Follow Your Passion!

bad advice Soph“Follow your passion!” This aphorism of self-actualization is often given to college students searching for what work vocations they will do after graduation. This saying can be a well-intentioned antidote to the dull and dubious pragmatism that says, “Wealth (and the job that gains it) makes the man.”  But this aphorism can also be misleading and damaging. Its passion-propelled portrait of work can set people up for failure and disappointment instead of helping them find meaning and contentment in their labors. Continue reading Follow Your Passion!

Eloquence and Wisdom

Malala Yousafzai addresses the UK Department for International Development
Malala Yousafzai addresses the UK Department for International Development

We are, in the words of Kenneth Burke, sentenced to the sentence.  This curious, if concise, turn of phrase suggests that you and I, dear reader, are at this very moment linked through language. This link is tenuous. In an instant you can choose to stop reading (you will be missed) and my sentences cease.  Continue reading Eloquence and Wisdom

What Does It Mean to Be (Trans)Human?

android-arm-human-arm-michelangelo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of our universities are currently stuck in an internal debate about online course offerings, attempting to determine whether the potential gains of Internet-based instruction outweigh the costs. On one side of the ledger, the online student is afforded new levels of individualized education that no longer restricts them to the institution-centric forms of physical, in-class environments. On the other side, many educators caution whether this technologically-mediated methodology undercuts the nature of the learning enterprise, treating students as disembodied entities rather than as physical men and women. The center of the proverbial storm is the body. Does physical presence matter—not just in the university environment—but as a touchstone to understand community more broadly? Or, put more succinctly, is physical embodiment a necessary feature of the 21st century person? Continue reading What Does It Mean to Be (Trans)Human?

How Shall I Live Well?

One big question we are asking in the Enduring Questions & Ideas curriculum is How Shall I Live? But perhaps the real question for most of us is “How shall I live well?” In our current culture and society, we often equate health with wellness. We see this in the question “How are you today?” In truth, few people are ever inquiring about your health or well-being. It is more of a throw away greeting of “Hello.” If you were to receive an answer to that question, it usually is something on the order of “I’m good” or “I’m OK.” Heaven forbid if one were to respond with “Well, I was just diagnosed with (insert your physical or emotional disease here).” Continue reading How Shall I Live Well?

Today You’re at Bree

Middle Earth Map

President Krueger, honored guests, distinguished faculty, staff, and administrative colleagues, friends and family members, and most of all to you, the Concordia University Irvine graduating class of December 2017:

I stand here acutely aware of two things:

  1. I am the last thing standing between you graduates and your diplomas; and
  2. Because of item 1, it is extremely unlikely that you will remember anything I say here today.

I’ve been a member of Concordia’s faculty for more than 25 years.  I’ve attended every commencement ceremony organized by the university during that time except one, and to be honest, I only really remember two graduation speeches: Continue reading Today You’re at Bree

Goodness: Beyond Beneficial

Concordia University’s Enduring Questions & Ideas (Q&I) curriculum looks at the big questions of life through the context of the liberal arts and in the foundation of a Christian understanding of the world. The questions of “What is good?”, “What is true?”, and “What is beautiful?” are at the heart of the first year Q&I courses that students take in Core Biology, Core Theology, Core Philosophy, and, my subject area, Core Mathematics.

Of those three questions, the one that seems to be the most difficult for students to grasp (and for faculty to teach towards) is the question of goodness. Continue reading Goodness: Beyond Beneficial

Make Freedom Great Again

“If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” –John 8:36

The American narrative never strays too far from the word “freedom,” does it? I would wager that most people, when asked what makes America special or extraordinary, would venture a response replete with references to freedom, liberty, individual rights, and good old fashioned baseball. But are these deeply held principles of modern democracy in concert with the type of life-changing freedom Jesus offers in the Gospels? Continue reading Make Freedom Great Again

Seneca’s Call to Live Well

Seneca (ca. 4 BC–AD 65) is my favorite thinker studied in Core Philosophy at Concordia University Irvine. Alas, he also comes at the end of the semester, and I rarely have a chance to marinate in his work for as long as I’d like. Seneca isn’t just concerned with bare concepts; he’s interested in how ideas help us cope with this complex and sometimes maddening world. He also tells students (and professors) to remember to live while they have the chance. We read selections from his Epistles on Virtue and Vice, including a letter entitled, “On the True Joy which Comes from Philosophy (XXIII).” His epistle’s closing line is memorable:

“Some men only begin to live when it is time for them to leave off living. And if this seems surprising to you, I shall add that which will surprise you still more: Some men have left off living before they have begun. Farewell.”

So, how does Seneca think we should live? Continue reading Seneca’s Call to Live Well

The Q&I Forum of Concordia University Irvine