Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Religion Courses for Spring 2017

REL106 Exploring the Bible - Four sections (M,W, F, 8, 10,11, 1, 2; T,Th, 12:15; 1:40) - core: Religion
There is a reason it is a best seller -- take this class and find out why for yourself.

REL107 Exploring World Religions - Five sections in a classroom (M,W, F, 10, 11, 12; T,Th,10:50, 12:15 
&3:05and two sections online (seats reserved for online RNBSN and CJ students)- core: Religion

REL 220 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.


REL234 History of Christian Worship - (T,Th, 10:50)
Dr. Slade says: Learn how church on Sunday ended up looking the way it does. From Thomas Tallis to Chris Thomlin, Gregorian Chant to Hillsong. Learn about the history of Christian worship from the New Testament church to the present day.
Fulfills the upper level Christian History requirement for the Religion major and the Christian Thought requirement for the minor.

REL 260 Short Term Missions (T, Th 9:15) - core: CCI with Study Away
This exciting new course with Dr. Sue Dickson explores the development, theology, and practice of international short-term, mission trips. It is designed to work with a Spring Break mission trip -- this year the university has groups going to Nicaragua and Dominican Republic (scholarships are available to help with travel costs). This class will enhance this experience of mission and help students engage this experience on a deeper critical level. If you are not going on a STM this spring, not to worry, you can still take the course!

REL 375OLB Understanding Israel  (03/13 -04/30) core: CCI with Study Away
Dr. Dickson says: take the online course, designed to prepare students for the Passages ten-day, (subsidized!!), trip to Israel in August of 2017. Half the course is online; half the course is in Israel. We will study the literature, history and archeology of biblical sites and discuss award-winning books about modern Israel. On the trip you will view the Dead Sea from the ruins of Masada; slosh through the waters of Hezekiah's tunnel; dance on the deck of a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee; pray in the Garden of Gethsemane; dine in the home of Orthodox Jews; explore Old Jerusalem; hear world-class lecturers-- and much more. This is a wonderful opportunity but seats are limited. Taking REL375 GUARANTEES you a seat on the bus-- so sign up today! (P.S. Check out the photos on the Religion Department BB to see what the trip looked like in 2016.)

REL308 Faith and Society (T,Th 9:25)  
Dr. Hovey says: This course pushes up against the limits of ethics by looking at recent scholarship on religion and violence. You will be challenged to look at concrete events in history in different lights, especially various lights of faith. Was the violent abolitionist John Brown a religious fanatic to be condemned, a freedom fighter to be celebrated, or a complicated figure whose hope and actions were at odds yet whose faith still pointed to redemption? How have other groups such as the Native American Crow tribe and radical Islam's suicide bombers understood faith, hope, and redemption in the midst of violence? What are the risks involved in striving to understand "religious" violence separately from the violence waged by nation-states in the name of secular hopes? In this completely reworked version of the course formerly known as Political Theology, you will wrestle with some of the richest and most timely scholarship at the intersection of politics, religion, ethics, and faith.


REL401  Seminar in Christian Ethics: Peacemaking and Restorative Justice (T-Th 12:15)
Dr. Aune says: We will be looking at the ethics, theology and practices of peacemaking and restorative justice from St Paul to the 21st century (and how to deal with violent texts). Find out what Christians have been ignoring for years and why.
Fulfills the seminar requirement for the religion major

Friday, April 1, 2016

Faith & Ferguson


The Ashland University's Religion Department is hosting musician and activist Michelle Higgins on April 20-21. She will have a full schedule preaching, teaching and conducting workshops with Ashland students. A number of the events are free and open to the public:


Wednesday, April 20

12:00-1:30
Workshop: Nonviolent de-escalation in the midst of crisis,  Eagle’s Landing, Hawkins-Conard Student Center
7:00-8:30
“Last” Lecture: Your Faith for Justice, Ridenour Room, College of Business
Thursday, April 21

10:50-12:05
Conversation: The New Civil Rights Movement After Ferguson, Ronk Lecture Theater, College of Education
8:00-9:30
Sermon: Praying with your Feet, The Well, Miller Chapel


"It is exciting for us to have Michelle Higgins coming to campus," said Peter Slade, chair of the Religion Department. "Here at Ashland University we are always trying to make connections between our faith and the communities we live in and serve. Michelle will bring her wealth of experience and wisdom and help us understand the responsibilities and opportunities we have as Christians to engage with these issues of justice and race." Michelle will be speaking in Dr. Slade's class Religion and the Civil Rights Movement. "It is important for us to realize that the movement didn't stop with the passage of the Civil Rights Act or the assassination of Dr. King," Slade said. "This is a living history that calls people of faith to action today."

The Director of Worship and Outreach at South City Church  in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis, Michelle is actively engaged in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. She has participated in civil disobedience, leadership development, logistics and administrative support in both sacred and secular spaces.

Michelle is the Director of Faith for Justice, a Christian advocacy group founded in 2014 dedicated to continuing the biblical story of activism. Faith for Justice promotes and leads public justice actions and events that connect faith communities to the movements that seek to dignify and humanize Black lives.

Though working primarily as a local organizer, Michelle’s work is challenging the wider church. She rose to national prominence with her plenary speech at Urbana 2015, the annual InterVarsity Student Missions Conference. The New York Times commented “in her wide-ranging comments about social justice, Ms. Higgins did little to make her speech more palatable.” The Washington Post concurred,Michelle Higgins has been making waves.” The Evangelical publication Christianity Today described her historic speech as "powerful and prophetic testimony.”

Michelle holds an M.Div from Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis and lives in North City with her husband Sean Loftin, and their two children - Moses and Matilda

InterVarsity made this short video introduction to Michelle and her work:


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Classes coming in Fall 2016

As you are putting together your fall schedule, please consider the following upper level religion courses being offered this fall:

REL106 Exploring the Bible - Eight sections (M,W, F: 9, 10,11, 12, 1, 2 ; 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 - Five sections in a classroom (M,W, F: 1, 2, 12; T,Th:10:50, 12:15, 1:40) and two sections online (some seats reserved for RNBSN students)- core: Religion

REL232 History of Modern Christianity (T,Th: 10:50) with Dr. Slade
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 pilgrims, missionaries, Nazis, Communists, revolutionaries, snake handlers, scientists, philosophers, abolitionists, saints, and sinners. This is an important class if you want to think about what it means (and should mean) to be a Christian today.

REL208 Exploring Christian Theology (T,Th: 9:25) with Prof. Karen Liddy
An introduction to central doctrines of the Christian faith that is both respectful of classic theological traditions and open to the new voices and emphases of recent theologies.  A required course for religion majors and one of the best ways to start loving God with your mind at AU.

REL250 Understanding Islam (T, Th: 1:40)  core: Humanities
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. 

REL304 Advanced Old Testament (T,Th: 12:15) with Dr. Dickson
Dig deep into key texts from the law, prophets and writings in the book that never gets old! 

REL497 Religion Thesis Seminar (M,W: 3-4:20) with Dr. Aune
Write a 30 page thesis in one semester on a (religious) subject of your choice. This is a required class for religion majors BUT it is also a great elective for everyone else.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lived Theology and Radical Christians

Howard Kester (right), with STFU leaders in 1935
AU religion prof Peter Slade is involved in a two-year collaborative project with 12 other scholars to produce a single volume entitled Can I Get a Witness? Stories of Radical Christians in the U.S., 1900-2014.

Each chapter will be a theological narrative of the life of a scholar, activist, layperson, or religious leader whose lived theology produced and inspired social justice in the United States. "I am writing about Howard Kester," Slade explains. "He was radical Christian working for racial justice and labor rights in the South during the 1920s and 30s. What was not widely known during his lifetime was that he was an undercover investigator of lynchings for the NAACP." Other chapters will include William J. Seymour, Dorothy Day, Ella Baker, William Stringfellow, Yuri Kochiyama, and Richard Twiss. (learn more here)

This project is part of the Project on Lived Theology based at the University of Virginia. Peter Slade has been involved with the project for sixteen years. He is featured in this short documentary explaining the work and vision of the project.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cross Cultural Communication in REL260

Short-Term Missions (STM) is a huge phenomenon in U.S. American Christianity-- and in Christianity worldwide. This week, Dr. Dickson's STM class partnered with the ACCESS Level V international students from China, Saudi Arabia, and India (taught by Marcus Davis) to practice cross-cultural communication skills. 

Discussions were lively-- and educational! "That was painful," one student laughed at the end of an exercise in which he (a confident extrovert) had been asked to represent a person from a soft-spoken, indirect culture. Students were surprised to discover blind-spots in their own cultural perspectives and gained tools and skills for filling in those blind-spots. 

REL260 Short Term Missions is taught by Dr. Dickson every spring. It explores the origins, development, theology, economics, and practices of STM. Students can combine this course with a Spring Break missions trip for Study Away Credit.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Human Trafficking Awareness

Theresa Flores addresses AU students (photo: Matt Erickson)
The Religion Department, in collaboration with Ashland Center for Non-violence and other groups, welcomed more than 200 students, faculty, and guests to the “Stop Human Trafficking” event held Monday evening in upper convo.

Theresa Flores of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.)  and Jen Albert, survivors of trafficking, told their stories and presented information about trafficking in the U.S.
Attendees heard how trafficking is not a problem only in far off lands—it’s happening right here. The State of Ohio has the 5th highest rate of trafficking in the U.S. and the average age of those trafficked is 13. You can read Theresa's story in the Collegian article.

There are upcoming opportunities to get involved in this important campaign to stop human trafficking: 

  • You can join the AU Human Trafficking Awareness Group (HTAG).Its next meeting is on Tuesday, February 9 in the Rinehart Center for Religious Studies Rm 13 at 3:30 P.M. (for more info contact Dr. Sue Dickson, 419 207-5561)
  • Come to the HTAG's training on Monday, February 1 at 7:00- 8:30 on the AU campus to receive a PowerPoint presentation and a 45-minute script to present to groups: your youth group, your High School, your Jr. High School, your Sunday School—or any other organizations with which you have contact.