Three Types of Forgiveness: From Outrage to Freedom

This past summer, Dr. Judith Oleson, associate professor of sociology and social work and coordinator of the Peace and Conflict Studies Minor, had an opportunity to stay in the old Jewish quarters of Krakow, Poland. She then visited the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, where nearly the entire Jewish population of Europe was extinguished. As a result, the Holocaust became more real to Oleson, as did the need to explore the the importance of forgiveness in her work on reconciliation studies. She has also been studying Rwandan reconciliation efforts after the genocide; Oleson referred to both in a chapel talk she gave to Gordon students Monday, October 31. Below is the text of her talk.

“The Kingdom is Like Those Who Can Forgive, Because They Have Been Forgiven”—Based on Matthew 18: 23- 35

By Judith Oleson

The kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle his accounts with his servants.  Jesus tells this parable with great detail.   It is quite dramatic.  The servant owes a lot of money (10,000 bags of gold in fact) to the king. He cannot pay up, so he, his wife and children and all he had will be sold.   The servant falls on his knees and begs, “Be patient with me” and makes a promise “I will pay back everything.”  The king takes pity on him and cancels the entire debt.   This is amazing, who would cancel a debt of 10.0000 bags of gold?  But we know the story does not end here – the servant goes out and finds a fellow servant, one of his peers who owed him only 100 silver coins.  He grabs him, chokes him and demands payment.  When the fellow servant says be patient with me, and I will pay it back, the first servant refuses to be patient, and has him thrown in prison until he could pay back the debt.   Then this is the best part I think – “when the other servants saw what happened they were outraged, and whet back and told the king all that had happened.

Now there is a lot of outrage today about debt.  The Tea party has been outraged about government debt, congress is outraged that the banks have been forgiven their debt, but did not pass on their savings to consumers, the occupy wall street is movement is outraged that the 99 percent is indebted to the 1 percent.   Our economy in the U.S. has been based on spending, credit, and more credit.   As a country that has ignored our personal and collective debt for years, we are starting to wake up.  We see the destruction of the abuses of our economic system and we are outraged.  But what is this relationship between debt, forgiveness and the kingdom of heaven? Continue reading

Salem: Coming to Peace with The Witch City

Just in time for Halloween weekend, Kristina Stevick, artistic director of Gordon’s History Alive! considers (in her recent Faith + Ideas = column) how the spooky, zany holiday shouldn’t be the only thing Salem, Massachusetts, is known for. (Her editorial column was also reprinted in The Salem News.)

By Kristina Stevick  Salem, Massachusetts, where I work, is a city with a complicated personality. She absorbs the historians, artists, college students, ministers, preservationists, Wiccans, psychics, and mediums who live here, and beckons about a million visitors per year.

Halloween (October 31) to locals is not a day, but a “season,” and during the other four, Salem is still “Witch City.” The broom-straddling hag, vixen, or sweetie—depending on your perspective—is the official emblem of cop and high school athlete alike. Though Salem is also a world-class destination for art and culture, a stunning seaside community and a showplace of antique architecture, the witch on the broom has practically jabbed the Sumatran pepper trader off the city seal.

I imagine John Winthrop, the Massachusetts Bay Company’s first governor, might be surprised. When he admonished the migrating English colonists to be “a city on a hill, the eyes of all the world upon [them],” his sermon outlined how their New Jerusalem could be A Model of Christian Charity:

Read the rest of her recent Faith +Ideas= column here.

The Virtues of French Cheese

Written exclusively by Gordon faculty members and administrators, Faith + Ideas = is a regular column exploring relevant issues and intellectual interests for our community as well as the broader culture. Several weeks ago, professor of French Damon Di Mauro enlightened readers on the virtues of French cheese…and how those virtues speak to the magic of higher learning.

The subject came up again in my language class the other day, as it invariably does at least once a year: “Why does France have 350 different kinds of cheese?”

Somehow, in the American popular imagination, this seeming superfluous profusion of fromage is emblematic of French frivolity, as farcical as their frou-frou fashion or fickle foreign affairs. After the classroom snickers subside, I find myself casting a forlorn eye on my charges, gently breaking the news to them that, alas, alas, they’ve been deprived, for they’ve probably never tasted “real cheese” before.

They stare back at me as if I’ve just told them they’re depraved, not deprived, but I affirm that nothing could be truer (i.e. the deprived part). Now, French cheese is made with raw milk—the sine qua non for superior quality, anything less would be sacrilege—which explains its complexity and depth of flavor.

Continue reading

Light + Plexiglass + Titania = Water Purification Possibilities

These are good days for the field of chemistry. With October 16-22 designated  National Chemistry Week by the American Chemistry Society, and 2011 declared the International Year of Chemistry, Gordon’s chemistry department is in good company with both its enthusiasm and research. And for Gordon’s newest member of the chemistry department, associate professor Joel Boyd, the United Nation’s emphasis on water purification is in line with his own work. Boyd’s research involves the photocatalytic purification of water. In this process, light is used to activate a photocatalyst, such as titanium dioxide, in order to remove or destroy organic, inorganic, and microbiological contaminants in water. Students working with Boyd have presented their research at conferences, published their work in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and even applied for two U.S. patents in recent years. Their research means turning inexpensive and ordinary materials available at the hardware store into water treatment technologies with possibilities for developing countries. Of his research he writes:

“Photocatalytic water purification has proven to be successful in the laboratory, but many obstacles oppose common applications in the field.  In order to leave the laboratory, existing materials must be refined in a number of ways.  Maximum photocatalytic activity requires nanoscale photocatalysts, which makes post-use removal of the photocatalyst problematic at best since such small particles are very difficult to filter out.  For this reason, various photocatalyst deposition techniques have been implemented to adhere the photocatalyst to larger materials.  Students in my research group devised one such approach to solvent deposit titania on polymeric support materials.  An ideal photocatalyst-support composite material would possess a long working lifetime, and have a large surface area for maximum activity . . . Fundamental investigation into the effect of crosslink density on both photocatalyst adhesion strength and photocatalytic stability is essential for ongoing development of photocatalyst-polymer composite materials, and is the subject of ongoing research by students in my research group at Gordon.”

Mom and Dad Still Matter, Cook’s Study on Morality Concludes

Kaye Cook, professor of psychology, will be landing in Shanghai Friday, October 21, and traveling to Nanjing for the Association for Moral Education meetings. As secretary of the board, she’s been a clearing house for information about visas, hotels, and train schedules, yet has never been to China.  While in Nanjing, Dr. Cook will give a presentation based on data collected from her four-year study of Gordon and Wheaton alumni funded by the CCCU entitled, Does Attachment Shape Morality? A review of Kohlberg and Diessner (1991). She’ll be presenting her paper with a current student, Landon Ranck, as co-author.  Here’s what she said as a result of the study:

“In the research, I have learned that peer attachment predicts morality but that religious motivation and belief (intrinsic religiosity and Christian orthodoxy) mediate the relationship between parental attachment and morality. In other words, parents remain the most powerful influences on an emerging adult’s religious development. Further, morality, for Christian college alumni, emerges from religiosity. This connection makes sense for us as Christians but the moral development literature pays little attention to either attachment or religiosity.”

Another fun fact, says Cook, is that “the weekend that I present the paper in Nanjing, I will have four papers in presentation: two by students who worked on the alumni research, one of whom is the co-author with me on the Nanjing paper. The second paper is authored by Laurieann Smith, Lauren Stone, and Matt van Hammersveld. The other two, presented at the Fifth Conference on Emerging Adulthood, are by colleagues on the alumni research.”

Talk about global impact!

Gordon-hosted Conference Produces Second Special Edition Journal

Professor of psychology Bert Hodges recently had two works published. The first is a special issue of the journal Ecological Psychology (Vol. 23, 3), edited by Hodges and Carol Fowler (University of Connecticut & Haskins Labs). The issue is entitled “Distributed, Ecological, and Dynamical Approaches to Languaging and Language,” and it is the second special issue to emerge from a conference of the Distributed Language Group supported by the National Science Foundation and hosted at Gordon College in 2009.

In addition, Hodges also recently published an article in a special edition of Pragmatics & Cognition (Vol. 17, 3) entitled “Ecological pragmatics: Values, dialogical arrays, complexity, and caring.” An abstract of the article can be found here.

Herman Dooyeweerd Comes to Zumi’s

Inspiration and coffee often go hand in hand, especially for scholars. Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, experienced such, wrote an essay about a recent intersection of coffee drinking and political theory he discovered in a local coffee shop near his home.  Comment Magazine, a publication committed to “public theology for the common good,”  published his essay in its most recent issue.

Dooyeweerd Comes to Zumi’s

By Paul Brink

I read most of Jonathan Chaplin’s Herman Dooyeweerd: Christian Philosopher of State and Society at Zumi’s Espresso and Ice Cream, a coffee house and ice cream shop in Ipswich, Massachusetts. It offers the best coffee north of Boston, and the combination of good coffee and ice cream has been a great success: kids and parents, locals and tourists, students and seniors all can be found there. Even more appealingly, the Nepali owner, Umesh Bhuju, serves only organic, fair trade coffee. Quite simply, the place is a delight, and some day when Chaplin makes his way to Gordon College where I teach politics, I hope to take him to Zumi’s for a visit. I think he might enjoy hanging out in a place where his book has such wide application.

Here’s why: