Story/Topp Win Grant to Help Pastors Gain Scientific Literacy

Craig Story (l) and Justin Topp

Clergy and pastors are not always informed on scientific issues, in part because religion and science have traditionally seemed at odds. But two biology professors hope to change that, thanks to a $200,000 grant from the BioLogos Foundation.

The project, “Moving Pastors Toward Scientific Literacy,” is the work of Craig Story, associate professor of biology and director of pre-health professions, and Justin Topp, associate professor of biology. With funding distributed over the next three years, the grant includes weeklong intensive courses for approximately 20 nominated church leaders from throughout the U.S. and Korea, and will be taught at Gordon cooperatively by Gordon science professors and faculty from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Though the grant will also help fund resource materials for a general audience book as well as scholarly articles, the program’s goal is to provide pastors the tools they need to “approach issues of science and faith with greater confidence.”

“There’s a lot of misinformation about science in the Christian community,” Story said. “Pastors are often conflicted on what to think about science. So we wanted to open up a dialogue where people can talk through the issues that might seem controversial. When we talk about them, they might turn out not to be as controversial as first imagined.” Continue reading

Center for Faith & Inquiry Honors Faculty Scholarship: Part II

In an effort to promote outstanding scholarship that can reach both professional and public/church audiences, the Center for Faith and Inquiry recently announced its inaugural Fellows for the 2013-14 academic year. Congratulations to the follow faculty!

David Lumsdaine

Professor of Political Science, David Lumsdaine will explore the implications of “Biblical and Ethical Perspectives on International Affairs”:

“As Christians, and simply as citizens concerned with our ethical responsibilities, we must weigh what kinds of international policies, practices, and institutions are just and good. As Christians we believe that all creation is God’s, and all we do – publically and governmentally, as privately, should be governed by God’s principles and commands, which are right and good, and thus can alone help bring about a better world. However, many students, church members, and citizens, arrive at conclusions with at best a rather cursory understanding—and often one-sided—of the background and issues.  Explicit consideration of ethical considerations—and theological or biblical considerations—is well off the beaten track in the study of International Relations. This project aims to help remedy that situation, by developing a short book which will discuss international affairs from an ethical and  a theological point of view, in a balanced, historical, and accessible way to Gordon students and the general reading public.”

Brian Glenney

Craig Story

And conducting collaborative and interdisciplinary research around the project topic, “A New Approach to Theistic Evolution: Determinate Outcomes of Random Processes,” will be Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy, Craig Story, associate professor of biology, and Mike Veatch, professor of mathematics and chair of the mathematics and computer science department:

Mike Veatch

Philosopher Michael Ruse presents a fundamental problem for theistic evolution: according to many religious beliefs, human beings had to exist, because God directly created them as intelligent and moral beings. But according to the random and contingent processes of evolutionary theory, these beings need not have existed. The most popular form of reconciling these views is to consider the process of random species modification itself to be guided by bottom up causal influence from God’s careful manipulation of quantum states or some other as-of-yet-unknown strategy. We offer another theory: well-defined genetic mechanisms, while random at the lowest level, may still be determinate in that they give rise to defined higher-level functional outcomes—including traits such as intelligence and morality . . . Our project will consider and popularize the claim that the evolutionary mechanisms, though random in the individual modifications produced, operate on such a large scale that the overall outcome is, in important respects, determinate.”

Center for Faith & Inquiry Honors Faculty Scholarship: Part I

In an effort to promote outstanding scholarship that can reach both professional and public/church audiences, the Center for Faith and Inquiry recently announced its inaugural Fellows for the 2013-14 academic year. Congratulations to the follow faculty!

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, associate professor/chair of political science and international affairs, will continue her scholarship focus through a project entitled, “Evangelical Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Reform”: 

“Designed to assess the impacts of Christian organizational advocacy within churches aimed at changing attitudes on immigration, and based on my prior research on evangelicals and immigration, World Relief asked me to assess the impact of their advocacy on the attitudes of evangelicals re: immigration and comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). I’ll pursue this by focused surveys and interviews of parishioners of churches in two key sites in which WR has concentrated its efforts , Denver and Chicago. I will also provide an analysis of recent public opinion data evaluating non-religious factors (economic, partisan, etc) as well as religious factors shaping evangelical attitudes on immigration and CIR. Over the summer I plan to combine my qualitative research into a research article and a WR report based on my overall research by early next fall.”

Karl-Dieter Crisman

Karl-Dieter Crisman, associate professor of mathematics, will continue his research on, “The Moral Case for Open-Source Software”: Most of us in the academy are now familiar with the distinction between programs ‘on the desktop’ and ‘in the cloud.’ Similarly, one would have to withdraw from society not to understand the distinction between software you pay for and software you don’t have to pay for. But there is a third, crucial, distinction. It is the one between proprietary software and open source software, and it is only vaguely understood by most of us. Over my time at Gordon, I have become convinced that this distinction is of great significance, one with deep resonance with Christian thinking.  Through my ongoing research and this Fellowship, I hope to better  reach academic and lay audiences with this message.”

Art at the Intersection of Culture and Consumption

This spring, the Spanish theatre journal Estreno (Estreno 39.1, pp 14-25) will publish an article from Pilar Pérez Serrano, associate professor of Spanish, her first in this respected journal. Here’s how Pérez Serrano described it:

Pérez Serrano

“The article entitled, “The Song of the Sirens: Awareness and Survival in the Era of Capitalism,” is about a new play written by Raúl Hernández Garrido, who I focused on in my dissertation. The name of the play is El canto de las sirenas.

Currently staged in Madrid together with eight others in a show called ‘Mein Kapital,’ the play is a collaborative effort among eight different playwrights from three different theatre companies and regions of Spain (Madrid, Cataluna, and Aragón). Their challenge for the stage is to think about and reflect upon the social consequences of Karl Marx’s critique of political economy in Das Kapital. (‘Mein’ actually comes from Hitler’s Mein Kampf! which is an interesting twist.) The eight plays criticize in one way or another, the extreme consumption that capitalism has created in our societies and the detrimental results that this consumption has in individuals and in collective groups alike.”

Learning to Sing by the Book

Susan Brooks

After twenty three years of teaching voice at Gordon, Susan Brooks, professor of music, knows a thing or two about singing. That’s why she and her husband, Thomas Brooks, also a professor of music as well as a renowned choral director, have written How To Teach Teens to Sing: Voice Lessons and More, a new book for young singers and music educators alike. To be published this year, How to Teach Teens to Sing includes interactive components, CDs, photos and exercises. With another book underway for choral conductors, here’s how the Brooks describe How To Teach Teens to Sing:

“Practically all students enrolled in their high school choirs do not know how to sing. Unlike instrumentalists who by high school age have taken many  lessons on their instruments, most high school singers have had no instruction on how to properly use and improve their voices. Most of them have no skills for or experience with healthy singing. In fact nearly all teens have only been exposed to ‘pop’ singing, which in general does not foster good singing and in fact often leads to vocal problems and the deterioration of voices. It is our view that teenagers have difficulty learning to sing well, developing musical and artistic skills, and therefore contributing positively to their choruses without some solid vocal instruction. This book—a sequential set of 14 guided lessons—is designed to introduce and reinforce  the basic fundamentals of proper vocal technique to high school singers and those who teach them.

Readers of  How to Teach Teens to Sing learn the basics of vocal production and how to set up a sensible system of  learning to sing based on a sequential weekly lesson format. They’ll see real progress take place as the student (and teacher) work to improve and strengthen the voice, and improve their understanding of vocal problems and have some diagnostic tools in place to begin to correct them. Finally, they’ll experience a higher degree of expertise and feel more confident as individual voices and skills improve.

The book also includes access to a website for students and teachers containing more in-depth voice information with links to even more sources including video clips and interactive models, pictures, and graphics; an anthology of songs (hard copy); a CD of recorded piano song accompaniments, and a teacher’s DVD presenting fourteen 10-minute sample lessons which correspond to the fourteen lessons found in the text book. Teachers can watch a lesson being taught to a high school student using the actual concepts from the textbook. In other words, we wanted this to be a practical and easy-to-use resource, one we know is really needed out there, and we think it accomplishes that!”