Friday, October 23, 2009

Project update: interview requests sent

Last night, I sent off interview requests to four EMU faculty members, along with the interview guidelines document, which I will re-print here.  This essentially is a schedule for each interview session:
  1. Briefing
    1. Talk about the recording equipment, how recording will be used
    2. Talk about the photography at the end of the session
  2. Interview
    1. Question: Tell me about the earliest experience you can remember where you thought about God.
    2. Question: Tell me about when you started to become interested in theology in the formal, academic sense.
    3. Question: What is theology to you now? How do you think about it? How do you practice it?
  3. Debriefing
    1. Make observations about themes I heard in responses, and ask for clarifications or elaborations
    2. Ask if there's anything else they'd like to share
    3. Promise that transcripts will be delivered and approval asked for
    4. Promise that final product will be made readily available to them
    5. Thank them for the interview, prepare again for the photography
  4. Take Photos

My prof, Howard, also suggested that I be ready with a list of follow-up questions for each listed above, so I still have to get those ready before I do the first interview.  I haven't heard back from any of them yet, but read on if you're interested in who they are...

Heidi Miller Yoder, who is an assistant professor in the undergraduate Bible & Religion department.  Her mother teaches in the seminary and her father is my spiritual director.  Mennos like to keep it in the family.  She was the coordinator for when EMU brought Brian McClaren to campus last spring, which was fun.  I think she's in the final stages of her dissertation work, and I believe she's focusing on a recently-discovered early Anabaptist, civil engineer/theologian, Pilgram Marpeck.  I wrote a paper on baptism, comparing Marpeck and Calvin, for "Christian Tradition" last spring and had a great conversation with Heidi, who pointed me toward some great material.  Anyone who is familiar with Mennonites will see that Heidi is almost certainly a lifelong Mennonite.

Lisa Schirch, professor of peacebuilding at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding and executive director of the 3D Security Initiative.  She taught one of my first classes at the CJP last fall, and she's awesome.  A lifelong Mennonite, but formally trained in the social sciences perspective on issues of peace and security.  So she has a way of looking at theology and peacebuilding that is probably much different than, say, my theology professor.

Mark Thiessen Nation, who is the professor of theology at the seminary.  He's also my neighbor.  I haven't had any theology classes with him yet, but he did co-teach the year-long "Christian Tradition" class last year.  I really like talking to him, and he was very helpful at providing me reading material for a "Faith-based Peacebuilding" class I took this past summer through the Summer Peacebuilding Institute here at EMU.  If you look to the right in the "required reading" section, the two books listed (for now) are ones that he handed me.  Mark is a convinced Anabaptist Mennonite, not having grown up in the tradition, coming to it through its theological-ethical qualities.

Peter Dula, assistant professor of religion & culture in the undergrad Bible & Religion dept.  I haven't run into Peter much yet, and that's part of why I chose to ask him for an interview.  His credentials interest me, so I'm looking forward to hearing his perspective.  I'm also not sure of how Peter came to teach at an Anabaptist school, although some of his work references John Howard Yoder, so I have some guesses based on that.
I should also notes that earlier this year, we had a round-table discussion called "Toward a Theology for Conflict Transformation" on campus.  Lisa, Mark, and Peter were all active participants in this discussion, and I see this project as a continuation of that discussion.

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