Faculty speak on today’s social issues

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Faculty speak on today’s social issues

The six participants were socially distanced on stage at the Oct. 20 forum. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

The first of three Faculty Forums scheduled for this semester, “Can Culture Cancel History?” was presented in Stratton Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The six participants were socially distanced on stage at the Oct. 20 forum. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

The next two forums, “Protest and Democracy” and “Medicine, the Media and Politics,” will take place Oct. 27 and Nov. 10, respectively.

Dr. Gary Weier, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said the significant events taking place in our country make it critical to model biblical thinking by addressing the issues in these forums.

He and other faculty also believe that engaging the events of today and evaluating them in a biblical light is part of the unique educational experience offered at BJU.

Linda Abrams, faculty member in the Division of History, Government and Social Science, said, “We want to illustrate that there’s biblical teaching that speaks into these current issues . . . and how do we interact with people with whom we disagree.”

Weier said another reason these forums are so important is because so much of our generation’s information comes through social media where many times people present only extremes or biased views. This content gets views and likes on social media because of its sensationalism, but it causes great harm when it is the sole source of information on current events.

“Social media by its nature gives us a very incomplete picture,” Weier said. His desire and the desire of other faculty and staff is for this type of discussion—modeled by the faculty forums—to take preeminence over social media and allow spiritual understanding and cultural context to influence the conversations of Christian students, whether the people they are engaging agree or disagree.

Weier served as moderator for the first event. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

“Can Culture Cancel History?” included speakers Dr. Lonnie Polson, Dr. Brent Cook and Dr. Brenda Schoolfield. Polson is a faculty member in the Division of Communication and has taught as a faculty member in the division for 38 years.

Cook earned his undergraduate degree in history and has conducted extensive research on the indigenous peoples of North America, and Schoolfield is the chair of the Division of History, Government and Social Science.

In addition to these faculty members, Dr. Toney Parks, Sr. Pastor of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Greenville, joined the discussion. Through pastoring for 29 years and filling the role of chaplain for the Greenville Police Department, Dr. Parks has gained experience and a depth of social understanding that was an invaluable addition to the forum.

The second forum, “Protest and Democracy,” will occur on Oct. 27 and include Lillian Brock Flemming. Flemming is one of the first three African American women to graduate from Furman University. She was a distinguished educator in Greenville and was the first African American woman to be elected to the Greenville City Council, where she is currently the longest-serving member.

Weier said it’s valuable to have members of the Greenville community join in to discuss current events. “[They provide] depth of knowledge and personal experience that . . . will help all of us to understand the significance of these events and how we should think about them.”

The third and final faculty forum will be held in Stratton Hall at 7 p.m. on Nov. 10, the Tuesday after the 2020 presidential election, and will discuss “Medicine, the Media and Politics.” This forum intends to examine how the coronavirus, a biological issue, has become a political issue—especially one that is so divisive.