The Dark Side of Sororities

This is not particularly related to Stanford, but it is related to university life in general.

Alexandra Robbins went undercover as a sorority girl to figure out what life is really like in the modern Greek scene. She discovered a world of dysfunction, and she writes about it in her new book Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities.

If you’d like to learn more, read an eye‐opening interview with the author.

Excerpt: NEWSWEEK: Why did you go undercover?
Alexandra Robbins: Originally I was openly going to be a reporter in a house on a specific campus. I had been to some meetings, and I had started to bond with these girls. Then one day, the adviser of the sorority sat me down and she said something like I cant let you be here unless the national office allows you, and I really dont think theyre going to. And then she said, and Ill never forget this: And if they do let you in, I simply cannot allow you to write about the drugs. I called the national office, and it turned out that the 26 national Panhellenic sororities had instituted a media blackout because they were upset with the MTV show Sorority Life. It turned out that the only way to get behind the scenes in a sorority house was to fly under the radar.

Religion By Major

Check out the results (or see some detailed data) of a national survey of 3,680 students by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute [which] found that religious commitment runs strongest among fine arts, education and humanities majors and lowest among biology, history and sociology majors.

I found one excerpt fascinating: In addition, Astin found that arts and humanities majors were twice as likely to exhibit signs of “spiritual distress” questioning beliefs, struggling to understand evil, wrestling with religious upbringing as business or computer science students.

Still, Astin said it is premature to label all scientists or computer whizzes as spiritually hollow. Most of these academic disciplines simply don’t prompt or promote spiritual reflection, he said.

Implicit in there is the notion that students who don’t exhibit signs of “spiritual distress” can be supposed to be “spiritually hollow”. Interesting. I wonder how much of that is Astin’s real perspectve and how much of that is the byproduct of the interviewer’s line of questioning.

Also of note: Students who party frequently are more likely to stop attending religious services, and “spiritually committed” students generally earn higher grades.

Students who score high on measures of spiritual commitment generally are healthier, happier and more involved in community service.

Thanks to World Magazine blog for unearthing this link!


First the baby update: Dana is doing well. My mom (who is currently visiting) has dressed her in an outfit that I apparently used to wear, and that’s rather charming. Anyway, there are new photos online.

Now for the personal news: Monday evening at 6:30pm I’m going to be ordained as an Assemblies of God minister.

In case you’re curious about the administrative backstory, this means that I’ve now maxed out my ministerial certifications. I’ve been a licensed minister for a number of years, and I’m now being upgraded to full ordination. It’s like going from a master’s to a Ph.D., except that I didn’t have to write and defend hundreds of pages of academic drivel.

Instead, I merely had to defeat three ninjas in armed combat. Pretty standard stuff for a college minister, I have to say.

Ordination doesn’t really change anything for me as far as my ministerial functions (the Assemblies of God has been eroding the distinctions between licensing and ordination) or legal standing (I could officiate at weddings, for example, before this), but it is pretty cool.

Getting ordained reflects a sort of commitment to the movement. It’s not the same thing as going from being engaged to being married, but that’s not a horrible analogy. Continuing the metaphor, it’s a bit unfortunate from a commitment perspective that the Assemblies of God can be a bit of a tart…

Seriously, it’s a great movement (with some admittedly deep flaws) and I’m proud to be receiving my ordination from them.

Great Meeting Last Night

Last night’s Chi Alpha meeting was off the charts–Curt Harlow spoke and did an excellent job!

That would have been encouraging enough, but we had a high‐water mark in attendance (all the people who sometimes show up showed up at once, and we had six first‐time guests). That was extremely gratifying. I try not to be driven by numbers, but I definitely like having more bodies in the room…

Changed Message Archive Format

I went nuts today trying to figure out a problem with this website–I couldn’t create an entry with a link to Dennis’ message. For some reason Movable Type (the software that maintains this site) wouldn’t save anything with the link text in it. It drove me up the wall!

Anyway, I wound up reconfiguring the entire way that I archive messages on this site before finally deciding to change the text directly in the database.

I mention all this to explain why the front page is all links to past messages–a temporary byproduct of the aforementioned reconfiguration. It will pass as new content is added.

Ministry With a Baby

First: Paula’s in charge of uploading pictures now, so if there’s a delay in new photos be sure to send her an email to keep her on track. 🙂

Second: We’re very fortunate: Dana was born over Spring Break, so I was able to completely devote myself to helping Paula that week. After that, we had guest speakers scheduled for the first two weeks of the Spring Quarter, so I haven’t had to obsess about message preparation. Most people don’t realize this, but preparing sermons takes a LOT of time. I’d say I spend 15–20 hours a week polishing up my message for Chi Alpha, and I should probably spend more. Anyway, the bottom line is that I’ve really been available to help Paula out and still keep on top of all my ministry responsibilities.

We’re very blessed to have Dana–she sleeps a lot and doesn’t cry too much. Somehow I wind up getting the sleep that I need. Woohoo!

On a completely unrelated note, this comic made me laugh out loud. I rarely read Get Fuzzy, but on a lark I swung by their website today. I’m glad I did.

Polyhedral Prophets

Usually when Christians talk about roleplaying games you can expect a lot of heat and very little light (artfully mocked by the Dead Alewives’ classic bit Dungeons and Dragons). That’s why I was so thrilled to run across the article Roleplaying the Faith which contained several fascinating links.

Roleplaying is a part of geek culture, and Stanford is a bit of a geek campus, so I thought these might interest some of you: Religion and Roleplaying, the Christian Gamers Guild, and Tracy Hickman’s essay on Ethics in Fantasy (for the record, Hickman is a Mormon).

Something Completely Unrelated to Dana

I noted earlier that one of our our alumni was a finalist in the Miss Singapore Universe competition.

The finals are Saturday. Paula and I can’t wait to find out if she’s Miss Singapore Universe. Paula was quite close to Adeline last year, and misses her so much she actually began crying while looking at photos of her online.

Anyway, I stumbled across the official page today. She’s the first gal (top left photo).

Of course, we already have two Miss Universes in our house