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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.

The weekly gatherings of the Fall 2016 colloquium have pursued this question: “How might Christian faith and tradition help us to renew and perhaps to reconceive the purposes and practices of liberal education in today’s academic environment?” Are there resources available from these sources that might help to rejuvenate the somewhat distanced sectors of and within liberal and professional learning? Readings have focused on accounting for fragmentation within higher learning, but also on potential means for re-unifying disparate academic sectors.

With Andrew Delbanco’s College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, the group began considering what it might mean for higher education to proceed toward the telos of character formation in addition to disciplinary knowledge, which Delbanco argues was the way the early American college system worked—with a unity of purpose brought about by the conception that all studies had as their object some aspect of the divine mind. After the shift toward the disciplines, Delbanco suggests, such unity was lost. Thus, the colloquium opened with questions like these: Should we return in some way to the educational project of the earlier academy? If yes, how might we begin to do this, and to what pedagogy ought we to turn? What is the role of the teacher?

James Turner and Mark Noll’s conversation in The Future of Christian Learning: An Evangelical and Catholic Dialogue continued the discussion of specialization and unity. Noting certain differences between Catholic and Protestant institutions and scholars, these two esteemed historians provoked discussion of whether and how diverse Christian colleges and universities can work together to unify the curriculum and maintain their Christian character.

Brad Gregory’s influential book The Unintended Reformation prompted much discussion. In preparation for the LFP’s National Conference at Augsburg College, at which Gregory gave the first plenary address, the fellows considered the controversial claim that the Reformation itself is largely responsible for the secularization of knowledge and accompanying separation of the disciplines. If we follow Gregory, we have to ask what to do now. Facing conflicting truth claims from different sectors of the academy, what can a modern university do to help students sort through them? And where can we find a grounding for the cultivation of character?

“Writing as a Spiritual Discipline,” by Stephanie Paulsell (from Jones and Paulsell’s The Scope of Our Art: The Vocation of the Theological Teacher), suggests that resources might be found in new attention to the practice of writing. Paulsell advises that writing can be spiritually transformative, if practiced as a spiritual discipline—for faculty and for students. What is needed, she says, is to cultivate the student’s desire to pay attention to words, and the desire to offer them to others. Faculty must also think of their own written work as fully integrated with their teaching.

More recently, the discussion has centered on whether and how to appropriate classical versions of practical wisdom (e.g., Aristotle’s phronesis; Aquinas’s prudentia) for use in Christian higher learning. The sort of knowledge at issue goes beyond what some think is most characteristic of the academy’s practices, and includes the practices of Christian life that demonstrate a wisdom that often is left untreated in the academy but that may provide a useful supplement or even corrective. In this context, fellows have engaged with Josef Pieper’s The Four Cardinal Virtues; the exciting new volume Christian Practical Wisdom, by Dorothy C. Bass, Kathleen A. Cahalan, Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, James R. Nieman, and Christian B. Scharen; and William Sullivan’s essay on “The Twin Elements of Learning: Knowledge and Judgment.” Many questions have arisen: Is prudence (or, practical wisdom) indeed first among the virtues? What are its prerequisites? How can these be taught? How does this relate to the formation of character? Even: Can a focus on practical wisdom be a means of re-unifying disciplines and professional fields?

Mark Schwehn’s occasional essay on “Christian Practical Wisdom, Liberal Education, and Curricular Integrity” reminded the group of the Weberian—and modern—notion that values should remain separate from university instruction. If there is to be curricular unity brought about through focus on practical wisdom—the sort of knowledge that enables one to live well—how shall we respond to the Weberian view? Moreover, what will the classroom be like after this re-orientation? In addition to raising pedagogy as an issue again, Schwehn helped the group consider what very concrete modifications might be required in things like a course syllabus, assignments, and exam questions.

Finally, the colloquium examined an interesting approach to service that might have resonance in the classroom. Sam Wells, in “Rethinking Service” (a lecture delivered at the 2012 LFP National Conference), distinguishes a “mortality model” from an “isolation model” of service, suggesting that isolation rather than mortality is the central problem of human existence. Charities, universities, and individuals ought to adopt a mode of a service emphasizing being with others rather than doing things for others (which he suggests may not help as planned). The challenge, then, is to learn the isolation model and put it to work, toward the formation of true community—inside and outside of the classroom.

Posted by Joseph Goss

An International Seminar in Orvieto Italy, December 30, 2016-January 14, 2017, Sponsored By Gordon College; Call for Applications

Call for applications for Adult Learners;
Deadline is October 24, 2016

An International Seminar in Orvieto Italy, December 30, 2016-January 14, 2017 sponsored by the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College in Wenham, MA and the Studio for Art, Faith, and History.

The Theme for the Seminar is:  Harmony in the Cosmos?: Exploration in Western Music, Art and Architecture.

Seminar Description:
In the classical world, music was one of the basic subjects of liberal arts education. The mathematical harmonies of music were understood as the key to the structure of the cosmos and to the well-being of communities and individuals – as well as to the formal beauty and inspirational effect of architecture and the arts. The January 2017 Winter Seminar (a) explores this central role of Music in classical and early Christian thought, (b) studies its relation to the actual practice of architecture, the visual arts, and music, and (c) compares pre-modern understanding of the nature and effect of music with that of our own time.

Dr. Graeme Bird
Dr. John Skillen

For More information and to apply, click here .

From the Colloquium, Graduate Fellows Edition

Since 2006, the Lilly Fellows Program Director 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-six 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 Sixth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who began graduate school and the program in fall 2013 and who just completed their three year program, read and discussed materials focused, in the fall, on the theme “’There Lives the Dearest Freshness Deep Down Things’: Recovering Christian Particularity in a Secular Academy.” The Sixth Cohort’s mentors are Jane Kelley Rodeheffer of Pepperdine University and Arlin Migliazzo of Whitworth University. To explore the topic, the Sixth Cohort read: Gilead, by Marilyn Robinson, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, perennial favorite Susan VanZanten’s Joining the Mission, Mark Noll and James Turner, The Future of Christian Learning: An Evangelical and Catholic Dialogue (Thomas A. Howard, Editor), and selections from George Marsden’s Twilight of American Enlightenment. These main readings were accompanied by the following shorter works: Joel Carpenter, “The Christian Scholar in an Age of World Christianity”; Mary Douglas, “A Feeling for Hierarchy”; Paul Griffiths, “Seeking Egyptian Gold: A Fundamental Metaphor for the Christian Intellectual Life in a Religiously Diverse Age” (The Cresset 63:7, 2000: 30-35); Eric Gregory, “Beyond Public Reason: Love, Sin, and Augustinian Civic Virtue” from Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship; C.S. Lewis, “The Inner Ring,” and Cornell West, “Critical Theory and Christian Faith” from Prophetic Fragments. In the spring, the cohort shared readings contributed by the Fellows.

The members of the Seventh Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who completed the second year of their fellowship and who began their graduate studies in the fall of 2014, have been mentored by Paul Contino of Pepperdine University and Susan Felch of Calvin College. The themes for the fall and spring were “The Virtuous Learner” and “The Virtuous Teacher,” respectively.  The “spine” text for the fall was Dante’s Purgatorio and for the spring was Dante’s Paradiso. The group supplemented these texts with selections from Calvin’s Institutes; Bruce Cole’s Giotto: The Scrovegni Chapel, Padua; Rebecca DeYoung’s Glittering Vices; Josef Pieper’s The Four Cardinal Virtues and Faith, Hope, and Love; selections from Miroslav Volf and Dorothy C. Bass, Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life; Rowan Williams’ Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin; Rod Dreher’s, How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem; Joseph Luzzi’s, In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love; James Elkins’ Pictures and Tears, Jean Leclercq, The Love of learning and the Desire for God; Basil the Great’s “Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature”; Paul Griffiths’, “Seeking Egyptian Gold: A Fundamental Metaphor for the Christian Intellectual Life in a Religiously Diverse Age” (The Cresset 63:7, 2000: 30-35), and Jeanne Heffernan’s “The Art of Teaching and the Christian Vocation” in Michael R. Miller, ed., Doing More with Life: Connecting Christian Higher Education to a Call for Service.  The works by DeYoung, Williams, Elkins, and Leclercq have been perennial favorites of both the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program and the Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows Program.

Members of the Eighth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who began graduate work in fall, 2015, addressed the topic, “The Proper use of Study” in fall, 2015, and the topic, “Sustaining Practices for the Christian Scholar,” in spring, 2016. The Mentors for the Eighth Cohort are Patrick Byrne of Boston College and Susan VanZanten of Seattle Pacific University.  To grapple with the topics, the cohort used as its “spine” text Augustine’s Confessions, and it also read selections from Miroslav Volf and Dorothy C. Bass, Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life, selections from Paulsell and L. Gregory Jones, The Scope of Our Art (one of the central books in all our colloquia), and from Dorothy C. Bass and Susan R. Briehl, On Our Way: Christian Practices for Living a Whole Life. The also read Simone Weil’s classic, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies” in Waiting for God, Paul Griffiths’ Intellectual Appetite: A Theological Grammar; John Williams’ Stoner; Phyllis Tickle’s (ed.) The Divine Hours; Dorothy C. Bass’ “Keeping Sabbath” in her Practicing Our Faith; Abraham Joshua Heschel’s classic, The Sabbath; Rowan Williams’ Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin; James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation; Mark Schwehn’s, Exiles from Eden; selections from Aquinas’ Summa, and Brian E. Daley, “’To Be More Like Christ’: The Background and Implications of ‘Three Kinds of Humility,’” in Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits, 27/1 (January 1995), 1–39.

Posted by Joe Creech


Call for Proposals: World Without End: The New Shape of World Christianity

Call for Proposals

World Without End:

The New Shape of World Christianity

The character of Christianity is changing rapidly as its center shifts to the Global South. African and Asian Christian communities are thriving in contexts of pluralism, immigration, and political repression. New theologies are  also emerging in these communities, expanding and challenging traditions. This conference explores the dynamics of change in the Body of Christ with the waning cohesion of Western and North American Christianity and the emerging need for new practices for participating in the living and growing community of Christian faith.

Suggested topics for 
paper or panel proposals:

  • How does the rise of Global South Christianity affect leadership in Protestant denominations and Catholics?
  • What challenges and opportunities for theological and pastoral education attend the next Christendom?
  • What historical precursors provide guidance or insight to this time of change in Christianity?
  • How might an emerging understanding of Christian missions, evangelism, and theology enrich Western and Northern Christianity, especially in terms of pluralism and multi-faith communities?
  • What political/religious conditions are most threatening or promising in this changing religious landscape?
  • How can Christians navigate the wealth divide between North and South, especially considering the impact of immigration and travel?
  • How can local churches best educate their members on the thriving areas of Christianity in order to support and encourage their global neighbors?
  • What can local congregations learn from Christians in the Global South?
  • What practices will build Christian unity in the global community?


We invite proposals for presentations and panels, 750 words maximum with author(s) contact information and institutional affiliation, from all interested ministers, scholars, community organizers of all faiths and traditions.

Proposals are due
September 15, 2016. Decisions by October 1, 2016.


Conference Website: 

To submit a proposal or ask questions, email:

From the Colloquium, June 2016

“From the Colloquium” reports on the colloquium on vocation, Christianity, and higher learning that takes place in the two fellowship programs in the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts:  the two-year, residential Postdoctoral Fellowship at Valparaiso University, and the three-year fellowship for current graduate students, the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program.

In this final edition for academic year 2015/2016, I’ll provide an overview of the works the Postdoctoral Fellows read in spring, 2016.

The primary question guiding the spring 2016 colloquium was: “What are the practices and ideas about education that I and my students bring to the classroom?” The readings focused on specific questions regarding the general aim of teaching in the liberal arts and the specific aims of day-to-day course organization, preparation, and execution in light of Christian theology and practice.

The colloquium opened with Julie Reuben’s classic essay, “The University and Its Discontents,” in The Hedgehog Review (Fall, 2000), which looks at the marginalization of the moral aims of education in the modern research university in the US generally and the relegation of these aims to the humanities specifically in the middle of the twentieth century. The colloquium read Reuben’s work alongside O.P. Kretzmann’s 1940 presidential inaugural address to Valparaiso University as a case study of the trends she identifies.

From these more general themes, the colloquium then took up the question of whether professors should aim at some kind of moral formation in the classroom itself. The colloquium read first Stanley Fish’s Save the World on Your Own Time and Gilbert Meilaender’s essay, “Education and Soulcraft,” which argue, from different starting points, that university curricula (and, professors specifically) are ill equipped to offer any kind of moral formation in the classroom and should aim instead to foster the learning of information which students can’t otherwise obtain. Mark Schwehn, in his forthcoming “Good Teaching: Character Formation and Vocational Discernment” (David Cunningham, ed., Vocation Across the Academy) offers a counterargument that all teaching and learning necessarily involve moral formation (avoiding plagiarism, for example), and so professors should think carefully about what kind of moral formation takes place in their classrooms.

The colloquium next turned to Paul J. Griffiths’ “Reading as a Spiritual Discipline,” in Jones and Paulsell, The Scope of Our Art: The Vocation of the Theological Teacher, and David I. Smith’s “Reading Practices and Christian Pedagogy,” in Smith and Smith, Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith & Learning, both of which examine whether Christian theological commitments or practices should inform the way we read or teach students to read. Both think it should and offer a critique of consumerist reading that aims at mastery of a passive text against a hermeneutic of Christian charity and humility that treats a text as a conversation partner and reading as an opportunity for formation. The colloquium also discussed Richard Wilbur’s poem, “The Reader.” The following week the colloquium discussed how to read and teach Andres Dubus’ short story, “A Father’s Story” in light of the previous readings.

The colloquium rounded out the spring with three classic texts on teaching and the aims of liberal education: Philip W. Jackson, “Real Teaching,” in Mark R. Schwehn, ed., Everyone a Teacher; Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do, and Eva Brann “Depth and Desire,” also in Everyone a Teacher.

Posted by Joe Creech

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