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From the Colloquium

The Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts sponsors two fellowship programs: a Postdoctoral and a Graduate Fellowship program. Both of these involve the Fellows in an ongoing colloquium, for vigorous discussion and debate about issues of vocation and higher learning in a Christian context. Here is a peek into what the current Postdoctoral Fellows are engaging with right now.

Overall, the weekly gatherings of the fall 2017 colloquium have pursued this question: “How might practices and perspectives from Christian faith and tradition contribute to our understanding and practice of the academic vocation?” Going back to some of the key texts from which the Lilly Fellows Program draws its inspiration, the group has  considered the meaning of Christian teaching when a Weberian view of the academic vocation still exercises a powerful influence. Max Weber’s “Science as a Vocation” and Mark Schwehn’s Exiles from Eden have given the group an opportunity to discuss whether the values held and sustained in the Christian tradition have a place in the academy, and how they might be brought to bear on academic learning in general.

A selection from Russell Muirhead’s Just Work and Robert Wuthnow’s “The Changing Nature of Work in the United States: Implications for Vocation, Ethics, and Faith” led the group into a discussion of the realities of the world we work in, and prompted consideration of whether our own situation in the academy differs from the larger work world described by these authors. What pressures do we face? How might we think about the various calls upon our time, and the shrinking demand for some kinds of intellectual work? Further, with Muirhead, the question arose of the extent to which academic work forms the person who does it, in ways both expected and unexpected. What abilities or habits do we develop from the very nature of the work we do? Both of these works force the reader to think about the limits of our own agency: issues of justice, economics, relationships, health, and accidents of birth, for example, all factor into how we discover and work within the paths of vocation presented in the academy.

Richard Russo’s short story “Horseman” gave rise to lively discussion! Russo’s characters leave some of us uncomfortable. They face many academic and personal challenges that, we have to admit, are not far from our own experiences—and seem to remain unsolved. This is a work that challenges us to think about gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and the subtle ways these can be perpetuated in academic life. It also invites reflection on how to exhibit one’s authentic self in one’s work, in the face of the risks involved, and the constraints under which we labor.

Next, the colloquium considered subjects not often juxtaposed. Academic study and teaching are connected to discipline and prayer, according to Simone Weil (“Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God”) and Stephanie Paulsell (“Writing as a Spiritual Discipline”) Paulsell’s suggestion that writing can deepen our life in community connected well with Weil’s notion that the faculty of attention, as developed in study of all different sorts, was important for service to God and one’s neighbor. In fact, both of these authors grant an important nobility to academic study, as they see it leading far beyond the classroom. Paulsell reminds us that writing can be a spiritually transformative activity in which words can be offered to others for their good; Weil suggests that all study, if approached in the proper attitude, increases the capacity to attend to others’ needs.

However, Paul Griffiths’ essay “From Curiosity to Studiousness: Catechizing the Appetite for Learning” identified a Christian ambivalence toward learning and raised the question of how to balance “prophetic” and “pastoral” teaching modes. Should we foster curiosity? Should we foster studiousness? How does—and should­—one lead to the other? Griffiths’ work also led the group to consider the role and interest of Christians in the practices of the disciplines and how they relate to each other, and the relative importance of learning outcomes. Griffiths also makes the provocative claim Christian influence in higher learning is felt in ways that can be traced back to Christian liturgical practices.

Amy and Leon Kass’s “What’s Your Name?,” along with Genesis 2 and Ursula LeGuin’s “She Unnames Them” helped us into the many questions raised by the traditions we are given to receive, work within, and alter. What does it mean to “name” something or someone? What dangers lie in the act of naming, such that naming, and the work of tradition might need to be undone? How does tradition help us view our possible futures? Finally, how does naming relate to knowing?

The poet Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss distinguishes primarily self-loving art from art that loves outwardly, which we considered on its own and also refocused on broader academic pursuits of teaching, writing, editing, and scholarship. One important question was how our devotion to our academic work relates to the call that other people place on our lives—our responsibilities to family, students, even God. Wiman also calls attention to a source of tension in the artist’s life, between the need to fight despair with self-expression, born of self-knowledge, and the trap into which self-love can lead us. Can this be a problem for the academic, as well?

Concluding with Abraham Joshua Heschel’s influential classic The Sabbath is a good way to consider, again, whether work ought to be the primary source of one’s identity. Rabbi Heschel suggests that most of our time is spent conquering space, and that we tend to lose the sense of the sacredness of time represented by the Sabbath. Although work is necessary, so is rest—and the latter is sanctified at the very creation of the world. Do we have a specifically academic problem of time? If so, what (Sabbatarian) practices might help us regain a celebratory experience of time? How might we gain an awareness of time that keeps with God’s own Sabbath, and what would that mean for the work we do on the other six days?

Once again, the colloquium has given our group a lot to think about.

Posted by Joseph Goss

What is Tradition?: An Ecumenical and Interreligious Conversation

Please see below for information on an upcoming conference hosted by Valparaiso University’s Christ College, the home of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. The conference will bring together Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars for a discussion of the idea of tradition in late modernity. Further information is available here:  What is Tradition?


Posted by Joseph Goss

From the Colloquium, Graduate Fellows Edition

Since 2006, the Lilly Fellows Program  has published a “From the Colloquium” column about four times per year. The idea behind this column is to share some of the common readings from the colloquia of the Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows Program and the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program. These works can be of great value for mentoring programs or faculty development projects at different campuses (or to add to your own reading lists).

Common readings and group discussion have been central to the Lilly Fellows Program’s (LFP) fellowship programs from their start twenty-seven years ago. First with the Lilly Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship program at Valparaiso University starting in 1992 and then with the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program in 2008, Fellows have encountered readings intended to engage Christian thought and practice as they intersect the tasks of teaching and scholarship that make up the work we do in the academy. The readings address these issues on both the personal and institutional level, examining our individual practices as scholars as well as those of our academic institutions (with, of course, a special emphasis on those institutions of higher learning that connect to a church-related mission).

Once a year, we focus on the readings that the three active cohorts of Lilly Graduate Fellows discuss. These Fellows are in their first three years of Graduate school. Each semester, the Lilly Graduate Fellow cohorts select readings that cluster around a particular theme. Here are some of those readings.

The members of the Seventh Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who began graduate school and the program in fall 2014 and who just completed their three year program, read and discussed materials focused, in the fall, on the theme “God’s Gift and Our Response” and in the spring on the theme, “Fulfilling our Vocations in God’s World.” The Seventh Cohort’s mentors are Paul Contino of Pepperdine University and Susan Felch of Calvin College. To explore these topics, the Seventh Cohort selected Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov as a spine text for both semesters.  In both the fall and spring they supplemented Dostoevsky’s text with Fritz Eichenberg’s, Lithographs for The Brothers Karamazov and Rowan Williams’, Dostoevsky: Language, Faith, and Fiction. In addition, the fall the cohort read: Margaret Kenna, “Icons in Theory and Practice” (History of Religions, Vol. 24, No. 4 [May, 1985]: 345-368); Oleg Komkov, “The Vertical Form”; articles by Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky in The Meaning of Icons; Marilynne Robinson’s, “Facing Reality” from The Death of Adam, Eleonore Stump’s, “Second-Person Accounts and the Problem of Evil” (Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia [Oct. – Dec., 2001]: 745-771); Charles Taylor’s, “God Loveth Adverbs” from Sources of the Self, Simone Weil’s, “The Love of our Neighbor” from Waiting for God, and essays by Paul J. Contino on Zosima (“Zosima, Mikhail, and Prosaic Confessional Dialogue in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov,” Studies in the Novel, Vol 27, No. 1 [spring 1995]: 63-86), Alyosha (“The Prudential Alyosha Karamazov: The Russian Realist from a Catholic Perspective,” in Dostoevsky and Christianity: Art, Faith, and Dialogue in a special volume of Dostoevsky Monographs, Volume VI. Ed. Jordi Morillas [St. Petersburg, Russia: Dmitry Bulanin]. 2015), Ivan (“’Descend That You May Ascend’: Augustine, Dostoevsky, and the Confessions of Ivan Karamazov,” in Augustine and Literature, ed. Robert P. Kennedy, Kim Paffenroth, and John Doody, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield), and Mitya (“Incarnational Realism and the Case of Casuistry: Dmitry Karamazov’s Escape” in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov: Art, Creativity, and Spirituality, ed. Predrag Cicovacki and Maria Granik, Heidelberg, 2010).  They also listened to Sacred Treasures: Choral Masterworks from Russia. In the spring, and in preparation for a final conference in Krakow, Poland, the cohort viewed the film, Ida, and read Bruce Berglund’s, “Drafting a historical Geography of East European Christianity” in Christianity and Modernity in Eastern Europe, ed. Bruce R. Berglund and Brian A. Porter; Don DeGraaf’s, There and Back: Living and Learning Abroad, Mary Douglas, Á Feeling for Hierarchy”; C. S. Lewis’s, “Meditation in a Toolshed”; Czeslaw Milosz’s, To Begin Where I Am and poems; selections from Parker Palmer’s, The Courage to Teach; selections from David Smith and Susan Felch’s, Teaching and Christian Imagination; Timothy Steele’s, “An Ordinary Life in Academe”; selections from Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone is Credible, Susan VanZanten’s, Joining the Mission; George Wiegel’s, City of Saints, Elie Wiesel’s, Night, and Adam Zagajewski, A Defense of Ardor and poems.

Members of the Eighth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who began graduate work in fall, 2015, addressed the topic, “Teaching as a Christian Vocation” in fall, 2016, and the topic, “Protestants and Catholics in Conversation,” in spring, 2017. The Mentors for the Eighth Cohort are Patrick Byrne of Boston College and Susan VanZanten of Seattle Pacific University. To grapple with the fall topic, the cohort read: Augustine’s, The First Catechetical Instruction; Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do (which many cohorts have used); St. Basil, “Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature”; Patrick Byrne, “Paradigms of Justice and Love” in Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education (Spring, 1995); selections from John Calvin’s Institutes; Karen Eifler and Thomas M. Landy, Becoming Beholders (winner of the 2015 LFP Book Award); various readings by Stanley Fish on the role of moral formation (or lack thereof) in higher education; Ron Kirkemo, “At the Lectern Between Jerusalem and Sarajevo” in Teaching as an Act of Faith, ed. Arlin Migliazzo; selections from Parker Palmer’s, The Courage to Teach; Mark Roche, “Should Faculty Members Teach Virtues and Values?” (another piece often read by the Graduate Fellows); Susan VanZanten, Joining the Mission: A Guide for (Mostly) New Faculty, and selections from Mark R. Schwehn, ed,.  Everyone a Teacher, and Nicholas Wolterstorff, Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education. To explore the way different groups of Protestants and Catholics have approached issues of faith and reason, the cohort read: Justo L. González’s, The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day (vol. 2); selections from Denis R. Janz, A Reformation Reader; St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans; N.T. Wright, “Romans and the Theology of Paul” in Pauline Theology, Vol. III, ed. David M. Hay & E. Elizabeth Johnson, 1995; numerous literary, theological, and artistic primary sources from the Reformation era; Fleming, “How Ignatian Spirituality Gives Us a Way to Discern God’s Will”; selected poems by Julia Kasdorf; Brad S. Gregory, “Why the Reformation Still Matters (Whether We Want It To or Not)” (presented at the 2016 LFP Annual National Conference); and Dale Van Kley, “Where the Rot Started?” Review of Brad S. Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society.

The members of the Ninth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who completed the first year of their fellowship and who began their graduate studies in the fall of 2016, have been mentored by Douglas Henry of Baylor University and Gretchen J. Van Dyke of The University of Scranton. The themes for the fall and spring were “In Search of the Way: Ordering our Lives and Loves” and “Taking the Upward Way: True Love, Liberty, and Saintliness,” respectively.  The “spine” text for the fall was Dante’s Inferno, and the group supplemented this text with selections from Jones, L. Gregory and Stephanie Paulsell’s The Scope of Our Art: The Vocation of the Theological Teacher, which has been a standard text for most of the Graduate Fellows, and they also engaged the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Mary Oliver. The “spine” text for the spring was Dante’s Purgatorio, which almost all the cohorts of Lilly Graduate Fellows have engaged as a text that works trough the aims and activities of teaching, moral formation, and the particular vices associated with intellectual work.  The cohort members supplemented this text with Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung’s Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, which numerous cohorts have found helpful, and they again read the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Mary Oliver.

Posted by Joe Creech

 

Registration Open for Lilly Fellows Program Regional Conference: Reason and Faith on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

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Registration Open for Lilly Fellows Program Regional Conference: Reason and Faith on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

October 13-14, 2017 at Central College in Pella, Iowa

Registration is now open for “Reason and Faith on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation,” will take place October 13-14, 2017 on the Central College campus in Pella, Iowa. This conference brings together five keynote speakers from a variety of Christian denominations to discuss the relation of reason and faith as it is understood in both the academy and Church over the past five hundred years. Speakers include:

  • John Baxter (Dalhousie University — Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • Christina Bieber Lake (Wheaton College — Wheaton, IL )
  • Jennifer Hockenberry Dragseth (Mt. Mary University — Milwaukee, WI)
  • Douglas Kries (Gonzaga University — Spokane, WA)
  • Albert Wolters (Redeemer University College — Ancaster, Ontario)

For registration and further information, visit the conference website at:  http://lillyfellows.central.edu/

The deadline for registration is Sept. 20.

 

On Christian Unity

Thomas Albert Howard’s new post at the Anxious Bench blog provides interesting and important insights on the importance of ecumenism for the fulfillment of the gospel, especially in light of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary. Find it here:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2017/05/evangelicals-christian-unity/

Posted by Joe Goss

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