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Darin H. Davis
Last September my colleague Douglas Henry resigned as director of the Institute for Faith and Learning so that he could devote all of his attention to teaching and scholarship, as well as to his role as faculty master of Brooks Residential College here at Baylor. At the request of interim provost Elizabeth Davis, I am now serving as the Institute's interim director. I am honored to do so.
For seven years, Doug served IFL in remarkable ways. Among many things, he planned and directed a number of significant academic conferences that drew hundreds of scholars and students to Baylor to consider topics as diverse as Christianity and economics; slavery, oppression, and prejudice; global Christianity; and moral formation in American higher education. In addition, Doug led a number of well-received faculty development initiatives here at Baylor that encouraged many to reflect deeply upon the nature of their calling as scholars and teachers in the Christian academy.
On behalf of his IFL colleagues across the years, I want to offer Doug sincere thanks for his leadership. And I am glad to know that he will continue to contribute to IFL's work as he helps lead the senior cohort of our Crane Scholars Program.
As my colleagues and I take stock of IFL's recent past, we are especially grateful for the success of last October's second annual Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, Bottom-up Approaches to Global Poverty. Along with colleagues in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Hankamer School of Business, the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, and the School of Social Work, we hosted a symposium that drew some 300 registered participants together with scores of Baylor students and faculty to explore how the forces of appropriate technology, social entrepreneurship, and the church might converge to help address global poverty.
The symposium was remarkable for a number of reasons. For one thing, it attracted an incredibly diverse audience. Theologians, economists, and engineers participated along with social workers, pastors, business entrepreneurs, and leaders of NGOs and volunteer efforts. Some of our guests were working on revolutionary ways to make clean water available; others were involved in micro-financing efforts in some of the world's poorest countries. Missiologists asked questions about the very nature and purpose of missions work. To be sure, the mix between theoretical and practical knowledge was impressive. And these men and women came from near and far, including Canada, the UK, India, China, Latin America, and Africa.
Diverse as the gathering was, it was focused on a pressing and shared concern: how might Christians help alleviate poverty? While developments in technology and business practices now offer unprecedented opportunities to help the poor, Christians are called to consider not only whether these advances work, but whether they are faithful. That is, do they express genuine Christian witness? Do they minister to people's spiritual needs?
As I attended presentations and shared conversations with people from all over the world during the three-day event, I remembered the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, where Jesus challenges his followers to consider the ways that their distinctive gifts should be used. Recall that the servant in the parable who earns the scorn of his master did nothing with the little he had been given; it is not that he had so little, but that he offered so little in return. The other servants, commended by their master and invited to share in his happiness, worked diligently and gave faithfully. Christ teaches, thus, that while we are particularly gifted and situated, we are called to give of ourselves not only uniquely but completely. It seems to me, on reflection, that those gathered at the symposium exemplified precisely the kind of service that the parable teaches us to offer.
In light of this parable—and with hope that our service might help Baylor fulfill its promise as a first-rate university committed to affirming and deepening its Christian and Baptist identity—IFL's present and future is filled with significant work, including planning and directing retreats (for our Crane Scholars in March and new faculty in May); planning and directing conferences (the Baylor Medical Ethics Conference in June and our third Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, Secularization and Revival: The Fate of Religion in Modern Intellectual History in October); leading two reading groups this spring; and continuing to administer our vocation and faculty formation grants program through the Baylor Horizons initiative. And, of course, we are always thinking of new ways in which we might fulfill the Institute's mission.
My colleagues and I are grateful for this chance to lead the Institute for Faith and Learning, and we pledge to use our own gifts as well and faithfully as we can while serving during this important moment in Baylor's life.
Some 300 registered participants joined a host of Baylor students, faculty, and staff for the second annual Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, Bottom-up Approaches to Global Poverty: Appropriate Technology, Social Entrepreneurship, and the Church. Convened October 23-25, the interdisciplinary symposium drew on contributions from engineers, economists, entrepreneurs, missionaries, and theologians to explore the various ways that Christians are called to respond to global poverty.
The symposium featured an opening address by South African pastor and social activist Caesar Molebatsi. Other plenary presentations were offered by Ken Eldred, J. Andrew Kirk, and Paul Polak. Featured speakers included Bernard Amadei, Ruth Padilla DeBorst, Perla Manapol, Dwight Nordstrom, Ray Norman, Bill O'Brien, and Glenn White. Over 60 contributed papers were also presented during the symposium.
The Crane Scholars Program, an initiative directed by IFL for academically excellent undergraduates interested in the connections between faith, learning, and vocation, continues to thrive at Baylor.
At the beginning of the academic year, the Crane Scholars Program welcomed two new cohort leaders: Lori Baker, associate professor of anthropology, forensic science, and archaeology, who joined Todd Buras and Darin Davis as co-leaders of the sophomore cohort; and Julia Hejduk, associate professor of classics, who joined Douglas Henry and David Jeffrey as co-leaders of the senior cohort.
On September 9, current and prospective Crane Scholars kicked off the academic year with the program's annual recruitment event. Students enjoyed pizza and a presentation titled "God, Cranes, and Pygmies" by Michael Foley, associate professor of patristics and co-leader of the program's junior cohort.
New and returning Crane Scholars attended an initiation dinner in the Barfield Drawing Room on September 30. Ralph Wood, University Professor of Theology and Literature, spoke on "Personal and Communal Hope in Flannery O'Connor and J. R. R. Tolkien."
Fourteen Crane Scholars accompanied Dr. Baker to the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture's ninth annual fall conference, The Family: Searching for Fairest Love, November 6-8.
At the end of the fall semester, Crane Scholars gathered for their annual Advent Luncheon at North Village Community Center. Robert Kruschwitz, director of Baylor's Center for Christian Ethics and professor of philosophy, offered a reflection.For more information about the Crane Scholars Program, see www.baylor.edu/ifl/cs.
IFL once again hosted Vocation, Liberal Learning, and the Professions, the annual retreat for Baylor's new faculty at Laity Lodge, May 19-23. Thirty-six faculty members from across the disciplines gathered to reflect upon the theological significance of vocation and their common calling as teachers and scholars at Baylor. Financial support for the retreat was provided by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and the H. E. Butt Foundation.
The retreat was led by four invited guests: David Jeffery, Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities at Baylor; Elizabeth Newman, professor of theology and ethics at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond; John P. O'Callaghan, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Jacques Maritain Center at the University of Notre Dame; and Michael Sciretti, doctoral candidate in religion at Baylor.
This spring's retreat, to be held May 18-22, will be
led by Jan Evans, associate professor of Spanish at
Baylor; C. Stephen Evans, University Professor of
Philosophy and Humanities at Baylor; Charles Pinches,
professor and chair of theology and religious studies at
the University of Scranton; and Susan VanZanten,
professor of English and director of the Center for
Scholarship and Faculty Development at Seattle Pacific
University. Burt Burleson, University chaplain and dean
for spiritual life at Baylor, will serve as the retreat's
The third Baylor University Medical Ethics Conference, directed by Baylor's Center for Christian Ethics in partnership with the Institute for Faith and Learning, was held June 13-14, 2008 at the George W. Truett Seminary. The conference series is funded in part through the Baylor Horizons program, an initiative for the exploration of vocation funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc.
The conference provides a working forum for practicing health care professionals—including physicians, health care administrators, health-related social workers, and chaplains—to explore the pressing moral questions of medicine and health care delivery and to seek a deeper theological understanding of their vocation.
Featured ethicists included: Steven L. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., FACC, Permian Cardiology Associates; Ronald A. Carson, Ph.D., Harris L. Kempner Distinguished Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; William F. May, Ph.D., Cary M. Maguire Professor of Ethics Emeritus, Southern Methodist University; and Paul J. Wadell, Ph.D., professor of religious studies, St. Norbert College. Dr. May gave a keynote address titled "Medicine as a Vocation."
This year's conference will be held June 12-13. For further information, please contact Robert Kruschwitz, director of the Center for Christian Ethics, at (254) 710-3774 or visit the CCE website at www.baylor.edu/christianethics.
Last fall, the Institute for Faith and Learning was pleased to offer support for:
The Grandeur of Reason: Religion, Tradition and Universalism, held September 1-4 in Rome under the auspices of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Peter Candler, assistant professor of Great Texts, was one of the principal organizers of the conference.
Faith & Music: A Liturgical Celebration of Music and Reflection, held September 11. Over 400 people from Baylor and the Waco community gathered at Paul Powell Chapel in Baylor's Truett Theological Seminary for music and reflection presented by special guest Kurt Keiser and faculty members from Baylor's School of Music.
Science and Human Nature: Russian & Western Perspectives, held November 6-8. Organized by the Society of Christian Philosophers and the Baylor Philosophy Department, the interdisciplinary conference was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Noted guests included: David Bradshaw (Kentucky), Boris Bratus (Moscow State), Vladimir Shmaliy (Moscow Theological Academy), Eleonore Stump (Saint Louis), and Richard Swinburne (Oxford).
Preparations are underway for the third Symposium on Faith and Culture, to be held October 8-10, 2009. Secularization and Revival: The Fate of Religion in Modern Intellectual History seeks to address the place of religion in modern thought and culture from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, with thought to the intellectual tensions between the revival and decline of faith throughout the world.
Confirmed plenary speakers include: David Bebbington (Stirling/Baylor), Michael J. Buckley (Santa Clara), José Casanova (Georgetown), Jean Bethke Elshtain (U. Chicago Divinity School), Paul Fiddes (Oxford), Barry Harvey (Baylor), Philip Jenkins (Penn State), Susan Juster (Michigan), George Marsden (Notre Dame), Rodney Stark (Baylor), and Frank Turner (Yale).
More information, including a call for papers, is available at the conference website: www.baylor.edu/ifl/bsfc2009.
The Association of Christian Economists has encouraged Christian scholars to explore and communicate the relationship between their faith and the discipline of economics for twenty-five years. Their 25th anniversary conference—Three Perspectives on Faith and Economics—will be held April 16-18 and will explore the ideas of faithful economics, economics of religion, and heterodoxy.
Plenary speakers at the conference will include: Arthur C. Brooks (Syracuse), Laurence R. Iannoccone (George Mason), Rodney Stark (Baylor), and John P. Tiemstra (Calvin). The conference is funded in part by a vocation and faculty formation grant, awarded though the Baylor Horizons initiative to John Pisciotta, associate professor of economics at Baylor.
For more information or to register, please visit www.baylor.edu/ifl/aceconference.
Calendar of Events
April 16–18, 2009
Perspectives on Economics and Faith
May 17–21, 2009
Seminar on Academic Leadership in Baptist
May 18–22, 2009
Liberal Learning, and the Professions
June 12–13, 2009
Medical Ethics Conference
October 8–10, 2009
Revival: The Fate of Religion in Modern Intellectual
March 19–21, 2009
Pietist Impulse in Christianity
June 20–26, 2009
New Opportunities in the Academy: A Mission
July 16–18, 2009
in the Academy: The Legacy of Christian
October 2–4, 2009
February 24–26, 2010
Critical Breakthroughs: International Forum on Christian
IFL Staff Members:
Institute for Faith & Learning
The perfectly happy person, the one whose thirst has been finally quenched, who has attained beatitude—this person is one who sees. The happiness, the quenching, the perfection, consists in this seeing.Josef Pieper
The more sincere and creative a community is
For as all men, and all things in the world,
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