Field Studies

This is the last in a series of five articles in our Life Together summer series. Alumni tell us that what makes the John Jay Institute so unique is the combination of five key components, the fifth of which are Field Studies.


Gabriel Ozuna, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Yale University with a degree in History.

Gabriel Ozuna, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Yale University with a degree in History.

Field Studies
By Gabriel Ozuna

Field studies are among the most important part of the John Jay experience. Over the course of our fellowship, we have had the opportunity to visit such iconic places as Valley Forge, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C., as well as explore the unique contributions that Philadelphia has borne out as the first great American city. The historical component to the John Jay curriculum would be far diminished without the very active nature of these weekly excursions. There’s something awe-inspiring about literally walking through history and forming tangible connections to the past. If the purpose of John Jay is to “prepare principled leaders for public service,” visiting these “thin places” of American history goes a long way towards stirring the patriotic spirit that propels men to proper stewardship of the American ideal.

One is reminded of a pivotal scene in Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: “You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading The Land of the Free in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: ‘I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will.’ Boys ought to grow up remembering that.”

The Friday field study is an essential balance to the academic component we focus on Monday-Thursday, if only to remind us that ideas do have consequences, and that America, so far as it is a social contract, is a Burkean contract between the living, the dead, and the next generation. History, although without sides, is always unfolding before us. If we as an organization wish to continue to mold and influence the future of our nation’s culture and social fabric, it behooves us to study the past by paying homage to its venerable sites.

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Hospitality

This is the fourth in a series of five articles in our Life Together summer series. Alumni tell us that what makes the John Jay Institute so unique is the combination of five key components, the fourth of which is Hospitality.


Zachary Rogers, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Hillsdale College with a Master's degree in Politics. This Fall, he will begin teaching HS History at a charter school in Parker, CO.

Zachary Rogers, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Hillsdale College with a Master's degree in Politics. This Fall, he will begin teaching HS History at a charter school in Parker, CO.

Hospitality
By Zachary Rogers

Hospitality is a lost art.

The ability to properly set and serve a dinner or formal tea, let alone the skill and practice of being able to converse with people of different backgrounds, ages, and interests, is rarely learned in the home.

Recognizing this gap, the John Jay Institute provides an opportunity for John Jay Fellows to host a formal tea and dinner each week.

These events provide the practice necessary to become adept at social skills in a way that will serve them well in the future.

During the formal tea service, visitors from the surrounding area and Cairn University are invited to join us. The Fellows and their guests get to know each other personally and all enjoy a cultural presentation offered by one of the Fellows. These presentations can range from a poetry reading to a musical performance.

A formal dinner is hosted on each Thursday evening for one or more distinguished guests. Guests range from pastors to great thinkers in politics, economics, theology, and philosophy. These meals are prepared and served by the Fellows as a team, allowing them to gain experience in menu planning, cooking, serving, dinner etiquette, and the art of conversation.

While these things used to be taught in the home, one would be hard-pressed to find a 25-year old today who has learned the arts of hospitality and table etiquette. But perhaps one of the most important things that Fellows learn at the John Jay Institute is the art of conversation. Being a good conversationalist requires putting others before oneself, discovering what is of interest to them, and guiding the conversation so that both are engaged and pleased. All of these important skills are taught at the John Jay Institute.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13 (ESV)

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Academics

This is the third in a series of five articles in our Life Together summer series. Alumni tell us that what makes the John Jay Institute so unique is the combination of five key components, the third of which is Academics.


Gordon Dakota “Koty” Arnold, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Regent University with a degree in Government. He begins a Masters program in Politics at Hillsdale College in the Fall of 2018.   

Gordon Dakota “Koty” Arnold, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Regent University with a degree in Government. He begins a Masters program in Politics at Hillsdale College in the Fall of 2018.

 

Academics
By Gordon Dakota "Koty" Arnold

When a friend told me about a semester-long Christian program in which you receive a stipend, live in a beautiful historic mansion, and seriously study interesting books, I thought it sounded too good to be true. Fortunately, the John Jay Institute does not disappoint in any respect. During my time at the Institute, we have engaged numerous authors whose texts have impacted contemporary discourse, including C.S. Lewis, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Russell Kirk. Additionally, older writers such as Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke have received serious consideration and discussion. This list includes only a snippet of the weighty intellectual works that the John Jay Institute has provided to its Fellows. The fellowship has greatly benefited my capacity to critically analyze texts and gain new insights into the philosophical principles and historical events which have impacted our world.

As the classical philosophers understood, reading without supplementary conversation and inquiry does little to develop one’s cognitive skills. With that in mind, the John Jay Institute saw fit to include daily seminars which bring the deeply important topics of our books into the realm of open debate. Civil but spirited, these debates have brought numerous issues to the fore and have invoked passion from Fellows of numerous backgrounds and focuses. I have immensely enjoyed the opportunity to participate in these seminars, where my unique perspective often incites commentary from Fellows both supportive and antagonistic towards my own positions. The challenges thrust at my own conceptions and ideas—both from the readings and my peers—have enriched the vigor of my Christian worldview.

Studying at the John Jay Institute has been the highlight of my post-undergraduate experience and has prepared me to further my studies in graduate school. The vast reading has been demanding, but also rewarding and engaging. Not only have I gained new insights and information that I will retain long into the future, I have amassed skills for efficient reading that will serve me well in the years to come. The most important personal benefit gained from my studies here at the John Jay Institute has been the drive to debate with others in a more Christ-like way. The setting at John Jay mandated that I hone my ability to converse with those who oppose my viewpoints and, after numerous instances where I failed to do this well, I have improved and will continue to try to do so.

Due to its emphasis on learning, discussion, and communication, the John Jay Institute fulfills in every way the Biblical command in Isaiah 1:18 to “come and reason together.”

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Daily Prayer

This is the second in a series of five articles in our Life Together summer series. Alumni tell us that what makes the John Jay Institute so unique is the combination of five key components, the second of which is Daily Prayer.


In his classic book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about the daily practice of reading Scripture and praying together. For Bonhoeffer, this daily rite was crucial to the formation of Christian community.

A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.

Bonhoeffer’s plan for forming Christian community and the importance of prayer is an essential component of the John Jay Institute. His experience of the power of daily group prayer and Scripture reading rings true for our Fellows, as well.


Katherine "Kittie" Helmick, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Hillsdale College with a degree in Art. Kittie departs in July to teach English in South Africa for the Peace Corps.

Katherine "Kittie" Helmick, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Hillsdale College with a degree in Art. Kittie departs in July to teach English in South Africa for the Peace Corps.

Daily Prayer
By Katherine "Kittie" Helmick

The first time our class prayed together from the Book of Common Prayer, it was a challenge. The ministers at St. John’s Church guided us through the service, but all of us had grown up with different liturgies and confessions. None of us knew the traditional Anglican service. When we attempted it by ourselves, we stumbled over the collects, confused morning and evening prayer, and disrupted each other’s rhythm in chanting psalms.

Fortunately for us, we had plenty of time to practice. During the John Jay Fellowship, we dedicate time every morning and evening for prayer. After four months of praying twice a day together, the other fellows and I have learned to navigate the prayer book and its liturgical calendar with confidence. Despite our theological and religious differences, the discipline of prayer has united us through a shared language of faith.

The service in the Book of Common Prayer is deliberately ecumenical. Protestants and Catholics of every tradition can join without reservation in asking God’s forgiveness for our sins, worshipping Him through psalms, and reading selections from the Old and New Testaments. Before we present our petitions and thanksgiving to God, we recite the Nicene or Apostles’ Creeds. These statements of faith bridge denominational divides, reminding us of the beliefs we hold in common as members of Christ’s body.

Not only do prayers direct us to practice Christian unity, but the accompanying Scripture passages give us a shared point of reference during our seminar discussions. The Book of Common Prayer assigns Scripture readings based on the liturgical church calendar. I often find myself referring back to these passages during our debates: the psalmist’s attitude towards wealth and prosperity, for instance, or Paul’s teachings on civil and religious authority. When we appeal to Scripture, we recognize each other’s common reverence for Biblical authority in every aspect of our lives, from economics to politics.

Prayer at John Jay unites Christians from different faith traditions in a single mission: transforming culture through principled leadership. Just as the Book of Common Prayer sets the tone for each day during the program, this season of praying together will inform our attitudes towards faith and fellowship for the rest of our lives.

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Living in Christian Community

This is the first in a series of five articles in our Life Together summer series. Alumni tell us that makes the John Jay Institute so unique is the combination of five key components, the first of which is Living in Christian Community.


Prior to joining us at Fairview Manor, our Fellows are sent copies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s famous 1938 work, Life Together. In these pages, Bonhoeffer discusses his experiences leading and living with 25 seminarians with the intention of forming a Christian Community.

In Life Together, Bonhoeffer writes the following:

"The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, for eternity.”

The John Jay Institute seeks to develop a similar type of community.

We draw together a diverse group of people with different confessions, political leanings, and geographic traditions. These differences can be a potential source of disagreement and conflict. However, the posture of our Fellows is one of commitment to a community grounded in Christ. It is through this commitment that the John Jay Fellowship, much like Bonhoeffer’s community, is at its best, where these differences “recede” and unity is established. Unity in Christ.

For a clearer picture of what that looks like at John Jay,  take a moment to read the following piece by a recent John Jay alumna.


Living in Christian Community at the John Jay Institute
By Alexandra Nieuwsma

Alexandra Nieuwsma, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Westmont College with a degree in Political Science.

Alexandra Nieuwsma, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Westmont College with a degree in Political Science.

A central aspect of the John Jay experience is living in Christian community. When I applied to the program, my primary attraction was to the academic portion. I was excited to dig deeper into political theory and philosophy, but was a little uncertain what it would be like living with seven other people whom I had never met before! Little did I know that a few short months later, I would come away feeling that the communal living aspect of the program had been just as meaningful and memorable to me as the academic portion. I am confident that I will treasure the relationships I forged at John Jay the rest of my life.

The unique environment of the John Jay fellowship is ideal for the fostering of deep friendships. Every day is framed with evening and morning prayer. Working together to prepare weekly teas for the local community and dinners for outside guests creates an atmosphere of growing comradery. After just a few weeks, I felt a closeness to some of the fellows that normally would have taken months to develop. I found myself surrounded by a group of people who were almost like a second family to me after having been complete strangers only a month before! There is a uniqueness in the intentionality of these relationships and the recognition that we are all taking part in the fellowship experience together.

Of course, communal living is not without difficulties. There have been disagreements between fellows and, in shared spaces, the tragedy of the commons can be an issue. Achieving harmony takes effort, but is extremely rewarding. The inconveniences habituate you into considering the concerns of others and being conscious of how your behavior and habits may affect them.

Living Together in Christian Community is truly formative for spiritual growth and character, and enables a greater understanding of ones other’s viewpoints and beliefs. The philosophical conversations do not stop after a seminar is over; many an afternoon have I spent discussing the merits of classical liberalism over a cup of tea in the kitchen, or the thought of John Calvin in the living room. I am truly thankful to have the unique privilege of sharing a home with individuals who, while they may slightly differ in faith backgrounds, share a common Christian confession, care deeply about the “big ideas” of this world, and seek to make a positive difference in society.

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