Monday, February 25, 2008

Musing in February

As the day comes to an end, I have just returned from hearing MIT students talk about their trip to the Middle East and to Africa telling other students about what it is like to study in America. The College Admissions Arab Mentorship Program (CAAMP) is now two years old. This year students spoke to 3500 students and their parents in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa. They report great interest on the part of young people who want to train so they can return to make a difference in their country of origin. This desire cuts across the ethnic and religious boundaries that divide the region. I am encouraged by this program and by the enthusiasm of students who take their time to make sure that others benefit from the opportunities they have had. CAAMP is one reason to have confidence that our future will be better than our past.

Another reason is an article recently in the New York Times noting that Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, of he United Church of Christ has called for a dialogue between science and religion. Google the United Church of Christ to see their home page. The theological notion behind Thomas' call is the belief articulated strongly by the UCC that God is still at work in our world. In their phrase, "God is still speaking." You will see this banner on some of the UCC buildings in New England and I suspect elsewhere. The conversation Thomas call for is important for all involved if we are to be whole human beings. I hope that Dr. Thomas will visit MIT inviting our students to be part of the conversation.

The UCC's notion is in stark contrast to the position of many Christians who while holding to the notion that God is alive and well, suggest that most of the conversation stopped when the Bible appeared in the King James translation. Some will find of interest a recent book by Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer of L'Abri fame. For evangelical Christians everywhere the Schaeffers as as near to royalty as you are likely to get. Frank, a novelist, sometime artist, and self described spoiled son, puts them and many of those who found their way to L'Abri in context in Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All or Almost All) of It Back. It is a good winter read.

Schaeffer lives near by. Maybe we can coax him to engage John Thomas in a conversation modeling the kind of civil dialogue our CAAMP students had in the Middle East and North Africa and the sort of conversation so valued here at MIT.

Blessings as daylight savings time draws ever closer.