I attended a wonderful, four-year, all-male, Jesuit-run High School (MUHS) in Milwaukee, WI. I owe much of my formation/development to the excellent teachers and rigorous curriculum I was offered.
My Favorite Teachers
Two of my absolute favorite teachers were:
- Mr. Greg Mueller, freshman year English class. Mr. Mueller was "current" with the trends of the day, understanding the culture that I was navigating as a 15-year-old with raging hormones and bad acne. Mostly, however, I owe Mr. Mueller a great debt of gratitude for introducing me to the power of words. He taught our class words like: maudlin (sickly sentimental), consternation (amazed confusion) and superfluous (excessively unnecessary ... but then, you already knew that, making my explanation quite superfluous indeed). Since that English class, I've had an ongoing affair with dictionaries, thesauruses, and crossword puzzles.
- Mr. John Horlivey, sophomore year English Composition class. Mr. Horlivey taught me how to write with panache, punch, and power (like that!). I'll never forget his assignment to critique Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. Largely because of Mr. Horlivey's faithful, comprehensive feedback on each essay, I discovered both the art and science of written communication.
My Worst Class
But alas, not all my high school classes were paragons of higher learning. Sadly, the one class that had the greatest potential disappointed me the most. It was my junior year religion class, and it required the purchase (from our HS Bookstore) of a paperback Bible. I remember several things from that religion class – none of them positive.
First, we spent the bulk of the semester looking for contradictions in the Bible. An utter waste of time. Isn't that a strange approach to teaching young men about the very basis of Christianity? Saying it was odd is too charitable.
Second, I vividly recall the teacher (who will go unnamed) spending far too much time discussing the movie, The Exorcist, to which he chaperoned several of my fellow students to attend together. I passed on the invitation. I was smart enough to smell a problem, even if I couldn't explain why.
Third, to my shame, this was the only class I ever cheated in during my entire life. How sad is that? A religion class, and I cheat? Really? Does it get any more ironic than that? Actually, it gets worse. During the middle of an exam, while seated at the far back of the room (always a bad idea), I glanced over at John's exam for an answer ... and totally got away with it! I immediately felt a deep conviction of wrongdoing, but rationalized it later. But the dumbest part is this: there was little likelihood that John knew any of the answers on that exam better than I did. Not only was my behavior reprehensible, it was void of all common sense. What was I thinking?!
So, what did I do with that high school Bible? After the last day of class, I sold it back to the bookstore for a few dollars. That is how little value I ascribed to the greatest book ever given to man.
Oh, the irony.
As you've read in an earlier post, I became an ardent follower of Jesus Christ (the Great Rescuer!) at the end of my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. One week after making this decision, I walked alone to a small Christian bookstore (The Bread Shop) near my dormitory. Entering, I felt awkward and exposed, as I pretended to investigate various titles. My only purpose in being there was to figure out how to buy a Bible, then get out as fast as I could!
I tell the fuller story of that experience in the earlier post, but suffice it to say, I successfully walked out of that bookstore with my first, real Bible. One that I wanted to read! I thought you'd enjoy a picture of it, as it looks today:
As you can see, I wore that Bible out in college! I took it with me everywhere I went (in my backpack). I would schedule my time with Jesus in His Word just like a class: Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10am, Tuesday and Thursday at 11am, in the open slots of my class schedule. Honestly, the Bible became my favorite "class!"
For example, I'll never forget reading the NT book of Acts for the first time. I read it through in two sittings, it was so compelling. I remember as I was nearing the end (chapter 28), I was thinking to myself: "Wow, this is going to have to wrap up real fast, because it still hasn't told me how Paul or Peter died, and I heard that was pretty remarkable stuff." To say I was let down at the end of Acts is correct. I discovered that Acts ends as if Paul and Luke (who penned it) are on the run and don't have time to write anymore! And I discovered the Bible doesn't give us the details of Peter or Paul's deaths.
Now, years later, students sometimes ask me: "Dan, which Bible is the best one to get? Is it the ESV? Or the NIV? Or the NASB?" My response is always the same: "Oh, no, it's none of those – get the DTV." The DTV? Huh? Yep. The Duct-Tape Version (DTV). I tell students it's far more important to "wear out your Bible" than get the "correct" version. The biggest problem (usually) isn't owning the wrong version, it's not reading the version you own. Therefore, read your Bible until it requires duct tape to hold it together. Make your own DTV!
By the way, you may enjoy this second picture of my old Bible.
My red college Bible has a special "lift-out" section that is held to the spine by just three tenuous threads. Haha. I love this old Bible. Through it, as a young follower, I met with the God of the Universe. The Bible has been the vehicle that has chauffeured me all these years – and what a ride it's been!
The Bible has intrinsic power. It prods and probes (Hebrews 4:12). It meddles with the owner's life. He or she thinks they're reading it. They discover that it is reading them. It is a spiritual MRI machine, scanning the reader to pinpoint the sin disease within, and point to the cure – in Jesus. As someone has said, "The Bible is the Best Book that has ever read me!"
There you have it – a high school Bible I sold back, and a college Bible I wore out. There could not be a bigger difference. Now that you're done reading this ... why not pick up a Bible and read? And someday, if the spine of your Bible grows decrepit, I've got a spare roll of duct tape for you.