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Relevant Magazine: Time for a New Revolution

I just finished reading another issue of Relevant Magazine.

A particular article stood out to me this month: "Time for Another Revolution," by John Fisher (pg. 66, Nov/Dec 2005 issue)

Fisher talks about his experience in the 60s going to Wheaten College, where he was in the "worst" class (so-dubbed by the school's president years later), a class of "rowdy, nonconforming troublemakers." Fisher says his class was full of questions, not wanting to accept "easy answers." Some, for sure, lost their faith in school. But Fisher writes, "I consider this an improvement on whatever faith they brought there that was unable to hold up to the scrutiny of deeper questioning and intellectual curiousity."

Fisher worries that in the last two decades, he finds "rote acceptance of whatever those in places of authority hand down" to be more the norm. "Faith equals blind acceptance," he argues. "For too long, good Christian students have politely reflected the worldview and politics of their parents and rarely asked questions of their teachers . . . These students seem content to fill their notebooks with what they came to college for - answers that will lead to a high grade and result in a secure position in society or the church."

Fisher concludes by calling for revolution, encouraging us to ask questions, hard questions, about our faith and beliefs. "Jesus said that new wine can't be contained in old wineskins."

I didn't go to a "Christian" college, just a United Methodist one ;). But my brother went to a Christian college (yes, it's true!). He certainly is probably on some administrator's list of "rowdy, nonconforming troublemakers." But I think his spirituality is far deeper today for his journey then.

Thoughts about your own college experiences?


Revwilly said…
I'm curious, does Fisher support his conclusions with research or is it mostly his opinion? My second question is; revolution against what? Revolts usually occur when people are feeling oppressed, not respected or taken advantage of. I remember the 60's and they were much different than today. Even during the "revolution" of the 60's the authority stayed in place, the government wasn't over thrown - nothing was toppled. What did happen is that sex and drugs became rampant,millions dropped out and many who did later became conservatives in the 80's. Just some thoughts.
Beth Quick said…
It is definitely an opinion piece.
I think he uses revolution in the other sense that we use the word: like technological revolution, industrial revolution - which doesn't mean necessarily against oppression, of course, but means a time of rapid change. That's what I think Fisher is calling for - a time of rapid change in the schools. I'd be interested to know exactly how many drops outs in the sixties became conservatives in the eighties. I would certainly think the climate in education in the 60s tied into other things going on - civil rights, women's rights - that have significant lasting impact for today.
John said…
Well, I wasn't a Christian in college, so I didn't pay that much attention. I do remember that the Christians that I encountered were largely snobby, mean-spirited people. As far as I could tell, Christians were just another clique, nothing more, nothing less.

Anyway, there was certainly never a pervasive Godly atmosphere. It was just another college.
Revwilly said…
The drop outs of the sixties discovered that what they were taught in school(not everything like civil rights, etc.)didn't work in the real world and they didn't want their kids doing the same things they did. I think they particularly discovered that socialism is a failure as an economic system and that while capitalism has its failing it is a much better system and creates opportunities for everyeone.
Jeff Nelson said…
The biggest 'students vs. administration' fight...really the only such fight...that I can remember in college was over a smoking policy. It really wasn't that much to speak of.

The ideological rifts were more between student groups, the one with which I was most intimately connected being between Christians. I went to a UCC-affiliated liberal arts school, where those more sympathetic to evangelical conservatism thought of themselves as the revolution. Not all Christians agreed with their ideas and some nasty stuff came out of that.
Anonymous said…
Relevant Magazine is actually the subject of my senior thesis project (in progress). They frequently invoke a lot of countercultural rhetoric and throw words like "revolution" around a lot. Unfortunately they're unwilling to back it up theologically or politically. It seems fundamentally to be yet another manifestation of commodified dissent.

The 60s counterculture where a lot of this rhetoric originated is very widely was more of a Madison Avenue marketing scheme than the authentic populist movement it is usually understood as. (see thomas frank's excellent book Conquest of Cool)
Anonymous said…
I love that idea - it IS good to question it is where we find out how firm what we believe is.
Beth Quick said…
Holy Moly - I'd be extremely interested in reading your thesis - either finished or in progress. I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading Relevant (i've posted about it on here a few different times) but I admit to being won over because the magazine has more in it than i expected from more viewpoints. But I do understand where you are coming from too. I think some of the individual contributers might be a little more active, though, in promoting real change/transformation.

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