Last weekend I watched the Super Bowl from 11:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. We ate fancy, stinky cheese and chocolate-covered biscuits and the British announcers were so clueless that even I knew what they were talking about. There were no commercials.
I realize I’ll never get to say “that year I watched the Super Bowl in Oxford” again, but I definitely felt the gaping absence of the comforts of home. I wanted nachos covered in melted cheese and guacamole and bean dip. I wanted a Coke. I guess this kind of cultural comparison was going to get to me eventually; I didn’t realize it would manifest itself in the form of American football.
Another form of culture shock that took me by surprise came in the form of, you guessed it…Integration of Faith and Learning. Last week I went to a lecture about Old English poetry, during which the professor said, “I do hope all of you are familiar with the idea of Christ dying and resurrecting as a central part of the Christian faith—the Gospels contain four accounts of what is called the Passion, or the events surrounding Christ’s death, and I encourage each one of you to read at least one of them.”
For the first time during my time here, I felt like I had an academic advantage over some of the others in the class because I’ve read and studied the New Testament for years and years. The lecturer was looking at Christ’s death from a purely academic perspective, as a piece of literature that was central to the context of a specific Old English poem.
She mentioned the crucifixion without any assumption that students had read it or even heard of it, and she encouraged its study, not for spiritual reasons, but for academic pursuit. This was, of course, starkly different from the daily spiritual food from chapel, discipleship groups and devotionals in class.
I live with a group of American Christians, but I have a feeling our faith doesn’t put us in the majority here at Oxford. I guess this means I’m slowly learning to mold together my faith and learning in such a way that I don’t need scheduled integration from the institution.
At a Bible study last week I prayed that God would teach me something this semester. I don’t know what that will be, but I see Him already revealing Himself through my schoolwork; I get to read Tolkien, Milton, and C.S. Lewis, all guys who loved Jesus with their hearts and souls, but especially with their minds. Definitely something I want to improve on.