Clash of the Titans LXXXVIII: Houghton and Point Loma

August 22, 2008, 10:00 am; posted by
Filed under Debate, Job, Kaitlin  | 7 Comments

In this corner, supporting Point Loma Nazarene University, is Kaitlin!

And in this corner, backing Houghton College, is Job!

I\’d hate to disparage another school at the expense of my own, so I think I\’ll let Point Loma Nazarene University\’s merits speak for themselves:

”¢ The ocean. No matter where you stand on campus, the long, limitless horizon beckons, reminding you how insignificant you truly are. There\’s no better way to wake up in the morning. And it never grows old ”” stroll through the campus during any given sunset and you\’re bound to find scores of students staring westward, admiring the freshly painted canvas that fills the sky.

”¢ The location. The campus\’s oceanfront property includes beach access; Ocean, Mission, and Pacific Beaches are all within five miles. Downtown San Diego is just as close. Point Loma itself is an affluent peninsula with a small-town feel, giving a feeling of secluded island living while maintaining a comfortable proximity to all that San Diego has to offer.

”¢ The opportunities. All the travel spiels you\’ve heard about San Diego are true. It includes so much ”” Balboa Park, the Embarcadero, the San Diego Opera, playhouses, professional sports teams, and more. As part of a metropolitan area, the school has worked hard to establish a relationship with the community, creating an excellent platform for internships and networking.

”¢ The academics. From the outstanding nursing program to the renowned science department, the school\’s academic departments have few equals in the private Christian university circuit. Class sizes are almost always well below 40. Professors are knowledgeable and accessible, and they approach education thoroughly and rigorously. When I was a prospective student touring the Literature, Journalism, and Modern Languages department, I was impressed with the department head\’s reasoning behind labeling my major as literature. “We don\’t just study literature written in English; we study world literature.” The faculty are on the whole not only experts within their fields, but deeply involved and mindful of their students\’ personal well-being.

”¢ The extracurriculars. The school\’s sports teams consistently rank in the top of their leagues. The intramurals are vibrant and varied, ranging from soccer and basketball to surfing and rugby. The debate team consistently sweeps tournaments. The newspaper provides comprehensive coverage of school and community events every week. The numerous campus ministries devote themselves to the spiritual development of students, the local community, and even further through mission-minded outreaches.

Ӣ The programs. The Fermanian Business Center has instituted myriad programs that use a Christian approach to economic concerns, aiming to help people while making inroads in the business world. The Center for Justice and Reconciliation focuses on poverty and inequality. The Study Abroad Center guides students through international programs in whatever countries they would like to visit.

Ӣ The events. The school continually draws prominent speakers. Last year alone, the campus hosted Philip Yancey, Francis Collins, Gay Talese, Anchee Min, Jon Foreman, Greg Mortensen, a colloquium of French poets, and the 2008 Kyoto Prize winners.

I think Point Loma\’s advantages speak volumes. However, I will add that the library is open from 7 am to midnight, Monday through Friday, a full hour earlier and later than another school that I know of.

Let us come together, but for a moment, my friends, and speak of heavy things.

Truth, most of you reading this possess a college education, and on top of that, most of you were educated at a Christian college. And you know the usual players, do you not? If not, allow me to roll the credits of our shared context. Wheaton, Westmont, Calvin, and Azusa Pacific. Biola, Grove City, Gordon, Nyack, and Messiah. Bethany, Point Loma, Liberty, Houghton.

A stellar list, no doubt, but one rife with differences — theologically, financially, ideologically, and geographically. But one of those differences is very telling, and it finds its traction at Houghton College — for Houghton is one of the rare (popular and esteemed) Christian colleges that is not nestled in or near a major metropolitan area.

Gordon has Boston, Wheaton has Chicago, and Houghton has… a cornfield.

My friend Kaitlin has made a very convincing argument indeed…for a resort. But I think she has forgotten the purpose of a college: education. While I am certain that Point Loma has professors, donors, and sports teams to give off the appearance of an institute of higher learning, the school is really more interested in its beachfront cachet.

Their literature and website are filled with (mostly) pictures of San Diego’s trappings, the breaking Pacific and the tanned, smiling faces of the collegiately damned. Rare is the promotional shot of a student pondering anything of educational weight, and rarer still is the shot of anything with four walls surrounding it. Again, Point Loma would make a great summer camp (which it is, all fall, winter and spring), but is it an earnest mecca for the education-hungry, worthy of their pilgrimage? I think not.

But ah, Houghton. Remote, yet easy to find (just one exit from the major highway, 14 miles distant), and located in one of the poorest counties east of the Mississippi, Houghton has no city appeal. There are no movie theaters or beaches to frequent. No hotspots, bars, historical sites, or even McDonald’s. Houghton, as a destination, is only worth visiting for its express purpose: educating the young Christians of the future.

I cannot sway you with the impossible amounts of fun I had there, but believe me it was had indeed. I cannot convince you of Houghton’s intrinsic and organic properties, although our thorough separation from the world brought them out all the more. I cannot persuade you of Houghton’s lasting impression on all of its students because many, it’s true, couldn’t take it. Many tested the river that is Houghton only to turn back, stomachs in knots, knees scraped against the boulders of trial, serving to warn others from attempting to ford its rapids.

But this only makes my time on the other bank that much more fulfilling. I could have attended any number of the Jacob tent-dwelling schools — but I cast my lot with Esau, preferring the brambles and winds of a wilderness in a time that should not make us soft and well-recreated, but rather, hardened and mentally-fit.

And all that said — our girls’ basketball team could beat Point Loma’s men’s soccer team.



7 Comments to “Clash of the Titans LXXXVIII: Houghton and Point Loma”

  1. Steve on August 22nd, 2008 10:03 am

    Wow. Knowing these two as I do, I must say — I can’t remember an argument quite so audacious as Job (of all people) claiming that Kaitlin (of all people) has forgotten that education is the purpose of college. A rough equivalent would be a debate where I instructed my mother on the pain of childbirth.

  2. Lindsay Windoffer on August 22nd, 2008 12:49 pm

    I stumbled across this debate…and whenever I think of debate, I think of how the PLNU debate team took first IN THE NATION in 06/07.
    The sad thing about being a student at PLNU is that you start taking the ocean for granted. It becomes a mere backdrop with books, study groups, and exams all in the foreground. Although…nothing can beat falling asleep to the lull of the ocean (you can hear it from anywhere on campus) or recovering from an exam with a quick splash in the cool, refreshing waves.

  3. Djere on August 22nd, 2008 7:24 pm

    “Rare is the promotional shot of a student pondering anything of educational weight,” says Mr. Tate.

    I daresay that rarer indeed is a photographer who actually captures a student pondering anything of educational weight. A more frequent happening is, “Hey, kid, hold this book and look wistfully constipated. It’s for the website.”

    Yeah, it’s great that these elitist Christian Colleges exist to do this or that or the other thing – some of us go to real colleges with real people who are in need of a real salvation. Last time I read the New Testament, the command was to go to the nations, not to retreat to an enclave.

    But that was *my* college experience.

    Respectfully Submitted,

    Jeremiah J. Maxon
    Oswego State University of New York ’06
    (GO LAKERS!)

  4. Kaitlin on August 23rd, 2008 10:47 am

    I understand the elitist contention and agree with it in a lot of ways. But I know that, for me at least, I didn’t think I was nearly prepared to spend my undergrad time in a generally hostile environment. I wanted to establish my beliefs and pursue my studies without the intellectual and physical vulnerability that a reticent 18-year-old girl would have to face in the average university setting. I decided to forgo a prestigious degree in favor of a worldview.

  5. Tom on August 25th, 2008 3:47 pm

    This (for me) boils down to a beach vs. mountain(ish) or California vs. New York or small-town vs. big city debate. Only the most superficial elements of your equally private religious liberal arts colleges can really be considered in this forum.

    Houghton it is.

  6. Ethan Sjolander on August 26th, 2008 10:13 pm

    Both spectacular arguments that wildly overstate their respective merits I’m sure. But of course I have to vote for my alma mater, especially considering the fact I was sworn in as a Shen man nearly a year before I set foot in the building and two years before I lived there. Long live Houghton!

  7. Job on August 30th, 2008 8:43 am

    Long live Ethan Sjenlander!

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