Not-so-casual conversation about calling, culture, and other things that make for lives worth living.
Hosted by Dr. David Henreckson, director of the Institute for Leadership and Service at Valparaiso University.
On Marilynne Robinson: Justin Ariel Bailey and Jessica Hooten Wilson
We’ve reached the end of our second season of Call & Character, and to wrap things up, we brought back two former guests—Justin Ariel Bailey and Jessica Hooten Wilson—to discuss the novels of Marilynne Robinson. We hope you enjoy what turned out to be a lively back and forth.
If you enjoy our conversation today, check out Jessica’s article on Robinson in Notre Dame’s Church Life Journal (https://churchlifejournal.nd.edu/articles/oconnor-or-robinson-the-gargoyle-and-the-cathedral/).
On Anti-Racism and Public Theology: Ekemini Uwan
(Our guest today is an upcoming speaker in Valparaiso University’s Pathways to Purpose lecture series.) Ekemini Uwan is a public theologian who received her Master of Divinity degree in 2016 from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. She is the co-host of Truth's Table podcast alongside Michelle Higgins and Dr. Christina Edmondson. In 2018, Christianity Today named her among "10 New or Lesser-Known Female Theologians Worth Knowing.” And in 2021, she earned the IMPACT Award from The Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience for work on Truth’s Table. Learn more at: www.sistamatictheology.com, and follow her on Twitter: @sista_theology.
On the Apostle Paul and the Good Life: Julien Smith
If human flourishing really is the purpose of our time on earth, if want to enjoy the delight and peace and completion of what it means to be truly human, what then? Where can we turn to find a better picture of the good life? Our guest today, Dr. Julien Smith, suggests that we might learn more about human flourishing from a somewhat surprising source: the apostle Paul.
On Living with Death: Todd Billings
Last fall, I was teaching on Confucius and ancient Chinese approaches to the good life. When we started reading about burial practices and the years of grieving rites that attended the death of a loved one, my students were taken aback. The attitudes—the seriousness, the enduring presence—of death was unfamiliar to them. I asked them how many of them had ever seen a dead body, even at a funeral, and only a couple hands went up.
The marginalization of death—its hiddenness—is strange and of course ultimately a fool’s errand. This past year, living through a pandemic has forced us to confront realities that many of us have spent years avoiding. Death is our neighbor now. And yet many of us aren’t equipped to talk or think about its presence.
Our guest today, Todd Billings, has written a bracing yet beautiful book, The End of the Christian Life: How Embracing Our Mortality Frees Us to Truly Live, published by Brazos last year. It is itself a sort of follow up to his 2015 book Rejoicing in Lament, which he wrote following his diagnosis with an incurable cancer.
On Grief and Prayer: Tish Harrison Warren
Darkness, whether literal or metaphor, leaves you exposed and diminished. Spiritual darkness, the topic of our guest’s new book, can put believers into an overburdened psychological state—our sense of God impaired, with reality moving as if in slow-motion. What do we do when confronted by the absence of God? How is prayer possible when your heart is hollowed out? Is there grace to be found in debilitating weakness? Is it foolish to hope to add to the litany of gospel beatitudes: Blessed are the vulnerable, the depressed, the godforsaken? Our guest today, Tish Harrison Warren, is the author of *Prayer in the Night*, which begins autobiographically with events that took place in 2017, when she went through her own period of bone-weary, heart-breaking loss and lament.
On Racism and the American Church
On January 6, white nationalists stormed the US Capitol—many of them carrying banners with phrases like “Jesus Saves” and “Make America Godly Again.” Various symbols and icons could be seen in the swarming crowds, including a ten-foot crucifix that rioters placed in the middle of a prayer circle and a large gallows and noose, that evoked (intentionally or not) the horrendous history of racial lynchings during the Jim Crow era. The images that started to appear were jarring and revolting, but also reminders that the legacy of ethnic supremacy and nationalism has been part of the American story from its inception. The cross and the lynching tree, the hymns and racist chants, the religious piety and the white nationalism--this is America. It takes an especially adept historian, cultural critic, and public scholar to extract the historical, moral, and theological lessons from these dark, complicated images. The day before the storming of the Capitol, Zondervan Books released a new volume from our guest, historian Jemar Tisby, How To Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice. This new work is a constructive follow up to his first book, The Color of Compromise, a historical analysis of the American church’s complicity in racial injustice.
Dr Henreckson is a great interviewer. He listens to his guests while guiding the conversation so that the podcast does not lose focus.
What a great first episode with Kristin Kobe’s DuMez!
If future episodes continue in the vein of episode 1, I’m sold. Really excellent interview that covered a lot of ground for half an hour (which is good news for me—I tend to prefer my podcasts on the longer side). Looking forward to more!