Monday, August 18, 2008

well, i'm here

I love Firefly. I really do. Especially Objects in Space. An astronaut's intense interest in absurdist philosophy is oddly fitting. Once you get up to the vast emptiness of space you realize either that we are alone in this universe or that God is more majestic than anyone on earth understands.

I assume that's what you realize, anyway. You may just realize that flushing toilets are awesome.

Well, I'm here. The dread I was expecting came in waves, albeit in very small waves, during the ride up. We left Woodstock at 7:00 Monday morning, stopped for gas a few times, stopped for lunch, and otherwise drove straight through. I split the driving with Nicholas about sixty-forty, leaving Mom and Dad to cross-stitch and read, respectively. When Nicholas was driving, I was sleeping or listening to music or both. I started listening to Ratatat - great, great melody-driven techno, if you can call it that - and nodded on and off. I tried to read, but I couldn't focus. I read some of Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal aloud, eliciting a loud sigh from Nicholas, who just wanted to listen to his music.

I realized this summer, and vocalized on Monday and several days since, that Socialism - nigh on Communism, Christ's disciples' lives considered - is a pretty good Christian philosophy. Working for the greater good, working in gratitude to the one who permits you to live (don't take the negative connotation of "permits" - think more of God giving us life and breath and everything good as a ), loving our neighbors and serving them because that brings glory to our leader. Due to the nature of man, however, Communism makes for very bad governmental philosophy. I'm sure I'll flesh that thought out much more when I take some theory classes.

Orientation started Tuesday with check-in, move-in, and dinner with a speech from Dr. Farris (school chancellor). I got to meet my R.A., John Anderson, on Tuesday; he's a very nice, humble, bright man. I think I'll have a great year in his wing.

Wednesday held the first chapel, at which Dr. Walker (school president) preached following very good piano/guitar worship with Ben Guido (Guido to everyone on campus) and Kenny Ly (Mama Kenny to his wing). Dr. Veith (school Provost) gave a short talk after that about the philosophy of education presented at Patrick Henry, explaining the trivium and the purpose of the school's focus on classical liberal arts. I also met my advisor, Dr. Tallmon, on Wednesday; he's a wonderful man (he's teaching my Rhetoric class and he's spearheading a Rhetoric major under the Classical Liberal Arts program), and I'm looking forward to his class. Wednesday night held a Patrick Henry tradition, wherein all of the new students (freshmen and first-time-on-campus students like me) met on the steps of Founders to take part in an acoustic worship service led by (and interspersed with the testimonies and wishes of) the R.A.s. It was a moving evening.

Thursday saw Mom and Dad and Nicholas going to D.C. for the day as I went to my residence life, campus administration, and tech orientation sections. I had an interview with Mrs. Del Mundo (head of the kitchen) for a job in the dining hall. It went well, and I start on Friday. I got Friday, Saturday, and Sunday closing shifts (4:50-8:30ish), so my mornings, aside from chapel, CSG, and church, are clear. Just the way I like them.

Friday had our first wing chapel (just the men on my hall, with John leading the time), followed by a pretty easy assessment test (general knowledge, mostly). The second assessment test was a demographic one, and I was the first to be done with it. I went to the library, then to the kitchen, for their respective orientation sessions, which were interesting enough.

Saturday had the Freshmen talent show, which was everything from boring to hysterical and birthed a number of inside jokes.

Sunday sent me to Grace Community Church, which I was told was a Reformed church with a casual atmosphere. I expected Piper-esque preaching (the guest speaker was actually Joshua Harris, who delivered a fascinating sermon on the context of Jeremiah 29:11-13 and God's good plan for his people), but I was surprised to learn that Grace defines itself as Reformed Evangelical Charismatic. Go figure. Hearing people shouting around me wasn't all that distracting, but it threw me off a bit. I was equally surprised to find that it wasn't exactly a turn-off. I wrote a paper last semester on the gifts of the spirit and I walked away from that with only slightly less confusion and a real sense that the gifts are not used in the first-century-church manner anymore. But the people at Grace seemed to be shouting and praying and lifting their hands out of an overflow of joy at God's grace and gratitude for their salvation. The songs were deep, which is what I've wanted, and the pastor, Bob Donahue, is a very encouraging, very genuine follower of God. I even talked to him one-on-one during the coffee break in the middle of the two-hour service; he explained the proper biblical use of the gifts of the spirit and how they actually echo the early worshipers more than churches today often do. I'm not sure that Grace is the church God wants me to get involved with, so I'm still going to visit around for a few more weeks, but I liked it more than I anticipated.

As the title of my post says, I'm here. I really like everything about this place. I love my R.A., I love my professors, I love the distance learning students I've finally met face-to-face, and I love my classes. I love the group of R.A.s, actually; they're all committed followers of God, humble leaders, and sharp students. I'm terribly impressed by everything I've seen.

Except for Dr. Kucks' ninth-grade-level explanation of Algebra. Really? We all scored far above average on the SAT math section, and Algebra doesn't leave you that quickly. Are there really students here who don't grasp basic substitution?

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