Graduate Theological Union

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A Love of Writing and Learning

Reacting to her recognition as the Graduate Theological Union’s 2011 Alumna of the Year, Barbara Green, O.P., (M.A. ’76, Ph.D. ’80) said, “I wonder how I received this great honor. Some of my colleagues at GTU who are influential in such decisions were nice to put my name forward.” Green has been teaching as Professor of Biblical Studies at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology for twenty years.

Cross-Cultural Lens: Using multicultural theory to interpret Jesus

Kayko Driedger Hesslein’s daily life is both multicultural and multireligious: she is Canadian of Japanese and German descent and Lutheran. Her husband is both American and Jewish. Her two children have inherited all of these identities. Both as a pastor and as someone diving more deeply into theology, she has been trying to develop a language that explained her and her family’s multiplicious identities on a theological level.

Integrating Practices: Christianity and Buddhism

Daeseop Yi is a Ph.D. candidate who hails from South Korea. He came to study at San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2004 in the Doctor of Ministry program. During his program, he discerned a desire to study more deeply about how transformation within the spiritual process occurs. With this focus he entered the Ph.D. program. “While I was doing coursework in the Christian Spirituality Area, we had to study a religion and a discipline in addition to Christianity.” He became fascinated with Buddhism, he focused on comparing Christian and Buddhist traditions. “I realized that I had been living, integrating, and adopting Buddhist and other Indigenous practices, but studying in an academic way made it really interesting for me.”

Beyond Berkeley: Religion and Cultural Exchange

Courtney Bruntz came to the GTU unsure of exactly what direction she would take. “At that point I was really interested in interreligious work, but thought at some point I would focus solely on Buddhism and the religions of Asia. GTU was a really good place to start that process because of all the different member schools and centers of distinction.” Bruntz’s journey beyond her Lutheran upbringing in Nebraska began at the age of 19 when her sister got married. Her brother-in-law is a third generation Japanese American. She recalls that her brother-in-law’s grandmother kept initiating conversations on the wedding being interreligious and intercultural. “I hadn’t thought about the intersection of two cultures and faith traditions until then. That experience shaped my initial years at college.”

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Supports Two Outstanding Students

Sean Gross and Sheri Prud’homme are grateful recipients of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation scholarship — a two-year full tuition scholarship supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons of faith, or those endeavoring to insure faith communities’ understanding, affirmation, and inclusion of LGBT individuals. Both are 2nd-year Ph.D. students.

Resolving Conflict, Creating Dialog through Song

Izak Lattu has been practicing interfaith relations his whole life — literally. In the Indonesian Moluccan Islands (also known as Moluccas, the Maluku Islands, or the Spice Islands), where he grew up, there is a tradition called Gandong, which means there is one womb and one family, even among villages of different religions. For example, although both of his parents’ villages are Christian, they have a gandong relationship of mutual support with other nearby Muslim villages. Lattu’s elementary school was a Christian school, but 80% of the children attending were Muslims; many became his close friends. As an ordained pastor in the Protestant Church of the Moluccas, Lattu brought young Muslims and Christians together to study, dialog, work, and play at a Pesantren or Islamic boarding school.

Bridging Religions and Cultures through Art

Montazeri, interested in art from a young age, and herself a calligrapher, came to the U.S. with her husband just over a year ago from Tehran, Iran. Both wanted to study art. When reviewing UC Berkeley’s catalog in art history, she came upon a link to the GTU. “Most interesting to me was the great range in class offerings, from opportunities to study different faith traditions, to religion and art. I thought the GTU was meant for me!

Journey and Transformation: An artist walks the Camino

In 1993 on a trip to the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery in Montserrat, Spain, Amanda Schaffer wandered into a roomful of body parts. Not real body parts, but ex-votos — votive offerings to saints or deities. They have been found in ancient Egypt and Rome and also in the 21st century, given as fulfillment of a vow or in gratitude for a miracle or healing, and placed in churches, chapels, and destinations of pilgrimages. They can take a wide variety of forms, but often are symbols such as a modeled reproduction of a miraculously healed body part.

Explaining Economics from a Values Perspective

Growing up near Harlem, Laura Stivers (Ph.D. ’00) frequently saw homeless people. There was much diversity in her grade school and many children from poor homes. When she was eight, her family moved to the state of Washington where she lived in a predominately white suburban neighborhood. The social and economic inequalities she observed as a child and her father’s influence as a Christian ethicist, contributed, she says, to ethics and social justice becoming a focus of her teaching.

Jewish Studies Students Back from Poland

“I WENT TO POLAND to research the reputation of Yiddish writer Sholem Asch (1880-1957). Conversations with scholars in Warsaw and Krakow led me to Kutno, Asch’s birthplace, where I discovered that a biennial festival is held to honor him. I was surprised to discover the extent of Asch’s literary reputation in Poland outside the Jewish community. His works were extensively translated into Polish and are still in print. He was the first Jew to receive the Order of Polonia Restituta (Order of Rebirth of Poland). “It was remarkable to discover that right now, in Poland, a new narrative of Jewish experience is being constructed — about the rich texture and communal life of the Jewish community 800 years before the horrific events of the 20th century. While we should not forget the events of World War II, the Holocaust is no longer the only lens for viewing the Jewish story in Poland.” — Alan Shore, Ph.D. student in Jewish History and Culture

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