« Reflections on the suicide girls and feminism | Main | A note on Arnold's pen »

September 30, 2005





My goodness, Hugo. As a professor, how do you justify refraining from asking students to question their assumptions, lest critical thinking undermine their "nascent certainties"?


Because, Carrie, when I am meeting with students in this category, I meet them as a Christian first and an academic second. I hope they'll mature to the point where they can face doubts and begin to question some of their more naive initial assumptions, but in the early phase of a love affair with Christ, skepticism and suspicion are the last things they need.


I'm sorry if this seems like badgering, but I am sincerely curious. Don't you worry that they'll never mature past absolute certainty and thus grow up to be Rick Santorum?


No, Carrie, I don't.  I do believe we progress through certain stages of faith, and at each of those stages, we need different kinds of mentoring.

Mind you, that doesn't mean I think we shouldn't challenge people -- but we must be careful to adjust our challenges to what folks are ready to cope with.



The concern, then, is that "mature" past the certainty of their beliefs to the certainty that there is no certainty?



I find it strange that someone who writes so often about his struggles with how his maleness and heterosexuality affect the position from which he teaches classes on gender and sexuality would try to maintain that veneer of disinterested objectivity when it comes to religion.


Stentor, in my Western Civ classes, maintaining that facade is an unfortunate but necessary tactic; to do otherwise is to risk alienating a large number of students.


The Fowler classification is nice on paper, but how useful is it in real life?

I'd guess that any challenge made to a new "convert" would go unheard, anyway - that's the nature of that sort of abrupt conversion. Hugo, I wouldn't worry too much about these folks losing their faith through any challenging questions you pose.

BTW, there was an interesting article on teen evangelism in the NYT magazine a Sunday or two ago.


Well said, Stephen. The reason to have an open mind is to close it again on something solid. By the way, my branch office of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy just got Mr. Santorum's new book. He's good.


but only after having gotten out of them a satisfactory response to the question "And why do you really want to know?"

This should probably be your first question when a student asks you this in class.


Hugo, as a former nominal Christian, new believer, and current follower for the past 3 years, I cannot agree with you more. When I first accepted Jesus as savior, the last thing I needed to hear was skepticism and doubt from someone I would regard as "Christian" at the time. It was because of other believers encouraging me and loving me that I was able to grow in my faith. Today I spend a great deal of time reading about and discussing theological issues, arguments, and problems. Yes of course I daily deal with the struggle of belief and truth, but because my faith has matured over the past 3 years, it does not cause me to throw up my hands in frustration and walk away from the God who has shown me so much. But 2 or 3 years ago it may have. I think you are doing the right thing by encouraging new believers.


I'm curious whether you treat female new candidates differently than males. And, are you torn by an almost complete lack of female role models in the traditional Christian faith? Eve was the first sinner, Mary was seen as practically the "holy" female because she was a virgin. (Christ's mother couldn't have had an active sex life?) And, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit....well, there's just not much there to recommend for the female. So many churches continue to maintain low level positions for women, both paid and voluntary, while being governed by men. A few Christian churches allow females to hold the highest positions, but not many. To me, this would be a present difficult moral dilemma for someone with your social/political viewpoints. It presents difficult, unresolved issues for me simply because I'm female and grew up in a Christian environment.


Quite frankly, I find the name "Crusader" to be a bit unsettling. Why would you want to label yourself with such a unfortunate connotations?


A bit off-topic, I know, but I'd like to hear more about your interest in kabbala...might make a nice Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe/High Holy Days) post for the Jews among your readers.

Zane Anderson

You, Hugo, declared above: "that a belief in radical justice and inclusion can coexist with a passionate love for Jesus as friend, lover, and savior."

Write on! Wish there were an army of profs like yourself spread across this land. Young folks are looking hard for someOne to believe in, no?

Btw, think of the CCC meetings as real church meetings.

Godspeed! House Church Network

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004