The *Believe Me* Book Tour Rolls Through Grand Rapids, Michigan and Upland, Indiana

Fea at Cornerstone

Good crowd for a noontime talk at Cornerstone University

Yesterday started at Anna’s House in Grand Rapids where I had breakfast with my favorite Calvin College student. 🙂

I then headed over to Cornerstone University for my first book talk of the day.  A Trump supporter in the audience accused me of hubris, implied that I supported the murder of babies, and informed me that my reference to my evangelical background was an attempt to engage in “identity politics,” but after this opening “question,” things settled down and we had a fruitful conversation about Trump and evangelicals.  Thanks to everyone who took some time out of their day to come to a noontime lecture and special thanks to history professor Martin Spence for the invitation!

Some pics:

Spence and Fea

With Martin Spence and his poster advertising my visit.

I spent the afternoon on Interstate 69 traveling to an evening lecture at Taylor University.  (Thank goodness for Sirius/XM radio I was entertained by Bruce Springsteen CNN, NPR, “the 70s on 7” and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo).

A great crowd of students and faculty showed-up for the lecture.  After the talk I spent an hour or two in some informal conversation with about 20 Taylor honors students.  I am always impressed by the thoughtfulness of the young evangelicals I meet at events like this.  We spent time wrestling with the definition of “evangelical” (most of them do not describe themselves as “evangelicals,” preferring to use the word “Christian” instead), talked about the place of the humanities at a Christian college, and reflected on the best ways for Christians to engage with politics (I recommended works by James Davison Hunter and Glenn Tinder).

Taylor

Thanks to Steve Austin and Jeff Cramer for the invitation.

That’s all for now.  Today I will be at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana at noon and Hope College this evening.  Then it is back to Calvin College for the biennial meeting of the Conference on Faith and History.  Stay tuned.

7 thoughts on “The *Believe Me* Book Tour Rolls Through Grand Rapids, Michigan and Upland, Indiana

  1. John:
    I wanted to be sure to thank you for coming to CU to share on this vital topic. I’ve gotten nothing but positive reviews from a number of people in attendance, including faculty, administration, staff, and students. I had one administrator ask if we could “get this in chapel,” and another wish aloud for a panel discussion on Christians and American nationalism. Put simply, it stimulated a hunger for serious scholarly discourse.
    I think this points to the desperate need for more serious intellectual engagement not just at CU, but at many such campuses across the country. In fact, the question you noted in your blog (which I missed due to having to leave your presentation early) points to this as well–we need more discourse of this nature to model how to properly engage with such issues. I suspect that many institutions are lacking in this regard not due merely to anti-intellectual antipathy (though that is a reality), but intellectual inertia. In fact, I’d like to hear more about the responses you’ve encountered in talking about this in different academic venues. It might make a fascinating study in itself.
    Thanks again!
    Erik

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  2. Just to clarify, the pro-Trump questioner was not representative of the audience or the people I met at Cornerstone—administrators, faculty, and students

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  3. Thanks for coming John. It was a great talk – not only about the Trump-Evangelical link, but a powerful advocacy for the importance of historical study for Christian formation.

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  4. As a Taylor alum, I am glad you got an invite there. In my interactions I have found current students curious and engaged…and quite different than what some of the administration (and leading faculty) would want them to be.

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  5. I attended Cornerstone decades ago. It’s basically a satellite campus of the Republican Party. Sorry for the rough reception.

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    • RustbeltRick — no doubt the demographic here at CU leans that way (as do a lot of nondenominational Evangelical colleges), but this is perhaps less true than it was a generation ago when George Bush turned up here for a rally. I think that that at the CU of today an overtly political speech in a public gathering like chapel would not fly (which I don’t think would be true of some more obviously “Republican satellite” campuses that we could name). Also CU today has no problem with us professors who would like to challenge the supposed inevitability of the Evangelicalism-nationalism-populist Republican nexus, in order to encourage the church to be the church. It’s slow work, but I suspect there’s more of it going on here now than in the past. For example, just yesterday we hosted a guy called John Fea talking about precisely this kind of thing…. 🙂

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      • Thank you, Dr. Spence. That’s encouraging to hear. I appreciate that you reached out to Dr. Fea and invited him to campus so that challenging perspectives could be heard.

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