more from dr. malcolm

Early in the week, I jumped off of Jeff Goldblum’s quote from Jurassic Park:

“[Y]our scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

If you didn’t get to read that post, I encourage you to – or if you didn’t see the comments, there were some really thoughtful ones. It’s important that College Ministry (as a field) and college ministries (as individual entities) be known for proceeding with wisdom.

Right now, I don’t know how well that characterizes us (as a whole).

As an addendum, here’s the more complete offering from Dr. Ian Malcolm at that scene in Jurassic Park. It doesn’t all fit the metaphor exactly… and he’s being a bit heavy-handed… but I found it edifying still. While he stands in awe of the “force of nature,” we might argue that college ministry is likewise a force – which is the argument we all make to supporters and outsiders, right? If it’s a force, then there’s a lot of responsibility here, because what’s positive can also turn negative. Wielding our opportunity unwisely can actually be damaging to the “ecosystems” of campuses and the students that inhabit them.

Here’s the quote:

Gee, the lack of humility before nature that’s being displayed here staggers me. … Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun. …

If I may, I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here: It didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You know, you read what others had done, and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it. You want to sell it. Well…

John Hammond, the Park Director, breaks in at this point: “I don’t think you’re giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody has ever done before.”

Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.

Later, Malcolm adds,

What’s so great about discovery? It’s a violent, penetrative act that scars what it explores. What you call ‘discovery,’ I call the rape of the natural world.

May we all be slow and wise as we approach the campus tribes. What we do is powerful, for good or for bad. Let us aim to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us (and those who are wise in the present world of college ministry, too).


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