frequently. My dad, seeing his six year old son with blood streaming down his cheeks, would tear a napkin in half, wet it under hot water, roll it up like a blunt and wedge it between my lip and my gums. He was a paramedic. It was an easy way of stopping the bloody nose. I never really could explain it to someone. But I always did it when people around me had a bloody nose. They looked at me funny and didn’t think it worked–but I always said, “My dad is a paramedic; he always does this.” And that was that. The bloody nose, slowly but swiftly, stopped. Now when I have a bloody nose, I think of him stopping it with sleight of hand. Now he’s gone. And I don’t really get bloody noses anymore. Nine years later, though, I didn’t forget how to do it. I rolled up the wet tissue like a blunt and stuck it in my mouth, looking at myself in the mirror, yearning to see him next to me, about to perform his magic trick.
Reflection on “Magic Trick” The faith I had in my late dad’s ability to make things better mirrors the faith I have in God to be with me during my suffering. The magic that my dad would work reminds me of the way God works through the Holy Spirit as He draws me near to Him. Still, God is not only curer. My mom once showed me a quote that said, “Jesus did not come to end suffering, he came to fill it with his presence.” This helps me in my struggles with belief, as I often question how God could let things happen. Understanding that God is, and always will be, with me, even in darkness, strengthens my faith in Him.
Photo: James Chu
Nic Reiner is a senior majoring in English from Long Beach, CA. He loves to write and has a feverish fascination with Jell-O. 21 Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
The Salt and Light Rebellion Colonel J. William “Bill” DeMarco Photo: James Chu
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2 I guess I grew up a rebel. Funny, now that I am a dad, Air Force Officer, pilot, commander, the list goes on…but I think I have always been a rebel at heart. As a teen, the church I belonged to frowned on that. The long hair, the black ’72 SS/RS Camaro, my taste in music. It all added up to what they called a “rebellious hippie.” The title offended me—not the rebellious part as much as the hippie part. Weren’t the hippies done as of 1974? I was a surfer, and as a teen I had to ponder: didn’t Jesus have long hair, wouldn’t He have driven a muscle car, what kind of music would He like? Webster defines rebel as “To renounce, and resist by force, the authority of the ruler or government to which one owes obedience.” At first glance, I am not sure that being a rebel is a good thing, but in the past few years there has been a rise of folks who get the concept as it pertains to Christianity. Rob Bell, Donald Miller, Erwin McManus, to name a few. These individuals have stepped out and shown those that care to listen, a different side of Jesus…one we may have forgotten. A recent Brett McCracken article in Christianity Today notes that “Jesus was a rebel” is a favorite slogan of Christian pastors and authors trying to “reach twentysomethings.” The logic: 1) This age group thinks Christianity is tired, boring, and stale. 2) This age group is naturally rebellious and contrarian. Therefore …
3) Christianity will be fresh and exciting to them if it is framed in the context of subversion and rebellion. My sense is that it goes way beyond that. It’s not a stretch to say that Jesus was a rebel. He was bucking a system, turning over money tables, and saying subversive things in His ministry. It is perfectly appropriate, then, for Christians to call Jesus a rebel or a subversive. Some Christians feel the concept is awful. Others think it fits neatly into a “Christianity is hip” PR ambition that some churches are undertaking. Many teens and college students love rebels, and even if they loathe church or Christians, many of them still think Jesus is pretty cool. But should we, as Christians, embrace or denounce the concept? Should we even care? When asked “why Jesus is still considered cool in the eyes of young people”, McCracken quotes SoCal’s Mosaic pastor Eric Bryant: “They’re intrigued by Jesus. They look to him. He is real, authentic, and relevant. He spoke with honesty. He was a man on a mission. He was a radical, a revolutionary, yet tender and kind and loving. He was doing things completely against the rules of the day. He was a mix of justice, kindness, judgment and grace.” Jesus was the perfect human. We shouldn’t be enlisting people to join the “cause” because they think Jesus is a Che Guevara-esque revolutionary type. They should be joining the cause because they need God’s grace,
Colonel J. William “Bill” DeMarco, USAF, served as a National Security Affairs Fellow at the Hoover Institution from 2007-2008. Bill also serves an an advisor to Vox Clara. National. His views are not necessarily endorsed by the USAF or the Department of Defense. 22
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not because they want to take down some system or join some romantic revolutionary cause. It is up to us as followers to be clear in our message—it is not about the rebellion—it is about a relationship with God the Father. This is an idea that Donald Miller expressed in a New York Times article. We have to be devoted followers of Christ first and “rebels” second: “If you’re a Christian, you need to obey God. And if you obey God, you’re going to be seen as a rebel, both within American church culture and popular culture. But that’s not the point.” The point is to obey God. I have to say… I love that. In the same article, Shane Claiborne notes, “What we do looks extreme because it’s an indictment of the idea of Christianity that so many of us have settled for. When we look at the early church, it was very revolutionary. Jesus sat down to rethink revolution. He was able to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.” So growing up a rebel was perhaps not all bad. The good news is that many Christians are starting to understand. If we obey Christ and follow his commands (to forsake our own lives in pursuit of him, for example), it may well be perceived as countercultural and maybe even “cool.” The countercultural and “cool” aspects were huge to me, but rebellion is only a virtue when it occurs as an unintended byproduct of obedience to Jesus. As always, I find there is much to learn in my Christian walk, and I hope you are always learning as well.
Religion in Paris -
A Tradition No Longer à la mode Amie Pendleton-Knoll
I am a Religion major studying in Paris, a juxtaposition that was confirmed not long after my arrival in this stunning secular country. Every day I walk around Paris and I am confronted with evidence of a religious city that once was. Sadly, the cemeteries, cathedrals, churches, chapels, and basilicas that dot the city now stand as religious symbols frozen in history as Parisian modernity pushes forward, seldom looking back to acknowledge its Christian roots. Such religious symbols are not forgotten, however – at least not by their tourists upon whom Notre Dame, Ste. Chapelle, Sacré-Coeur, and Père Lachaise depend. Since being here I’ve managed to read up on the history of laïcité (secularism) in France. I know that, preceding the French Revolution, France depended on religion to function as a united nation. In fact, like many countries at the time the Church governed the nation: Sabbath was respected, divorce was unheard of, nuns were teachers, and God was understood by all as the author of the fundamental rights of the French people. I also know that, with the Revolution of 1789 came a new way of thinking, of governing, and of living. Through a slow process Catholicism was being pushed underground. What began as a simple separation of Church and State in 1905 has catapulted into a complete rejection of religion within
the public sphere, and the whole world is tuning in. We were all aware of the 2004 headscarf controversy, for example, which ultimately led the French government to abolish all public displays of religious (and political) belief in schools—headscarves and crosses included. In five months I have come across only a handful of others wearing crosses similar to mine, and in all likelihood they were tourists. It’s one thing to read about these affairs from America, and it’s another to be here in
education and politics, I have enjoyed myself. The city of lights and love really is spectacular. Day-to-day life here is calm and elegant. I live in a beautiful apartment in a beautiful neighborhood down the street from a beautiful park where people exchange words in a beautiful language. The architecture, the parks, the canals, the language, the food, the deep history, and the thriving arts…truth be told I know all too well how blessed I am to be in Paris. But the feeling of being a stranger does not escape me. I don’t wear heels or dress in black, I don’t smoke, I smile at passerbies, I study Religion, and I wear a cross. I know now more than ever where I do and don’t fit in, and not fitting in in Paris is fine by me. Upon reflection, I’m left to wonder, wasn’t the purpose of adopting secularism (like the Separation in America) to not show favoritism towards one cult, thereby promoting equality and diversity? It seems that somehow, somewhere, something went Photo: Amie Pendleton-Knoll wrong. But perhaps I am being France and experience my religion as too harsh. There is, after all, the Jewish this underground-type movement, as if quarter of Paris that stretches a whopping I’m a part of a group existing outside 2 blocks; ‘though let’s not fool ourselves, the French establishment, reflecting the only reason this area is so lively is unorthodox or radical views. It’s no because of its mouth-watering falafels wonder that, when asked by the French that reel in hundreds of customers what I study, my response is most often daily. Perhaps this is where 51% of the met with stares of incredulity. Christian French population is hiding, My study abroad experience in Paris because I certainly haven’t been able to is complicated because beyond the find them in church.
Amie Pendleton-Knoll, a Middlebury College sophomore from Vancouver, is majoring in Religion and doubleminoring in Psychology and French. She is passionate about Pachelbel’s Canon, suffering coffee shops, and getting lost with her camera. Forum of Christian Thought and Action at Stanford
The Augustine Project Vox Clara was inspired by The Augustine Project, which is a growing movement to establish Christian journals at colleges across the country. The Project’s goal is to be a “thoughtful witness to [Christian] faith in the modern university”, knowing that “Truth cannot be pursued in a vacuum.” The Augustine Project was founded by Jordan Hylden, a graduate of Harvard University.
Other Member Journals Include: • • • • • • • • • • •
The Harvard Ichthus Revisions (Princeton) The Beacon (William and Mary) To An Unknown God (Berkeley) Closing Remarks (Brown) The Pub (Wheaton) Religio (Duke) Wide Awake (University of Virginia) The Fish (University of Chicago) The Logos (Yale) The Dartmouth Apologia
Vox Clara at Stanford is a chapter of Vox Clara, a Christian non-profit dedicated to building a network of Christian organizations on college campuses across the country that produce publications and host speaking events and conferences for college students. This national organization grew out of Vox Clara at Stanford, its first chapter. For more information, please visit www.voxclara.org.
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Letter from the President
One of the most well-known verses about faith is Hebrews 11:1, which tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith embraces the unseen—and in doing so, faith itself becomes a new form of seeing. It is a way of seeing the world and our lives as part of something beyond the material and the immediate. Faith acknowledges that there is a type of sight that far surpasses the limited scope of our own eyes. C.S. Lewis wrote that it was “the highest condition of the Human Will…when, not seeing God, not seeming itself to grasp Him at all, it yet holds Him fast.” When I read those words, I think about just how difficult it is to hold fast to God during the times when I feel He is not with me. In fact, how can I “yet hold Him fast” in the moments when I’m thinking that I’ve already lost my grasp in the first place? On the cross Jesus showed us how this is possible. Both divine and perfectly human, Jesus oriented his own human will completely toward the will of God the Father. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark tell us that before Jesus died, he “cried out in a loud voice…, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” In awe of these words, the Scottish author George MacDonald wrote, “[Christ] could not see, could not feel [God] near; and yet it is ‘My God’ that He cries.” I had never looked at Jesus’ words in this way before. What a powerful understanding of Christ’s call to His Father. With his cry Jesus gives us a moving and beautiful expression of faith. Though he feels utterly alone, he looks to the very One he thinks he’s been forsaken by. He holds fast to God by calling out in prayer. Hebrews describes Jesus as “the author and perfecter of our faith” (12:2). Jesus expressed his faith on the cross, and he continues to help us grow in our faith today. Describing the living God, 1 John 4:13 tells us, “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” When we call out to God in prayer just as Jesus did, we participate in the life of the Holy Spirit that is within us. It is a reminder that we are not forsaken even if we do feel alone. Jesus authors our faith through the lives of the people we encounter as well. Paul wrote that he longed to visit Rome so that he and the community there could be “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12). When I see the radiance of Christ’s light in other Christians, I find new passion to persevere in my own faith. I hope that you’ve been encouraged in some aspect of your faith after reading a piece in Vox Clara. Whether you are a Christian, an agnostic, or an atheist, we invite you to join the conversation and hope that you will continue to explore Christianity.
C. E. Caruthers President, 2009 - 10
Thank you for reading Vox Clara. It is our sincere hope that you come away enlightened about aspects of Christianity. Whether you are a skeptic, seeker, or believer, we encourage you to continue exploring the faith. We leave you with these closing thoughts.
I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness. - Mother Theresa
He could not see, could not feel Him near; and yet it is ‘My God’ that He cries. - George MacDonald
I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. - Matthew 17:20
All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. - Ralph Waldo Emerson