February 12, 2003

From Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy:
"Recently, an acquaintance of mine who has searched for many years for a sense of direction and mission revealed that he was waiting for an 'unshakable vision.' I immediately thought of the work of the Belgian physicist Ilya Prigogine, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his theory of what he calls 'dissipative structures,' part of which contends that friction is a fundamental property of nature and nothing grows without it -- not mountains, not pearls, not people. It is precisely the quality of fragility, he says, the capacity for being 'shaken up,' that is paradoxically the key to growth. Any structure -- whether at the molecular, chemical, physical, social, or psychological level -- that is insulated from disturbance is also protected from change. It becomes stagnant. Any vision -- or any thing -- that is true to life, to the imperatives of creation and evolution, will not be unshakable."*
* Three Rivers Press, Crown Publishers Inc. NY., 1997.

Baylor's Vision 2012 has created a stir few might ever have expected. For some, it seems revolutionary, perhaps even antithetical, to the Baylor they've always known. To others, it seems bold and courageous, a clarion call to the Christian distinctives Baylor always has held dear. Some agree with all of it, some with parts of it, some with none of it. What is this document that has rippled far beyond the small pond of Waco into the echelons of national higher education and even across the ocean to Liepzig, Germany, enticing a top-ranked mathematician to move to Central Texas?
If you have not read the document, you should. If it's been awhile since you first read it, read it again. You may do so at www.baylor.edu by clicking on the Baylor 2012 link. Pay special attention to the core convictions and foundational assumptions. They are what Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. calls "the heart of what we're aspiring to do."
People in national higher education circles, in church deacons' meetings, at the fall Baptist General Convention of Texas and in Internet chat rooms are weighing in on Baylor 2012's chances of succeeding.
The Vision has "shaken up" things, and with that has come some friction. It has created, at the least, a lively debate -- the very lifeblood of scholarly activity. You can read more about this ongoing conversation in "Struggle for the heart and soul of Baylor" beginning on page 16. If you accept Prigogine's theory of "dissipative structures" cited at left, that the "capacity for being 'shaken up' ... is paradoxically the key to growth," one then has to decide which is preferable: stagnation, without friction, or growth, with friction.
I've never liked change that much. I like my routine and I'm comfortable with it. I know what to expect and how to respond to it. I have found, though, that God isn't too concerned about my comfort level when it comes to what he has planned for me to do. Usually, he calls me to do that which I least want to do or feel least equipped to do. Of course. If I only aspired to those things I could do within my own power, I would be inviting God out of my life, dreaming only human-sized dreams instead of God-sized dreams.
Baylor 2012 is a God-sized dream. Achieving it really isn't the goal; obeying the call to aspire to it is. And like the necessary sand within the oyster that forms the pearl, this creation and growth will not happen without shaking things up, without some friction. But as generations of Baylor graduates know, this University is a pearl of great value, and we can do no less than treasure it: not store it up, but open it up so that its value will be known and appreciated by all.
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