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. The Future of Evangelicals in Academia. Who else to address this question than Mark Noll, historian and author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Lots of good material in this interview, including some of his impressions of James Davison Hunter’s To Change The World and Andy Crouch’s review of the book. Note: If you have thoughts to share regarding the ideas in Hunter’s book, then please comment at Micheal Hickerson’s ESN blog post Changing the World with James Davison Hunter.
The last question of the interview is “What are some of the most encouraging trends you see today in evangelical intellectual circles, be they projects or institutions or ministries?” He mentions several projects, institutions, and ministries including InterVarsity’s Graduate and Faculty Ministry. Thank-you for the encouragement. To God be the glory!
2. Philosophy and Faith (Gary Gutting. NY Times Opinion. 9/1/2010.) Interested in studying philosophy at Notre Dame or tracking with some of the discussion which occurs on campus (and on-line) regarding material such as Alvin Plantinga’s modal-logic formulation of St. Anselm’s ontological argument or William Rowe’s complex version of a probabilistic argument from evil, then visit this NY Times Opinion piece.
4. Christian Academics Cite Hostility on Campus: Here on the ESN blog, we’ve mentioned the work of Elaine Howard Ecklund before, but NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty picked up the story of her research project, Religion among Academic Scientists. Ecklund found that over half of academic scientists believed in God and considered themselves religious to some degree, but practiced a “closeted faith” out of fear:
“They just do not want to bring up that they are religious in an academic discussion. There’s somewhat of almost a culture of suppression surrounding discussions of religion at these kinds of academic institutions,” Ecklund says.
She says the scientists worried that their colleagues would believe they were politically conservative — or worse, subscribed to the theory of intelligent design. Ecklund says they all insisted on anonymity.
Ecklund’s claims were echoed by Aryeh Weinberg of the Institute for Jewish and Community Studies, whose study a few years back found that over half of all faculty had negative feelings toward evangelical Christians. At least one evangelical, however, considered the claims overblown: Randall Balmer insisted that he had never experienced any hostility. As a historian of religion, Balmer’s opinion ought to be considered but Bobby Ross at GetReligion.org noted that Balmer is hardly a typical evangelical.
BTW, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, in addition to her work as NPR’s religion correspondent, is the author of Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality. Has anyone read this?
5. Tenured Radical’s Advice for New Faculty: HT to the Chronicle to pointing to this advice. TR’s theme is that academics have to write their own job description, or else it will be written for them in an extremely unhelpful way. Pardon his French:
The problem is, there is almost no one I know in academia who has a job description that would give them a reasonable sense of where a professor’s job begins and ends. Couple this with the reality of being tenure-track (or worse, a full-time visitor), which often seems like an endless exercise in pleasing everybody, all the time, in every way we can. Top it off with the fact that we learn early on not to complain about being overworked because some jackass will look at us piously and say, “You just have to learn to say no to things!”
I’d tell you to read the whole post, but that feels a bit pushy after that quote.
Photo credit: Back to the Future by darkmatter, via Flickr
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!