ARCU Lectureship 2016-2017
Christopher Schlect Ph.D.
New Saint Andrews College,
405 S Main Street
(P.O. Box 9025) Moscow, ID 83843
Christopher R. Schlect is a Fellow of History at New Saint Andrews College and also teaches history at Washington State University in nearby Pullman, WA. At both institutions he teaches introductory and advanced courses in classical, European and United States history.
He also does historical interpretation as a ranger for the National Park Service. He holds degrees in History from the University of Idaho (M.A.) and Washington State University (B.A. and Ph.D.). Dr. Schlect has earned numerous competitive fellowships in support of his ongoing research on American religion and the culture wars of the 1920s and ‘30s. He frequently lectures on topics related to classical education and church history.
He is author of Critique of Modern Youth Ministry, The Christian Worldview and Apologetics and an official history of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. His articles have appeared in Credenda/Agenda, Table Talk, Classis, and the National Park Service’s “Getaway” series. He has also contributed chapters to Repairing the Ruins: The Classical and Christian Challenge to Modern Education (Canon Press), the Omnibus series (Veritas Press), and the Latin Alive series (Classical Academic Press).
Mr. Schlect is a teaching elder at Trinity Reformed Church (CREC) in Moscow, Idaho. He and his wife, Brenda, have five children.
Lecture Topics :
Onward Christian Administrators
“This is the day of the efficiency expert,” declared the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1912. “Great enterprises are employing such experts to indicate to them the most efficient and economic methods of administration.” In that year, Presbyterians hired a full-time efficiency expert to help streamline denominational boards and agencies. In doing so they set an example for local churches to follow. E. Morris Fergusson, the educational superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Sabbath School Work, announced, “The local church needs an educational engineer—one technically and ecclesiastically competent to take charge, control movements and secure results.” Effective pastors, he said, will exhibit “technical fitness.” Larger local churches hired efficiency specialists, distinct from pastors, who administrated a wise scope of religious functions, of which traditional pastoral work was merely one facet.
At the turn of the 20th century, Protestants across the United States systematized their religious activities, placed administration at the center of their religious lives, and exalted organizational efficiently as a preeminent Christian virtue. Thus emerged a uniquely modern spiritual awakening, a new addition to the variety of renewal movements that Christians have embraced throughout their history. Over the centuries, some of the faithful have met Jesus in prayer. Others encountered him in baptism, or at the communion table where they broke bread and shared the cup. Still others found him in seclusion, in miracles, in fasting and other deprivations, in performing selfless acts of charity, in music, and in soul-stirring sermons. In this era, however, American Protestants met Jesus by organizing. They partook of divine grace in activities that could be diagrammed on flow charts, tallied in ledgers, or moved, seconded, adopted, and recorded in minutes.
Print Culture and Protestant Culture in the Early 20th Century
A church’s bulletin is “excellent for cementing the thought of the people to the church,” claimed Herbert H. Smith. In the early 20th-century, American Protestants employed small-time Hearsts and Pulitzers to occupy new church office spaces, where they inked and turned the drums of their mimeograph or multigraph duplicators. They deployed new duplicating technology to generate bulletins, calendars, newsletters, fliers and form letters, and transformed their communities. Before this era, church communities had been formed around face-to-face exchanges in Sunday gatherings. But now, Protestants no longer bound themselves to one another by hearing sermons, singing hymns, praying together, nor by other ritual acts. Now they formed spiritual bonds around print.
Historians have observed how, at around the turn of the 20th century, print supported the construction of a national identity. Modern financing and distribution networks allowed publishers, writers and advertisers to set their values into print and place them on coffee tables from coast to coast. This lecture describes a similar process at work in local church contexts. In the 1910s, savvy marketers began pitching their table-top duplicators to church leaders, who eagerly introduced them into their congregations. Pastors discovered that form letters and newsletters could reach parishioners more efficiently than traditional door-to-door visitation. Parishioners began identifying with one another through their shared experience of reading about local church life. They participated vicariously in church activities they had not attended by reading about them. Denominational executives supported local printing activities and used them to link local and denominational causes together.
Pearl Buck, Overseas Missions, and America’s Contest over Masculinity and Femininity in Interwar Protestantism
Newspapers across the United States and around the world took notice when novelist Pearl S. Buck resigned from her missionary post in 1933. The controversy surrounding this famous missionary-turned-novelist reveals an international dimension to battles over the tradition-defying “new women” back home in the United States, battles that troubled gender roles within Protestant communities at the time.
Writing from her missionary post in China, Buck compared the progressive young Chinese women around her to the flappers she read about back home in the United States. Her writings added to a growing literature by missionaries who reported their efforts to elevate the social position of women abroad. Western missionaries sought to unveil Muslim women, unbind the feet of Chinese women, and advance literacy among unlettered women around the world. Church women on the home front in the United States participated vicariously in these missionary activities through financial support, prayer, hosting missionaries on furlough, and circulating missionary writings in their church publications. While overseas missionaries advanced women’s causes in cross-cultural contexts, they inspired their sisters on the home front to elevate their position in their own churches.
These women on the home front took an interest when Buck drew fire for her edgy theological pronouncements. Church officials rose to defend their celebrity missionary, but drew upon traditional gendered attitudes in doing so. They cast Buck as a domesticated matron who had given her life to nurturing “childlike” Chinese, and they portrayed her critics as “ungentlemanly” for attacking a woman. Feeling damned by the faint praise of her own denominational supporters, Buck resigned her missionary post. Many of the laywomen who she had inspired grew outraged. Ironically, the very churchmen who defended Buck as a weak woman are the same men who, only three years earlier, had pushed their denomination to admit women to ecclesiastical office. Pearl Buck’s high-profile resignation from her missionary post shows that extending ordination to women still left traditional gendered attitudes intact.
Early Football and the American Way
Why did Yale spend a fortune to build a football stadium in 1913, while its library sat leaky and dilapidated? Why did the president of Georgetown University compare spending university funds on football to offering P. T. Barnum a faculty chair in educational philosophy? Why was the game banned on many campuses in the early 1900s?
Americans have been playing their peculiar variety of football for a hundred years. This strange and violent game evolved in an era when the United States came of age, entering the twentieth century on the cusp of becoming a world power. Competing visions of manly virtue and social reform collided over the gridiron; some defended the game while others called for its abolition. These controversies produced a sprawling 112-page rule book enforced by a new intercollegiate organization of college administrators (the NCAA). This result points to a new moral sensibility that has dominated U.S. culture ever since. We cultivate virtue by means of written rules and administrative codes. Libertines justify offensive behavior on the grounds that there are no rules against it, and Pharisees react by legislating more rules.
The genesis of American football challenges popular narratives of moral decline from an enshrined and virtuous past—narratives to which Christians are especially susceptible. It also reminds us that history is about more than the doings of kings, soldiers and parliaments. History is also about the games we play.
Craig E. Mattson, Ph.D
Trinity Christian College
6601 W. College Dr.
Palos Heights, IL 6046
Craig Mattson (PhD, communication studies, Regent University) conducts rhetorical inquiry into the interaction of discourse and attention, grounding his work in the thought of Michael Polanyi and William Desmond. Craig has completed undergraduate and masters‑level work in interpretive performance and spent his years before Trinity hosting a morning radio program. He has taught and studied at Trinity since 2002 and serves as chair of the Communication Arts Department and as Director of the Honors Program. His wife, Rhoda, serves as Trinity’s Director of the Education Unit and is active in education policy on behalf of the college both in Springfield and in Chicago. They have four children and live in Midlothian, Illinois.
Lecture Topics :
Rhetoric and the Ethics of Attention
Contemporary citizens worry that screens and speakers and gadgets have created a culture-wide attention deficit disorder. See the punditry of wildly popular titles, many of which have short titles for distracted readers: Blink (Gladwell), Rapt (Gallagher), Quiet (Cain), and The Shallows (Carr). But these works offer a thin account of the interaction of speech and attention. This lecture draws on Christian theology and rhetorical theory in order to extend three theses about an ethics of attention.
Attention, Shoppers! Social Enterprise and Christian Faithfulness
Should Christians buy TOMS shoes? Is it ethically responsible to address world problems by becoming a conscious consumer? Ignore, for the moment, the usual criticisms: that TOMS is psychologically manipulative (buying these products just makes the shopper feel good) and that TOMS is economically obstructive (dumping shoes in Haiti hurts local business). This campaign’s digital mediation practices a viral rhetoric requiring a different critique than the standard criticisms brought against social enterprise. This lecture draws on Christian theology in order to examine Blake Mycoskie’s TOMS campaign as a case study in attention oscillating between doing good and buying stuff.
What Is Eloquence Good for?
We live in a time when speech has been emptied out. Everything has been texted, emailed, tweeted, posted, tagged, liked, yik-yakked, and commented-upon before we can even open our mouths. Does practicing eloquent speech matter? This talk examines the rhetoric of one character in the Book of Job—a frank and copiously spoken man named Elihu. Unlike all the other characters in this drama, he seeks to recover Job’s speech, not just his stuff. This lecture seeks to equip more Elihus for the conversations of our communities—an urgent task in a day of when digital mediation and social networking too often disclose how little we find to say well.
Craig E. Mattson, Ph.D, Communication Studies, Regent University
Ryan McIlhenny, Professor of History, Providence Christian College
Dr. Deborah Bowen, Professor of English, Redeemer University College
Dr. Donald Sinnema, Professor of Theology, Trinity Christian College
Dr. Keith Charles Sewell, Professor of History, Dordt College
Dr. Peter J. Leithart, Senior Fellow of Theology and Literature, New Saint Andrews
Dr James Payton, Jr, Professor of History, Redeemer University College
Dr John Wood, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, King's University College
Dr Charles Adams, Professor of Engineering, Dordt College
Dr Susan Felch, Professor of English, Calvin College
Dr Michael Vander Weele, Professor of English, Trinity Christian College