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Corban University

June 18, 2018

Plant Your Apple Tree: David Shares how Faith Shapes His Politics

David Giglio - Political Science

“I’m a moderate conservative libertarian,” David says. He laughs at the number of labels he’s just applied to himself, but he admits that he actually likes labels. “Language is how we understand the world.”

But David hasn’t always classified himself this way. He explains that his political views have grown and changed over time, especially shaped by the four years he spent as a political science student at Corban.

David hadn’t originally intended to study political science. Initially, he had envisioned himself going to a school in California to study media arts. But having grown up in the neighboring town of Stayton and seen his older brother John attend Corban, David decided to take a few Bible classes through Corban’s early enrollment program (an opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school).

“But then Corban added the political science program. I was going to be a freshman the same year they started the McLaran scholarship, so I applied.”

David had always been politically engaged in high school, so the decision to change his intended major came naturally. Throughout high school, he had been involved in Teen Pact, an opportunity for homeschooled students to gain hands-on experience in government processes and learn about leadership and citizenship.

For the mock legislature portion of Teen Pact, David was elected senator. He and his team practiced writing bills, defending them in debates, and even voting on them. “I remember one thing I debated,” David shares. “They wanted to raise the age for smoking to 21, and I actually argued vehemently against it.” He smiles as he remembers the tension his stance had created. “Being a libertarian, I thought, if people can be put in prison and have all the responsibilities of an adult, they should be able to smoke.” To his satisfaction, the bill was only rejected by one vote.

One gets the sense that David feels just as strongly about political processes as he does about policies, and that he thoroughly enjoys thinking about the philosophical as well as practical implications of the laws we put in place.

Throughout his years at Corban, David remained politically active, participating in Corban’s debate team and interning at the State Capitol. He also served as the field director for Colm Willis’ congressional campaign. “That was pretty incredible!”

When asked why he’s so passionate about politics, David says, “I saw a lot of students in high school who weren’t engaged with the world around them.” Seeing the apathy and lack of interest of other young people, David realized that he “wanted to care about our world and where our world is going.”

He remembers learning about Sophie Scholl, a college student in Nazi Germany. Before being executed at the age of 22 for passing out anti-war leaflets, she had written, “Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”

David was captured by Sophie’s bravery and decision to make her life count, to take active part in the direction she saw the world going, and to choose an early death rather than a safe, passive existence. “Her point was, we all die. How do we choose to live while we’re here? When we’re faced with injustice, do we choose to face it? Or do we just let our light slowly fade?”

Being politically engaged is more for David than simply supporting policies. Rather, “You have to understand how the system works,” he says. “You can’t make a difference in the world with a jackhammer, or by shouting louder than someone else.”

David’s time at Corban has played a crucial role in deepening his understanding of the political system and what making positive change really entails. He remembers a book he read for Dr. Scot Bruce’s American Foreign Policy class—Reinhold Neibuhr’s The Irony of American History. “Neibuhr talks about how we need to pursue measures of justice—realizing that we’re in a fallen world, and that we need to pursue the measures that are attainable.”

In addition to developing his political beliefs, David has grown in his understanding of himself and God. “God has definitely used Corban in incredible ways to spur me on to delve deeper into relationships.” He remembers two mentors who particularly influenced him—Dr. Marty Trammell and Dr. Leroy Goertzen.

In addition to faculty mentors, David appreciated Corban’s free counseling services. “That was super helpful,” he says. “I loved it. I was open about my faith going into it, and that’s actually where I found the answers—in my faith, defining my identity through Christ.”

Ultimately, David’s faith shapes his view of politics as well. “Jesus is the only thing that’s going to save the world,” he smiles. He describes the tension between wanting to fix the world and bring about Christ’s Kingdom on earth, and the belief that we live in a fallen world that will ultimately come to an end. “I used to think that the world is getting better to some degree,” David says, explaining that he used to consider himself a post-millennialist. “But I don’t actually believe that anymore. I’m a very, very light dispensationalist-pre-millennialist now.” Once again, the slew of labels doesn’t seem to bother him. Rather, it’s a way to articulate the thoughtfulness with which he’s examined and refined his own beliefs.

He remembers a quote from Martin Luther: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” “I love that,” David says. “We have to plant our apple trees, knowing the world might end tomorrow—we’re doing it not for anything we’ll be remembered for in history, but for Christ.”

David graduated with his bachelor’s in Political Science in May 2018. He currently leads worship with his wife Olivia at Grace Baptist Church in Stayton, and he’s the director of sales for Skyline Video Productions, a video production and marketing company that focuses on creating quality materials for nonprofits and other organizations. Eventually, he’d like to pursue his Ph.D., teach at the university level, and conduct research for the purpose of educating the public. He adds, “I do hope to run for office eventually.”