Integration of Faith and Flourishing [Conversations on Technology and Christian Faithfulness]

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you ran weed in college is Faith and Learning initiative for years and years. What are three things that you’ve learned about how to effectively equipped faculty to integrate favorite learning? I only have one thing I like. I don’t have three things, but I think the one thing is a pretty good thing. It’s that you will flourish if you learn to do this. That’s the one thing that I would that I always said to the faculty, because if you are a graduate student at a really good university and you go through a good programme and you get your phD, you are now marked as a member of the Guild. You know you are the real deal. You’ve got your you got your funny hat and your funny outfit and your diploma to prove it. And so you know, now you can sit back and congratulate yourself, you know, and feel good about yourself because now you’re ready to be a full participant in the life of the academy. And if you end up going to a secular university and that’s problem, something like that is how it goes. But when you come to a Christian university you have to be faced with the unpleasant news that all that stuff that you learned in graduate school, it’s great. It’s going to be helpful, but it actually doesn’t complete your education, you know, because what’s probably the case with you? It’s certainly the case with the vast majority of faculty Christian colleges is universities is that you’ve got a phD level of knowledge and your discipline. You gotta Sunday school level of knowledge of the of Christian theology and spirituality. You you almost certainly, or you wouldn’t be coming to a place like this. You love Jesus. You want to serve him. You want to serve his church. But you can’t really do protect productive faith learning integration when your levels of knowledge are so different. So what? What I tried to tell studio to tell my young colleagues is that when you become more theologically literate, when you get deeper into the history and the practice of Christian spirituality, when you when you think more and learn more and read more about these things too, things happen to you. One. You are much better equipped to deal with the questions that your students have. These you you now have the resources that because they come to you because they’re confused and they’re uncertain and they may ask you tough questions in class, or they may wait and save those until they come to your to your office. But in many cases, you form a bond with students as a teacher that will feel to them less threatening than to go to a counselor or even, in some cases, to their RD. Or there are a you know, the people who are kind of the designated caring people. You know, you’re an official care, you’re ready. And so sometimes that that kind of I mean, obviously, students can get a lot out of those kind of relationships, but sometimes that’s not where they want to go. They want to go to someone who is dealing with the ideas that are troubling them in class, and someone who’s who’s who’s answer might be a little less predictable, right? And so if you have that increased level of understanding of Christian theology and Christian spirituality, you’re better equipped to serve them. But I also think that what happens is that you start getting a positive feedback loop. There’s you start seeing relationships between your your disciplinary work and your theological knowledge, and you’re spiritually your knowledge of spirituality and your participation in spirituality. We trust not just abstract knowledge of but engagement with, and so these things begin to feed one another. You start, you’re able tto ask of your discipline, certain questions that you didn’t know how to ask before. And then when you do that, your discipline starts informing your Christian life in certain ways that it wasn’t informing your Christian life before. And you get into this feedback loop where each serves the other, and that means flourishing for you. So you’re not. You’re you’re serving your students. Yes, and that’s great. And that’s fantastic. But, hey, there are There are selfish reasons to do this. You know it’s going to make her life more fulfilling, and so that the challenge for me was always to try to convince people to see the integration of faith and learning, not as one more onerous duty that was laid on them, you know, so they have to do this in order to get 10 year, or they have to do this to keep their job, but rather an opportunity for for a deeper walk and a richer intellectual, emotional and spiritual life. And this is even sure. I just want to clarify. This is even true if I am a I’m a cellist, teaching tell or if I’m a chemist in the lab, That’s right. Or or you’re doing your probability theory in the math department, right? It is. It’s not, as the path to that kind of connection is often not as easy or is obvious, but it can still be made. And I’ve seen people make it. You know, I’ve seen one when I I would add weight and you had to do faith and learning papers and in order to get tenure, you know, and one of the very best one of the very best faith and learning papers I ever read was by a physicist. Another one of the best ones I ever read was by a New Testament scholar, which might not seem surprising. But what had happened is that his son had become, ah, United States forest ranger, and that led him into thinking about what is what is what does the New Testament say about environmental ethics and so environmental ethics was was nowhere. It was nothing he had ever thought about nothing anywhere near. But he said, I’m just going to leap out in this so that you and see what happens. Because you, Khun, do New Testament scholarship in the most un integrative way possible. You can just say, Well, there’s this Greek verb and then appears here and it appears there. And what he was doing was trying to take everything he had learned as a New Testament scholar and say, Does any of this help me to understand what creation care is? And I love that any time to integrate it. Integration of faith and learning were also doing integration of first, right, right so that he’s drawing his son, right so near yes, by the factories in such a faraway. That’s exactly writes great. And the one more example that I want to give is you know, it doesn’t it didn’t have to be a paper. The idea was that it would be a paper. But one of the coolest faith of learning projects I ever saw was my colleague Mark Lewis, who is the director of Arena Theater and what he did for his faith and learning project was to bring back generations of students who had been through arena theater and bring them back and have conversations with them about their experience, which he filmed as we’re filming this. And then the thie extraction of their most interesting and relevant comments stitch together into a kind of narrative was a way for him to tell the story of what he’s doing in the theater. And I thought that was one of the best fight the learning projects I ever saw, and he didn’t write a word. But what he did was to converse, to film, to organize, to edit and to present. And so that was flourishing for him, too. You know, he found ways to create a very biblical and very theological narrative out of all the things that his former students and people, and in fact you were before his era who had been through that program, were able to do. And so it was like a collaborative project that is his fate than learning Project. I was one in which his voice almost never appeared, but the voices of many others did, which which strikes me as a very ecclesial way to achieve that kind of flourishing

 

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