February 22 2018

by Kate Ott, Drew University

Every year as the AAR Annual Meeting approaches and closes, I am struck by the instances of sexual harassment that are relayed. Maybe I hear about more of these because of my past role in training and research related to clergy sexuality education, my interest in sexual health as a professional ethics issue, or because I’m a woman (more about that in a later section).  

by W. Anne Joh, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Albrecht Dürer's "The Teacher, the Clergyman, and Providence"

At most institutions, mentoring happens capriciously, accidentally, selectively, informally, and sporadically. It is usually characterized as a one-on-one, discreet relationship that is decentralized and unmoored from the very life of the institution. However, good mentoring is about guiding and assisting the birth of a unique scholar—a scholar who can find her own sense of professional identity. This understanding of mentoring places it at the heart of institutional life. Thus a contribution to the emerging theological landscape would be finding ways to deepen and broaden our practices of mentoring within and across institutions. This effort would include thinking more precisely about the distinctions between mentoring and advising, as well as the formal and informal dimensions of mentoring.

by Erik Owens, Boston College

The distinguished University of Chicago professor Jean Bethke Elshtain died in August at the age of 72, leaving behind a massive body of published work: hundreds of scholarly articles and chapters, many authored and edited books, countless opinion pieces, reflections, op-eds and interviews. She won dozens of awards and received prestigious honors from institutions and governments around the world. She broke barriers as an accomplished female professor and as a Christian political philosopher. She was a remarkable woman, as a wide array of obituary encomiums have affirmed in recent weeks.* I had the privilege of knowing her personally and professionally over some intense and exhilarating years as her graduate student in the religious ethics program at the Divinity School, and we remained in frequent contact in the years after.

Nelly van Doorn-Harder was born and raised in the Netherlands where she earned her PhD on the topic of women’s monasticism in the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. Before moving to the USA, she was director of a refugee program in Cairo, Egypt and taught Islamic Studies at universities in the Netherlands (Leiden) and Indonesia (Yogakarta). She held the Surjit S. Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics at Valparaiso University from 1999-2009. She then moved to Wake Forest University, where she has been a Professor of Islamic Studies since 2009.

Emily Bailey, University of Pittsburgh

I have to admit that despite how ridiculously excited I am to be nearing the final stages of the graduate school process—to get into the classroom and put some of this knowledge to practical use—I’m a bit afraid of the students who will be sitting on the other side of the desk. We’ve all experienced it in some capacity; a room full of eyes staring at us, brimming with expectations, and if we’re lucky, even interest. However, as I observe the next generation of students I can’t help but be aware of a new set of expectations they have for their faculty—the kind of expectations that leave me wondering if we, as future instructors, are fully prepared.

by Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, Vanderbilt University

Almost twenty years ago, when considering pregnancy a subversive state bearing “generative lessons unknown to men and angels,” I made the following remark: “Serious involvement in child bearing and rearing involves an . . . unrelenting tug of attachment, what Kristeva calls a pain that ‘comes from the inside’ and ‘never remains apart. . . . You may close your eyes, . . . teach courses, run errands, . . . think about objects, subjects.’ But a mother is marked by a tenacious link to another that . . . never quite goes away .” (Miller-McLemore, Also a Mother, 143. See also Julia Kristeva, "Stabat Mater," in The Kristeva Reader, ed. Toril Moi, Columbia University Press, 1986: 166)

Josef Sorett, Columbia University

Let’s face it: In our guild, more often than not, the term “public” is akin to a four-letter word. For many, placing the word public in front of intellectual, at best, creates a lesser species, and at worst, invokes an oxymoron. A rather crude academic orthodoxy—we all pick it up in graduate school—is that to go public is to dumb down. One can’t possibly address the public—read: be popular, accessible, etc.—and still be smart (or maintain intellectual integrity), the logic goes.

Joseph M. Kramp, John Jay College and Marymount Manhattan College

"I have seen slaves on horseback, and princes walking on foot like slaves." — Ecclesiastes 10.7

Graduate students live off of temporary employment—often manual labor—since we move constantly and frequently spend only short periods of time in one area. However, some of us are fortunate enough to have work fall in our lap that pays well, demands little, and comes with newfound status. We all know of students who land these jobs because they list the job on their CV and publicize this work experience. Oftentimes these students assume that the readers of their CV will see a direct relationship between the job and the strengthening of a particular skill they want to highlight; these students are correct to assume this, in part, because we give certain forms of employment instant social esteem.

by Julia Watts Belser, Missouri State University

How do religious responses to environmental crisis engage with — or turn away from — the ethical demands of environmental injustice?

by Larry L. Rasmussen, Union Theological Seminary

Humankind is on a venture for which we are not well-prepared — life in a new geological age. Given the name Anthropocene by scientists because of the domination of cumulative human activities, this age succeeds the late Holocene, the era that has hosted all human religions and made possible all human civilizations to date.

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