About a year and a half ago I finished my 15th year as a high school teacher at a small, private school in east-central Illinois. Day after day; year after year, I lived life and encouraged the life-of-the-mind in the shared captivity my high school classroom. I’ve since moved on to a new calling, working with college students in quite different setting that comes with its own unique opportunities and challenges. I’m still teaching, just no longer in a classroom.
Such are the circumstances finally launched me into the blogosphere. This idea was born last spring at a conference in Nashville, where I had the good fortune to join in a luncheon discussion with George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury. During Q & A I asked him what he thought I could do in my new environment to cultivate the kind of camaraderie and community I’d so enjoyed with students in my classroom. In that atmosphere of familiar faces and surroundings, I thought, “teaching” seemed to be a natural and organic experience rather than an unwelcomed imposition.
The Archbishop responded, “Sounds to me like a pub would be just the thing.” He went on to share how many older parishes in English urban settings were doing just that with the parts of their buildings that had once been fellowship halls. Fellowship flourished in community; ministry emerged from fellowship, and discipleship flowed from ministry.
Until such time as an actual, physical public house becomes available, I thought I’d try to create a “virtual” one in this brave new world of social media and online community. The name comes from a paper I once presented titled, “Worldview in the Waste Land.” “What have we to offer,” I asked, “in this cultural wasteland that consumes even our most promising students?” My answer was two-fold: what they need is an Anchor to moor them in the safe harbor of Truth, a Compass to guide them through the difficult passages of Life, and good Company with which to share the Journey.
Of course, what plays about in my imagination here is the kind of atmosphere enjoyed by the Inklings at the Eagle and Child. By all accounts this gathering of Oxford dons and their circle of literary friends—amidst pints, pipes, tea, and the sharing of their words—was a delight for all who participated. C. S. Lewis recalled “the cut and parry of prolonged, fierce, masculine argument” that characterized these blessed hours together with Hugo Dyson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and others.
So here I hope we can do the same—expanding, I trust, beyond the “masculine” bit. I’ll share occasional words gleaned from a life of learning and teaching that might offer some security, guidance, and comfort as we sail uncertain seas together. Your responses are appreciated and, indeed, essential to the process. And perhaps conversations that begin here can continue on in real-life encounters where cups and pints, faith and fellowship can be more fully enjoyed by all.