The staff and volunteers of ESN seek to be attuned to the rhythms of the academic year and the spiritual rhythms of our lives with God. One of the main goals in how we set up our blog content is to provide spiritually invigorating content that understands the rhythms of the academic year. Today, as many people are nearing the end of their semesters, we offer a brief prayer by ESN Writer/Editor Hannah Eagleson.Â If you’re looking for more spiritual exercises suited to this time of year, Hannah also wrote a brief spiritual exercise at the end of last Sunday’s post Ice Cream, Work, and Liturgy. [Read more…] about A Prayer for Those Finishing a Semester
At ESN, we deeply value supporting and mentoring the next generation. In this post, Scott Santibanez, an ESN author who often writes for graduate students and faculty here at the ESN blog, takes a moment to share encouragement and advice for students finishing their undergraduate careers and moving on to the next steps in their vocation. If you are a graduating senior, we’re glad you’re here, and we hope this post encourages you in this key moment. If you’re heading to grad school and want to find community along the way, you can learn more about our network of Christian academicsÂ hereÂ andÂ look for an InterVarsity grad chapter here. If you are a professor or graduate student and you know seniors who are believers, please consider sharing this post with them. For students headed to graduate school, it may be a great introduction to ESN. For others, we hope it’s encouraging as they pursue whatever God is calling them to next. [Read more…] about Advice for Graduates: 5 Things To Do as You Enter the Next Phase of Life
A friend who works in campus ministry asked me for advice recently. He had heard about a difficult situation at another university and was wondering what I would say to the student:
There is a student in a philosophy class here, where the professor is incredibly disrespectful towards Christians. How do you usually encourage your students to respond, and what advice do you usually give them? It appears there are not many Christians in the class, and if there are, they all laugh at the professor and go along with him.
Even though relatively few professors express anti-Christian views in the classroom, this is a fairly common experience for students. In her sociological study Science vs. Religion, Elaine Howard Ecklund found that the small minority of scientists who were actively hostile to religion received much more attention than their numbers might warrant:
There is a small group of scientists (less than 5 percent of those I interviewed) who go beyond privatizing religion or separating themselves from it to actively suppressing its expression. Because of their vocal bent, this group can appear much larger than it really is. They have been outspoken about the irrelevance and danger of religion as well as the need to suppress it where possible, and their work and views have received a lot of public press because of their contrarian nature. (105, emphasis added)
Ecklundâ€™s study focused on scientists at elite universities, so I donâ€™t know what the percentage of actively hostile professors might be in other disciplines or at other types of universities. As an undergraduate English major at a public research university, I encountered two professors who openly disparaged Christianity (both tenured, one in literature and the other in linguistics) and only one professor who openly discussed her Christian faith (an adjunct Latin instructor). As I got to know professors personally, I discovered several more who held strong personal beliefs (both Christian and non), but who kept them out of the classroom for various reasons. Anecdotally, Ecklundâ€™s 5 percent figure feels about right for faculty who are vocally against religion.
Very rough math suggests that an average student will encounter 2 hostile professors as an undergraduate. Horror stories from friends will make the number seem even larger. With almost all of their other professors keeping silent on religion, the vocal disdain of this “unsilent majority” can feel like the default position of faculty. This is one reason why I think itâ€™s important for Christian faculty to let students know about their beliefs.
What would you counsel a student who is dealing with an anti-Christian professor? Leave your suggestions in the comments, or email them to me if you prefer to be anonymous. Iâ€™ll share my thoughts a bit later in the comments.
- Some estimates, with lots of assumptions: 124â€“128 credit hours are required for the typical bachelors degree. If the average class is 3 credits, then a student will have ~41 professors as an undergraduate. Some of these will likely repeat, but there will also be 1 credit classes, TAs, etc., so letâ€™s go with 40 professors. If 5 percent are actively hostile to religion, then the average student will encounter 2 such professors over their undergraduate career. Â â†©
Below are suggested readings from my Urbana 12 seminarÂ 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,Â Your Mindâ€™s Mission
C. S. Lewis, â€œLearning in War-Time,â€ published in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses
Charles Malik, â€œThe Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar,â€ published in William Lane Craig and Paul Gould, ed.Â 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,Â To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World [Read more…] about Serving Christ as a Professor: Suggested Readings from Urbana 12
In only 15 days, ESN will be joining 18,000 of our closest friends at Urbana 12,Â InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference. As in years past, we’ll have an exhibitor table, and I’ll be hosting a seminar onÂ “Serving Christ as a Professor.”
One of my favorite things about conferences is learning about new books â€” or, even better,Â old books that I somehow hadn’t known about. Most of the attendees at Urbana are undergraduates, so the conference is a great opportunity to send them away with a fresh reading list for the new year.
What books about the life of the mind, the academy, and spiritual formation should we recommend?Â Here are the ones we suggested at Urbana 09. Do you have any to add?
Note: Several of the books below feature links to Amazon, but we strongly recommend you order from “friend of ESN” Hearts and Minds Books or the local bookstore of your choice.Â