Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dr. Hovey's New Book

The book The Hermeneutics of Tradition: Explorations and Examinations has just been published by Cascade books. Co-edited by AU religion professor Craig Hovey and the University of Scranton's Cyrus P. Olsen, The Hermeneutics of Tradition "presents the latest scholarship on tradition as a concept and reality in the development of Christian cultures."

Aristotle Papanikolaou, Professor of Theology at the Orthodox Christian Studies Center in New York gives the volume a glowing review:
In an age caught between the two poles, hypertheism and overhumanization, The Hermeneutics of Tradition offers fresh alternatives for negotiating the ambiguities of the texts, rituals, and symbols of the Christian tradition through the tradition. This collection of essays demonstrates that there is no such thing as traditionless existence, which entails being grounded in the certitude and stability of the truth claims and meaning of the Christian tradition while simultaneously being active interpreters toward yet undiscovered answers to old and new questions. A timely book with rich resources for how to think and live the Christian tradition.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Religion Courses for Spring 2014

As you get ready to register for next semester's classes, here is a quick guide to the Religion courses you can take.

REL106 Exploring the Bible - Four sections (M,W, F, 9 & 10; T,Th, 9:25 & 10:50) - core: Religion
There is a reason it is a best seller -- take this class and find out why for yourself.

REL107 Exploring World Religions - Four sections in a class room (M,W,F, 11, 1; T,Th,10:50 & 12:15) and two sections online (seats reserved for RNBSN students)- core: Religion, GPS-Border Crossings.

REL220 Taking Human Life  - Two sections (M,W,F, 9 & 10) -core: Humanities
Dr. Hovey says: Is it ever okay to take human life? If so, under what conditions? Many of the hardest contemporary issues in society and for religious communities are related to these questions, whether suicide, euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, or warfare. Join us for an exciting yet also serious course examining these ethical issues from philosophical and theological perspectives.


REL232REHON History of Modern Christianity - (T,Th, 9:25 ) - core: Historical Reasoning
Starting in the 17th century, Dr Slade will lead a jaunt through modern history considering how Christianity shaped and was shaped by the modern world. There will be Nazis, Communists, revolutionaries, snake handlers, missionaries, scientists, philosophers, abolitionists, saints, and sinners.
(This is an honors section which means that if you are not an honors student you will need a good GPA and a great reason for taking the course . . .  email your request to take the course to Dr. Swanson before Nov. 14 and he will consider putting you in if there is any space left. If you are unlucky and don't get in, not to worry, there will be another church history class next fall).

REL250 Understanding Islam in Today's World - (T,Th, 1:40) - core: Humanities, GPS-Border Crossings.
This is an event of a class. Team taught by Dr. Aune and Dr Ajwa (recently returned from Mecca), learn about the second largest (and most misunderstood) monotheistic religion in the world.


REL308  Political Theology - (T,Th, 10:50) - core: Humanities
Take this class with Dr. Hovey. If you want to learn more about the class, see What is Political Theology. If you want to know why he is teaching it check out the book he edited.


REL400  Christian Literature - (T,Th, 12:15)
Dr. Aune heads-up this seminar group reading and discussing some of the classic works of Christian Literature including Augustine's Confessions, Thomas a Kempis's Imitation of Christ, Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship and C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters.
Warning: these books can change lives.


Dr. Sue Dickson will be on senior study leave in the Spring (hence she is not teaching classes). She will be working with an organization called Leadership & Missions (LEMIS) teaching pastors in Kenya for three months.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What is Political Theology?

By Craig Hovey

Sometimes students ask me what political theology means. It's a class I love to teach so I thought I'd share the long description I came up with when I proposed the course.

REL 308 Political Theology - Spring 2015 TTh 10:50 am.

Fulfills Humanities Core.

This course introduces students to the major loci of contemporary political theology, including but not limited to current critiques of statecraft, recent developments in liberalism and democracy, political readings of the Bible, the fundamental orientation of the church vis-à-vis the political, violence and justice, marginalization and liberation (especially on matters of race and gender), the economy and globalization, and apocalypticism and eschatology. (The term “political theology” very often implies a focus on recent scholarship, as it is meant to do in this case. The term originates with Carl Schmitt’s 1922 essay by the same title.) The course is highly text-focused and deeply analytical, demonstrating and requiring a great deal of critical care in the handing of religious and political ideas.

It is hardly possible to overstate the degree to which our historical moment is ripe for the kind of serious and sustained exploration of theo-political questions which this course examines. From the profoundly renewed political self-awareness and self-confidence of fundamentalisms of many kinds, to the perceived inadequacies of secularizing moves enacted on entire nations (such as Turkey), to challenges from Jürgen Habermas, Pope Benedict XVI, and others for Europe to find an identity vis-à-vis its Christian past, to many of the political assumptions long taken for granted in the Christian West now facing resistance within Islam in ways that are at times acute, to the well-attested shift of Christianity’s center of gravity to the global South, the opening decades of the twenty-first century present a pivotal challenge to bring greater depth and clarity to topics of political theology that are likely to be with us for some time. This course is designed to be timely and relevant in light if these kinds of developments.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Public Lecture on the Quiverfull Movement


Duggar family.quiverfull, n. and adj. ˈkwɪvərˌfʊl : A large number of offspring (with allusion to Psalms 127:5)

The Ashland University Religion Department will host a lecture by Emily McGowin titled “Praying for More: Mothers and Motherhood in the American Quiverfull Movement.” The lecture, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 13, in the Ridenour Room of the Dauch College of Business and Economics, is free and open to the public.

The Quiverfull movement is an evangelical subculture that has emerged within the Christian homeschooling movement over the past 35 years. Featured in the TLC TV show “19 Kids and Counting,” Quiverfull families are identifiable by a lived religion that is radically family-focused and ordered around three key practices: homeschooling their children, performing the doctrine of male headship and eschewing all family planning so as to receive all children as a gift.

The primary goal of Quiverfull practice is to ensure "multigenerational faithfulness" in their offspring and, in the long term, to transform American culture through a demographic shift. Of course, this particular instantiation of evangelical religion has enormous consequences for women whose bodies and prolific work in the home are central to the Quiverfull way of life.

Drawing a year and a half of in-depth interviews with Quiverfull mothers, McGowin will present an overview of the Quiverfull construction of motherhood, focusing on the areas where their discourse evidences tensions and ruptures as it is performed in day-to-day life. Moreover, McGowin will reflect on what Quiverfull mothers have to teach students of Christian theology.

Emily McGowin is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at the University of Dayton. She has a B.A. in Biblical Studies from the Criswell College and an M.Div. from Truett Seminary at Baylor University.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Alumna News

Hali Brook ('13)

We have two boys and two girls homes in the Chiang Mai, Thailand area.
This is our whole family including 150+ children, Thai workers,
and American workers
In May 2013, I graduated from AU with a double major in Criminal Justice and Religion and a minor in Spanish. I had known for several years that I wanted to work with human trafficking and missions so when I heard about Remember Nhu (www.remembernhu.org) the organization was a perfect fit. 

We work against the sex slave trade by intervening in the lives of children who are at risk for being sold in the trade. They are welcomed into our children’s homes where their educational, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs are met--probably for the first time in their lives. Currently we have 32 homes in 9 countries and we are continually expanding as the Lord leads.

In Thailand I had the privilege of being able to live in the children’s home. I taught English to the children and Thai workers, organized activities for the kids, and assisted the house parents and American staff in whatever they needed.

Two of four sisters who live in our home
Posing for a picture
Most of our children come from homes with only one parent, drug and substance abuse, poverty, a new step-parent who doesn’t accept the children from previous marriages or in many cases a combination of few of these.  The typical age range of the children is 5-19 years old. For most children, learning English and completing high school is a huge success and a guarantee that they will be able to find viable work and not fall prey to the sex trade after completing school and leaving our home. Children are also able and encouraged to go to college if they desire. However, not all people are able to succeed in school. Some of our children come to us late in their childhood with never having consistently attending school. If they are so far behind, eventually they may not be able to pass the exams that some countries require to pass onto the next grade level. Therefore, Remember Nhu has started to open doors for vocational training. I was asked to move to Cambodia in January for three months to help open the vocational training center in Phnom Penh. I served as director of the center as well as an English and Math instructor and a Jewelry instructor. The center opened in January and we have had five girls so far come through and start to learn jewelry making, card making, and sewing. Having a trade and skill to fall back on will be a life preserver for those who can go onto college or even finish high school.  Products will soon be sold on the Remember Nhu website and the proceeds will be invested back into vocational training.

Learning for the first time how to sew on a machine
I am currently home on furlough; however, in August I will be moving to work with Remember Nhu in Bolivia. I will continue vocational training development and teaching English and Spanish. If you would like to learn more and follow my ministry you can check on my blog: http://followhali.tumblr.com/

Peace and Blessings,
Hali Brook