Notes on Christianity
and Ideas

Issue 17
December 2002

Published by Theodore Plantinga

In this issue ....

H. Evan Runner, who taught philosophy at Calvin College for 30 years, died in 2002. Click here to read about the passion and conviction that made him such a unique teacher and such an influence in the world of Reformed higher education.

Evan Runner's influence was magnified through a unique student club called the Groen Club. Click here to read about this Club and its eventual demise and its impact on Redeemer University College.

Many people in Christian colleges talk about Christianity as a "worldview," and now David Naugle has devoted a lengthy scholarly monograph to this concept. Click here to read a critical response to Naugle's book and to the worldview notion.

Responding to 9/11 involves reconsidering the distinction between police work and military responses to wrongdoing. Click here to read about Caleb Carr's suggestions regarding terrorism and how we should respond to it.


Don't take the term literally. I don't plan to turn pages for you. What I mean to do in this space is comment on materials in the world of the printed page -- brief book notes, observations about periodicals, and perhaps a comment on an event.

Gender-specific education. Is there still a place for gender-specific schools? Many egalitarians and feminists say: absolutely not! All educational programs have to be open to students of both genders. But there are dissenting voices. One such is Jill Ker Conway, who became the first female president of Smith College (Northampton, Massachusetts) and served in this capacity for ten years (1975-1985). Smith is a women-only institution. Conway writes about her experiences as Smith's president in a memoir entitled A Woman's Education (New York: Knopf, 2001).

Conway's career was of interest to me before she became well known. Prior to her Smith appointment she served as a vice president at the University of Toronto, and before that she was a history professor at the "U of T," where I got to know her when I took her graduate course on American intellectual history. She was a stimulating and memorable teacher indeed. Her subsequent honors and successes came as no surprise to me.

Conway has published two other volumes by way of autobiography, called The Road from Coorain (Knopf, 1989) and True North (Knopf, 1994), which I have also read with great interest. In these volumes she reflects on her rather unusual upbringing in Australia, which included a stint in a girls-only school, and is painfully honest about personal conflicts, especially with her mother (see, for example, True North, pp. 198-9). In my philosophy of history class I point her to autobiography as an example of narrative reticence overcome.

After she left Smith, Conway went on to a new appointment as a visiting scholar and professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (Cambridge).

General information

This electronic journal is my way of keeping in touch with friends, colleagues, former students, and so forth. It does not have a regular publication schedule. Feel free to download it and pass it around. You may even wish to send me a comment; I do not guarantee a response to each communication. If you wish to repost anything in this journal, please let me know. If you care to print something in paper form, this can also be arranged, provided that I retain the copyright so that I will remain free in my use of the material. Please regard the materials in Myodicy as copyrighted by me, except in the case of articles written by someone else. What is written in Myodicy should not be regarded as reflecting any official position or policy of Redeemer University College.

Theodore Plantinga
E-mail: [email protected]

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