Posted by: gcarkner | September 17, 2012

Do Ideals Still Motivate?

In Search of a Few Good Saints: Women & Men

Some see this as such a cynical age that they wonder whether ideals have currency. We wish to protest. As a ministry to graduate students at UBC and beyond, in Graduate Christian Union (GCU) and the Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum (GFCF), we are diligently on a quest. It is not an easy, safe or superficial desire. Quite the contrary, in our quest, we are looking to find and nurture the next generation of culture- and nation-shapers, builders of the literary imagination, institution-shapers. We are looking for the future apologists, justice-seekers, politicians who care about the common good and the weaker members of society, peace-negotiators, international relations adjudicators.

God, show us the new prophetic voices who will shape public policy towards a more fair and just society, musicians captivated by beauty, medical people with an ear to their patients as persons, educators and thinkers with vision of deep incarnational humanism. Give us by your grace wise counsellors and healers of broken hearts, leaders with moral depth, substance  and self-knowledge, people who can benefit from the wisdom of history and pursue robust vision for a more compassionate world.

Inspire the new artists and writers who can capture the heart of human pain and struggle, stewards of creation who want to leave a positive environmental legacy, problem solvers who can draw on a variety of insight, scientists and technologists who care about ethics, who are bullish on mapping the human and creational benefits of their work. Empower and encourage the  truth-seekers who will think through and pursue the point rigorously, lawyers with a strong concern for justice, philosophers who will lead us into wise reflection.

Capture the imagination of young business entrepreneurs with an environmental conscience and a strong stewardship priority, priestly people with theological acumen who know the art of soulcraft. These people will refuse to permit ‘technique’ or utility, power or profit the final word, or the defining posture of their identity and efforts. Understanding how modernity has shaped them, they will think differently and sense the need to explore how they can shape and contribute creatively to late modernity in fresh ways, rather than just copy old templates that can grind us down and lead us into another cul de sac.

This is an exciting trajectory, a high privilege and calling. Is it idealistic? Yes. Is it needed? Yes indeed; nothing is more pressing for the kingdom of God and the improvement of our world; we need leadership with courage and substance. Many have travelled before us through the halls of academia with such high ideals, as emerging global citizens, people who refused to be sheep and decided to be leaders.

We are called forward into depth and breadth of vision as we put shoulder to the plow and keep our focus on the high road of the eternal pathways.  We are in pursuit of values and moral goods rooted in a strong consciousness of divine transcendence, creation, radical hope, incarnational relevance and creative goodness, values which invest in a visionary, moral, and constructive community, where taking responsibility for self and the Other and the common good is assumed and natural.

These people are willing to grapple fully with the transformative impact of delving deeply into the Christian narrative of meaning and purpose, to take on the full mantle of its redemptive, society-healing heritage at its best. They believe in the principles of shalom, servanthood and faithful presence, in the values of the Sermon on the Mount.

GCU & GFCF want to introduce you to some exemplars during your academic career. We hope you will see that ideals of the human spirit, as it connects with the transcendent, really motivate today.  They have cash out value in God’s economy of grace, that the Christian faith has never been more relevant to a hurting world.

Gord Carkner

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