Monday, August 27, 2007

Covenant College needs help!

If you are unfamiliar with Covenant College you can ignore this post, but if you care at all about the place at all please read:

Covenant has made a grave mistake: the administration has claimed the right to censor all student publications, including "The Bagpipe" the campus newspaper. This document (sent to me by Covenant administration in response to an inquiry) explains the new policy in which faculty "advisors" are now required to act as censors of student publications. All articles must get have permission of the advisor before it is printed, and the advisor can even shut down the publication in order to control "inappropriate" speech.

The stifling effect this could have on free and open discourse would be disastrous for an academic institution. One of Covenant's greatest strengths has been that it has been both seriously and sincerely Christian while encouraging uncensored free thought and discussion on all topics. Now Covenant is in danger of becoming the sort of authoritarian "all Christian students should think the same" type of college that gives Christian education a bad name. Covenant faculty appear to be fighting this as well, but the administration doesn't appear interested in changing. I have Covenant's diploma hanging on my wall. I have always been proud of it, but this raises serious doubts about the direction the college is going.

If you are at all associated with Covenant College as an alumni, a student, or a member of the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) please email Covenant ( and let them know that such an ill-advised policy endangers destroying the environment that has made the school great.

You can also sign the online petition here. Password to edit is "freedom"

(click on image for larger view)

The Integrator was a satirical superhero cartoon that I drew for the Bagpipe from 1998-2000. Feel free to email or copy the image to any Covenant related sites in order to spread the word.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Sense of Home

Having returned from seeing Europe, my wife and I have settled into life in our native state of Georgia. I have been surprised how strongly affected I am to be living here again. I am so proud of my new driver's license and tags that say I belong to Georgia.

Not long ago I wouldn't have cared in which state (or even which country) I resided. As any good liberal arts student, I believed it best to be a cosmopolitan world citizen. Even if I acted locally it should be due to thinking globally. Any real dedication to a particular place was embarrassing and likely evidence of closed-mindedness.

When I went to live for a summer in Haiti as a 21 year-old, I thought of myself going there not as an American, but just a man (as if there is such a thing as a pure person, without the complications and limitations of cultural grounding). Of course, Haitians being grounded people immediately recognized me as what I was. In fact, the more places I go and people of other cultures I meet the more I know myself as a product of my own place.

Now moving back to Georgia after living only a few years in Tennessee only a few hundred miles away, I find I have missed this place so deeply! I find comfort in the sound of the accents, the red clay and loblolly pines, even the sweltering humid days. It is not that this place is somehow better than others—it is that this place is mine. It is the place that produced me.

The transition to a globally interconnected world comes with many advantages, but human nature has it's limitations. We are designed to have some connection to our place. If we are not careful we could all end up “world citizens” who are lost and without a home.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Purpose of Travel

This was written in my gridbook on the train from Madrid to Lisbon:

What is the purpose of travel?

We often speak of someone who has traveled extensively like we talk about those who are particularly wise or gifted. My liberal arts college even made travel experience a requirement for graduation. (It was call a “Cross-Cultural” requirement, but it almost always involved crossing a border.) What is all this importance given to traveling to distant countries? Isn't it just another form of recreation, in which the world becomes our source of amusement?

So today is the last day of our month in Europe. We have traveled across six different countries. I have seen some beautiful and amazing places. With such brief visits to each nation, however, we only got the smallest taste for the different cultures –mostly only in the form of differences in dress, mannerisms, and architecture. With a significant language barrier in each country, there weren't really opportunities to interact with people there in any meaningful way. I have been much more culturally enriched getting to know immigrants back in the United States.

I have a tendency to be cynical about tourism. I find the idea of going to some distant place and “paying people to stare at them and their homes” a bid degrading (both for the tourist and the native). My idealism, also, groans at the prospect of spending so much money and resources on my own edification which could be better spent on more “worthy” causes. I cannot help but wonder if the idea of the “world-traveler” is a holdover from Colonialism –the rich masters go touring around the world to gain notable experiences, oblivious to the sufferings their wealth and opulence cause.

But in spite of all my reservations, I am glad that we did it... glad I can say I have stood where Plato, Agamemnon, and Julius Caesar stood... glad I have hiked the Alps... glad I saw hundreds of places and works of art I have read about my whole life... glad I walked the streets of the same town in Italy where my grandfather grew up. I know these enjoyable experiences don't constitute a worthwhile apology for tourism, but it has been my experience. Right or wrong, I am glad I took a month of my life to ride the rails in Europe.