Many of the most moving experiences I have had with students in class have involved encounters with members of other religious traditions. When teaching at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, I used to invite Rabbi Herman Schaalman to speak to first-year seminarians about the importance of Jewish-Christian dialogue since the Shoah.
When I first started teaching, the dean thought it would be a good idea for me to warm up to the vocation (after five years in the pastorate) by teaching summer school. The summer school was designed for second-career folk—those called into the pastoral ministry late in life. Some of these students, I was to discover, are the most interesting kind.
The encounter that most decisively shaped my teaching occurred during my very first year in the classroom. I was fresh out of graduate study at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the lines of my life, as the psalmist says, had fallen in pleasant places.
Most people, on some level, love movies. Yet as both a Christian and a filmmaker, I’m persuaded that Christians have not excelled at filmmaking because they haven’t really loved the cinema. They may love the power of cinema. They may appreciate the social impact of cinema.
As I emerged from the dairy aisle in the neighborhood supermarket and turned toward the bagels, I spotted my old friend Terry Regan over near the soups. He saw me at the same time and we started toward each other. I hadn’t seen Terry for nearly a year and he looked slimmer. Good for him, I thought; he needed to trim down a little.