I remember when I was in graduate school, the best advice I was given was from a friend who had recently secured a tenure-track position. He said, â€œKevin, itâ€™s a big world out there, and most departments do not teach the sort of anthropology youâ€™ve learned, and many places have people who are critical of it. Youâ€™ll need to learn more faster after becoming a professor than you ever have had to do in graduate school.â€
At the ESN Blog, I conduct a short interview with Jordan Ballor of the Acton Institute, and student members of ESN can receive a free, 2-year digital subscription to the Journal of Markets & Morality.
Our new series on the ESN Blog by Kevin Birth. Kevin’s a storyteller, and this story has a great beginning:
SimonÂ was fuming. The day before, a senior faculty member had turned to him in a meeting and said,Â â€œShut up if you want tenure.â€
Do you think of worship, hospitality, or celebration as spiritual disciplines? If you’re like me, you associate the idea of “discipline” with things that are hard, like fasting, daily prayer, intense Bible study, and so on. But if a discipline is something that trains us to live and think rightly, then what better response to the resurrection can there be than over-the-top celebration?
In fact, celebration holds a place of honor in both of my top two books on spiritual disciplines. Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, places celebration at the conclusion of his classic work, while Adele Ahlberg Calhoun puts Celebration at the very front of her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.
Here’s what Calhoun writes about Celebration:
The world is filled with reasons to be downcast. But deeper than sorrow thrums the unbroken pulse of God’s joy, a joy that will yet have its eternal day. To set our hearts on this joy reminds us that we can choose how we respond to any particular moment. We can search for God in all circumstances, or not. We can seek the pulse of hope and celebration because it is God’s reality. Heaven is celebrating. Right now the cherubim, seraphim, angels, archangels, prophets, apostles, martyrs and all the company of saints overflow with joy in the presence of their Creator. Every small experience of Jesus with us is a taste of the joy that is to come. We are not alone â€” and that in itself is reason to celebrate. (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, 27)
Here are a few ways that my family and I celebrated the resurrection of Jesus:
- Dressing up in new clothes (including new shoes for me)
- Attending a packed church, taking communion, and hearing a powerful message on the hope of the resurrection
- Singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” (and hearing perfect silence at that moment of tension before the final “Hallelujah”)
- Joining extended family and old friends for an Easter feast of lamb, ham, and too much sugar, all while being welcoming my principal role models of hospitality, my father- and mother-in-law
- Catching up – unexpectedly – with some good friends who have had a rough spring
- Puzzling over my 6-year-old’s sudden obsession over reading the Bible – and trying to decide whether it is sincere or not (and whether that matters)
- Delving into the study of God through conversation about justification and covenant
- For my wife, playing (and winning) some great board games with cousins and friends we don’t see nearly often enough
All in all, a great day of celebration. And I didn’t even mention the eggs.
How did you celebrate Easter?
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In InterVarsity and many other Christian organizations, weâ€™re used to thinking of Christians as a minority â€“ even a persecuted minority â€“ within the academy, particularly at the more prestigious universities. For example, responding to a common question asked by many faculty and graduate students, we recently published an essay by Ken Elzinga of the University of Virginia titled â€œBeing Open About My Faith Without Turning People Off.â€ There is another way of looking at Christianity in the university, however.
Photo credit: Interfaith chaplaincy banner at Nichols College, by Svadilfari via Flickr. Click for larger image.
Last week, my friend Julie forwarded me a link to Tricia Seifertâ€™s article, â€œUnderstanding Christian Privilege: Managing the Tensions of Spiritual Pluralityâ€ (PDF). Comparing â€œChristian privilegeâ€ to the more commonly used terms male privilege and white privilege, Seifert identifies several areas of university life in which structure or assumptions favor Christianity over other religions, such as:
- the academic calendar, which includes breaks for Christmas and sometimes Easter, but not High Holy Days, Ramadan, or other religious festivals
- meal plans, which often donâ€™t take into account the dietary needs of non-Christian students
- at private colleges, chapel space, which, even if open to non-Christian use, is usually filled with Christian imagery (see this story about the recent creation of a Pagan worship space at the Air Force Academy)
- nondenominational, but Christian â€œflavored,â€ prayer at graduation ceremonies and athletic events
Seifert offers some practical advice for addressing Christian privilege, and also suggests that Christian privilege affects the learning community:
The responsibility of educating the whole student includes creating a community in which all students feel safe to practice and share their spiritual beliefs and supported in learning about the spiritual beliefs of others. To create such a community, educators need to help students develop the ability and willingness to question educational practices and programs that privilege the spiritual identity development of one group over others. Students have made great strides in questioning other forms of privilege, such as male privilege and white privilege. The changing demographics of our college and university campuses and their increasing spiritual plurality necessitate a commitment to helping the campus community recognize and confront Christian privilege in the same way that it has confronted other forms of privilege.
Take a few minutes to read Seifertâ€™s article (itâ€™s about 6 pages) and consider what you think about the idea of Christian privilege.
Some questions for discussion:
How would you respond to Seifertâ€™s article?
Do you agree that there is Christian privilege within the academy? Why or why not?
How do you think religious plurality affects the campus learning community?
How can Christians best contribute to the religiously diverse community at secular universities?