It’s not surprising that a consistent finding across multiple subfields of psychology is that people are creatures of habit. We mostly go through our days with preferred rhythms of sleeping, eating, working, playing, and engaging with others. But habits and preferences shape more than daily big-ticket items. They also influence the nano-second processes by which we perceive and judge the world around us. Our minds tend to work backward, starting with our preferences, to make rapid, automatized decisions about what to focus on, our initial responses, and the resulting positive feelings when information supports our preferred conclusions.1
So, I am always delighted when I see or read something that shakes me out of my automatized reverie, makes me think a bit harder, and dislocates how I think. This process is no less than what we recognize as learning. But it’s more than that. Rather than simply adding to an existing knowledge base, these precious “huh” moments remind us that things aren’t always what they seem, creating space in our knowledge structures and worldviews to reconfigure how we perceive, know, and engage. The articles in this issue caused me to pause and rethink what I thought I knew. They not only expanded my knowledge of their topics but also how I think (and feel) about the topics themselves.
As we tell the story of 20th-century fundamentalism, the standard narrative points to The Fundamentals, those 12 tracts published between 1910 and 1915, as providing its theological underpinnings. However, John G. Stackhouse Jr., the Samuel J. Mikolaski Chair of Religious Studies at Crandall University, in Moncton, Canada, argues in his paper, “Not Fundamentalist, not Conservative, and not Liberal: The Fundamentals and the Mainstream of American Evangelicalism,” that The Fundamentals played no such role, writing, “Everyone knows that American Protestantism generally divided into fundamentalist and liberal camps in the 1920s. And many people know that fundamentalism derives from The Fundamentals, early-twentieth-century tracts that reduced the rich doctrinal heritage of Christianity down to five points of do-or-die orthodoxy. Neither of these putative facts, however, is true.” He adds, “The Fundamentals were not very important even to the movement that took its name from them—let alone to the larger culture.”
Lindsey Short, associate professor of Psychology at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario, stands another idea on its head; we may think that we never forget a face, but generally, we are not very good at recognizing and recalling faces that are racially different from our own. In “A Christian Framework for Expertise and Biases in Face Processing: Reconciling Modern Research in Face Perception within a Creation, Fall, Redemption Narrative,” Short creates a dialogue between psychological science and the neo-Calvinist theological narrative of the title that, in her own words, “illustrate[s] why we were created to be experts in face processing and how deficits in this ability came to be. Moreover, unlike traditional evolutionary models, the integrative Christian framework provides a model for how to best overcome relational conflicts that can result from such biases in perception.”
The Apostle Paul, in Romans 1:22, makes clear that the “wise” are not always steeped in wisdom. How might Paul’s writings for the 1st century speak 21st-century wisdom for those engaged in a Christ-aminated life of the mind? In “The Romans 1 File: Moral Realism and the Christian Scholar,” David Lyle Jeffrey, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, and Jeff Levin, University Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, and Professor of Medical Humanities, both at Baylor University, write “convinced that Romans 1 and indeed the whole of Paul’s letter are under-used resources among Christian scholars across the disciplines, we attempt to show here that the text offers helpful analysis to scholars researching, teaching, and writing in a strikingly similar contemporary Western culture.” They end their piece with principles to aid working in an academic setting that does not embrace or is even hostile to truth claims, especially if they are foundational to the Christian faith.
Alex Sosler, assistant professor of Bible and ministry at Montreat College, writes in “Going to School with Marilynne Robinson: Sacramental Education as Alternative Paradigm for Faith Integration” that the irony of integration models for faith and learning is a worldview that assumes some secular/sacred knowledge divide, that as co-laborers with God we are charged to reassemble what has been broken apart by the fall. Instead, Sosler uses the work of Marilynne Robinson to argue for a sacramental view of education, whose starting presupposition assumes all things are infused with God’s presence. He writes, “in a sacramental vision, all the goodness, beauty, and sacredness are already there latent within a subject; the educator’s job is to help notice it.” Sosler emphasizes learning as new ways of seeing, developing pre-cognitive imagination, and being informed by charity while wary of ever-present blind spots.
Christian hospitality and charitable engagement in classrooms are timely topics with continued interest. In this issue’s “Perspectives” essay, “Welcoming the Student Writer: Hospitable Christian Pedagogy for First-Year Writing,” Alison Gibson, senior lecturer of English and the writing director at Wheaton College, reviews the literature on the meaning of hospitality and its applications in academia adding, “But the Christian writer and teacher must ask more: How can I be transformed more fully into the image of Christ through my writing and teaching? What does Scripture tell me about the role of hospitality in the Christian story? How can my writing and teaching participate in that narrative?” Gibson then shares her in-depth and holistic approach to bilateral Christ-centered hospitality in first-year writing classes.
We have an outstanding collection of book reviews curated by our book review editor, Steve Oldham. While also posted on this issue’s website, each book review will be highlighted in an upcoming Thursday blog.
In this issue:
- Eric L. Johnson (Houston Baptist University) reviews Mark Regnerus’ The Future of Christian Marriage (Oxford University Press, 2020).
- Richard Roberson (Messiah University) reviews Nathan Myrick’s Music for Others: Care, Justice, and Relational Ethics in Christian Music (Oxford University Press, 2021).
- Leonard D. Van Drunen (Calvin University) reviews Hannah J. Stolze’s Wisdom-Based Business: Applying Biblical Principles and Evidence-Based Research for a Purposeful and Profitable Business (Zondervan Academic, 2021).
- Benjamin J. McFarland (Seattle Pacific University) reviews The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (Farrar, Straus , and Giroux, 2021) by David Graeber and David Wengrow.
- Lynn H. Cohick (Northern Seminary) reviews Amy-Jill Levine’s Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday (Abingdon, 2021).
- Louis Markos (Houston Baptist University) reviews David Rozema’s Inklings of Things Unseen: Philosophical Essays on Literature (Chisokudo Publications, 2022).
- T. M. Moore (The Fellowship of Ailbe) reviews Vern S. Poythress’ Redeeming Our Thinking about History: A God-Centered Approach (Crossway, 2022).
- Roger E. Olson (Baylor University) reviews Mark A. Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (with a new preface and afterword: Eerdmans, 2022).
- Jacob Shatzer (Union University) reviews A Christian Field Guide to Technology for Engineers and Designers (IVP Academic, 2022) by Ethan J. Brue, Derek C. Schuurman, and Steven H. VanderLeest.
- N. S. Boone (Harding University) reviews Angie Macri’s Sunset Cue (Bordighera Press, 2022).
- Mark R. Schwehn (Valparaiso University) reviews Perry L. Glanzer’s The Dismantling of Moral Education: How Higher Education Reduced the Human Identity (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2022).
- Brian Howell (Wheaton College) reviews Norman Wirzba’s Agrarian Spirit: Cultivating Faith, Community, and the Land (University of Notre Dame Press, 2022).