Department News

The Department of Theology Welcomes Two Vernon Robertson Lecturers This Year 

university ethics coverThe Department of Theology welcomes James Keenan as a Vernon Robertson LecturerFr. Keenan will speak on his book University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015) on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in Hilary's. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Johnson

The Department of Theology also hosted Elizabeth Johnson as a Vernon Lecturer on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. Dr. Johnson's lecture was entitled "Our Common Home: Merton and Pope Francis on the Natural World" and part of a larger series to mark the 50th anniversary of Merton's death.

The day after her lecture, Dr. Johnson also ate lunch with theology students and signed their books. Here she is pictured with Olivia Botella and signing a book for Kayla Martin, a senior theology major.

Summer Updates

Hoon Choi, Assistant Professor of Theology, received a Wabash grant to continue working on a special project reflecting on student learning the classroom.  This grant was awarded after Dr. Choi participated in a Wabash Workshop for Early Career Asian and Pacific Islander Descent Faculty.

Joseph Flipper, Associate Professor of Theology, was awarded a Bellarmine “Bellie” Award for advancing Catholic Identity in the Spirit of Thomas Merton. 

Greg Hillis, Associate Professor of Theology, published the following article on Br. Paul Quenon’s new book, In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir - “A Trappist monk tells of a life worth living,” America Magazine, 5 July 2018: https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2018/07/05/review-trappist-monk-tells-life-worth-living.

Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty’s (Professor of Theology) book on The Problem of Wealth (Orbis 2017) won a first place Catholic Press Association award for best books on Catholic Social Teaching. The book was also adopted for Just Faith’s 2018-2019 curriculum and will be used in churches across the nation through that program.

David Orberson, adjunct faculty, published a book entitled Thomas Merton--Evil and Why We Suffer: From Purified Soul Theodicy to Zen (Wipf and Stock 2018). 

In July 2018, Rabbi Joseph Rapport, adjunct faculty, and Melanie-Prejean Sullivan, adjunct faculty, presented for a panel on “Insights from the Traditions of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar” organized by Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, Professor of Theology, for a special day of training for employees of the Metro United Way. 

Hillis instructs diaconate candidates

Throughout the year, faculty in the theology department work with priests, pastors and lay leaders in a variety of congregational settings.  This year, Dr. Greg Hillis has traveled to various Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the country to work with permanent diaconate candidates as they prepare for ordination as deacons in the church. He has been asked to provide insights on church history, Eucharistic theology, as well as various aspects of moral theology. He has so far worked with candidates in the Archdiocese of Louisville, the Diocese of Alexandria (Louisiana), and the Diocese of Belleville (Illinois). In 2018-2019 he will be travelling to the Diocese of Little Rock (Arkansas) and the Diocese of Cheyenne (Wyoming). 

Mentoring: Biblical, Theological, and Practical Perspectives 

Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty recently published an essay co-authored with her mentor Dr. Douglas F. Ottati. Hinson-Hasty and Ottati reflect what they have learned about mentoring toward a "humane disposition, attitude, and imagination" from years of teaching and work within congregational settings.  You may be interested in the variety of articles on mentoring presented in Mentoring: Biblical, Theological, and Practical Perspectives, edited by Dean Thompson and D. Cameron Murchison (Eerdmans, 2018).   You can peruse the book by reading Eerdmans blog:  Meet This Book: Mentoring: Biblical, Theological, and Practical Perspectives

Investment in academic excellence

Our faculty show an interest and investment in academic excellence and teaching.  Two of our faculty members have participated in Wabash Center for Teaching Theology and Religion Early Career Workshops.  Dr. Joseph Flipper (2015-2016) and Dr. Hoon Choi (2017-2018).  You can read about this year's workshop for Early Career Pacific Islander and Asian Descent Faculty in which Dr. Choi participated by following this link: 2017-18 Early Career Workshop - Wabash Center

Celebrating our new students and graduates

On Thursday, April 19, the theology department gathered to share a meal together and to celebrate student research as well as to recognize our entering majors and our graduating seniors.

Dr. Joseph Flipper, Dr. Hoon Choi, and Laura Pierson

Dr. Joseph Flipper, Dr. Hoon Choi, and Laura Pierson, a senior double major in theology and communications, listen to a presentation done during the annual theology colloquy and dinner.

Laura Pierson, Lycette Belisle, and Kayla Martin.From left to right: Laura Pierson, Lycette Belisle, and Kayla Martin.

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of our sixth annual essay contest.

Our first place winner this year was Lycette Belisle for her paper on "Violence, Structural Sin, and an Intersectional Approach to Solidarity."

We also had two second place winners, Kayla Martin for her essay on "Merton's Approach: Theological Issues and Theological Solutions for the Catholic Church" and Laura Pierson for her paper entitled "The Tale of the Leper."

Kelli Guinn, Bailee Sutherlin, and Laura Pierson

From left to right: Kelli Guinn, Bailee Sutherlin, and Laura Pierson

Three of our graduating seniors pose for a picture at the end of the dinner. They will be doing great things next year. Kelli plans to work in the hospitality industry, Bailee will be teaching in Thailand, and Laura is headed to graduate school at Boston School of Theology.

Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-HastyDr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty spoke on her book The Problem of Wealth on Sunday, April 22 for the Clingman Forum at St. Matthews Episcopal Church.


Scholars in Writing 2018 coverScholars in Writing: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in Humanities

The Department of Theology in collaboration with the First Year Writing Program publishes biennially Scholars in Writing: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in Humanities. Our second volume of the journal features essay contest winners from three different undergraduate programs. You can find recent editions of the journal on the CAS website.

Bellarmine Honors and Theology Trip to Rome, Italy

Rome
 Bellarmine students are encouraged to take advantage of many wonderful study abroad experiences. In December, Dr. Hinson-Hasty took a group of 15 students to Rome. The picture above was taken by Dr. Hinson-Hasty from the cupola of St. Peter's. You can read more about their experience in the eternal city on the Bellarmine Magazine site.

Faculty Presentations and Speaking Engagements

Faculty in the Department of Theology often speak, present, and lead training programs off campus. The 2017-2018 academic year has been a busy one for our faculty and offers a sample of the types of conversations you might explore as a student in one of the courses you take.

Dr. Hoon Choi speakingDr. Hoon Choi was part of a panel discussing "Men's Response to #MeToo," co-sponsored by The Center for Women and Families, Louisville Coalition for CEDAW, and Spalding University. The panel highlighted the ways men contribute to the environments that allow men’s harassing behaviors, and how men can contribute to creating environments of gender equity and respect.

Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty recently preached at the Temple on Friday, April 6, 2017.

Crossroads of poverty and wealth

Dr. Hinson-Hasty also gave the Cunningham Lectures at Austin College in Sherman, Texas in February and the Sister Mary Keenan Lecture at Spaulding University in Louisville in March. Her lectures explored the connection between theology and economics and faith and money as she reflected on themes presented in her most recently book The Problem of Wealth (Orbis 2017). 

You can read a review of the book on the American Academy of Religion's book review page or, listen to a podcast about the book here.

Justin Klassen presentingIn February, Dr. Justin Klassen gave a presentation for the Clingman Forum at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church entitled, “The Word Made Musical: Theology Beyond Prose.” His talk argued that poetry and music express spiritual truth in important ways, even though they can interrupt our certitudes and unsettle our usual confidence in language.

That same month, Dr. Klassen gave a lecture on campus, sponsored by the Brown Learning Community: “Intrinsic Dignity in an Unjust World: Why We Must Talk about Social Justice.” In the lecture, Dr. Klassen reflected on Bellarmine’s mission to respect each person’s intrinsic dignity, and argued from a theological perspective that this is no tame charge but a radical call to expose and rectify unjust structural arrangements in our society.

In the fall of 2017, Dr. Klassen was a featured speaker at Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light’s annual Hope in Action Awards dinner, and gave a talk called “Christianity’s Call to Care for Creation.”

In 2017, Melanie-Préjean Sullivan, Director of Campus Ministry, was the Cardinal Hume Scholar on sabbatical at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology (MBIT) in Cambridge, England. She was asked to return this spring as a visiting adjunct to teach a course on Thomas Merton in their Easter Term. Coinciding with the anniversaries of Merton’s epiphany (1958) and his death (1968), the topic is timely. Dr. Préjean’s course will examine a number of Merton’s writings as models of discernment and self-reflection, pastoral and self care, and social justice advocacy. As part of her trip, she will also lead a retreat in Ireland for MBIT and Mount St. Anne’s retreat center in County Laois.

Dr. Deborah Prince preached at Our Lady of the Woods Chapel for an ecumenical worship service that was part of the 500th anniversary commemoration of Luther's 95 Theses.

Theology Faculty Reflect on Ways Roman Catholic Churches and Protestant Churches Have Grown Together in Honor of the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses …

Theology faculty led a panel discussion that explored ways in which the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches have grown in relationship with each other since the Protestant Reformation. This was part of a larger, on-campus, commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 Theses (October 31, 2017), which recognized the value of ecumenical relationships within the church and the Bellarmine community.

Theology Department Hosted Our Fifth Annual Theology Colloquy and Dinner

On Wednesday, April 19, faculty and students of the theology department gathered to share a meal and listen to two exceptional presentations made by the two winners of our annual theology essay contest. Theology Major Robert Ranney won first place in the essay contest for his paper on "A Story of Migration through Suffering - An Exegesis of Psalm 137:1-9." Kathryn Combs, an Art Major, took second place for her work on "African Independent Churches: Infusion of Witchcraft, Cultural Elements, and Traditional Christianity.” A rich and lively discussion followed each presentation.

Both papers will be published next year in the third issue of Scholars in Writing: A Journal of Undergraduate Research.

Robert Ranney presenting his paper during the colloquy. Participants from left to right: Olivia Seeger, Mary Fernando, Robert Ranney, Kathryn Combs, and Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty.

Dr. Hoon Choi poses for a picture with Kathryn Combs. Kathryn's paper was originally written for a course that Dr. Choi teaches on World Christianity.

Dr. Deborah Prince and Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty have some time for conversation as faculty and students gather for the colloquy.

Clara Klassen, Dr. Justin Klassen, Dr. Hoon Choi, and Dr. Deborah Prince listening to student presentations.

Engaging Dialogue About Theology in a Global Perspective

Bellarmine University's Department of Theology, Peace Studies Program, and the Vernon Robertson Endowed Lecture Series will be bringing Dr. Henry Mugabe to speak on a "Dialogue between African Traditional Religion and Christianity: A Zimbabwean Perspective." The lecture is free and open to the public and will be given on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. in Hilary's.

Dr. Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe Theological Seminary, a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an international guest brought to the U.S. by the Society of Christian Ethics this year. He has served as a visiting professor sharing his expertise on theology from an African perspective at theological schools such as Wake Forest School of Divinity, Memphis Theological Seminary, and the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Dr. Mugabe will be in Louisville for several days and preaching at Broadway Baptist Church on Sunday, March 19 and giving the convocation address at Simmons College on Tuesday, March 21.

Heading for open water

By: Isaac McDaniel • Published Feb. 7, 2017 on the National Catholic Reporter

The Circle Line Manhattan sailed eastward through the cold, choppy waters between Governors Island and Battery Park. Seagulls hovered over the whitecaps, and the late afternoon sun glinted like golden spangles on the windows of the distant skyscrapers clustered at the southern tip of Manhattan. Evening shadows had already begun to envelop the East River, and the Brooklyn Bridge loomed ahead, stretched across the water like a brown, broken harp cast aside on the horizon. Continue reading.

Two Vernon Robertson Lecturers to be announced

This year the Department of Theology will sponsor two Vernon Robertson Lecturers. During the week of March 21st, 2017, Dr. Henry Mugabe of Zimbabwe Theological Seminary will be on campus. More information and the specific time of the lecture to be announced soon. 

New Journal for Undergraduate Writing

Award winning essays from our annual theology essay contest are featured in the new journal Scholars in Writing: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in the Humanities. The first issue of the journal was published in the fall of 2015 and includes theology essays as well as award winners from the First-Year writing contest. New issues will follow every two years.

Four of the essays were written by theology majors—Tammy Becht, Michelle Carwile, and Rebecca Harpring. If you are interested in the annual theology essay contest or a hard copy of the journal please contact Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, Chair of the Department of Theology, at ehinsonhasty@bellarmine.edu.

Scholars in Writing can be accessed here.

Vernon Robertson Lecture

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 7 p.m. in Hilary's

Traina

Professor Christina Traina
Department of Religious Studies
Northwestern University

Cristina L. H. Traina is a student of Christian theology and ethics, with emphasis on Roman Catholic and feminist thought. She received her Ph.D. in theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School and has been a member of the Department of Religious Studies since 1992. Areas of special interest include childhood, especially child labor; the ethics of touch in relations between unequals; sexuality and reproduction; ecology; justice issues in bioethics; economic and immigration justice; and method. Traina favors an interdisciplinary approach to ethics, drawing on research in philosophy, anthropology, psychology, history, and other fields. Many of her graduate advisees combine ethnographic methods with ethics.

She is the author of Natural Law and Feminist Ethics: the End of the Anathemas (Georgetown 1999) and Erotic Attunement: Parenthood and the Ethics of Sensuality between Unequals (University of Chicago Press, 2011). Her current work focuses on the Christian ethics of non-nuclear families and the moral agency, economic rights, and labor rights of children.

Bellarmine Chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa

Bellarmine University now has a chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa (TAK), the National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology. The purpose of this society is to honor outstanding students in Theology and to encourage those interested in theological study. TAK sponsors annual undergraduate scholarships and publishes student papers in the Society’s refereed Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa. Students are elected to permanent membership in our chapter on the basis of scholarly excellence. You do not need to be a Theology major to be elected. To be eligible students must be in the top 35% of their class, have a 3.5 GPA in their Theology courses (at least 12 credits) and an overall GPA of 3.0. For more information or to express your interest in being nominated please contact Dr. Deborah Prince. Every spring we hold an induction ceremony for new members during our annual Theology Colloquy.

Recent Faculty Activity and Publications

Dr. Greg Hillis

Dr. Deborah Prince

2015 Events Celebrating Laudato Si

The Theology Department worked in collaboration with the School of Environmental Studies to host a panel in response to the Pope's Encyclical Laudato Si’ on Monday, September 14, 2015. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Bellarmine President Joseph J. McGowan introduced the panel on “Our Common Home: Pope Francis' Challenge to Greater Louisville.”

Participants included:

  • Dr. Justin Klassen, Assistant Professor of Theology (Moderator of Panel)
  • Tim Darst, Executive Director of Interfaith Power and Light
  • Fr. Jim Flynn, Archdiocese of Louisville
  • Maria Koetter, Louisville Sustainability Council
  • Melanie Prejean Sullivan, Director of Campus Ministry
  • Rev. F. Bruce Williams, Pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church

Our next event will be held on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. We will be hosting Dr. Celia Deane-Drummond of the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Deane-Drummond will be lecturing on “Laudato Si: A Call to Ecological Conversion.” In this lecture she will draw out the theological threads weaving through this encyclical in order to show the deepest roots of its call for ecological conversion. Deane-Drummond will argue that the message is a universal one, given the common interwoven plight of those that are poor and the environmental problems facing humanity, including climate change. While this encyclical is open to insights from the sciences, social sciences, and philosophy, she will argue that the key motivation for this encyclical is theological, drawing its primary inspiration from the Franciscan tradition. The outcome is practical and ethical, a renewed integral ecology and a common good that is inclusive of our common home, the earth, rather than exclusive.

Dr. Celia Deane-Drummond is currently full Professor in Theology at the University of Notre Dame. In February 2015 she was appointed Director of the Center for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing. She holds two doctorates, one in plant physiology and one in systematic theology. Her research interests are in the engagement of theology and natural science, including specifically ecology, evolution, animal behavior and anthropology. She was editor of the journal Ecotheology for six years and is now joint editor of a journal launched in 2014 with Mohr Siebeck (Germany) entitled Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences. She has served as Chair of the European Forum for the Study of Religion and Environment from 2011. A selection of her books include Wonder and Wisdom: Conversations in Science, Spirituality and Theology (DLT, 2006); Ecotheology (DLT, 2008), Christ and Evolution (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009), Creaturely Theology ed. with David Clough (London: SCM Press, 2009) Religion and Ecology in the Public Sphere, ed. with Heinrich Bedford-Strohm (London, Continuum, 2011), Animals as Religious Subjects, ed. with Rebecca Artinian Kaiser and David Clough (London: T & T Clark/Bloomsbury, 2013), The Wisdom of the Liminal: Human Nature, Evolution and Other Animals (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014); Re-Imaging the Divine Image: Humans and Other Animals (Pandora Press, 2014); Technofutures, Nature and the Sacred: Transdisciplinary Perspectives, ed with Sigurd Bergmann and Bronislaw Szerszynski (Ashgate, 2015).

The 2014-2015 Vernon Robertson Lecture

"The Metaphysics of Co-Inherence: A Meditation on the Essence of the Christian Message"
7:00 PM
February 17, 2015
Amelia Brown Frazier Convocation Hall, Bellarmine University

VERY REV. ROBERT BARRON, M.A. (Phil), S.T.D., Rector/President, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Professor of Faith and Culture
M.A., Catholic University of America; S.T.B., M.Div., S.T.L., University of St. Mary of the Lake; S.T.D., Institut Catholique de Paris. Former Associate Pastor at St. Paul of the Cross Parish. A member of the Catholic Theology Society of America, G.K. Chesterton Society, Paul Tillich Society. Author of The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path, Creation as Discipleship, A Study of the DePotentia of Thomas Aquinas in Light of the Dogmatik of Paul Tillich, Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master, And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation, Heaven in Stone and Glass, Bridging the Great Divide, Word on Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ, The Priority of Christ: Toward a Post-Liberal Catholicism, and Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith. His articles on theology and the spiritual life have appeared in numerous journals. Father Barron is also creator and host of “Catholicism,” a ten-part documentary on the Catholic faith, and he is the founder and chairman of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, a media group dedicated to the new evangelization.

The theology department offers a major and a minor and serves the larger general education program. Many of our classes invite students to reflect on their involvement in the local community. This video was created by a student to complete a final project for THEO 335 Theology from the Margins. It offers a wonderful example of what students learn in Bellarmine’s theology courses and illustrates collaborative work done with the Joseph of Arimathea Society.

Second Annual Theology Colloquy

The Theology Department hosted the second annual theology colloquy and dinner on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 in the Fireplace Room in Horrigan Hall. The theology colloquy provides an opportunity to build community among theology majors and minors, to honor excellent student research, and to foster and nurture a broader and engaged theological conversation across the campus. Three student papers won awards for their research papers.

Rebecca Harpring, a junior theology major, won first prize for her paper entitled "Hope and Healing for Battered Women Who Kill Their Abusive Partners.” Harpring participated in an immersion experience at the Kentucky Institution for Women and helped facilitate a Catholic bible study. In her paper, she argues that “[b]attered women who kill their abusers face marginalization from friends, family, churches, and society; however, God calls the human family to accompany these women and move towards healing.”

There were two papers that tied for second prize; two prizes were awarded. Michelle Carwile, a senior theology major, was awarded second prize for her paper entitled "Death for Perfection.” In her paper, Carwile discusses eating disorders and the churches’ role in “promoting healthy body image and educating girls so that they can grow up to be confident women whose passion is to please God and not society.”

Blake Reichenbach, a sophomore English major, was awarded second prize for his paper entitled "The Social Gospel: Christianity and Socialism in America.” Reichenbach argues in that paper that “the religious discourse that comes out of socialist ideology has been a shaping factor in the society of the United States from before the onset of the twentieth century, but has consistently faced hurdles of tradition, and has been subject to fluctuate in prominence with the strength of the economy and Americans’ faith in capitalism.”

Student entries into the essay contest were refereed by fulltime members of the theology department. Each student receives a small monetary award. We are very proud of their fine work!


The Theology Essay Award Winners (from left to right): Michelle Carwile, Blake Reichenbach, and Rebecca Harpring

Congratulations to Scott Holzknecht ('06)

Scott Holzknecht, graduate of the MAS program in 2006, recently published a book on Catholic social teaching for teens entitled Everyday Justice (St Mary's Press). Congratulations!

We encourage alumnis of the program to keep in touch. Please contact Greg Hillis, Director of the Program, if you have any news to share.

MAS 569 - Spirituality and Justice: An International Experience (India)

This year, our current MAS cohort travelled to Kerala, India, to learn more about spirituality in a pluralistic environment, including Hindu spirituality, Christian spirituality, Muslim spirituality, and ecospirituality. The theme for the course was “Unitive Spirituality.” We hope to post some pictures of their trip soon. Stayed tuned for next year's destination.