Corey's Corner: living the deeper life
Joan Jacobs Brumberg is professor emerita at Cornell University. Her field is social history, focusing on adolescents and the changes within this age group over the decades. Her writing and research on girls is about body image, chronicled in her noteworthy book, “The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls.”
In this book, Brumberg looked at changes of teenage girl diaries over the past century. Her research in many ways unpacks how character formation has changed over the years.
In the early 1900s, for instance, young women rarely mentioned appearance as a source of identity. By the end of the century, bodies — rather than character — came to define the good life, the essence of self.
Consider the New Year's resolutions of two adolescent diaries, a century apart.
“Resolved,” one girl wrote in the 1890s, “to think before speaking. To work seriously. To be self-restrained in conversations and actions. Not to let my thoughts wander. To be dignified. Interest myself more in others.” A resolution from the 1990s: “I will try to make myself better in any way I possibly can … I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got new haircut, good makeup, new clothes and accessories.”
This is a cultural truth for men as much as it is for women: a drifting toward outer appearance trumping inner wholeness. Unless the deeper life is nurtured and unless the outer life is a reflection of the inner, hollowness will be a constant companion.
At Biola you will learn a lot of content and grapple seriously with mind-bending ideas. You will learn skills and competencies. But your time at Biola is far more than the tools you need for a career or entrance into graduate school. Your education is more than content. You do more than gain knowledge and write a killer résumé.
If your education fails to cause you to ponder the deeper matters of your character and the virtuous life, college becomes merely one-dimensional. There are plenty of colleges where you can get that. What about the deep contentment of your life? It’s the difference between grasping what you are learning and being grasped by it.
How are you living the deeper life? Do you spend more time on the development of the inside than the outside? Do you flourish in who you truly are — made in the image of God — and not who culture wants to make you?
It’s worth it to ponder your soul’s development. Take the time.
It’s worth it to make moral decisions long before you are faced with those moral choices.
It’s worth it to understand that reading the Scriptures for a class is not the same as reading the Scriptures for your soul.
It’s worth it to pause long enough to ask hard questions of the heart, to wrestle through what you believe.
It’s worth it to spend a Saturday morning in Sabbath through Biola’s spiritual life opportunities.
It’s worth it to stand in wonder at the beauty around you and ponder the creator’s artistry.