Christianity and Core Texts at Global/Cultural Crossroads
Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania
The Grove City English Department held a Lilly Fellows Program Regional Conference: “Christianity and Core Texts at Global/Cultural Crossroads,” on campus at Grove City College on March 30-April 1, 2023. The conference included plenary addresses by graphic novelist and artist Gene Luen Yang and scholar Dr. Susan VanZanten.
Describing the vexed position of the Christian in a postcolonial nation, Ghanaian theologian Mercy Amba Oduyoye writes, “What is specifically Christian is irresistible. But Christianity in Africa began by confusing Christianity with European culture” (Inheriting Our Mothers’ Gardens 39). Christianity has often been mistaken for and sometimes presented as a purely Western phenomenon, but this has never been the case—Christian communities like the Ethiopian Church and the Saint Thomas Christians of India trace their roots back to the time of the apostles. This fact is becoming ever more apparent today as the demographic center of even Western Christianity shifts eastward and southward. If, as St. Paul says, the Gospel is “a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles,” then Christianity presents a challenge to the conventional wisdom of any culture or nation. Christianity is not inherently more compatible with Western culture than it is with any of the cultures of the East or the Global South. How might American scholars and American students, especially those who also find Christianity “irresistible,” understand and learn from Christian thinkers and treatments of Christian communities in these global texts?
Vatican II and Higher Education: Leading Forward
Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut
October 13-15, 2022
"What, for the University, is Solidarity? Catholic Higher Education and the Unfinished Reception of Gaudium et Spes," by Susan Bigelow Reynolds
"Joy and Hope on the Margins: The Mission Imperative of Access to Catholic Higher Education," by Patricia McGuire
“To Expel or Embrace? The Challenge and Promise of Handing Down the Catholic Intellectual Tradition in Light of Dei Verbum,” by Grant Kaplan
"Vatican II and Catholic Higher Education: Guest in Its Own House?" by Massimo Faggioli
Religion, State, and Nationalism: Problems and Possibilities
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana
Valparaiso University had symposium, “Religion, State, and Nationalism: Problems and Possibilities" on April 8, 2022. The symposium took place in three sessions, with the first focusing on problems, the second on possibilities, and the third on integrating issues of faith, nationalism, and the problems of historical memory into undergraduate curricula.
Description: Today’s world is witnessing to new configurations of alliances and conflicts between religious institutions and the state. Religion is a key player in rewriting nationalist narratives that underpin state policies. In the United States, evangelical Christians influence state policies and contribute to nationalist agendas. The Orthodox Church is a leader in the resurgence of nationalism in post-Soviet Russia and the rehabilitation of the mythological past of “Holy Russia” that contributes to the state’s ideological agenda. Analysts express concern that religion will fuel the flames of nationalist isolationism and increase the possibilities for international incidents of polarization, violence, and war. Critics call for the complete separation of religious organizations from the state. In some places of the world, cooperation between religious institutions and the state can become a positive force at the local and international levels. Religious leaders can consult the state and contribute to the formation of national identity that is inclusive and does not pose a threat to international peace.
Antoine Arjakovsky, Collège de Bernardins, Paris
Scott Hibbard, DePaul University, Chicago
Atalia Omer, University of Notre Dame, South Bend
Robert Saler, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis
Dorian Llywelyn, S.J., Santa Clara University
Slavica Jakelic, Valparaiso University
Timothy Larsen, Wheaton College
Philipp Gollner, Goshen College
Samuel Graber, Valparaiso University
Click here for more information.
Reckoning and Reimagining: Envisioning a Faithful Presence
Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California
Videos of the keynote speakers and plenary sessions from APU's Reckoning and Reimagining Conference are available here.
Higher Education's Moral Obligation of Addressing Addiction: A Humanities Response
University of Pikeville, Pikeville, Kentucky
Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT
October 29-31, 2020, Online
On October 29-31, 2020, Sacred Heart University, in partnership with the Lilly Fellows Program, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and Seton Hall University, hosted a virtual Regional Conference titled The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: Challenges and Opportunities for the Catholic University in the 21st Century. Speakers included: Gregory Kalscheur, Boston College; Carolyn Woo, Purdue University; Michael Higgins, Sacred Heart University; Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and Gerald. J. Beyer, Villanova University. The aim of the Conference was to generate a wide, broad conversation about how the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) could provide a ‘compass across the college or university’ to promote and imbue the Catholic identity and ‘ethos’ of an institution There were panels on Catholic identity, Catholic thought, on the CIT across disciplines, on pedagogy, on programs, on the Catholic Imagination, on social justice, on student life, and from the perspective of the VPs for Mission.
Click Below for Videos of the Following Plenary Presentations:
Rev. Gregory Kalscheur, SJ, Boston College: “Engaging the CIT: How Research in All Disciplines Can be Enriched by Encounter with the Tradition”
Carolyn Woo, Distinguished President's Fellow, Purdue University, "Catholic University and Mission: A Primer for Leadership and Development"
Dr. Gerald Beyer, Villanova University, “Justice Within and Beyond the University Walls”
Paul Mariani, Poet and Professor Emeritus, Boston College, reading from his works: “Ordinary Time: Poems” and “The Mystery of It All: The Vocation of Poetry in the Twilight of Modernism”
Michael Higgins, President and Vice-Chancellor, Corpus Christi College-St. Mark’s College at the University of British Columbia, “Word, Sacrament and Imagination: Merton and Jones and the CIT”
From the 21st to the 23rd of October 2020 the Institute for Communication and Religion (ICR) at Seton Hall University hosted a Lilly Fellows Program Regional Conference entitled “Communication and Religion in the ’20 Election.” Approximately 2500 viewers attended six events broadcast live online including a Presidential debate watch party and keynote addresses from leading scholars in Political Science, Religion, Journalism, and Communication. Heidi Campbell (Texas A&M) shared research on “Internet Memes and American Civil Religion,” Ronald C. Arnett (Duquesne University) spoke on “Practices that Matter: The Faith and Politics of Dorothy Day,” Rob Pallitto (Seton Hall University) shared expertise on “Trump, the 2020 Election, and the limits of Ideology Theory,” and Jo Renee Formicola (Seton Hall University) addressed “Catholics, The Media, and the ’20 Election.” The final program “Judaism and Christianity in the ’20 Election” was co-presented by Jon Radwan (Seton Hall University, ICR Director) and Peter Beinart (CUNY, The New York Times). Audience questions were answered at all sessions and remaining queries were covered in a follow-up interview with Ronald C. Arnett conducted by Asya Robinson (Seton Hall University). Video recordings of all sessions have been posted to SHU’s YouTube channel and can be accessed via the ICR website - https://www.shu.edu/communication-religion/podcasts-and-videos.cfm. ICR Director Jon Radwan reported strong positive feedback and expressed gratitude for LFP support. “We had originally planned a physical conference for April 2020. COVID made us re-design everything for a virtual format, and the results have been overwhelming! We reached at least ten times as many viewers than we first anticipated, and our post-event survey results are very encouraging. We greatly appreciated Regional Conference funding from the Lilly Fellows Program, and we are especially thankful for the flexibility and understanding that enabled re-scheduling online. SHU’s motto is ‘Hazard zet forward’ and LFP encouraged our intrepid spirit with wonderful support as we met pandemic challenges.”
In addition, SHU has recorded a series of follow-up podcasts on the topic of communication and religion in politics.
Lilly Network Regional Conference at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.
The Prodigal Love of God: Re-encountering Dordt at 400 and Beyond
April 4-6, 2019
On April 4-6, 2019, Dordt College and the Andreas Center for Reformed Scholarship and Service, in partnership with the Lilly Fellows Program, hosted a conference titled “The Prodigal Love of God: Reencountering Dordt at 400 and Beyond.” Speakers included Marilynne Robinson, Richard Mouw, James K.A. Smith, Jemar Tisby, Paul Lim, Tish Harrison Warren, Timothy George, and Suzanne McDonald.
The years 2019 and 2020 mark the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort, the namesake of Dordt College. Many churches and communities have celebrated the quincentenary of the Reformation, but the Synod of Dort does not loom so large in the popular imagination. For some, even members of the Protestant tradition, Dort seems to leave us with a complicated historical legacy of arid doctrinalism.
However, the story of the Synod of Dort—its legacy and its place in the Christian tradition—is much broader and more generous than this. Dort should be remembered for its rigorous doctrinal disputes, but within those debates there are also profound theological truths that continue to inspire many ecumenical conversations across Christian traditions. In the Canons of Dordt, we encounter the prodigal love of God, who offers the blessing of the gospel “to all persons promiscuously and without distinction.” This theological message is something that has shaped and reformed Protestant communities for four hundred years. Through invited plenaries and panel discussions, our conference featured conversations about the historical legacy and the future of Protestantism as well as the opportunities facing the global church in the decades ahead.
For More Information, Click on the Conference Website Here.
Current Regional Conferences and Collaborations
Matter and Spirit: A Seminar on Contemporary Chinese Art and Society
The Nagel Institute, in partnership with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the Lilly Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities, held a seminar and studio project in China for June 15- July 1, 2018. The seminar will be followed by an international traveling exhibition of the resulting works of art beginning in fall 2019.
This project convened 10 North American and 10 Chinese artists in a two-week seminar and studio event in Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai. Participants engaged the realities of contemporary urban China, the Chinese visual arts scene, and each other. They especially focused on how some prominent Chinese contemporary artists have created art in response to these conditions, how Chinese Christians see both “matter and spirit” interacting, and how the struggle for integrity in China might inspire and reshape their own life work.
This seminar, “Matter and Spirit,” is the third in a series of international art projects, preceded by a seminar in Indonesia in 2008 that resulted in the “Charis” traveling exhibit, and a seminar in South Africa in 2013 followed by a traveling exhibit, “Between the Shadow and the Light.”
Lipscomb University, Regional Consultation--Building Racial Bridges; Seeking Racial Understanding
Lipscomb University convened six different dinner/conversation meetings involving four faculty members from each of five faith-based institutions in Nashville, Tennessee over the course of the spring term, 2018: Fisk University; American Baptist College; Belmont University; Lipscomb University; and Trevecca Nazarene University. The group met once on the campus of each institution with conversations that focused on the persistent role of white supremacy on college and university campuses and in the larger American culture. With that theme as the backdrop, participants engaged in meaningful conversations around (1) the personal narratives of each person in the group, (2) readings, (3) films, and (4) artifacts that reflect the pervasive power of white supremacy in the United States.
Pepperdine University, Regional Collaboration and Conference--Global General Education and Asian Texts: What Should Our Students Read?
In summer, 2018, this conference convened faculty from higher education institutions around the world to provide a forum for educators to examine how Asian texts can be used to express the traditions of each institution and aid faculty to engage in educationally productive discussions across institutional, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries. The conference garnered great interest from both domestic and international colleges and universities, with 57 representatives from 37 different institutions, 10 of which are also Lilly Fellows Program schools. Participants were eager to learn approaches to the practice of inclusion of Asian religious texts and traditions in the development and revision of core and general education programs.
Central College: Reason and Faith on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
On the occasion of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Central College welcomed approximately 30 attendees and presenters to their campus in Pella, IA, on October 13-14, 2017, for a Lilly Fellows Program Regional Conference. Seven Network schools were represented at the conference. In addition to speaking to the conference attendees, the keynote speakers visited English, philosophy, and religion courses and presented to students. The invited speakers were John Baxter, from Dalhousie University; Christina Bieber Lake, from Wheaton College; Jennifer Hockenberry Dragseth, from Mount Mary University; Douglas Kries, from Gonzaga University; and Albert Wolters, from Redeemer University College. Three plenary sessions and a panel discussion accompanied the keynote addresses.
With a focus on various perspectives of the relation between faith and reason and how this impacts scientific practices, the speakers addressed a wide range of thinkers, including Luther, Calvin, Bacon, More, Bonhoeffer, Shakespeare, Kuyper, and Maimonides. One speaker (Wolters) importantly related these different perspectives to different understandings of the “nature-grace relationship.” The conference also achieved a second aim, of enabling reflection on the relation between Christian faith, the disciplines, and teaching, with the disciplines of literary studies, education, and the sciences receiving special attention. The final panel discussion considered the practical implementation of the insights gained from the conference presentations.
To Download a Conference Poster/Flyer, Click Here.
Georgetown College: Discerning Academic Vocation in a Contested Religious Tradition
On January 28th and 29th, 2016, Georgetown College and the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky in Georgetown, KY, welcomed 74 attendees and presenters to their campus for a Lilly Fellows Regional Conference. This conference is a continuation of the Center for Christian Discernment series of conferences for the church and academy. The invited speakers were David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer, Nadia Bolz-Weber, author and pastor of House for all Sinners and Saints church, Caroline Simon, Provost and Executive Vice President of Whitworth University, and Patricia O’Connell Killen, Academic Vice President, Gonzaga University. The program included 19 presentations and panels from 22 universities. The plenary addresses and break-out sessions were attended by 75 registered guests as well as students from Georgetown College and the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.
The speakers addressed the challenges and highlighted opportunities related to the complex and fluctuating relationships between institutions of higher learning and their sponsoring institutions, key constituencies, or historical institutional connections. Some questions included: How will academic vocation, grounded in the tradition of the academy and religious frameworks, continue creative and responsive teaching and research? What does it mean that American higher education continues to represent itself in terms of religious tradition, or denominational loyalty, as traditions continue to be challenged from within and without? How do we invite and challenge students to follow paths into various vocations related to the future and well-being of religious traditions? Should church-related institutions engage students, educators, and communities in discovering religious fidelity as a path to principled pluralism, and if so, how?The addresses by David Gushee, Carole Simon, and Patricia O’Connell Killen have been submitted to the Christian Scholars Review for possible publication.
Gordon College: Islam in the Classroom: Challenges and Opportunities of Teaching about Islam in a Post 9/11 World
On September 21, 2015 Gordon College in Wenham, MA, welcomed over 65 attendees from 21 Colleges and Universities for an LFP Regional Conference, Islam in the Classroom: Challenges and Opportunities of Teaching about Islam in a Post 9/11. This one-day conference brought together several leading scholars to deliberate well and wisely about how accurate and insightful knowledge of Islam can be taught in the college classroom. Particular emphasis was placed on teaching Islam in church-affiliated colleges and universities, whether Protestant or Catholic, in the North American context. Four keynote speakers were: Gabriel Said Reynolds, Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology at the University of Notre Dame, on “The Islamic Challenge to Christian Theology”; Judith Mendelsohn Rood, Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies at Biola University, on “The Consequences of Disobedience: The Qur’an and History of Islamic Thought”; Jennifer Hevelone-Harper, Professor of History at Gordon College, on “Mohammed Among Evangelicals: Teaching the Origins and Spread of Islam in an Evangelical College Context”; and Amir Hussain, Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, on “On Teaching Islam: A Muslim Scholar of Islam Reflects on Teaching for a Decade in a Catholic University.” Sandra Keating, Professor of Theology at Providence College, responded to the speakers and moderated a final panel discussion. These essays will appear in a forthcoming edited volume.
For more information on this conference, including speaker information, see Gordon College's conference website.
Samford University: Teaching the Christian Intellectual Tradition Conference: Augustine Across the CurriculumOn October 2-4, 2014 Samford University hosted, as an LFP Regional Conference, its inaugural conference on “Teaching the Christian Intellectual Tradition” (TCIT). This is the first in a new biennial conference series that provides an opportunity for scholars from across the disciplines to share ideas about teaching Christianity’s rich intellectual heritage to today’s undergraduates. Each conference will focus on a different figure or theme and will equip undergraduate faculty with effective strategies for teaching the tradition in a variety of courses across the curriculum.
Calvin College: R5: A Visual Arts Seminar and Studio in South Africa
May 31 - June 15, 2013
Artists in Southern Africa wrestled with five critical issues:
- Remembrance: the intertwined and contested histories of people groups.
- Resistance: the vivid tradition of prophetic artistry.
- Reconciliation: persistent questions over how to justly reconcile aggrieved people.
- Representation: in a post-colonial, multicultural society, who may represent whom? And how?
- Re-visioning: how does hope factor into artistic
This project convened North American and Southern African artists with their South African hosts to engage these questions, saw how art was created in response to them, and asked how this story might inspire and reorient their work. They visited in and around Johannesburg and Cape Town and work in studio at Volmoed, in the Western Cape.
Organized by the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity with the endorsement of and support from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts (LFP).
For additional information, visit the conference website.