Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning

By David I. Smith; James K. A. Smith | Go to book overview

From Tourists to Pilgrims:
Christian Practices and the First-Year Experience
Ashley WoodiwissMany of us in higher education have had the all-too-familiar experience of first-year students (and their parents or guardians) wondering what practical use this or that major will have for the student once they graduate and enter “the real world.” Thus a popular view considers higher education in largely instrumental and self-interested terms. College is a necessary hoop to jump through and a credential to earn in order to maximize one’s income-earning potential. I go to college to get a better job than I could if I didn’t. And for those of us who teach and administer at intentionally Christian liberal arts colleges, we recognize that such a view exists within our faith-based student and parent population as well.At the same time, a literary and philosophic genre has developed in the past twenty years that has focused on the phenomenon that John Urry has summed up as “the tourist gaze.”1 In the preface to his volume, Urry sets out nine defining characteristics of the modern social practices that can be lumped under the broader label of tourism. Six of Urry’s nine characteristics I find helpful to the topic here at hand:2
For Urry, tourism is a leisure activity “which presupposes its opposite, mainly regulated and organised work.” As practice, tourism “has

1. See John Urry, The Tourist Gaze, 2nd ed. (London: Sage Publications, 2002).

2. The summary that follows is based on and quotes from Urry’s The Tourist Gaze, pp. 1–3.

I wish to acknowledge with appreciation the assistance provided by my research assistant, Michael Sewall.

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