Witnessing the Power of Truth and Reconciliation

Dr. Judith Oleson

Throughout Canada’s history, generations of Aboriginal children in Quebec were taken from their families and communities and sent to Indian Residential Schools funded by the federal government and run by churches. They were denied use of their language, cultural identity and traditions, and the devastating impact of that tragic policy is still seen throughout the culture today. That’s why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has begun holding community hearings throughout Quebec with its culminating national event in Montreal, Canada.

From April 24-27, Dr. Judith Oleson, associate professor of social work and director of Gordon’s  peace and conflict studies program whose scholarship includes public apologies and racial justice, will travel with four of her students enrolled in PCS 375 Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation to Montreal. Together, they’ll participate in Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Event.  

Here’s what Oleson said before the trip: “By going to the TRC, we’ll have the unique privilege of witnessing testimonies of First Nation survivors of cultural genocide due to government policies. We will be able to interview both survivors and church representatives while exploring the relationship between the TRC event, public apology and meaningful reconciliation processes.  Then during the second week of May, our students will present their initial findings for the Gordon community.  It really is an unprecedented experience for those of us interested in conflict and peace studies to engage in such primary research and to hear first hand the stories of those who endured such tragedies. I have no doubt that our students—Serene King, Alex Clark, Ronesha WIlliams and Anna Soukenik—attending this important historical event with me will be deeply affected by this exchange, as I have been every time I participate in these reconciliation efforts.  We are grateful and humbled for the opportunity.”  GCSA Student Conference Fund and The Initiative for the Study and Practice of Peace provided traveling funding for Oleson and her students.


When Students of the Stage Become Colleagues

Sabbatical is a time for new ideas, fresh experiences and ongoing scholarship. Each happened this spring for Jeffrey S. Miller, professor of theatre arts, when he returned to Minneapolis to direct a show  . . . . with former students who are now professional artists. He wrote the following response: 

Jeff Miller (c) with the cast of “Kingdom Undone.”

“Every Teacher-Artist’s Dream”    by Jeffrey S. Miller

I suspect fathers and mothers experience something similar when their kids joyfully choose to take up the professions to which they have given their lives.  Teachers certainly do when their students become their colleagues. But all the imagination in the world could not have prepared me for the deeply moving and richly satisfying experience of creatively collaborating with young artists I once badgered, criticized, prodded, cajoled, hassled, humored, reprimanded and—hopefully—nurtured when they were starting their professional journeys.  This was one of those rare moments of unexpected astonishment every teacher-artist should have, and one I will always treasure as evidence of God’s grace and confirmation.

Technically, it all started at Bethel College, now University, where I both earned my undergraduate degree and later taught in the Department of Theatre Arts.  I had plans to be a doctor but a wise professor named Rainbow, of all things, saw in me certain proclivities that would never fit with a life in medicine.  And though far too young and inexperienced, I was given an opportunity to hone my skills teaching and directing at Bethel just as I was completing graduate studies at the U of MN.  My earliest students were just a few years younger than me . . . Continue reading

Religion in the Classes of Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford

The modern university owes much to religion’s influence throughout history. In fact, there’s a direct connection and ongoing influence, both of which have kept Tal Howard, professor of history and director of the Center for Faith and Inquiry, busy this spring.

Earlier this month, Howard gave a keynote lecture at the conference on “Religion and the Idea of the Research University” in Cambridge, England. In early May, he’ll present at a workshop hosted by Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study on a similar theme. And this July, he’ll travel to Oxford for a gathering of Templeton grantees for Templeton’s Religion and Innovation and Human Affairs grant initiative.

The initiative also made possible the upcoming conference at Gordon on November 14-16, 2013, “Protestantism? Reflections in Advance of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation,” for which the Center for Faith and Inquiry received a grant in collaboration with Dr. Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame.  Howard’s talks and work with Noll at the conference will culminate in a new book.

New Book on Economic Growth Addresses Poverty

For almost 10,000 years of recorded history, most people had to eke out a living in pain and difficulty. What was once the global norm, today’s deep poverty is almost entirely foreign to citizens in the developed world. What’s been the impact?

Stephen Smith, professor of economics, Bruce Webb, emeritus professor of economics, and their colleague Edd Noell of Westmont College, answer that question in their new book, “Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing.” Published by AEI Press as part of its Values and Capitalism series, the authors offer “empirical evidence from the past two centuries showing the relationship between growth and human well-being, greater global income equality, and environmental improvements and sustainability. They make the case that economic growth is key to lifting societies from dire poverty to prosperity and holds the promise of sustaining unreached levels of human flourishing.”

Jones Explores Nature of Hope in “Waiting for Godot”

Norm Jones

Often regarded as the most important play of the 20th century, Samuel Beckett’s classic existentialist tragicomedy Waiting for Godot is re-imagined in the hands of director and theatre arts professor Norman Jones. His production of the absurdist masterpiece emphasizes not the futility of human hope—as many productions are wont to do—but the “insidious nature of hope,” exploring how and why we continue to hope when it seems there is no hope left.

The Gordon College Department of Theatre Arts production of Waiting for Godot opens April 12, and performances will follow on April 13 and 16–20. All performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Margaret Jensen Theatre at the Barrington Center for the Arts. Tickets may be purchased online.

“It is poignant, endearing, and surprisingly funny,” said Jones. “I was drawn to the characters’ desperate attempts to find meaning in an uncertain world.”

Notably, the cast includes two women in the roles of Pozzo and the boy, joining a small number of productions that have allowed women to take on any of the five male roles, which Beckett famously insisted be played by men.

The production features Gordon students Ryan Coil ’13 (Nashville, TN), Chloe Eaton ’15 (Santa Barbara, CA), Amelia Haas ’15 (Roslindale, MA), Luke Miller ’14 (Coopersburg, PA), and Taylor Nelson ’13 (Northwood, NH), as well as an original set designed by Salem State University professor Michael Harvey. 

Waiting for Godot is part of Gordon’s Celebration of the Arts, a week-long festßival of art exhibitions and performances with leading voices from across artistic disciplines, such as Gordon Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts Bruce Herman, film producer Ralph Winter, artist Makoto Fujimura, pianist Mia Chung, and theologian Jeremy Begbie.

Click HERE for the full schedule of events.