We were very fortunate to have Heidi Campbell stop by last month at Luther and share some of her most recent research with us. I’m fascinated by what she’s learning through careful empirical observation. Far from the fears of “logging on, plugging in and dropping out” that seem so pervasive in some religious communities, she’s finding that “people who use new technologies are actually more engaged civically, politically, in their local communities. The internet and digital culture provides a supplement, not a substitute for community engagement.” This is a finding that is being replicated by numerous studies, including the MacArthur Foundation programs, and it has huge relevance for our work in faith communities:
What will happen if teachers become sufficiently courageous and emancipated to insist that education means the creation of a discriminating mind, a mind that prefers not to dupe itself or to be the dupe of others? Clearly they will have to cultivate the habit of suspended judgment, of scepticism, of desire for evidence, of appeal to observation rather than sentiment, discussion rather than bias, inquiry rather than conventional idealizations. When this happens schools will be the dangerous outposts of a humane civilization. But they will also begin to be supremely interesting places. For it will then have come about that education and politics are one and the same thing because politics will have to be in fact what it now pretends to be, the intelligent management of social affairs. (Education as Politics, 1922, p. 141)
I remember hearing about the bombs and shootings in Norway, and wondering about my students and friends. I remember my heart aching. And in the days following, I remember my awe and respect for the people of Norway and their ability to confront the tragedy without resorting to vengeance. Here is a powerful set of images from their remembrance this year:
Most of us accept that race is a social construction. That is, it’s not a biological marker but rather a notion that arose historically, in particular social circumstances, serving specific displays and institutionalizations of power. Yet how many of us in Christian community understand the very particular ways in which certain formulations of Christian thought contributed to that construction? Willie James Jennings has written a compelling and substantial treatment of that construction through Christian theology, and calls us to repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation — and re-imagination! Here is the lecture he gave at Luther last winter, and the panel discussion which followed.