Archive for the ‘CFH’ category

Signing Off: Greg Jones Bids Farewell

July 8, 2013

Friends and Colleagues:

After three years of service as the grad rep for the Conference on Faith and History, today marks my final work in the position.  I’m passing the torch to Mary Sanders, an Oklahoma State University PhD student and enthusiastic member of the CFH.  I’m certain Mary will do a great job for us.

Just by way of update, I am still finishing my doctoral work at Kent State University.  This fall I’ll be teaching via a temporary appointment at Geneva College, my alma mater.  I’ve been working as a part time instructor there for a few years and love it.  God is very good in His provision.

I thought I’d finish off my work at the CFH with a few personal reflections.  It is not an easy position to be both a Christian and a scholar.  I’ve learned that I need to spend a lot of time focusing more on Christ and less on my career.  Here are a few points of perspective for your consideration.

First, I learned that God provides.  I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a college professor.  In fact, I started talking about it in middle school.  My parents smartly reminded me that I might consider actually attending college before I thought about teaching it.  God opened the doors for my MA and PhD programs in ways that are hard to describe. When I faced the ending of my adjunct work at Kent State, God provided the opportunity at Geneva. I’ve learned a lot lately about the foolishness of cutting pieces of scripture out of context to suit our own needs, but I have to say the “seek ye first” passage [Matt. 6:33] seems true in any context.  Seek first God’s wisdom and righteousness, before personal career, and He will bless your work (albeit not always how you envisioned).

Second, I learned that no matter the work, my family matters most.  Without getting too autobiographical, I’d just like to say that time spent with family is never lost time.  For those of us with small children bouncing around our rooms, it may be difficult to focus on that book review or last minute edit, but time spent with family is never lost.  Don’t use family as a crutch to miss out on responsibilities, but remember that family is the root of life.  When you put them in the acknowledgements of your book one day, you want to mean what you say about their support.  Don’t cut yourself off from that which brings real blessing.

Third, I learned that nothing is promised.  Not a day is promised to us.  We have to live for the moment not in a hedonistic sense, but to do our best.  I may never teach another class.  The higher education bubble may burst any day, closing our access to ever teaching or researching again.  So enjoy today.  Read what you must, but also read what drives  you.  Tomorrow is not promised so work and play as hard as you can today.  When I hear colleagues whining and complaining about how much work they have to do, I can’t help but feel for them.  This “job” is such a blessing to me.  Do I always love grading?  Of course not.  Do I always love meetings?  No way.  But do I count it a blessing to work in the conditions I do with people that I love, reading and discussing the things that matter most?  Of course.

Wherever you are in your program, or even if you’re a non-academic that surfed your way to this entry, keep working.  Keep your hand to the plow.  Keep your nose to the stone.  Work, love, play, and embrace the world that we have.  God is good and His bounty is not complete.  Seek Him.  Listen to His guidance in career, in research, in writing, and in teaching.  Faith is more than a nice set of moral standards for conducting our lives.  Faith is the lived evidence of a Living God.  Testify with your life, with your work, and with all that you are.

Thank you, again, to the CFH for inviting me to this position.  Thank  you to my fellow graduate students who have shared in CFH panel discussions or corresponded with me.  Thank you to the grad students who will carry on after me.  It is my prayer that the organization continues to grow, beaming the Light of Christ in the midst of an ever-darkening Academy.  Let us be a beacon of hope for the Kingdom of God.

Godspeed,
Greg Jones

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Spring 2013 – Status

January 26, 2013

AwaitingFriends, colleagues, and fellow Christian historians,

Hopefully your semesters are off to a rousing start.  I hoped that we could communicate a bit more extensively about our respective programs.  One of the great things about the CFH is that we have this (inter)national breadth of scholars in various places, points in their careers, and experience levels.  We all wrestle with similar problems and frustrations, yet we seemingly all put up with (or do I mean endure?) them for the same reasons.  It’s my idea that in the comment section of this post, some of you might be willing to share an extended “status update” of sorts with colleagues.  Who knows, maybe there’s a fellow CFH member at a nearby school… or sitting at the other table in your coffee shop.  Won’t you join us?

I suppose I’ll get us started.  After the awesome CFH Conference at Gordon College in the fall and the birth of my baby girl, life’s been a bit of a roller coaster.  I’ll decline to comment publicly on the exact status of my dissertation, but suffice it to say I’m near(ing) in the end.  That said I’m adjuncting (and, apparently, gerunding) at two different schools in two different states.  I’m thankful for both opportunities.  I am particularly excited about a course I’m teaching at Geneva College called Digital History in which I’m working with 7 undergraduates to build an archive.  We’re still narrowing our focus and determining what it will look like exactly, but I hope to have something to share with you all.

In terms of “what I’m reading” these days… that’s an oddly personal question but one I like thinking about.  I’ve been trying to read more on postmodern education, as I see it as an important obstacle to effective teaching compared to the late-modern era of schooling that bore my scholastic self.  I’m working on N.T. Wright’s *How God Became King* for a dose of the theological.  For my academic historical reading, I’m trying to broaden some theoretical work on correspondence in the 19th century as well as failing horribly in my attempt to keep up with the unending waterfall of Civil War historiography.  The best book I’ve read recently is Mark Schantz’s *Awaiting the Heavenly Country* about death culture that motivated the society of Americans that fought and supported the Civil War.

So… what say you?

Guest Post: History That Matters by Daniel Cooley

October 30, 2012

Daniel Cooley is a graduate student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  He was kind enough to accept the invitation to reflect on CFH President R. Tracy Mckenzie’s Presidential Address from the conference at Gordon College.  Please take a moment to view his family’s adoption page.

History that Matters

Recently, I learned that some members of my church were concerned about the growing balance of our benevolence fund, which is devoted to assisting members in financial distress. It seemed as though the rate of distribution of these funds was slowing. I spoke to a former member of the committee that is responsible for distributing the money, and she shared something revealing. She told me that
no one with a legitimate need was ever turned away; however, the definition of legitimate need had changed. It had narrowed. This former committee member felt that the process was designed to protect the church against being taken advantage of rather than for increasing access to these funds. As I reflected on Tracy McKenzie’s address from our recent CFH meeting, I wondered if Christian historians might sometimes be guilty of an analogous practice. I wonder if we historians who posses a wealth of knowledge are sometimes guilty of a similar practice of narrowing the definition of need?

Through the course of the professionalization of history writing, the definition of what a historian can legitimately say has narrowed. So the sort of history that finds at least part its raison d’être in moral example is no longer a “legitimate need.” A famous example would be Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which suggests that superstition and religious belief are dangerous to society. It brought down Rome, and it can bring down Enlightenment rationalism too.

This professionalization, of course, has afforded tremendous advances in the field, but this has also changed the definition of “legitimate need.” What I mean by this is that the sort of projects which are deemed significant, useful, and helpful has changed. Up until the modern period, it seems that historians were more likely to view their task in relation to their own real world context rather than an academic ghetto. Their task was to help their community to make sense of their identity, origins, purpose, and morality. At the same time, I suspect that nearly every professional historian working today would agree that they too want to make sense of questions related to identity, origins, purpose, and morality. If that is so, why does it seem that “public intellectuals” rather than professional historians are answering these historically minded questions for the general public?

To take this one step further, exactly how am I supposed to write history that matters? Who decides what is significant, useful or helpful? As I reflect on the conference this past week, these questions have been circulating in my mind. In the last few weeks, I obtained approval from my committee to begin writing my dissertation, and so these questions take on a new urgency for me. When I began to form my proposal, I did not sit down and think about these questions. My immediate concern was to write a dissertation that would satisfy my committee. My next concern was to write a dissertation that could get published. As I think back on this, I am not sure this was the best start in writing something that mattered. What do you think? How do we determine which projects are significant, useful, and helpful?

I think this question ought to compel us how we might “advance the field,” but I also think that it moves us beyond the world of the academy and into the realm of the world and the realm of the Church.

Help Wanted: Reflecting on the Gordon Conference

October 7, 2012

I’ve got some notes to reflect on and some posts coming this week, but I wondered if anyone would be willing to volunteer to write on one of the following suggested (or your own) topics:

-President Robert Tracey Mackenzie’s address
-A panel that you attended that was particularly helpful
-Presenting at the conference
-A book (or books) that the conference encouraged you to read
-An observation on the relationship between faith and history
-A random allegorical story that expresses your deep feelings about the Academy

If you’d like to write a report on one aspect of the conference, please contact me: grjones83@gmail.com

From President Hankins – A Message to Grad Students

September 24, 2012

CFH Grad Students,

A new academic year is upon us. For some of you it is your first in grad school. For others, you’ve been at it for many years now, perhaps nearing completion of your Ph.D.

Both prospects and everything in between can be exhilarating and terrifying.

When I was in grad school, the job market was about like it is now, perhaps worse. At times I was tempted to doubt whether I should be preparing for a profession with such a dismal record of career placement. In order to keep moving forward, I often thought of my situation like this:

Question: What do I want to do with my life?

Answer: Read, think, write, and teach.

Question: What am I doing currently in my grad work?

Answer: Reading, thinking, writing, and teaching.

I concluded that the right door had already opened, and I had been successfully placed in the career to which I felt called. I decided that as long as that door stayed open, I would continue in this vocation. Thirty years later, I’m still doing those things.

As much as is possible, concentrate on your calling in the situation you find yourself in at the moment. As an act of faith, believe that the papers you write, the lectures you give, and the discussions you lead, all contribute to the scholarly enterprise and ultimately to the kingdom. Pursue your calling as long as the door of Christian scholarship and vocation remains open, and leave the future in God’s hands.

See you at Gordon for the biennial Conference on Faith and History meeting.

Barry Hankins

President, Conference on Faith and History

CFH Conference Proposal Deadline – May 1st

April 12, 2012

If you’re anything like me, you let deadlines sneak up on you.  Don’t miss the deadline for proposals for the CFH meeting this fall at Gordon College.

**DEADLINE MAY 1st**

(Cut and pasted directly from the CFH Website)

Our 28th Biennial Fall Conference in 2012 on “Cultural Change and Adaptation,” will be at Gordon College in Massachusetts. John Wigger (University of Missouri; eMail=wiggerj@missouri.edu) is general program chair and Jennifer Hevelone-Harper (Gordon College; eMail=J.Hevelone-Harper@gordon.edu) is the local arrangements chair. The student conference will be October 3-4 and the Biennial Conference will be October 4-6.

A CALL FOR PAPERS has been issued. This year’s theme, “Cultural Change and Adaptation,” a deliberately broad designation intended to encompass how people and organizations interact with their culture in all geographical areas and historical periods. Session proposals are particularly encouraged, but the program committee will also consider individual paper proposals that can be organized into sessions wherever possible.

The deadline for submitting proposals is May 1, 2012. A pdf file outlining policies for conference paper and panel proposals is posted on the CFH webpage: here. Proposals for the October 4-6 Biennial Conference should be submitted to John Wigger (University of Missouri) at wiggerj@missouri.edu. Proposals for the October 3-4 undergraduate student research conference should be submitted to Jared Burkholder (Grace College) at burkhojs@grace.edu.

Check it Out: Kennedy on Science and the Church

January 16, 2012

Please check out this link to Point Loma’s Professor Rick Kennedy’s (Former CFH President) latest work.  It’s of particular interest to folks interested in science, Darwinism, and how that intersects with faith.  The historian/philosopher’s take is engaging if also re-orienting.  

As historians, this is an important read.  It shows that not only do we not have to check our faith at the door of secular universities, but also that it is a worthwhile (perhaps even necessary) conversation.

http://biologos.org/blog/jesus-history-and-mount-darwin-an-academic-excursion-part-1