I’ve now been home three weeks from Summit Semester. It’s taken me long enough, but I thought I’d post on what we did and learned and all of that. It’s hard to even know where to start, so bear with me…
Summit Semester is a three-month academic program that focuses on developing a Biblical worldview (learning to think Christianly about everything) in the context of living in community. We lived at Snow Wolf Lodge, which is outside of Pagosa Springs, CO. We were surrounded on three sides by national forests. We only had internet for a few hours in town on Sunday, and I had to hike up to the ridge behind the lodge to get cell phone service. It’s amazing what you can accomplish without so many distractions!
Weekly, we had an art and Bible survey class, in addition to 15 hours of instruction with Dr. Michael Bauman of Hillsdale College in Politics and Christianity, British Literature, and History of Christian Theology. The 40 of us living at Snow Wolf Lodge (28 students, 7 staff, and the director’s family) grew close – we became a family – as we did basically everything together: class, family-style meals, dish crews, chores, volleyball, deep and random discussions, field trips, work crews, campfires, games, and so much more.
Everything with Bauman was discussed in light of four diagnostic questions:
(Try to answer these – it’s a lot harder than you might think!)
What is a good life and what good is life?
What is a good death and what good is death?
What is a good love and what good is love?
What is a human being?
So what did I learn? Again, I’m not sure where to start…
- I’ve learned how much I don’t know. There is so much I need to read and learn and ask…
- I’ve learned I have an infinite, lifelong reading list.
- I’ve learned about questions – how answer them, how to ask them. Bauman’s now in my head forever, making question just about everything…
- I’ve learned what it means to live in community, how important it is to have deep friendships and accountability and mentoring.
- I’ve learning about calling. It’s really basic, but it was an important lesson for me. God calls each of us to specific things – I’m not called to fix every problem I see. Others are called to those things to which I am not called. It’s how the Body works.
I was truly taught how to think, not what to think.
I’ve been told that from my pictures, it looks like we only had fun. So here’s an abbreviated list of what we studied in class. (feel free to skip to the end if you don’t want to be intimidated…or if you’re bored already…)
Politics: basic principles; formulating public policy; liberalism, conservatives, liberals, historical pragmatists, and revolutionaries; terrorism; abortion; Civil Rights; libertarianism and John Stuart Mill; Machiavelli and The Prince, Edmond Burke, the just war theory, capitalism, socialism, Milton on censorship and education; Dante on monarchy and governments, the Constitution; Switzerland; and regular discussion of current events…
British Literature: An Experiment in Criticism by CS Lewis, the medieval worldview (habits, beliefs, education system, courtly love); Beowulf; the Pearl Poet and his four poems; Geoffrey Chaucer (Romance of the Rose, Book of the Duchess, House of Fame, Parliament of Fowls, Troilus and Creseyde, Legend of Good Women, and The Canterbury Tales); Sir Philip Sidney (Lady of May, Arcadia, Astrophil and Stella, Defense of Poesy); Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet; John Milton (sonnets, Lycidas, and Paradise Lost); Thomas Gray’s poetry; William Wordsworth’s poetry; Gerard Manley Hopkin’s poetry; Walter de la Mare’s poetry
History of Christian Theology: Jewish roots, Jesus, apostles, persecution and growth of the church; Apostolic Fathers – Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias, and the Didache; the Trinity and the first four church councils; Second Century Church Fathers – Tertullian, Justin Martyr; Heretics – Gnostics, Montantus; the Pelagius vs. Augustine debate; Augustine vs. Donatists; the Medieval Roman Catholic Church – popes, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham); the mystics vs. scholastics; pre-reformation reformers – John Wycliffe, John Hus, Girolamo Savonarola; Francesco Petrarch (Ascent of Mt. Ventoux, The Secret, The Remedy, The Rest of the Religious); Thomas More (Dialogue of Comfort, Utopia); Erasmus; the Reformation; Martin Luther; Philip Melanchton; Ulrich Zwingli; John Calvin; Anabaptists, the Council of Trent; and random theology lectures – what is beauty, worship, church services, marriage/divorce…
A week with Dr. Don Williams of Toccoa Falls College, GA: theory of Christian study; higher education; theology of literature; poetry; the praise of Christ in British poetry; deconstructing deconstructionism; CS Lewis as a scholar; CS Lewis on Goodness, Truth, and Beauty; Edmund Spenser; Worldviews in literature; why evangelicals can’t write; speaking the truth in love
Dr. JP Moreland of Biola University: philosophy – types of knowledge, epistemology, brain/mind and body/soul,
Art with Charlie Pepiton: wrestled with the definition of art, the definition of beauty, the continuum of glory and suffering, breaking constructs, midrash interpretation, elements of design, theater basics, dramatic structure, semiotics, poetry, art history from 1850s to present…
Bible with Eric and God: understanding the overarching metanarrative of the Bible – seeing it as one Story rather than 66 different books; Creation, Fall, the Law, Israel’s history and kings, prophets, interlude, the Kingdom of God, redemption… read through major chunks of Scripture
It is impossible for any description of Semester to do it justice. I grew exponentially in so many ways - academically, spiritually, personally, relationally...the list goes on. I could not have spent those three months in a better way, and I am so grateful for the experience.