Sunday, September 11, 2011

Best Resources for Teaching Religion

Teaching religion involves both methods and content. In the contemporary setting, educators are challenged to stay abreast of best practices in teaching, to keep coursework relevant to breaking issues and popular news reports and to sustain professional inquiry into the educator’s area of expertise. The following resources will help with all three tasks.

Best Practices in Teaching Religion

The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion supports teachers of religion and theology through meetings, workshops, grants, a journal and other resources that make the scholarship of teaching and learning accessible to teachers.  The center offers summer workshops and colloquies for faculty at various stages of their careers, and programs with special foci for faculty with unique perspectives and needs. Learn more on the Workshop and Colloquy page.

The Wabash Center’s Resources page provides links to scholarship on teaching; resources for teaching theology and religion; an Internet guide to religion that includes syllabi, electronic texts and journals, websites and online bibliographies that support and encourage the incorporation of electronic resources into teaching; and a section of links to valuable off-line teaching resources and faculty development material.

In addition, Wabash Center’s Teaching Theology & Religion page links to current and past issues of the center’s peer-reviewed journal on teaching strategies and practices. Included are detailed guidelines for teachers and scholars interested in submitting articles for publication.

The Center for the Study of Theological Education has conducted a first-ever study to learn how seminaries in the United States are addressing the challenge of educating religious leaders to work effectively in a religiously diverse world. From the study, the center has developed resources to assist schools and faculty interested in providing multifaith education. Through the site you can develop a usable definition of multifaith education, identify the multifaith education programs of top schools, explore notable course descriptions and learn about valuable extracurricular programs and opportunities.
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The Pulpit and the American Revolution: Major Themes

Article Series: The Pulpit and the Patriots
Week 1: The Pulpit and the American Revolution: Major Themes
When the question is given, ‘whose political writings most influenced the Founding Fathers’, the usual names are to be expected: The Enlightenment thinkers Voltaire and Hume, the Social Contract theorists Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau, or perhaps the classics of political thought, Plato and Aristotle. Having studied at a secular public university, and having focused in political theory, I would be tempted to respond in a similar fashion.1 In an effort to find an answer to this question, it would make sense to look to whom the Fathers themselves cited most, and conclude these individuals would have been most influential. It then came to me as an utter shock to find out that professors Donald S. Lutz and Charles S. Hyneman, after reviewing over 15,000 items with explicitly political content, identified 3,154 references to other sources, and concluded that “The source most often cited by the founding fathers was the Bible, which accounted for 34 percent of all citations.”2 Not only did that produce some serious interest, but I also came to discover that the most cited thinker regarding explicitly political material was none other then Paul the Apostle!3 As for the individuals whom I thought would be most influential, Locke was ranked fourth with 2.9% of the citations, Hobbes ranked thirteenth with 1.0%, Rousseau ranked sixteenth with 0.9%, Plato ranked twenty-sixth with 0.5%, and Machiavelli ranked twenty-ninth with 0.5%. This produced within me some serious questions, namely, why was I never taught this before? Why had this influence been so fully ignored?
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Republicans, religion and rhetoric in the White House race

As the campaign to win the Republican nomination in next year’s race for the White House goes into high gear, religious words matter – although there is considerable disagreement over what they actually mean.
It’s been only a few months since the race began in earnest, and religion already seems to be playing a central role in the campaign. So are faith buzzwords, controversy, and heated debate over the meaning and potential importance of what lies behind terminology like “dominionism” “submission” and the dreaded “t-word”, “theocracy.”
Perhaps the heated debate is inevitable, especially given the distinctly conservative religious views publicly expressed by two leading contenders, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Perry, who says he was raised as a United Methodist, a mainline Protestant denomination, still belongs to a Methodist Church in Austin, Texas.  But he has also said that he attends Lake Hills Church, a large nondenominational church affiliated with the Southern Baptists, more frequently.
The governor’s religious beliefs have attracted scrutiny not only because of his recent entrance into the race, but because of his well-publicized August 6 prayer rally, “The Response,” specifically billed as a Christian prayer service.  In addition, Perry drew headlines with his answer to a question from a little boy in New Hampshire a few weeks ago. Evolution, he said, was a “theory” that had “gaps” in it, adding, not entirely accurately, that in Texas schools teach both creationism and evolution.
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion

David O'Brien couldn't help himself. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, he became obsessed.

O'Brien read the stories of 9/11 victims over and over, stunned by what he was discovering.

He read about the firefighters who marched up the smoke-choked stairwells of the World Trade Center, though many knew they could die; the beloved priest killed while giving last rites as the twin towers collapsed; the passengers on hijacked planes who called their families one last time to say, "I love you."

"I was obsessed with these stories," says O'Brien, a Catholic historian at the University of Dayton in Ohio. "There were so many stories of self-sacrifice, not just by the first responders, but by people fleeing the building. There was this revelation of goodness."

O'Brien saw an Easter message in 9/11 - good rising out of the ashes of evil. Yet there were other religious messages sent that day, and afterward, that are more troubling, religious leaders and scholars say.

September 11 didn't just change America, they say. It changed the nation's attitude toward religion. Here are four ways:
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