Category Archives: Way-In Discussion Series

Way-In: Black History Month

 

Introduction
Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, grew out of an initiative called Negro History Week, begun by Carter Woodson in 1926. Black History Month was first celebrated at Kent State in 1970 and has since received official recognition from many countries. This annual celebration recognizes the central role of blacks in the history of the United States. Many initiatives have been launched as a result of Black History Month. For example, in 1940, the US Postal Service created a stamp series to honor African Americans and their contributions. On January 28 of this year, the Post Office issued the 178th stamp in this series; it featured actor, singer, and dancer Gregory Hines.

Regent University Faculty Way-In
This month our featured faculty expert is Robert Schwarzwalder, Director of Regent University’s Center for Christian Thought and Action and Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Education. He also serves as director of the Charles B. Koch Foundation Leaders program. Schwarzwalder’s research includes an examination of Francis J. Grimke’s contributions to efforts to establish racial equality. Grimke said, “race prejudice can’t be talked down, it must be lived down.”

Excerpts from “Francis J. Grimke: Prophet of Racial Justice, Skeptic of American Power”
“Grimke was the grandson of John Faucheraud Grimke, an associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court and wealthy slave holder. His father, attorney and plantation owner Henry Grimke, had children by his white wife and then, after her death, lived in a husband-wife relationship with one of his slaves, Nancy Weston (interracial marriage was then illegal).

“After Henry’s death, one of his all-white sons sold Francis into slavery to a Confederate officer. Yet following the war, the talented young man attended Lincoln University, graduating as the school’s valedictorian…and thereafter started law school at Howard University in 1872. However, sensing the call to Christian ministry, he applied to and was accepted at the nation’s premier theological institution, Princeton Theological Seminary… Grimke went to the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church (sometimes referred to as the “Colored Presbyterian Church”) in Washington, D.C., where he served as pastor for roughly 40 years.

Francis James Grimke (1850-1937)

“In a letter to the members of Princeton Seminary class of 1878 on the event of the 40th anniversary of their graduation, Grimke summarized his ministry:

‘During these forty years two things I have tried to do with all my might: (1) To preach the gospel of the grace of God – to get men to see their need of a saviour, and to accept of Jesus Christ as the way, they truth, the life … (2) I have sought with all my might to fight race prejudice, because I believe it is utterly un-Christian, and that it is doing almost more than anything else to curse our own land and country and the world at large.'”

 

Artistic Works
Music
Robert Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) was a Canadian-American Black composer noted for his deeply expressive and unique choral and piano literature. Dett was a professing Christian. Dett was educated at Harvard, Oberlin Music Conservatory, and Eastman School of Music. He worked to preserve spirituals, and his music fused Negro folk music with European art music, such as his Chariot Jubilee, Ave Maria, and Listen to the Lambs, performed here by the Robert Nathaniel Dett Chorale, which was formed in 1998 to perform and perpetuate Dett’s work. He wrote a prize winning book titled The Emancipation of Negro Music and a book of poetry titled The Album of a Heart.

Art
Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) was the first African American artist who achieved international acclaim. Tanner became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopalian Church. His paintings specialized in religious subjects. He was named an honorary chevalier of the Order of the Legion Honoe in 1923, France’s most distinguished award.

The Annunciation (1898), Henry Ossawa Tanner

 

Nicodemus Visiting Jesus (1899), Henry Ossawa Tanner

Film
The Rosa Parks Story (2002)

For additional historic and current films and documentaries, search our Films on Demand and Academic Video Online media resources for scholarly, informative and thought provoking videos.

Response
As you think about this important memorial month, consider the ongoing concerns and how you address them, such as:

  • Diversity and inclusion issues
  • Macro and micro aggressions
  • Ongoing racial discrimination

Please post your responses, comments, and reflections. Thank you for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration.

Regent Resources

Each year Regent University celebrates Black History month with various events. This year, on February 7, the Association of Black Psychologists hosted a discussion on “The Misdiagnosis of Unrecognized Trauma in African American Youth.” On February 26, the Student Activities Board hosted a Black History Month night of celebration in the Library Atrium featuring art, trivia, dancing and soul food. Last year, the Library created a display featuring many books and contributions by African Americans.

Black History Month display in the Library, 2019

Helpful Links

About the Way-In Discussion Series

Regent University Library, the intellectual hub of the campus, invites the Regent community to engage in conversation, discussion, and exploration of life’s challenging issues. Each month, the topic explored will concern wicked issues, that is, complex situations where no one answer is sufficient. Often the Christian perspective is absent from these kinds of conversations. The Way-In series encourages the inclusion of Christian perspectives, Scriptural insights, and Divine wisdom.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). If Jesus is the Way, what might a Christian response to various challenging issues look like? We invite you to peruse some Regent University faculty perspectives, explore some resources on the topic, and most importantly, “weigh in” and provide your reflections and responses in the comments section. We will respond with a YouTube recording to answer questions and respond to your comments in a few weeks.

Proverbs 16:16 reminds us that getting wisdom is better than gold, and insight better than silver. Together, let us explore the wisdom available to us as we consider these topics.

Way-In: The 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

Introduction
January 27, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp. Piotr Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz Museum, has stated that “The year 2020 will also be special due to two anniversaries related to the memory: The 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration, under which the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research was established, today the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; and the 15th anniversary of the adoption of 27 January as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations General Assembly. Both events symbolically took place on 27 January, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.”1

Regent University Faculty Way-In
This month our featured faculty expert is Dr. William Skiles, Assistant Professor of History, who also teaches courses in the Department of General Education and the Department of Government, History, and Criminal Justice. His research focuses on the history of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany and the history of Jewish and Christian relations. Here is Dr. Skiles’ Way-In:

“On this 75th anniversary, we remember the one million Jews the Nazis murdered in the death camp at Auschwitz. And we remember the survivors, those who have borne witness to the Nazi atrocities in World War II. In remembrance, we renew our commitment to ensure this world is a better place and that another Holocaust never happen again.
“As Christians at a liberal arts institution, I would encourage reflection on two important points as we remember the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. First, the long tradition of Christian antisemitism contributed to the perpetration of the Holocaust, and we as Christians have a responsibility to fight against antisemitism in our churches. Germany in 1933 was 97% Christian, and it was professing Christians who voted the Nazis into office and supported the regime. It was Christians who participated in the exclusion of Jews from German public life, and indeed, the perpetration of the Holocaust. Let us be vigilant in eradicating all traces of antisemitism in our churches, from the content of our teaching and the messages in our sermons, to the elements in our liturgies.
“Second, as members of a liberal arts institution, we have a duty to ensure that our work is driven by our love for God and our neighbors, and informed by Scripture, so that can actively contribute to human flourishing, both as individuals and as a community. We would do well to remember that the perpetration of the Holocaust involved the well-educated engineers and architects who built the camps and crematorium; the lawyers who drafted and supported antisemitic laws; the doctors who made the selections of life and death at the camps; and the university professors who endorsed Nazi ideology in their classrooms and in their research. And the list could go on. Let us continually re-evaluate our work here at the university to ensure we are contributing to human flourishing.
“This 75th anniversary is a reminder that our fight against racial prejudice is ongoing and integral to our work here at Regent University.”

Read more from Dr. Skiles on the Confessing Church:

  • William Skiles, “Spying in God’s House: The Nazi Secret Police and Sermons of Opposition,” in Church History and Religious Culture, 98 (2018), 425-447.
  • William Skiles, “Protests from the Pulpit: The Confessing Church and the Sermons of World War II,” in Sermon Studies 1, no. 1, (2017), 1-23. Retrieved from https://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=sermonstudies
  • William Skiles, “‘The Bearers of Unholy Potential’: Confessing Church Sermons on the Jews and Judaism,” in Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 11, no. 1, (2016), 1-29. doi: https://doi.org/10.6017/scjr.v11i1.9498

Here are a few artistic works that reflect on the Holocaust:

Music
I Never Saw Another Butterfly (aka The Butterfly) is one movement in a choral song cycle composed by Charles Davidson. Davidson set poems that were written by Jewish children imprisoned in Theresienstadt (Terezin), where they awaited transport to a death camp. This poem was written by Pavel Friedman. The Milken Archive offers more information and a taste of each of the tracks in the cycle. Click here to listen to the first section of The Butterfly performed by the San Francisco Girls Choir. A full recording, sung by the Northwest Girls Choir is available by clicking here. It will touch you deeply,

Art
Many valuable art works were stolen from Jewish families by the Nazis during the Holocaust. One that has received attention is the 1907 painting by Klimt titled Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Click here for an article about Maria Altman’s legal battle to recover the painting stolen from her family.

Film
Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I became the subject of the 2015 film Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren. Click here to view the trailer. For background on the painting’s provenance, Nazi looting of art collections and the legal dispute between MAria Altman and the Austrian government, see the documentary film The Art of the Heist: The Lady in Gold.

Regent Response
You may recall that last year, Regent University hosted the Beyond Duty exhibit, which honored 36 diplomats who risked their lives and the safety of their families to save Jews during the Holocaust. In the past, Regent has also hosted the What We Carry exhibit.

As you think about this anniversary, consider the ongoing issues such as:

How do you respond to these impacts? How does it affect you? What are you doing to address these concerns? Please post your comments, reflections, and questions below. Our faculty expert, Dr. William Skiles, will provide insightful responses in an upcoming YouTube session which will be announced here shortly.

Thank you for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration.

Regent Resources

Torah Scroll
The Library has a Torah scroll in our Special Collections department. The scroll was copied in Yemen in the 18th century and may be viewed by making an appointment Call 757-352-4185.

Related Regent University Faculty Books and Articles

Helpful Links

Please feel free to share other helpful resources!

For more about the Library’s newly-launched Way-In discussion series see the Library Link announcement.

To comment on this post or share your thoughts about the Holocaust and how it is remembered, click here.

– Dr. Esther R. Gillie, Dean of the University Library

1“Auschwitz-Birkenau,” Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau, accessed January 25, 2020, http://auschwitz.org/en/home-page75/

Library Launches the Way-In Discussion Series

Regent University Library, the intellectual hub of the campus, invites the Regent community to engage in conversation, discussion, and exploration of life’s challenging issues. Each month, the topic explored will concern wicked issues, that is, complex situations where no one answer is sufficient. Often the Christian perspective is absent from these kinds of conversations. The Way-In series encourages the inclusion of Christian perspectives, Scriptural insights, and Divine wisdom.

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). If Jesus is the Way, what might a Christian response to various challenging issues look like? We invite you to peruse some Regent University faculty perspectives, explore some resources on the topic, and most importantly, “weigh in” and provide your reflections and responses in the comments section. We will respond with a YouTube recording to answer questions and respond to your comments in a few weeks.

Proverbs 16:16 reminds us that getting wisdom is better than gold, and insight better than silver. Together, let us explore the wisdom available to us as we consider these topics.

– Dr. Esther R. Gillie, Dean of the University Library