Pray For These Incoming Freshmen!

A list of incoming freshman and some specific prayer requests on their behalf.

Stanford has given us a list of incoming freshmen who are interested in getting involved in a group similar to Chi Alpha. I’ll be contacting each of them and seeking to help them transition smoothly. I’ll also be praying for them daily: could you join me in praying specifically for each one of these things?

  1. That God would prepare them for the opportunities and challenges that are about to be laid at their feet.
  2. That God would make His purpose in bringing them to Stanford clear to them.
  3. Most of all, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give [them] the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that [they] may know him better… also that the eyes of [their] hearts may be enlightened in order that [they] may know the hope to which he has called [them], the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1.17–19, NIV

If you’d like to pray for them by name, here they are: Aaron, Akilah, Albert, Alfredo, Alina, Amanda, Arin, Ben, Brandon, Camille, Casey, Charles, Chioma, Chris, Chris, Christian, Christine, Chuck, Collin, Cyndy, Cyrus, Danny, David, Dena, Diana, Didi, Dominique, Ean, Eden, Eleazar, Emily, Eric, Jamelia, Jamie, Janine, Jessica, Jessica, John, Julia, Julian, June, Juston, Karen, Karen, Katie, Kevin, Kirsten, Laura, Lauren, Lauren, Lindell, Lisa, Lisa, Maria, Mark, Michael, Michael, Michelle, Naima, Natalie, Nathan, Nathaniel, Nicolas, Nicolas, Ochuko, Omorinsola, Paul, Quynhanh, Rachel, Richard, Samantha, Steph, Stephanie, Stephanie, Stuart, Suhan, Tamarah, Taylor, Timothy, Victor, and Yoko.

Charles Taylor on “What It Means to Be Secular”

Noted philospher Charles Taylor (who seems to be a Christian) has just been interviewed in Books and Culture on What It Means to Be Secular.

It’s pretty interesting stuff. For example

To say we live in a secular civilization is to say that God is no longer inescapable. It doesn’t mean that we live in a society from which God has been expelled. I don’t think we ever will live in such a society for very long; the Communists tried that. But the nature of this modern secular society is that it’s deeply plural. We have to accept that the ultimate grounding of the civilization we share in common is up for grabs.

and later on

There is an alternative readingnamely, that we’re moving to a society where more and more the consensus will be around an unbelieving variant of the modern social imaginary. But to me this seems to be just a dream. It’s a dream that arises among those who are deeply into an atheist or non-believing position and are convinced as a matter of faith that religion will gradually disappear and everyone will think as they do. For them, the secular world is one in which we all end up agreeing fundamentally that there’s no God, and that agreement is the basis of everything. That’s an impossible scenario, and the more they think like that, the worse it’s going to be.

Objections To Objectivism: A Brief Critique of Ayn Rand’s Ethical Egoism

The Objectivist Club at Stanford is pretty active, and so this seemed like an appropriate first entry in our “Reasonable Answers to Honest Questions” category.

In case you’re not familiar with it, objectivism is the system of philosophy defined by Ayn Rand. It deals with much more than merely ethics, but that’s what I want to comment on today.

Ayn Rand’s ethical theory is of the type known as “ethical egoism,” which means that we should always choose to do things that benefit ourselves (we also call this selfishness). A short way to summarize Ayn Rand’s ethical theory would be “selfishness is a virtue.” That’s not a completely fair summary: she argues for a very specific type of selfishness: an enlightened self-interest which recognizes that sometimes acting for the good of others actually benefits oneself. Here’s a more detailed description written by one of her fans:

The Objectivist ethics rebuilds morality from the ground up. “You cannot say ‘I love you’ if you cannot say the ‘I’,” wrote Ayn Rand. According to Objectivism, a person’s own life and happiness is the ultimate good. To achieve happiness requires a morality of rational selfishness, one that does not give undeserved rewards to others and that does not ask them for oneself. (source

I sent an email to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries asking them to provide me with a critique of Ayn Rand’s ethical theory. Paul Copan was kind enough to craft this brief reply:


  • Rand’s ethical views presuppose a naturalistic fallacy; that is,
    it moves from the descriptive (that we are naturally selfish) to the
    prescriptive (that we ought to look out for Number One). But there is
    nothing logically compelling about making this jump.
  • What happens if there is a conflict of interests? How do we adjudicate between conflicting egos?
  • If the rules of morality are really rules of expediency, then they
    will be obligatory only so long as they are expedient.
  • The pursuit of selfish pleasures/goals eventually leads to anarchy,
    in which everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
  • What happens when an ethical egoist turns into a dictator? It seems
    morally counter-intuitive to suggest that acting egoistically is legitimate
    for him.
  • The ethical egoistal view is arbitrary. Why should I opt for my own
    good as opposed to society’s good (or the good of some other grouping)?
    It seems that the egoist can give no real reasons for why his view is to be
  • Egoism presumes a universal relevance (i.e., the egoist presumes
    a willingness to see others should embrace this view and act on it, but if
    the egoist does not, then it seems to be a deficient moral view). However,
    if the egoistic ethic is universalized, then it seems that this would go
    against the egoist’s own selfish ends. That is, the egoist wouldn’t
    want his ethic universalized.
  • The ethical egoist can’t be trusted when offering moral advice
    to others since it will be to his own advantage rather than to that of the
    one seeking his advice.
  • Furthermore, even if pursing selfish ends is legitimate, it seems
    hard to believe that this is the only moral virtue. That is, one’s good may
    be an object to pursue, but it need not be the only one.

There is a fuller defense of an objective, divinely-rooted ethic in the book, True for You, But Not for Me; this can be ordered through RZIM’s order line at 800–448-6766.”

If this topic is of more interest to you, Copan (author of the above critique) also recommends that you read The Ethics of Ayn Rand: Appreciation and Critique by John Piper. Piper takes more space to elaborate on Rand’s theory and points out several elements of it he agrees with. Gets an Upgrade!

One of life’s little pleasures: recoding a website with elegance.

One of the weirder (but probably more strategic) ministry tasks that I’ve had for the last few years is maintaining the Chi Alpha national website and the Reach The U website (the latter being the more significant).

Today I had some time to tackle a feature I’d really been wanting to revise: the chapter directory.

I think it’s a lot slicker now, and the clean codebase means that I can add new functions without a lot of hassle. Huzzah!

Ultimate goal: to create a user login system so that each local campus ministry can own it’s data and update it whenever something changes.

Speaking of site upgrades: I finally managed to quash a very annoying bug on my blog. The page kept getting cut off! If you’re having similar trouble, read this helpful thread.

Where Are All The Smart Pentecostals?

Today I received from the Stanford Office for Religious Life the names of all three of the Assemblies of God students planning to attend Stanford next year. That’s right–three. Out of around 1,400. There was also a Foursquare student and a few from independent charismatic churches. Let’s say there are about 10–15 Pentecostal/charismatic students in total.

Even given that only 4% of teens attend a Pentecostal or Charismatic church, that’s pretty sad. If even 4% coming to Stanford were Pentecostal/charismatic that would be over 50 incoming freshmen. That’s a discrepancy of 70% (in other words, 70% fewer students are Pentecostal or Charismatic than you would expect)!

That doesn’t bother me for the reason you might think. Chi Alpha @ Stanford is primarily an evangelistic organization. While we do want to take care of incoming Christian students and help them mature in their faith, we’re primarily concerned with reaching the majority who have no religious background at all (much less a Christian one).

It’s not so much that I wish there were more students to plug into our group as I wonder why more coming in aren’t believers. These numbers, while only directly reflecting on Pentecostals are representative of what the other ministries are receiving.

There’s been a massive renaissance in youth ministry over the last decade, and there’s tons of articles on the burgeoning evangelical intellectuals: so why aren’t there more arriving at Stanford? Is it that we strongly discourage our gifted youth from attending secular schools or is merely the sad fact that most “Christian” students can’t wait to escape from their youth group?

In any event, if the other elite schools are seeing similar trends the intellectual future of American Christianity isn’t looking particularly robust…

A Bizarre Case Study In Ethics…

Check this out on CNN: A Pornographer Hacks An Al-Quaeda Site. This is one of those bizarre little situations in which someone we thoroughly disapprove of does something we greatly approve of.

Evidently his expertise in running a smut site was immediately applicable to the challenge of hacking a paranoid and ruthless organization’s computer. Messner, using the aggressive tactics he’s employed to run his adult site, said he “hijacked” Al Neda for five days It kind of makes you wonder exactly what skills porn site operators pick up… One more good reason to avoid porn like the plague–some of these guys are ace hackers!

I found the following excerpts sad: “I bought a digital camera and convinced my wife to get naked for the Internet.” … His Porsche and its “WIVES” vanity plates memorializing his success in adult entertainment are, he believes, a testament that he and his family are living the American dream. And, in his own way, Messner said, he is fighting an American war.

In the entire CNN article there’s not a hint of appropriate moral indignation that this man is both destroying the sacredness of his own marriage and enticing men across the world to violate their marriage vows. I’m willing to bet that it didn’t even cross the journalist’s mind… *sigh* Does no one see how destructive pornography is?

Assemblies of God Leaders Who Endorse Glen and Paula Davis

A list of leaders who believe in us and in our ministry.

Here are some Assemblies of God leaders who believe in us
and in our ministry: I would like to particularly direct your attention to the
fact that both our current and our former pastor are on this list. We believe
in the Assemblies of God, we’re committed to the primacy of the local church,
and we’re team players!

I had Glen & Paula do a missions window in my church and they
did a fabulous job! God has called them to a truly strategic mission field,
and James River is proud to be investing in it. I encourage you to book
them for a service or a missions windowyou won’t be disappointed.

John Lindell
Senior Pastor
James River Assembly of God (Springfield,

“Peninsula Christian Center is honored to serve as a covering
for Stanford Chi Alpha, and I’m delighted to serve on the advisory board
for this ministry. I believe God has raised up Glen and Paula Davis to
reach Stanford for Christ, and I encourage your church to support them
in this strategic ministry.”

Jeff Langskov
Senior Pastor (and Glen and Paula’s pastor)
Peninsula Christian Center (Redwood
City, CA)

Being a graduate of the University of Calif. in Berkeley, I appreciate
what it takes to reach secular university students in the Bay Area. Glen
and Paula Davis have the spiritual passion, ministry and people skills,
intellectual integrity, and proven experience to develop a viable Chi
Alpha ministry at Stanford University. They merit your prayer and support!

Dr. Steve Lim
Former Bay Area Pastor & Sectional Presbyter
Chairperson of the Practical
Theology faculty at AGTS

“As a 10 year veteran of the campuses in Northern California
and a student of effective campus ministry nationwide I endorse Glen and
Paula Davis enthusiastically to serve as missionaries to Stanford University.
They posses the tools, both intellectually and spiritually, to lead a
truly fruitful ministry on this most strategic campus.”

Curt Harlow
Veteran Northern California Campus Ministry Pioneer
Chi Alpha National
Leadership Team

“Glen Davis is one of the new generation of leaders God is raising
up in the church. He blends a wonderful combination of qualities in that
he is both spiritual and strategic, both humble and visionary, a both
a team player and a true leader. He is one of the people I consider a
true friend and I look to him for cutting edge insights into this generation,
contemporary society and technology. He is a great communicator, first
class leader and true minister of the Good News.”

Dr. J. Melvyn Ming
Leadership Coach, Division of Pastoral Care and Development
Northwest District Council of the Assemblies
of God

“Glen and Paula Davis will make a difference. As a former pastor,
these are the kind of people I would want my church to support. They are
missionaries in the truest sense, living within an almost completely unreached
culture to bring the message of God’s love in Christ. I have known Glen
and Paula, and their ministry, for years and find it a joy to recommend
them to you.”

Dr. Earl Creps
Director of the Doctor
of Ministry Program
, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

“Glen is one of my favorite communicators. His teachings are
thought-provoking because he is a thinker; they are brilliantly illustrated
because Glen is both relevant and scholarly. I believe that God will awaken
a new generation through servants like Glen and Paula Davis.”

Alicia Chole
Speaker, Author (shared at
2001 General Council and Celebration 2000)

“I have known Glen and Paula for many years and am pleased to
call them friends as well as co-ministers. There is no doubt in my mind
that they are going to be mightily used of God on the Stanford campus.
Whether in the area of evangelism, teaching, leadership or hospitality,
Glen and Paula are equipped to carry the gospel to the students of Stanford

Anthony Scoma
Discipleship Pastor
James River Assembly of God (Springfield,

“As Glen and Paula’s former pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse
their ministry. Glen is an great preacher and has filled our pulpit on
a number of occasions, Paula has been an outstanding board member, and
they are both excellent leaders. Please book them for services and pick
them up for monthly support!”

Cal Swenson
Senior Pastor (and Glen & Paula’s former pastor)
New Life Church (Springfield,

“For five years I was blessed to have Glen and Paula on my staff
at Chi Alpha — Southwest Missouri State University. Their vision and creativity
has played a vital role in making our program cutting edge and effective
in genuinely reaching into the nonChristian community of SMS. I can think
of no other couple that is more capable to pioneer Chi Alpha at Stanford.”

Joe Zickafoose
Veteran Campus Pioneer
Chi Alpha Director at Southwest Missouri
State University

A Deist Contrasts Islam and Christianity

I ran across a very interesting rant comparing Islam and Christianity by a blogger I’d never heard of called James Lileks (I found the link on blogdex).

At one point, Mr. Lileks identifies himself thusly I am a Deist, which means EVERYONE disagrees with me.

Translation: a lot of his underlying assumptions will differ from yours, but you should still read the piece. He puts some very important points in a very direct way.

Here’s his opening statement:
There are two ways for a religion to approach life:

A) Everything is permitted except that which is forbidden; over time, we work out the details as the situations arise.

B) Everything is forbidden except that which is permitted, and we will work out the details in advance.

After an opening like that, how can you not read the rest?

(there’s a similar diatribe at Little Green Footballs, although it’s not as reflective it does have the virtue of a very active comments section)

I added this next bit on 8/9/2002
Ever wonder what an Episcopalian terrorist would look like?

Really Famous Stanford Alumni

A brief overview of Stanford’s really famous alumni.

Really Famous Stanford Alumni

I’ve talked about the incredible Stanford alumni roster before, but I had occasion recently to make a postcard featuring them. I thought uploading the photo montage I created might help you get a handle on exactly who I’m talking about (not all are pictured):

In other words, Stanford is one of the most strategic mission fields in the world! For an even fuller list of alumni, check out the famous alumni list maintained by Stanford itself!

RSS Feed from Chi Alpha @ Stanford!

Hear ye, hear ye: you can now check out both our personal site and the Chi Alpha @ Stanford site at once!

Check this out: look at the bottom right of this screen. Notice anything different?

Of course you do–all the postings from Chi Alpha @ Stanford are now listed in an RSS feed! (Thanks to ScriptyGoddess for making me aware of this great code snippet available at the Trommeter Times).