Hope can appear elusive. Yet the gift of Christian hope always
fits our lives and circumstances. Hope befits what we are. We are pilgrims and sojourners. We are wayfarers and “strangers on this earth.” We are, Marcel writes, homo viator
, people whose essence lies in being-on-the-way. As Pieper reflects: “It would be difficult to conceive of another statement that penetrates as deeply into the innermost core of creaturely existence as . . . that man finds himself, even until the moment of his death, in the status viatoris
, in the state of being on the way.”
Our in-betweenness is striking because of a glory we bear in frailty. The psalmist wonders why God thinks of us, yet admits we have been crowned with glory and honor. We are reeds, “the weakest thing in nature,” Pascal says, yet thinking
reeds. He describes our simultaneous greatness and wretchedness: greatness because of our source and end in God; wretchedness because of the gap between life as it is and as it should be.
To understand that we are on the way is to see we have not arrived. It is to recognize the incompleteness of our present lives, and to be oriented toward becoming what we are-not-yet-but-hope-to-be by God’s grace. It is to acknowledge we are creatures meant to embrace the Lord, while admitting the constraints of our finitude, fallibility, and fallenness. We are unfinished and imperfect, yet through hope given in Christ we have the gift and task of a pilgrimage that finishes and perfects us.
Two virtues accompany Christian hope: magnanimity and humility. Magnanimity is the greatness of soul whereby we aspire to honorable things, stretching ourselves forth to attain all for which God made us. Humility is borne of recognition that our accomplishments—indeed our very being—depend on God’s beneficence. These virtues underlie the outlook of Psalm 8, and they are perfectly embodied in Christ, as Philippians 2 expresses well.
We live in a world that needs these virtues, but often lacks them. Is there anything more ridiculous than inordinate pride, than vaunted, self-congratulatory praise? To it, humility is the answer. Aren’t we put off by excessive self-deprecation, by defeatist, woe-is-me despair? To it, magnanimity is the antidote. We need humility and magnanimity, the former so our aspiration to greatness is tempered by gratitude for divine grace, and the latter so our frailty as dust-of-the-earth creatures reflects the brilliant image of God. Above all, we need hope!
May we be hopeful, then, my friends. Let’s receive God’s gifts with gratitude, working with joy and patience, with magnanimity and humility, as we walk in the peace promised in Christ.
Holding these things in view, I invite your notice of the following:
• Growing out of generous donor support and collaboration with Dean Todd Still
of George W. Truett Theological Seminary, I’m pleased to announce a new full-tuition scholarship annually available for Honors College graduates seeking the M.Div. at Truett. The Honors College Excellence Scholarship
may be renewed over the course of a three-year program of study. Please let HC seniors with theological education in their post-baccalaureate plans know of this opportunity, and send contact information to Denisha Akpan, coordinator of recruitment for Truett.
• A cross-unit collaboration with the Graduate School under Dean Larry Lyon
’s leadership brings a post-doctoral teaching fellowship
to us this fall. Following a competitive nomination and review process, I’m happy to announce Rebecca Cassady
(English, Ph.D. expected Aug 2021) as our inaugural postdoctoral teaching fellow. She will have teaching assignments in BIC and GTX. Thanks to Michael-John DePalma
, Richard Russell
, and Kevin Gardner
in the Department of English for nominating Becca; to Associate Dean Beth Barr
in the Graduate School for leading the overall selection process; and to Sam Perry
, Anne-Marie Schultz
, and William Weaver
for reviewing finalists and recommending Becca for the fellowship.
• This year marks the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death. To commemorate his legacy and bring attention to the Divine Comedy
, a work of consummate vision and artistry, the HC is working with a consortium of universities to launch 100 Days of Dante: A Guide for Lovers
. Through a dedicated website, intelligent and edifying encounters with Dante’s great work will be offered via brief video reflections on each canto, brought by learned teachers from around the world. For proposing and leading the project, thanks to Matthew Anderson
, assistant research professor of ethics and theology in the Institute for Studies of Religion. For project administration and support, thanks to Hilary Yancey
, recent Ph.D. graduate of the philosophy department.
• The University Scholars Program, one of four academic departments in the Honors College, invites applications for Director, with service beginning June 1, 2021. Regular full-time faculty of any rank and discipline may apply for this leadership role. Please see the call for applications here
and contact Alden Smith
, chair of the search committee, with questions or requests for additional information.
• Congratulations to Michael Foley
, professor of patristics in the Great Texts Program, on the release by Yale University Press of two more volumes of his translation of and commentary on Augustine’s Cassiciacum dialogues. On Order
(vol. 3) and Soliloquies
(vol. 4) join two previous volumes hailed by Simon Oliver as a “consistent, faithful and elegant translation of . . . crucial but relatively neglected dialogues.” Well done, Mike!
• The current issue of Baylor Magazine
includes a nice piece on the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core’s 25th anniversary. “Celebrating 25 Years of BIC
” honors a mainstay of the HC and shines a spotlight on BIC’s longstanding contributions to well-conceived undergraduate education. Congratulations and many happy returns, BIC!
All the best,
Douglas V. Henry | Dean
Honors College | Baylor University
baylor.edu/honorscollege | 254.710.7689