The two of them always hung out with another pair from the girl’s side of campus: Mary and Maggie. Mary was just like Paul: confident and bold; she spoke her mind, and stood by her convictions. Maggie was quiet, but I personally believe that she was the most compassionate individual I had ever met. All together, the four of them were an astounding group of believers; godly men and women that I wish I had the fortune to witness in action. Although, I guess, in a way, I did witness that.
It was dinner time, which for most students is just another opportunity to be disappointed in the cafeteria food. Tonight was no exception. Ever since Freshman year, Paul and Stephen made it a point to eat dinner with their friends, Mary and Maggie, whenever they could. So they sat together in commiseration of what lie on their plates.
“Well,” Maggie said, “Its edible.”
There was no conviction in her voice, and appropriately, no one was convinced. Stephen sighed and took one for the team. He quickly put his fork back down and spat the “meat” into a napkin and washed his mouth out with a cup of water.
“A cereal night it is then.” He stated despondently.
“Someone should really do something about this.” Maggie chirped.
“It wasn’t this bad freshman year, was it?” Mary said.
Paul leaned back. “Someone should do something. Mary, you’re on the student tribunal-“
“Senate.” Interjected Mary.
Stephen perked up, “We have one of those? Like in Star Wars?”
“I thought it was the council?” Paul said.
Stephen: “Yes, but that was for jedi only.”
Mary slammed her fist on the table, making all the cups bounce up. “Nerds! Thank you. Now that I have your attention: No, student Senate can’t do anything about the food.”
Stephen again: “Then what can you change?”
Mary: “Honestly? Not much. There really isn’t a lot you can do on this campus to change how things are right now. If you want change, you have to wait; a long time. And by the time change actually happens, it will be long after we’re gone.”
“But there is something you can do now to at least help with change.”
Everyone looked at Paul expectantly.
He went on, “Well…there is always RES life. Now, come on Stephen! Before you roll your eyes at me, listen. RES Life people don’t exactly change the institution, but they can change the people. Its their jobs as RA’s to be spiritual leaders for all the people on their halls. And if you have an RA that does well, and convinces at least one other person on his hall to take over for him next year, then at least there’s some dynamic progression. At least there you could make a difference.”
“I would make a difference alright.” Stephen snorted. “They’d never have me.”
“Why?” Paul asked.
“Because I’m too honest. Sure, I can follow the rules to a degree, but not only would you have to pretend to be perfect as an RA, but then also turn around and tell everyone else that they need to be just like you.”
“That’s not always true.” Mary corrected.
“Sure.” Stephen shrugged his shoulders. “But you can’t look me in the eyes and tell me that RES Life people aren’t cookie cutter Christians that just produce more perfect ginger snaps.”
Paul stepped back in, “But the idea behind RES Life is still a good one. Intentional Christian Community Building? What’s wrong with that?”
Stephen: “Sure. But I’d rather take ‘authentic’ over ‘intentional’ any day. ‘Intentional’ sounds like you’re forcing it.”
“Well, it has to start somewhere.” And with Mary’s closing words, the discussion ended.
Maggie brought the lightheartedness back to the meal.
“If I joined RES Life, then I could at least get some donuts at their meetings, instead of..” She twirled her fork around in what appeared to be some sort of stew. “…This.”
The stew stayed solid like a block of Jell-o.