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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:

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:

Posted by Joe Goss

From the Colloquium

The Spring 2017 semester of the Postdoctoral Fellows colloquium at Valparaiso University continues to explore the integration of Christian identity and the teaching vocation. We have benefited from in-depth discussion of the practical situation of the college teacher, as well. Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do has helped the group explore best practices as well as frustrations in the college classroom, opening up reflection on the telos of teaching, definitions of student excellence and success, and just what counts as great teaching. Bain’s book offers useful advice on setting standards, promoting intellectual excitement and curiosity, getting students to take responsibility for their learning, how to maintain students’ attention, and the role of lecturing—among many other things, as well.

Selections from the respective works of Mary Catherine Bateson and Dan McAdams offered the chance to think about the overall narrative in which our teaching is embedded, and what makes a good, and meaningful, life story. We considered the different significance of stories marked by continuity or discontinuity, the importance of developmental transitions, and whether we are called to provide a certain kind of repertoire of stories to our students. Is the syllabus a narrative construction? Are the texts we choose characters in a story? What might be the purpose of whatever story we’re telling? A screening of The Wild Child, the 1970 classic film by Franҫois Truffaut, invited the group to consider these questions further and in other lights, raising important questions about the teacher’s motivations and methods. Education and civilization seem to work together, but Truffaut’s film shows a tension between them, too.

The Fellows themselves have provided the material for the colloquium since then. Each week, one Fellow has submitted a reflective essay to the group. The mentor for each Fellow has delivered a response in person to the whole group, and discussion has proceeded from the combined insights and questions of each Fellow and his or her mentor. It’s exciting to witness the ongoing process of vocational discernment demonstrated in the Fellows’ writings. At the end of a long Monday, the colloquium group has been rejuvenated as we have revisited important, exciting, and sometimes confusing and frightening, moments from our teaching past. Their essays have led us into important discussions about such things as Christian motivation and mission in the classroom, the sustainability of Christian higher education, the challenges of religious diversity, adapting to different ways students learn, treating students holistically as full persons, our personal struggles as teachers, the role of mystery in the educational experience, and the challenges of teaching—and demonstrating—empathy to our students. It has been a rich, full season in the Postdoctoral Fellows colloquium.

Posted by Joe Goss

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