Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Welcome to Oxford: This is a chance to trust."

On Monday we had our first introduction to Oxford as an academic institution. It was overwhelming, but also exhilarating. I am so amazed that I get to be here, and, more than that, immensely grateful that I am here with at Christian program.

{this is me being elated to be here}
The staff ("faculty" here means "department") of the program - it's through SCIO, Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford - are absolutely marvelous.

Dr. Stan Rosenberg is the leader of SCIO. He's American, but has lived in Oxford for seventeen years. What he told us could have been demoralizing, but was actually very encouraging.

Several years ago, one of the students at SCIO started a Facebook page called "Oxford: where your best isn't good enough since 1200 AD." That's an accurate statement. Your best isn't good enough here, but that doesn't have to be a negative thing.

Your best isn't good enough because there is always more to learn.

This is a challenging lesson to learn, since nobody likes to hear that they will never measure up, least of all students who made it to Oxford. But it's true. And, if received with the right attitude, this can be freeing. It frees me to be humble and learn to enjoy it, instead of building up my pride to try for unattainable perfection. It also means that there is no necessary plateau to hit in learning: there are always more fascinating things to explore. 

According to Dr. Rosenberg, Oxford is a place to test our limits, to stretch ourselves by asking new questions and be ok if we can't immediately find answers. He says: "Doubt isn't an enemy. It's an opportunity, a place to ask questions, to grow, and to trust God. Doubt is the moment where trust happens. So welcome to Oxford: this is a chance to trust. Be humble and confident." 

Dr. Elizabeth Baigent is the academic leader of the program. She's a delightful British woman who came here as an undergrad in 1979 and hasn't left since. She's erudite and crisp and witty and clearly is in her element in the world of Oxford. Amidst much useful information sprinkled with choice wit, here are two quotes I just had to write down. 

"90% of what the Brits say is ironic." {said very ironically, of course}

"Obviously tea is essential to make any decisions in Oxford."

{Incidentally, the British love of tea is not a generalization or exaggeration. It's a very integral part of life here, which makes me quite happy.}

Simon Lancaster is an Australian who basically runs the student life part of the program. He's very winsome and fun. An expression I've heard him use several times is "Crikey!" He's a cellist, accredited counselor, and student here at the grad school. His wife, incidentally, is also a cellist and recorded the Avengers 2 soundtrack. 

Simon quotes:

"We are the salt of the earth. Salt preserves meat - the culture - but must be ground into the meat to do so."

"Without spiritual nourishment, you lose spiritual weight."

"I fall off quite a lot." {referring to his bicycle}

{Yay selfies. But sometimes there aren't other options. These are two of my roommates, Paige and Katherine.}


  1. How exciting to have a chance to study at Oxford! All the best for an amazing semester!

  2. wonderful! thanks for the update….
    including us into your life there.