Lifelong Learning with Brian Lucas
Brian Lucas is “an institutional treasure,” according to Cameron Wilson, Chair of the English Department at Jessup. With a rich background in everything from pastoral ministry to bookstore ownership to teaching college, Brian embodies much of Jessup’s history and values. One of Jessup’s aims is to educate lifelong learners—women and men who have curious minds and a hunger to discover more of God’s Word and world. Brian is one of these people.
For thirteen years, Brian taught in the English, History, and Theology and Leadership departments at Jessup, including classes on Greek and C. S. Lewis. Besides teaching, he contributed to other parts of Jessup culture: running the bookstore (now known as the Campus Store) and reading “Jeeves & the Yuletide Spirit” for the annual Story Time in the Library. He also still speaks as a guest lecturer in Cameron Wilson’s Children’s Literature class, where he enjoys dialoguing about his favorite George MacDonald children’s stories.
Brian studied Russian and Eastern European Studies at the University of Michigan, followed by a year of graduate study in Munich, Germany. He subsequently earned his Master of Divinity degree in Theology at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. He and his wife Marsha are Midwesterners—Michiganders—who, after graduating from Michigan and then getting married, have lived everywhere but Michigan. “For me, this was a time of redirection with the Lord,” said Brian, “leading to theological study and prep for pastoral ministry.” He later served as Pastor for a small church in the Dixon/Vacaville area, then subsequently as Associate Pastor in a Presbyterian church in San Diego.
Brian loved working in the University bookstore. At the time, there were around 300 students on campus. Because of the location of the store, and the way materials were still sold then, there was an opportunity for him to get to know nearly everyone who passed. And, of course, the bookstore housed a cat named Zenobia—more affectionately known as Nobby. “As small as the store was,” Brian explained, “we still maintained a small part of it to sell other used books, not class related. So, you could pick up some great literature—poetry, fiction, history, some philosophy, etc., mostly for just a few bucks or less!”
This gig was a very natural connection to his earlier bookstore management in San Diego. He and his wife owned and operated Adams Avenue Book Store for 32 years, not too far from USD and San Diego State University. The bookstore was in business since the mid 1950s and housed over 60,000 titles, including scholarly works in literature, history, art, music, philosophy, theology, and biblical studies. Several rounds of reading groups began there, with one still going into its thirty-first year. “We still give the new guy a hard time for his book recommendations,” said Brian with a chuckle. The new guy has now been part of the group for nineteen years.
“The years at Jessup and interactions with students all served as a reminder that the learning process encompasses much more than we realize in what we think of as study. I recollect how Paul describes the learning process to the Philippians: ‘What things you have learned, and received, and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (4:9). For Paul, this is how our learning or maturing in faith is shaped. Learning in the manner we typically associate with classes is only one element of the mix.”
Although Brian is no longer formally teaching, he still spends his days learning and passing knowledge along to others. His sister and daughter encouraged him to start a podcast, offering to handle all the technical aspects. The episodes will be centered on the enjoyment and practice of reading through the lens of great thinkers, readers, and writers.
Brian is excited for this new project and to hone his own reading and listening skills. “Often this is where the connections seem to enter in. Connections often with other writers, books, and questions. As I have very slowly learned and sought more practice, my time set for reading/study should include time when I am not reading. Just going over what I have been reading and my notes, waiting for what I might receive—what the Welsh Christian poet Vernon Watkins called ‘the second pressure.’ That part of our work that we can’t control, we can only wait, pray, and patiently listen.”