hungry for their souls

While I was prepping for my seminar at this weekend’s Jubilee Conference, I came across something that really touched me – a book passage that has both a unique tie-in to a particular campus and offers a great parallel to the amazing campus environment in which we get to labor.

During the yearlong road trip, I visited Reed College in Portland – perhaps best-known among many of us for its inclusion in Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz.

It is indeed a unique campus setting. (As you probably know, I tend to argue that every campus is quite unique. This one is simply more… obvious in its uniqueness!) And one of many interesting finds while there was this mural:

I hadn’t ever looked up the quote above the hallway before. Turns out it comes from a book published in 1987: Not Fade Away by Jim Dodge. That particular line is found on page 23… and thanks to Google Books, I was able to read the paragraphs that precede it.

When it came time to close my seminar yesterday, I felt it hit the perfect note – reflecting the environment that all those called to college ministry get to bring Jesus into. In the book Dodge’s protagonist is actually reflecting on his life among the Beatniks (“pre-hippies,” I explained to the students yesterday), it sounds a lot like our campus worlds.

(Of course I can’t recommend the book itself – I haven’t read much more than the two paragraphs I’ll include below. And I apologize for the (minor) cursing. I didn’t write the book.)

Sounds like a freshman, right? How many students come to college with that same feeling – that this is a good time, that this is finally what they’ve been looking for?

Isn’t this already descriptive of the college campus? “A passionate willingness to be moved.” Some pretending and putting-on-airs, sure, but better than “the real world.” Those with religious backgrounds often feel just like this guy – that the boredom of religion is dull and desire-smothering and afraid.

Courage. An desire to be moved, and an openness to it. This guy with his passion for cars and the open road sounds like the many students who get thoroughly engrossed in their majors – and he found others meeting (or trying to meet) the same underlying passions in their own “majors.” Laughter and drunkenness, and the “walk of shame.”

And then the climax, the description that made the mural at Reed and that sums up our world: “An eruption of people hungry for their souls. And for all the poses and silliness, it was splendid.”

We have souls to offer the posing and the posturing and the hungry. And yet, even now, it is a splendid place in which to give our lives.

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