Tag Archives: University

Should Christians be motivated by the fear of missing out (FOMO)?

Theology that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

Dina was off from her stressful job last week, so we spent some time talking over some articles that we found on the culture. We specifically talked about what is motivating young people, so I wanted to write something about that.

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out

Here’s a leftist New York Times article explaining where FOMO comes from:

It’s known as FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” and refers to the blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram. Billions of Twitter messages, status updates and photographs provide thrilling glimpses of the daily lives and activities of friends, “frenemies,” co-workers and peers.

[…]When we scroll through pictures and status updates, the worry that tugs at the corners of our minds is set off by the fear of regret, according to Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational” and a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. He says we become afraid that we’ve made the wrong decision about how to spend our time.

[…]A friend who works in advertising told me that she felt fine about her life — until she opened Facebook. “Then I’m thinking, ‘I am 28, with three roommates, and oh, it looks like you have a precious baby and a mortgage,’ ” she said. “And then I wanna die.”

It’s like they want to run a race to do fun and exotic things with their peers, and not finish last.

Anyway, I want to begin this post with examples of FOMO behavior I have personally encountered.

FOMO Travel

Dina and I read and discussed this article by Alain de Botton in The European – notice the emphasis on travel and having fun, sophisticated experiences:

We’re continually being bombarded with suggestions about what we might do (go jet skiing, study in Colorado, visit the Maldives or see the Pyramids). We’re always hearing of the amazing things friends have done or are going to do: ‘there was this great bar we all went to …’; ‘she’s getting married in a little country church, then we’re having a picnic…’; ‘the sun was glinting on Sydney Harbour…’ There are endless hints of the allure of life in other places: an article about family-friendly restaurants in Brooklyn, a crime novel set in Trieste, the departure board at the airport with its list of places only a plane trip away: Moscow, Bangkok, Addis Ababa… The modern world makes sure we know at all times just how much we’re missing. It is a culture in which intense and painful doses of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) are almost inevitable.

What’s interesting is this – how does FOMO travel affect young, unmarried Christians?

Travel through missions work seems to be the FOMO activity of choice for at least a few young, unmarried Christians. One of my best friends who is married to another of my best friends told me about her missions trip to a European country. I asked her why she did it, since it meant lost savings, lost earnings, lost work experience, etc. (She gave up a year of earnings, and she had a great job in engineering). Her answer was that she did it for the adventure. I have a hard time hearing Jesus say that he was going to do something because he was bored and wanted an adventure. Especially when it’s $30,000 in costs, $60,000 of lost income, and lost work experience – per year. This was before the time of the Internet, though, when missionary work actually made sense. I just don’t think it’s worth spending that kind of money for the impact you make. The people I know who went on missionary trips just wanted to feel spiritual, look spiritual, and have a fun “life experience” vacation. One missionary told me that she was desperate to get away from her boring mid-Western roots.

If you really want to share Christ effectively with people in other countries, then you can start a blog and pay the tiny costs for it out of your earnings from your day job – that’s what I do. I get more people from Europe reading my blog than I could contact in a year of missionary work. I Skype with the people who are interested in Christianity from these countries (Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, Canada, etc.), as well. Meanwhile, I keep working my not-exciting job, so my savings increase, and my resume remains gap-less. This is good stewardship of finances, and self-denial prepares your character for the hard work of marriage and parenting. The Bible says that those who do not work should not eat. And Paul says that he built tents so that no one could accuse him of taking on missionary work for financial gain.

You can tell whether a person is sincere in their missionary intentions by looking at how responsible they’ve been in their decision-making. If a person has gone into debt paying for fun, thrilling activities like skydiving, ziplining, surfing, etc., then it’s FOMO travel. We must look past the spiritual smokescreen, and tell young people to grow up.

After all, if defending God’s honor was the missionary’s main goal, then the real battlefield would be the university.

Bill Craig puts it best:

If serving God is your goal, look to the university
If serving God is your goal, look to the university

H/T Blake Giunta.

There is already a perfectly fine university right next door – no need to fly to Europe to find one! Remember, the university that took your faith away, or maybe the faith of someone you cared about? Yeah, it’s still there in your home town! And it’s still ruining the lives of thousands of young people. It seems to me that it’s better stewardship to stay here and work, then give money to groups like Reasonable Faith. And you can start a blog, teach in church and invite scholars to the local university, too. That costs almost nothing, and it produces better results.

What about Jesus?

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to look beyond the words of the Bible and reflect on the overall message of it at a higher level. When I look in the Bible, I see that Jesus went through a lot of suffering in obedience to God in order to secure the salvation of people who did not even like him. And it’s from this sacrifice on our behalf that his claim on our obedience comes. There are things that I don’t like to do that I do anyway because they work to serve God. Jesus life’s ambition was not to do things that were easy, or that made him happy. Experienced Christians do things that are not fun, because these things are right and because they solve the real problem.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, choose two activities that are absolutely not about you: charity and stewardship. Give away some money to an apologetics ministry, e.g. – BeliefMap, and then spend less money on recreational travel, and fun activities. Stop doing things that feel good, and do hard things that work.

Advice for Christian parents from a woman who left Christianity at university

If you want real confidence, try studying instead of yelling
If you want your children to accept Christianity, then apologetics is needed

This is from the Beyond Teachable Moments blog – a great blog for Christian parents who want to raise effective, influential children.

Intro:

I recently had the opportunity to meet an intelligent young Christian woman who is proactively learning how to discuss her faith in a secular society.

Why is she so dedicated to doing this?  Because her Christian upbringing had completely failed to prepare her for the challenges of secularism, religious pluralism and atheism at university.

This young woman grew up in close-knit, loving Christian home.  She faithfully attended church.  She was enrolled in a Christian school that taught subjects such as apologetics, hermeneutics, inductive Bible study and managing relationships.  Her parents cared about her spiritual formation.

And yet, this is how she describes her university experience:

“Although I was still living at home during the beginning of my freshman year, university was traumatic at best. I went from a class of 15 in a small Christian school, to 30,000 people at a public university.

The most troubling thing was the amount of differing beliefs and worldviews I encountered, from professors and other students. At the time I thought they had much better arguments than I did for the validity of their views.”

Added to her challenge was the fact that her faith was borrowed, not her own.

“I can honestly and sadly say that as I started my freshman year at age 19, my faith was very much borrowed. It was a set of rules to adhere too. Although I was well aware of the concept of a relationship with Jesus Christ, I did not have it. I was entrenched in the notion of conforming to what people wanted me to do in order to escape condemnation and judgment.”

“My faith at the university was non-existent. If you asked me what I believed I would say Christian, but I did not back that up with any action whatsoever.”

As a mom of two young boys, the top-of-mind question I had for her was: what did she wish she’d known before she went to university?

The rest of the post is her response, but I wanted to quote this part, because it reminds me of what Pastor Matt Rawlings posted about his own loss of faith a while back.

The mysterious Christian woman says this:

Don’t use me to make you look good in front of other people at church, I can see straight through that. It does not feel good and drives me far away. What matters is what is going on inside, not what is projected. Looking perfect and going through the motions does nothing. The very basis for Christianity is what is going on in the heart. Only by letting Jesus work in your heart can actions follow with true authenticity.

And here’s what Pastor Matt said:

Looking back, I had a very fuzzy understanding of the Gospel.  I (and I think many people who call themselves Christians) are what theologians call “semi-Pelagians.”  I believed anyone could come to the altar but if they wanted to continue to be welcomed in the pews, they had to clean up their act and do so almost overnight.  The culture of Christianity at large appeared to me to be that if you came to faith and continued to struggle with lust, a foul mouth or whatnot then there was just something wrong with you.  I felt the church was more about behavior modification than grace.

I needed someone who I knew loved me to sit down with me long before all of these problems arose, look me in the eye and tell me how easy and how difficult it is to be a Christian.  I needed someone cared for me to unpack 2 Corinthians 5:21 and point out that by being “in Christ” I would be judged by Christ’s perfect life instead of my own.  I needed to know that the faith is not about “keeping the rules” but about doing things and not doing certain things to show my love and gratitude to God for what He did for me.  I needed to be able to read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, in a way that always pointed to Jesus Christ.  I needed to understand that God has graciously given us the spiritual disciplines of fasting, prayer, serving the poor, worship, etc. to help me grow.  I needed to hear that all Christians struggle with sin and will, to a certain degree, until they go to be with the Lord or He returns to be with us.

I needed good theology, good spiritual practices, good apologetics and good relationships.  I needed  knowledge and it needed to come from someone who I knew loved me even though I was thoroughly unlovable.  You can’t just leave this to the church staff because they do not have to time to meet with everyone and people with a chip on their shoulder about the church (like I had) feel like they are just doing it as part of their job.  All young people in the church, especially the “troubled kids” need this.  It is a lot of work but anyone’s eternity is worth it, isn’t it?

As J.P. Moreland has pointed out, your beliefs are not something that you form by sheer acts of will. You cannot will to believe things. Your beliefs form naturally through study, and then outward actions come from those beliefs. You cannot focus on the outward actions of your children – you have to focus on the beliefs inside. And know that those beliefs are not formed by habit, singing, church attendance or any other non-cognitive approaches. Beliefs form through a careful study of the evidence on BOTH SIDES. The first thing that Christian parents should be showing their kids is debates with both sides represented. That shows them that there is more to a worldview than just being bullied into it by raising your voice at them.

Christian parents, take note. Don’t be focused on making your child behave nicely on the outside and making it impossible for them to talk about temptations and doubts.  Christianity comes from the inside – from the mind. You need to be helping them form a worldview that has been tested and approved by them, before they ever set foot on a university campus. The Christian faith is not adopted by habit or tradition, it is adopted by transferring knowledge and discussing opposing views openly and honestly.

Don’t be like this mother who is only focused on externals – what family and friends think of her:

The good news is that atheism is not generally adopted because of logic or evidence. That means that a little bit evidence for God’s existence goes a long way against no evidence. A little bit evidence for the reliability of the Bible goes a long way against no evidence. A little bit of the minimal facts case for the resurrection of Jesus goes a long way against no evidence. It’s very important that when your children get to university that they find a conflict between some evidence and no evidence. At that point, it becomes their choice to decide what to do, and it could go either way. You don’t have to make them William Lane Craig before they get to university, for example. But they should have at least read his popular-level essays and books, heard his podcasts, and seen him debate.

Peer pressure on a secular university is powerful – but if you’ve taught your children to value truth over popularity, vanity, selfishness and immorality, then you’ve done your job. Lots of people fall away from Christianity in university because of the hostile environment. Some fall away because they want to be approved of by their peers, some because they just want to be seen as tolerant or smart, some because they want to get good grades from liberal professors, some because they want to have a good time, etc. That’s not your concern. Your concern is to demonstrate your love of truth, and communicate to them  a sober assessment of the evidence pro and con on ultimate issues. After that, it’s up to them.

Frank Turek and Michael Shermer defend their debate to gay activists

Michael Shermer debates Frank Turek: atheism and morality
Michael Shermer debates Frank Turek: atheism and morality

Remember how I blogged on the debate between Frank Turek and Michael Shermer a few days ago?

Well, apparently, a group of gay activists did not like the debate, and they complained – presumably in order to punish the debate organizers and shut down future debates.

Turek and Shermer have responded to their challenge, though, in this letter to the editor. And Shermer will even be on Turek’s radio show at 10 AM Eastern to discuss their joint response.

The show can be heard here on the Cross Examined web site.

CrossExamined Radio Program and Podcast

Listen to CrossExamined with Frank Turek on American Family Radio network

Saturday, 10-11 am Eastern on AFR network streaming audio and FM radio

Tune in to our weekly call-in radio program hosted by Frank Turek on American Family Radio network. Join Frank as he discusses challenging topics, takes calls from listeners, and interviews dynamic Christian apologists. Sponsored by CrossExamined.org, this apologetics program is both informative and entertaining!

If you miss the show, the podcast archive is here.

And here’s part of the joint letter:

It’s not often that an atheist and a Christian, who have just had a debate on campus, can be brought into agreement by a group in the audience. But the Graduate Queer Alliance (GQA) at Stony Brook University has managed to do that. Their letter to the editor on April 30 was so full of false assertions and totalitarian demands that we, Dr. Michael Shermer (an atheist) and Dr. Frank Turek (a Christian), felt compelled to write this letter together in response.

The central assertion of the GQA is that anyone who expresses a negative opinion of same sex marriage or homosexual behavior is guilty of “hate speech” and should be barred from speaking at Stony Brook University. The GQA says this while also claiming to believe “that a university should provide an open forum for controversial ideas to be discussed and debated.” We both wonder how the GQA can hold these two contradictory opinions at the same time. After all, they say they are for the debate of controversial issues, but apparently only if both debaters hold the same position and that position agrees with the GQA. Some debate!

How is disagreement over controversial moral and political issues “hate speech?” If it is then GQA’s position is “hate speech” because it disagrees with people who believe marriage should be defined in other ways. Calling people names or characterizing their arguments as “hate speech” is not good public discourse designed to discover the truth; it is bullying—the very thing GQA should be against.

If you remember my post, the clip I played had some back and forth on gay rights in it. I guess the GQA didn’t like hearing any ideas contrary to their own.

More:

The true motives of the GQA are revealed by what is not in the letter: the arguments made by Dr. Shermer in support of same sex marriage, arguments he made with great passion that elicited equal passion—on both sides of the issue—from the audience. If those in the GQA are so interested in advancing their position through sound reason and science—which was Dr. Shermer’s point—why would they not highlight the arguments offered in support of it? Instead, the GQA seems to think they have a right not to hear an opposing opinion lest they be challenged!

It’s a shame that those in GQA appear so uninterested in evidence.

Well, read the whole thing.

I think the letter from the gay activists and the response are particularly interesting, especially given what Dr. George Yancey said in his essay on educational dogma, which I talked about yesterday.

This:

For the dogmatic, ideas that violate the notions defended by education dogma are deemed “dangerous” and too much for the tender ears of our students. So in additional to shouting down speakers there have been calls for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” so that individuals do not have to listen to dangerous ideas. The true danger of these ideas is their threat to certain dogmatic beliefs of our students. These students are unwilling to consider the possibly that they are wrong, or perhaps not as right as they might believe. .

And:

For all practical purposes the students saw the speaker as a heretic. The use of the term heretic can bring up images of torturing, imprisoning and killing of those who disagree. This is not occurring. However, it is reasonable to ask whether the seemingly restraint of the students from such drastic actions is due to their moral compass or to the fact that they do not have the social power to engage in such actions. Education dogma has led to attempting to kick offending businesses off campus, attempts to fire professors, and the official “shunning” of students who hold the “wrong ideas.” Those with education dogma do punish those who violate their beliefs to the highest extent possible given their current level of institutional powers.

Dr. Yancey was talking about a different group of college leftists, but I think that’s exactly what’s going on here, too. For now, it’s shouting down and writing letters and getting people fired (which actually happened to Turek, before). But will they stop there?

Professor concerned by students who are unable to consider alternative views

This is a post by Dr. George Yancey, and he’s writing about the 5-minute video clip above.

Dr. Yancey writes:

Here is a great example of what I term education dogma. Note that the students are chanting about not being silenced while they are obviously silencing the speaker. My understanding of this situation is that the speaker published something that challenges some of the assertions about a campus rape culture. Such a challenge is an affront to the dogma of the students. Therefore, these students do not feel that the speaker has a right to speak on a different topic. The violation of beliefs they accept without question or doubt creates their incentive to shut down the proceedings.

[…]For the dogmatic, ideas that violate the notions defended by education dogma are deemed “dangerous” and too much for the tender ears of our students. So in additional to shouting down speakers there have been calls for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” so that individuals do not have to listen to dangerous ideas. The true danger of these ideas is their threat to certain dogmatic beliefs of our students. These students are unwilling to consider the possibly that they are wrong, or perhaps not as right as they might believe. .

[…]As I watch that video I did not see intellectual powerhouses but I symbolically saw individuals who were yelling nonsense with their hands over their ears so that they would not hear an idea that may confront their presuppositions about reality.

Here, Dr. Yancey compares the secular leftist students to religious fundamentalists: (links removed)

For all practical purposes the students saw the speaker as a heretic. The use of the term heretic can bring up images of torturing, imprisoning and killing of those who disagree. This is not occurring. However, it is reasonable to ask whether the seemingly restraint of the students from such drastic actions is due to their moral compass or to the fact that they do not have the social power to engage in such actions. Education dogma has led to attempting to kick offending businesses off campus, attempts to fire professors, and the official “shunning” of students who hold the “wrong ideas.” Those with education dogma do punish those who violate their beliefs to the highest extent possible given their current level of institutional powers.

So if the holding your hands over your ears and screaming doesn’t work, there is always calling the police, or using other means of coercion. Scary, especially when you consider the history of the secular left in communist countries where God is dead, and the state is all-powerful. How far would these leftist students go to silence people who disagreed with them?

More:

[…][H]igher education occurs in a specific social institution that promotes certain subcultural values and beliefs. Participants in these institutions are expected to accept these values and beliefs without question. These beliefs are not the result of gaining more facts but instead are the dogmatic adaptation of certain social values provided to them by this subculture.

The trouble here is that they don’t want more facts – that’s why they are holding their hands over their ears and screaming.

It makes me think of my own intellectual journey… the way I got started in apologetics in college was by reading transcripts of William Lane Craig debates that I found on the Leadership University web site. What was exciting was reading both sides and seeing what each person would say to respond. Would you go to a football game where only one side showed up? What if you already knew the score in advance, would you still go? What if one team didn’t play very hard, would that be worth watching? What makes intellectual inquiry fun and interesting is that two sides show up and play their best. Otherwise, it’s just brainwashing, not a search for truth. When I write a summary with a good atheist like Peter Millican, I actually feel like I have learned something – I have learned how far I can push each of my arguments, and what I need to study going forward. I care to learn more about what is discussed in a real debate.

This is the striking part of his essay:

Students are responsible for seeking out alternative perspectives and developing an attitude of inquiry allowing them to interrogate their own presuppositions. But their college and university teachers should be held to account since more than a few college professors have done a horrible job introducing critical thinking skills. These teachers come in with a certain set of assumptions and if students agree with those assumptions then they can leave college without any disturbance to their pre-college ideology. Then we have the gall to call that critical thinking. It is anything but critical thinking. It is confirmation thinking and we do our students a disservice with such an approach.

This is why I get so frustrated by non-STEM disciplines. I think those non-STEM areas are the places where what he described is most likely to happen. When you walk into a computer science classroom, you are there to learn something that you will be doing for money in a couple of years. You can go home and use what you just learned to write a sorting program, or improve the speed of your database queries, or write a mobile application and put it out for use. I just don’t get that feeling of usefulness from non-STEM disciplines, aside from maybe analytical philosophy, which is just computer science anyway (symbolic logic). The critical thinking in computer science comes from trying things yourself and seeing what works and doesn’t work in real life. Where is the testing against reality in non-STEM disciplines? There is none.

And then here is something hopeful for conservatives:

Ironically a conservative Christian Republican has a better opportunity to learn critical thinking in college than a progressive humanist Democrat because of the opportunity he/she gains to consider new ideas. When we allow students with certain perspectives to go through college without challenging them we not only promote dogma, we also do those students the disservice of never helping them to engage in the critical thinking necessary to intellectually grow. They are reduced to being a sounding board that regurgitated the latest expression of political correctness.

This is where all my hope lies. I really hope that the left educates itself into imbecility by refusing to consider different points of view, and that we conservatives are the ones who start to outperform them and take the high ground in the culture. To innovate, you have to do things better, and to do things better, you have to do things differently.

Read his whole essay.

Gay activists target student leader Lindsey Kolb for defending religious liberty

A banner with Lindsey Kolb
A banner with Lindsey Kolb

Here’s the story from The College Fix.

Excerpt:

Members of the LGBT community at Missouri State University are demanding the school retaliate against a student leader for her off-campus activism against a local ordinance that could harm religious freedom.

[…]A petition posted Wednesday on Change.org, originally titled “#TakeLindseyOffCarrington” but since changed to “#AccurateRepresentationMSU,” asks the school to remove a banner from its signature building, Carrington Hall, depicting “university ambassador” Lindsey Kolb.

As of Sunday night, the petition had 873 signatures.

Providing little context for its subject or a clear articulation of its demand, the petition was posted the day after Springfield residents voted to repeal a city council ordinance that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender.

Proponents of repeal have argued the ordinance did not provide substantial religious exemptions for businesses and individuals.

Removing the banner of Kolb would “send a message of cultural competence and not advertise someone who has no respect for a culture different from their own,” petition author and MSU student Connor Hayes wrote at Change.org.

Kolb told The College Fix her opponents have mischaracterized her beliefs and her faith.

“I advocated for repeal because I believe in religious freedom,” said Kolb in a statement. “A Church should not be forced to host a LGBTQ wedding. A cake shop should not be forced to make a cake for a LGBTQ couple’s wedding.”

Kolb wears many hats, according to her LinkedIn page: state chairman of the Missouri Federation of College Republicans and president of MSU’s chapter, receptionist for the dean of students and office of admissions, member of the student government cabinet, and even “campus ambassador” for a clothing brand.

What’s scary about this is the response of the gay activists:

She initially came under fire after taking issue with a satirical op-ed in The Standard by Caleb Hearon, which mocked Christians who favored of repeal of the Springfield ordinance.

“Repealing this protects religious freedom. It is my God-given right to hate whomever I want. Can I get a yee-yee?” Hearon wrote.

Caleb? What kind of name is Caleb for a secular leftist? That’s just weird.

More:

Though Hayes’ petition says its goal “is not to make Lindsey a scapegoat for the way the [Springfield ordinance repeal] vote turned out,” it continually returns to Kolb, calling her unfit to represent the university.

“Her remarks in the past do not exemplify an ethical leader by ostracizing and discriminating against current and prospective students who identify as member or ally of the LGBT+ community,” it states. “For Missouri State to continue to endorse her discriminatory views is effectively showing that they do not in fact value ethical leadership.”

Kolb told The Fix she feels “bullied” by the petition.

“The people who started this petition did not personally know me, my convictions, and completely took my views out of context,” she said.

Her opponents have taken to Twitter, using the hashtag #TakeLindseyOffCarrington and labeling her an “awful individual” and a “bigot”among other slurs.

I feel badly for her – trying to stand up for religious liberty using your real name is a disaster these days. It’s not safe. I do think that it’s extra good when a woman stands up for religious liberty, though. In my experience, women are more likely to want to hide their conservative beliefs from their peers – or even get rid of them completely in order to fit in. I feel really bad when that happens – I want to get in there and reinforce her so that she doesn’t feel pressured to change her values in order to fit in.

Look how tough Lindsey is:

And while Smart’s intervention on her behalf suggests Kolb’s banner will remain on Carrington Hall, “If it ever comes down to me having the freedom of speech and religion or having a banner on campus, I choose my faith and freedom every time,” Kolb told The Fix.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending so far:

University President Clif Smart decried those attacking Kolb in a Wednesday night blog post.

“In the same way that discrimination will not be permitted at Missouri State, we will also not permit retaliation based on someone’s political or religious beliefs or advocacy efforts on this or any other political issue,” Smart wrote.

He said the university’s “public affairs” mission – the petition’s stated rationale for removing Kolb’s banner – “is not a weapon to be wielded when we work or study with those who have different ideas, beliefs or values than our own.”

Discouraging people from speaking openly is not what Missouri State is about, Smart continued: “We do not behave as ethical leaders when we seek to stifle free expression or punish those who advocate for particular viewpoints.”

And there is a counter-petition for you to sign to support Lindsey, as well. I posted this because my heart just went out to her trying to do the right thing and taking flak from the secular leftist mob. She is a very, very brave girl – I’m sure this experience has hurt her some. It’s scary – so many of our young people are like Crazy Caleb – even the ones raised in Christian homes. And there are so few Lindseys. The university is a very dark place right now. And yet it has so much influence in our society that we can’t abandon it, we have to keep trying to get a foothold.