New Wine in Old Backpacks

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In response to what I’ve written over the last few times, a friend and colleague pointed out that all the resources I suggested would be good for students to read, and to read with students, were written by men. In a comment on the article on The Network, a friend and colleague asked, “Don't any Christian women write books and blogs about faith and life at the university?” Although it is always embarrassing to have your hidden biases revealed, however unintentional they are, I am thankful that she asked the question. I was dutifully putting good old wine in those well-worn backpacks heading off to university. But she is right, these backpacks need new wine, even if, or especially if, it means they burst!

If you would like to explore resources written by women about faith and life at the university, a good starting point is InterVarsity’s The Well. This site offers a rich range of perspectives, support and content.

There is one book that I think should definitely be put in the backpack of those who are part of the university community, and for those who are seeking to support them. I think it should also be in the backpack of leaders in our congregations. While not a new book, having been published in 2003, “Philosophy, Feminism and Faith”, edited by Ruth E. Groenhout and Marya Bower is a an excellent resource on multiple levels.

First, I believe it is accessible and helpful to more than just those who are interested in philosophy. The essays in this volume address many life issues, questions, and important issues that cut across the various academic disciplines and interests. Issues of racism, rape culture, justice, diversity, wisdom, and learning are all given deep and thoughtful treatment through the lenses of philosophy, feminism and faith. Secondly, the form of these essays are different. Often told in an autobiographical voice, coupled with excellent scholarship, the three strands of philosophy, feminism and faith, are both teased out and re-woven in ways that are certainly different from dominant forms and perspectives. Lastly, and perhaps because of the way they are written and the ways in which they address the topics, these essays invite dialogue and change.

In the introductions, the editors say “…it is our hope that these essays will offer younger philosophers a resource for thinking through the complexities of our lives.” They certainly do that, and I would suggest they do it for more than just young philosophers, just for women, or just for those at university. If you are looking for insight and help in supporting those who study and work on college campuses, or are seeking to understand how to follow God and live well in community amidst the complexities of life today, add this to your backpack. Just be warned, it will probably burst some of those old seams.

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