The humble pursuit of the truth about God and creation.
Issachar Fund partners with scholars, leaders and organizations that seek religious and scientific truth, learning from and contributing to the ideals, values, knowledge and practices of our increasingly multicultural society.
We all grow up in a tradition. When we are young, we learn to think about the world and ultimate questions in ways we that are modeled and taught by our parents, extended families, neighbors, schools, and places of worship. As we grow and become aware of the world outside our families and neighborhoods, we often start asking larger questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? How can I know what is true? Is there a God? Why is there suffering? What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose? How should I live? How should I respond to the challenges of my time? Asking such questions can, in turn, open doors to encounters with people, problems, and outlooks that are not part of our upbringing. The goal of the Issachar Fund is to encourage encounters between a broad range of perspectives as we explore the big questions of existence, purpose, and meaning.
When we ask the big questions of life, we become aware that reality has both physical and spiritual dimensions. In our scientific-technological culture, rapid change in our knowledge of physical reality drives rapid social change. Our spiritual traditions, by contrast, are ancient, and change more slowly. Yet spiritual knowledge about ultimate realities is needed if science and technology are to aid human flourishing. The Issachar Fund encourages all spiritual traditions—Christianity especially—to become aware of the challenges of our time that arise from scientific and technological development, and to engage in internal and external dialogs about how best to understand and meet these challenges.
How do we respond to the challenges of our time? For this we need wisdom—the ability to discern the foundational significance of science and religion and how they can inform each other in addressing contemporary issues. For this task, goodwill and common sense are not enough. Wisdom brings the practical knowledge that makes disciplined study, rigorous analysis, and thoughtful reflection on our lived experience useful. The Issachar Fund identifies and supports those who have the preparation, vision, and motivation to discern wise courses of action.
Ultimately, we do not seek knowledge, understanding, and wisdom for their own sake. Our society needs people of faith who see deeply into the challenges of our times and how to address them in ways that enhance the common good. The Issachar Fund disseminates compelling learning and wisdom distilled from science and religion in order to inform and encourage leaders in every sphere of human activity.
A WORD FROM OUR BENEFACTOR
The Twelfth-century philosopher, logician, and theologian Peter Abelard wrote, “The key to wisdom is this—constant and frequent questioning.” Questions are powerful, revelatory tools. They indicate a desire to learn and an openness to fresh ways of thinking. Questions disclose something of what we know and shed light on things we don’t know. They invite conversation and point to new directions for how to live our lives.
(July 30, 1935 — December 27, 2022)
Jim Blankemeyer was fearless.
At least he seemed to have become fearless to those who knew him throughout his adult life. In point of fact, there was little in the unpromising circumstances of his youth that might have been expected to conjure bravery. Jim was like that, always pushing boundaries, always looking for the win, always doing what could not be done. Most of the time his intrepid journey produced astonishing results.
When Jim passed on December 27, 2022 after battling cancer, he left a loving family that was his pride and joy. One of nine children preceded him in death. Carolyn, always at his side, survives him. Jim was the rare husband who always spoke respectfully and tenderly of his wife in her absence. Always.
Jim was a 1955 graduate of Columbus (Ohio) Grove High School and attended Michigan State University. He served two years in the Army National Guard.
With two of his brothers, Jim founded and served as the CEO of MetoKote Corporation, which became the largest provider of coated metals to the automotive industry. Success in business seldom came easily, but it arrived serially thanks to Jim’s combination of inventiveness, creativity, and dogged persistence. In this, too, he was fearless. It was always a matter of pleasure when Jim would pull out a sketch of a machine he had designed in pencil and enthusiastically describe its merits. He felt things could change if people would fear change a bit less.
Along the way, Jim jousted with heaven. After a long personal search into the ultimate purpose of his life, he embraced a version of Christianity that was somehow simple, adventurous, and humble all at the same time. Simple, because it was built on the rock of faith that the universe has a Creator God and our freely chosen rebellion against God means we need Jesus to reconcile us to God. Adventurous, because he loved how the discoveries of science taught us new things about the universe and new ways of thinking about its Creator. Humble, because he always insisted his own personal beliefs “COULD BE WRONG.” In the end, he said, God’s purposes are a mystery and all we can do is have faith.
To those who observed Jim from a distance as well as to those who were caught up with him in some common cause, Jim was known for his philanthropic generosity. Several effective not-for-profits would not exist or would have failed along the way were it not for Jim’s ideas and the financial resources he and Carolyn were able to bring to bear. A partial listing must include Overseas Council, SAT-7, the Theological Book Network, the Colossian Forum and The Issachar Fund. There are many more. It seemed to Jim they had important work to do. Fearlessly, he made it possible for them to do it.
The latter decades of Jim’s life brought an impassioned concentration on the touch points of faith and science. He was able to engage even the most arcane conversations without losing his concern that pastors and his grandchildren live responsibly and wisely in a world where these issues and the supposed boundaries between them impinge upon everyone’s journey. He moved fearlessly through this terrain, too.
With Jim’s passing, there is a little less humility and a little less fearlessness in the world he now leaves to us. He would want us to do something about that.