Thinking Faith blogs
I wanted to blog about some of the questions that students ask.
RealityBites is a ministry that creates space for people to ask questions about life, the universe and, of course, Hertfordshire. We try to arouse curiosity in people about God, idolatry and the kingdom of Jesus. We do this by telling provocative, shocking stories about rat worshippers, plastic surgery obsessives and human traffickers etc.
“Help make better places” is the strap line of my department. It’s fairly good as far as strap lines go, and is reflected in the goals of many of our students. It recognises that the cities and habitats we live in at the moment are far from perfect, but does so without diminishing the hope that we can improve both our situation and those of others.
I heard a talk about “Being a Christian in Academia” recently and wanted to make a response. I had a list of points at which I would have said something different from what the speaker said, and there were probably enough for a 30-min talk.
But as I reflected, there seemed to be just one point that really mattered. One thing could set the general direction for everything else, and perhaps that was all I needed to say. That point was, “What’s the point?” I mean: why be a Christian in academia? And why have universities at all, from a Christian point of view?
Is there a Christian way of thinking about your discipline? I think most of us would answer, ‘Yes,’ but spelling out what that means is usually a difficult task!
The teaching of modern foreign languages (MFL) is widely assumed to be unaffected by the teacher's faith or worldview.
The most common reaction I get when I tell people I am an archaeologist is, ‘I always wanted to be an archaeologist when I was little!’ Since most people have left that dream behind and found more useful things to do, I sometimes find myself pondering why it is worthwhile to engage in archaeology.
RealityBites has now delivered presentations on Celebrity Culture and Christian Faith to more than 1300 people in England, Australia and Holland. Here we probe Paris Hilton's lived beliefs.
Forget about what she says! Look at the way she lives! Scrutinise how she treats her 'best friends' from the USA, the UK and Dubai. Evidence for this can be garnered from YouTube. What story is Paris living in?
Here follows a Hilton classic quote:
Barbie is my role model. She might not do anything, but she looks good doing it.
Anti-intellectualism in the church has been well documented (Noll 1995) and is still a problem for Christian academics today. It may appear in many guises, but one is what Don Carson calls “blue-collar arrogance”. This is the idea that if you can’t do something practical – so that others can see the direct benefit or fruit of it, your job is fairly pointless. I encountered this recently when I was asked, “don’t you want to become a lawyer, teacher or vicar? In those jobs you can help people, serve the Church financially or serve the Church theologically and pastorally.”
A simple and effective way to talk about the Christian faith is to craft speech acts about heroes and villains. For example, I was talking recently to a financial adviser about investing money in a variety of portfolios and my wife, Anne and I became bothered about the dodgy nature of some of the schemes. We're talking about our money being invested in weapons, tobacco and pornography companies. This is how the conversation went with 'Brian'.