No one said life was going to be easy. And it’s not. Suffering and trials are built into the fabric of our world. If you are like me, then you are struggling to make sense of and deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. I am concerned about friends and family, for people who have contracted the virus or who have lost jobs or income, and for students at Gutenberg College. But we have an excellent reason for hope in the midst of our concern. God does not desert us when we suffer trials. Instead, He uses our suffering for good. We can use this time and remind ourselves of what is truly important: the hope of the gospel of Christ.
At the start of spring term, Gutenberg College—like other Oregon colleges—will not be conducting classes in person to help stem the spread of the virus. Our decision to do this is in response and obedience to Governor Kate Brown’s executive order for institutions of higher education. We are also postponing some upcoming public events and community classes. They will resume as soon as possible. Please watch your email or check our website—gutenberg.edu—for updates.
Online classes will present a new set of challenges since a central aspect of Gutenberg’s educational approach is personal and relational learning. Students learn from the texts of the Great Books but do so in the face-to-face context of a community of other learners. A good portion of the process is learning how to speak and listen and how to be patient, kind, and forbearing with others. This can happen to an extent online, but it’s a far cry from being in the same room together. Nevertheless, I believe our students will meet this daunting challenge. They have shown themselves capable of perseverance in the face of difficulties and are willing to work within constraints. (In spring term, I am looking forward to our discussion of The Plague by Albert Camus. It is always an excellent book to discuss, but it will have added significance this year.)
We are working to upgrade Gutenberg’s internet and Wi-Fi infrastructure to make online classes operate smoothly. We have applied for a grant through F5 Networks to help pay for those upgrades in a timely fashion. F5 is a network company where both our board chair, Paul Pindell, and alumnus James Simas work. (James has been volunteering his networking expertise to the college for several years. Thanks, James!)
Despite the challenges, we at Gutenberg are enthusiastic to continue to serve our students and those of you who benefit from our offerings. We feel blessed by God to be able to have the opportunity. We know that He is in charge and that through our suffering we are working out our salvation.
[We chose our topic for the 2020 Summer Institute—Struggle and Hope—before the pandemic. If you want an opportunity to reflect on suffering and hope, please join us August 6-8—assuming, of course, we don’t have to cancel.]
Our best wishes to all of you. We pray for you to stay healthy and for your lives to be disrupted as little as possible. But most of all, we pray that you have hope in the gospel and that you continue to run the race. The goal is a worthy one.