Teaching As Believing: Faith in the University (Studies in Religion and Higher Education)

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9781932792034: Teaching As Believing: Faith in the University (Studies in Religion and Higher Education)

The public university classroom is a place where socialization still occurs: it's where students learn to be citizens of the world. Having attended to political correctness and multi-culturalism, universities are now facing the issue of spirituality in their quest to educate the whole person. In this book, Chris Anderson takes up this task by carefully exploring how a professor of faith can help a public university accomplish its pluralistic mission. Anderson illustrates how the study of secular literature throws fresh light on the ways in which the Bible can be read. He also deftly shows how a sympathetic study of the Bible trains secular readers for understanding the abiding significance of the Western literary canon as a kind of scripture. Anderson thus gives readers a book that is as much about the experience of a faithful teacher and the proper ends of education as it is about discovering the right ways to read texts―be they sacred or secular.

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About the Author:

Chris Anderson (Ph.D. University of Washington) is Professor of English at Oregon State University, where he has taught since 1986. He is the author or co-author of ten books, including My Problem with Truth (2003), Asking Questions (2000), and Edge Effects (1993)―a finalist for the Oregon Book Award in creative nonfiction. Anderson is also a Catholic deacon and is active in parish and campus ministry.

Review:

"Teaching as Believing is an extraordinary book, not least because its author is an extraordinary teacher, scholar, and person. A Christian who serves on the faculty of a state university, Chris Anderson has a grounding in faith and an openness of mind and spirit that challenges every confining orthodoxy, secular as well as religious. His book is a seamless weave of intellect and love that honors the highest standards of the academic vocation and the deepest needs of the human heart. It is a book for everyone who cares about higher education and its historic mission, a book that is as much about how we live as how we teach and learn."―Parker J. Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach and Let Your Life Speak

"'Tolle, lege: take up and read.' Augustine, consumed with academic doubts about Christian belief, overheard a child at play utter these fateful words. He picked up the Bible, read and became Saint Augustine. "Take up and read" is central to Chris Anderson's compelling and passionate account of his complementary/contradictory life as an ordained Catholic deacon and a committed teacher in a state university. The professor wants the text to confront the student straight off, without thickets of theory. The deacon takes his Bible the same way. Straight off the Odyssey and Genesis are as much about what is not said as what is on the page. Great texts present mystery that we should not lose in our inevitable need to interpret. The analytic professor and the ardent believer must interpret, come to intellectual insight, but the end is "second naiveté": the mystery remains. Much of the literature about Christian belief and the classroom is directed at putatively Christian institutions. Chris Anderson's book is as moving about his personal experience as it is sophisticated about the intellectual and spiritual problems of the Christian faculty member in a secular university―for that alone it has special value. Tolle, lege: take up and read."―George Dennis O'Brien, University of Rochester and author, The Idea of a Catholic University

"Chris Anderson's voice is soft―gentle, calm, discursive, inviting―but what he has to say is very sharp indeed. By linking his own story of Christian faith, the many different stories of his students, and the stories found in the classical literature he teaches, Anderson sustains a very strong case for why Christian believers need to be in the modern university and why the modern university needs the presence of Christian believers."―Mark A. Noll, McManis Professor of History, Wheaton College, and author of Religion, Scholarship and Higher Education (2003)

"From his unique perspective as both Catholic deacon and university professor, Chris Anderson explores, in a remarkably creative way, the age-old question of the relation between faith and reason. Drawing on sources as diverse as Augustine, Homer, Paul Ricoeur, Dante, and David Tracy, he shows that university culture, while retaining its proper independence, is nurtured by moral and intellectual virtues flowing from the heart of the Christian church. Anyone interested in the rapport between religion and secularity should read this provocative, humorous and deeply insightful book."―Robert Barron, Professor of Systematic Theology, Mundelein Seminary

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