The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Valparaiso University

The Believe Me book tour rolled through my old stomping grounds on Tuesday night.  I taught at Valparaiso University from 2000-2002 as a Lilly Fellow in the Humanities and the Arts.  Here is the first house we lived in:

Valpo House

268 McIntyre Court, Valparaiso, Indiana

Then we had a sewer back-up in Spring 2001 and moved a few doors down to this house:

Valpo House 2

260 McIntyre Court, Valparaiso, Indiana

I am thankful to Joe Creech, Program Director of the Lilly Fellows Program, and Joe Goss, Assistant Program Director, for inviting me back to Valpo to speak about the book.  I had dinner with five impressive Lilly Fellows and we had a spirited discussion about public scholarship, evangelicalism, Trump, and church-related colleges and universities.  Thanks to Ashleigh Elser, Daniel Silliman, Jason Gehrke, Christine Hedlin, and Cassandra Painter for the conversation.  If you have a job opening at your college or university you need to give these young scholars a serious look.

Rather than a traditional book talk, Daniel Silliman, a historian of American religion, interviewed me.  Jared Burkholder, a historian at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, was present and blogged about the event here.

Silliman and Fea

And thanks to Ashleigh Elser for the kind introduction.

Earlier in the day, I spent an hour or so in the Linwood House, the former Valparaiso University president’s home and the building that houses the Lilly Fellows Program. A lot has changed in the house, but the living room, the place where the Lilly Fellows and their mentors gather together each week to talk about faith, higher education, and academic vocation, looks relatively the same as it did eighteen years ago:

Linwood

The Linwood House

I also found a bookshelf full of books written by former Lilly Fellows.  If you look closely at the pics, you will see books by historians Mary Beth Connolly, Kathy Sprows Cummings, Lisa Deam, Darren Dochuk, Robert Elder, Andrew Finstuen, Matthew Hedstrom, Paul Harvey, Mary Henold, Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard, Louis Nelson, James Kennedy, Matthew Lundin, John McGreevy, Peter Mercer-Taylor, James Skillen, and Stephanie Yuhl.

Valpo Shelf 9

Valpo Book 4

Valpo Book 5

Valpo 3

Valpo Shelf 8

Valpo 7

Valpo Book 6

It was great to see so many old friends and make some new friends in Valpo this week!

Mark Schwehn Remembers Arlin Meyer, the “Gentle Giant” of Valparaiso University

Arlin and Sharobn

Arlin and Sharon Meyer

Arlin Meyer of Valparaiso University served as the Program Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts from 1992-2002.  I was a postdoctoral fellow in this program from 2000-2002.  My experience as a Lilly Fellow remains a deeply transformative moment in my professional life.

Everyone has an Arlin Meyer story.  I have many–too many to mention here.  I tell them often.  In fact, I was just talking about him the other day while sitting at the dinner table with my wife and daughter.

Arlin passed away in February 2017.  Here is what I wrote on Facebook in the wake of his death:

I am saddened to learn that Arlin Meyer, longtime Valparaiso University English prof and founding Program Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Arts and Humanities, passed away today. My kids (one has gone off to Arlin’s alma mater, Calvin College) will always remember Arlin’s candy jar in the Linwood House. I will always remember him as a beloved mentor who taught me most of what I know about the world of church-related higher education. (And recommended me to Messiah College). I will never forget sitting in my Linwood House office with Arlin on the morning of 9-11-01 listening to the radio and trying to make sense of it all. RIP. My prayers are with Sharon and his family.

I was unable to make the funeral, but I am glad that The Cresset has published Mark Schwehn‘s eulogy.

Here is a taste:

This hands-on administrative style extended well beyond his twelve years as dean of Christ College into his equally long tenure as the founding program director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. In addition to having to build a national network of church-related colleges and universities, which now numbers around 100, Arlin selected, supported, and mentored scores of Lilly postdoctoral teaching fellows. Five such fellows were present at the colloquium this past Monday. And the book I mentioned that we were studying together was co-authored by a woman whom Arlin had recruited to serve on the board of the Lilly Fellows Program.

Like some of the undergraduates in Christ College, the postdoctoral teaching fellows were sometimes startled or intimidated by Arlin. More than one new Lilly Fellow suddenly discovered, on the summer day they were moving into their house in Valparaiso, Arlin Meyer standing in their as-yet unfurnished living room. Astonished of course, and expecting the worst—i.e., that Arlin had come over to inform them that their fellowship had been revoked—they soon became relieved and pleased to learn that Arlin had simply dropped in unannounced to help them move into their new home. He probably carried too many couches in his life. And too many other burdens better borne by others, as well.

RIP Arlin.

Tweets From Opening Session of Lilly Fellows Conference

As I wrote yesterday, I am at the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and  the Arts National Conference at the University of Scranton.  I just returned from a late evening reception for former Lilly Fellows.  It was nice to see old friends and meet some of the current Lilly Fellows.  Mark Schwehn, the godfather of the Lilly Fellows Program, made an appearance as well.
Tonight’s plenary speaker was Mark Ravizza S.J. of Santa Clara University.  His talk was entitled “Inspiring Faith and Engaging Reality: Educating for Civic Virtue in a Secular Age.”  Here are my tweets from the conference.  You can read other tweets at #lfp2013.

 
Yes, exposure to suffering transforms us, but how do humanities DISCIPLINES foster transformative experiences?  
 
Mark Ravizza challenges us to talk about God in the classroom. How does this translate to a history class?  
 
Ravizza: Civic virtue requires imagination, but it begins with the acknowledgment of real suffering and seeking God in the midst.

 

Ravizza: “Globalization of superficiality.” I am apparently engaging in this right now by writing this tweet.
Ravizza: Must educate students to sympathize with those less fortunate. Replace “civic blindness” with a “fellow feeling” for others.  
Ravizza: Early Jesuits saw no tension between faith-based education and an education for citizenship/common good.
Academia asserts a host of pressures: US News rankings, publishing, tenure, etc… All encourage us to play it safe.   
Ravizza: We cannot teach what we do not know or do not live.  
Ravizza: Quotes Buechner. God calls us to the place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet  
 Ravizza: In a secular age we need new and creative ways to bring faith into the classroom. #lfp2013
First keynote speaker is Rev. Mark Ravissa SJ of Santa Clara University:
Unfamiliar with the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and Arts? Learn more here:  
This year’s Lilly post-docs are very impressive. Check them out and hire them:  
Joe Creech introducing the Lilly Fellow post-docs. Proud to have been part of this group from 2000-2002 with  
Kudos to Gretchen Van Dyke and her team for hosting us at Scranton and for introducing some of us to Russell’s Italian restaurant  
University of Scranton politics professor Gretchen Van Dyke is welcoming us to Scranton and the 2013 Lilly Fellows Conference

Exiles from Eden: The Blog

I just returned home from Chicago where I attended the Spring board meeting of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. During the course of the meeting I was reminded once again of the organization’s excellent blog “Exiles from Eden.” If you are interested in church-related higher education, Christian intellectual life, or faith and the academic vocation I would strongly encourage you to keep regular tabs on what is happening at this blog.

Here is what it’s all about:

Exiles from Eden takes its name from the book of the same title by Mark Schwehn. In that book, Schwehn suggests that church-related colleges and universities offer a unique opportunity to be creative places of interaction among the values and challenges connected to teaching and scholarship in modern colleges and universities. He, and we, suggest that the pursuit of what matters most to undergraduates, graduates, and those who work in higher learning (church-related or not) is enriched by engaging ideas and practices arising from the Christian tradition. We hope that this blog will be a forum for such engagement. 

Exiles from Eden is sponsored and managed by the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts, founded in 1991 to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of higher learning and headquartered at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Exiles from Eden is not, however, a mouthpiece for the Lilly Fellows Program, and as such the views and opinions therein do necessarily express the views of the Lilly Fellows Program, its Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellows, Valparaiso University, or the schools that comprise the Lilly Fellows Program National Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities.

On the Road in April

Here is where I am heading next month:

April 2, 2013:  I will be giving a public lecture on Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA.  This lecture is scheduled for 7pm and it is open to the public.

April 6-8, 2013:  I will be in Chicago for the semi-annual board meeting of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and Arts.

On April 17, 2013 I will be doing a Gilder-Lehrman Institute forum with high school students in the Milwaukee Public School District.  My topic will be “Immigration and American Religion History.”

And finally, on April 25, 2013, I will be speaking about Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? to a small group of Messiah College alumni in Lancaster, PA.

The Lilly Fellows Book Award

The biennial Lilly Fellows Program Book Award honors an original and imaginative work from any academic discipline that best exemplifies the central ideas and principles animating the Lilly Fellows Program.  These include faith and learning in the Christian intellectual tradition, the vocation of teaching and scholarship, and the history, theory or practice of the university as the site of religious inquiry and culture. 

Works considered for this year’s award addressed the historical or contemporary relation of Christian intellectual life and scholarship to the practice of teaching as a Christian vocation or to the past, present, and future of higher education.  Authors and editors cannot nominate their own works.

Single authored books or edited collections in any discipline published in 2009 to 2012 are eligible.

Single authored books or edited collections in any discipline, published in 2009 to 2012, are

eligible.

A Prize of $3000 was awarded at the Lilly Fellows Program National Conference at the University of Scranton, October 17-20, 2013.    

The committee will receive nominations of academic faculty, clergy, and others. Authors or

editors cannot nominate their own works.

The deadline for nominations is March 1, 2013.

To download a copy of the 2013 LFP Book Award announcement, click here.  To see past winners, click here.



For further information, please contact the Lilly Fellows Program. For more information on the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, click here.

Are You an Educator or Historian?

Mark Schwehn begins his masterful Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America with a story from his days teaching at the University of Chicago.  While waiting for a meeting to start, one of the scholars at the table asked everyone to share with the group how they would be identifying themselves on their tax forms.  I will let Schwehn take it from here:

The first person spoke up at once with a kind of brisk confidence.  “Sociologist,” he said.  And so it continued–“anthropologist,” “historian,” “psychologist,” “historian.”  At about this point (though I have been sometimes slow to catch the drift of things, I did discern this time a clear pattern emerging), I began to wonder whether or not I had the courage to be honest in the company of so many of my senior colleagues.

Though trained as an intellectual historian, I had never once thought to put such a designation down under “occupation” on my tax form.  When I finally spoke up, I admitted (it certainly felt like an admission) that I had written “college teacher” under the relevant heading.  This disclosure was greeting with what I can only describe (though it was doubtless a projection even then) as a combination of mild alarm and studied astonishment.  I felt as though I had suddenly become, however briefly, an informant from another culture.

Anyone who has passed through Valparaiso University as part of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts knows this story.  Just ask historians like John McGreevy, Paul Harvey, Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Tal Howard, Stephanie Yuhl, Mike Utzinger, Mary Henold, Andrew Finstuen, and Matt Hedstrom, among others.  It is one of the many stories that informs the culture of a wonderful post-doc program.

I also imagine that Lendol Calder (who was not a Lilly Fellow, but has certainly read Exiles from Eden) was thinking about this story when he recently asked an audience at the American Historical Association annual meeting in New Orleans how they would describe themselves on this year’s tax form.  (I was not in the audience, so I do not know if Calder referenced Schwehn).

Calder was part of a panel on improving teacher-training in history doctoral programs.  I did not get a chance to attend the session, but Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed apparently did.  She has written an informative article on several teaching-oriented panels at the AHA.  Here is a taste:

Lendol G. Calder, history professor at Augustana College, in Illinois, asked audience members to consider whether they’ll describe themselves as historians or educators on their tax forms this year. The varied responses among professors pointed to a fundamental disconnect between the way historians approach their research – problem-based and rigorous – and their pedagogy, he said. 

“Few historians inquire into teaching and learning the way that we venture into our own work,” he said, adding that historians typically have had a disdain for educational literature. But that’s changing. The History Teacher journal now has 40 or more footnotes per article, versus far fewer 15 years ago. Scholarship also focuses now on how to teach, not just what to teach. 

Colleges and universities also can help reshape the supply of teaching-savvy Ph.D.s by demanding more pedagogical training from would-be faculty members. Augustana, for example, now requires interviewees to prepare a 50-minute pedagogical colloquium on teaching philosophy, in addition to the standard information about their dissertations and backgrounds.

“We were nervous when we started,” Calder said. “To our surprise, it sent a very strong message about who we were to applicants, [without] any drop-off in the quality of their research.”

So how will you be describing yourself on your 2013 tax form?

Exiles from Eden: The Blog

Some of you may be familiar with Mark Schwehn’s Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America.  Mark’s book continues to serve as the manifesto for the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts at Valparaiso University,  a program that Mark founded. 

It is thus only fitting that some folks affiliated with the Lilly Fellows program, including Joe Creech and Mary Beth Connolly, have started a blog called “Exiles from Eden.”

Here is what the blog is all about:

Exiles from Eden takes its name from the book of the same title by Mark Schwehn. In that book, Schwehn suggests that church-related colleges and universities offer a unique opportunity to be creative places of interaction among the values and challenges connected to teaching and scholarship in modern colleges and universities. He, and we, suggest that the pursuit of what matters most to undergraduates, graduates, and those who work in higher learning (church-related or not) is enriched by engaging ideas and practices arising from the Christian tradition. We hope that this blog will be a forum for such engagement. 

Exiles from Eden is sponsored and managed by the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts, founded in 1991 to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of higher learning and headquartered at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Exiles from Eden is not, however, a mouthpiece for the Lilly Fellows Program, and as such the views and opinions therein do necessarily express the views of the Lilly Fellows Program, its Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellows, Valparaiso University, or the schools that comprise the Lilly Fellows Program National Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities. Furthermore, if you believe that any images, texts, or links are on these pages in violation of any copyright or trademark, please contact the Lilly Fellows Program at lillyfellows.program@valpo.edu, and we will immediately take down the image, text, or link.

This blog is definitely worth a regular look.
 

For the Whole of Creation

This weekend I just received my copy of For the Whole of Creation: Christianity and Scholarship in the Public Square, the Guild, and the Church, ed. John Steven Paul and James Paul Old (Valparaiso University Press, 2010).

If you are interested in church-related higher education this may be a book worth reading.  (I am not sure how to order a copy.  Perhaps the best way to obtain one is to contact the Lilly Fellows Program at Valparaiso University–www.lillyfellows.org).

The book includes sections on “The Christian Academic and the Public Square,” “The Christian Academic and the Academic Guild,” and the “Christian Academic and the Church.”

Here is the table of contents:

Foreword: Joe Creech

Tal Howard, “On Plausability, Post-Secularism, and Evangelicalism.”

Jeffrey Zalar, “The Roots of Public Virtue in Christian Intellectual Practice.”

Colleen Seguin, “Classrooms as Public Spaces.”

Paul Harvey, “Exile from Valpo: On Being a Religious Scholar in the Historical Guild at the Public University Amidst a Charged Atmosphere of Religion, Politics, and War.”

Maria LaMonaca: “My Teaching Load is None of Your Business, and Don’t Steal My Desk: Seeking an Identity Among Academic Guilds.”

Heath White: “The Profession is the World: Some Thoughts on Being in the Guild But Not of It.”

J. Michael Utzinger, “Faith That Kills?: Reflections on Religion after 9/11.”

Kathleen Sprows Cummings, “Have Women Souls?: The Council of Macon and the Dilemma of a Catholic Feminist Scholar.”

Martha Greene Eads, “The Professor in the Parish: Beyong Gourmet Coffee and High-Quality Handouts.”

John Fea, “Worshipping with ‘Christian America’: A Historian’s Search for a Spiritual Home in Mainstream Evangelicalism.”

Scott Huelin: “Dual Citizenship: The Politics of Belonging to Church and Academy.”

More on Valpo Lecture

From the nwi.com:

VALPARAISO | More than 200 scholars from across the United States are at Valparaiso University this week focusing on how colleges and students are being affected by changing notions of place, community and higher learning in the 21st century.

John Fea, associate professor of history at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and a former Lilly Fellow, focused Thursday on the challenges and benefits of “rooting” one’s vocation in a particular community and place.

He said a church-related college can offer a truly spiritual education, but it also can be suffocating for those who don’t share that passion. He talked about the importance of being loyal to an institution.

Jennifer Miller, who graduated from Valparaiso University in 2003 and began a two-year Lilly Fellow teaching in Christ College at VU, said Fea’s message impacted her professionally and personally.

“It really spoke to me,” she said. “Finding a space where you can call home and develop your career is a tension I see in my own life. My husband and I have two small children. We lived in Minnesota, and made a number of connections then we uprooted and came here. It makes me think about the connections between Christian faith, professional identity, scholarship and teaching.”

Mel Piehl, Dean of Christ College, said he hopes conference participants walk away understanding the importance of deepening and strengthening Christian higher education.

The Valparaiso-based Lilly Fellows is the largest ecumenical organization working to advance the future of church-related higher education. This is the Lilly Fellows Program’s 20th anniversary national conference, which will feature a variety of speakers and sessions. It concludes Sunday.

28 Hours in Valparaiso, IN

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the last day or so in Valparaiso, IN.  I was attending a reunion conference of former Lilly Fellows on the subject of “Finding One’s Place” in church-related higher education.  As some of my readers know, I was a “Lilly Fellow” at Valparaiso from 2000-2002 where I spent two years working on The Way of Improvement Leads Home, learning how to teach, and reflecting with other fellows about the relationship between faith and higher education.  It was a very formative experience in my life.

I have a lot of things going through my mind right now about this trip.  I saw a lot of friends–nearly of all of whom are working in the academy.  I believe it was Pamela Parker, one of the keynote speakers at the conference and a professor of English at Whitworth College, who called us the “Lilly Tribe.”  It was fun being among all of these thoughtful scholars talking about the theme of “place.”  We did our best not to get too nostalgic about our days working in the Linwood House at Valparaiso.

The talks I heard were great.  Pam’s talk set the stage for the conference.  She offered some definitions of place and connected these themes to some of her own work in “literary tourism.”  Paul Harvey responded to Pam’s talk with some reflections about some tough choices he had to make about “staying put” at the University of Colorado–Colorado Springs.  Joanne Meyers of Gettysburg College offered a wonderful (and quite funny) talk about being pedestrian and being a pedestrian.

The second session was  a panel of three former Lilly Fellows–Jamie Skillen (Calvin College), Tal Howard (Gordon College), and Susanna Childress (Hope College).  Jamie discussed some of the geographical dimensions of “place.”  Tal discussed the way place and tradition plays out in a new initiative at Gordon.  Vanessa read an autobiographical “creative non-fiction” paper that was absolutely fabulous.

After vespers I gave a talk to a combined audience of former Lilly fellows and students in Christ College (Valparaiso’s Honors College), entitled, “Does the Way of Improvement Leads Home?: Cosmopolitan Rootedness and the Church-Related Academy.”  Perhaps at some point I will post this talk (or at least parts of it) to the blog.

The day ended at the home of Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass where we ate dinner and caught up with old friends.  Thanks to Mark, Joe Creech, and Kathy Sunderland for putting together a great conference.

The conference continues today and then gives way to the National Lilly Fellows Conference this weekend.  As for me, I am off to Montville, NJ to be inducted into the Montville Township High School Hall of Fame.  Stay tuned for more on this.  Gotta run, my plane from O’Hare is leaving.