Spirituality, Service and Integration

This past week I have been considering my last post, wondering if my frustration is valid, or perhaps the effects of end of semester tensions. Perhaps it is a bit of both. Regardless of its origin, this issue is important to me as I continue to develop my academic skills and simply grow as a person. It seems too easy to become engulfed by the academic experience, and so my point in all of this is too strive for a balance between in my critical thinking.

Though UBC’s mission illustrated my frustration quite well, it dawned on me that I should perhaps check Regent College’s mission, seeing as this is the place I am studying (duh!!!). While the openly Christian foundation of Regent results in a definite shift in focus from UBC, there are three aspects of Regent’s distinctives that I see as possibly resolving some of this tension in any academic environment.

SPIRITUALITY
With the ultimate goal of deepening our love for God, we are committed to the mutual influence between academic pursuits, faith, and piety.

I often forget that my faith involves all of my life, including academic pursuits. Assignments such as book reviews or critical research papers take a different tone when I think of it as a spiritual exercise. And by ‘spiritual’ I don’t just mean some sort of mystical experience, but the holistic life I live, committed to Christ in all I do.

SERVICE
We are committed to theological reflection that fosters generous service to the world.

While this aspect of service has affinities with UBC’s “agents of change,” I think the subtle shift in language denotes an attitude of humility that perhaps will look less at society as a problem that needs fixing. A life of service to the world implies a willingness to cooperate, which in my mind necessitates a combination of positive and negative critiques, allowing for genuine relationships to develop. This is contrary to the impersonal intellectual mongering that is common to so much of academia, including many “Christian” institutions.

INTEGRATION
We are committed to the formation of a Christian mind through an inter-disciplinary approach to theological education.

In the case of Regent, this means utilizing the wide spectrum of academic disciplines, not just theology or specific “Christian” ones. However, I think the concept of integration can be applied to all academic pursuits, allowing for a blend of perspectives, perhaps leading towards conclusions that are able to embrace a balance beyond one narrow viewpoint. I am not suggesting a generic approach to all education, where no one approach or opinion is emphasized. Rather, I see this integration as a relational dialogue with the variety of methods and conclusions confronted in the academic environment (Something more akin to Alastair MacIntyre’s view of traditions and their interaction with one another).

This hasn’t resolved the tension for me, especially considering that it arose while I was studying in an environment that espouses these distinctives. But I think they are a good reminder to anyone studying. My hope is that my academic experience can truly be an exercise in spirituality, leading to a life of service to the world that willingly integrates a variety of perspectives to enrich the process.

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