Chris Gehrz on Teaching as Wondering

Earlier this spring Prof. Chris Gehrz joined two other winners of Bethel’s Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching to reflect on “habits of the mind” for effective teachers. While Joey Horstman (English) took noticing and Sara Shady (Philosophy) reflected on persisting, Prof. Gehrz described teaching as an act of wondering. You can watch that presentation here:

Live from AC2nd: Our Professors as Podcasters

Live from AC2nd logoThanks to the vision and energy of Prof. Sam Mulberry, members of our faculty have been podcasting for a decade — long before the medium really took off. (We even had our own departmental podcast for a couple years.) Now Sam is joined by two of our professors and several of our disciplinary neighbors, for a new podcast network he calls Live from AC2nd.

Its lineup currently includes the following podcasts:

• The Live from AC2nd flagship, a wide-ranging, roundtable discussion featuring a mix of faculty that includes Sam, historians Amy Poppinga and Chris Gehrz, political scientist Chris Moore, and philosopher Sara Shady. On their most recent episode, those five shared books they’re currently reading.

Amy Makes Us Try Stuff logo• Moore and Mulberry also occasionally join Poppinga for Amy Makes Us Try Stuff. Which is pretty much exactly what the title says. For example, on the debut episode, Amy “made” Sam and Chris try the TV series Justified.

• Predating the network itself is its most popular pod, Election Shock Therapy, an ongoing conversation about politics and government featuring Chris Moore and fellow political science professors Andy Bramsen and Mitchell Krumm. The most recent episode dissected Pres. Trump’s first address to Congress.

• And the newest member of the Live from AC2nd lineup is Nothing Rhymes with Gehrz, in which that Chris joins Sam to riff on six words that, well, don’t rhyme with Gehrz. Last Friday’s pilot episode featured everything from a rumination on the importance of wondering for teachers to a preview of likely upsets in the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

You can listen to or download individual episodes at the Live from AC2nd homepage, or subscribe at iTunes.

Coming to Chicago: Chris Gehrz

Chris GehrzFor any of our Chicago-based alumni and friends… Prof. Chris Gehrz will be giving a free public lecture at North Park Theological Seminary next Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 7pm. Entitled “The Pietist Option for (Current and Former) Evangelicals,” the talk will preview some of the themes from Chris’ forthcoming book with Evangelical Covenant pastor Mark Pattie, The Pietist Option: Hope for the Renewal of Christianity (coming out later this year from InterVarsity Press).

The End of the Summer

Professor Emeritus Kevin Cragg always used to tell me that the summer was basically over when we reached the 4th of July. That always seemed about right, but there’s also the tradition of summer ending at the closing of the Minnesota State Fair. This year, however, Bethel begins its semester before Labor Day. So, while it doesn’t seem quite right that students can attend class one day and the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” the next, that is the reality.

Graduation F2016 Crop 2
Spring 2016 Graduates

The end of the summer. When I think about endings, the graduating class of 2015-2016 comes to mind. Every year, it seems, we lose our best students. Many of you are out there now, about to start teaching in your very own classroom for the first time. Some of you have gotten married. Others are off to graduate school. Wherever you are, I hope you are thinking critically about the world around you and your place in it. I hope you are reading books. I hope that you see the beauty of the world around you even as you are sensitive to its pain.

The end of the summer also means a sabbatical for Dr. Chris Gehrz. If you stop by his office, you’ll notice that hanging on his door is a photo of his temporary digs for the fall semester out there in the wilds of Virginia. Even as he rests, however, I am certain he will keep busy. If you miss him, you can always “follow” him at his blog. And, don’t worry: he’ll be back in time to join Professor Mulberry to take students to Europe for the WWI course in January. Then, there’s always Christianity and Western Culture, Introduction to History, and World War II with Dr. Gehrz in Spring 2017.

Typically, endings also mean beginnings. This academic year brings Dr. Charlie Goldberg to our department. It brings the beginning of a new major: Digital Humanities. It brings us our returning and new students, our best students of the future.

Beginnings also represent opportunities for fresh starts. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer [BCP] that guides my religious life contains a litany for “Morning Prayer,” which offers me a chance to dedicate my soul and body to God’s service anew at the beginning of the day:

AND since it is of thy mercy, O gracious Father, that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to thee and thy service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life: in which resolution, do thou, O merciful God, confirm and strengthen us; that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The litany helps me see each day as a fresh start. The beginning of the academic year represents a fresh start on a grander scale. Maybe this is the year I am kinder. Maybe this is the year I am more patient. Maybe this is the year I get all my work done in a timely and efficient manner. Maybe . . . .

Of late, I’ve been listening to an artist named Mason Jennings.  I find it helpful to adopt theme music from time to time. This year, I think Jennings’ “Instrument” will be in heavy rotation. This is no B minor mass by Bach, but I sort of find its sincere simplicity fetching. Maybe you will too.

Prof. Gehrz Joins Patheos Evangelical History Blog

Chris GehrzThis blog generally stays pretty quiet during the summer, as our students and faculty scatter and busy themselves with summer research, work, and travel. But our own Prof. Chris Gehrz maintains his usual blogging schedule at The Pietist Schoolman, posting three or four times a week on “Christianity, history, education, and how they intersect.” (Yesterday marked the fifth birthday of that blog.) Now, you can also read Chris once a week at a much more prominent site.

Starting last week, he joined The Anxious Bench, a group blog on the Patheos Evangelical channel where “historians of broadly evangelical faith share their reflections on contemporary faith, politics and culture in the light of American and global religious history.” The Bench also includes Philip Jenkins (author of The Great and Holy War, among many other books), John Turner (The Mormon Jesus), David Swartz (Moral Minority), and Beth Allison Barr (The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England).

Anxious Bench logo

Taking the spot of Baylor historian Thomas Kidd, Chris will both administer The Anxious Bench and write posts every Tuesday morning. Today he shared the story of a former Bethel dean whose Baptist principles led him to oppose school prayer in the 1960s. Last week he debuted with a post on British Christian responses to the “Brexit” debate and a call for Christians to love their LGBT neighbors by learning their history.

Commemorating World War I: Past and Future

Today the United States World War I Centennial Commission is scheduled to announce which one of five finalists has been selected for the new WWI national memorial in Washington, DC. (The commission announced today that it would wait until January 25th to reveal the winner.)

To learn more about the five designs and the larger context of WWI commemoration, read “We Will Remember Them,” an essay by our own Prof. Chris Gehrz that was published last Friday by Books & Culture.

In it, Prof. Gehrz makes several references to the Bethel University travel course (HIS230L) that he and Prof. Sam Mulberry will again be leading in January 2017. For example:

Every other January, my colleague Sam Mulberry and I take a group of students to Europe, where we spend three weeks learning about the history of World War I in a few of the places it affected: Flanders and the Somme, London and Paris, Munich and Oxford. As we journey, we encounter myriad attempts to make meaning of an impossibly complicated story. More often than any other symbol or text, we see three words: “Lest we forget.”

Sign in St Paul's Churchyard: "Lest We Forget, 1914-1918/2014-2018"
There was evidence of the WWI centenary everywhere in London, including this sign in front of St Paul’s

On a centenary poster outside St Paul’s Cathedral: “Lest we forget.” On a simple wooden cross in a Belgian field, placed by English footballers where their ancestors turned No Man’s Land into a makeshift pitch during the famous Christmas Truce of 1914: “Lest we forget.” On tens of thousands of gravestones in Commonwealth cemeteries, where other words failed grieving families given the option of writing an epitaph: “Lest we forget.”

At first glance, the phrase can seem rote, unnecessary. Surely a world war—fought by 65 million people and involving far more—cannot pass from the memory of anyone who experienced it, or heard about its glories and horrors second hand. Nor from the collective memory of a community broken, defined, or otherwise affected by it.

And yet, we forget. Time marches forward, carrying our attention with it. The complicated riches of contemplating the past don’t stack up against the urgent needs of the present and the terrifying anxieties or tantalizing possibilities of the future.

So like the poet Laurence Binyon, watching the first Tommies cross the English Channel in 1914, people for a hundred years have pledged themselves against their nature:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Students: if you’re interested in going on the January 2017 WWI trip, check back in March, when further details are announced.

Recognition for The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education

Gehrz (ed.), The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher EducationWe’re happy to announce that The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education: Forming Whole and Holy Persons, edited by our own Prof. Chris Gehrz, was last night named a finalist for the 2015 Lilly Fellows Program Book Award.

Published late last year by IVP Academic and featuring essays by current and former Bethel faculty, The Pietist Vision finished just behind a book on Catholic higher education in the prestigious competition, for which over forty books were nominated.

Bethel is one of ninety-seven church-related colleges and universities in the diverse Lilly Network, whose Book Award

honors an original and imaginative work from any academic discipline that best exemplifies the central ideas and principles animating the Lilly Fellows Program.  These include faith and learning in the Christian intellectual tradition, the vocation of teaching and scholarship, and the history, theory or practice of the university as the site of religious inquiry and culture.

Works considered for this year’s award address the historical or contemporary relation of Christian intellectual life and scholarship to the practice of teaching as a Christian vocation or to the past, present, and future of higher education.

For more on this award, the Lilly program, and The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education, head over to Prof. Gehrz’s blog, The Pietist Schoolman.

The Body of Christ: Prof. Gehrz’s Opening Chapel Talk

Chris GehrzThis year our own Prof. Chris Gehrz was given the honor of speaking at Bethel’s Opening Chapel. Audio of his talk, “The Body of Christ” (from 1 Cor. 12:27) is now available on iTunes U. Click here to stream or download.

(Prof. Gehrz’s talk starts a little after the twelve-minute mark. But don’t skip past the earlier sections, which introduce 2015 faculty excellence award winners Nathan Lindquist, Gary Long, and Sara Wyse and summarize the summer’s Edgren Scholars projects. The service ends with a moving benediction from Barrett Fisher, our dean of arts and humanities.)

You can also read the text of Prof. Gehrz’s talk, which is published at his blogThe Pietist Schoolman. Here’s a sample:

…We promise you a transformational education: expect it. Don’t be satisfied simply to acquire knowledge or enhance skills; don’t be satisfied getting a diploma that opens doors to a career. Expect to be changed; expect the liberal arts to be liberating arts, freeing you from prejudices and assumptions that lead to death and feeding a living faith made active in love.

And this not for yourself: you were made for others. You are being made new in order to make new the Body of Christ, the Church. Ask it your hardest questions — demand better answers of institutions that are supposed to be “reformed and always reforming.” But then offer it your greatest gift: yourself. For when Paul says that “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17), he means that you have been made newfor the sake of the God who is sending you out as “ambassadors” for the risen Christ (v 20).

For through all the parts of the Body of Christ working together, God is making the world itself new. Through a million million small acts by imperfect people like you who restore tiny corners of Creation. Through a billion billion instances of sinner-saints like you who scorn status and power and wealth to serve the same world that hates you.

God is meeting the physical and spiritual needs of humanity through you, the Body of the Incarnate Christ. God is wiping tears from eyes through you, the Body of the Crucified Christ. God is making all things new through you, the Body of the Resurrected Christ….

The History and Vision of Pietism

If you’re interested in better understanding the religious tradition that has so distinctively shaped Bethel University, come by The Underground tomorrow afternoon (3/31, 3:30-4:30pm) for a presentation on “The History and Vision of Pietism,” by Prof. Christian Collins Winn (professor of historical and systematic theology, who has regularly taught our department’s course on The Reformations) and our own Prof. Chris Gehrz.

Olson & Collins Winn, Reclaiming PietismPietism has been a significant topic of conversation on campus of late, playing a prominent role in the recent strategic planning work that resulted in a new vision statement for Bethel. (See the newest issue of Bethel Magazine for more on these plans — Prof. Gehrz is quoted on p. 13.) For example, how that vision statement defines Bethel’s self-understanding as a “Christ-centered university” integrates the language of Pietism and quotes from a 1970 talk by the most influential articulator of Bethel’s “pietistic heritage”:

Jesus Christ stands at the center of all that we think, feel, and do at Bethel. As Carl Lundquist, our longest-serving president, once wrote of our community, Jesus “has become the supreme affection in our lives.” Like Lundquist, we believe that Christianity is “more than a creed”: it is life in Christ. Ours is a living orthodoxy that engages the world’s most challenging problems, to God’s glory and for our neighbors’ good.

Moreover, tomorrow’s presenters have recently published books on Pietism: Collins Winn co-wrote Reclaiming Pietism: Retrieving an Evangelical Tradition (Eerdmans) with former Bethel theology professor Roger Olson; and both are among the contributors to The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education: Forming Whole and Holy Persons (IVP Academic), edited by Gehrz.

If you can’t attend the presentation, it will be streamed live.

Wednesday’s Webisode: Biography and History

After a week off for Spring Break, Past & Presence returns today with an episode dedicated to biography:

The episode’s theme shows up in several different ways:

  • Prof. Chris Gehrz hosts the episode from his hometown of Stillwater, introducing viewers to some of the formative sites in his life
  • He and Prof. Amy Poppinga discuss their favorite biographies, how such sources show up in their teaching and research, and why historians are sometimes ambivalent about the genre
  • And our final faculty interview of this season finds Prof. AnneMarie Kooistra sharing some of her intellectual autobiography

All that plus ads for HIS/POS324G Human Rights in International History (being taught this fall by political science professor Andy Bramsen) and Bethel’s graduate program in teaching. (Here’s a From AC 2nd… interview with one of our alumni who earned her master’s through that program.)