If you are a college student, or if there is a college student in your life in some way, I’d encourage you to check out a little book by J. Budziszewski called Ask Me Anything. This author is well known for his “straight talk” and “tough love” to students, giving them sound advice on life situations from the perspective of Christianity and natural law.
Ask Me Anything is a collection of essays (semi-fictional conversations) and letters previously published by Budziszewski for Boundless webzine. It’s divided into three thematic sections: one dealing with male/female relationships, another focusing on the expression and discussion of faith on campus, and a catch-all “hot stuff” category containing essays on war, homosexuality, etc.
Budziszewski has a real knack for using analogies and common-sense notions to convey Christian messages. He is also not afraid of giving offense to his readers in the interests of helping them to a greater understanding of the truth. For instance, his criticisms of “missionary dating” and of taking a roommate of a different religion or of the opposite sex could easily provoke negative responses from students, but his arguments are well reasoned and deserve careful consideration. His essay on the “Peter Pan Syndrome,” in which he takes on the widespread problem of young men’s reluctance to grow up and take on adult responsibilities, is quite powerful.
Budziszewski is uncompromising on the question of whether sex outside of the marriage covenant is ever permissible, but he manages to frame discussion of the issue in terms that students will grasp, whether or not they like it. When an interlocutor muses that maybe sexual intercourse is acceptable if the couple has a “commitment” to each other, Budziszewski agrees, but not in the way the students expect. When asked how one knows whether one is in a committed relationship, Budziszewski replies: if you’re married, you have a commitment; if you’re not, you don’t.
I’ve been told that nearly everyone will find something with which to disagree in Budziszewski’s writings, but there were only one or two of his minor points on which I was a bit skeptical. I suppose that’s because I’m very sympathetic to the natural law perspective from which he writes. I’d encourage anyone with at least a tangential relationship to a college student or a college campus to consider the arguments in these essays. The book is a quick read, but there is a lot to ponder.
[I’ve mentioned Budziszewski a couple of times already on the blog because he is scheduled to speak at Faulkner in February as part of the annual Faith and the Academy conference. I’ve decided to make a series of posts discussing his books leading up to his visit. Hopefully it might help persuade a few people in the Montgomery to attend his lectures.]