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Winter Edition
Volume 100, Number 3

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Jonathan Lauer, opening the portal to all human knowledge (continued)


Where else have you worked as a library director?

I was library director at Aurora University in Illinois from 1984-87 and at Houghton College in New York from 1987-1989. 

What keeps you interested in being at Messiah after all these years?

As far as the spectrum of Christian colleges — colleges in the CCCU — I find the openness and (to use one of President Phipps' concepts) the hospitality of Messiah to be attractive.  I heard someone once talking about various Christian institutions recently and this person said, "You know, the place where I was, it seemed to be the case that truth was more important than love.  And the reason I was attracted to come to this other institution is that it seemed to view love as more important than truth."  I resonate with that kind of thinking.  In my early days here I read a book by Daniel Taylor called The Myth of Certainty. Its point was, you may think you have certainty in your perspective, but you don't.  And an attitude of humility and hospitality is a sounder, more productive way of approaching the truth of the gospel and what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. 

All that is to say, I think Messiah is a place where adults can grow and change and mature and not be threatened. 

Jonathan Lauer in his office

Mackenzie Martin '08

Tell me a little bit about the Bob Dylan decorations in your office, here.

I'm a Bob Dylan fan.  Some would say I'm a Bob Dylan scholar.  I'm teaching my Bob Dylan FYS [Bob Dylan, Song and Dance Man: Topping the Billboard Charts at Age 65] for the ninth time this semester.  That particular poster (in the photograph, the left poster) is a gift from one of my First Year Seminar classes.  They all signed it.  The other is an original drawing again from my Dylan students (middle of the photo).  For five years, from '97-2001 we did an annual Bob Dylan alternate chapel where faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College would perform Dylan songs.  We would attract between 300-500 people.  It was a pretty successful thing.  It became a tradition that people looked forward to.

Do you play an instrument yourself?

No.  I've just loved pop music for a long time.  I've been a Bob Dylan fan since I was 11 years old.  It's been a sometimes more off-than-on but a pretty lifelong following.  I was a very active child, obsessed with being outdoors, obsessed with playing baseball.  I think my parents just couldn't bear to make me practice scales on the piano or something, so I got off the hook. 

What's your favorite book or favorite type of book?

Unlike some academics I'm willing to admit that I enjoy fiction more than non-fiction.  I would like to think that what I read is literary fiction, quality fiction. . . but I would definitely say that the book which has had the biggest impact on me over the last 15 years is John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.  I thought it was a very powerful book.  I also love Wallace Stegner and one of his students, Wendell Berry.  As far as women authors, I like Anne Tyler very much. 

I taught a First Year Seminar where we read some of my favorite authors.  They were A Prayer for Owen Meany and Saint Maybe, by Anne Tyler.  We also read Jayber Crow, which my wife is ready to declare as the fifth gospel.  It's such a great book.  And we read Leif Enger's Peace like a River.  So those would be some of my important books. 

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