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2010-2011 Campus Theme: What is a Life of Significance?

The mission of North Park University is to prepare students for lives of significance and service. But what do we mean by this? What is a life of significance? How do we recognize it when we see it? What kind of education actually prepares us for such a life? And, what forces in our cultures prevent us from realizing such a life?

Through the course of the 2010-2011 school year, our campus community sought insight and wisdom in answering these questions. We looked for answers from world renown guests, local Chicago residents, and each other, recognizing that the quest for a meaningful life is a basic desire of human persons the world over, and thus no single answer presents itself. Lecturers included journalists, soldiers, conscientious objectors, theologians, activists, scientists, and artists. Members of the North Park community engaged deeply in this conversation, learning from others, and sharing our own insights into what makes for a life of significance.

2010-2011 Events

A Life of Illusion or Significance: The Challenge of Living a Meaningful Life in Contemporary America

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chris Hedges, author of Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009) Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, foreign and war correspondent for the New York Times, National Public Radio, and Christian Science Monitor, and best selling author. For nearly two decades, he has worked in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans. In 2002, he received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, he writes extensively on the cultural meaning of war and religion in society. His books include the best seller War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America, and I Don't Believe in Atheists.

Mr. Hedges spoke about what it means to live a life of significance in contemporary America in light of his most recent book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

What is a Life of Significance In and After War?

Wednesday, October 27

Joshua Casteel: What is a Life of Significance In and After War? Joshua Casteel was raised an Evangelical Christian, and like his grandfather, father, and aunt before him, became a soldier of the U.S. Military. He signed up for active duty in Iraq and was assigned as an interrogator at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He did all of this before the interrogation of a 22 year old self-proclaimed jihadist challenged him to rexamine his life as a soldier and his Christian faith. This experience provoked Joshua to become an official conscientious objector.

As Joshua recounts in an interview with the University of Iowa, in this interrogation, "At some point in our conversation, we started talking about religion and ethics. I said it was my duty, not a desire to kill, that brought me to Iraq. [The man I was interrogating] said that I follow Christ but do not do as Christ . . I realized that I had broken objectivity, that I didn’t want to talk to him about the tactical issues that I needed to inquire about as an interrogator." The interrogation ended; Casteel’s career as an interrogator followed suit.

Since leaving the military Josh has returned to university studies, written a nationally award winning play, "Returns" on his experience as an interrogator, published the book Letters from Abu Ghraib, appeared in the documentary Soldiers of Conscience, and spoken publicly about the war and what it means to be a Christian and at war. His story has been featured on National Public Radio. Mr. Casteel is currently a graduate student at the University of Chicago divinity school.

Christians and Globalization

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Renowned theologian Miroslav Volf, PhD, presented a pair of lectures to the campus community: "Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?" and "Globalization and the Significance of Faith." Volf, the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School and founding director of Yale’s Center for Faith and Culture, is a native of Croatia, and "has forged a theology of forgiveness and non-violence in the face of violence experienced in Croatia and Serbia in the 1990s," (Yale faculty page). His most recent book, Allah: A Christian Response, released in February 2011, deals with the sensitive subject of Muslim-Christian relations.

Miroslav Volf