I once sat next to James Buchanan at a lunch. James is the director of Xavier’s Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue and one of those people who knows just waaaay too much. He’s got degrees from Yale and Chicago. He’s studied and taught in Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Hong Kong. He can talk over your head on just about any subject.
The human soul is a marvelous thing. Although outside of the abilities of science to pinpoint, its existence is hard to deny. We’ve seen too many times the terrors of its tormented dark side—Sept. 11, Columbine, Newtown. Such reckless disregard for humanity goes beyond any anger capable of being produced by the mind and can only be regurgitated out of a hateful, hurtful soul. Yet we’ve also seen the compassion capable of being produced by a light and loving soul.
In working to help put together all of the admissions materials, it becomes apparent that Xavier—in some subtle but evident ways—helps self-select its students. That is, we make it apparent that these are our values and beliefs, and if they don’t line up with what you, as a prospective student, are looking for, then perhaps Xavier isn’t your best choice. And that’s OK.
There’s a photo hanging in our office, just outside my door. It’s the cover of a Xavier magazine, actually, although not one that ever saw the printing press. It’s a mock-up those of us in the office created to give to one of our former writers, Jacob Baynham, on the day he left Xavier to move back to Montana. In the photo, Jacob is sitting on a yak. His size 12 shoes are squeezed into tiny stirrups dangling from a tiny saddle. He’s holding on to a single rope, which is attached to a ring in the yak’s nose.