Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rockhurst Doesn't Taser Those Who Ask Questions

No matter what question you ask, I won't taser you. I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. This is the heart of university life. This is what academic freedom is all about. Of course, we need to act like civilized human beings when we engage one another in conversation. I'm an Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Rockhurst University, and we don't taser students for asking spirited questions, even questions which might appear off the wall to some, or challenging a status quo interpretation.

In my field when talking about God and the meaning of life and "all that stuff," we wrestle with deep questions charged with energy. Personal beliefs, opinions, doubts etc are respected as we explore in an academic fashion the meaning of religion, various models about God, the Christian faith and other faiths. Our two primary courses, TH 1000 Christianity I: Foundations and TH 3000 Christianity II: Development that all RU students must take, challenge the student to think critically about various belief systems and presuppositions while explaining the fundamental core beliefs of Christianity. In the area of theology and religion, while scientific methods are employed from history, anthropology, and psychology (to name a few), the area of God boils down to faith. As a professor I try to enhance the learning process regarding faith and relationship to God (a Higher Power or whatever model you have), while at the same time we try to objectively analyze through reason our myriad perceptions and beliefs about God.

So no matter what questions you ask, I won't taser you. And I believe the true God won't zap you either for being honest with yourself and others as you ponder the reality of the Divine, and if God even does exist at all. God doesn't taser us for asking questions.

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