What are you reading, watching, thinking about this week? As usual, here’s a few which have been on our mind. Let us know your thoughts on any/all of them. If you have items you’d like us to consider for the top five, add them in the comments or send them to Tom or Mike.
1. “Look at your grades. Now look at mine.” The Old Spice Man has gone from a series of hilarious television commercials to a full-fledged Internet meme. BYU, however, decided to parody the absurd body wash marketing campaign by marketing…libraries.
If you’re not sick and tired of him, be sure to weigh in on Culture Making’s Five Questions about Old Spice Man.
2. Bias against White Christians at Elite Universities? Ross Douthat, writing in the NY Times, thinks there is.
The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.
In a letter to the editor, Miami University education professor Julie Park thinks Douthat might be
confound[ing] two issues: the underrepresentation of low-income white students in elite universities and the low number of white Christian students at these same institutions. This association is puzzling considering that evangelical Christianity is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance in elite institutions (see “The Holy and the Ivy,” published in Christianity Today in 2005).
On her personal blog, Julie goes into much more detail about factors that affect college admissions for lower-income white students and trends among evangelical Christians at elite universities.
3. Confessions of a (Sometimes) Helicopter Parent (Patti K. See. Inside Higher Ed. 07/16/2010). How are you maturing? If you are in a classroom situation as a TA/lab aid, lecturer, professor, etc., how do you interact with students and/or their parents? If you are a member of the faculty/administration, married and with children, how are you raising your children? How do you understand responsibility, maturation, being a ‘lifeline’ to your children. As I [Tom] read the article, I wondered what college prep and adulthood means in our culture today. Reminds me how I graduated last century in the midst of a shift in not only in the lines of communication (yes, I was 1 phone call a month right before the coming of high usage of the email and cell phones), but also those of adulthood (which had previously been pushed back, unless one happens to be raised in contexts which demand early adulthood, e.g., youth caring for families, youth forced to make it on their own early in life, Amish entering/leaving Rumspringa).
At a recent meeting our provost told a story about receiving a midmorning call from a mother asking if her son was in class.
“I always give my son a wakeup call,” the mother explained, “but he’s not answering.” Our provost — a dean at the time of this experience — told this concerned mother she cannot inform parents if their adult students are in class.
“Student?” the mother exclaimed. “No, he’s teaching the class.”
My colleagues and I groaned. This story could be part of “helicopter parent” legend.
4. Ernest L. Boyer and the Scholarship of Integration (Nels P. Highberg. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 07/19/2010). Note: Messiah College’s Boyer Center is inspired by, archives materials from, and develops new material based upon the work of Ernest L. Boyer, a follower of Christ who made significant contributions to the field of education.
One of the challenges in going up for tenure (or applying for jobs or grants) is explaining the significance of your scholarship to those outside your discipline. At my university [U. of Hartford], we are advised to follow a model first explicated by Ernest L. Boyer in Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate.
5. Educating Imams in Germany: the Battle for a European Islam (Paul Hockenos. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 07/18/2010). As you wrestle with this complex situation, keep in mind that although the German Research University Model has significantly influenced higher education in the United States over the past 100 years, we exist in a much different overall educational and political (church-state) context.
Fostering a generation of German-schooled imams, seen as central to breaking the vicious circle of Muslim exclusion, is the chief aim of an Islamic-theology initiative announced by the government in January. The effort is a vital front of the Islam Conference, started in 2006, an ambitious, wide-ranging process set in motion by the German government to consider the yawning gap between mainstream Germany and its Muslims. The conference, designed to map out a long-term integration strategy, painted a dismal picture of the reality faced by German Muslims. It is a reality marked by meager integration; growing alienation and even fundamentalism among the second and third-generations; the ossification of a Muslim underclass; and dysfunctional communication between Germany and its Muslims, nearly half of whom are German citizens. One of its key recommendations is to focus on the training of the Islamic community’s personnel, including religion teachers, as well as the dearth of Islamic theology in German academe. …
Although the institutes will be anchored in state-financed colleges, the country’s Muslim communities will have a substantial voice in their curricula and management, just as Christian churches do in theology departments across Germany. …
Critics say Islam has already been altered through its emergent Western congregations and interaction with European value systems. The new Islamic institutes in Germany, as well as like-minded programs in Austria, France, and the Netherlands, could well take Islam to places its guardians never intended it to go. That is exactly what the architects of Germany’s Islamic academies hope.
Did you see that Harvard grad Jeremy Lin has signed a 2-year contract with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors? We don’t traffic much in basketball news on this blog, but this is a special case: Lin was involved with InterVarsity’s Harvard Radcliffe Asian American Christian Fellowship, and he was profiled on both InterVarsity’s website and on StudentSoul. If you haven’t gotten your fill of Jeremy Lin-related news, check out this interview with ESPN’s True Hoop blog, which starts off with the question “How insane is this?” but segues into a discussion of Jeremy’s faith:
How important is the [Asian-American] identity stuff? [Ed.: Jeremy is the first Asian American in the NBA in 63 years.]
You know, it’s important but not as important as my being a Christian. That’s first and foremost the most important thing to me when it comes to my identity.
Is it more important to your folks?
No. We believe in the same thing. That’s how our house is and how I was raised. We’ve always taken our Christianity and our walks with God as our first priority.
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!