This fall, I moved from Rusk County, Wis., to Boston to attend college. Not one of Boston’s big-name institutions like Harvard or MIT, but Sattler, a college of a different stripe.
Named for a 16th-century Anabaptist martyr, Sattler College is a new thing, and not only to the 21 students attending during its inaugural year. Sattler is a nondenominational Christian college, but to my conservative Mennonite ears its eight founding precepts sound startlingly familiar.
Sattler’s alignment with historic Christian values such as nonresistance, no remarriage after divorce, and separation from the world in dress and entertainment, has attracted many conservative Anabaptists.
(MWR featured plans for Sattler College in an Aug. 28, 2017, article. The college’s website is sattlercollege.org.)
Its doors are wide open to anyone. Currently attending are a Methodist, a Coptic Christian, a wide range of Anabaptists and several Christians from other evangelical backgrounds.
Sattler requires all students to learn biblical Hebrew and Greek. I initially thought, when I heard this requirement, that I would spend two years laboring over nouns and pronouns and come out at the end with a vague understanding of those languages and the ability to pick out a few key words from Bible passages. A useful skill, but not earthshaking.
I was not prepared for how fun and interactive language learning could be. We are learning the Hebrew of the Torah as a living, usable language, complete only when used in conversations and stories. I was thrilled to learn that by the end of this year — with the help of a special Hebrew edition that has the more difficult words defined — I will be able to read the entire Old Testament in Hebrew.
When researching Sattler, I admit to being starstruck when I saw that many of the board members and faculty hailed from institutions like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and MIT. It seemed too good to be true that a Mennonite country girl like me was getting the opportunity to learn from professors who were at the top of their fields and who also taught from the same biblical worldview intrinsic to my life goals.
After three months at Sattler, I am no longer star-struck — well, OK, still a tiny bit — but I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to receive an education grounded both in excellent academics and the Bible.
The Sattler campus is on the 17th floor of a skyscraper in the heart of Boston. Windows are my favorite thing about our campus —wide windows with a view of Boston Harbor. The world opens up to me, looking out those windows, my mind expanding to meet sky.
Adjusting to life in the city has not been easy, though. I miss my family and the peaceful Rusk County countryside. Before I came to Boston, I was excited about living in a place so rich in culture and ethnically diverse. I am still excited about that, but also — sometimes — I look at brick walls blocking the sky and hate them. I want fields and open air and places where no human foot but mine has bent the grass. Walls feel to me like prisons.
Still, Boston has a beauty of its own, which I am not immune to.
As a Sattler student, I board at a place called the International Guest House and — as Sattler’s founders intended — rub shoulders daily with students from all over the world. Many of them are mind-blowingly open to discussing spiritual things. The opportunities here to share the gospel are unrivaled in the countryside.
And that is really why I came: to gain tools to help me in spreading the kingdom.
Lucinda J. Miller is the author of Anything But Simple: My Life as a Mennonite and blogs at lucindajmiller.com.