What is the point of learning? – Steve Garber’s Journey (Part II)

“The Fabric of Faithfulness” Cover

Part II of Byron Borger‘s evening chat with Steve Garber, author of Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior (InterVarsity Press. Revised Edition, 2007) — click here for Part I. Let’s pick up with Steve’s priceless realization of the importance not only of asking Who am I? but also of finding a place and a mentor with whom to ask an honest question and get an honest answer. *

While at L’Abri and wrestling with the question “Who I am?”, Steve watched his first film with Donald Drew. Donald, author of Images of man: A critique of the contemporary cinema (InterVarsity Press. 1974), pulled out his notebook and started taking notes as the movie began to show.  Steve asked him, “Why?” Donald’s response, “You can’t leave your brains at the box office.” Donald’s love for truth and for people inspired Steve. So much so, he explored whether he should write a book. Donald cautioned him, “You should live for awhile.”

As Steve journeyed through campus ministry in various places, helped to organize conferences (e.g., Jubilee**), taught classes, and discussed the relationship of faith-career, a question “grew” in him. He considers, “What does it take for me to keep on keeping on with life?” an autobiographical question which everyone wrestles with in this very broken world. For Steve, the challenge emerged from

watching my big brother in his late teens embracing a passionate love for God. But when he was 30, he had become indifferent. It just plagued, ached me. What was happening? [It] happened in InterVarsity with all those who went to the right conferences, studies. If I could ever do more study, I wanted to do this. What about living in the world we live in today that makes it difficult to connect what you believe with how you live your life?

His research involved the transcribing of conversations with those who “stayed” in the fold of faith, with the intention of discerning what kept them in the fold and brought them “gladness of heart.”

Byron summarizes Steve’s book as a relationship of writing and life, stating the realities:

  1. Truth is really true — Conviction
  2. Truth is not just true in your head, but you can live this way, mediated by a mentor — Character
  3. Everyone makes friends — Community

Take a few minutes to consider/discuss with a friend, colleague, InterVarsity campus staff member, mentor.

  • Do you “leave your brains at the box office” or some other place in our culture or campus/professional life?
  • What do you think about “living awhile” before writing? Is this particularly applicable to certain disciplines (or a particular message)?
  • Do conviction, character, and community provide enough to “keep on” with the life of faith and navigate our culture as followers of Christ?
  • Would you add something more to the mix?
  • How have you responded to those who have not “kept on” with life and/or faith — particularly to those with whom you are close?
  • What honest questions do you desire to find a safe place to ask and receive honest answers?

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to pick up and start reading a copy of Steve Garber’s Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior (InterVarsity Press. Revised Edition, 2007).

*Comment: these truths/realities are a significant inspiration for my work with the Emerging Scholars Network and Christian Medical & Dental Association (Associate Staff with the Christian Medical Society at Penn State Hershey Medical Center). As Steve stated later in his conversation with Byron,“Vocation is integral not incidental to the mission of God.” What a joy to provide Emerging Scholars and Professionals with witnessing communities (and resources) which build up conviction, character, and community (including mentors who offer space to wrestle with “honest questions and receive honest answers”). What a joy to see Emerging Scholars and Professionals mature, seeking after God and by doing such glorify Him in all they do, birthing opportunities to give testimony to Him in word and deed. … even giving us a glimpse of the New Heavens and New Earth.  To God be the glory!

**Where I’ll be interviewing some followers of Christ in Higher Education this weekend. Look for posts in the coming weeks/months.

12/27/2013 (10:38): Minor edits.

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry (D.Min., May 2019). To God be the glory!

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