Out with the old: Shaefer Bagwell says goodbye

Shaefer Bagwell’s term as opinions editor comes to an end.


John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

Shaefer Bagwell, Writer

Allow me to be frank for a moment. I took this job because I thought it would be easy. I had written for and been an apprentice with the Chimes last year, and everything I had seen cast this job in an easy, albeit time-consuming, light.

I was wrong. Over the course of this year, I have struggled to find writers. I have struggled to find topics that the student body and my superiors at the Chimes find relevant. I have struggled with anger and strife and inordinate feelings of loneliness associated with being an ideological minority. I’ve had people call my faith and my journalistic integrity into question. I’ve had people call me, text me and email me in a tearing rage, claiming that I was pushing a ridiculous liberal political agenda through the Chimes or taking positions on social and theological issues that people disagreed with. I’ve spent many hours in the office, often into the wee hours of the morning, editing and helping design and arguing for points.

Long story short: This job was not easy. But here’s the thing. It was worth it. I came into it wanting to start conversations on campus. I wanted to challenge people’s preconceived notions of what a liberal is and show them that Christians can be both conservative evangelicals and liberal big-government Democrats. I wanted to provide opposing viewpoints on everything from dangerous social media trends to Campus Safety to attendance policies.  I wanted to show them that breaking the Biola Bubble in healthy ways is — you guessed it — healthy, even going so far as to publish pieces from faculty on the topic. 

We are insulated in this campus, in more ways than one. Our ideological homogeneity can be a little mind-boggling sometimes. So, I wanted to spend this year challenging what people thought everyone thought. I think — I hope — I did that.

I have been accused of pushing a liberal agenda. While I didn’t do that intentionally, maybe I did it subconsciously. And guess what? I’ve got no shame about it. Not a shred of remorse. We are too out of practice in dealing with people who are Christians who still disagree with us. I wanted to shove that snowball down the hill. Would it really be the most terrible thing in the world for the insulated students at Biola to read a liberal point of view that isn’t presented by Bill O’Reilly as being pinheaded?

Towards the end of the year, my focus changed. I started to write a series of articles that I called in my head “Shaefer Grows a Conscience.” I explored the way that I formed my morality within my Christianity, the way that I related to other members of this Christian community. I tried to challenge students in ways other than politics. I tried to hold myself accountable in the public square. I invited my readers to push back, in person, over text or on the Internet.

That’s the real center of what I wanted to do this year. I wanted to invite people to debate. I wanted to help people start conversations. I wanted to shake complacency. Whether or not I did that is not for me to say. I just hope that some of what I said penetrated past the fact that you disagreed with me and maybe sparked an idea. Robert James Winans, my successor, is a sharp guy with a good mind. He’s also a conservative. Read the things that he chooses to publish. Challenge him. Push him. But more than that, open your mind when you read his pieces.

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