Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Religion Courses for Spring 2016

REL106 Exploring the Bible - Four sections (M,W, F, 10,11; 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) and two sections online (some seats reserved for RNBSN students)- core: Religion, GPS-Border Crossings.

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.

REL 260 Short Term Missions (T, Th 9:15) - core: either GPS Study Away (with spring Break Mission Trip) or GPS-Border Crossing
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 340 Religion & The Civil Rights Movement in America - One Section (T, Th 10:50) - core: Humanities
Dr. Peter Slade says: From the streets of Montgomery in 1954 to St Louis in 2015, churches and people of faith have been deeply involved in both sides of the civil rights movement in America. Using the tools of history, sociology and theology, this class will explore this recent chapter of American history. In addition to the movement of the 19650s and 60s, we will also look at the church based racial reconciliation initiatives of the 90s and 00s. We will end with an examination of church's involvement in #BlackLivesMatter -- what has been dubbed by the press as the new civil rights movement, and mass incarceration "the New Jim Crow."

REL404  Seminar in Christian Theology: Atonement  One Section - (T-Th 12:15)
Dr. Hovey says: This semester's theme is the Doctrine of the Atonement: the meaning of the death of Christ. Does an innocent man's death appease an angry God? In what sense should Christ's death be considered a sacrifice? Is it a ransom? To whom? We will go in-depth into these and related debates in contemporary theological scholarship. Not to be missed!  This is one of the required theology seminars for Religion majors and both REL 106 and REL 208 are prerequisites.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fall 2015: Speakers and Events

The Religion Department is excited to invite you to hear from this great range of speakers coming to Ashland this fall. All these events are open to students and members of the community.

Peacemaking in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Rev. Berthe Kalombo Nzeba

Tuesday, September 28 12:00 Brown Bag at Eagles' Landing , Hawkins Conard Student Center

Tuesday, September 29, 7:00pm Ridenour Room

Rev. Berthe Kalombo Nzeba, ordained in 1978, is the first female protestant clergy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rev. Nzeba is the Women’s President for the West Kinshasa Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Kinshasa (CPK) and pastor of the CPK Brikin parish in Kinshasa. She is also the General Secretary of the Women and Families Department of the ecumenical, protestant, umbrella group, the Church of Christ in Congo (ECC). For the last ten years, Rev. Nzeba has coordinated national and international Church efforts in support of women and children impacted by the conflict in Eastern Congo. Since 1996, 5.4 million people have lost their lives due to war in the Congo and millions have been displaced by the violence. 30 different militia groups continue to terrorize the local population. Rev. Nzeba oversees efforts in support of survivors of rape and war orphans. She is an active interlocutor in ecumenical platforms for peace and security in the Great Lakes Region.

Resurrecting Church

Friday October 2, 7:00pm, Upper Convo

Tearing Down Walls

Saturday, October 3, 9am, Upper Convo

Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne, will offer the talks "Resurrecting Church" and "Tearing Down the Walls" to encourage us as the Body of Christ to be alive in the world. Shane Claiborne is a Red Letter Christian and a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is the co-author, with Chris Haw, of Jesus for President

The event is free, but registration is required. For more info and registration go to the ATS web site.


Pope Francis, the Environment, and Christian Life

Dr. Jana Bennett

Wednesday, October 14, 7:00pm, Ridenour Room

Following the pope's writing of his recent encyclical "Laudator Si," many have accused the pope of stepping into political and economic questions about which he knows little, But Bennett suggests that a different reading of the encyclical helps us dig deep into Christian tradition, and perhaps think a bit differently about environmental concerns.
Jana Bennett is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton, where she teaches theology and ethics. She is also co-editor of, a blog that discusses liturgy, scripture, and current issues in relation to moral questions. She is currently writing a book on moral theology and Christian contemplation.

Bonhoeffer's Black Jesus

Dr. Reggie Williams 

Wednesday November 4, 7:00pm, Ridenour Room

Dr. Reggie Williams, author of Bonhoeffer's Black Jesus (Baylor University Press) is Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary, in Chicago. His research interests are primarily focused on the connection between Christian interpretations of the way of Jesus, and Christian morality. His current research investigates how popular Western-world interpretations of Christianity have been calibrated to a false ideal that corresponds with racialized interpretations of humanity, morality, and Jesus. He will speak about how Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s experience in the Harlem Renaissance influenced Bonhoeffer's theology and ethics.

Monday, April 6, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter and Theology in St. Louis

Dr. Peter Slade will be a speaker at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis for its City Ministry Spring Conference. This year’s theme is “Welcome One Another: Racial Identity in Christ.”

An article on the conference in the online magazine of the Presbyterian Church in America explains:
Greg Perry, associate professor of New Testament, and Dean of Students Mike Higgins are organizing the conference, and this year’s theme stems from events less than 17 miles away in Ferguson, Missouri. In the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown and the protests the teen’s death sparked, Higgins and Perry worked to foster conversations between white and black Christians.
Dr. Slade said, "I am  humbled to be invited and excited to attend the conference." He will be giving two lectures, "Holistic Discipleship: John Perkins, African American Missionary to the White Evangelical Church" and "A Theology of Intercultural Congregational Singing."

To find out more about the conference click on this link

Participants in the Mourning March, St. Louis, April 4, 2015. photo: Steve Pavey

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Reflections on Terrorism from Kenya

Dr. Sue Dickson is spending this semester in Kenya. Yesterday she offered her observations and reflections on the terrorist attack on Garissa University on her personal travel blog -- I don't think she will mind me re-posting it here:
Thursday morning, on the way to Kibera, we heard about the terrorist attack in Garissa on the radio. Al Shabaab terrorists from Somalia (perhaps living in Dodo, a Somali refugee camp in Northeastern Kenya) had arrived for morning prayers at the University of Garissa and begun shooting randomly. There are ~800 students at the school (mostly boarders). About 500 ran for their lives when they heard the shots. They were quickly rounded up and accounted for by the authorities but won’t be released to their parents until tomorrow morning. The staff was accounted for and alive. 142 students were killed and 5 security personnel. 79 were wounded—some when they jumped out of second story windows to get away. About 70 students were hostages for about 17 hours until the terrorists were killed. Many have been flown to Nairobi for medical treatment. Two of Grace and Paul’s home-children attend Garissa University. We didn’t know until about 8:00 P.M. that they were safe. Nairobi, all of Kenya, is stunned; angry; devastated. The sadness is visible in people’s faces.
Kenya is no stranger to terrorist attacks. The ‘Westgate Mall Attack’ is Kenya’s 9/11 and there is a memorial in downtown Nairobi where the U.S. embassy used to stand until the attack of 2007. There have been many other attacks—bombs thrown on buses; suicide bombers in public places; random shootings; slit throats. We hear about Boko Haram and Al Qaeda and ISIL in the states but Al Shabaab is the group that Kenyans are facing. They are a Somali group that tried to affiliate with Al Qaeda but were rejected. That’s why the Kenyan Christians I’ve met are passionately angry toward Muslims—without exception. They are convinced that Islam is a violent, aggressive, intolerant religion that must be wiped out. There is no room for a shift in perspective. They live in a different world from mine. Apparently, the terrorists on Thursday asked students what their religion was and then shot them. Talking about inter-religious dialogue, and religious tolerance, and the difference between terrorists and true Muslims here is like shouting into outer space—it only makes you hoarse. Kenyan Christians are afraid. Actually, they have good reason to be afraid. In fact, I suspect lots of Kenyan Muslims are afraid, too. It wasn’t just Christian students who were murdered yesterday… I truly understand the fear and frustration and the reflexive desire for revenge and aggression and self-preservation. If my college students had been shot dead by Al Shabaab my views on tolerance might become something different.
Kenya has a long porous border with Somalia in the northeast. And, although they are building a wall in the most dangerous corner, and have armed guards patrolling the length, that doesn’t stop terrorists. Kenyan politicians are calling for the closing of the Dodo camp and the ousting of all Somalis from Kenya. But, the huge majority of refugees in the camp are the people fleeing Al Shabaab—kicking them out won’t help anything. The government doesn’t know what to do. The citizens don’t know what to do. Faithful pastors I worked with yesterday don’t know what to do. How do we ‘love these enemies’? What does that look like in this context? One pastor said, ‘Let’s let the army wipe them out and we’ll love them later.’ Another suggested that ‘loving one’s enemy doesn’t include loving evil and these people are evil and must be eliminated before they eliminate us’. I hear paranoid, generalized remarks about Muslims (lumping all Muslims with terrorists) with frequency here. Things such as: ‘Money is pouring in from Saudi Arabia to build mosques. You see one in every neighborhood and small town. We have to stop it.” And ‘They want us to respect them, but they don’t respect us. They just want to kill, kill, kill. We need to stop being so tolerant.’ That’s the gist. At first I was stunned. I tried to prod and offer alternative interpretations. But, after yesterday, I’m thinking I may have no right to respond at all. And then, I realized…
Today is Good Friday…
Lord, help us to embody the mercy and forgiveness you embodied on the cross. Help us to love one another as you have loved us. Lord, remember us when you come into your kingdom.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Religion Courses for Fall 2015

REL106 Exploring the Bible - Seven sections (M,W, F, 10,11,12,1; T,Th, 9:25; 10:50; 12:15) - 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 classroom (M,W, F, 1, 2; T,Th,10:50 & 12:15) and two sections online (some seats reserved for RNBSN students)- core: Religion, GPS-Border Crossings.

REL109 Exploring Christian Ethics - Two sections (M,W,F, 9 & 10 - N.B. the 10 o'clock class is an honors section) with Dr. Hovey.
Start thinking about the BIG ISSUES--immigration, homosexuality, justice, war, abortion, love-- in this essential class for sentient beings.

REL230 History of Early Christianity - (M,W, F, 10) with Dr. Aune
How did “orthodox” Christianity overcome various challenges to become the dominant religious tradition in the West? In this course, we answer this question by focusing upon selected literature and significant historical events in the development of Christianity from the 2nd to the 5th century. Classes consist mainly of interactive lectures and serious discussion of primary texts from this period.
Fulfills the Core Historical Reasoning requirement.

305 Advanced New Testament: Gospels - (T, Th, 1:40) with Dr. Aune
Do you want to learn more about the life of Jesus while asking critical questions raised by recent scholarship in Biblical studies? In this course we focus on the four Gospels individually (focusing on the distinctive themes, occasion and purpose of the writings) and then alongside one another as we consider their historical reliability for studying the life of Jesus.
Fulfills the upper level Biblical studies requirement for the Religion major.

208 Exploring Christian Theology - (T,Th, 9:25) with Dr. Hovey
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 for religion minors to fulfill their Christian thought requirement.  

REL234 History of Christian Worship - (T,Th, 10:50) with Dr. Slade.
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.

REL341 World Christianity, Culture and Mission - (T,Th, 3:05) with Dr. Dickson
Just returned from her semester in Kenya working with local church leaders, Dr. Dickson will have a wealth of knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm to share. Don't miss this class.

497 Thesis Seminar - (M, W, 3-4:20) with Dr. Dickson
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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dr. Rinehart gives 'Last Lecture'

The Religion Department at Ashland University will celebrate its graduating seniors and close out the year with a final lecture by long-time Ashland resident Dr. Don Rinehart on Wednesday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Miller Chapel at the corner of King Road and College Avenue.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Last Lecture: The Beginning of Wisdom.”

“The Last Lecture series is a way the Religion Department honors great teachers by asking them to give a lecture as if it were their last,” said Dr. Peter Slade, associate professor of religion. “In this case, this really is Dr. Rinehart’s last semester teaching and our last chance to hear him give a lecture at the university.”

Dr. Rinehart started teaching in the Religion Department at AU in the fall semester of 1969. He retired in 2007, but continued teaching sections of the class “Exploring the Bible.” “Many generations of AU students can testify to his wisdom and compassion in the classroom,” Slade said.

“The Religion Department extends an invitation to all present and past students, colleagues and members of the community to celebrate the success of our students and to have one last opportunity to be taught by Dr. Don Rinehart,” Slade said.

In addition, those attending the lecture will have an opportunity to contribute to the Rinehart Lectureship in Practical Theology endowment campaign, which was started when Dr. Rinehart retired.
The Annual Rinehart Lecture in Practical Theology will bring a leading scholar in Practical Theology to Ashland's campus to work with students and give a public lecture.

“This is a way of continuing to honor the legacy of Dr. Rinehart's extraordinary career,” Slade said.
Those who are not able to attend the lecture but would like to contribute, can call the AU Office of Development at 419.289.5620.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dr. Dickson Goes to Africa

Dr. Sue Dickson is on study leave this semester but she is not conducting her research in some dusty library. She will be teaching in Africa. Here is her own description of what she will be doing for the next 12 weeks.
LEAMIS International Ministries, an interdenominational, evangelical Christian ministry formed in 1998 and based in MO, crossed my radar when I was doing research for a project in Short-term Missions Trips. They’re helping to organize this trip. LEAMIS partners with local churches, providing training in areas requested by the churches. Their website says “… Our goal is to help in the transformation of communities through spiritual and development projects that minister to the whole person –spirit, soul, and body. ”
When I spoke to Debra (one of the founders) a couple of months ago, I was impressed. Before the end of our first conversation, we were discussing the possibility of me traveling to East Africa to teach Bible. Within a few days, Bishop Paul and Pastor Grace Mbithi of Nairobi, had invited me to join in their preaching/teaching ministry this spring.
The plan is for me to travel (with an interpreter) to villages throughout their ministry area to lead Bible studies, and workshops for pastors in biblical hermeneutics. When in Nairobi, I’ll be visiting the New Life Restoration Ministries’ school, children’s home, and some of their 70 churches in the Kibera slums outside Nairobi.
Dr. Dickson will be back at AU in the Fall and teaching REL 341 World Christianity, Culture and Mission (T, Th 3:05 - 4:20).