“Finding Our Calcutta” on Campus

Mary Poplin presents for a Veritas Forum gathering of Pittsburgh academics. 30 in attendance. Excellent leadership provided by InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry staff Robin Capcara and Michael Gehrling.

Over the past several days in venue after venue across Pittsburgh and South Central PA, I heard Mary Poplin, Professor of Education at Claremont Graduate University, share not only her testimony, but also the cost of following Christ in higher education. As you may remember from The Unlikely Conversion of a Radical Scholar and Appendix A of Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service, Mary considers it part of her call/Calcutta to challenge the gods of our age as they reign on campus. In brief, she seizes opportunities to respond to the insufficient challenges which

  • Scientific Naturalism levies against God
  • Secular Humanism levies against the Son
  • Pantheism/Spirituality levies against the Holy Spirit

What are some of Mary Poplin’s most helpful responses to the gods of our age and how does she reach out even to atheists, who the Missionaries of Charity place among the poorest of the poor?

  • Telling Mother Teresa’s story. “Mother Teresa is completely incomprehensible from the major worldviews of the university.”
  • Underscoring how spiritual transactions such as her own and Mother Teresa’s cannot be explained by scientific naturalism and/or secular humanism. If you have not already read Mary’s stirring testimony, take a few minutes to soak in Along the Way: The Unlikely Conversion of a Radical Scholar.
  • Debunking the broad nature of pantheism/spirituality by positing the necessity of leaning upon Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our daily walk.

Mary Poplin meets with Heather

During her time in Pittsburgh, Mary and I visited a Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) alum who can’t shake the campus. Heather’s father is a CMU professor and Heather is now married to a CMU researcher (another CMU alum back at CMU after acquiring his PhD at MIT). Heather immensely enjoyed this opportunity to learn from and be encouraged by Mary, a Christian Scholar who offers a word of advice to those willing to listen. Follow the links below to Heather’s personal blogposts about her conversation with Mary.

PS. I’m in the process of preparing an book study on Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service, adapting material from a three month Sunday School class led by my friend Kevin Milligan. We’ll begin late summer/early fall 2011 after the series on Dennis Hollinger‘s Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action (InterVarsity Press, 2005) wraps up. More information coming. Hope you’re ready for some conversation 🙂 I’ll include audio and video from Mary’s various presentations.

PPS. Audio and video from Mary’s 2/25 Veritas Forum presentation on Radical Marxist, Radical Womanist, Radical Love: What Mother Teresa Taught Me about Social Justice (Carnegie Mellon University) are available here.

Updated: 7/12/2011, 2:22 PM

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Tom Grosh IV

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!

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