In Case You Missed It

At The Gospel Coalition, Nathaniel Williams interviewed champion barista Kyle Ramage in a post titled: “Make People Wonder Why You’re Weird.”

When Kyle Ramage first stepped foot onto the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he thought he was preparing for vocational ministry. Little did he know God was preparing him for a different path.

 

He would soon enter the mission field of the coffee industry.

 

Ramage, who hails from Mississippi, graduated from Southeastern Seminary in 2014 with an MA in Christian ministry. Yet his career has taken an unexpected turn. He worked at a local coffee shop, excelled at his craft, and now works for Mahlkonig USA, a coffee grinder manufacturer in Durham, North Carolina.

 

Given his skill and his passion for coffee, Ramage competed in the 2017 United States Barista Championship. To his great surprise, he won. Next he will compete for the World Championship in Seoul, South Korea. (Read a full account of Ramage’s victory.)

 

Recently we had the chance to chat with Ramage about coffee, faith, work, and his time in seminary. Here’s our conversation (edited for clarity).

At Christianity Today, Trillia Newbell posted and article discussing six ways men can support women’s discipleship.

When I first became a Christian at the age of 22, there were two things that I couldn’t wait to do: learn about the Lord and share about him with others. As I dreamed about my future, I determined that I wanted to become a biblical counselor. I told a pastor about this desire, knowing that it would require more education through a counseling program, most likely at a seminary. His response to me was, “Well, you are probably going to be a mom.”

 

He was right. I did become a mom, one of my greatest joys and gifts in my life. Still, his statement deterred me from pursuing a counseling degree. Although I don’t hold any grudge against that pastor—he was doing the best to counsel me at the time—nonetheless his initial response was ill-advised and unhelpful.

 

My experience reflects a larger, more widespread challenge inside the church: Male clergy and lay leaders have the power to impact and support women’s discipleship, but many of them (by their own account) fall short.

Bruce Ashford published an article at his personal website addressed to anyone who questions the compatibility of Christianity and science. Dr. Ashford writes:

There is no shortage of reasons a person might think Christianity and science are intrinsically opposed to one another. The Galileo ordeal. The Scopes trials. The global warming debate. Richard Dawkins. “Et,” as they say, “cetera.”

 

But none of those reasons are sufficient to demonstrate that Christianity and science are opposed. In fact, the opposite is true. Christianity gave birth to modern science; its theological enterprise overlaps with the sciences and should be viewed as a mutually beneficial conversation partner; the tensions it experiences with science are ad hoc rather than inherent, and can be resolved over time.

At his personal blog, Footnotes, Dr. Jason Duesing posted an article titled: “The Wittenburg Door of American Evangelical Missions.”

In the summer of 1806, several dedicated young men attending the Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, began to gather regularly to pray and read reports of the burgeoning work of Andrew Fuller, William Carey, and the new Baptist Missionary Society in England.

 

On one occasion, while meeting in a field adjacent to the college campus, the students, trapped by a thunderstorm, took shelter in a haystack. Haystacks in 1806 were not the manicured and tightly bound variety that are arranged neatly as viewed from the 21st century roadside.

 

Rather, these were the versions piled as high as a human could assemble with only a pitchfork and a sundown deadline. Thus, like a quickly assembled snow fort, the young men of Williams dove into and carved out a hay-lined shelter to continue their meeting. What they found, though, was far more rewarding than had they discovered a missing needle.

At First Things, Matthew Mullins posted an article discussing the passing of the voting rights act. Dr. Mullins writes:

In 1965, the U.S. Congress made a seismic decision. Faced with the disenfranchisement of black voters on the one hand, and a Constitutional mandate to maintain equal sovereignty among the states on the other, Congress decided that jurisdictions with histories of racial discrimination at the polls should be compelled to seek “preclearance” from federal authorities any time they wished to change their voting procedures. The preclearance process required covered jurisdictions to prove that the proposed changes were not intended to discriminate against voters based on race. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965 and has been reauthorized four times. Each time, the Executive has approved it and the Supreme Court has upheld it against challenges.

Chris Martin posted earlier this week at this personal blog sharing three limits of social media as a medium.

What is social media doing to our ability to communicate with kindness, clarity and depth?

 

Should social media be seen as a redeemable form of communication, or is it a medium that is not meant to hold the weight of discourse?

 

Can heavy matters of faith even be discussed on social media, or is the platform too temporary and cheap for the eternal riches of the gospel?

 

In 1985, Neil Postman published Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business to show how the advent of television caused much of American public discourse to be “dangerous nonsense.”

 

Oh, Mr. Postman, if you only knew.

The Professor’s Bookshelf: Dr. Matthew Mullins

This series at Between the Times highlights Southeastern faculty members as they share about books which they are enjoying now, books which have shaped them personally, and books they consistently recommend to others.

This week, we interview Dr. Matthew Mullins.

Dr. Mullins is Assistant Professor of English and History of Ideas at the College of Southeastern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What are some books you are reading right now?

  • Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – Tish Harrison Warren
  • Public Things – Bonnie Honig
  • What Was African American Literature? – Kenneth W. Warren

What are some of the books which have had the largest impact on your life, thinking, or teaching?

  • Reassembling the Social – Bruno Latour
  • Uses of Literature – Rita Felski
  • The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander
  • Desiring the Kingdom – James K. A. Smith
  • Playing in the Dark – Toni Morrison
  • The essays of David Foster Wallace

What are some of your favorite works of fiction?

  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  • Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
  • Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
  • Kindred – Octavia Butler
  • Mao II – Don DeLillo
  • Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko
  • Anything by Percival Everett

Are there any books which you re-read on a regular basis and why?

I reread the work of Terry Eagleton often because he’s one of the most lucid writers of academic prose around. I have reread Teju Cole’s novel Open City a few times as I often do with texts I teach, but there’s something about that book that especially lends itself to rereading. I reread poetry more than anything else because it’s like listening to your favorite songs over again. Most recently, I’ve reread:

  • The Self Unstable – Elisa Gabbert
  • Glitter Bomb – Aaron Belz

What is one book which you would recommend to a church member and why?

Every churchgoer should read more fiction! You might start with Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and then read its companion novels, Home and Lila. These three novels overlap in terms of the times and characters they imagine, but they differ in terms of their perspectives. As an exercise in regarding the experiences of others, I don’t think you could do much better.

What is one book which you would recommend to a seminary student to read beyond what they might encounter in class and why?

  • A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn.

It’s always good to test the historical narratives on which our worldviews are based, and few books rattle familiar narratives about U.S. history as ferociously as Zinn’s.

Postmodernism in Pieces: Materializing the Social in U.S. Fiction

Dr. Matthew Mullins has a new work coming out: Postmodernism in Pieces:  Materializing the Social in U.S. Fiction.

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Image Source: Oxford University Press

Postmodernism in Pieces performs a postmortem on what is perhaps the most contested paradigm in literary studies. In the wake of a critical consensus proclaiming its death, Matthew Mullins breaks postmodernism down into its most fundamental orthodoxies and reassembles it piece by piece in light of recent theoretical developments in Actor-Network-Theory, object-oriented philosophy, new materialism, and posthumanism. In the last two decades postmodernism has collapsed under the weight of the very phenomena it set out to deconstruct: language, whiteness, masculinity, class, the academy. Recasting these categories as social constructs has done little to alleviate their material effects. Through detailed analyses of everyday objects in novels by Leslie Marmon Silko, Toni Morrison, Jonathan Lethem, John Barth, David Foster Wallace, Don DeLillo, and Julia Alvarez, Mullins argues that what makes fiction postmodern is its refusal to accept “social” explanations for problems facing a given culture, and its tendency instead to examine everyday things and people as constituent pieces of larger networks. The result is a new story of postmodernism, one that reimagines postmodernism as a starting point for a new mode of literary history rather than a finish line for modernity.

Dr. Mullins is Assistant Professor of English and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.