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Wabash Center Blogs
We support teachers of religion and theology in higher education.
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Miriam Y. Perkins, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theology and Society Emmanuel Christian Seminary When Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, I was reading the sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr.[1] “The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people. The tension is at bottom between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.” “… noncooperation and boycotts are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation.” “Noncooperation with evil is as much a... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Eric Barreto, Kate Blanchard and Roger Nam (Eric) I’ve started wondering recently if scholarship boils down to the courage to say something aloud, the courage to say something in the midst of a chorus full of others saying similar or different things. This same description could well be applied to... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Stories from the Front
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Steed V. Davidson Associate Professor of Old Testament Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and Church Divinity School of the Pacific Each night I watch Jeopardy. Occasionally I am thrilled when Tobago or Trinidad features in a clue. This thrill comes from knowing that the island where I grew up (area of 116 square miles) has found its way into the knowledge required of Jeopardy contestants. I take this small thrill, and I am painfully aware of how small it is, because for most of my life I have been told that the intellectual knowledge that matters consists of material outside of... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Dr. Himanee Gupta-Carlson Assistant Professor SUNY Empire State College Three stories capture my take on how race matters. Story #1 opens in a grocery parking lot. I park my car and open the door. Trying to remember what I need to buy, I do not notice the pick-up truck beside me as I step out. Then, I hear a male voice bellowing at me to close my door and stop ruining his truck. Hurriedly, I close the door. I apologize and check his vehicle for damages. The man shouts a little louder, glares at me, and revs up his engine.... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Roger Nam Last week, 640,621 high school seniors took the Korean university entrance exam, officially translated into English as the “Collegiate Scholastic Ability Test.” Let me give you a little insight into the life of a high school senior in South Korea. Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Elias Ortega-Aponte, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Afro-Latinos/a Religions and Cultural Studies Drew University As I geared up to teach two social justice themed courses this Fall, my summer preparations were disrupted by the news of two tragedies and the reflections they prompted. First was the death of Omar Abrego, beaten to death by police on August 2 in Los Angeles. Witness reports claim that Abrego was taken out of his car and beaten up by two police officers for at least 10 minutes, and left in a pool of blood. The father of three would die hours later in a Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Maureen H. O'Connell, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theology & Chair of Department of Religion LaSalle University If there is one thing I’ve learned from my 20 students in a new course, “Religion and Racism in America” this semester it’s this: how we go about engaging racism in the classroom may be just as important, if not more, than what sources we use to do so. 1. Racism is not an intellectual reality, but an experiential one. Critical race theorist George Yancy is right (not that I ever doubted him!). Racism is an embodied experience and not simply a sociological phenomenon, no... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Kate Blanchard I recently found myself on a Friday night amid a group of twenty-somethings, mostly women, who were celebrating their periods. Yes, you read that correctly. The students of the women’s resource center on campus decided to host a “menarche party” in honor of their monthly bleeding. They wore... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Jocelyn McWhirter, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Religious Studies Albion College The time: November 9–10, 1938. The place: Germany. The casualties: More than 7,000 Jewish shops along with 1,574 synagogues damaged or destroyed. One hundred Jews murdered; 30,000 imprisoned in concentration camps. They were the first victims of a racial purge that went on to claim more than 6 million lives. Now, 76 years after Kristallnacht, I am preparing to lead the Holocaust Studies Service-Learning Project (HSSLP). The HSSLP was founded in 1999 by students in a first-year seminar on the Holocaust. They wanted to take their learning out of the.. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Mara Brecht, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Theology St. Norbert College Teaching race is a boulder. And up the mountain I push it. When I teach race, I feel like Sisyphus because I never seem to get anywhere. The questions repeat and the anxieties recur each semester. It’s always the same: I know what parts of assigned texts will provoke students. I’m prepared for the discomfort, the tears, and the under-the-breath comments. I can even hear the conversations before they happen: White students indignantly protest Peggy McIntosh’s essay on white privilege: “But I had to earn what I have!” They respond... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Eric D. Barreto The Onion is a paragon of satirical news. Unfortunately, too many of us are not in on the joke. Literally Unbelievable is a website that captures those priceless moments when beguiled individuals post “news” items from The Onion as if they were a reputable source of information... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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There are any number of reasons persons become theological school deans. Some reasons are personal, while some are a product of a particular context and its circumstance. In my experience, most deans answer the vocational calling of dean for good-intentioned reasons, sometimes, even noble ones. Most simply want to serve... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Lerone A. Martin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of religion and politics in the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics Washington University I have heard much talk about Ferguson and racial segregation in my personal life, as well as in the classroom. Conversations about Ferguson abound in my Civil Rights class this semester as well as in the broader university community. It could hardly be otherwise. We are just fifteen miles away from Canfield Drive. As a historian, I aim to help my students understand Ferguson, racial segregation, and all concomitant issues in a broader historical framework. How did we... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Kyle J. A. Small, Ph.D. Associate Academic Dean and Associate Professor for Church Leadership Western Theological Seminary The faculty at Western Theological Seminary (WTS) in Holland, MI recently invested itself in Willie James Jennings’ book, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (Yale University Press, 2010). Three faculty members were invited to take up Jennings' claim and call, and to generate a conversation in terms of how Jennings’ work intersects with our shared task of teaching and learning. I engaged as a pastoral theologian wondering what are the pedagogical implications if we accept Jennings' book, on his own... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Roger Nam Full disclosure: I struggle with the Korean language. Although I completed an M.Div. degree in Seoul, Korean is still a second language to me. Through an odd combination of reading Korean theology books and listening to 1990s K-pop, I have a decent, albeit strange, vocabulary. But my Korean sentence construction... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Marcia Y. Riggs, Ph.D. J. Erskine Love Professor of Christian Ethics Columbia Theological Seminary Why does an African American woman--a Womanist black liberationist religious ethicist-- in her right mind teach for twenty-three years in a historically white seminary in the South? I have asked myself this question many, many times, and most of those times in prayer on my knees to a God that I am sure is the “one that I have found in myself” and love fiercely (re: Ntozake Shange). There you have the answer: there is this call to teach that is the “fire in my bones”... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Nekeisha Alayna Alexis Coordinator Intercultural Competence and Undoing Racism Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Safwat Marzouk Assistant Professor of Old Testament Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Recent spates of lethal violence against people of color—and black men and women in particular— are devastating reminders of the high cost of unaddressed oppression. The race- and class-based killings of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo.; John Crawford in Beavercreek, Ohio; Eric Gardner in Staten Island, New York; and Renisha McBride in Dearborn Heights, Mich.; to name a few, undercut illusions of how close we are to a “post-racial” or just society. However, these tragedies must... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Deans understand that in a very real sense the curriculum is "the engine" that drives the seminary as an educational institution. Many elements and dynamics impact that educational engine, including entering student enrollment. Deans do well to work with their school's recruitment staff to keep abreast of the profile of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Kate Blanchard Maybe you’ve been here before. It’s the middle of the semester. Your undergraduate survey class has been rolling along fine. Students are fairly engaged, and you feel you have a good rapport. Then along comes the mid-term, and you realize that the situation is not what you thought.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Rev. Gerald C. Liu, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Worship Arts Drew Theological School I teach preaching at Drew Theological School. Two sets of questions guide my pedagogy. One involves hermeneutics: I compel my students to ask, ‘How does “preaching” manifest beyond our words and in the larger world?’ and ‘Why should we pay attention to what others have to say?’ The other set wrestles with theodicy: ‘How do we keep the faith when our words do not suffice?’ The killing of Michael (Mike) Brown haunts those homiletic interrogatives because he made a proclamation before being gunned down. Brown. Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Greg Carey, Ph.D. Professor of New Testament Lancaster Theological Seminary My friend Chuck Melchert took a significant risk once when we were playing a round of golf together. Chuck retired after serving as Dean of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, and he knows more about teaching than just about anybody I know. He also sits in on my classes from time to time. “Can I tell you something?” Chuck asked. “When African American students in your class speak from their experience, you almost always follow up by explaining why you understand what they’re talking about.” Chuck’s words were hard to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Eric D. Barreto On the eve of my doctoral comprehensive exams, I felt like the smartest person in the world. I had drunk deeply from the well of New Testament scholarship over several months. From Origen to Bultmann, I had read and digested texts, ancient and modern. My stack of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Miguel A. De La Torre, Ph.D. Professor of Social Ethics and Latino/a Studies Iliff School of Theology While teaching at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, I was traveling with a local colleague to an engagement. Along the way, I ribbed him concerning some native cultural idiosyncrasy; at which point he turned to me in jest calling me “just another imperial gringo.” Although a humorous retort in our banter, I confess that I was taken aback. Of all the things I have been called throughout my life, this was the very first time I was ever called a gringo.... Read Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Mindy McGarrah Sharp, PhD Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Ethics Phillips Theological Seminary As I followed the #FergusonSyllabus twitter conversation just before this semester began, I considered ways to address race in a new way in my pastoral care course. Unmasking structures of suffering and developing anti-racist pastoral care practices are already important to both my research and my pedagogy. What is different about race matters this semester? With only one required pastoral theology class in the curriculum, I take seriously my moral obligation to prepare students to be present and responsive to the personal and structural dynamics of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Roger Nam I remember meeting Griffin Huber on the first day of the Fall 2012 semester in my undergraduate New Testament Intro class. Like many students, he took the class both because he was eager to study the Bible and because it fulfilled a general education requirement. He would successfully... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Stories from the Front