Connections Review Archive

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Connections Review #1, Winter 2011

Connections Review 

The Semi-Annual ACI Courier

www.academicconnectionsgcm.org/

Issue #1, Winter 2011


You are receiving this email because you have either requested to receive it or because of your involvement in local Christian faculty communities on secular campuses who are or have been serviced and/or resourced by Academic Connections ministry.  In some cases you were referred to us as possibly having an interest in this sort of publication.  If you would like to be removed from this list, click here aconnectionsi@gmail.com and merely type the term 'unsubscribe' in the subject line.

Purpose

To provide easily accessed information of importance to Christian faculty (individuals & communities) existing on secular campuses.

In this Issue:

On Being A Christian Academic by Donald Hay, Oxford University

Academic Insiders

Christian Communities in Academe

Court Watch

This winter quarter/semester is rolling along and in many cases the first round of exams are coming soon.  Before all that takes place this might be a good time for a break in the action for you and a good time for us to send you are semi-annual update.  Eventually we may make this a quarterly update, but for now this modest semi-annual courier will have to do.

Our goal is to keep this communication pretty brief, but with links for those who would like to explore a little deeper.  By the way, if you have any problems with the links, please let me know.  I've tested this page on my computer, but one never knows how various servers and mailboxes will interact with this format.

Speaking of links, there are a number of places in this dispatch where you can link to our--Academic Connections--website.  We were founded in July 1, 2010 but we're not new at all to academe.  In fact, for most of us on staff we have spent the majority of our lives either serving in or serving faculty who work at universities.  You might want to visit our site just to check out our mission, initiatives and associates.

Topics

On Being A Christian Academic by Donald Hay, Oxford University

This on-line article was referred to me by a former colleague, Howard Van Cleave who serves on the Faculty Ministry Leadership Team of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  Christian faculty live in at least two "worlds."  One is their academic world and the other is their personal world which includes the fellowship of other believers and the church.  

Academic Insiders

We have created a place where you can catch up rather quickly on news of relevance to you.  The links provided are organized and categorized with you in mind and take you to on-line articles found in the publications  Inside Higher Education or the Chronicle of Higher Education.  (Explanations regarding certain article availabilities and the possible need for subscriptions to access them are provided.)



Christian Communities in Academe

A ubiquitous question Christian scholars ask when they begin to get organized on a particular campus is whether there are (or have ever been) any other universities where they've gotten organized and what might we learn from them.  For your benefit we have searched the web to find local Christian faculty communities or fellowships (webpages) whether at universities or liberal arts colleges.  

Court Watch

This link takes you to a page where we follow some of legal issues of relevance to Christian professors.  Though not exhaustive in its coverage, you can use these links to follow highlighted individual cases and from there pursue the details you would like to have.  Like the two previous resources we provide, we update these from time to time.

We hope you find these resources useful and helpful for your sojourn at the university.  In the future we intend to include faculty written articles on a variety of subjects, book reviews and more.

Best regards,


James Cook

Editor

Academic Connections

AC: www.academicconnectionsgcm.org

email: cookj3@mac.co

Connections Review #2, Summer 2011

Connections Review 

The Semi-Annual ACI Courier

For Academic Connections, International : www.academicconnectionsgcm.org

Issue #2, Summer 2011

In this Review:

Features inside this issue include a short essay on the value of being in a Christian community on the campus where you serve, references and links to books, articles and presentations of relevance to Christians in academe and much more.  For example, some of those references will include links to faith and science issues, legal issues and conference notices.  

Remember our policy: including of a link or reference DOES NOT constitute an endorsement.  They are meant to be food for critical thought informed by the scriptures and worldview.

Christian Communities in Academe?

Everybody is busy these days, what else is new?  Many Christian faculty are so busy or at least think they are so busy they don’t make time to meet with their Christian colleagues on campus.  Besides, they may think, I go to church and my spiritual needs are met there.  Why should I go out of my way to be involved in a Christian faculty community on my campus?

Good question.

This is installment #1 for an ongoing discussion that Connections Review wishes to engage.  Right now we are not (technically) equipped so we can handle a conversation about it; that will come later when we are more technically up-to-speed.  But you can use the issues raised here for impetus for having further conversation with your Christian colleagues.

No doubt everybody is busy and no doubt spiritual needs can be met at church.  But are there any good reasons for being involved in Christian community on campus that deserve consideration?

One is that there is good reason to think that your job in academe is more than just a way to make a living.  For Christians it is much more.  Theologically it is what the root of vocation implies, calling.  Vocational calling for a Christian is a deeply theological matter.  And if God calls you to a particular vocation you are likely gifted for it and will discover that gifting either before or as you practice your craft.  

But we must also remember that this sort of vocational calling in the secular academy almost always involves being “in” a secular community that has its own idiosyncratic and characteristic norms and practices, which often do not nicely cohere with that of a follower of Christ.  No one is suggesting you should withdraw from that academic community, but without the support and critical thinking that might be fostered in a Christian community within the academic community, do we not run the risk in some way of being socialized in misleading ways?

Of course, it is not just having a Christian community that is needed, but also the right kind of Christian community.  That is, what is needed is a healthy Christian community that fosters engagement and critical thinking about everything including our faith and our work in the disciplines.  And if you do not yet have one like this, wouldn’t it be wise to start one?   Surely there’s more to say, but we’re saving that for later.

Installment #2 of “Christian Communities in Academe?” coming in the next issue….

In Case You Missed It, By Category:

Articles and links do not necessarily entail or imply endorsement; they are food for thought and further research.

Science & Faith

1.  The latest issue of the journal, Philosophia Christi, Volume 13, Number 1, 2011 pays a great deal of attention to the mind/body problem and human nature.  (Editor: I found it a very useful resource for conversations I am currently having about these issues.)  Even if you are not a substance dualist, there are good reads to be had within.  Articles include, among others: “Intentionality and the Substance of the Self” by Dallas Willard, “Substance Dualism and the Argument from Self-Awareness” by J.P. Moreland and “The Ontological Argument From Reason” by Angus Menuge.

2.  “Do Robots Have Feelings” featuring a video of Dr. Rosalind Picard of MIT as a part of the Veritas Forum at Rice University.  Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz_l34L-tfE&feature=youtu.be

3.  Faraday Institute Trailer (video), “Test of Faith”:  http://www.testoffaith.com/

Michael Ruse (self-proclaimed atheist) on the “New Atheism”:  http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2009/08/ruse-atheism/

5.  “New Atheist” Christopher Hitchens receives treatment from Dr. Francis Collins:  http://churchmousec.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/christopher-hitchens-receives-treatment-from-biologos-founder/  

6.  “Does Islam Stand Against Science?” : http://chronicle.com/article/Does-Islam-Stand-Against/127924/?sid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

Legal Issues & Faith

  Here’s an article of possible interest to you (Editor: part of the “how we got where we are” and “where from here” literature) written by Penn Law professor David Arthur Skeel, S. Saumel Arsht Professor of Corporate law, on “The Paths of Christian Legal Scholarship.”  To locate it use this link and scroll down the page until you see the appropriate articlehttp://www.law.upenn.edu/cf/faculty/dskeel/

  “…U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled ….”: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/04/07/appeals_court_rejects_limit_on_first_amendment_rights_of_professors

  Arizona House Bills & the Courts: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/05/04/arizona_law_seeks_new_balance_on_anti_bias_rules_of_public_colleges_and_some_degree_programs

  High Cost of Free Speech: http://blog.telladf.org/2011/05/17/free-speech-comes-with-a-price-tag-on-many-college-campuses/

General

1.  Gordon College’s Jerusalem & Athens Forum, be sure to check their selected reading lists in left column.  And be sure not to read those books alone!: http://www.gordon.edu/jaf

Mark A. Noll’s essay on, “The Place of Scripture in the Modern Christian University”: http://www.valpo.edu/cresset/2011/Trinity/Noll_T11.html

  Article on the Humanities (two places)

a. http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/vanishing-act/29479?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

b. http://www.nas.org/polImage.cfm?Doc_Id=1983&size_code=Doc

4.  “When God Comes To the Office” (Princeton University): http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2011/06/01/pages/1134/index.xml

5.  Documenting early Christianity (archeology): http://beta.news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/could-lead-codices-prove-major-discovery-christian-history-20110330-083631-867.html

And: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1371290/70-metal-books-Jordan-cave-change-view-Biblical-history.html

Check it Out: Notices and Conferences of Possible Interest to Christian Professors

1.  66th Annual Meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation at North Central College, July 29 – August 1, 2011: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetingASA.php

2.  You may want to check out the results of the Oxford Conference (held at the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics & Public Life) entitled, “Christian Ethics and Peter Singer”: http://mcdonaldcentre.org.uk/2011/05/30/christian-ethics-peter-singer/

See also the Conference Archive videos: http://mcdonaldcentre.org.uk/resources/peter-singer-conference/

Best regards,

James Cook

Editor

For Academic Connections

AC: www.academicconnectionsgcm.org

email: cookj3@mac.com

Connections Review #3, Winter 2012

Connections Review 

The Semi-Annual ACI Courier

For Academic Connections, International : www.academicconnectionsgcm.org

Issue # 3, Winter 2012

In this Review:


Features inside this issue include a short essay (installment #2) on the value of being in a Christian community on the campus where you serve, further references and links to books, and articles and presentations of relevance to Christians in academe and more.  For example, some of those references will include links to faith and science issues, legal issues and conference notices.  

Remember our policy: including of a link or reference DOES NOT constitute an endorsement.  They are meant to be food for critical thought informed by the scriptures.

You are receiving this email because you either asked for it, you’ve had contact with our ministry or one of your colleagues suggested you to us as a person who might be interested in knowing about this.   If you would like to UNSUBSCRIBE, click on the link below and put the word “unsubscribe”  in the subject line:    aconnectionsi@gmail.com

Christian Communities in Academe?

Everybody is busy these days, what else is new?  Many Christian faculty are so busy or at least think they are so busy they don’t make time to meet with their Christian colleagues on campus.  Besides, they may think, I go to church and my spiritual needs are met there.  Why should I go out of my way to be involved in a Christian faculty community on my campus?

Good question.

Last time I argued that Christian faculty who serve on secular campuses live in at least two communities on campus, one with all their secular colleagues and typically a smaller one with their Christian colleagues.   And I further argued that it is possible to be more influenced by the former than by the latter.  That was important because not only is one “bigger” than the other, but because we also spend proportionally less time with the latter and it is therefore more likely you are more influenced by the former.  That’s a possibly serious problem if you take your vocation seriously as a call from God and if you take yourself seriously.  (You can read what else was said about that by going to the bottom of this page and clicking on the “previous” link.)

This time I’d like to switch gears a little.  There are other good (and related) reasons to take the time and effort it takes to be involved in a Christian community of scholars on campus.  Briefly, here’s what I want to say.  Academic life generally is agonistic.  It’s competitive, demanding and involves polemical exchanges; it appears that it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.  And if you teach and do research on a secular campus you are required to fulfill your contract to teach the material in your course and do your research in a way that reflects the sensibilities and methodologies of your colleagues.   That takes time and energy.

But I want to suggest you have another obligation to the Christian community and to yourself and that is for you, somewhere along the line in your academic journey, to think about your discipline and work from the point of view of that community.  That is easier said than done if only because you have more work to do than your secular colleagues.  You have other fish to fry and ordinarily you have to do that on your own time.  

However, this is where your written work can pay great dividends for the Christian community who sorely need to hear from Christian scholars on issues that pertain to their disciplines and the Christian faith.  Who else can do this work?  And I cannot help but believe that being involved in a Christian community on your campus would be a source of help and succor for such a task.

Next time I want to talk about an 800 pound gorilla in the room that forms a significant barrier to that sort of involvement and why I think it is important to navigate around it.

In Case You Missed It, By Category:

Articles and links do not entail or imply endorsement; they are food for thought, discussion and further research.  That is, we are not agreeing with everything an article or book has to say or an author ever thought in their entire life.  Look for the links embedded in the references below.

Science and Faith:

Dr. Alvin Plantinga’s important new book on science and Christian faith: Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism.  University of Oxford Press, 2011.  (A technical book that is easily misunderstood if one does not understand Plantinga’s approach to epistemology.)

The book itself on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Where-Conflict-Really-Lies-Naturalism/dp/0199812098

New York Times article on Plantinga and the book by Jennifer Schueller:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/books/alvin-plantingas-new-book-on-god-and-science.html?_r=1&mid=5555

Michael Ruse (self described atheist) on Scientism

“Scientism” article:  http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/scientism/42028

“Scientism Continued” article:  http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/scientism-continued/42332?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

Legal Issues:

Recent Supreme Court ruling on the “ministerial exception”:  http://chronicle.com/article/Supreme-Court-Recognizes/130291/?sid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en 

AND:  http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/12/supreme-court-upholds-ministerial-exception

See also Academic Connection’s Court Watch for other decisions: http://www.academicconnectionsgcm.org/AC/AC/Legal.html

Life of the Mind

Review Essay on The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age by Randall J. Stephens & Karl W. Giberson. Harvard University Press, 2011. 384pp. entitled, “The Marginalization of Evangelical Scholarship (Among Evangelicals)” : http://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/3017/?mid=55

This site page contains a number of mp3 recordings...scroll down to Dr. Mark Noll, Mar 7, 2009, and check out his talk on “Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind.”: http://www.chestertonhouse.org/resources/audio

Talking points on Dallas Willard’s presentation on the “Redemption of Reason”:  http://www.redeemingreason.org/archives/papers/willardd2_2005.pdf

General Interest:

Chapel at Cambridge University flourishes: http://sedangli.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/church-times-cambridge-chapels-flourish-as-the-young-engage-with-tradition/

Graduate Student Union at Oxford University:http://www.oxfordgcu.org.uk/journal.html


An interesting European website on Christian art: http://www.artway.eu/artway.asp?lang=en

“Religion and the Bad News Bearers”:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903480904576510692691734916.html

Spiritual Formation:

Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care (Biola) on the writings of Dr. Dallas Willard:  http://now.biola.edu/news/article/2010/dec/03/new-journal-examines-work-of-dallas-willard/?mid=5531391

Announcements and Conferences:

“The Problem of God”, a symposium at Purdue University (held in a local church) sponsored by many local Christian organizations.  This maybe something you would be interested in attending if you are close, but it also is an example of Christian faculty involvement (see about their luncheon and seminar in the brochure):  http://purduecfsn.com/pdf/2012_symposium_brochure.pdf?mid=57

Regional Society of Christian Philosophers Conferences:  http://www.societyofchristianphilosophers.com/conferences/

I’m indebted to several people including Howard Van Cleave (InterVarsity), Nathan McNally (Academic Connections) and John Mulholland (Charles Malik Society for Redeeming Reason) for suggestions and links to some of these articles and sites.

Best regards,

James Cook

Editor

For Academic Connections

AC: www.academicconnectionsgcm.org 

email: cookj3@mac.com

Connections Review #4, (Extra) Spring 2012

Connections Review 

The Semi-Annual ACI Courier

For Academic Connections, International : www.academicconnectionsgcm.org

Issue # 4 (Extra), Spring 2012

This Review:

We are announcing two new resources for university Christian faculty: 1)  A White Paper Report that takes a close look at hurdles Christian professors face when they dialogue with their colleagues about the gospel and 2) we are opening up a new website that is called, “The Journey.”

    We hope that for those of you who are on the semester system and are finishing up finals will now have time this spring to become familiar with our new site.  Here’s what some Christian professors who have previewed the white paper and website, have said:

Professor in Education: “The website and paper are unique and timely.  As a professor who is surrounded by colleagues who question and critique religion and especially Christianity, I need help thinking how to respond or initiate good conversations about faith.  This resource offers what I need.”

Professor of Engineering and Mathematics:  “Having looked at and been trained in a good number of programs and training for ministry, I can say this is the most sophisticated set of resources for professors who wish to connect and engage with their colleagues about their faith.”

You are receiving this Connections Review email because you either asked for it, you’ve had contact with our ministry or one of your colleagues suggested you to us as a person who might be interested in knowing about this.   If you would like to UNSUBSCRIBE, click on the link below and type the word “unsubscribe”  in the subject line:  aconnectionsi@gmail.com

Below are links to:

The Academic Connections white paper report on the hurdles that Christian faculty face as they dialogue with their colleagues about the great things of the gospel.  Be sure to check out the empirical data we review and the discussion of the philosophic and sociological barriers that need to be addressed; the paper forms the basis for our creating The Journey website and we believe that it will give you new resources for the challenges you face:  White Paper Report.pdf

We have crafted an on-line video podcast introduction to the Journey website.  It is a very large file, so be sure you have a high-speed internet connection and allow several minutes for it to buffer.  The video introduction will help you navigate the site and give you a sense of the resources and tools available to you:  Introduction Video

When you have viewed the white paper report and the on-line video introduction, you are ready to take a look at the actual site (and the subsite that is currently available to you).   Here is the link to The Journey (supersite):  The Journey

Here’s one of its large subsites:  The Journey: Left Fork

Best regards,

James Cook

Editor

For Academic Connections

AC: www.academicconnectionsgcm.org 

email: cookj3@mac.com

Connections Review #5, Summer 2012

Connections Review 

The Semi-Annual ACI Courier

For Academic Connections, International : www.academicconnectionsgcm.org

Issue # 5, Summer 2012

In This Review:

Features inside this issue include a short essay (installment #3) that is a continuation of a topic we’ve been discussing—the value of being involved in a Christian community on campus, where you serve.  

Other features include links and references to subjects we’ve been following including 1) the legal (and some political) issues which surround what’s going on at Vanderbilt University and their relationship to Christian organizations; 2) a meditation on the Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D; and 3) other items in the news.  

Remember our policy: including of a link or reference DOES NOT constitute an endorsement.  They are meant to be food for critical thought informed by the scriptures. 

You are receiving this email because you either asked for it, you’ve had contact with our ministry or one of your colleagues suggested you to us a person who might be interested in knowing about this.  If you would like to UNSUBSCRIBE, click on the email link below and merely put the word ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line and you will be removed: aconnectionsi@gmail.com

Christian Communities in Academe?

We have so far given two reasons to value either starting or advancing Christian communities on secular campuses.  We’re picking up this discussion from Connection Review issues #2 and #3 (the last issue, #4, was an ‘extra’ introducing some new resources and therefore did not include it).

Previously we argued that even though everybody is busy—really busy—it is very possible and even probable that the larger secular community on campus shapes how we think, do our research, raise our families and generally live life more than does the Christian community on campus.  How that happens can be just a matter of the sociology of knowledge and not from the power and influence of just ideas themselves.  But ideas do matter and it seems the university’s agenda(s) can and do come into conflict with some Christian ideas we hold dearly.  How can we not be concerned about that conflict and its influence?  Who in our local churches is qualified to understand and talk with you about these sorts of things?  Why wouldn’t you want to have the added benefit of Christian peers with whom you can dialogue about these issues?  A flourishing Christian faculty community on your campus could help.

A second reason of which we took note was that despite the agonistic (not agnostic) nature of academe and the focus that competition demands of us there are very few who can minister to those in the larger church who are confused about how the world of ideas and Christian ideas relate.  Very few besides Christian professors are really qualified; but to do this skillfully often requires the benefit of colleagues and peers, that is, Christian colleagues and peers who can sharpen us as iron sharpens iron in fulfilling this obligation.  Having a flourishing Christian community on campus can help you avoid the Lone Ranger syndrome in fulfilling this obligation.

But I also promised and will now talk about a significant hurdle to starting and seeing Christian communities flourish on campus--one that we must face.  It’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room.  It’s a roadblock which, if negotiated, can make a significant contribution to your life and the mood on campus.

When Christian intellectuals get together on campus we often don’t come together of one mind on many things.  We come from differing denominations, historical perspectives on Christianity and theological allegiances—perhaps a theological hobbyhorse or two.   These differences can create deep suspicion; in some scenarios we find battle lines drawn along the lines of the fundamentalist/modernist controversy which reached its height at the beginning of last century.

Perhaps the biggest extant roadblock to fellowship emerges when we talk about politics and suddenly realize that not all Christians are on the same page.  It is so obvious if they were good Christians they would think about this sort of thing the way I do.

The typical way this last problem has been addressed is by pretending it’s not there or by making its discussion the sine qua non of all subjects to discuss.  Here again, once the lines are drawn and the conversation heats up, many feel the need to withdraw.   Others feel the need to dominate and make sure their side of the argument prevails.  

Some communities make it past this hurdle without the acrimony that can stifle, even arrest the progress of a local community, but it’s not easy and most don’t seem to do so.  A local Christian community that takes the time to acknowledge these sorts of divisions and to work through them respectfully and with tolerance can set an example for the larger body of Christ.  Here a wisely and skillfully led Christian community can be a city on a hill to the secular academic world that has not successfully addressed this problem either.

In the next issue we will continue our discussion with an additional reason to form and help see Christian faculty communities on campus flourish. 

Special Report on Vanderbilt--Coming to a Campus Near You

Have you been keeping up with what’s going on with the administration at Vanderbilt University and some Christian student organizations on campus?  

We have created a special resource you can access for a quick catch-up with the background, the issues and the prognosis. It’s a part of our Legal Issues section of our ministry website; see AC: Court Watch at: http://www.academicconnectionsgcm.org/AC/AC/Legal.html

To access the Vanderbilt Nondiscrimination Events section directly, see: http://www.academicconnectionsgcm.org/AC/AC/Vandy.html

A Meditation on the Hubble Deep Field in 3D

If you can make time I would encourage you to take a look at this video (length 4:12) that appears on the Website, “DeepAstronomy.com”  

The URL for the site and video are just below.  You may have seen it, but if you haven’t, it takes you on a thought provoking journey that is aimed to give you some sense of our place in the universe: it takes a look at the Hubble Deep Field (1996) and the Ultra Deep Field (2004), but adds to the latter a 3D effect (that can be seen in 2D), which allows you to get perspective on what astronomers have measured (by means of redshift) in terms of their relative distances away.

Why look at this?  The producers of the video assert that once we view this and “really understand what it means, we instantly gain the perspective and cannot help but be forever changed by it.”

And certainly it does have an effect, and I want to talk about that in a brief meditation after you’ve had a look.

Here’s the URL:   http://www.deepastronomy.com/hubble-deep-field-3d.html

It could be argued that drawing meaning from the facts about the size of our universe is a little like drawing meaning from a Rorschach test…it tells you more about yourself than about the ambiguity in the drawing itself.  But it doesn’t seem too far afield to interpret these facts in a way that is humbling to us because of the tiny, tiny space we occupy in a vast (even more vast than we imagined) universe.  

That seems a fair interpretation—and probably the point the producers of the video wished to make.  But if humanity stops there with that lesson alone, further reflection could lead to despair.  After all humanity has not been around that long and will not stay around long relative to the age and future of our universe.  Is it wrong from that context not to see ourselves as merely dust in the wind?

Of course, humanity hasn’t stopped there because we (at least some of us) have gone on to interpret our partial understanding of the vastness of the universe and our apparent comprehension of how the universe works as grounds for exalting ourselves.  That is, exalting our accomplishments so as not to have need for the aid of the gods or God.  

It’s the sort of spirit of, we figured out our place (our real place) in the universe, how the whole thing works (or we think nearly know how the whole thing works) and this says something profound about us.  Like Prometheus who secured control of fire from the gods, we have through our curiosity and intelligence wrestled out a great deal of nature’s secrets, tamed our fears and reached a level where we no longer have to depend on God.

You can guess where I’m going with this, but don’t get too far ahead of me.

Alternatively we can interpret these experiences in a different way.  We can see in the vastness and complexity of the universe that it would take a great mind and great power to produce a universe like this, even in its fallen state.  The same is true when we reflect about humans…the wonder of human capacities and ingenuity.  There is cause for awe and despair; in the latter case the despair can come when we reflect on our human fallenness, our inhumanity to each other, our pride and corruptibility.

But there is an alternative way to think about this.  Surely humanity is in need of redemption, but there is a redemption available and that can be shared.

So I propose that a good take away from reflection about this (from the point of view of a Christian theist) is that God’s Creation, which includes a humanity created in the image of God, is quite awesome, even though we groan for the full redemption that is ours in Jesus Christ.

Like the Psalmist we can reflect on the universe in the following way—a theistic way:

Psa. 8:3 When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place, 

Psa. 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him,

the son of man that you care for him? 

Psa. 8:5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

and crowned him with glory and honor.

Psa. 8:6  ¶ You made him ruler over the works of your hands;

you put everything under his feet: 

Psa. 8:7 all flocks and herds,

and the beasts of the field, 

Psa. 8:8 the birds of the air,

and the fish of the sea,

all that swim the paths of the seas.

Psa. 8:9  ¶ O LORD, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

As theists we have good reason to neither feel abandoned in a universe of this spectacular size nor seek unwisely to try to become our own gods.   The constraints of our fallenness and a paradise lost need not lead us to despair.  Our awareness of these things can keep us from unwisely seeking our own independent way out of it, which is the real ground for despair.

In Case You Missed It, By Category:

Articles and links do not entail or imply endorsement; they are food for thought, discussion and further research.  That is, we are not agreeing with everything an article or book has to say or an author ever thought in her entire life.  Look for the links embedded in the references below.

Some Site Changes:

Our previous website server recently closed its services and so last month we scrambled to put up our sites with new software and with new URLs.  That has been largely accomplished, so here are a few links to make sure you can find us:

Our main site for Academic Connections: www.academicconnectionsgcm.org

The recent resources from our last issue, “The Journey”

The Introduction Video to the Site:  http://academicconnectionsgcm.org/AC/AC/Movie_4.html

The Journey  (Super) Site:  http://www.journeyacademe.org/JourneyAcademe/Welcome.html

The “Left Fork” Sub-site: http://www.journeyacademe.org/Left_Fork/Left_Fork/Welcome.html

4)  The AC White Paper Report: White Paper on Peer to Peer.pdf

Two Videos On Christian Scholarship:

Dr. Alvin Plantinga interviewed on Christian conduct and the academic totem pole (Biola University):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQBx6asT3og&feature=share

Legacy and Christian Scholarship: Christian Scholarship Advances in Philosophy (Baylor University):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkt-xaZhSJQ&feature=plcp

Best regards,

James Cook

Editor

For Academic Connections

AC: www.academicconnectionsgcm.org 

email: cookj3@mac.com

Connections Review #6, Winter 2013

We are developing a new format for this courier which better fits the software we are presently using.  For back issues you can connect to the archive by clicking on Connections Review (or above) and it will alow you to see an index of past issues.  To connect to the immediately preceding issue, click on "CR #5 Summer 2012" ABOVE & BELOW in the title line.

Now to this latest edition…

Connections Review


The Semi-Annual ACI Courier 

For Academic Connections, Internationalwww.academicconnections.gcm.org

Issue #6 Winter 2013


     Inside this issue we begin by taking a moment on this Reverend Martin Luther King day for a meditation.  We will also include a last installment (at least for now), making the case for forming and sustaining Christian faculty communities on secular campuses and below that on Page 2, access to links we think you'll find stimulating.  Categories for those links include: legal issues, life of the mind, spiritual formation, trends and conferences.  Be sure not to miss this section, there are some very stimulating topics including things like, "The Lessons of Grace in Teaching" and "The Divine Conspiracy" to name two.

     If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please go to the bottom of the page, click on the provided link and type "remove" on the title line.

     Please note: inclusion of links do not imply ACI endorsement (unless specifically mentioned), they are meant as food for thought.  Neither are they meant to imply that those cited would endorse us or what we are doing as a ministry.

Meditation:

Acts 10:34  ¶       Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

Acts 10:35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right."

     Few things can be more discouraging than to find out you’ve been passed over for hiring or promotion based on bias.  Race and gender are two such factors that are often cited in academe especially in these sorts of discussions.  But we Christians care not only what our peers think, but also and primarily what does God think about such things?

The culture in which Peter uttered these words recorded in Acts was highly biased in practically every way we think of today.  To understate things a bit, women in secular Roman culture (remember Peter was in Caesarea at this time) were simply not equal to men.  Among the greatest of Greek philosophers of the ancient world, Plato himself thought some people were born to be slaves and that society ought to be organized in light of that.

And we remember that one of the counter-intuitive pieces of evidence for the historicity of the passion story is that Christ’s first resurrection appearances were to women—folks whose testimony was not highly regarded in the Hebrew culture of the times—that sort of detail would hardly be included in a contrived story.  The social etiquette of the times would have constructed the telling quite differently if it strove for credibility alone.

In short, biased attitudes are a problem.  They are made worse when those biases get instutionalized into the structures of society.

And it is evident from the context of this passage that Peter himself was slow on the uptake about the extent of God’s gracious initiative in Jesus.  Peter was among Jesus’ “top three” closest disciples.  He was a person who spent three years with the Lord in intimate relationship yet did not really get this piece of the puzzle until this point in his life.  Remember Peter said, “…I NOW realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism…” (emphasis mine).

On this Martin Luther King day where we remember his contribution to the cause of racial justice in our country, such an event may be a good time for us to reflect on this truth: God is not a God of partiality and as children of God we, too, should demonstrate this virtue.                                      

Forming and Sustaining Christian Faculty Communities:

     In past issues of Connections Review we’ve been talking about the value of forming and sustaining Christian faculty communities.  Experience tells us they can be formed and sustained for decades, though there are plenty of roadblocks, hazards and pitfalls to launching and maintaining them.  Let’s continue that conversation.

I have argued that even though everybody in the academic world is busy—really busy—and it takes time to invest in starting and sustaining Christian communities, there’s a price to pay for its neglect.  One suggested cost to Christians in academe is that without a peer group of Christians with whom to associate we are more likely to be shaped by the sociological influences of the university than any other peer group.  That influence typically neither carries a brief for the progress of the gospel nor possesses a positive agenda for the Kingdom of God.  Surely the ideas of the university influence our thinking, and it seems naïve to think that all of the ideas of the university are either supportive or even neutral with regard to the Christian faith.  This is true even though there are some ideas in academe that are quite consistent with Christian faith or might have flowed from Christian convictions but found their origins in secular thought.

But which ideas are worthy of our allegiance and which belong in the dustbin of ideologies?  And what are we to think of the tacit academic narrative—the metanarrative—that “explains” our situation in the world and folds all the other narratives into itself?  What are we to think of the contemporary zeitgeist?  Wouldn’t there be value in discussings these sorts of things in a give and take relationship with Christian intellectual peers?

As I’ve argued elsewhere, this is just one reason Christian faculty ought to take each other seriously and consider the value of getting together on a regular basis, forming a Christian community on campus.

We have also discussed the 800 pound gorilla in the room which hinders our flourishing: our political and certain peripheral doctrinal beliefs which can effectively produce suspicion and  unneeded divisions among us.

I want to conclude this breviary by saying something about the value of synergy and teamwork.  When I was in grade school and high school I tended to get involved in sports that were individualistic.  I was on the tumbling team in grammar school and the track team in high school.  There were team aspects to both, but not like you find in football or basketball. In the former two the emphasis is typically more on individual and the team's success is secondary.  Typically in the latter two there is more emphasis on the team success and the subordination of the individual success to the team's.

Even the standard psychological tests show my personality profile is of an individualist who likes to belong to (or work on) a team.   I’m just wired that way.

There are a lot of professors I know who are even more tilted toward the individualist side of things.  These folks feel that they alone wrote their dissertation and the countless books and articles that are demanded of them.  They feel if you cannot function and be productive in the world of academic personal achievement, you are typically winnowed out.  There’s a selection pressure for those sorts of virtues in the academic world.

What I want to say is that there is a great deal of value to "leaning into" areas in our lives where there are deficits.  I’m not talking about changing basic personality factors…I believe in majoring in the majors and minoring in the minors; what I’m extolling are the virtues of self-awareness and wholeness. 

Maybe some of us need a Christian community or some kind of counter-cultural or complementary community more than we think.  Our tendencies may make us outliers in a band of outliers to the larger culture and that can stunt wholeness and sometimes we’re the last to know it.

Getting together with other Christians can sometimes be like a couple of porcupines sleeping together on a cold night.  The cold draws them closer, but the things that protect them get in the way.  In a somewhat similar manner there’s a symphony of movement that accompanies our drawing closer and moving away and then drawing together again that comes with belonging to any community. 

We Christians don’t escape that reality and sometimes it can make things worse.  But the consequences of neglect are very high and the fruit of patient orchestration and navigation are good, wholesome and last for eternity.

Page 2

     In case you missed it, links of possible interest for discussion with your colleagues.  What do these trends mean and how will they affect you and the progress of His Kingdom?

Legal Issues:


Life of the Mind (and Heart):


Spiritual Formation:


Other Trends:


1)  The dominance of the academic super powers.  The more things change, the more they stay the same....

Inside Higher Education:  http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/12/05/study-questions-whether-departments-are-too-focused-hiring-graduates-elite


2) Trends in the politics of professors…from Inside Higher Education:  http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/24/survey-finds-professors-already-liberal-have-moved-further-left


3)  The Year in Review 2012--Pew Research Center - top findings (TRENDS) of the year that told us a bigger story about the trends shaping our world:  http://www.people-press.org/2012/12/17/pew-research-year-in-review/year-in-review/


4)  Profs have the least stressful job?  :  http://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/10-least-stressful-jobs-2013?utm_source=University+Professor&utm_campaign=00a899ce62-Jobs_Rated_Report4_9_2012&utm_medium=email

and: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/01/07/claim-college-professor-least-stressful-job-infuriates-faculty


Conferences of Possible Interest


Society of Christian Philosophers

Midwest Region


Mountain-Pacific Region


Intervarsity Faculty Ministry Midwest Faculty Conference (Cedar Campus, MI).  


We close by congratulating one of our own associates, Dr. Sharon Anderson, who has been promoted to Senior Fellow with Academic Connections:  http://www.academicconnectionsgcm.org/sharon-anderson.html

Best Regards,


James A. Cook

Editor, Connections Review

To be removed from this mailing list, click on the link and type "remove" in the title line:  cookj3@mac.com

Connections Review #7, Fall 2013

We are continuing with the new format for this courier, which better fits the software we are presently using.  Note the Connections Review Archive link just below the above title line and and next to that the link to the previous issue.

Connections Review is a publication of Academic Connections, International.

Now to this latest edition…

Connections Review


The Semi-Annual ACI Courier 

For Academic Connections Internationalwww.academicconnections.gcm.org

Issue #7 Summer/Fall 2013


     Inside this issue we will begin by talking about our need for preparation with the fall upon us, follow that up with a much needed meditation on a passage from the Sermon on the Mount (in Luke), and on page 2 we will share a "nearly" true story about the experience of a student coming to the university for the first time.  Page 3 will provide links and resources for faculty who wish to start or advance Christian faculty communities on their own campus.  On page 4 we will include categories, as we have in the past, that  link to matters such as: legal issues, faith and scholarship resources and conferences.  All of that to keep you efficiently and effectively caught up and in the know.

Before that, a couple of formalities:

     If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please go to the bottom of the page, click on the provided link and type "remove" on the title line.

     Please note: inclusion of links in the body of this courier does not imply an ACI endorsement (unless specifically mentioned), they are meant as food for thought.  Neither are they meant to imply that those cited would endorse us or what we are doing as a ministry.

On your Mark:

     Summer has been good although hot at times, but that is not our focus just now.  The beginning of the academic year is before us all.  Regardless of where you exist in the academic food chain you’re likely prioritizing what needs to be done right now to get off to a good start for the fall.  Who isn’t?

     Getting off to a good start has a lot to commend it and can produce a few good side effects like promoting our personal and family's sanity.  It requires awareness of what your goals and objectives are, what are the means to those goals and what sort of preparedness you can muster in the time being.  We need to pay special attention to those things deemed "mission critical."

      Of course, short term goals and objectives make the most sense if they are stitched together in such a way that we end up accomplishing the bigger goals we have for our lives, for example things like: flourishing in our most important and intimate relationships, flourishing in our vocation, and seeing our community flourish.

      We all have the same amount of time available to us and typically we actually do what we want to do with it—we just seldom are able to do all of what we’d like to do.  We will always have more things to do than time will allow, so we have to prioritize and stick to it.  The good news is that ceteris paribus when we have definite goals and prioritize the activities to reach them, we increase our chances for success and in the process increase our chances for a fulfilled life—if our goals and objectives were morally good ones in the first place.  

Meditation:

Luke 12:23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Luke 12:25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Luke 12:26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Luke 12:27  ¶ “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Luke 12:28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

Luke 12:29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.

Luke 12:30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.

Luke 12:31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

     I don't know about you, the more I think about what needs to be done--here I'm thinking about the start of things in the academic world coming this fall--the more the adrenaline flows.  Having your adrenaline flowing 24/7 over a long period of time can cause death and other harmful side effects.

     That reminds me of a local TV cable advertisement that with the appropriate wording and visual changes would run something like this: when school is about to start your adrenaline starts to flow; when your adrenaline flows too much you take Karate; when you take Karate you realize you want to become the action hero "Fists of Justice;" when you become the action hero "Fists of Justice" you run over the top of buildings and when you run over the top of buildings you fall through skylights and onto dinner tables.  Don't fall onto dinner tables.  Don't let your adrenaline flow too much.

     That's sage advice if I've ever seen it, if only you can avoid letting your adrenaline flow too much.  That's easier said than done.

     The passage in the gospel of Luke above, which comes from Jesus'  Sermon on the Mount, suggests a possible way to help curb that enthusiasm.  For example, it asks us to consider that by worrying we can cannot add a single hour to our lives.  The term "worrying" as it's used here seems to be more like the kind of worry one has by excessive worrying or compulsively fretting.  Certainly we should be concerned about the consequences of our choices and actions, but if the way we stew on it makes us sick, that itself is a bad choice. 

     To handle the "over" worry and the fretting that seems to spin us around and inhibit both our sanity and long-run productivity, Jesus asks us to consider how God takes care of the rest of His creation.  He suggests that in light of His care for things that are NOT NEARLY as valuable as you are, that we focus our heart on something else.  

     That is, he asks us to focus or prioritize our lives so that we are focused on seeking His Kingdom.  What does that mean?  I think it means establishing a priority of getting beyond just our own interests, so as to include His interests and what interests Him.  

     It's an excellence or virtue that expresses itself through our habitual focus.  That just might be our meditation assignment:  Consider what are the interests of God and His Kingdom at the university--what interests Him?  We do have interests that need to be addressed, but we also need to ask ourselves what are His interests that we cannot neglect?  What are the habits of life and mind that we need to nurture in order to more fully experience His grace and provision and, thereby, avoid falling onto dinner tables?

     When I was a teen-ager in high school I often drove our '65 Chevy Malibu (that dates me).  I loved the Malibu but it had a funny thing about it.  When it reached about 50 miles an hour the front wheels began to vibrate violently and I had to either speed up to get past it or slow down.  The problem was that the beloved Malibu was in serious need of a front end alignment.  

     In the same way, sometimes as we head down the road of life we do so with a wobble of our own and what we need is a front end alignment in our spiritual lives.  This passage is suggestive that part of that fix involves a change of focus and the habits to keep it aligned.  Of course we don't focus on His interests just to feel better.  We focus on His interests because it better aligns us with reality…as a side effect, paying attention to His priorities just turns out better for us in the long run.

Page 2

A Nearly True Story?

     Imagine what the students are like who are coming to the university for the first time.  We have some idea of what their lives may be like--after all we once hiked that trail ourselves.  Let's take a minute to think about one life that came to the university and get a sense of what was going on underneath the "hood."   Here's the link to that "nearly true" story and an explanation of why it's called that.

Page 3

     Are you the lone ranger Christian professor on your campus?  We have some ideas that can help you bring together some of your colleagues and help you start a vibrant Christian community of professors at your university.  We also have resources to help you sustain and advance such a community if you already have one.  Besides these resources our staff are in many cases willing to travel to meet with you on your campus to consult with you and help you reach your goals.  Here's a link to a set of resources we use as we do face-to-face consulting with professors like yourself.

Link:  http://www.academicconnectionsgcm.org/Gateway/Gateway/Gateway.html

You can contact our ministry by email: cookj3@mac.com

or by phone: 303.808.6245

Page 4

    In case you missed it, below are links of possible interest and for discussion with your colleagues.  What do these trends mean and how will they affect you and the progress of His Kingdom?

Legal Issues:

Some Supreme Court rulings this summer relevant to academe: 

  1. AND http://chronicle.com/article/Fisher-v-Texas-Where-the/139985/?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en
  2. AND http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/24/politics/scotus-texas-affirmative-action  
  3. AND  http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/24/19119553-supreme-court-ruling-encourages-supporters-and-opponents-of-affirmative-action?lite  
  4. AND http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/06/25/essay-supreme-court-ruling-affirmative-action
  5. AND http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/24/19115041-supreme-court-raises-bar-for-affirmative-action-in-college-admissions?lite
  6. AND http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/24/us/annotated-supreme-court-decision-on-affirmative-action.html?_r=0
  7. AND http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/06/supreme-court-makes-narrow-affirmative-action-ruling-to-start-blockbuster-week.html
  8.  AND  http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-affirmative-action-supreme-court-ruling-20130624,0,5865889.story
  9. AND  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/24/reaction-to-supreme-court-ruling-affirmative-action-in-college-admissions/


Faith and Scholarship

Check out our updated Faith and Scholarship Gateway website that includes our recently published introduction to the project of integrating your faith and scholarship in a nuanced manner.

One for Your Bookshelf--Book Recomendation:

The Two Tasks of The Christian Scholar: Redeeming the Soul, Redeeming the Mind

edited by William Lane Craig and Paul M. Gould, Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2007.  

Amazon link for this book:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Two-Tasks-Christian-Scholar/dp/1581349394/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374827296&sr=8-1&keywords=the+two+tasks+of+the+christian+scholar

CR Editor--a book every Christian scholar should have, read and re-read. (Disclosure: this is an unsolicited recommendation and we recieve no kickback of any kind for this deed.)

What others have said about the book:  

"Readers will come away strengthened in their faith and in their ability to use the mind faithfully for the service of God. Read, ponder, and read again."
Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

"This is a wake-up call that should be read by all Christians interested in the world of ideas and apprenticeship to the Lord Jesus."
J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"Every Christian professor in every academic discipline should read every essay in this book."
James W. Sire, Author, The Universe Next Door and A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics

"An excellent job of describing the current status and dreams of the Malik vision."
Henry F. Schaefer III, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry, University of Georgia

"This does justice to the dignity and brilliance of Malik and to the greatness of Jesus Christ as our world's only hope."
Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Author, Finding God at Harvard

"An outstanding group of scholars offer stimulating insights and interesting nuances on the Two Tasks."
Ronald S. Wallace

"This generation must take Malik's challenge seriously. Then we will fulfill Malik's call and this volume's challenge."
Daryl McCarthy, President, International Institute for Christian Studies

"Readers will be inspired to give their lives to integrating faithful Christian living and witness."
Gregory E. Ganssle, Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, Yale University, Rivendell Institute

"Read this call for courage, and may God's scholars take up the charge in our generation."
Lon Allison Director, Billy Graham Center; Associate Professor, Wheaton Graduate School


Upcoming Conferences of Possible Interest

Society of Christian Philosophers

Eastern Region


Evangelical Theological Society


Evangelical Philosophical Society 


Best Regards,

James A. Cook

Editor, Connections Review


To be removed from this mailing list, click on the link and type "remove" in the title line:  cookj3@mac.com



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