Graduate Theological Union

Seeking Life Among the Debris: Introduction

Seeking Life Among the Debris: The Public Role of Religious Scholars
A Core Doctoral Faculty Forum, in the Aftermath of September 11th

Eldon G. Ernst
GTU Interim Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs, 2001-2002

 

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 horrendous violence in New York City and Washington, D.C., we entered the new academic year in a somber mood. How to understand, process, and respond to such earth-shaking events challenged academic communities no less than other sectors of society. Intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually we were shaken to the depths of our individual and collective sense of vocation. Our entire GTU agenda had to be rethought, taking account of the state of the nation and the world. We hoped that centers of higher education would be places where serious discussion and debate would persevere, where the larger dimensions of exploratory and analytical thinking would prevail, and where voices of reasoned moral and social-ethical value commitments would be spoken and heard in the public realm.

As an immediate response, on September 21 the Graduate Theological Union gathered for a public forum on the topic "Preaching and Pastoral Care In A Time Of Terror," led by a series of thoughtful and challenging presentations by eight faculty members from the GTU member schools. In part inspired by this event, the Core Doctoral Faculty Advisory Committee to the Dean began planning an event that would engage the faculty in deep consideration of their sense of vocation as scholars of religion in light of the reality of terrorism and responses to it in the world of the twenty-first century. On February 20, 2002, this planning resulted in a forum entitled "Seeking Life Among the Debris: The Public Role of Religious Scholars," with remarkable presentations by William O'Neill, Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Tim Lull, and Rosemary Chinnici. These presentations are printed for wider distribution and for the purpose of continuing the discussion that was begun at that gathering of GTU Core Doctoral Faculty.

 

Foreword
Clare B. Fischer

The Place of a Public Theologian
William R. O'Neill, S.J.

An Instigating Signifier: The Impact of September 11th on my Scholarship
Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan

Theology Interrupted? My Work after September 11, 2001
Timothy F. Lull

The Role of the Theologian in Times of Terror
Rosemary Chinnici, S.L.

 

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