September 9, 2002
-- Martin E. Marty
The Chronicle of Higher Education, which gives ever more coverage to religion in the academy, gives space to it in its September 6 issue, "One Year Later." Samples: Kenneth W. Hearlson, a political science professor at Orange Coast College, is given a hearing after he was (possibly falsely) accused of calling Muslim students "terrorists and murderers" last September. He thinks he was attacked in part because he is a very public "conservative and a born-again Christian."
Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School charges "civil libertarians" and people "from the religious right" alike with having lost balance, as he defends his own idea that we must "collectively punish Palestinians," a view that many consider imbalanced.
Islamic specialist Kathryn M. Kueny finds herself among many "evangelical Christians" in Wisconsin where she teaches at Lawrence University. Defining her approach to all religions as critical, she sets student views of Islam into inter-religious, including Christian, contexts -- and likes to work with churches in the area to help correct misconceptions.
Laura Hobgood-Oster at Southwestern in Texas finds students now posing "the questions of how their philosophical and religious beliefs did matter" and are "an integral part of their lives."
At the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, historian Wilfred M. Clay "believes the United States risks taking secularism too far." He finds more reasons to worry about Islamic than Christian fundamentalism, and argues that the U.S. must view human dignity in "broadly biblical" terms.
Kuwaiti student Mashe'l Al-Dabbous at SUNY Buffalo wants to earn her Ph.D. and run, going back to Kuwait to help establish strong Ph.D. programs so "other students won't have to come to the U.S.," which she finds inhospitable.
Not surprisingly, Stanley Hauerwas of Duke, editor, with a colleague, of a special September 11th issue of The South Atlantic Quarterly, does most to keep readers off-balance, thanks to his being a "Christian intellectual known for his two-fisted pacifism." He published Notre Dame theologian Mike Baxter's critique of American Catholics for having done so little to question American religion and policy. Hauerwas does not like the heroization of those who died on 9/11: "To turn these deaths into martyrdom is something done for war-policy reasons, to fuel the desire for revenge. They've made people's deaths mean more than their lives ever could have. I don't like that at all." (See SAQ for the larger context of his views.)