Did Asbury Make Me Want to Leave the Country?

(Side note to start things off: Seattle is a strange and dreadful place. Tonight, on the way back from walking a sick friend's dog, I walked past a neighbor who lives in my building and is on several committees in our co-op of which I am also a member. We made eye contact, put our heads down, and said nothing to acknowledge any former relationship as we passed. That's standard friendly greetings here. I need to leave before I'm corrupted any further. Now, on to the post...)

Two things occur to me: 1) After beginning to reconsider my time at Asbury, I've had a strong urge to move back to New Zealand, as evidenced in my last several posts, and 2) After spending 4 years at Asbury, I went almost as far as one can possibly go from Kentucky for my next two years of life. Naturally, that raised the intriguing question for me whether it might be Christian College that is making me unhappy here, and pushing me to flee for distant shores.

The answer, actually, is pretty clearly "no". My problems with Asbury--and with America in general--didn't really develop fully until I'd been back to the US for a year or so, and I never really completely wanted to leave New Zealand, and have had a latent desire to go back for the last two years. Actually, the pull of New Zealand is stronger than the push out of the US--I really don't hate it here. My feelings about the country are actually pretty ambivilous, and I could imagine living out my life here generally happily. I just really love NZ.

However, I think there is something to the connection between Asbury and my desire to head overseas--namely, that I subconsciously connect a lot of what I dislike about our culture with Asbury College, fairly or not. Basically, to me Asbury represents the Midwestern Evangelicalism of my youth distilled to it's purest and most potent (deadly?) form. It's cheerful, pious, guiltily hypocritical (as a friend said, "being a baptist doesn't make you stop sinning, it just makes you stop enjoying it"), hard-working, stubbornly insular, mildly anti-intellectual, judgemental, outgoing, entrepreneurial, and the only thing I knew religiously until I was 23. It's part of what I was trying to overcome when Angel and I left originally, and part of what I want to get away from now.

And, in a way, the Asbury experience created the perfect set-up for my original departure, even if it didn't cause it directly. At Asbury, I pursued Evangelicalism as fervently as I could, to the point of burnout, and eventually complete disillusionment. It was a visit to Angel in Australia during her study abroad experience in our Junior year that showed me that there was another world out there, and that planted the seed for our first trip. The trip came at a time that couldn't have been more crucial--I was bored and frustrated with my faith, I had a lot of theological questions, I was sick of Asbury's heavy-handedness after a year of RAing, and I had no definite idea what I was going to do with my life. Within two months of returning from Australia, we'd planned to leave the country again as soon as possible--not necessarily to escape the US, but to learn about the world. Moving away and finding religion in the Anglican Church cemented the break from Asbury, but there isn't any real direct cause/effect relationship.

That said, it might be in the college's interest to dissuade students from being involved in it's study abroad program.


Anonymous said…
Move to Vancouver.
Unknown said…
There's actually probably a better chance of that happening than of us moving to New Zealand. There's an outside chance that I might do some or all of my priest-school in Vancouver proper, and we love BC. There's this little town called Hope that's setting looks kind of like the garden of eden to me. Vancouver itself is too big for us to settle in, but the area is great.
Anonymous said…
My wisdom cannot be disputed.