American Election: Views from Across the Pond

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taxi bus london

American Election:
Views from Across the Pond

Saturday, 12 November 2016; London, England – I was in London this weekend. While one of our daughters was in class, I was walking through Covent Garden and along Victoria Embankment asking random people what they thought of the U.S. election and its outcome.

“May I ask you a question?” I would inquire with a smile. And the vast majority of people obliged. A few seemed to know quite a lot about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Many appeared to know nearly nothing.

A few conversations were longer than ten minutes; most spanned perhaps two minutes. I’ll sum up the “results” at the end of the post, though I sense that the brief narratives below rather speak for themselves.

Perhaps the funniest exchange is the first one below, though it wasn’t my first engagement, thankfully. I spoke with around fifty people in the span of nearly three hours.

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Summit Oxford Reflections • Benjamin Bailey

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Summit Oxford Reflections
Benjamin Bailey

Bailey
Rebekah and Benjamin Bailey

The year 2012 was a hallmark year for the United Kingdom. The Olympics in London, a royal wedding, and Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee were all splendid celebrations of Britannia in her happiness and glory.

For me, that year was a celebration of a different British icon: Oxford University. Indeed, my best memories of 2012 will always be of long studies, grand adventures, and the towering significance that was my time as a student of Summit Oxford.

Why Summit Oxford?

What makes Summit Oxford special, unique, worth considering? Well, when asked so candidly, the brochure (pdf) provides a sufficient answer, I think. (And do watch the invitational film just below in this post.) A better question to ask, or at least one I wish I had asked before going, is…

Why do you seek the gifts of Oxford and what will you do with them? The answer to this question helped me discover the value of Summit Oxford, both in what it is and how it has so profoundly shaped me.

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Jesus, Greater than the Angels? Opening the Book of Hebrews

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Jesus, Greater than the Angels?
Opening the Book of Hebrews

Kevin James Bywater

• • •

For years, I wondered why the book of Hebrews began with so much attention on angels (Heb 1:1-2:18). The book seemed to me to be focused more on the priestly service described in the book of Leviticus—tabernacle, priests, sacrifices, offerings, washings, etc.—so why all this attention to angels? One might notice that Jesus was presented as one greater than Moses (Heb 3:1-6), better than the high priests, more effective than the sacrifices. Sure, but why does the book begin with a focus on angels? And just what exactly was the message brought by the angels (Heb 2:2)?

There appears to be some connection between the divine revelation delivered through Moses and the message that came through angels.[1] But what message came through angels? Again, why bring up angels and spend so much time arguing that Jesus is superior to them and that his message is more pressing than theirs (see Heb 2:2-3)?

Jesus greater than angels - blue white box

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Readings at Summit Oxford – Summer Term 2016

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It undoubtedly is a truism that one can be wearied by the reading of many books. Perhaps even more so, the reading of many online articles, a bulk of blogs, a flurry of frenzied Facebook statuses, all of the horrible and hasty hashtags, and opium opinions. Even so, some publications actually can be enlightening, perhaps challenging, even motivating. Some most certainly are fuel for our conversations at Summit Oxford. And sometimes our conversation become a tad bit energetic. I call these CHAT times: Christians Happily Arguing Theology (hopefully with an emphasis upon happily).

Readings at Summit Oxford
Summer Term 2016

Our reading list changes a bit from term to term. New books are published, older ones seem less pressing or helpful, and there is ever a steady stream of articles and chapters on subjects that beg to be included. We do read a lot, mind you, approaching 2600 pages for the longer terms and 2100 pages for the Summer Term.

We still have 5 weeks before our term begins, if you’d like to visit summitoxford.org and apply yourself to study abroad with purpose this summer!
For the upcoming coming Summer Term (7 June–August 8), along with a selection of articles, essays, and other items, we are reading and discussing the volumes listed below. I have listed them roughly in the order we will read them. Often I have our students read the books in their entirety and prepare reports or summaries for select chapters or sections. I’ve provided Amazon links if you care to purchase any of them.

Christ church - Henry James

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The Irrational Ethics of Ayn Rand

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The following essay was written back in 1995 for a philosophy class at Denver Seminary. It has been online since around 2000. It is made available here in only slightly edited form. I have neither the inclination, nor the resources, nor the time to revise it, so I offer it for your reading in its current form. Enjoy!

The Ethics of Ayn Rand:
A Preliminary Assessment

Kevin James Bywater

Introduction

Ayn Rand was a prolific and very popular author. Her engaging philosophy has captured the minds of many, students and professionals. To many readers’ imaginations, her novels — especially Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead — provide an inspiring vision of the world as it is and as it could be. Even after her death in 1982, her books continue to be read and admired by many. As J. Charles King comments:

Because Rand has written both fiction and philosophical essays, her influence has been felt in very different ways. For some she has provided an inspiring vision of a society of liberty and individualism through her fiction, particularly Atlas Shrugged. For others she has provided the main thrust of a philosophical justification for the advocacy of liberty and individualism.[1]

ayn-rand-1957-filter

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Idols: Past and Present

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Blindfolded-unhistorical

Idols: Past and Present

I find it interesting and perplexing when we Americans are so keen to argue for the relative acceptability of our nation’s earlier actions and so willing to critique more recent and comparable actions. Additionally, I find it interesting and perplexing when we Americans are so keen to argue for the relative acceptability of our nation’s recent actions and yet so willing to critique earlier and comparable actions. Is it simply because we favor or do not favor the current administrations? Does it really reduce to the degree of our own partisanship?

What is required of us that we might cultivate convictions and standards that are applied more consistently to the present as well as the past, to our own as well as to other nations, to ourselves as well as to other people?

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FREE Audiobook – Taking God at His Word, Kevin DeYoung

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The free audiobook this month over at ChristianAudio.com is Kevin DeYoung’s book about the Bible: Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me

The chapter titles are as follows:

1. Believing, Feeling Doing
2. Something More Sure
3. God’s Word Is Enough
4. God’s Word Is Clear
5. God’s Word Is Final
6. God’s Word Is Necessary
7. Christ’s Unbreakable Bible
8. Stick with the Scriptures
Appendix: Thirty of the Best Books on the Good Book
General Index
Scripture Index

This is a concise volume running at 144 pages in print and about 3.5 hours in audio.

The Kindle version is $10.99, and you can add the Audible narration for $3.99. But it is hard to beat the free audio edition over at ChristianAudio.com.

Enjoy!

Reflections on Summit Oxford – Chelsia Van Hierdan

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Reflections on Summit Oxford
by Chelsia Van Hierdan

Agnosticism — that word plagued my mind like some sort of distasteful acid, unveiling my religion to be little more than a flashy masquerade. I’d never tried to end up there. In fact, my struggle against emerging doubt had been vigorous and unnerving. I felt myself benumbed, no longer able to maintain the facade I had constructed for so long. Maybe, just maybe, it would be easier to let the whole religion thing go?

My family, since I was young enough to comprehend the English language, had deluged us kids with theology and apologetics. Before my thirteenth birthday I’d watched Del Tackett’s The Truth Project three times over. I already had eagerly written rallying calls summoning Christians to take up arms against secular humanism and relativism. In retrospect, these tirades were agonizingly naive. And yet, they represent the enthusiastic state of my faith at that time.

As time wore on, my enthusiasm for Christian growth developed into harsh dissatisfaction. As I understood it, churches were prone to using as their foundations vague biblical abstractions, which not only resulted in insubstantial theology but also superficial relationships, neither focusing on right thinking nor right action. My own church at the time seemed a confused goulash of divergent and opposed doctrines and denominations and over time its liturgy had been replaced by a painful combination of hip Christian worship and hyper-charismatic invocations. Emotionalism was king, to the depreciation and scorn of the human intellect. After expressing my alienation to a church leader, I was rebutted with, “You need more emotion. You’re doing Christianity wrong.”

The intellectual wasteland of southern Alberta had devoured the last pint of my patience. A month after my eighteenth birthday, I packed my bags and fled for Summit Oxford.

chelsia-acceptance

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Restoring the Constitution: Senator Ben Sasse

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Senator Ben SasseRestoring the Constitution
Senator Ben Sasse on
Uncommon Knowledge

In early 2016, Ben Sasse, a junior Congressman from Nebraska, was asked by Chuck Todd what conservatism meant to Sasse in the twenty-first century. His response almost sounded scripted. However, one gets the impression that the answer simply emerged from the clear and clarifying convictions regarding the U.S. Constitution that reside in the very marrow of Dr. Ben Sasse.

Now Senator Sasse has been interviewed by the intrepid Peter Robinson on the program Uncommon Knowledge. The topic? Restoring the Constitution. This is a conversation worth listening to a time or two or three. 

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Summit Oxford & The Invisible Story

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Guest Post: Adriana Hanson attended Summit Oxford during the autumn of 2015 (the Michaelmas Term). She is a student at The King’s College in New York City majoring in Media, Culture and the Arts and minoring in Creative Writing. As you read Adriana’s reflections do note that we currently are receiving and assessing applications for our upcoming Summer Term (June-August) and the following Michaelmas Term (autumn term; September-December). Visit summitoxford.org for more information and for an application.

• • •

The Invisible Story

Adriana Hanson

I stepped off of the plane lugging the emotional baggage that sentiment wouldn’t let me leave behind. Eagerness and anxiety clawed at my throat as I made my way through customs. There I was, alone in a foreign country, an adult by name but not by nature, facing off against life’s rising tide one wave at a time.

When I came to Summit Oxford, I expected to gain a new credential for my resume, make some new friends, and have a lot of new experiences; I didn’t plan to see such beauty. Perhaps see is too strong of a word, perhaps I should say glimpse. Behind the glass of my perceptions there lay an image; it was an accident, and the image was blurred, but there was something appealing to me. Through this image, I saw an invisible narrative.

photo courtesy of Adriana Hansen

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