Hey Murray, Kentucky! Do you feel it? Do you sense it? Dr. Bob Norman, my minister in Nashville once preached a sermon that I will not forget. He titled the sermon, “I’m Talking About Big Things,” and the message he conveyed that morning during my freshman year was the greatness of God and the magnificence of his creation.
No, Bro. Bob did not preach about the insignificance of each of us in the face of the sheer depth and width, the infinity of the universe; he did not mention that we are mere specks of dust compared to the vastness of the universe. Instead, he argued how each one of us with our scores or hundreds or thousands or millions of capillaries, blood vessels, layers of skin, blades of hair, tissues, ligaments, bones, cartilages, nodes, nerves, cells and atoms—each one of us is a great, complex being.
Bro. Bob quoted from memory the numbers of each of the above. Unafraid of science, he embraced science, gloried in it as itself a part of the revelation. And every few minutes, the preacher would take a deep breath to say, “We’re not discussing a few obscure, insignificant facts this morning.” And then he would bellow, “I’m talking about big things!”
My parents had visited me that weekend at Belmont University, had gone to church with me, and never have I sensed that my father, himself a minister, had enjoyed and appreciated a sermon so much. And for the rest of his life, it became sort of a family joke among the Bolins.
We would be having a conversation at the supper table on some seemingly innocuous subject and Dad would suddenly blurt out, “You know I’m talking about big things this evening.”
We would stand at the picture window in the living room watching the snow fall during some winter break, hoping for the snow to keep falling and he would say, “Yes, I’m talking about big things.”
Well folks, when I saw those lines of cars at every stoplight, or those hoards of students already on the intramural fields Saturday evening, or the 330 members (yes, count ‘em, 330 members) of the largest Racer band in Murray State history. Well, let me tell you. I’m talking about big things.
Big things for Murray State and for Murray, Ky. One of the finest public comprehensive regional universities in America just became that much better. The friendliest small town in America just became that much more friendly.
And most importantly, the largest enrollment in the history of the university, broken down student-by-student will have an opportunity that few individuals in the world have ever had. A hundred years ago, less than 5 percent of adult Americans went to college.
Still today, in Kentucky, only 17 percent of commonwealth citizens are college graduates, below the national average of 25 percent. Only 7 percent of Kentuckians have graduate degrees, compared to 9 percent nationally. Less than 1 percent of the world’s population have college degrees. So, for our Murray State University students, listen! I’m talking about big things! You are the elite.
You have accomplished so much already, but it’s not just about making the necessarygrades in high school or now in college; it’s not just about completing a program of studies; it’s
not just about filling up a high school or college transcript; it’s not just about a degree even. No, I’m talking about big things.
Walker Percy, the late great Southern writer said it best. “You can make all A’s,” Percy wrote, “and still flunk life.”
How will you live your lives at Murray State University during your undergraduate and graduate years? How will you balance your lives: academically, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually? How can you find time each day to get over yourselves to serve others, or to “forget yourself on purpose,” as one scholar put it. These are big questions, questions that are all part of a sound college education. This is a great adventure. I’m talking about big things.
Duane Bolin, assistant professor of history