Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

The University as a Mission Field


I attended a talk yesterday at Belmont University (site of the second debate between Obama and McCain). Mary Poplin, professor of education at Claremont Graduate University, spoke about her book Finding Calcutta, which details two months she spent with Mother Teresa in 1996.

Poplin described herself as a former “radical feminist.” In midlife, however, she experienced a radical conversion to Christianity, which altered her worldview completely. About a year later she traveled to India while on sabbatical, in order to work with Mother Teresa.

After encountering crushing poverty and destitution in Inida, Poplin struggled with the significance of her academic work back in the U.S. But Mother Teresa told Poplin that she should view her academic career as a private mission field — a place to take a stand for truth. “You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see,” Mother Teresa told her.

There is such a thing as intellectual poverty.


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