The college is closing, and I'm the chaplain.
Last semester, I had students review Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith. For those unfamiliar with this book, the authors make two general claims: America is a racialized society. White evangelical Protestants are unwitting proponents of racialization.
“Tell me what a feminist looks like,” the woman at the microphone chanted. Obediently and enthusiastically, we responded, “This is what a feminist looks like.” It was a beautiful, if chilly, April afternoon, and several hundred students, faculty members, and administrators had gathered in front of the University of Mary Washington’s administration building to mourn the murder of Grace Rebecca Mann and celebrate her life.
Last year as part of a faculty group book-read I encountered Larry Rasmussen’s Earth Honoring Faith. In Rasmussen’s view, sabbath is one of the resources that could be deployed to apply brakes to a society that is over-consuming the resources of the planet and the lives of its own members. The suggestion of the healing possibilities of sabbath resonated with me not only because of my environmental commitments, but also on a more human level.
The faculty heard about a large influx of Saudi students on campus. I didn't expect to find them all in my world religions class.
In January, the Century published my interview with Kerry Cronin, who teaches at Boston College and gives students an unusual assignment: go out on a date. Since then we've asked some college students to respond to Cronin. Do they find her dating advice off-putting? Valuable? Impractical? Strange?