Becoming a scholar

Hey guys………..

So I know I haven’t been around in a while.

…Yeah…5 months…it’s a long time since we’ve spoken…I know…I’m sorry.

Do you want to catch up? I do. I missed you. I know excuses are excuses, but I do have a few. Well, here goes…

Excuse #1:

The stack on the left contains all the books I read through completely, minus two: Antigone and Three Cups of Tea. The stack on the right contains all the books of which I was only required to read partially. Said reading took place between the months of September and the first half of December–you know, about 3 and a half months.

I was thinking about doing the math to average out how many pages I had read per day, but I got tired thinking about how I read more than 100 pages of Dante one day and stayed up until 6 am reading 3/4 of Three Cups of Tea in order to finish it before taking a test on it  before the next class (in fact, I shudder every time I hear the name Greg Mortenson now–less because of the controversy surrounding his work than my bitterness of losing so much sleep over a book with such an embarrassing writing style). Anyways, I got tired thinking about such an endeavor, and I figured you would trust me when I said I read a BUTTLOAD of pages a day.

All of this reading was my academic endeavor last semester. I had chosen to leave the main campus of Azusa Pacific for one of their “study abroad” programs called High Sierra. At the start of the semester, all I knew was that I would be living up in Bass Lake with 40 other students on a small summer camp compound (known as Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp), promised a bunch of outdoor adventures (backpacking trips, wakeboarding, rockclimbing and the like), and taking some Humanities courses. Alumni from other semesters had said something about a lot of reading, but I didn’t understand what they meant. I had spent my summer breaking in my new hiking boots, and I thought I was ready to go.

Three and a half months later, my mind had absorbed the classics of history, philosophy, and literature–of which Three Cups of Tea, the unfortunate requirement of my leadership class, should not be grouped with (still bitter).

Anyways–oh, the classics! I read through the works of St. Augustine, Aristophanes, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, Parmenides, Dante, Milton, Galileo, Homer, Hildegard of Bingen, Virgil, Machiavelli…Yes, the reading, the mind-probing daily assignments–it was hard (and it’s really a shame that thinking a lot doesn’t burn a ton of calories). Despite racking up a massive sleep debt by the end of the semester, though, I think I fell in to a strange sort of love. Instead of drilling my brain with typical textbook knowledge, I was interacting with the original works of historic brilliant minds that have affected the way people see the world even today; I was learning about hospitality, the arguments of politics, mysticism, friendship, man’s pride, purgatory, predestination, how Aristotle and Plato influence Christianity, special revelation versus natural revelation–this, my friends, is scholarship.

Instead of throwing up dates and trivial information, I had to discover the argument of Aquinas in his writings on law. Instead of falling asleep during lectures, my classmates debated about what really is “The Good.”  I took a scene from Paradise Lost and rendered it into a drawing of Adam and Eve. I wrote a paper about Plato vs. Aristotle on art and another about the history of the philosophy of time.

I became a scholar.

And some people thought I was just going to summer camp for a semester…

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