Who Is My Neighbor?
Heather Grennan Gary

The Cresset office is in Valparaiso University’s Linwood House, so that means all of my neighbors are part of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities in the Arts (the LFP). They’re good neighbors: conscientious and kind, witty and generous. These neighbors are historians and theologians and literature scholars who teach in Christ College, the honors college at Valparaiso University. Usually they leave their doors open as they write or grade papers; sometimes students drop by during office hours, and I overhear them discussing course readings and assignments. Occasionally they leave plates of brownies or lemon bars on the kitchen counter next to a “Please eat!” sticky note.

Several of this issue’s contributors are part of the LFP in some capacity or another, although most do not work in Linwood House. Stephanie Paulsell, a former Lilly postdoctoral fellow, writes in the opening essay, “The Unknowable More” (page 4), about how to engage in the world in a way that honors both all that we know and all that we can never know in history and contemporary society, in others, and in ourselves. Susan VanZanten, a former board member of the LFP National Network, mentor for multiple cohorts of Lilly Graduate Fellows, and incoming dean of Valpo’s Christ College, considers the role of Christian colleges and universities in a dark and violent age (“Why Mission Matters Today,” page 12). Martha Greene Eads looks back at some of the lessons she learned during her time as a Lilly postdoc fellow in her essay, “Use Nothing Only Once” (page 24). Former postdoctoral fellow Jennifer L. Miller reviews the winner and finalists of the 2017 Lilly Fellows Program Book Award (page 32). Christopher S. Noble, an LFP representative from Azusa Pacific University, writes about the benefits of a change of scenery in “Dante in the Woods: The Potential of the Para-University” (page 18). My neighbor at the far end of the hall, Joe Creech, LFP director, reviews David Hollinger’s Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America—a book that considers how human interactions on a personal level—often just basic neighborliness, in service to God—have shaped and transformed organizations, political policy, and society.

Neighbors can make or break a neighborhood, an office space, the world. I’m grateful for good neighbors at work (you can learn more about them at lillyfellows.org), but that question first posed to Jesus by the lawyer—the set-up for the parable of the good Samaritan—continues to echo in my mind: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). David L. Parkyn takes up that question in his column “Come Learn with Us” (page 42) and explains why faculty and staff at colleges and universities in particular should think about their answer in broad terms. “The immigrant experience has profoundly marked American colleges and universities, both individually and collectively, for nearly two centuries,” he writes. “This simple factor provides a lens through which to measure the proposals by the Trump administration—whether to ‘build a wall,’ crack down on undocumented immigrants, void the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), slash the number of legal immigrants and refugees welcomed each year to our borders…” the list goes on. And John Ruff reviews Viet Thanh Nguyen’s short story collection, The Refugees, with an eye toward the challenges and humanity of the individuals and families who flee dangerous homelands for a chance at a better life in a strange new environment.

I know I have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to being a good neighbor, especially outside the office. Listening with an open heart and responding with mercy to the people we encounter can at times be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and difficult. But our charge is clear: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). 


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