It’s been a little over a year since I posted on this blog, and it’s been quite the year! My family moved twice, I’m digging in hard to my dissertation research and writing, and I’ve been doing a lot of teaching, writing, presenting, and editing. Here are a few highlights.
I spent the year as a visiting professor of environmental studies at the Oregon Extension, and got to teach a group of amazing students from colleges and universities all over the country. My portion of the courses focused on intersection of faith and environmental studies, and I also milked goats twice a day!
While it didn’t end up being a long-term vocational opportunity (they’re continuing to have this position be a visiting faculty person and not hiring someone to stay on full time, year-round), I’m glad to have gone there and experienced the semester, particularly because of the great student community I got to witness and help grow.
This coming school year (2019–2020) I will be teaching at George Fox University and Portland Seminary again.
I completed the interviews for my dissertation research, and now I’m in the writing phase. While this is exciting, it’s also challenging to get myself to sit down and focus on writing these chapters. I want them to be so much more, and I’m finding it challenging to just write the thing, in the format of a dissertation, and then worry about making it interesting later.
In other writing, I have entries that have made it through all the editing stages in two forthcoming publications: an entry on “Watershed Discipleship” in Loanwords to Live With: An Ecotopian Lexicon Against the Anthropocene (University of Minnesota Press, anticipated release in 2019), and one on “Quaker Pneumatology” in the T&T Clark Companion to Pneumatology (Bloomsbury, anticipated release date in 2020).
I’ve also signed on to co-write an upcoming book in the Brill Research Perspectives in Quaker Studies series, with Christy Randazzo, working title: “A Quaker Ecotheology of Light.” I’m excited to get working on this…after I finish my dissertation!
I’ve published two book reviews this year: first, a review of Jennifer M. Buck‘s Reframing the House: Constructive Feminist Global Ecclesiology for the Western Evangelical Church, which appeared in Quaker Religious Thought in March 2019 (no. 132), and second, a review of a book edited by Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Making Peace with the Earth: Action and Advocacy for Climate Justice, which appeared in Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology in May 2019 (vol. 23, no. 2). Both of these authors are Quaker-affiliated and the books related to environmental topics, so they were great reads and it was fun to review them. (Let me know if you want full text of either of these reviews and I can send them, as they’re not currently available online.)
That brings me to presentations I’ve been able to make, and one of them was a panel at the Quaker Theological Discussion Group that meets right before the American Academy of Religion gathering each year: I was on a panel with both Jen Buck and Grace Ji-Sun Kim (see previous paragraph), where we reviewed Jen’s book. It was great to be seated at a table next to both of them and get to talk Quakerism, feminist theology, ecotheology, and the future of the church!
I also presented a paper entitled: “Oregon Yearly Meeting and the AFSC: navigating evangelicalism, Quakerism, and communism in the mid-Twentieth Century,” to the Quaker Theological Discussion Group. This was based on research I’ve been doing with my grandfather, Ralph Beebe, where we interviewed men from Oregon Yearly Meeting/Northwest Yearly Meeting about their experiences relating to the draft in the years 1940–1975. I’ll also be adapting this as an article for Quaker Religious Thought, and my grandpa and I are working on writing a book based on this research to be published through Barclay Press. I’ll be presenting further on this research at this year’s Friends Association for Higher Education conference next month.
Another presentation I got to do this year was a workshop and interest group on Quakers and Earthcare at the Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas gathering in Kansas City, MO this March. I presented in collaboration with Shelley Tanenbaum, general secretary of Quaker Earthcare Witness, and Adrian Halverstadt, director of Evangelical Friends Church – North America and professor at Barclay College. From our different locations in the Quaker world in the US, we spoke about the importance of caring for the environment and how it fits into our calling as Friends. It was a great gathering, and there was lots of momentum for doing something together as Friends relating to environmental concerns. Stay tuned for further actions on this front!
And finally, way back in June of 2018, I presented at the Friends Association for Higher Education conference at Wilmington College in Ohio on: “Quakers & Creation Care: Pitfalls & Potentials for Developing an Ecotheology of Friends.”
That brings me to my final major project this year, which has been editing the Friends Association for Higher Education Quakers & the Disciplines series volume 6, Quakers, Creation Care, and Sustainability, along with my co-editor, Stephen Potthoff. I’m really excited about this volume! It will be released in June 2019 at the next FAHE conference, which will be at Pendle Hill and Swarthmore College this year.
The volume contains 23 chapters by 27 contributors, and ranges from chapters about historical Friends, entries on Friends theology in connection with other theologies and environmental concerns, a section on Quaker pedaogies in a range of disciplines with awareness of sustainability, and a section describing the work of several individual Friends, groups of Friends, and Friends organizations working on environmental concerns, including chapters on Quaker Earthcare Witness, Friends World Committee for Consultation, and Friends Committee on National Legislation. The volume also includes a number of statements and minutes relating to environmental concerns from Friends groups in the appendices. I’ll share more about the specific contents of the volume soon.
My own contributions include an essay: “Quakers & Creation Care: Potentials and Pitfalls for an Ecotheology of Friends,” based on my presentation from last year as well as similar presentations while scholar-in-residence at Reedwood Friends and Berkeley Friends, an essay I co-authored with Rebecca Artinian-Kaiser that we adapted from a 2012 presentation to the Quaker Studies Group at the American Academy of Religion, “‘Do What You Do in the Wisdom of God’: Theological Resources for Quaker Ecological Action in the Writings of George Fox,” and an interview I conducted with f/Friend Craig Goodworth, an artist with master’s degrees in fine arts and sustainable communities and who is finishing up his degree at Earlham School of Religion, “Ecotone: Quakerism, Sustainability, Art, and the Boundaries Between.” I’m looking forward to seeing this volume in print very soon!
Other writing and editing projects I’ve been working on in my free time…which has been in rather short supply…have been curating the web content and blog for watershed discipleship, and editing and contributing to the website and blog for Whole Terrain. These have taken a back seat to my other work, but they are important parts of my community, and I’m glad to do what I can, when I can.
I hope to write more about this at some point, but personally this has been a good year of trying new things, feeling like I’m coming into my own in my academic work, and continuing to figure out life and parenting and ministry, and the balance between them. I’m happy to be home in the Willamette Valley; I really missed this place while I was away: its amazing and abundant seasons, gardening, and knowing my region well. It’s challenging being back here after our yearly meeting split, and there is still palpable tension, fear, and pain in the Quaker community here. However, this is my community, and it’s my kids’ community, and it’s home. My spouse and I feel like we need to remain rooted here, even though it’s not always easy.