This year, Hope College is welcoming a new undergraduate student journal of Christian thought: “The Bell Tower.” By showcasing the connection between Christianity and learning across academic disciplines, “The Bell Tower” aims to create a deep Christian perspective on campus and to nurture a caring and ecumenical society here at Hope.
“We want to invite people to explore how faith and academics connect with each other,” said Lydia Harrison (’23), the Editor-in-Chief of “The Bell Tower.” Harrison explained that the goal of the student journal is “to inspire the readers and help them think about what it looks like to engage with their faith in the work that they are doing.” “The Bell Tower” hopes that by doing so, it will be able to highlight the amazing and diligent work that students are doing academically, as well as how it has changed or emphasized their gospel-based worldview. As a result, students will grow and develop their leadership in a globalized society by participating in an integrative learning community.
The purpose of “The Bell Tower” is to explore the intersection of faith and academics. According to Harrison, this student journal works to encourage and inspire both writers and readers “to help them think about what it looks like to engage with their faith in the work that they are doing.”
Addressing that faith can sometimes lead to isolation. Harrison shared, “It can be really easy, as a person of faith, to get discouraged in an academic environment if you feel like your faith isn’t recognized, welcomed or honored.” Recognizing that faith and academics are often separated in everyday life, “The Bell Tower” seeks to draw that connection for students and eliminate isolation.
Gerrit Wiegerink, a senior at Hope, works as an editor for “The Bell Tower”. According to Wiegerink, “The Bell Tower” is vital and needed at Hope College because it fosters community life on campus. He says, “I am always reminded in chapel that when picking a college, choose the people, not the institution.” This Christian community impacts the students by encouraging thoughtful discussions of faith.
“The Bell Tower” accepts submissions of various forms such as articles, papers, poems and even artwork. Harrison shared that they are willing to publish “anything that is engaging with an academic discipline from a faith perspective.” In addition, Wiegerink mentions that there are no prerequisites needed to submit an intellectually engaging piece of writing. Alongside submissions, the journal is also looking for students willing to work behind the scenes. “We are looking for people interested in graphic design, publishing and business-minded individuals willing to help in fundraising and advertising,” Wiegerink says.
The journal is open to everyone and welcomes students from different undergraduate levels and backgrounds. Despite being a math major, Wiegerink works as an editor for “The Bell Tower.” “If one has a passion for helping others learn and see the world from a different perspective, they should consider joining us,” he said. Alongside different fields of study, “The Bell Tower” is for all Hope students, regardless of their theological beliefs. Despite being a Christian journal, “The Bell Tower” takes an ecumenical standpoint. Harrison explained, “We recognize that even in the Christian church, there are differences in theology and belief and we want to hold that tension.” Currently, “The Bell Tower” is working to publish pieces from a Catholic frame of thought and various Protestant frames of thought.
Openness and engagement are encouraged by “The Bell Tower.” “We are here to have dialogue and to engage,” Harrison explained, “Whatever faith background you are coming from, having a space for thoughtful, serious and honest conversation builds community and helps us all grow, think and learn.” Wiegerink built on this by saying, “I walk around Hope College wishing I could get to know everyone, but there are so many people that I couldn’t get to know them all at once and their perspective on the world. Being involved in the journal helps me interact with people through their thoughts and view of the world.” “The Bell Tower” fosters this interaction and discussion by giving students an opportunity to hear from different theological perspectives and learn from their peers. Wiegerink says, “I encourage students to step outside their comfort zone and challenge themselves intellectually. You never know what the outcome might be and how it might influence others.”
Lastly, “The Bell Tower” emphasizes that there is no right or wrong perspective. Wiegerink says, “We are here to showcase students’ thoughts, not judge them. The journal fosters a safe and learning environment where students’ opinion and take on issues or ideals on the world is respected and honored.”
As a liberal arts college, Hope challenges students to perceive the world from perspectives other than their own. As a result, students become more capable of stepping outside of their comfort zones in order to see things from both a gospel-centered and globalist perspective. “The Bell Tower” is looking for any students or recent graduates to join them in creating an open dialogue about the intersection of faith and academics through published writing.
Keep your eye out for “The Bell Tower”, launching in the spring of 2022. If you are interested in submitting a piece or are just looking for more information about “The Bell Tower”, visit https://blogs.hope.edu/belltower/.