Whatever we do at Harvard, we do it at some particular place. We study at tables in Lamont and carrels in Widener. We eat meals in the various dining halls and snack in the comfort of our rooms. We walk along the Charles River and the Cambridge Common. We call the Quad or the River or the Yard home. These various spaces are defining aspects of our identities and experiences at Harvard. When we introduce ourselves, we’re expected to name our house. Our roommates or house-mates may be some of our closest friends. Our days and semesters are spent trekking between the places where we work, eat, and live.
These spaces are not simply where things happen, but also why things happen. At Harvard we have blockmates, particular sorts of friends, who are defined by choosing to live in the same house. This experience of being someone’s blockmate is created by the particular way Harvard chooses to arrange the spaces of our campus. Similarly, the carrels encourage the solitary work of senior theses writers and graduate students, while the tables of Lamont bring out students eager to collaborate on psets and group projects. Each space points students to different activities as surely as the horseshoe of Harvard Stadium points every eye at the football field below. Spaces are not neutral, rather they have agendas of their own independent of how we intend to use them.
At the Harvard Ichthus, we believe that the existence of particular spaces is not an arbitrary part of our lives, but a deliberate feature of the way God has made the world. In the beginning, God divided the created world into different spaces, light and darkness, land and sea. God did not simply plop humanity down wherever, but settled Adam and Eve in a garden and commanded them to cultivate it. Humans are called to the hard work of maintaining spaces where they and the world around them can flourish. Christians have a duty to care for and cultivate the space we are in, to seek the good of whatever place we find ourselves in. But Christians are also strangers in a strange land, resident aliens who belong to a heavenly nation rather than any worldly one.
In this issue writers consider various spaces of Harvard and of Christianity. How does the change from one’s home to the space of Harvard change one’s faith?How do the tables in Annenberg create community for freshmen? How do Christians in different cultures create different spaces for finding God? How do the spaces we worship in affect our relationship with God? We invite you to join us in learning what exactly these spaces are and how they impact our lives.
The Harvard Ichthus