I had wanted to be an architect since I was 12 years old. When graduation was staring me in the face at Bethel, and my long-time girlfriend had broken up with me, I realized if ever there was a time to pursue it-it was then. So I looked over architecture schools and realized my decision was between Ball State and Andrews University. Andrews offered a 2 year associate in architectural studies and would essentially be like going to school part time since my general studies would transfer from Bethel. When I visited the university, which was just across the state line in Berrien Springs, Michigan, I felt at ease since it was a small school, but yet was impressed with the university feel and global nature of the school. Bethel was like a small town high school with classes held in a few separate buildings. During my first visit the guide asked me if I was "SDA", which sounded a lot like ADA....I looked puzzled back at him. I wondered what it would be like attending a Seventh Day Adventist school, but it didn’t dissuade me. I applied and was accepted during my senior year at Bethel.
During my first year at Andrews I quickly became acclimated to the architecture program and by my second quarter the professors came to me and encouraged me to switch from the associate program to the bachelors program. Believing that I had found my true calling, it was an easy decision. I loved architecture, architectural theory, the history of the art form, and the students who were tremendously more like me than I had experienced at Bethel, or growing up for that matter. Everything about being at Andrews felt right: a small university setting, a school forming a missional aspect of architecture as service to the community, like-minded people, and the deep satisfaction of being able to exercise my God-given creative abilities.
Which is probably why such a shift began to happen in my thinking.
I think everyone in college goes through a period when they really start to question what they’ve been taught, even when the teaching has been rock solid. I think that it’s healthy and necessary for moving forward in spiritual formation. This was no different for me. I think the thing that I became most keenly aware of was the universal idea of spirituality. I better explain that…I believe that God placed in all people a desire for spiritual awakening. The evolvement or understanding of that awakening is where we have our divisions.
And as I had opportunity to develop my own thinking and really wrestle with precepts, some taught, some just understood, I realized my thinking was being pulled to a broader acceptance of spiritual and even political thought. And it was in that I saw the greatest shift in my understanding of why we were placed on this earth, and about the earth itself. I can mark the development of two significant core beliefs that drove a wedge between the “accepted” belief system I embraced growing up and who I am today. The first occurred while I was at Andrews and involved my embrace of “community”, what it means to truly be a community, the benefit a community can be to its people, and how even in the development of community we also have a responsibility to God’s creation.
I was probably a bit naïve in thinking that community, as a standard for good, would be embraced by others if only explained in terms of benefit and Christian duty. But I couldn’t have been prepared for excommunication, much less being demonized. But this is where God led me in my education and understanding of His purpose for me. The core of my thinking became the understanding that careful and conservative use of God’s creation would provide for future generations and thoughtful relationships and exchange of ideas would provide for synergy to produce a better citizenry. I felt that this truly is the core of being a conservative, and a Christian. It just doesn't seem very Hoosier-friendly.