Archives For Life in the Academy

Approaching a New Semester

Kate Peterson —  January 25, 2013 — 1 Comment
Preparing for the classroom to fill.

Approaching a New Term. Preparing for the classroom to fill.

Editor’s note: A powerful piece received a few weeks ago, I encourage you to join the author and myself in prayer for the new term. . . .

I have to admit a certain fear as the new semester approaches. Not so much about the teaching itself. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve done it before. What incites fear in me is the realization that I  with all my insecurities, faults and failures — am again being given sixty-some students for four hours a week for fifteen weeks. This is more time than they will spend with their parents, their pastors, and probably most of their friends. And they will be tested to ensure they pay attention to what I say. I think of the influence some of my college professors had on me, positive and negative, and I wonder what impact I will have when these students look back some day.

This past week registration opened up for the spring semester, and I have been periodically — OK, maybe a bit obsessively — checking the online rosters to see who will be in my classes. With that on my mind, I read the scriptures and my morning devotional readings this morning and processed what was on my mind in my prayer journal:

“Learn to listen to me even while you are listening to other people. As they open their souls to your scrutiny, you are on holy ground. You need the help of My Spirit to respond appropriately. Ask Him to think through you, live through you, love through you.” — Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, Oct. 31.

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . . . It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another. . . . Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations —these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.” — C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Continue Reading…

Below are suggested readings from my Urbana 12 seminar Serving Christ as a Professor. These are books or essays that Emerging Scholars Network staff and members have found especially helpful to their journey toward becoming a faculty member.

In each section, foundational or introductory selections are listed first, followed by books that are either more advanced or written for a specialized audience.

Be sure to also see our list of Best Books for Undergraduates from Urbana 09, as suggested by our blog readers. We know this is only a partial list of all the books we could have recommended. Did we omit one of your favorites? Recommend it in the comments!

The Life of the Mind

Greg Jao, Your Mind’s Mission
C. S. Lewis, “Learning in War-Time,” published in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses
Charles Malik, “The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar,” published in William Lane Craig and Paul Gould, ed. The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar: Redeeming the Soul, Redeeming the Mind
James Sire, Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling
John Stott, Your Mind Matters

Mark Noll, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind (Our review)
James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation
James Davidson Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World Continue Reading…

Empty classroom

Are you connected with a community of Christian scholars?

Below is the first of a periodic offering of posts by Kate Peterson (pseudonym), an assistant professor in the humanities at a Christian institution of higher education. A special thank-you to Kate for expressing her desire to share with us some of her story, thereby providing a lens for some of the challenges faced by and insights which can be uniquely offered by scholars in the context of a Christian institution of higher education. As an alumnus of two Christian institutions, a student currently enrolled at another, and an InterVarsity staff who has visited a number of Christian institutions (and institutions which were founded to be Christian institutions), I personally find it an important part of the conversation of following Christ in higher education. ~ Thomas B. Grosh IV


I’m disappointed. In myself, mostly. And struggling a bit. It hit hard when I began my first tenure track position at a Christian university straight out of grad school several years ago. But like my colleagues, I got used to it, so caught up in day-to-day pressures that it stopped bothering me.

But this semester, I’m on leave, conducting research in a country that has very few Christians. And so it struck me again: Why do I feel better supported as a Christian scholar here than at the Christian institution in the United States where I work?

I don’t mean to complain. I love my job. I appreciate the freedom I have to bring up my faith in the classroom. I love it that students raise spiritual questions during office hours. The institution supports spiritual mentoring, and meals with students are not only encouraged, but subsidized! I was excited when an energetic undergrad scheduled lunch with me my first month and asked openly, “So, are you a Christian?” That’s a question I’ve gotten fairly often from students who are genuinely struggling and really want to know. I’ve had conversations with students about being a Christian in my field, the moral implications of issues raised in classes, or how to apply what they learn in ministry. I’ve prayed with them about how to serve Christ in their major and how their studies impact their faith. I love it.

But one thing bothers me. Why do these conversations take place with students but not peers? Continue Reading…