Filmmaking and Creative Community

This past summer, Toddy Burton, assistant professor of communication arts (pictured here), wrote, directed and produced a short film called The Miners. She spent the fall editing it (in between teaching three classes) and has been invited to the annual L’Abri conference in Rochester, MN, Feb 10-11, to screen it and discuss it. Each year L’Abri chooses a conference theme; this year’s is, In the Beginning: Celebrating and Defending the Doctrine of Creation in a Naturalistic Culture.  Burton will participate with Denis Haack, co-director of Ransom Fellowship, in a discussion entitled, “Creativity in Film: from Genesis to Production.” While she is also planning a screening of her new film at Cinema Salem in February, she’s looking forward to this first event:

“I screened my last short film The Aviatrix at the L’Abri conference in 2008 and it was a fantastic experience — lively, full of inspiring and challenging conversations. I’m excited to return with The Miners, which we’ve just completed, and to discuss the creative aspects and challenges of filmmaking. So much goes into making a movie with so many people, that it feels fitting to show this at an intentional community like L’Abri. Everyone I’ve been working with (on the film) has worked very hard and we’re just beginning our festival submission process. Hopefully, this will be the first of many such opportunities for the cast and crew to celebrate at some screenings around the country (or the world!).”

Lessons from History on Integrating Faith and Business

To learn how to merge our faith with our careers, we need to look back to some of the country’s first business people, according to Kent W. Seibert, professor and chair of economics and business. Seibert’s latest publication, an article in the fall issue of The Journal of Biblical Integration in Business (volume 14, fall 2011) entitled, “Living Integration: Faith of our Fathers—Contemporary Lessons from Historical Christians on Integrating Faith and Business” (found on page 73 in the PDF here), draws on the wisdom of early Christians in the U.S. and given direct application for today. Here’s Seibert’s abstract of his article:

“Efforts to integrate faith and work have existed for as long as people have followed the God of the Bible. Christian businesspeople of today have much to learn from the experiences of their forbearers. One particularly instructive community is the Quakers of eighteenth century America, particularly those who led the whaling industry based on Nantucket Island. This paper examines Quaker whaling practices in light of five principles central to the Quaker faith: work is ordained by God, the purpose of business is service, the dignity and equality of all human beings, peacemaking, and steadfast convictions. Connections to contemporary business practices are made throughout the paper, and it concludes with several challenges to current Christians in business who desired to live lives as fully integrated as their Quaker forefathers seemed to live.”

Modeling a New Conversation

This semester, Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, is teaching a waiting list-only class on justice while also preparing 17 students to represent Cameroon at Harvard’s Model United Nations, February 16-19. Both teaching experiences will no doubt provide him with fresh insight for regular contributions he’ll make throughout the year to a new web site entitled, Respectful Conversations.

Started by Harold Heie, senior fellow at Gordon’s Center for Christian Studies (CCS), Respectful Conversations will post regular commentaries by six Christian thinkers—including Brink—throughout 2012 leading up to the presidential election. Their goal is to “model an alternative political conversation (from thinkers) who situate themselves at various points along the political spectrum.” Their hope is that the conversations may help clarify for Christians and all citizens their own views “on public policies as they prepare for their voting decisions in November 2012.” The project is spearheaded by Heie along with Steve Monsma of Calvin College, and is co-sponsored by the CCS, the Henry Institute for Christianity and Politics at Calvin, and the Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C.

The (Science and Religion) Writing Life

First there was physics. Then there was writing. Now, Karl Giberson, director of Gordon’s Science and Religion Forum and adjunct professor, is merging the two not only with his numerous publications, but by teaching a special workshop for the 2012 spring semester on science and religion writing. Giberson’s recent book The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (Harvard University Press) was reviewed January 6 in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Assist News Service (ANS) recently cited him for his place on Religion Dispatches’ Top 10 List of Peacemakers in the Science and Religion Wars in 2011. (ANS’ feature was about Sir John Polkinghorne, about whom Giberson also co-authored a biography called Quantum Leap: How John Polkinghorne Found God in Science and Religion.)

When Giberson isn’t writing books, speaking (he will give the 2012 Crum Lecture at Gordon March 6) or teaching, he writes regularly for The Huffington Post and Books and Culture magazine. For his workshop at Gordon this spring, Giberson will have students write and research on issues related to Adam, which is the theme of his next book, Saving Adam: The First Human and The Rest of Us (Beacon). Here’s what Giberson said about both:

Saving Adam is a cultural history of the first man. Although the story is familiar it has a fascinating history. Adam was a minor character in the Old Testament, who all but disappears after being expelled from Eden. He becomes a central part of Christian theology when St. Paul links him to Christ—the Second Adam. Throughout the history of the West, the story of Adam and Eve has been a central reference point for understanding who we are and how we are supposed to live. But starting with the great age of exploration and subsequent advances in science, Christians have begun to reconsider the  history of the first man.

“I presented my students in the workshop with options for their own writing projects and they all chose to work with me on various aspects of this book project. I have biblical studies students looking at how the story has been interpreted by the Church fathers, science majors looking at the genetic evidence, and a Pike scholar looking at gender issues in the story. Some of their work might appear in Books and Culture because the editor has agreed to consider them for publication, and the students will organize a conference at the end of the semester to present their works as well as the work of other scholars.”


Facing the Past . . . on Austrian Public Television

Interviewed (in German) on Austrian Public Television ORF for its news show, “Zeit im Bild,” Gregor Thuswaldner, associate professor/chair of Languages and Linguistics, discussed Thomas Bernhard, one of the most important and provocative European writers of the 20th century. Thuswaldner, who grew up in Salzburg, Austria, and now directs Gordon’s new Salzburg Institute, travelled to Austria during January 2012 for the interview. Here’s Thuswaldner’s summary of his new book “Morbus Austriacus: Thomas Bernhard’s Critique of Austria,” which was published (in German) this past fall:

“Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) repeatedly criticized Austria for its refusal to come to terms with its Nazi past. In this new book, I attempt to analyze the complexity and contradictory nature of Bernhard’s critique. Emphasizing Bernhard’s exceptionally sophisticated poetological concepts in light of Austria’s political and cultural history after World War II, I try to illustrate in this new work the subtle  aspects of Bernhard’s critique, which have been largely overlooked.”

More than a Song: Music Learning Helps Across Disciplines

Music classes in school offer much more than learning how to hum a few bars. That’s why Oxford University Press decided to summarize the forefront of music education research and stress the intricacies of human musical learning across disciplines in two new volumes for the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Handbook of Research on Music Learning. Released in the fall of 2011, Volume 1 focuses on strategies, and Volume 2 explores the application.  Sandra Doneski, associate professor, award-winning music educator and chair of Gordon’s music education program (pictured here, right), co-authored (with Kenneth H. Phillips) a chapter for Volume 2, entitled, “Research on Elementary and Secondary School Singing.”

Doneski said that, “Our chapter strives to bridge the gap between research and practice with special attention to the developmental acquisition of singing skills for students in elementary and secondary schools. We looked at everything from the use of accompaniment, assessment, social and cultural attitudes about singing, and audiation, that is, what it means to comprehend sound through musical syntax and context, to instruction, female and male voice changes, pyschomotor coordination, song acquisition, song literature, rehearsal strategies and techniques, sight singing, and teacher preparation. Each contributes in some way to a student’s overall success.”