For years I’ve heard students talk about what they’ll do when they graduate and go to work and live in the “real world.” Their implied tone is that Vanguard is a cloistered Christian community cut off from normal human life. Some of that “I know better than that” perspective is informed by an aspiring post-adolescent “I want to go and be my own adult” attitude, but some of it looks disdainfully at VU’s standards about morality, behavior, and a biblically informed mindset and thinks much of that is just heavy-handed Christian legalism. The real world, some students think, won’t be so narrow-minded or demanding.
The truth? There is no one “real” world. All communities are social bubbles. When you leave Vanguard you’ll just transition from this bubble to another one. But there’s no escaping the bubbled nature of life!
All communities embody specific worldviews, and there are no communities that are tolerant of everything. Every human gathering is characterized by expectations concerning behavior, values, and beliefs. For instance, Los Angeles Lakers fans would not celebrate the presence of Miami Heat fans in their club box parties at Staples Center. Or more extreme, the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) would not tolerate the presence of heterosexual members who believed adults having sex with children is evil. Human communities that would tolerate and include everything and everyone would quickly dissolve into chaos and fragmentation. There would be no “there” there. Every group has boundaries, even groups that hate boundaries!
More importantly, as we think about the purpose of a Christian university like ours, each community intentionally seeks to shape its members. Like most avowed Christian schools, Vanguard does not view its role simply as providing a sound liberal arts degree. No, since its inception Vanguard has worked intentionally to shape Holy Spirit empowered graduates who will, using both their education and their Christ-centered character, go out and make a difference amid a myriad of global communities. Our imaginations snared by Christ Jesus and his way, the VU community hopes its graduates will leave here to be salt and light. A biblically-grounded education isn’t the only way to make a difference, but it is our purpose, our joy, here.
So have you been in a Christian bubble this past year? I sure hope so. Most of you will look back on this unique experience as one of the fondest seasons of your life. And if not, you’ll have the privilege of blowing, I mean constructing, your own bubbles for the rest of your life.
Although every society has a “bubble” to a certain extent, Vanguard students prove to take the meaning of “bubble” to the next level. We (the student body at Vanguard) are inhabitants of a bubble that lacks knowledge regarding the outside world—or what some of us like to call, reality.
We talk about what happens in “real life,” but is college life at Vanguard not considered part of “real life?” Most students at VU are naïve and ignorant. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the reality of most of our student body.
It’s as if we have a force field around our campus and all that matters are friends, school and God. Yes, of course, they are all extremely important aspects of our lives. However, we cannot sit around unaware of what happens in the world while we go about our perfect and moral lives within our safe place we call the Vanguard bubble.
Since we go to a Christian university, I think it’s safe to say that many of us came to Vanguard from sheltered homes, private Christian schools or a home-schooling system. With this being said, many students only know moral and Christian lifestyles– and with the carefree lifestyle we live on campus, many are in for a rude awakening once they are pushed out into the “real world” post graduation.
Some of my friends have complained that it is difficult to hold an intellectual conversation with some of the students here at Vanguard– and I agree. For example, a girl in one of my classes overheard me talking about Japan. Most people would overhear the word “Japan” and assume I am talking about the devastation that occurred after the tsunami. However, she jumped in and started talking about sushi. When I asked her if she knew what had happened, she had no idea. Pitiful.
This sort of situation has happened to me repeatedly. And don’t worry everyone, I’m not pointing fingers nor trying to insult anyone– I have been guilty of ignorance in several instances myself.
When I worked in a corporate environment for several months, many of the adults would often talk about politics. I wanted to be included in the conversations, but at that time I had no idea what was going on among politicians so I was deliberately left out. I felt so stupid.
I am not insisting that we all consistently follow politics or world catastrophes, although we should, but it’s important to be informed enough about what goes on in the world so we can hold a conversation that is not about horrid exams or chapel with people outside of Vanguard.
We must realize that our future employers will not be as lenient and understanding as many of our professors. We must realize that our neighbors and co-workers in the future may not have the Christian belief system we implement in our lives. We must pop this bubble protecting Vanguard to become informed and aware adults.