Time For Some Good News

Maybe it’s time for some good news. On the morning when 100 million of us are likely to watch the presidential debates tonight—in this most bizarre of political seasons, in this most fractured nation of ours—here’s the kind of good news...


Nowhere To Go

Vincent Van Gogh painted his remarkable Wheatfields With Crows in the summer of 1890. This was his last painting before his untimely death in July of that year. At the time of the painting, life seemed to spiral further downward for him. He felt...


The first job each morning consists simply . . . in listening to that other voice . . . letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. . . . Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

C. S. Lewis

Quote – C. S. Lewis

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Lifting The Burden Of Shame

We live in an age of shame. We are instructed endlessly to feel ashamed of almost everything. We are constantly afraid of a slip in how we say things–someone is sure to pounce. Those of us who are doomed to be male are supposed to be ashamed,...


Why Write A Blog?

Why write a blog? There must be a zillion of them out there. So many are motivated by some measure of self-indulgence, I suppose, some hankering toward self-promotion. That there are so many, coming from all different angles, surely speaks to the...


Christian hope is based on faith. I believe that, amid the crumbling of Western civilization, which has begun, the supernatural character of the Church will become, paradoxically, more and more visible. The hatred of the world will turn against it more and more clearly. More clearly than ever the fate of all will depend on the “little flock” of Christians.

Pierre Manent

Quote – Pierre Manent

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Early we receive a call, yet it remains incomprehensible, and only late do we discover how obedient we were.

Czeslaw Milosz

Quote – Czeslaw Milosz

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David Brooks, The Cultural Value Of Christian Higher Education

David Brooks is a huge fan of Christian colleges and universities. Here is an amazing address he gave to the Council For Christian Colleges And Universities (CCCU) last winter in D.C. at the 40th...


Our period has decided for a secular world. That was a great and much-needed decision. . . . Yet it excluded those deep things for which religion stands: the feeling for the inexhaustible mystery of life, the grip of an ultimate meaning of existence, and the invincible power of an unconditional devotion. These things cannot be excluded.

Paul Tillich

Quote – Paul Tillich


Richard John Neuhaus, The Christian University In Crisis

Here’s an outstanding article from the inimitable Richard John Neuhaus, founder of First Things, consummate public intellectual. He is writing on one of my favorite topics: How the Christian...


Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Christian University: A Call to Counterrevolution

This is another fine article reprinted recently by First Things. The article is by Gertrude Himmelfarb, prolific writer on matters of culture, often a strong critic of the consequences of secularization....


A Fresh Breeze From Charleston

I spent last weekend longing for some fresh summer breezes. But really my thoughts turned again and again to the parched landscape of our world. And I thought, yes, we need a cool breeze to blow through the land bringing some hint of new beginnings....


The Big Uneasy On Campus

What’s roiling our college campuses? Does this tortured turmoil signal the cutting edge of a new kind of education? Are these events the early signs of reframing a new broader culture? Something big...


There are just a few essential reads if you want to understand the American social and political landscape today. Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids,” Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart” and a few other books deserve to be on that list. Today, I’d add Yuval Levin’s fantastic new book, “The Fractured Republic.”

David Brooks

Quote – David Brooks


Safety On Our Campuses

I keep circling around an incredible column by Peggy Noonan a few weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal. (See Noonan’s Article). The issues are troubling; the column is blistering. Here is how she begins: I was taken aback by a piece . . . in...


Discovering Our Purpose

New York Times columnist David Brooks has been talking a lot (in speeches, columns, and his marvelous new book The Road To Character) about the formation of character. He has asked his readers to talk on his book website about their purpose in life...


Case For The Humanities

Mark Bauerlein, senior editor of First Things, makes the case for reading good literature. The reason? It can change our lives: “If you can’t make a case for a discipline on the basis of the actual...


The gospel of Jesus . . . urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture . . . with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom.

N. T. Wright

Quote – N. T. Wright


Signals From The Edge

Are you ever suddenly surprised that there is something instead of nothing? Or that there is everything? Or anything at all? These things often strike me with an overwhelming sense of wonder. We are often just amazed over the smallest of ordinary...


Magic, Mystery, And Illusion

Sharon and I went to see Woody Allen’s delightful movie last night called “Magic in the Moonlight.” I highly recommend the movie, just perfect for a late summer evening. Coincidentally the movie is a thoughtful reflection on mystery, the very...


And What About Mystery?

I want to return to that amazing article I quoted from a few days ago by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker. I was characterizing Gopnik as one of the new-atheists of our day, secularist to the core, philosophically materialist in his assumptions,...


The Possibility Of Belief: Do The Nays Have It?

I am one who is rarely dispassionate about the secularization of our culture. I have been writing and speaking for some time now about what seems to be an accurate conclusion: The centuries-in-the-making secularization project is now complete. The...


Americans Are Exhausted

Lots of pictures this morning of our valiant U. S. soccer players, sprawled out over the field in sheer exhaustion, defeated once again on the world stage of World Cup competition. We are not ready for the big time, we are told, and that seems true....


What we have to do is what the Church Fathers and Augustine had to do in the age when classical culture had lost its nerve and was disintegrating. We have to offer a new starting point for thought.

Lesslie Newbigin

Quote – Lesslie Newbigin


When it seems that everything is over and finished, when the earth crumbles away under our feet as it does today, when there is neither hope nor illusion, when we can see all things naked and undeceiving, then is the acceptable time for a religious quickening in the world. We are at that time.

Nikolai Berdyaev

Quote – Nicolai Berdyaev


A Radiant People At SPU

I write just several days after inexplicable, unexpected violence struck at the heart of my beloved Seattle Pacific University. This is a community I love, full of people I love, full of students who still feel like “my” students. I felt such...


Studies Show. . . .

We are a society of studies. We’ve got studies for everything. A study out of Harvard Medical School, for example, tells us the American economy loses $63 billion a year because we don’t get enough sleep. Another study showed recently that people...


What’s All This Talk About Enemies?

I don’t walk around thinking about enemies. That’s not a word that slips easily off my tongue. To think about enemies implies that people are out to get me, hurt me, discredit my reputation, betray me, deceive me, treat me unfairly. Are there...


The Front Edge Of Character Formation

At the annual conference for presidents of the Council Of Independent Colleges, David Brooks delivered what I regard as a brilliant speech on higher education. Brooks launches into all the woes of higher education these days—rising costs,...


Waking Up In Radical Amazement

David Brooks has written an extraordinary reflection about the difficulty of religious belief up against the sheer hostility of the secular age in which we are now caught . This topic seems to intrigue Brooks along the way, though we are never quite...


Back Again

Yikes, some time has passed since I wrote my last blog post. Perhaps as we begin the new year, I should explain this span of silence. I decided to impose a momentary pause on my blog. The reason? My site was hacked into. The connection? I wrote an...


Broken Windows In Our City

I thought I would share for my blog readers an Op-Ed I wrote for this morning’s Seattle Times. It seems to have created quite a stir, hopefully for the good. Here is the link: [button color=”#COLOR_CODE”...


Becoming Radiant People

Over last weekend I had the privilege of preaching at the historic Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California. This church is now guided by the terrific leadership and great preaching of my dear friend Greg Waybright. I talked about becoming radiant...


Sing Us A Song Of Joy

I am delighted to be preaching at all services this weekend, October 12-13, 2013, at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. This important, historic church is now under the strong leadership of my dear friend Greg Waybright. What a vibrant place it is. I...


On Making The Brain Nice

Some of my best friends are brain scientists. Well, actually, there is only one, my dear friend John Medina, among the brightest, most affable, generous people I know. I have learned more about the brain from John than I deserve to know, given my...


I Have No Idea What’s Going On

“I have no idea what’s going on”—that’s the way Henry Allen begins a brilliant, if discouraging, article recently in the WSJ (8/1/2013). I think he’s on to something, and his point is not generational. “I like to think,” he says,...


We Are All Just A Little Crazy

We are all just a little crazy. Did you ever stop and think about that? We like to think our quirks are shared by everyone, but they aren’t necessarily. We are profoundly unique. That’s the positive way of looking at this. We are all just on the...


Good Leadership And The A-Rod Factor

There’s something fundamental going on with the Alex Rodriquez fiasco. It was the same thing going on when King (LeBron) James anointed himself to play with Miami. There is something unbecoming when the ego gets oversized, overcharged, beyond...


No Options When It Comes To Good Leadership

When I cut my teeth as a young leader, I tried, like most leaders, to sort out the essentials for good leadership. I was green and young and eager to do the best job I could for my university. Even in the heat of carrying out my duties, I read and...


Surprise At The McDonald’s In Nogales

N. T. Wright says that we are often startled by the “long-range signposts ” cropping out in our lives, those signals of “a reality which lies deeper in God’s dark purposes than we normally imagine.” We are often surprised by the fleeting,...


John Lennon Got Some Things Wrong, Beautifully

On a beautiful, warm evening last week, Sharon and I attended an outdoor concert  performed by the California Philharmonic Orchestra. As the sun settled down over the San Gabriel Mountains in the background, we sat with friends and family, nibbling...


What Does It Mean To Be Struck By Grace?

I feel like I was struck by grace this past week. Two reflections, by two writers, hit me at just the right, though unexpected, moment. Both are about how God visits us with grace from time to time, leaving us with little to say, but grateful. We...


The Night My Dad Died

I have been writing a poem about the night my dad died. It was a very special night for me, a moment that has shaped my going forward, a moment so powerfully about resurrection I have never been the same. I thought it might be appropriate to send...


The Little Way To A Good Life

I have just finished reading a remarkable book called The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life. The author is Rod Dreher, dubbed by David Brooks as “one of the country’s most interesting...


The World Needs Our Universities

Our universities in America are the envy of the world. There are a lot of nations making every effort to catch up, China perhaps chief among them, but we remain at the top for access, research, creativity, and productivity. Actually affordability,...


On The Dangers Of Forgetting

I want to offer up a wonderful poem by the late contemporary Polish-American poet Czeslaw Milosz. I am fully aware there is risk in presenting such a poem because most people don’t read contemporary poetry these days. I get that. I suppose we have...


What Should We Be Worrying About?

I continue to worry about the persistent devaluing of language. The pressures of speed in the production and consumption of writing does not bode well for our future. Add to that the powerful pressures from a visually oriented society, and we have a...


Following Twitter

Here today, gone tomorrow. Or rather, here for the moment, gone in an instant. That’s the reality we experience with Twitter. Twitter is an amazing phenomenon. For those of you who do not know, we all sign up to put out these posts, all limited to...


On Loneliness And Love

Edward Hopper is the master painter of loneliness, capturing life in the city in the early part of the twentieth century. This is the historical moment when the culture began dramatically to shift in new directions: Young women were on their own in...


What Is Life?

What is life? Most of the time we are too busy even to ask the question, but when something happens, the death of someone we love, or perhaps the eruption of violence in our streets, well, the question inevitably crops up. Interestingly, we even ask...


Shakespeare And The Dangerous Power Of Ego

April 23rd is said to be Shakespeare’s birthday. Not sure when you last touched down in Shakespeare’s amazing world of exquisite language, intriguing plots, and penetrating insight into the human condition, but Shakespeare is surely one of the...


Boston And The Language Of Evil

Somehow on April 15, 2013 those horrific images of carnage at the Boston Marathon threw our world off balance. Our ship began to list again. As we witnessed legs blown from bodies, bloody faces marked with fear, people holding their heads from the...


Will Someone Please Answer The Phone?

 Have you read recently one of those warning sheets from the pharmacy on the terrible things that will happen to you if you take the pill you just bought? They are exceedingly grim, as you know. Who’s dreaming up this language, this strategy of...


A Poem For Endings And New Beginnings

Here is a poem I have written recently. To be sure it says something about where I am in life, this amazing stage of new beginnings, the opening of a new chapter, a season of contentment, one without the relentless responsibilities and burdens of...


Thinking Again About Power

The new Pope is giving all kinds of signals that humility is the highest measure of great leadership. The seductions in other directions must be enormous: the sudden rush of standing on the world stage; the glitter of the ancient garb; the adoration...


Yearning For Christian Renewal

I am watching the developments within the Catholic Church with intense interest these days. While I am decidedly Protestant—by upbringing, church attendance, reading through the years, understanding of church history—I believe Christians...


Simple As Beautiful

We need some answers these days. We need answers to some of our lingering, seemingly intractable problems that surround us. We need a vision out of the morass. We need to simplify some of the complexity in which we have entangled ourselves. Where do...


The Downton World: Order And Respect

Sharon and I are watching the first year’s series of Downton Abbey over Netflix. What a treat. We missed the whole first two years because of our crazy schedule, on the road, out for the evening, never at home at the right time. We are just about...


Rome And The Limits Of Taxation

Taxes are in the news these days. Throughout the presidential election, and subsequently during the fiscal-cliff debate, we held a grand national debate on taxation. Should we tax more? Or not? Is taxing damaging to our economy, or not? Will new...


Be Kind, Be Good

I am writing a new book I am tentatively calling A Radiant People: The Christian Path Toward A Better World. The book is framed in part by that marvelous passage from Jeremiah imagining that we “shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord.”...


Why Culture? What Is Culture?

I am constantly saying that an understanding of culture is critical to understanding our world. This has always been the case, and remains true today, though with the unraveling of culture, we are left to ponder where the center has gone. The...


A Year Without Politics?

Is it possible we might have a year without obsessive attention to politics? Is it possible that we might pause for a year and engage in things more consequential? Is it possible that we might push down into the roots of our troubles instead of...


Thinking About The Year Ahead

I’m not very optimistic about the year out ahead. That’s a hard statement for me to make. I always tend to be the optimistic one in the bunch. But there is some sort of malaise that has settled down on our planet, on our country, on our various...


A New Thing Is On Its Way

I trust you are off to a wonderful new beginning of 2013. As we look around our world, it is abundantly clear we have a lot of work to do. Things are a mess, aren’t they? We need to do a lot of thinking about how best to move forward. We need...


Messiah In The Mall

With two billion other Christians around the globe, I enter this season of preparation, a season of waiting and anticipation. This is Advent, the time when the Christ-child comes once again. When we say Jesus is Lord, we mean a new king has arrived....


Higher Education At A Crossroads

The President of MIT, Rafael Reif, said recently in the Wall Street Journal, that because of the “upheaval today coming from the technological change posed by online education,” we find  “higher education . . . at a crossroads not seen since...


Christian Families And The Christian University

I received comments on my last post on the “Christian university by the numbers” that leads me to believe I may not have been fully clear. My point was not that Seattle Pacific is failing to attract its share of students and needs to shift...


The Christian University—By The Numbers

Last spring, the presidents of the thirteen institutions in the Christian College Consortium were gathered at our annual meetings in Palm Desert. We were talking (enthusiastically) about the future of Christian higher education, as such Presidents...


An Irish Catholic Brawl?

My mother told me never to call someone a liar. In our otherwise energetically verbal family, calling someone a liar was crossing a bright line. “Don’t go there, ever,” my mother would say. To call someone a liar was to make a statement about...


Up For Grabs

I feel sorry for those replacement refs. Wanting to be a replacement ref would be like me wanting to be the CEO of Boeing or Microsoft for a few weeks. This is cool, I might say for a time. The extra pay is helpful. The taste of real power is...


Why Ships Sink

David Brooks’ column today ends up being about the Chicago teachers’ strike. But what interests me most is his opening overview of the two tracks of our modern economy. Here is what he says: Modern nations have two economies, which exist side by...


Where Have All The Men Gone?

For years I’ve sat through anguished discussions about why more women than men are going to college. A lot more in fact. In most colleges and universities these days the numbers are at 60% women, sometimes creeping even higher. We used to...


Cutting College Costs?

In his acceptance speech for the nomination of his party in Charlotte last night, President Obama made glancing reference to reducing college tuition, pledging to “work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over...


The Monster Under The Bed

Ego is the curse of good leadership. I have come to believe, out of a lot of painful experience, the ego is a monster under the bed waiting to pounce on leaders, waiting to eat them alive, waiting to suck the life out of worthy ideas. Here then is my...


Let Us Show The World Our Shine

I have been thinking again these days about  the notion of joy. We all want the gift of joy, don’t we? And it sometimes seems like a gift, not something we can conjure up. And so I have been asking myself: Well, what then is the source of our joy?...


May I Disagree With David Brooks, For Once?

  I usually agree with most of what David Brooks writes in his twice-weekly column in The New York Times. He is one of my hero-commentators. I love his balance. I love his consistent insight that politics is understood through culture, not the...


The Road Ahead: My Advice To Our Candidates

I find myself wanting to say some things to our presidential candidates. I offer this advice, of course, for what it’s worth, which, considering the price, isn’t much. First, I want to say what our candidates surely know: We have some very...


A Nation In Decline?

So many writers these days are talking about America as a nation in decline. I am one who happens to feel there are some dangerous signals of such decline. For all of my usual instincts toward optimism and hope and opportunity, I am troubled these...


The Paradox Of Particularity

Great writing grows out of the specific content of a writer’s life. I believe the same could be said of leadership. The writer’s instincts are guided, in the best of writing, by the axiom that the more particular the story, the more universal...


Put Out Into the Deep, Part 3

My Last Commencement Speech Philip W. Eaton, SPU President June 9, 2012 On June 9, 2012, SPU President Philip Eaton delivered the Commencement address at Seattle Pacific University’s 2012 Commencement exercises. His Commencement address is being...


Put Out Into the Deep, Part 2

My Last Commencement Speech Philip W. Eaton, SPU President June 9, 2012 On June 9, 2012, SPU President Philip Eaton delivered the Commencement address at Seattle Pacific University’s 2012 Commencement exercises. His Commencement address is being...


Put Out Into the Deep, Part 1

My Last Commencement Speech Philip W. Eaton, SPU President June 9, 2012 On June 9, 2012, SPU President Philip Eaton delivered the Commencement address at Seattle Pacific University’s 2012 Commencement. His Commencement address is being published...


A Walk in the Garden Alone

Along with two billion Christians around the globe, I enter this Holy Week reverently, expectant, full of awe and hope. This season in the life of Christians is charged with meaning and mystery. It is a poignant time, a time of immense curiosity, a...


How to Go About Changing Our Behavior

In his weekly column last week, David Brooks takes up the question of how, if at all, we can change our behavior. This is often a theme of Brooks, as it is with many writers of our day who feel something is out of whack and needs changing. The...


Plant growing through crack

Good News for a Bad News World

We are all yearning for good news these days: good news that our dismal economy has begun to bottom out, that once again we are creating new jobs; good news that Europe and America have begun to live within their means; good news that school reform...


Rick Steele

Profound Truth, Clear Sentences, Such Joy

Last week I received a note from my dear friend, Professor Rick Steele, one of the stars on what has become such an extraordinary faculty of the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University. Dr. Steele is my go-to guy when I have questions about...


Pyramids

Fretting Again About Splintered Culture

I am still fretting about the fact that we don’t read or watch the same things. The same books? Are you kidding? The same TV shows? Not likely. We don’t even watch the same news. I continue to ask the question how a culture can cohere when no one...


Steven Pinker - The Better Angels of Our Nature

Are We Less Violent Than Ever?

Stephen Pinker, the Harvard professor who a few years ago famously and fiercely opposed anything having to do with “faith” in Harvard’s revision of its core curriculum, has written a new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has...


Saying Merry Christmas Downtown

I have become subversive. I have begun to say Merry Christmas in downtown Seattle, on airplanes, in the grocery store. I have no need whatsoever to be offensive to my Jewish friends, to Muslims, or to the ardent secularists who seek to control our...


Call It the Starbucks’ World

We live in a very splintered society. Call it the Starbucks’ world where everyone orders up exactly their own pleasure: “I’ll have a tall, no-whip mocha” or “give me a grande, whole-milk, no-foam latte.” It’s very cool, of course, but...


A New Starting Point for Thought

What follows is an excerpt from my opening convocation speech this fall at Seattle Pacific University called The Upside-Down University. I am talking here about the deeper contributions the Christian university can make for our time of disintegrating...


Upside-Down Leadership

I have been speaking and thinking a lot lately about what kind of leadership we need in our world today. We live in turbulent, troubled times, and we are crying out for leaders to step up to the challenges we face — economic, social, cultural...


How Can We Sing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land?

This is the question the Psalmist asks. This is the question for all Christians in our post-Christian world. This is the question I ask myself all the time. Last week I ran into a wonderful little Psalm that speaks so beautifully to this challenge....


On Prayer and the Nation

A couple of weekends ago, in Houston, Texas, a group of organizers staged a huge rally to pray for our nation. Governor Rick Perry of Texas, one of the organizers of the rally, called out the reasons, as he sees it, for prayer at this time:...


Our Leaders Are on Vacation?

“The world is falling apart, and our leaders are on vacation,” a friend of mine said with disgust and frustration. Financial and economic indicators plunged precipitously that day, and we were searching for answers. Where have all the leaders...


Is Our Culture Going to Make It?

So many people lament these days about something missing in our culture, something lost, something perhaps never to be retrieved. We seem to be wandering around a bit bewildered. We seem to be carrying around a map of reality that no longer points...


Signs of Fatigue in the Culture

When recently asked what he was reading, Mick Jagger said he had just picked up Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel Freedom: “It’s not really my kind of thing,” Jagger said, “but everyone was talking about it so I thought I’d have a look.”...


Engaging the Culture in a World Out of Whack

I have always felt that Christians must stay tuned quite intensely to what’s going on in the world. This is part of what we call our signature commitments at Seattle Pacific. But sometimes when we look out across the landscape of our society, we...


The Problem of Pain and God’s Good Assurance

“It is what it is” — I have so often found myself using this phrase. We all use it from time to time. I suppose it is something like saying “roll with the punches,” or perhaps “let the chips fall,” or “stuff happens.” It feels good...


Leisure as a Foundational Principle?

In a previous post I talked about how we have built a culture obsessed by work. Recognizing the historical American devotion to a strong work ethic, and the good things that come from hard-working, productive lives, perhaps we have overdone it. At...


Swan

Letting Go Of Work

I have been thinking about how one lets go of work. Let me say first that I love my job. I believe that a strong work ethic is essential to a productive, meaningful life. But, unfortunately, we so often get ourselves tangled up, either working most...


The Christian University Has Something More to Offer

In their recent, much-noted indictment on the failure of higher education in America today, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa point out that “the future of a democratic society depends upon educating a generation of young adults who can think...


A Crisis of Value

Readers responded in remarkable numbers to my posts on building better K-12 schools in America. Thank you for your energy and ideas. I plan to write much more in the weeks and months ahead about this enormous challenge in our midst. In tandem with...


Blame and the Future of Education

I got lots of comments on my last post on the crisis in our schools. I was encouraged by the commitment and passion of so many people out there, those who are in the trenches as teachers and administrators in our schools. I sensed their own...


School children from Camden, New Jersey

Education Is Where We Love Our Children Enough

In The New York Times on Sunday, April 10, 2011, Jonathan Mahler has an interesting article about the “deadlock” that has settled into our debate about school reform in America today. Either we are for teachers’ unions or we are not; either we...


Demaray Clock Tower

Leaders Speaking Out

Several years ago, John T. Casteen III, then president of the University of Virginia, made a statement that has haunted me in my own leadership. Because of certain constraints, he said, university presidents, and many other leaders as well, cannot...


On Solitude One More Time

Several weeks ago I mentioned an article by William Deresiewicz called “Solitude and Leadership.” The article was adapted from a speech Deresiewicz gave to the plebe class at the Military Academy at West Point. It appears in the spring issue of...


university

The Distinctive Culture of a University

Our society is constantly trying to measure the distinctions among colleges and universities. U.S. News and World Report has made a fortune on its annual publication ranking our institutions. People watch these things. Most presidents talk about how...


A Universal Yearning for Freedom

A week ago two essays appeared in separate newspapers — The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times — suggesting much the same thing: The desire for liberty and freedom seem to reside universally in people all across the globe. Both authors,...


We All Need Solitude

I found myself remarking to a colleague and friend the other day that “I am absolutely overwhelmed at the moment. There is just flat-out too much to do. I can’t even find time to think.” My friend graciously tried to find those things I could...


Can We Really Multitask?

Each year in late December David Brooks gives out what he calls the Sydney Awards for the best magazine articles of the year. I always love this column. I think I am attracted to his recommendations in part because Brooks is attuned to the power of...


Putting Out Into the Deep

I serve on the national board of the National Association Of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). Over the last four days we were back in Washington, D.C., trying to sort out how best to navigate our way in private higher education through...


A Way of Being Human We Never Imagined Before

In his latest book titled After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, the great N.T. Wright says that what the disciples discovered in Jesus was “a way of being human which nobody had ever imagined before. This was a way of generosity and...


What Might Be the Lessons From Chile?

We are still groping to understand the extraordinary sense of triumph as each of those 33 Chilean miners was brought to the surface in their banged-up, little tube. There was so much that could go wrong, from the first days that the miners were...


Parthenon

What Happens When the Culture Collapses?

In her weekly Saturday column in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan alerted me to an amazing article on the economic crisis in Greece. The article is written by Michael Lewis and appears in Vanity Fair. The discovery of this crisis took place with...


John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman and the Soul of the University

I recognize it has been some weeks since I have been active on the blog. I am truly sorry about that. So many things have pressed in on my time and attention. In late August, I was determined to finish the final draft of my book, which will be coming...


Broken People and the Problem of Community

It was warm in Seattle last night. This is the season for the long evenings in our northern part of the world, and finally we are getting a taste of summer. I decided to go for a walk in downtown Seattle. People had come out of their winter caves and...


Colliding Maps

Choosing Our Stories Carefully

I have written and spoken at length about a comment made on my campus some years ago by the late, great Jewish novelist Chaim Potok. Potok said that day that “we live in a world of colliding maps.” We all construct our maps of reality out of the...


King James, the Big Decision, and What to Do About Character

The over-hyped LeBron James circus is finally over. We can all take a deep breath now, a sigh of relief, and get on with our lives. We know, we know, where the 25-year-old King James (he also has a tattoo on his back proclaiming himself the “Chosen...


Team USA plays Ghana in the 2010 World Cup

Soccer and the Meaning of America

I begin writing these reflections on Saturday morning several hours before the United States meets the Black Stars from Ghana in World Cup competition. I have the delightful opportunity to gather with some of my kids and grandkids over burgers and...


Video: A Message to Friends

Watch this brief video of President Philip W. Eaton. He shares some of his thoughts about responding to our challenging economic times, and what lies ahead as SPU strives to become even more effective and responsive to the needs of our world....


Can Politics Ever Provide the Solutions We Need?

I am sorry I’ve had to be away from the blog for a few weeks. I have been writing tons of things — including the last draft of my book — and just not able to spend my Saturday mornings lately in this special reflective time. I hope we can pick...


One Final Note on Character, Part IV

One Christmas Eve a couple of years ago, as we began a joyous dinner in our home with our whole family, I opened our time with a blessing for our meal. I gave thanks for our family as we gathered together to celebrate the baby Jesus on this sacred...


On Character and Education Again, Part III

When I was a young faculty member some years ago we often engaged in some fairly intense discussion about the role of the university in the life of the student. Some of the old assumptions needed to be challenged, to be sure. “The Times They...


On Teaching Character, Part II

Last week on the blog I was reflecting on the profound discouragement we all feel as we witness, on an almost daily basis, eruptions of ugly scandalous behavior in our midst. “What in the world is going on here?” we ask. “Doesn’t it seem to...


Can We Actually Teach Character Anymore?

It’s Saturday morning, my time for catching up on things, for some reading and reflection. I’ve been on the road so much lately, I have not attended to the news as carefully as I would like. But the news this morning is depressing. There is no...


Can We Actually Choose the Stories by Which We Live?

I have written and spoken at length about a comment made on my campus some years ago by the late, great Jewish novelist Chaim Potok. Potok said that day that “we live in a world of colliding maps.” We all construct our own little maps and stories...


My Top Five (Or 10) Book Lists

I have put together a list of My Top Five Books. I have also included a list of My Top 10 Books of Literature. Personal, eclectic, even eccentric as any such list must be these days, nevertheless, these are great books, books that have hugely...


The Reverend Martin Luther King, Suffering, Hope, and Haiti

Over the last few days, we have been assaulted with the horrifying images of bodies being dumped into trucks, images of people not only without shelter but also without water, images of desperation and suffering beyond belief — and we have...


Five Traits of a Great Leader

I have been thinking and writing lately about leadership. I don’t usually write about this topic, in part because I think there is too much writing and perhaps too little of the actual doing of leadership. I also think leadership cannot be a topic...


The Hammer, the Train Set, and the BB Gun

Our vivacious, ever-so-verbal, 2-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Esmee, told Santa Claus the other day that she wanted a yo-yo and a hammer for Christmas. Oh the marvel of a child’s imagination this time of year. Should Santa comply, I’m a...


It’s Not That Easy Being Green

Kermit the Frog once said so eloquently, “It’s not that easy being green.” Sometimes you’d like to be something nicer, like red, or yellow or gold or something much more colorful like that.” Sometimes you’d like to stand out, says...


Video: Are God and Santa Claus Neighbors?

Watch President Eaton’s new video on the biblical imagination and God’s “grand, sweeping story.” httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5Z9C1adJqk


Is This the Season to Be Worried?

I am worried. I am worried that people are worried. I am worried that people seem to have lost a sense of optimism. I know that can seem such a sweeping statement, so sweeping as to be inane. Things change, and maybe we are in a downswing of mood,...


Video: Where Joy, Mystery, and Beauty Meet

President Eaton braves a Seattle rain in his newest video that explores where joy, mystery, and beauty meet. httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doOUlUeSKJM


Ashton Kutcher’s Got Four Million Followers

A few of my students have given me a bad time for ragging on texting. For the most part respectfully, they have said, “President Eaton, come on now, texting is the rage. The communication is fast, very fast. The connection is direct, immediate....


Is There Anyone Anymore Who Will Tell Us How to Write Well?

William Strunk? E.B. White? The Elements Of Style? Does anyone remember those names? Does anyone anymore recognize this little book as one of the shaping forces of good writing for the last 50 years? I dug into the library in my study to find my copy...


People of Faith and the Presumption of Pluralism

I’ve been delighted by the amount and quality of the responses from so many people to these blog posts. Frankly, I am quite amazed. I come away from these comments realizing that people want to engage. People want to be thoughtful about their lives...


What Does It Mean to Separate Faith and Culture?

When John G. Roberts was nominated in July 2005 to become the Chief Justice of the United States, there was a flurry of deep concern among politicians and in the major media that he was a devout Catholic. Why should this be a concern, we might ask....


Found at Starbucks: A Latte and a Big Idea

Watch President Eaton’s newest video about his conversation with a Starbucks barista on the topic of text messaging. Are we in danger of losing our ability to read and to write sophisticated text? httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYyx9R3K9ig


Lincoln Spoke for Two Minutes and Changed the World

This last week we did a lot of reading and talking together on campus about the great Abraham Lincoln. Transformational leadership was our topic, and Lincoln was our model. We hosted my longtime friend, Lincoln scholar and biographer Ron White...


Deep Nerves on Health Care

The debate over health care in America seems to have touched some very deep nerves. The struggle is pitched as a great partisan divide between those on the Left, who want to provide more government assistance to those without health insurance and...


In My Absence

It has been a few weeks since I’ve been able to write a post for this blog. I am sorry. I have missed the conversation and the chance to reflect on things from my study on Saturday mornings. Actually, my Saturday mornings have been full of writing...


Video: Why Community Matters

Watch President Philip W. Eaton’s newest video describing why the best learning takes place in community. He includes thoughts on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic book, Life Together. httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwlHaaY2QIQ


Our Hour Upon the Stage

It seems like a lot of people are dying these days. I had that thought this morning as Sharon and I watched the funeral mass in Boston for Senator Ted Kennedy. And I found myself thinking about the lives that have stepped off the stage in the last...


Focusing Again on What Really Matters

I’ve been thinking lately that we just have to focus on what really matters. Right? I feel that about my work right now. I feel that about the world. Life is too short. There is too much good work to be done, too much good life to be shared. The...


Really Good Food — and Changing the World

Is it possible that cooking good food can change the world? Or that eating such wonderful food could change our lives? Sounds a little preposterous, I know, but I thought about these questions last night. Sharon and I went to see Julie & Julia...


Summer Days With Nietzsche and Hopkins

I am taking a few days of vacation in August, and I love it. Once we get into a break like this, we suddenly realize how much we need it. I’m sure you know what I mean. But the long days of sunlight, playing catch with my grandsons, Fourth of July...


Living in a World of Colliding Maps

The late, great Jewish novelist Chaim Potok said on my campus some years ago that “we live in a world of colliding maps.” I think he is absolutely right about that, though I don’t always like it. What did he mean by this? In part he meant that...


To The Moon And Back

I find myself imagining the hundreds of thousands of scientists, engineers, managers, office personnel, and executives it took to put two men on the moon. That was forty years ago today, July 20, 1969. And then the millions of people around the...


Where Does World Change Begin?

I recently attended a fundraising breakfast sponsored by a fine organization in Seattle that is dedicated to bringing the best of medical technology to the health and wellness of poor children across the globe. The organization is called PATH, and as...


What’s The News Today?

The news moves fast these days. The afternoon of Michael Jackson’s sudden death, a young man on a commuter train spotted a gentleman across the aisle reading a newspaper. The young man looked up from his iPhone in shock and dismay over the death of...


Energized by Your Comments

I hope you are engaging with me on some of these ideas in this blog. I launched the blog because I want to carry on a conversation about some of the things that matter to me, things that matter to our world, I hope. And I am thrilled with the...


Madoff in Hell

Bernie Madoff stood before the judge today for sentencing and received a 150-year sentence. We were told he would be allowed to doff his jail-issued uniform for the occasion. The judge gave permission for him to put on his cashmere-blended pants one...


Leading With Grace — What Really Matters

David Hubbard, longtime president at Fuller Seminary, was a towering figure for me about how to lead courageously, with conviction and clarity, and yet to lead with grace. Shortly before his untimely death, I invited Dave and Max De Pree, another...


The Encounter: Why We Need Great Teachers

A hugely important person in my life died this week. And I’ve been thinking a lot about what a professor can mean to a student — throughout life. Real education just isn’t going to happen from a computer on the kitchen table, or from massive...


The Biblical Imagination and the Economy? Really?

“Nobody knows. Nobody knows. Nobody knows” — this was the answer, from a smart, savvy friend of mine, to the question of where the bottom is to this awful economic freefall that seems to drag us down so painfully. He said he was quoting lyrics...


Where Does Joy Come From?

I was in Jackson, Mississippi recently, and as I sat waiting in a van outside John Perkins’ home, an afternoon rain pelted the windshield steadily. On the plane to Jackson, I had been rereading John’s amazing autobiography, Let Justice Roll Down....


So . . . What’s This Blog All About?

I have this intense desire to carry on a conversation about things that matter — and so I decided to launch this blog. I hope these things matter to you as well. “How presumptuous,” that was my first thought about this blog. “Really? So you...