Thursday, June 02, 2005

Three Degrees to Kirk Cameron

The small size of the Christian community in the United States - particularly the evangelical community - never ceases to amaze me.

If you're a 20-something evangelical, chances are I know someone you know. I'd bet on it. I've had this conversation with several friends, and whether we are from Chicago, California, or Connecticut, it invariably takes less than three degrees to find someone we know in common. This is especially true when the smaller "Christian college network" is invoked. All you need is a friend who went to Wheaton, Gordon, Seattle Pacific, Messiah, or Westmont and you've got an interlaced evangelical network that stretches from sea to shining sea.

This wasn't as true as an undergrad, when most of us came straight from our family's homes to college. But as we have moved, started working or gone on to graduate school, it is becoming more frequent. This is increasingly true for the evangelical colleges as their academic rigor has increased, and they are now have graduates attending top schools all across the country.

A few pertinent (though continually surprising) examples:
  • my good friend from Yale (who grew up in Chicago) has recently become quite close with a "friend of a friend" from my public high school in California. The connection? Princeton Seminary and Seattle Pacific.
  • Another friend working in Washington, DC randomly met a girl I attended summer camp with in high school while both girls attended Westmont.
  • In the past 3 months, I have become friends with a girl from Gordon, and another from Westmont, all through a connection at Yale Divinity School. Turns out that this Westmont girl TA'd my brother while he was there!
  • I got an e-mail yesterday from a Wheaton girl getting ready to attend YDS. She is looking to take part in a group that I lead there, was directed to me by a close mutual friend.
Though these connections are becoming frequent, they never cease to amaze me! They are even more common as my social circle begins to narrow to the Seminary and Religious Studies types, who often come from this small network of schools, or from this close community.

I wish I had more insight into this strange phenomenon - something pithy to say or some great social observation to make. Instead I'm merely reporting what I see, and asking you for your comments. Do you have any stories like this? Why do you think this is happening? Am I merely on crack? (don't rule it out) As always, I await your response...

Grace & Peace