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PSR Faculty and Academic Excellence

In addition to the questions we asked the PSR faculty published in the Fall 2018 issue of CATALYST, we also asked them:

What is your role in PSR’s core value of academic excellence?

From among the responses we received, here are their replies.

Dr. Susan Abraham
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean
Professor of Theology and Post-Colonial Cultures

“The faculty at PSR is an innovative, forward-looking faculty, brimming with creative ideas to address the crisis in theological education. As Dean, I consider it a sacred calling to foster such a spirit of generous response and to model a spirit of resilience when confidence in theological education is waning. Theological thinking is critical because it enables us to examine our deepest assumptions and values about how we understand the human being and its many “others,” including the other-than-human world that lives within and without us. PSR values human beings and the work of healing and reconciliation of creation that we are called to by the Divine.”

Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake
Faculty Associate, Leadership and Social Transformation

““Over my head I see trouble in the air.  There must be a God somewhere.’  The God somewhere limits the hold that the trouble has on life. Trouble is not the final reality. Despite the horrors of life,  the cosmos has resources beyond our imagination to meet our needs. Tagore wrote: ‘The river has its boundaries, its banks, but is a river all banks? Or, are the banks the final facts about the river? Do not these obstructions themselves  give its water an onward motion?’ I see myself as aiding in expanding the consciousness and deepening the souls of students so that the unimagined future of creative resilience and audacious hope will take up permanent residence in their living.”

Dr. Aaron Brody
Robert and Kathryn Riddell Professor of Bible and Archaeology, Director of the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology

“I am still a firm believer that the path forward for a hopeful future is through education. By opening up students minds we give them the critical thinking and communication tools necessary to face almost any scenario they may find, and to assess its outcomes.”

Rev. Dr. Jay Emerson Johnson
Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture
Coordinator of the Certificate of Spirituality and Social Change (CSSC) and Director of the Master of Arts in Social Transformation (MAST)

“I am convinced that religious traditions generally, and Christianity in particular, offer indispensable resources for this critical moment in U.S. history and for this planet in ecological peril. Theological work can provide key diagnostic tools for a society in distress as well as strategies and practices for healing and renewal. In my writing, classroom teaching, and program development for PSR’s Ignite Institute, I’m committed to bridging the worlds of academic scholarship and religious leadership for social change. I offer that commitment both as a scholar and a priest in the Episcopal Church, a combination that continues to feed my hope in the transformative power of theological education to shape communities of resistance, resilience, and renewal.”

Rev. Dr. Jim Lawrence
Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Historical Studies and Doctor of Ministry Program Director

“The tension in this phrase describes exactly my own philosophy, as I align with Reinhold Niebuhr’s framework of a “Christian realism” that eschews easy utopias yet cleaves passionately to a realistic hope for helping God’s justice do the work of the eschaton. My love for praxis training, which is at the heart of the Doctor of Ministry program as well as all MDiv work, supports focused and concrete efforts to create new ways to fulfill the vision of hope and actually cultivate resilience.”

Rev. Dr. Joung Chul Lee
Visiting Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Education, and Spiritual Formation and Director, Asian and Pacific Islander Initiative

“The world is changing, and so is theological education. The world we are living in is getting more diverse and complex, especially religiously, culturally, and politically. In this time, theological education is responsible for educating and nurturing the future leaders who can continue to faithfully serve Christian communities, prophetically engage in fostering peace and justice in the society, and poetically and radically embody “living together” with the other. I believe that theological education that successfully accomplishes these roles is hopeful; such schools can recover trust, relationship, and leadership in a wider society. For this challenge, which PSR is facing like many others, I characterize my role as a practical theologian who leads conversations about postcolonial religious education, engaged spirituality, racial/cultural/gender-sexual identity justice, and interreligious engagement and leadership.”

Dr. Filipe Maia
Assistant Professor of United Methodist Studies, Leadership, and Theology

“I continue to think that Leonard Cohen’s verses in Anthem offer the most compelling vision of hope: “ring the bells that still can ring | forget your perfect offering there is a crack in everything | that’s how the light gets in.” In times when great and powerful people continue to build walls and disperse despair, little cracks continue to conjure up hope for my life and intellectual work.”

Dr. Inese Radzins
Assistant Professor of Theology and Philosophy  of Religion

“I see my role as helping students develop a particular kind of praxis: attention. Learning to engage the world and others (whether communities or social issues) requires good thinking. And, good thinking takes work. In the classroom I try to cultivate attention—to texts, others, and the world—by helping students develop critical thinking skills. Attention, and thoughtfulness, are incredibly helpful in fostering and cultivating resilience.”

Dr. Bernard Schlager
Associate Professor of Historical and Cultural Studies; Executive Director, Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion and Director, Certificate of Sexuality and Religion

“I am privileged to serve as Associate Professor of Historical and Cultural Studies at PSR and as Executive Director of PSR’s Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS). In these dual roles I find that I am called, on a daily basis, to live out my Christian faith by working with others to contribute to the building of the Kindom of the Divine in the here and now. More specifically, I am animated in my work as Executive Director of CLGS by the Center’s mission statement which calls for “advancing the well-being of LGBTQ people and transforming faith communities and the wider society by taking a leading role in shaping a new public discourse on religion, gender identity and sexuality.” In my research, writing, and teaching as an historian of Christianity and as a scholar of LGBTQ studies, I aim to serve our students and the larger community by contributing to the seminary’s goal of “serving God by equipping historic and emerging faith communities for ministries of compassion and justice in a changing world.” I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to join with others in helping to build the kind of world that might serve as a home where all of God’s creation can flourish.”