First Things RSS Feed - Gene Fant
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60Preying on Freshmen vs. Praying for Freshmenhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/08/preying-on-freshmen-vs-praying-for-freshmen
Thu, 27 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -firstname.lastname@example.org (Gene Fant) More years ago than I care to admit, my parents drove me the three hours to my undergraduate institution, pulling up to the dorm to unpack my belongings as a first-year student. When we finished, we grabbed a quick lunch, after which they hugged me goodbye and headed home.
Why the Lord’s Prayer Still Mattershttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/06/why-the-lords-prayer-still-matters
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:37:00 -email@example.com (Gene Fant)This past week I participated in
, which is an annual conference in Michigan that celebrates religious and economic liberty and seeks to develop sustainable poverty relief. We were almost a thousand strong, representing over forty nations on six continents, with Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and a huge variety of other traditions. There were suits, dresses, blue jeans, clerical collars, habits, and other attires.
]]>This Time Narnia is a Cityhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/07/this-time-narnia-is-a-city
Mon, 07 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -firstname.lastname@example.org (Gene Fant)Every town of any size in America seems to have a road called “College Street”; often there is no longer an institution there, but one was planned or one was shuttered as the economy fluctuated or populations shifted or mistakes were made that proved to be fatal.
Recently I toured several college campuses while on a business trip, which is a favorite activity for me. Their semi-rural, leafy campuses were marvelously lush and peaceful. Like many of the colleges in the U.S., they reflected a viewpoint that college life was best lived in a retreat, out in the country where reflection was possible. This is why, for example, Ole Miss is in Oxford rather than in the state capital of Jackson. Most flagship state universities are in cities away from the urban areas, even as land-grant institutions (mostly agricultural and technical institutions) were rural for specific purposes.
Christian colleges in particular have tended to be rural, reflecting the heartland populations of the faithful. To some extent, cities were for missions trips, while towns were for study. When I look at a contemporary map of faithful Christian college campuses, most are rural or semi-suburban. Many have reached out beyond their respective “bubbles,” and the advantages of their settings are many, but something is afoot in Christian higher education: urbanization.
Recently Business Insider
posted a map of the United States
that shows that 50 percent of the population of the US lives in 146 counties.
To underscore this: fewer that 150 counties balance
the entire rest of the nation
in terms of population; along with people come commerce, political power, and cultural influence. Many of these counties are contiguous to others, reflecting the urban metroplexes that dominate our maps.
This summer I joined the administration of Pres. William Fleming at Palm Beach Atlantic University (he was inaugurated in 2012), serving as provost and following a very specific sense of God’s leading to serve in an urban context. In many ways, West Palm Beach, Florida, doesn’t feel terribly urban, but we are on the immediate doorstep of the South Florida metroplex (5.8m people; I’m using stats from
2013 estimated populations
), our home county is the size of Rhode Island and has 1.3M, and we have a significant campus in Orlando (2.2M). We are on the rim of the Caribbean Basin, Latin America, and all of South America, where people dream of coming to Miami.
I have dear friends who have recently joined other urban campuses, notably David S. Dockery, the new president at Trinity International University / Evangelical Divinity School and Gregory Alan Thornbury, president at The King’s College in New York City (19.9M in metro area; began serving in 2013). In Chicago, Dockery joins Philip Ryken at Wheaton (started in 2010) and others who are serving a population of some 9.5M. Pres. Michael Lindsay (started in 2011) is poised to take Gordon in the Boston area (4.6M residents) to new heights. In 2012, Pres. Daniel Martin began serving at Seattle-Pacific, with a metro area of 3.6M.
Slightly longer serving leaders are in Texas, where Pres. Robert Sloan and his provost John Mark Reynolds (started in 2012) are taking Houston Baptist University into the heart of 6M residents, and in Southern California, where three vital institutions serve a metroplex of 13.1M: California Baptist (Ron Ellis), Azusa Pacific (Jon Wallace), and Biola (Barry Corey).
There are more, of course, and any list like this is always filled with grimace-producing omissions (my apologies in advance!); perhaps commenters to this post can add other urban-serving institutions, in fact, who need to receive more attention. It seems like seminaries have a longer standing in these areas, which reflects the older missional focus on cities, but which positions them for significant work.
If you are keeping track, that’s an incredible number of deeply committed Christian universities in urban areas who have received new leadership almost simultaneously. Historians will look back on this era, I hope, and see that this was not an accident. This was the beginning of a movement.
The other day I told someone that Aslan is on the move, to steal Lewis’s phrase, that there is a movement of the Spirit underway that is not gaining media attention
, but that it is real and it is becoming more evident to those of us in these settings. This is particularly true in the realm of the Christian mind. My hunch is that it is global, not just American, as Christianity is shifting to urban strength in many regions. Yes, Aslan is on the move, but this time Narnia is a city.
]]>Married at 25: Too Young or Too Old?https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/04/married-at-25-too-young-or-too-old
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -email@example.com (Gene Fant) Charles Murray has
an interesting piece
Wall Street Journal,
outlining his five rules for living a happy life. The first recommendation grabbed my attention: “consider marrying young.”
]]>House of Cards and the Death of Principlehttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/02/house-of-cards-and-the-death-of-principle
Fri, 07 Feb 2014 00:00:00 -firstname.lastname@example.org (Gene Fant)I come from a family that is neck-deep in preachers, politicians, and lady wrestlers, which in my home state of Mississippi are basically three sides of the same coin. Okay, I’m making up the lady wrestler part, but my fascination with all things related to faith and politics came honestly, at the knee of my late paternal grandfather Thomas Edison Fant, who was a protégé of
, the Magnolia State’s version of Huey P. Long. When Grandfather was fed up with politics (repudiating the bulk of Bilbo’s agenda) and had converted to Christ, he became a hellfire and brimstone preacher, the first of four generations of my family to graduate from the Baptist seminary in New Orleans.
]]>William Alexander Percy and the Demise of Southern Christianityhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/09/william-alexander-percy-and-the-demise-of-southern-christianity
Wed, 04 Sep 2013 11:00:28 -email@example.com (Gene Fant)
]]>Gregory A. Thornbury’s Mission to Revive Carl F. H. Henryhttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2013/07/gregory-a-thornburys-mission-to-revive-carl-f-h-henry
Fri, 12 Jul 2013 00:01:00 -firstname.lastname@example.org (Gene Fant) Gregory A. Thornbury, the recently-announced incoming president of the Kings College, has a great task ahead of him. The institution he will lead announces that its mission is to contribute to American society by producing graduates who command the important intellectual traditions, who think lucidly about the social and political issues that confront them today, who write with force and flair, who speak with eloquence, and who are eager to exchange ideas in open debate with those who espouse different views.