Undergrad Paper to be Published in Scholarly Journal

Post a Comment » Written on March 29th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (March 29, 2007) – Emily Johnson has good Protestant credentials. The North Park University senior grew up attending the Midway Covenant Church in Des Moines, Washington. Her mother, Cathy, is a Covenant-ordained pastor of a Baptist congregation and a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church Board of Women Ministries.

So, she is surprised as anyone that a paper she wrote for an undergraduate class assignment at North Park University will appear in a scholarly journal published by the University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. The senior philosophy major says she was “overjoyed” that her paper was selected to be published in Vita, Dulcedo et Spes, which features works by undergraduates over a variety of disciplines.

Emily“As you read philosophy, you begin to see the threads of this incredibly vital conversation taking place and it’s exciting to actually enter into conversation with the tradition,” Johnson says.

This part of the discussion began for Johnson last spring, when she enrolled in Professor R.J. Snell’s Anglo-American Thought class. During the semester, Johnson was introduced to the contemporary theological movement known as Radical Orthodoxy through John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory.

The new movement is critical of the divorce of philosophy from theology. A major focus is on the role of signs and symbols in language and other forms of communication.

Attracted by the writings of Milbank and others, Johnson decided to write her assigned paper on the Eucharist. Her work, titled Beyond Symbols and Space: Transcendent Unity and Inexhaustible Meaning in the Eucharist, led Snell to suggest she submit the paper to the journal. She refined her thoughts and writing over the summer.

Johnson talks like a philosophy major. “Through Milbank and Alasdair MacIntyre, I began to see that the church’s best response to culture in a secular, post-modern world is to turn to the concrete practices of the church,” Johnson says. Describing her submission, she says it “traces Radical Orthodoxy’s project to reinvigorate Eucharistic reflections, beginning with the movement’s scathing critiques of modernity and moving to their call for a renewed understanding of transubstantiation.”

In other words, the student who grew up in the Covenant and has a mother serving a Baptist congregation wrote a paper in support of the Roman Catholic theology of transubstantiation in the Eucharist, which argues for the “real presence” of Christ in the elements.

“I think the paper tries to be accessible to evangelicals,” Johnson says. “It’s an argument that not everyone may agree with, but it tries to open up conversation between traditions rather than alienate them.

And what does her mother think? “I’m proud of her,” she says.

Johnson currently is deciding which graduate school she wants to attend. The issue of Vita, Dulcedo et Spes containing her paper is due out in May. Copies are free and can be ordered by email, she says.

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