Moving Forward: Glenney Shows Why Symbols Matter Around Campus

Turn into any parking lot and it’s easy to spot the handicapped spaces by the traditional blue and white accessibility icon: a stationary wheelchair under a static stick figure. But this month, the handicapped spaces across Gordon’s campus show a new icon, a person leaning forward, arm in the air as if to push the wheels, making the College the first in the nation to display the new, more engaged symbol.

Thanks to the efforts of Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy, who collaborated on the design with Sara Hendren, graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the new symbol challenges how people perceive those who are disabled. The forward moving icon, which the two designed and printed locally, grew out of two years of research in Glenney’s Philosophical Psychology Lab as well as advocacy in and around Boston. As a result, one local town is in the process of updating its wheelchair symbols with Glenney and Hendren’s new one and a few area businesses have done the same. But Gordon is the first college to make the switch as Glenney, students from an aesthetics class and physical plant staff replaced the old signs with new ones on October 22, 2012.

“The (old) handicap symbol, visible in every public building in the western world, offers a lifeless, passive, helpless and medical representation of people with disabilities,” Glenney said. “I realized that this representation was actually part of my own real perception of this population, and I didn’t think I was the only one. So the Accessible Icon Project began as a way of correcting this perception by re-imagining the symbols we use to represent people with disabilities.” Continue reading

Lazarus, John’s Gospel, and Friendship in South Africa

Steve Hunt in Cape Town, South Africa, at the end of his trip.

The last thing Steve Hunt, professor of biblical studies and Christian ministries, thought when he began his scholarship on the Gospel of John was that it would take him around the world, to South Africa to be exact. 

But since 2009, Hunt has been working on a book with D. Francois Tolmie, dean and professor of New Testament at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, entitled, Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel: Narrative Approaches to Sixty-Seven Figures in John (to be published by Mohr Siebeck in 2013).  As a result, Tolmie invited Hunt to his homeland—his first trip to South Africa—from October 6-13, 2012, where the two worked on their book and Hunt guest lectured for a large audience on, “Lazarus: Jesus’ Beloved Disciple in the Gospel of John.” A revised version of the lecture will be published in one of two South African theological journals, Acta Theologica or Neotestamentica, late next year. Below is Hunt‘s abstract on Lazarus: 

“The question related to the Beloved Disciple’s identity in the Gospel of John has confounded interpreters for centuries. No doubt, part of the confusion here issues from the rather muddled traditions related to this Gospel which originated in the second century A.D.

The internal evidence of the Gospel, on the other hand, is relatively clear. Based on Wolfgang Iser’s literary theory of ‘consistency building,’ only one person can be identified as Jesus’ beloved disciple in the Gospel called ‘John,’ and that person is Lazarus. Building on the narrator’s repeated references to Jesus’ love for Lazarus in ch. 11, I’m trying to show how the rest of the Gospel makes eminently good sense when one re-reads it in light of this identification. The study is more than an exercise in curiosity, however, as the ramifications of the proposal for the re-interpretation of the Fourth Gospel are enormous. Consider, for example, that instead of the Gospel originating with one of Jesus’ ‘Twelve Disciples’, the Fourth Gospel actually originates within an anti-temple Judean community which celebrated ‘the other disciple’ of Jesus—his Beloved Disciple, Lazarus.”

Film Review: Getting Out the Vote in “Secret Ballot”

Resident film critic Rini Cobbey, associate professor of communication arts, continues her series of reviews for the “Elections and Presidents” Faculty Film Series.

Waiting for the Vote: Secret Ballot

By Rini Cobbey

This whole democracy business can get a little absurd . . . frustrating . . . bureaucratic . . . quixotic . . . but as Prof. Paul Brink noted Monday, Oct. 8 at a Faculty Film Series screening of the 2001 Iranian film Secret Ballot, it beats the alternatives.

Secret Ballot is the second feature film of Iranian Canadian filmmaker Babak Payami. It portrays a day in the life of an election agent collecting votes on a remote Iranian island, accompanied by her assigned military escort. Not unlike in our own culture, some players in this story are eager to participate in the electoral process, some actively resist. Some are informed; most are not. There’s idealism and apathy, progress and, yet, more of the same stuff conserved.

After arriving by boat first thing in the morning, the agent and her army companion roam around the island he’s assigned to guard, in an unreliable old jeep with a map that rarely proves relevant. One of the pair’s first encounters is with a man who runs away from the approaching jeep, and so they take up the chase. Here is a man, and here is the visiting agent. It’s election day. His vote must be collected! Jeep wins out over feet in a chase, and after the man catches his breath and there’s a requisite (!) exchange over why he ran – and why they chased, in an army vehicle, with a gun – he offers his identification card, the agent provides instructions, and his vote is deposited in the ballot box that arrived, that morning, by parachute from a passing plane. He walks away. They drive on, eyes peeled for more people to enfranchise. Continue reading

Walking—and Writing—Together in South Africa

A few years ago, Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, travelled to South Africa as part of a collaborative effort of Christian scholars to engage with cultural and political issues there. The result is a new book called, “Walking Together:
 Christian Thinking and Public Life in South Africa,” published by ACU Press and edited by Joel Carpenter, professor of history and director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin College.

The book, according to the publishers, shows how “Scholars from Africa and North America come together to discover what is perhaps South Africa’s greatest contribution to social thought, ubuntu—the power of belonging and walking together. These authors offer insight for scholars, South Africa enthusiasts, and those involved in international academic programs and Christian higher education.”

In his chapter entitled, “Negotiating a Plural Politics: South Africa’s Constitutional Court,”  Brink gains fresh insights from the South African constitution—and from the architecture of the Constitutional Court building itself—for addressing a common Western political dilemma: how to anchor governmental authority in radically plural societies, when both divine mandates and liberal consensus-building have eroded.

Philosophic Insights of the Encyclopedic Kind

Lauren Barthold

Lauren Swayne Barthold, associate professor of philosophy and coordinator for the gender studies minor, has been busy lately. Her article “Rorty, Religion, and the Public-Private Distinction” appears in the October 2012 print issue of the peer reviewed international journal, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Volume 38 Issue 8. 

And the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a peer-reviewed academic resource, has just become a little more well-rounded, thanks in part to a new contribution from Barthold.  Her entry explores Gadamer’s perspective on the “question of Being,” and guides readers through three ways of understanding his approach and many works:

Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002)

By Lauren Swayne Barthold

Hans-Georg Gadamer was a leading Continental philosopher of the twentieth century. His importance lies in his development of hermeneutic philosophy. Hermeneutics, or “the art of interpretation,” originated in biblical and legal fields and was later extended to all texts. Martin Heidegger, Gadamer’s teacher, completed the universalizing of the scope of hermeneutics by extending it beyond texts to all forms of human understanding. Hence philosophical hermeneutics inquires into the meaning and significance of understanding for human existence in general . . .

To read the rest of her entry, click HERE:

History & Immigration, Inspiration & Innovation

News about Gordon’s faculty just keeps coming, confirming their impact in their respective fields. Here’s another round up of some recent highlights:

David Goss

David Goss, assistant professor of history, was named Alumnus of the Year (’74) at Gordon’s homecoming on Oct. 5 for his leadership in public history and museum studies throughout Salem and across the North Shore. (Later this fall, he and his Civil War Band—the 2nd South Carolina String Band— will perform for a second time at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., as part of the 150th anniversary of the war.)

•Sharon Ketcham, associate professor of Christian ministries and a sought after speaker at youth ministries conferences, will be speaking and teaching at the San Diego National Youth Workers Convention Oct. 12, at the Association of Youth Ministry Educators conference in Dallas Oct. 19-22 (where she will begin her term as chair of the board) and at the Dallas National Youth Workers Convention Nov. 16.

•Peter Iltis, professor of kinesiology and horn, has invented a mute holding device for French horns called the Iltis Dampfer Mitt that several professional orchestras are now using, both in the U.S. and abroad, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic (Norway), and just last week, Iltis sold the first of six to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

•Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, chair and associate professor of political science, and her student Jessica Allen, a senior studying international affairs, published an essay Oct. 4, on where the presidential candidates stand on immigration reform as part of the Center for Public Justice new series, Election Guide 2012.

Provost Janel Curry was quoted in an article for the Association of American Colleges and Universities online publication on integration and education in Hong Kong.

Tal Howard, professor of history and director of the Jerusalem and Athens Forum, formally announced Oct. 3  the formation of the new Center for Faith and Inquiry, which he will direct, and which the Salem News (among other media) included in their Saturday religion briefs.

Bob Whittet, associate professor of Christian ministries and director of church relations, is directing the twelfth annual youth ministry workers and parenting symposia at Gordon, Nov. 1 & 3.

Hosting the Intersection of Faith and History

Jennifer Hevelone-Harper

Whether the topic is humanism in Turkey, sex and politics from the Medieval Church to the Reformation, or Christian identity and practice in the early Middle Ages, Gordon’s history professors will be instrumental during this week’s 28th Conference on Faith and History on campus, Oct. 3-6. A wide variety of panel discussions, presentations and keynote talks are scheduled and will bring over 250 visitors to campus.

Led by Jennifer Hevelone-Harper, professor of history, other participating Gordon professors will include: Stephen G. Alter, department chair and associate professor of history; K. David Goss; assistant professor of history; Tal Howard, professor of history and chair of the Center for Christian Studies; David Wick, professor of history; Roger Green, professor of biblical studies, and adjunct professors Agnes HowardSuzanne Hevelone, and Ute Possekel.