News and Updates: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Presentation on Religious Education and Politics by German Scholar

Distinguished Professor from Germany Visits GSRRE

            Prof. Dr. Bernhard Grumme, University of Education, Ludwigsburg, Germany, was a featured presenter at an Open Classroom on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, in the course, Parish Education:  Ministry and Leadership.  Dr. Grumme, who is Professor of Religious Education and Catechetics, presented a paper on “Religious Education and Politics”  to a group of 25 students and guest faculty which included professors from five graduate schools  (Fordham, New York University, LaSalle, Dominican College, and New York Theological Seminary).  Respondents to Dr. Grumme’s paper included Dr. Gabriel Moran, Professor Emeritus, NYU.  The presentation was followed by a question and answer period and general discussion.

            Central to Dr. Grumme’s thesis is the conviction that religious learning can no longer be based solely on a catechetical or evangelical view, but can only be justified within the context of educational theory.  Religious education has its place in schools because it provides a distinctive, specific contribution to the general education of students which other subjects cannot address.  His thesis is that the political dimension of religious education is an essential part of this contribution, and without it the students would not be competent enough to judge and act in the religious sphere.

            The event concluded with a reception and more lively discussion.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reflecting in the Aftermath: The Ministry of Spiritual Care for Trauma Victims and Spiritual Care for the Self

February 28 and March 1, 2013 
Please join us for a special two day event sponsored by the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.(NACC) 

Thursday February 28, 2013 6:00-8:00pm.
Chaplaincy Today: A Profession and Ministry
Dr.David Lichter. Executive Director NACC.

Friday March 1. 2013 9:30am to 4:00pm
 Reflecting in the aftermath: the mystery of personal trauma and professional care-giving
Keynote speaker: Rabbi Stephen Roberts, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Clergy for a Healthy America, Inc.will deliver a keynote address.

Other guest speakers will include Dr. Colt Anderson, Dean, Fordham GSRRE, and Drs. Lisa Cataldo and MaryBeth Werdel, assistant professors, Fordham Universtiy. 

 CEU's are available fo NACC members for this event.  For more information or to register for either or both days Click Here.

GSRRE Sponsors Lecture with Timothy Radcliffe, OP

Top Dominican Priest Discusses Awakening the Christian Imagination

Contact: Joanna Klimaski
(212) 636-7175
Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., former Master of the Dominican Order and a member of the English province, spoke at Fordham
on Feb. 12 about the Christian imagination.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert
At the heart of the Christian story is a stirring drama about personal fortitude, genuine love, and the triumph of good over evil.

But if asked, would Christians actually describe their religion in that way?

Too often, the drama that pulses beneath the surface of Christianity is eclipsed by rules, semantics, and other technical aspects of the tradition. Awakening Christians to the beauty of their faith is not a challenge for the intellect, but for the imagination, said Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., former Master of the Dominican Order.

Father Radcliffe, a major figure in global Christianity who has spoken extensively on reconciling divisions within Catholicism and bringing the tradition into dialogue with the world, drew a standing-room-only crowd to Rose Hill on Feb. 12 for his discussion, “How Can Christianity Touch the Imagination of Our Contemporaries?”

“Most religion is boring, because it’s abstract. It’s remote,” Father Radcliffe said. “We long for the intimacy, the closeness of God.”

In order to tune others into this vital religious tradition, Christians must appeal to the imagination, Father Radcliffe said. To illustrate the point, he discussed the 2010 film Of Gods and Men, which depicts the true story of a community of Trappist monks caught up in civil war. The monks had been living peacefully in a small, predominantly Muslim village in Algeria when the outbreak of war and a surge of terrorism forced them to choose between fleeing for their lives and remaining to help the villagers. Ultimately, their decision to stay in the village leads to their kidnapping and murders.

The movie helps to open up the drama of Christianity, Father Radcliffe said, because it touches upon the genuine experiences of Christians. First, it tells the story of a particular people who, to the rest of the world, would seem to be anonymous individuals. Even so, they remain true to their identities as monks and devoted to their common purpose.

“Why is our society attracted by prefabricated identities? I think it is because we fear we won’t be loved as who we are,” he said. “Virtue is the hard labor of becoming someone in particular, the person God created you to be, being liberated from the prefabricated identities of the marketplace.”

Second, the movie speaks to the experience of having to endure troubling questions in an uncertain world.

“We can identify with these monks precisely because they were fumbling, searching, trying to find their way forward. I think we’ve all been there—we’ve all been through those moments of hesitancy, of doubt… And each of us has to arrive at authentic faith at our own pace.”

Father Radcliffe takes a question from the audience.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert
Finally, despite the violent deaths of the monks, the movie points to the classic triumph of good over evil—though not in the way that many stories favor, namely, the bad guys being utterly vanquished by the force of good. Rather, it points to Jesus’ fundamental ethic of nonviolence.

“Every society needs its story of the victory of goodness, otherwise our sufferings have no meaning and we might as well give up,” Father Radcliffe said. “It shows a love and gentleness that cannot be defeated, a goodness that no violence is ever going to slay. I think that touches our imagination.” 

The best way to awaken the Christian imagination, then, is to take to heart Jesus’ commitment to forgiveness and nonviolence, despite the cruelty he endured. In order to do that, Christians must be willing to engage creative people who can open up that story to their peers in new, unique ways.

“We will never touch the imagination of our contemporaries if we try to market Christianity as just a set of nice moral values, an innocuous spirituality,” said Father Radcliffe. “Christian doctrines only have meaning in that drama of life and death, the story of the monks, the story of Jesus Christ. What these doctrines do is they liberate us from facile, too easy understandings of the story.

“The truth of Christianity can’t just be delivered on a plate,” he said. “You have to rediscover that drama of death and resurrection… We have to give people the very best, which is the drama that catches you up into the godhead and turns you upside down.”

The event was co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, theDepartment of Theology, and the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies.

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to more than 15,100 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in West Harrison, N.Y., the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre at Heythrop College, University of London, in the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dr. Beaudoin on Spirituality and Contemporary Music Festivals

GSRRE's Dr. Tom Beaudoin, Associate Professor of Theology, was featured in the 16 February 2013 Australian broadcast channel ABC's radio special, "Woodford and the Quest for Meaning," about spirituality in contemporary music festivals.

From ABC:

Over its 27 year existence, the Woodford Folk Festival has established itself as the largest outdoor festival on the Australian cultural calendar. Martin Buzacott sets out to find just what people are searching for amidst the chaos and comedy of this unique, eccentric and Carnivalesque week of celebration.