This was published as the Letter from the Editor to the Spring 2016 issue of TAUG, with the theme of Boundaries.
Rules, divisions, and barriers surround us. They define and confine our world and our selves. Berkeley students in particular are frequently confronted with the charge of finding, understanding, and breaking boundaries. In biology classes, we examine the distinctions between species and marvel at the richness produced by the collision of biomes in ecotone environments. In political science classes, we try to identify the grounds of separation between liberals and conservatives. In engineering classes, we use the boundary conditions of beams to understand their deflections. And in our Berkeley protests, we fight unfair rules, divisions between rich and poor, divisions between races, and all the painful boundaries we rub against that restrain us and divide people.
We chose the theme of boundaries for this TAUG issue because of its importance to Berkeley students as well as its relevance to Christians. As Christians worship, we can be tempted towards two extremes related to boundaries. One extreme is to get so caught up in finding and following rules as ways of worshiping God that we oppress ourselves and create new divisions between ourselves and others. The other extreme is to become so frustrated with the rules and the irrationality of trying to force our personal restrictions on others that we become stressed even thinking about boundaries.
Genesis records that God’s first act of creation was making light. His second act: separating the light from the dark. In continuing his creation of the world, God separated the land from the water, the day from the night, and the seventh day from the working week. He placed the first people inside a garden – a garden which had a defined outside, as they would soon discover. He gave these first people a single rule which they must not break. God created a world with boundaries. In some ways, he created our world by creating boundaries. These boundaries created order and allowed for beauty.
But God broke one of the greatest divisions imaginable when he became a man. The limitless God took up a man’s body and a man’s limitations. The perfect one ate with the most despised people of society and became friends with sinners. God became a human. At the moment of the God-Man’s death, the curtain which separated people from the holiest place in the temple tore from top to bottom.
As you read this TAUG issue, we invite you to explore with us the boundaries in our world and in our lives. We invite you to look for the beauty that boundaries can create and to heal the wounds cut by divisive boundaries. It is our hope that you can use this journal as an opportunity to start conversations about boundaries across boundaries, as we together strive to know the unknown God who in dying tore the curtain between us and him.
Laura ClarkTags: academia, beauty, college, engineering, political science, race, science, UC Berkeley, university