Cupid’s Return

By: Brennan Ernst, 2022 Alumnus

First of all, I’d like to thank the now-deceased Blunt for sponsoring this edition of The Point. For those unaware, Point Loma Nazarene University used to have a secret police back in the ‘70s. It was sort of like the Gestapo or KGB. Those on high would unleash them on anyone who had an opinion that deviated from the school’s evangelically conservative, mainstream voice. 

The Point was in their crosshairs. But like any good publication, the staff writers at the time wouldn’t back down in the face of the administration’s dogmatic governance. The staff were told not to write about problems they noticed at their school: unfair gender norms, prehistoric school rules and homophobia to name a few (glad to see PLNU hasn’t changed), yet they continued to shed light on these problems.

Nothing horrible ever happened to these dissenters, just your occasional peeling back of fingernails and waterboarding. But like any good regime, when the powers on high had enough of these renegades, they silenced their voices by shutting down their precious paper. Is an authority figure taking away the right of its constituents to freely express their thoughts and opinions through the press just? Some might not see anything wrong with that, but hopefully you do. 

The writing staff wasn’t going to lie down and die though. This band of rebels joined together outside the constraints of PLNU’s watchful eye and decided to create a free student-press to combat the censorship that was being perpetuated by the university. Thus The Blunt was born. 

I used to write the recurring column “Stupid Cupid” for the school newspaper when I attended PLNU a few years back. I have been asked by a current staff writer of The Point to write this article because she “remembers [my] pieces being unfiltered, which is exactly the kind of voice that The Blunt used to emanate.” Knowing the history of The Blunt, I was touched when she told me this. As a student, I had applied for a scholarship sponsored by The Blunt, yet was overlooked. The fact that The Point has reached out to me now, however, makes up for this grievance tenfold. So I must say thank you. Now, it’s time to dive into the weeds.

Take a minute, try and pry yourself away from your phone, computer, tablet or TV screen, and pay attention to what I have to say. Put down your Snapchat and TikToks and Insta Reels. Shut your phone off for one minute and practice that age-old skill of reading comprehension. Yeah, that one that is being phased out by Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

I wonder how many freshmen wrote about AI in their Intro-Writing classes. I wonder how many of them used AI to write their papers about AI. God, it must be awful to teach in college now. God bless you, Katie Manning and Karl Martin. So, I understand that none of you young people … What? I’ve only been gone for two years? So what. I’m not even that old? Shut up and let me lean into this old man bit; I’m having fun … Something that doesn’t happen too often once you graduate.

I’ve been told that none of you youngins know what’s going on in the world outside of Point Loma. I don’t know if this is true, but even if it isn’t, it doesn’t hurt to have a gentle reminder. I have been tasked with warning, maybe informing is a better word, you all about the differences between the “Loma Bubble” and the real world. Here is an excerpt from one of my last “Cupids” where I lightly breached the subject:

Point Loma is a bubble of repose. Few populations in the world exhibit the same amount of kindness and respect for others that Loma does. However, these high levels of compassion are not an accurate gauge of how the real world functions, in my humble opinion. 

The real world is hostile. It does not care who I am or who my mother and father are. In the year 2022, the citizen does not function as homo politicus, but instead as homo oeconomicus. My worth is found in the dollar and the state. In how much buying power I have as a consumer. I am valuable based on what I can earn for myself and my country, or so I’m told by the authorities that oversee such proceedings. Thankfully at Point Loma, I have learned this is not the Truth.

I must venture out of this bubble and experience true discomfort if I ever wish to change and grow. We are not meant to stay here our whole lives. I wish to carry the love of this place to the brokenness of the world. I echo the sentiments of a wise Franciscan Monk, “May God bless me with enough foolishness to believe that I can make a difference in this world, so that I can do what others claim cannot be done.”

[end of excerpt]

Yes, we can all agree that Point Loma fosters a unique environment where kinship and care toward our neighbor are promoted more so than in other communities, especially college communities, but this exorbitant amount of “feel good” emotions can oftentimes blind us and inhibit our preparation for what’s waiting beyond the pearly white gates of Loma. 

There is nothing wrong with the kindness that is present at Loma. Even though this kindness is oftentimes the mask for fear-mongering hate in the name of the benevolent creator, it is crucial to acknowledge that the genuine form of this compassion cannot always be found in the hearts of our fellow citizens outside the walls of Loma.

What does this mean for you and me? I think we might be able to look at the Apostle Paul for an answer. Now, don’t get it twisted, there’s a lot of stuff Paul said that I don’t necessarily jive with. I do not fall under the category of a Christian who believes the Bible is inerrant. Sorry, not sorry. If this upsets you, take a ticket. If you feel wronged by this statement, crucify me. Instead of looking at what Paul said almost 2,000 years ago, mind you in a society and period that is so different from ours it might as well be from another planet, I’m more interested in what he did.

He went. He went out and traveled into the world and spoke what he believed to be true. Did he get it right every time? I don’t think so. But still, he went. He saw pockets of people who were struggling and attempted to quell their pain. I believe that this is something all of us, myself especially, can do in our own lives. We don’t necessarily need to travel far and wide to help others. It can be done in our workspaces, homes and communities that we are a part of already. 

And this help doesn’t have to be the sharing of scripture or the invitation to prayer. Those things are great, don’t get me wrong, but as Christians, we can oftentimes get so caught up in the “right” or “godly” thing to say and do, that we fail to recognize the tangible human being that is standing right before us. 

Quelling the pain of another human doesn’t have to be embellished with spirituality. One can simply sit with someone and cry. Or sit with that person and have a good laugh. Being there for someone entails the simple act of seeing the creator in His creation and treating one another with the respect and kindness in which we would want to be treated. It’s paramount that we recognize the brokenness of the world and bring the love of Christ to meet it.

So for those of you that are in the Loma Bubble, suck up all the kindness and compassion you can. Because when you get out, there will be dry spells and there’s no telling when you will be able to drink deeply from Grace again. And when you eventually leave Loma, I ask that God may bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. 

As always, thanks for reading.