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Wabash Center Blogs
We support teachers of religion and theology in higher education.
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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 2 days ago 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 3 days ago 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 4 days ago 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 5 days ago at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Greg Carey 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
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Jennifer Harvey, PhD Associate Professor of Religion Drake University blog: livingformations.com “The asceticism of teaching is the willingness to teach the students you have rather than the students you wish you had.” The rigor and conviction of Patricia O’Connell Killen’s claim about teaching as a practice has impacted my approach to the classroom more than anything else in the ten years I’ve been working at this difficult craft. A teaching practice of being there, in a spirit of willingness, regardless of who shows up, is a challenge. I suspect I don’t have to convince you of this. Who among us... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Song-Chong Lee, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy University of Findlay Due to the racial and religious homogeneity of my institution, which is predominantly white and Christian (the University of Findlay, in rural Ohio), I have unconsciously focused on issues of greatest concern to my students, especially in the beginning of my teaching career – and this has not included race. This is ironic, for I myself am a native born Korean transplanted to the American Midwest. It was not until I taught my Islam course in 2013 that I found this approach deficient. That semester I had... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Today, theological school deans are under greater pressure to demonstrate the effectiveness of the theological curriculum offered by their schools. Pity the new dean who needs to learn the esoteric language of higher education that is now embedded in theological education. Deans must be conversant with (if not also demonstrate... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at Theological School Deans
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Kate Blanchard Am I the only one who didn’t learn to read until graduate school, or possibly until I started teaching? A convergence of things brought me to this realization. My current institution’s most recent alumni magazine included a feature on our New Media Studies program. It started only two.. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Fumitaka Matsuoka, Ph.D. Robert Gordon Sproul Professor of Theology Emeritus Pacific School of Religion The Ferguson story reminds me of the “Rashomon Effect,” named for late Japanese movie director Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon. In the film a crime witnessed by four individuals is described in four mutually contradictory ways. The Rashomon Effect is contradictory and often has opposing interpretations of the same event by different people. The heart of the matter in the Rashomon Effect is the question of truth and truth-telling. Whose understanding of the truth matters most? In light of the recent killing of Michael Brown, an African. Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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HyeRan Kim-Cragg, Ph.D. Lydia Gruchy Professor of Pastoral Studies St. Andrew’s College (Saskatoon) I am on sabbatical this year. When the shooting in Ferguson occurred, it got me thinking about the last course I was teaching before I went on sabbatical. I pulled out the syllabus and began taking notes on this event as a “living document.” As a practical theologian, “the situation” is a primary document from which to read and upon which to reflect. It can be used to make sense and meaning of the reality that is unfolding. The course is called, “Race, Colonialism, Canadian Identities, and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Eric D. Barreto I really don’t intend to undercut the title of this series of blogs. I promise I don’t. But what happens when the classroom doesn’t have a front where the eager students sit ready to learn or a back where more laid-back students lean away from us? What... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Kenneth Ngwa, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible Drew Theological School In my “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible” syllabus, a couple of sessions are reserved for the Exodus story: its claims about liberation; the use of official “war gear” against civilians; the dread of nightfall; legislative debates; witness accounts to the sights and sounds of violence; the importance of memory, etc. “After” Ferguson, teaching this biblical story almost sounds too convenient. Yet, engaging race and racism is like solving a math equation: long division with remainders. The burden of structural racism is not just its deadly power,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Dean J. Johnson, Ph.D. Peace & Conflict Studies Assistant Professor of Philosophy West Chester University of Pennsylvania Silence, guilt and fear are obstacles to justice and democracy. My white brothers and sisters, we have often let the fear of breaking the rules of certain types of discourse trap us. Too often we let fear immobilize us and we remain silent. Let’s take for example the fear of talking and teaching about race as a white person. We believe the discourse of whiteness that says racism and the struggle for racial justice are not white problems and/or that whites are... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Roger Nam At first glance, the public restrooms at the Sogang University Graduate School of Theology look just like the restrooms on any seminary campus in America. But as I approached the men’s room, I saw a paper sign taped to the wall, identifying the restroom as “for professor usage... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Anthony G. Reddie, Ph.D. Tutor & Coordinator for Community Learning Bristol Baptist College, UK One of my earliest experiences was my first day at school in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in The United Kingdom. Sitting in what was the equivalent of the reception or the beginner's class, I suddenly felt an intense pain in my right arm. I turned around to find that I was being bitten by this White boy sitting next to me. When I asked him why he had bitten me, he said "I wanted to see what colour blood you have. My nan (colloqualism for Grandmother) says... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Rev. Dr. Mitzi J. Smith, Ph.D. Associate Professor of New Testament & Early Christian Studies Ashland Theological Seminary/Detroit Center One day in 2009 after President Obama took office, I walked into my Greek exegesis class at Ashland Theological Seminary in Detroi t and one of two white male students asked, “Dr. Smith, don’t you think we live in a post-racial society given we have elected a black President and here I am sitting in your class a black female with a Harvard Ph.D.?” I didn’t doubt my student’s sincerity. I’d like to think that he felt safe enough in that space... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Kate Blanchard (Ph.D., Duke University) Associate Professor of Religious Studies Alma College It’s late summer in North America. The days are breezy, the nights are cool. Students in athletics t-shirts and shower shoes shuffle around campus. Here in Alma the intermittent sounds of marching bands, coaches’ whistles, and bagpipes hover... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at Stories from the Front
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Ella Johnson, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry I didn’t plan to bring it up. In fact, I had made a conscious decision to not talk about it. But, in the middle of class, I said something. I had to. I still wonder if I made the right decision. August 27 was the first day of my Theology of Church and Ministry class. I was prepared with a list of learning objectives I wanted to accomplish: introductions to the class and to each other; review of the course outline; overview of the scope... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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Andre E. Johnson, Ph.D. Dr.James L Netters Associate Professor of Rhetoric & Religion and African American Studies Memphis Theological Seminary I had already completed the syllabus. The required textbook, reading assignments, videos, and other class material already assigned. Matter of fact, I had already sent the syllabus out to the students so they could get an early start on the reading. Everything was done and after my trip to the National Summit on Race in Chicago, I looked forward to having at least a couple of weeks off before the school year started. Then Ferguson happened and I knew... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Race Matters in the Classroom
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It may seem premature to offer this blog at the beginning of an academic year, but the fact is most deans who are leaving office will have announced their departure from that role with a year's notice. If that's the case for you, you've turned in your graciously-worded resignation letter... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2014 at Theological School Deans