We have entered the season of gratitude. Pumpkin—with its associated spices—is flavoring anything edible or smellable. Leaves are releasing their grip on limbs and branches. The air and apples are crisp. The Communion Table is adorned with a cornucopia. We have entered the season of gratitude.
My list of thanksgivings will require at least the final fifteen days of this month to complete, but today I’m focusing on my gratitude for higher education. I’ve never felt it necessary for everyone to attend college. I have no immediate reward for those who do nor judgment for those who don’t. I know some college graduates who completely wasted their or their parents’ money. I know a host of musicians, artists, skilled workers, and business owners who never set foot on a college campus but have banked more dollars and influenced more lives than I have. In my life, however, higher education has been a powerfully positive shaping force. Dr. Armstrong’s biology class not only introduced me to the cellular intricacies of our world, but also to Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Chambered Nautilus. Dr. Street challenged the literal lens I had tucked in my Bible during youth camp. Dr. Stringer taught me to be observant and to express those observations with a degree of statistical accuracy. Dr. Bowden assured me that accounting and economics classes would benefit a future seminary student more than that future seminary student could ever imagine. Dr. Brueggemann taught me to translate studious insight into a sermonic moment. Today, I’m grateful for these—and all my professors—who pushed the edges of my thinking.
This Wednesday evening, we will enjoy the last session of Outside These Walls: The Shaping of Faith and Culture. We will gather at 6:15pm in the Fellowship Hall (earlier if you want supper) to interview Dr. Elizabeth Davis, President of Furman University. We will hear her perspective on the challenges of higher education and the influence of higher education on culture and faith…and I’ll continue to be grateful…