Lunch and Learn explores identity challenges
By Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau
The core matters most. Whether it’s the sun in our solar system, a couch in the living room or even the frosting inside an Oreo.
Within ourselves as human beings, it’s often Jesus. But even these centers of our own universes (large or small) can be taken for granted.
It’s why Sheila Schumacher, an assistant professor and director of digital design in the College of Fine Arts and Production, addressed the challenges of centering and prioritizing Jesus not only in our daily lives, but with students.
The “Jesus at the Center” discussion during Friday’s “Lunch and Learn” speaker series in Howerton Hall was the fifth installment of the 2016-17 theme, “Things That Really Matter.” The final installment for this school year, “Following Jesus,” is scheduled for March 17.
Schumacher cited Eugene H. Peterson’s writings from the early 1980s (long before smartphones and the digital age): “There is a great market for religious experience. There is little enthusiasm for patience and virtue.” Schumacher said exploring and solidifying a relationship with Jesus provides clarity, wisdom and joy.
After a particularly difficult day teaching, Schumacher told of a late night in her office, emotionally frayed and downtrodden by the day’s events.
The next morning she returned to her office and found a poster made by her daughter (a GCU student) with Psalm 94:19: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
“It was a pull like gravity back into what’s important,” she said. “…an indication God was at the center of life.”
The reinforcement of Schumacher’s identity as a person and educator was expanded upon by College of Theology Dean Dr. Jason Hiles. He referenced Luke 8:27-30 in which Jesus asks, ‘Who do people say I am?’
Shortly thereafter Jesus again questions: “Who do you think I am?”
Hiles associated these existential questions with being a teenager, middle aged and retirement, “reference points” of life in which we focus on who we are and what we want, “and try to have everything we want but can’t quite achieve it.
“It’s impossible to answer ‘Who am I?’ without a reference point,” he said.
Speaking of reference points, GCU Speech and Debate Team coach Barry Regan had his wisdom teeth removed last week, but he pre-recorded an eight-minute Q and A video that covered a variety of concepts and ways he incorporates faith and biblical concepts into speech and debate discourse.
Regan told the story of a debate team member who was supposed to argue the “pros” of pornography, something which went against his own personal beliefs. But Regan said the member argued that being forced to detach from his own personal views and do a counter-argument for something he was morally against was harmful to himself and his Christian faith. His arguments ultimately helped him win the debate.
“It was a pretty cool moment because oftentimes Christian schools are afraid to engage in those types of Christian-based arguments,” Regan said. “We tell our students that if you feel this forces you to disassociate yourself from your Christian faith, don’t do it. Argue against it and talk about why.”
Regan also noted that competitiveness and desire for successful results can overshadow the concept of serving others, or what Jesus described as “washing others’ feet.”
“We try to empower (members) and use faith in our discourse,” he said.
Doing so sometimes requires a winding journey and regular reflection so the center of our lives remains sweet and savory.
Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or firstname.lastname@example.org