Thanksgiving and Education

Chelsey Evans

Like most normal college students, the last few weeks have found me counting down the days until I get to go home for the annual gorge fest known as Thanksgiving. Now I’m not trying to cheapen the only fully Christian holiday we celebrate. It’s actually one of my favorite holidays. I love the focus on family and thankfulness that comes with this holiday. For my family, it’s an especially important time of year as we take time to remember my father’s successful battle against cancer and the Lord’s protection of him during that period of fear and confusion. Believe me when I say, my father is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about what I am thankful for around this time of year. But you must admit, going into a semi-lethargic overeating coma after eating Thank sgiving dinner is one of the highlights of the holiday.

Despite my anticipation for going home, seeing my family, sleeping in, eating entirely too many helpings of my Nana’s mashed potatoes and gravy, and cheering for the Cowboys (I have to, my dad and uncles will disown me if I don’t), I would actually like to ask God to pull another stop-the-sun-in-the-middle-of-the-sky miracles so I can get stuff done before I leave on break. The day I get back from Thanksgiving Break, I am to turn in my 25-40 page senior thesis (don’t worry, I’m on page 19 already) and before I leave, I am to turn in a 30 page outline of the book Education by Ellen G. White.

Obviously, I’ve been spending a significant amount of time on these two projects. My thesis is like candy. I work on it when the rest of my homework is getting too boring or bogging me down or I just need a break. Crazy, right? Well, let me explain. My thesis is titled, “A Brother Before a Lover: The Role of Brotherhood in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.” In essence, I get to talk about how amazing Mr. Darcy is, along with some other characters in P & P. Sounds like the best project ever doesn’t it? Aren’t you jealous? Yeah, you should be.

My other project, however, hasn’t been nearly as fun. For one thing, I’m not the type to learn much from filling in the blank on a pre-written outline. But, more significantly, the content of Mrs. White’s book has made me think about think that, honestly, I would rather just ignore. Don’t get me wrong; I think that Mrs. White was inspired by God and that her writings should be studied and taken seriously. I’ve learned a lot from this book and it’s challenged me to become an even better teacher and student. There are just some subjects though, that I just want to skim over. Things about diet and studying and, most important for me, literature.

Now I’m not the type of person to go out and read immoral or scandalous novels. My favorite type of non-academic literature is Christian Historical Fiction. But, I know that there are some books on my reading list that Mrs. White would probably not approve of. How do I deal with that? I mean, is my reading list condemned by God?

There are times I really struggle with this. But every time I’m tempted to despair and tell God I’ll go become a hermit agriculturist in the wilderness of heaven-knows-where, I’m reminded of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I honestly believe that God can use even the flawed literature of our culture to speak to us. Yes, the Bible should be our main course of study. But vicarious experiences given to us through the eyes of another person’s writing can give us a whole new outlook on the world that we wouldn’t have otherwise…perhaps allowing us to learn something new about ourselves and the neighbors we’ve been called to love.

It also reminds me of the book of Leviticus, in which God gives His laws regarding the uncleanliness of the people. It seems like everything they do will result in becoming unclean before God. Why would God make it virtually impossible to remain pure before Him if He wants us to be with Him? It is my personal belief that this was a lesson to show us that without Jesus, we have no hope of ever being clean before God. We are so surrounded and seeped in sin, even the everyday tasks which we perform and that are necessary to survival will result in uncleanliness.  Today, too, I must rely on Christ to be cleansed from the filth surrounding even the seemingly harmless books I read.

So, how did I get from Thanksgiving to a debate on whether or not my books are acceptable in an Adventist’s reading list? In the words of one of my professors, “I digress” (that’s for you Leisel!). But, I just hope that I can find reasons to be thankful for even my most challenging assignments this year.  In the meantime, I should get back to my homework…Cheers!

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