CFP Games and Learning in Religion and Theology

The Wabash Journal announces a new call for papers for a special issue on games and learning in religion and theology. The deadline for submission is September 2017, and our networking coordinator Mary Hess is guest editing.

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CFP: African American Intellectual History

The  African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) invites proposals for its second annual conference scheduled to take place at Vanderbilt University on March 24-25, 2017. Proposals are due on November 15, 2016.

A brief excerpt, but please visit their site for the full Call:

What does it mean and what has it meant to “do” black intellectual history? What is a black intellectual? Who have been the producers of black intellectual history? Through a series of papers, panel sessions, roundtable discussions, films, and talks, this two-day conference seeks to address those questions and explore the boundaries of black intellectual history. The conference will examine the vital contributions that self-defined black intellectuals-including artists, writers, and activists–have made to U.S. and global intellectual history. It will also raise questions about the role of organic intellectuals, including enslaved people, in the Black intellectual tradition. The conference will focus on reassessing established theories within Black intellectual history and proposing new paradigms for this critically important field. It will draw upon traditional methods of writing and researching Black intellectual history while integrating new approaches of historical production. In short, the second annual AAIHS conference encourages new thinking about the historical boundaries of African American intellectual history and new ideas about how scholars in the twenty-first century can best define, practice, and recover it. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, religion, political thought, gender, racial ideologies, philosophy, sexuality, queer theory, popular culture, internationalism, pan-Africanism, slavery, secularism, literature, and Black Nationalism.

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NYT opportunity: film and race

Race/Related and The New York Times are partnering with the PBS documentary series POV to offer a creative filmmaker, video star or technologist an opportunity to pitch and produce an innovative project dealing with race or ethnicity. It would be a 20 week position working with the Race/Related team, and they’re looking for applicants. The deadline is July 25.

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Latest round of violence and anguish

This week has seen two more Black men killed by police officers (Alton Sterling and Philando Castile), and then five police officers were gunned down at a peaceful BlackLivesMatter rally in Dallas. It is hard to find ways forward in the midst of our grief and righteous anger. Harder still in the grip of such feelings to put our hands on useful resources. We’re going to start a list here, and invite you to build on it!

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The UK Referendum: Political manipulation of fear

Guest post by Dr. Robert Jackson

(Harper Award Winner and Emeritus Professor of Religions in Education at the University of Warwick, UK and Visiting Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Education at the University of Stockholm, Sweden)

In the recent referendum of June 23, the slim majority in favour of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union did not result from democratic argument and exchange, based on accurate information about the key issues. It resulted from the well-organised and effective propagation of fear by politicians of the far right. Their message was especially directed at poorer members of society, whose economic uncertainties and lack of trust in the Westminster government were exploited. The deeply racist and xenophobic messages claiming that membership of the EU would result in the country being overrun by migrants and refugees was delivered daily by the right-wing tabloid press, reinforced by the ‘man of the people’ rhetoric and highly emotive visual images propagated by Nigel Farage, and his extreme right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party, UKIP. Opposition to them from Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, and the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was disappointingly weak and made little impact via the media. Cameron has resigned. There are strong calls for Corbyn’s resignation as Party Leader. Corbyn’s support for the Remain campaign was half-hearted and his contribution to the debate during the campaign was lamentable.

On 16 June, one week before the referendum on EU membership, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage published a poster showing thousands of refugees crossing into Slovenia from Croatia during the height of the migrant crisis in October 2015.

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‘Breaking point’ is written in capital letters on the poster, and, ‘the EU has failed us all’ is written underneath. A line at the bottom of the poster reads: ‘We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders’. The one white face on the poster is deliberately obscured by the banner saying ‘Leave the European Union on 23rd June’.

The reduction of arguments about membership of the EU to the propagation of fear about being overrun by refugees – presented as ‘other’ in ethnic as well as national terms – is a disgrace, but it was an effective tool for frightening a slim majority of the electorate, although not young people, to vote to leave. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove colluded with the racists of UKIP to achieve their goals.

Two days after the referendum result was declared, cards were left outside a school and delivered to the residences of Polish people in the town of Huntingdon bearing the message ‘Leave the EU: No more Polish Vermin’. Many more deeply racist and strongly offensive actions have followed. On 30 June, the police reported that over 300 hate crimes had been registered since the referendum result, over 5 times the usual weekly rate.

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The use of racist propaganda, and its horrible effects at local levels, including stirring up fear and hatred, and causing deep distress to Polish friends, neighbours and colleagues, mirrors Nazi propaganda against the Jews and other minorities. For example, the Nazi film The Eternal Jew (1940) also portrays Jews as ‘vermin’. The UKIP poster and the anti-migrant propaganda exemplified above deliberately undermine and deny the concept of human dignity, which is fundamental to human rights and decency. The ‘Brexit’ vote has precipitated racist activity far beyond that influenced by Enoch Powell in his 1968 Rivers of Blood speech.

The Referendum and Human Rights

Although the issue was about membership of the European Union – essentially an economic as well as political institution – questions relating to human rights were always close to the surface. Yet the Remain campaign did not refer to human rights and to the post-Second World War activity which resulted in the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the establishment of the Council of Europe, and the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights. UK Home Secretary Theresa May has stated her intention to pull Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights – which would automatically remove the UK from membership of the Council of Europe, a crucially important human rights organisation with 47 member states, founded in 1949 under the Treaty of London, and deeply influenced by Winston Churchill. The Council of Europe’s educational programmes and materials, for example, are produced collaboratively by contributors from different parts of Europe, and address vital questions of living together in a modern world where pluralisation and globalisation are realities. Theresa May claims that the European Convention has done nothing to improve human rights in the UK. Britain, she says, does not need the rest of Europe in order to guarantee human rights, totally missing Winston Churchill’s point that it is international collaboration that is vital to the establishment and protection of human rights across the continent and beyond. [On 30th June, as part of her bid to be Prime Minister, Theresa May said that she would not pursue her bid to leave the European Convention, since it would not achieve sufficient political support from fellow MPs. One hopes that this remains the case]. Michael Gove, [having abandoned Boris Johnson on 30 June, his partner in fronting the racist Brexit campaign, and now a competitor with Theresa May for the Prime Ministerial role], would repeal the UK Human Rights Act and introduce a new ‘Bill of Rights’, aimed at restricting the rights enshrined in the European Convention which, ironically, was drafted by an Englishman, David Maxwell Fyfe, and supported wholeheartedly by Churchill. Right-wing newspapers, notably the Daily Mail, have maintained a consistently xenophobic and anti-European line throughout the campaign. On the day before the referendum the Daily Mail front page headline read:

‘Lies. Greedy elites. Or a great future outside a broken, dying Europe… If you believe in Britain vote Leave ’

The situation is deeply disturbing, but moderate voices across the main political parties are recognising the extreme danger of the situation, and much anger is being expressed at the outcome of a highly engineered referendum. Strong calls from many Labour supporters for Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation continue to appear daily, and he may not survive for much longer as leader. We can only hope that competent, moderate politicians supported by a much more politically aware and active general populace, will be mobilised.

Several decisions and actions of politicians have put personal political ends before any moral commitment to the electorate, to the people of Europe and to human dignity. We have seen the provision of a referendum by a Prime Minister attempting to appease the far right of his party, rather than staying with the structures and procedures of parliamentary democracy. We have seen the blatant use of racism and xenophobia by the leader of the far right UKIP party, tacitly supported by right-wing Conservative politicians such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, in order to achieve their goal of leaving the European Union by any means. We have seen the leader of the Labour Party avoid significant involvement in the Remain campaign through the national media for his own ideological purposes. We have seen right-wing newspapers such as the Daily Mail churning out much xenophobic propaganda, while showing no intention to set out the pros and cons of leaving the EU for the benefit of readers. The ‘Brexit’ campaign focused almost exclusively on fear of uncontrolled migration to the UK. From an ethical point of view, the whole process has been a disgrace. There continue to be calls for a second referendum and for the government not to accept the results of the referendum as binding. However, candidates for the Prime Ministership have not endorsed any of these protests.

Many people are shocked at the grassroots racist responses, fuelled by the propaganda from press and politicians, and many voices are speaking out for tolerance and respect for diversity. However, the experience of the referendum, and the events leading up to it, show the immense power of the popular media in controlling the selection and quality of information and in spreading alarm, and put a very large question mark by the idea of referenda as being a truly democratic way of making major political decisions in democracies which have Members of Parliament who have been elected to represent their constituents.

As one who loves Europe, and is deeply committed to the values and educational programmes of the Council of Europe, and to universal human rights, and with many other British people, I combine my grief and anger with a commitment to promote respect for human dignity, and collaboration and co-operation across Europe and beyond.

(images from The Telegraph, UK and Nigel Farage on twitter)

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Director of Worship, Seattle University

Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry seeks applications for a part-time faculty Director of Worship and Liturgy with the rank of Instructor to begin September 2016. The Director of Worship and Liturgy is a 9-month renewable appointment effective upon hire. The Director will be responsible for the communal worship and prayer life of STM students, staff, faculty, and other partners. The successful candidate will be responsible for scheduling, coordinating, preparing, publishing, and leading ecumenical and interreligious liturgy and worship for the STM community. Additionally, the director will assist teaching future pastoral leaders to lead worship within their faith communities, and will teach one course per academic year. The ideal candidate will demonstrate experience leading contemporary forms of intercultural ecumenical and interreligious worship. They will have a strong record of collaborative leadership. Additionally, they will have demonstrated ability in creating opportunities that help students prepare for worship ministry through the use of technology, social media, and the arts. The ideal candidate will have a strong commitment to social justice and community engagement.

Requirements: Ph.D. or D.Min (ABD candidates will be considered) in a ministry-related field; two years’ experience leading liturgy and/or worship. Preferred: Experience with social media, technology, and the arts in worship; a demonstrated record of supervising; publications related to worship and liturgy; excellent administrative skills.

Seattle University, founded in 1891, is a Jesuit Catholic university located on 48 acres on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. More than 7,700 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within eight schools. U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges 2016” ranks Seattle University among the top 10 universities in the West that offer a full range of masters and undergraduate programs. Seattle University is an equal opportunity employer. In support of its pursuit of academic and scholarly excellence, Seattle University is committed to creating a diverse community of students, faculty and staff that is dedicated to the fundamental principles of equal opportunity and treatment in education and employment regardless of age, color, disability, gender identity, national origin, political ideology, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. The university encourages applications from, and nominations of, individuals whose differing backgrounds, beliefs, ideas and life experiences will further enrich the diversity of its educational community.

Submit applications to https://jobs.seattleu.edu/. To ensure full consideration, submit CV, include a letter of application that demonstrates qualifications for this position including commitment to diversity and Seattle University’s mission, values, and vision; vita or resume; submit a statement regarding the definition of worship in an ecumenical and interreligious settings; and provide the names and contact information for three current references (recommendation letters will be solicited electronically upon submission of application).

Review of applications will begin August 12, 2016. The position is open until filled.
Questions regarding the position may be directed to Mark Chung Hearn (hearnm@seattleu.edu).

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Asst. Prof. of Religious Diversity and Pluralism

Denison University Department of Religion invites applications for a tenure-track position beginning August 2017 in Religious Diversity and Pluralism in the United States. Teaching will include introductory, intermediate and advanced undergraduate courses that cover the diversity of U. S. religions in both historical and contemporary contexts. These courses should also address the ways different religious traditions have understood and responded to this diversity, both within and among religions, on philosophical, theological, ethical, historical and/or social levels. Ph.D. in the academic study of religion, or a relevant field, with the above specialization is required. Proven ability to teach writing-intensive religion courses that meet Denison’s new writing program requirements is essential.

Appropriate undergraduate teaching experience is preferred. Ability to teach in one or more of Denison’s interdisciplinary programs (Black Studies, East Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, International Studies, Queer Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies) is desirable. Denison faculty teach a 3/2 teaching load each year. Applications should include a transcript of all graduate work, letters of recommendation, and evidence of appropriate teaching experience.

Applications must be submitted on-line at https://employment.denison.edu. Applications received by September 26, 2016 will receive full consideration. Open until filled. For more information about Denison and the Department of Religion see our website at: www.denison.edu.

Denison University is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer. To achieve our mission as a liberal arts college, we continually strive to foster a diverse campus community, which recognizes the value of all persons regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or socio-economic background. For additional information and resources about diversity at Denison, please see our Diversity Guide at http://denison.edu/forms/diversity-guide.

Denison University is an academically rigorous liberal arts college with an increasingly diverse campus community. It offers a competitive salary and a comprehensive benefits package. Denison is located in the village of Granville, 30 minutes from Columbus, Ohio, the state capitol, which hosts a wide range of cultural and artistic opportunities. Granville also offers an excellent public school system and easy access to outdoor activities.

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Religion, media, empathy

Magnum, known for its work in documentary photography, is leading a new project which will collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to produce in-depth and experimental projects on religion.

The CFP notes:

In our current environment of increased sectarian conflict, it is more important than ever to provide well developed, nuanced perspectives on the many roles religion plays in contemporary society. Photographers will collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to produce in-depth and experimental projects on religion. Each project team will receive a production grant of up to $18,000. Additionally, teams will have access to an advisory of experts and participate in a project development lab in New York.

Magnum Foundation is working with The Revealer: A Review of Religion and Media, NYU’s Center for Media Culture and History, and The Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Support for this pilot initiative is generously provided by the The Henry Luce Foundation, which seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious, and art communities.

More information is available online.

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Religious Education coord. position at Beale AFB

Beale AFB in California is looking for a part-time Protestant religious education coordinator. The deadline for applications is July 15th, and they require at least a Bachelor’s degree in education or 2 years’ experience as a Religious Education Coordinator in a local church or military chapel and experience working with children’s programs in a church and/or ministry. More information on how to apply is available via this flyer.

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Can REA Support Innovation in Religious Education?

For five years I ran a “start-up” religious education program. I wanted to test out a model of family-based learning in the Jewish community for families who were opting out of synagogue life. The methodology and pedagogy was inspired by Scouting: a system of ranks and requirements provided the framework for kids (K-12) to learn at their own pace, guided by parents and other adults in the community. The project never “took off.” Participating families expressed high degrees of satisfaction with the community we had created, but we struggled with recruiting new families each year, and we never converted the interest from leaders in other regions to become franchised groups. I wasn’t prepared to leave my full-time job to give the program “my all” and we weren’t able to raise enough money from tuition and fees and outside funders to hire a part-time project director.

I could speculate on whether the initiative died a natural death because it wasn’t exactly the right educational product at the right time (which is my hunch) or because of other factors, such as insufficient commitment from the leadership or limited funding.

For me, one takeaway from that experience is noting that the field of religious education could do more to support and encourage innovation. And the Religious Education Association is in a position to become part of an ecosystem for innovation in the field.

There are many reasons why the educational approaches we are currently invested in may not be the ones that help our faith communities thrive into the future: religious life is changing, social demographics are changing, technology continues to evolve rapidly, and our understanding of how humans learn is changing through the field of mind, brain and education science. For these reasons and many more, our field of practice needs to have a healthy culture of innovation to thrive.

Over the past two years, a small four-member committee of the REA has been working to re-think how the REA approaches awards. Without boring you with the bureaucratic details, I can say that we inherited a set of three awards, none of which were sufficiently resourced to make much of an impact on the field. So we asked ourselves how we might do it better. The answer we are now working towards is to shift from three awards to one award and a new innovation grant. We’re reaching out now to get REA members’ feedback on the plans.

First, we would keep the William Rainey Harper Award, a lifetime achievement award in the field. That award would be given out every three to five years for financial reasons and to keep the award special.

Second, we would combine the two lesser-known awards under our purview, the Wornom Award (originally intended to recognize institutions leading in the field) and the Harper project (originally intended to promote collegiality across the field), into a new, annual small grant for innovation.

The new innovation grant (“Wornom Project Small Grant”) would be given out through an annual competitive selection process. Religious educators would be invited to submit their innovative projects for consideration each year. Five finalists would be selected, and a winner would be announced annually at the REA meeting to receive $3,000. A leader from the winning project would be invited to the REA the year after winning the grant to tell us what they have been learning through their project.

By highlighting innovative initiatives in religious education each year, we can bring much-needed attention to people and places in the field of religious education where new ideas are being tested out. We can develop relationships with practitioners who are taking risks. And we can inspire our members.

If we move forward with this direction, the Wornom grants process would be announced at the REA meeting in November and applications would be due in January or February.

As a committee, we’re interested in feedback from REA members about moving in this direction. Below are the members of the committee. Send us your thoughts.

Justus Baird, Chair, REA Harper/Wornom Committee

With Boyung LeeMary Elizabeth Moore, and Maureen OBrien…and added deep acknowledgement to Charles Foster who chaired this committee for a few years before 2016 and allowed us to reach this direction.

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