This is it, I graduate from Calvin College this week. It is a bittersweet feeling. It feels clique to say this, but it truly is the epitome of bittersweet. The people who told me before beginning college that the next four years were going to be the best years of my life, were correct.
My time at Calvin has been fun, difficult, busy, challenging, affirming, and enlightening. It has been a time when I have worked hard and played hard, served God and served neighbor, studied what I loved and loved what I studied. I thought, learned, followed, prayed, built lifelong friendships, sang, worshiped, and took notes, a lot of notes.
At the same time Calvin has prepared me to create and follow a vision for my life, however vague and unclear it may be at the moment. Calvin has taught me how to leave this campus, go out into the world, serve God, and restore it. I am excited to put into practice what I have learned. Over the years I have learned that it is possible and even imperative to be faithful to God in every aspect of my life.
It has been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy with school, trying to find a job, and spending time with friends. But I had to break the hiatus to share some thoughts on this topic. Last week Calvin College Philosophy professor James K.A. Smith wrote a fascinating article entitled, “You’ll Thank Me Later”: Paternalism and the Common Good. I suggest you give it a read (you will thank me when you’re done … really). For those who think they know what’s best for themselves and ignore my suggestion here is a quick summary:
Last week someone asked me what studying economics in a distinctly Christian environment, like Calvin College, looked like. To be honest I was a bit taken aback. It was a good question. A question I had not fully answered for myself.
So I slowly felt my way through my answer. I said something general like themes of justice, development, and health fulfill larger roles in our course curriculum. The man asked for a specific example of how a Christian faith shapes economics education. I told a story about an experience I had just last semester. Mainstream economics uses a model that describes rationally thinking labor decisions. The basic idea is people will take time off from work if they are happier during the time of leisure than during the time of work. In economic jargon people will substitute leisure for labor if and only if the marginal utility of leisure is greater than the marginal utility of labor. This concept taught in a Christian setting will certainly summit (as it did in my class) different issues than in a secular setting. For instance, how does vocational calling and kingdom restoration fit into our idea of work? Is work always bad and leisure always good? Can this concept be simplified to this level? Does a feeling of happiness really indicate long term fulfillment?
Upon further reflection I wondered if John Wesley, co-founder the Methodist Movement, is the father of Christian Economics.