Summer Reading: On Education and Encounters

The blog has been on hiatus for the summer. Most of the department faculty have been away on research trips or vacation, or buried deep in research. Summer is also a good time to catch up on reading, though; over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring brief recommendations on great books and articles that we’ve recently enjoyed. 

This week’s recommendations are all by Will Katerberg.

no-longer-invisibleRecently I’ve been doing some reading about religious diversity and higher education, related to a committee I’m on and to my work as a dean. No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education is a solid overview of religious diversity in public, private, secular, and religious schools and how they are addressing it. This book and people who work in this area tell me that it’s the next big issue in higher education. A good example of “best practices” at a public university is the Center for Spiritual & Ethical Development at Penn State University. A good example of how a Christian university with a religiously diverse campus thinks about and practices both its defining Christian heritage and religious diversity is Benedictine University in Illinois.

The religious diversity at schools like Calvin and Wheaton in the CCCU generally is more limited—intra-Christian mostly. But LeTourneau University in Texas, which still requires chapel several times a week, has actively recruited non-Christian international students. I’ve not read anything about LeTourneau, but enjoyed a panel (at the IAPCHE conference at Calvin in June) on the challenges the university and its international students have been working through. A Hindu student from India who spoke on the panel said that his experience of an integrative Christian education at LeTourneau, and his relationships with fellow Christian and non-Christian students, helped him to better understand his own Hindu tradition and foster a stronger commitment to it.

gods-other-childrenAnother book that I’ve recently read recently, in a similar vein, is God’s Other Children: Personal Encounters with Faith, Love, and Holiness in Sacred India, by Bradley Malkovsky, who teaches theology at Notre Dame. He specializes in the Hindu-Christian encounter. Malkovsky first traveled to India in the 1980s, to work on his dissertation. While there, he met and married his wife, a Muslim who became a Christian, and immersed himself in Hindu thought and yogic practices and in Buddhist meditation. He takes seriously the religious insights and spiritual practices of all three traditions, and at the same time remains deeply rooted in his own Roman Catholic tradition of Christianity. He says, in the epilogue, that his experiences enriched his Christian faith and led him to appreciate his own Christian tradition more. His story and journey are fascinating, and his encounters, experiences, and theological reflections challenge readers to take seriously both fidelity to their religious tradition and openness to the insights and experiences of other traditions.

sacred-groundMy next book in this area will be Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, by Eboo Patel of the Interfaith Youth Core. He has worked hard to help colleges around the US do better with conversations about religious diversity by taking differences and disagreement seriously rather than by smoothing them over and assuming all religions impulses are basically about the same thing. For stories on his work and an interview with him, see here and here. Patel will be speaking at Calvin in 2016 in the college’s January Series.


What are you reading right now? Drop us a line in the comments to recommend.

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