Interim President-Elect Appointed
Ifound the spring 2014 edition on faith of spe- cial interest, inasmuch as it affirms the value of what I am doing in creating an undergraduate
course on neuroscience and religion at Texas
A&M University. The ongoing argument about
evolution and religion of late incorporates a new
divide, as neuroscience seems to secularize the
human mind and spirit. After all, biological operations of the brain construct people’s religious belief
systems, as I summarize in my new book, Mental
Biology: The New Science of How the Brain and Mind
Relate, published in April by Prometheus.
However, neuroscience and religion share
many views and objectives, even as the implementation efforts occur for different reasons
and by different means. For example, both disciplines value the nature of creation and life,
seek to understand and nurture humanity, and
promote healthy, actualized, and happy lives.
Most of the neuroscience aspects are explored
in my book.
The time has come for scholars to recognize
and embrace the interactions of these two disciplines. Universities offer religious studies programs, and most schools teach neuroscience.
But none that I can find integrate both subjects.
Each of the 15 weeks in my course, which debuted last fall, examined a different, personally relevant neuroscience theme, taken from my Core Ideas
in Neuroscience 2013 e-book from Benecton Press.
Sample neuroscience themes included evolution of
the nervous system, embryological development,
neural information processing, emotional drives
and motivations, agency, consciousness, sleep and
dreaming, and neuronal disease and death.
Each week I also identified a list of related religious topics. Those topics included religious diversity, original sin, fear of damnation, worship
practices, prayer or meditation, visions and
dreams, unconscious biases and beliefs, predestination, forgiveness and repentance, love and
charity, and religious ecstasy or fanaticism.
Students picked a scholarly publication to elucidate a neuroscience and religion relationship.
They alternated weekly between writing a sum-
mary of that publication and a 500-word essay
on the germane concept. Proselytization was not
allowed and was never an issue. Essays were
posted and analyzed in an online forum. I se-
lected four students each week to present their
essays and lead a class discussion.
In 50 years of college teaching I have never
had students so engaged. Post-course survey rat-
ings averaged 9.3 out of 10 for two items: essays
and leading class discussion. I plan to institu-
tionalize the experience at my campus and en-
courage neuroscientists elsewhere to make a
similar experience available for their students.
— W. R. Klemm (Auburn University), Senior
Professor of Neuroscience, TAMU
The spring 2014 edition on faith encompassed an impressive array of topics, causing me to realize the many facets of life in which we
place our trust, including religion, reason, science,
democracy, higher education, and the future.
I want to comment on “The Rites of College
Athletics.” Sports and exercise columnist Carl
Nathe conducted an interesting Q&A with two
University of Kentucky coaches about, as Nathe
aptly wonders, “what role [religious] faith plays —
if any — in how they approach their profession
and the student-athletes entrusted to their guidance.” The topic warrants investigation, and Nathe
did a fine job of enlightening their positions.
I wish I could say the same about one of the
interviewees, Matthew Mitchell, women’s basketball head coach. He evidently considers devotional sessions a key to his team’s program. This
practice raises several worries.
Mitchell claims his athletes, coaches, and
staffers are “invited, not required,” Nathe writes,
to attend team devotionals he leads before each
game. I find this “invitation” disingenuous. Late
adolescents and young adults are very impressionable. Plus, they and coaches and staffers
might fear that declining to attend jeopardizes
their standing and undercuts team chemistry.
He also doesn’t differentiate between religious
faith (adherence to a formal faith system) and spiri-
tuality (a more general belief in the transcendent).
Those professing the latter, and/or a different belief
system, could well feel discomfort from Mitchell’s
“focus on Scripture.” Mitchell adds, contradictorily
to me, “We don’t focus on religion. … We focus on
feeding our spirit and thanking God. …”
Further, Mitchell neglects to distinguish be-
tween public colleges and universities, of which
UK is one, and private schools of higher educa-
tion, especially sectarian ones. Student-athletes
who enroll in the latter know from the mission
statement what the sensibilities of the institution
are and that these predispositions are financially
buttressed and ideologically maintained. Not
necessarily so at public institutions, which align
with no single religion, welcome diversity, and
utilize taxpayer money.
In a nation where college sports are often followed like a religion (and this writer admits to
being an acolyte), we need to be careful about
what role religion plays in them. Considerable
empirical data support the benefits of religion and
spirituality with respect to physical and emotional
well-being. Coaches and athletes should be free to
express their faith and spirituality — or the lack
of either — without subtle or coercive pressure.
— David Glenwick (Cornell University), Professor
of Psychology, Fordham University
John Harding’s spring 2014 business and economics column about church bankrupt- cies was informative and generally reflective
of the experiences of many churches. Like any
other nonprofit, churches see revenues decrease
with a recession, particularly in those communities that suffer from a major economic hit, such
as a factory closing. Harding summarizes these
recent church bankruptcies well.
One point on which I believe clarification is
necessary: At the time that Madison Park Church
of God in Anderson, Ind., declared bankruptcy,
its pastor had already accepted the position of
general director of its umbrella Church of God
Ministries, which has 2,200 nondenominational
Christian congregations in North America, including mine in Moberly, Mo. Whereas Harding’s
article might imply a connection between the
bankruptcy and the departure of the pastor, the
two events were coincidental and unrelated.
— Rev. Kimball Brown (Southern Illinois University
Carbondale), Pastor, First Church of God, Moberly, Mo.
The Phi Kappa Phi Board of Directors has appointed former Society official Robert B. Rogow as interim
president-elect to fill the vacancy left
by the death of Ray Sylvester on Feb. 5
after a brief illness.
Rogow, professor of accounting and
dean of the College of Business and
Technology at Eastern Kentucky University, will serve as interim president-elect
through the August convention.
“The loss of Ray Sylvester will be
felt deeply by Phi Kappa Phi and all who knew
him,” said Executive Director Mary Todd of
the associate dean and professor of marketing
at University of Pacific’s Eberhardt
School of Business. “Ray had a deep
love for the Society and was so look-
ing forward to serving as president in
the next biennium. In asking Bob to
fill the unexpired term until our Au-
gust convention, the board has af-
firmed its confidence in the leadership
he showed previously as both a mem-
ber and chair of the board.”
Rogow served three-year terms as president-
elect (2004-07) and president (2007-10) and a
two-year term as past president (2010-12). Be-
fore his eight consecutive years on the board,
he was president of the Auburn University
chapter (1983-84), chair of the Society’s
investment committee (1995-98), chair of
Phi Kappa Phi’s bylaws and business practices
committee (1999-2001), and a member of the
organization’s budget committee (2001-04).
Rogow also coordinated the petition to estab-
lish the Auburn University Montgomery chap-
ter (1988-90) and was its charter president
(1990-91). — Staff report
Robert B. Rogow