How to talk about tough topics
What types of difficult topics do each of you face in your role at Messiah College?
As dean of students
, I help students to consider the relationship between behavior and Christianity within the context of Messiah College, and also discuss with them topics related to women in leadership.
In addition to serving as chair of the Department of Communication
, I also am the faculty advisor to the campus radio station, WVMM
. In this capacity, I guide students in deciding upon the music and programming for the station.
In my role as director of public relations and College communications
, I try to help particularly the secular media understand how Messiah College processes tough issues even within the realm of Christianity. I also try to help our constituents understand Messiah College’s engagement of popular culture.
A key issue I deal with as vice president of advancement
is how Messiah College engages the campus in popular culture—lectures, films, and concerts. I also face discussions about how we teach the Bible.
I respond to students’ experience of racism and discrimination both through
leading classroom discussions as an associate professor of psychology
and through counseling multicultural students in the Engle Health Center. The second related topic I deal with is how to implement a more multicultural curriculum.
As associate College pastor
, some of the most common issues I deal with regularly are disagreements about worship styles and forms of spirituality, such as the use of spiritual gifts. Other hot topics tend to include the peace stance of the College, religion and politics, and issues related to homosexuality.
As director of alumni and parent relations
, I face the same questions Carla and Barry do about engaging popular culture. How do we help off-campus constituents interpret our engagement of popular culture, not as an endorsement of everything a lecturer, performer, or film stands for, but as an attempt to engage and analyze cultural influences in the context of a Christian community?
As advisor of the Student Activities Board
, I receive a lot of questions about the way that we engage pop culture
, particularly why we host “secular” bands, in addition to Christian bands.
For me, as a lecturer in Bible
, the first big issue is the Bible itself: how students engage with the biblical texts, how they grapple with pulling that into their lives today, and all those types of topics. The second thing for me is Christianity itself: helping students understand all our various branches of Christianity as being culturally conditioned and guiding them to think critically about their faith.
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