Ever since college, the beginning of a new school year always makes me think of "The Mindset List."
I attended Beloit College, which, beyond being an excellent liberal arts school with historical ties to the United Church of Christ, it only has a few claims to fame:
1) Supposedly, the archeology professor who was the inspiration for George Lucas' Indiana Jones was a professor at Beloit. To my knowledge, this has never been confirmed or denied.
2) Anson Williams, who played Potsie on Happy Days graduated Beloit College in 1969. This is, at the very least, plausible.
3) At the start of each school year, English professor Tom McBride creates "The Mindset List," which is a compilation of cultural realities assembled for each incoming class, in order to help their faculty and staff reach a better understanding of the differences between their own worldview and that of the incoming class. This is definitely a real thing. You can read this year's edition by clicking HERE.
(Author's Note: I just read the entry, and discovered this is THE LAST YEAR that the Mindset List will be associated with Beloit College! I am a little devastated. But by the time you are reading this, I'm sure I'll be fine.)
The list is quite often over-general and exasperating. The Mindset List for the Class of 2004 (my class) included items such as, "They have never licked a stamp," and "They don't know what Atari is." I was personally insulted. Sitting with my uncle and playing his dozens of Atari games are among my earliest Thanksgiving memories, and I can still recall the sickening-sweet taste of stamps on my tongue from helping my grandmother, a Church Secretary, with countless mass mailings throughout my youth, thank you, very much, Tom McBride!
But the Mindset List can also be fairly helpful, especially when you realize how quickly life passes by, how much the world can change in a split second. The Mindset List helps us to remember that someone who is 20 years or more our junior is not necessarily dim or lazy or disrespectful...they just may be having a very different experience of human life than you had when you were their age.
For example, there are students entering into their first year of college right now who were born after 9/11. "Gay Marriage" has always been legal, at least somewhere in the U.S. New Recruits for the Armed Services are signing up to participate in military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan that have been ongoing throughout their entire lives. For these young people, there have always been hybrid vehicles on the streets, and there has never been a year without a mass shooting in an American public school.
The Mindset List is primarily helpful as a way of taking a peak inside someone else's mind...to try and see the world from their perspective.
This is largely the work ahead of us as a People of Faith, as well. Our ancient stories have always offered us insight into the hearts and minds of believers who walked the earth long before we did. Our scripture helps to transport us across the world, thousands of years ago, into the real lives of brothers and sisters who, in many ways, could not be more different from ourselves...and show us what we all have in common.
But today, more than ever, we need to appreciate that these ancient stories and the Way of Life they describe are not just a collection of beliefs, ideas, or philosophies...they are an entire Mindset of their own. The worldview of the Bible is not the worldview of 2018 America. For those of us living today, our earliest value system was worked out in the free market of capitalism. Our earliest allegiance was to the nation in which we were born. Our earliest anxieties did not come from foreign enemies attacking us on a regular basis...they came from bullies on the playground and conflicted home lives. How we treat one another, what we expect from each other, how we respond to evil and injustice...these things were learned throughout our lives, long before we encountered Spiritual Teachings to assist us with them.
To adopt a Life of Faith is to adopt a New Mindset: We are not humans who crave spiritual experiences...we are spirits having a brief encounter with the human experience. Our value doesn't come from how much we have or how much we can earn, it comes from the Divine who gave us life. Our allegiance is not to people or systems, but to the God who Blesses us, and sends us out to be a Blessing to others. Life is not defined by its fears and anxieties, but by the invitation it always offers us to learn how to love and serve one another better, every single day.
This week, with the start of our new Youth Ministries efforts, the launch of our Stewardship Teaching, and worship experiences designed to Feed All Who Are Hungry for Meaning and Purpose...we hope you will take the opportunity to come see the world through our eyes...if only for a Sunday morning. At the very least...it won't be boring.
Worship this week at 6:00a.m. Wednesday Morning at Sea Point Beach,
Contemplative Worship at 8:00a.m. on Sunday
Open Studio for Youth Ministries at 9;15a.m. on Sunday
Intergenerational Worship and Youth Ministries at 10:00a.m. on Sunday