Feasts and Revelry: Good Food and the Grad Life (Scholar’s Compass)

I visited the Trade Winds Asian Market on a rare summer evening where time slows and places itself like infinity in your hands. I wanted to make green coconut curry before the summer ran out; summer always seems to run out before it has any right to do so. A friend and I drove to the market and wandered the aisles of unfamiliar labels and food types. We pondered the notations in Chinese characters of which green stalks were lemongrass and which was the Thai basil. Read more…

Surely the Lord Was in the Rare Books Room, Part 2 (Scholar’s Compass)

Christians in university settings can all too often find in the church and in academe two cultures that lead us to discouragement. The most uptight Pharisees can miss Christ just as easily as the most ardent skeptics by failing to see the God that they have misdefined in the first place. Read more…

Seeking God’s Wisdom in Strange Places

The author guidelines for Scholar’s Compass posts advise beginning with “a quotation from Scripture or a Christian writer”. The first quotation above is neither. It is an extract from the Instruction of Amenemope (variously named Amenophis, Amenemopet, or Amen-em-apt), an ancient Egyptian work of uncertain date giving advice of a practical and ethical kind from a father to a son. Read more…

Gates and “Keys” (Scholar’s Compass)

Most days, on my way to the library, I have to pick my way through a narrow passageway between Senate House (the ceremonial headquarters of Cambridge University where degrees are conferred) and Gonville and Caius College, dodging speeding cyclists, tourists stopping to take photos, and long crocodiles of schoolchildren. Read more…

Wisdom: Cosmic, Practical and Playful (Scholar’s Compass)

In the first post in this series, I introduced the mysterious figure of Lady Wisdom, a key character in the nine chapters that introduce the book of Proverbs. This figure, gendered as female, stands in the streets and calls the passers-by to feast at her house, eating her bread, drinking her wine, and learning from her to “walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9:1-6). Read more…

Navigating the Rapids, Part 3 (Scholar’s Compass)

Of course there have been other “tragedies” in my life since the one described in the first entry of this series. Through a more recent trial, God convicted me of the need for accountability in my life, something I’ve avoided in the past because of pride and independence. I thought, “I’m not doing anything wrong and I don’t want people in my business.”Read more…

Pilgrimage: Life of a Pilgrim on Campus (Scholar’s Compass)

As we near the end of this series of devotions on pilgrimage, let’s return to where we began, on that highway to Jerusalem in Psalm 84. On that highway travelers have their hearts set on arriving in Jerusalem and worshipping in God’s holy temple. With their focus set on this story, the path they walk becomes one of refreshing springs even in the desert. When we encounter Paul in Athens, he is also following a story, a story that begins on a road to Damascus. Read more…

On Submitting Academic Work (Scholar’s Compass)

I have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. I am a procrastinator. I’m sure many of you can relate. I don’t procrastinate because I’m lazy or because I don’t want to work hard. It’s a crutch directly related to perfectionism. My work will never be as good in reality as it remains in my head. So I avoid the inevitable disappointment that comes when the writing exists.Read more…

Pilgrimage: Communitas in the Academy (Scholar’s Compass)

As we muddle our way through liminal spaces on the path to a sacred center, especially with others who also see themselves on pilgrimage, not only do we change, but so do our relationships. A unique community arises that focuses on reaching that goal more than remaining within the usual boundaries and edges of social interactions. The lure of such a community often draws people to the academy.Read more…

Grading as a Spiritual Practice (Scholar’s Compass)

It’s that time of year again: grading time. I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying “I teach for free, but I get paid to grade.” You may be procrastinating right now, avoiding those last 27 papers you have to grade. Maybe you’re enjoying the clever memes posted by colleagues about student complaints, entertaining typos, or plagiarism. . . .Read more…