Learning to Love:
Christian Higher Education as Pilgrimage
Alex Sosler, EdD
“What is the Christian college for?”
Whether you’re about to begin your journey at a Christian college or you’ve already embarked, this is a vital question. And you have probably been given an answer a hundred times.
“College is to get a good job or to learn a bunch of disconnected information or it’s a social rite of passage—all within the nurturing confines of a Christian community.”
In Learning to Love, Alex Sosler deepens, widens,
and magnifies a vision for higher education.
Conceiving of the Christian college as more than job preparation or the acquisition of knowledge, Sosler inspires a greater hope for education—namely one oriented toward the love of God and neighbor. This expansive vision re-imagines an education worth pursuing.
Learning to Love is perfect for students preparing for Christian higher education and those on the journey. While written with the student in mind, Sosler’s consideration of the purpose of Christian higher education is also great for faculty, staff, and administrators.
Early Praise for Learning to Love:
"While providing a concise, accessible, and clear overview of the historical developments within higher education, Sosler offers a winsome and wise case for the reorientation of the Christian college and Christian higher education. I know that board members, administrators, faculty members, parents, and students will all find this important proposal to be quite helpful. I am happy to recommend Learning to Love."
David S. Dockery, Ph.D., President, International Alliance for Christian Education
"Alex Sosler is a pastoral guide for students entering their college years with trepidation and uncertainty. In this accessible and winsome book, he orients students to a college experience that will set them on a life-long pilgrimage toward rightly ordered loves and embodied wisdom."
Jeffrey Bilbro, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English at Grove City College and Editor-in-Chief at Front Porch Republic, co-author (with Jack Baker) of Wendell Berry and Higher Education: Cultivating Virtues of Place
"So many of the best books on Christian learning were written long ago, but we need living authors to gloss those texts to make their meaning clear for us now. Alex Sosler's Learning to Love reminds us of the journey that is education: life-long, full of joy, love, and other people. If you're entering college or you know someone who is, this book should act as an invitation to the pilgrimage that is Christian education."
Jessica Hooten Wilson, Ph.D., Seaver College Scholar of Liberal Arts at Pepperdine University
"Alex Sosler offers a much-needed corrective to the most prevalent misconceptions about higher ed in our time. In prose that is conversational and engaging, he invites us into an education that rejects both Gnostic hyper-rationalism and reductive materialism, offering instead an Augustinian vision of education as the ordering and expanding of proper love. Sosler advocates for an educational pilgrimage that leads to the embodied and whole-hearted pursuit of wisdom and of wonder. This is a book that should be read by every college freshman and by every parent with a child considering college."
Benjamin Myers, Ph.D., Professor of English and Literature, Director of the Honors Program, Oklahoma Baptist University,
"Many of today’s college students are not sure why they’re in college or what their end goal should be (apart from gainful employment, important as that is). Alex Sosler steps into this confusion and offers a compelling vision for Christian college education. With a keen awareness of the culture and a smart but relatable voice, Alex invites students to move from transaction to transformation as they put love for God and neighbor at the center of learning. This is a book I wish I had when I started my journey at a Christian liberal arts college decades ago, and—as someone who is passionate about preparing young people for a life of thriving after college—it’s one I’m eager to share!"
Erica Young Reitz, M.A., Author of After College and founder of After College Transition
"For people launching into college, and from college into the world, here is an intriguing guide to consider what that education is about, and to embrace it responsibly. Appropriately central is the theme: we love in order to know. The goal of college is to cultivate lovers—lovers of the real."
Esther Lightcap Meek, Ph.D., Author of Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People; Loving to Know: Introducing Covenant Epistemology; and A Little Manual for Knowing
"Learning to Love lifts our eyes to the vision of a flourishing life. Tethered closely to an Augustinian approach, it is good only because of rightly ordered loves and an identity that is ultimately found in Christ. The book outlines the path of beauty, truth, and goodness in which Dr. Sosler offers a compelling vision for a liberal arts education. In a very straightforward, insightful, well-researched, and avant-garde manner, Learning to Love is a traveling companion for the student seeking substance and depth on their collegiate journey. It is worth packing, but more importantly worth reading."
Matt Koons, Ph.D., Headmaster, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy
"I am grateful for a new text which addresses the perennial question of “What is college for?” While accounting for contemporary reductionistic trends within the academy, Sosler promotes an expansive and holistic vision of higher education derived from historic Christian praxis. Faculty and students alike will benefit from Learning to Love, as the book critiques insufficient models of education, while reorienting readers towards a pedagogy rooted in love. Sosler’s love for higher education is evident, which makes his prose all the more compelling."
Jeffrey Tabone, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Honors Humanities and Director of Programs and Student Formation for the John Wesley Honors College of Indiana Wesleyan University.
"In Learning to Love, Alex Sosler offers a winsome and cogent answer to the complex and fraught question, “What is college for?” He casts a vibrant vision for not only the college experience, but a lifelong pilgrimage of learning."
Drew Moser, Ph.D., Professor of Higher Education, Taylor University and author of The Enneagram of Discernment and Ready or Not: Leaning into Life in Your Twenties
"Sosler offers a probing and accessible diagnosis of what ails modern higher education. Even if one disagrees with his proposed treatment for the ailment, the reader will find a wealth of resources to inquire into the purpose of education, and the ineradicable (but often suppressed) desire to live a life worth living."
David Henreckson, Ph.D., Director of Weyerhauser Center for Christian Faith and Learning at Whitworth University
"Learning to Love brings the Christian concern for Christ-centeredness in all things into a conversation with the humanist ideals of liberal education, in order to enrich both. Dispensing with the utilitarian priorities of many secular schools today, Professor Sosler approaches learning through the Augustinian lens of rightly-ordered loves, operating under the guidance of divine grace. Many students and parents will find this a valuable aid to grasp the underlying principles of higher education, and use those principles to find just the right college for mind and soul alike."
Jeremy Wayne Tate, M.A., President of Classical Learning Test