Faculty in the News – October 2015

On October 29-30, Prof. Yahya Michot was in Paris taking part in the International Conference “With or Without the Brothers: Domestic, Regional, and International Trends in Islamism (2013-2015)” organized by WAFAW – CERI/Sciences Po. He delivered a paper titled “’Clockwork Islam’: Ibn Taymiyya in the Islamic State Propaganda Digital Journal ‘Dabiq’”. See http://www.wafaw.org/

Prof. Najib Awad will serve on a panel for a Meeting House Dialogue on “Responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis” at Center Church in Hartford on Nov. 5 from 6-8 p.m. The moderator is Christine Stuart of CT Newsjunkie. Other panelists include Ghoufran Allabidi, a grassroots advocate and activist; Janet Bauer, an anthropologist and an associate professor at Trinity College; and Anna Cabot, a teaching fellow in the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic. The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place at 675 Main St., Hartford.

On Nov. 1 and 15, Prof. Yehezkel Landau will lead a conversation on”Healing the Holy Land: Prospects for Genuine Peace in Israel/Palestine” at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford. On Nov. 1, Prof. Landau will focus on history and ideology. He will talk about how Americans can adopt a dual-narrative perspective, without favoring either side, and help others to do the same. On Nov. 15, Prof. Landau will explore the emotional and spiritual dimensions of the conflict and its transformation. He will present a holistic conception of holiness in which we are all blessed by God with justice, peace, and the reconciliation of wounded hearts. Also, on Nov. 7, Prof. Landau will be in Milwaukee speaking at a Call to Action conference on the topic “Toward an Interfaith Peacebuilding Praxis in the Middle East and North America.”

Prof. Shanell T. Smith writes a column called Ponderings: Things That Make You Go Hmm … for Presbyterians Today, and she often writes in verse. Her latest is “Reflections of a Caretaker.”

Prof. Donna Schaper, who now teaches in our Doctor of Ministry program, was interviewed in this podcast for Christian Century. In this installment of “Preachers on Preaching,” she talks about “how her left-leaning faith was formed by her childhood in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the unique challenges of preaching in New York City, and instances when a pastoral care matter makes it straight into a sermon.”

Prof. Yehezkel Landau writes movingly in the Interfaith Observer on his experience in 2010 testifying about a project dubbed by opponents the “Ground Zero Mosque.” His piece is called Countering Islamophobia: A Jewish Testimony. “My Hebrew first name and kippah made it clear I was Jewish, and I began by identifying myself as a dual Israeli-American citizen. I acknowledged the unhealed pain of the 9/11 families and related my own experience with terror attacks in Jerusalem, where I had lived for close to 25 years. To demonstrate my empathy for the victims of terror, I mentioned that I attended two funerals on one afternoon after four Jewish women, one of them the daughter of my son’s former babysitter and another the mother of three friends, were stabbed to death at a bus stop near my home by an enraged Palestinian man from Gaza. I also mentioned my years of reserve duty in the Israel Defense Forces and the military service my son was then doing in the IDF. The audience members listened intently. No one interrupted me. After acknowledging that ‘all of us, as Americans, have real enemies in the world who want us dead,’ I made a 180 degree turn. I said, “but Imam Feisal and his colleagues are not among them. They are on OUR side,” struggling to combat religious fanatics who misuse Islam to justify their evil intentions.”

Prof. Scott Thumma was quoted in a feature article about Diana Butler Bass, a Christian progressive and author of nine books on American religion. According to the article, “her latest book, Grounded: Finding God in the World, a Spiritual Revolution,  champions a return to nature and an embrace of hospitality. It also begs a frequent question, ‘Where is God?'” Prof. Thumma describes her role among those who study mainline religions. “What makes her an unusual voice among commentators in American religion right now is that she’s a proponent of hopeful religion,” he said. “That’s not so common in what we study. The approach of her books and the research she’s done is focused on looking at what is working, looking for pockets of vitality and hope.”

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