Augustine Collective Journals in the New York Times
Several member journals of the Augustine Collective were mentioned in a January 16, 2016 New York Times op-ed on evangelical students on secular campuses. Evangelical students, writes Molly Worthen, have been compelled “to seek serious conversation about humans’ profound disagreements over morality and the nature of truth — questions that campus liberals, despite their professed concern for dialogue and critical thinking, often avoid in the name of tolerance and inclusion.”
Undergraduate journals of Christian thought, publications like the Harvard Ichthus and The Logos at Yale, have also multiplied on elite campuses in recent years. When Andrew Schuman arrived at Dartmouth in 2006, he and some like-minded freshmen founded Apologia, a semiannual journal that aims “to think critically, question honestly, and link arms with anyone who searches for truth and authenticity.”
“A lot of students who weren’t Christian were excited by its appearance,” Mr. Schuman told me. “A lot of us have spiritual questions, but we’re uncertain how to ask them. The journal draws on a millennia-old tradition of faith and reason to give a vocabulary for those questions.”
In 2011, Andrew Schuman and Tim Norton co-founded the Augustine Collective, a network of Christian journals on college campuses written and produced by students and advised by faculty. Today, the Collective comprises and supports more than fifteen Christian journals which seek to reinvigorate thoughtful conversation about faith on campus.
One of the newest journals — The Columbia Crown & Cross, founded in 2014 — was also highlighted in the New York Times:
The staff and students involved in these study centers and journals position themselves not as evangelists, but as conveners of a conversation meant to grapple with the ideological divides that secular liberalism’s mantra of tolerance so often elides: How do people with clashing assumptions about what is real and good communicate and coexist?
To Philip Jeffery, a junior at Columbia, this question is at the heart of the recent wave of student activism — although he says older observers rarely seem to understand. “I keep seeing these articles about ‘coddling,’” he told me. “When you ask the question, what are the assumptions about human nature that are driving these things, you realize it’s more than people wanting a safe space to talk about trigger warnings.”
Mr. Jeffery has tried to bring those conflicting assumptions to the surface of campus debate through Columbia’s Christian journal Crown & Cross as well as his work for the Veritas Forum, an international organization that sponsors Christian speakers and interfaith dialogue on college campuses.
“The thing you’ll run into with any of the campus activists that I’ve encountered is this idea that human nature is a collection of identity categories, that I as a human being am composed of a gender identity, a sexual identity, a racial identity and so forth,” he said. “Their perception of Christians, or of religious people more generally, is: ‘O.K., these are people who have this one identity category, religion, and the religion they identify as is overstepping its bounds. It’s telling my gender or sexual identity how to act.’ The Christian response has to be: There’s something more to what a human being is than just these collective attributes.”
In addition to Christian journals, academic Christian study centers have proliferated in recent years, with students seeking to create space to engage in thoughtful religious dialogue on their campuses.
The centers position themselves as forums where students can hash out the tensions between their faith and the assumptions of secular academia — the same assumptions that have assailed more traditional ministries. They are, in a sense, spiritual “safe spaces” that offer cozy libraries, reading groups and public lectures, and sometimes advertise their ethos with names that honor Christian intellectuals who embraced the life of the mind (Chesterton House at Cornell is named for the English writer and lay theologian; Rivendell Institute at Yale evokes the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which many Christians read as a subtle tribute to its author’s faith).
“The overall message is that the Christian faith is a viable thing in the world we live in, that it’s possible to live faithfully and think hard about whatever topic we’re discussing,” said Jay McCabe, a staff member at the Center for Christian Study at the University of Virginia.
Read more in the full article at the New York Times.Tags: academia, Andrew Schuman, Augustine Collective, campus, Christian journal, college, Dartmouth Apologia, Dartmouth College, Evangelical, faith, Harvard Ichthus, Harvard University, Molly Worthen, New York Times, reason, Tim Norton, trigger warnings, university, veritas forum, Yale Logos, Yale University