When Rod Dreher left his hometown of St. Francisville, La., his intention was to never look back. But fate and faith had other plans.
Dreher, a journalist and conservative culture critic, lived in Dallas, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, in pursuit of his passion for writing. He was living the life of his dreams. But his dreams changed when his sister, Ruthie Leming, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
It was then that Rod returned to the small town he had left years before, and he and his wife began to follow a different path than the one they had planned. Though Ruthie eventually died of the disease, the response of the St. Francisville community to her illness was so extraordinary it caused Dreher to re-evaluate his life and move home.
Dreher, author of the book “The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life,” will talk about his journey of faith at 7 p.m. March 24 in the Riney Fine Arts Center’s Sebits Auditorium in a presentation titled “Why Community Matters: How You Can Go Home Again, and Maybe Ought to.” Dreher will also speak to Friends University students in a Faith and Learning class at 9:30 a.m. March 25 in the Davis Administration Building’s Alumni Auditorium on the topic of “Heart vs. Head, Ruthie vs. Rod: Why a Mature Christian Needs Both Faith and Doubt.” Both events are free and open to the public.
Dr. Russell Arben Fox, professor of political science at Friends University, said Dreher’s message is an important one for the community and one that fits well within the University’s mission.
“As a small liberal arts college, and as a university that is inspired by the Quaker tradition, it is important for us to conceive of the education of the students here in terms of how it enables them to connect with and make peace with the communities that we are all part of – religious, of course, but also familial, political, cultural, economic and academic,” Fox said. “In other words, Friends University wants to bring education home. We want to show that the world of learning and opportunity which is available to us is one that will be most fully realized through being dedicated to serving and doing business with and finding consensus with those who live right alongside us. Simplicity and community are vital themes in our particular kind of liberal arts education here, and we think Rod’s personal journey exemplifies that element of the Friends University mission very well.
Dreher’s visit will be co-sponsored by Wichita’s Northfield School, Watermark Books, and Eighth Day Books.
For more information, contact the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division at 316-295-5503.