In the News
UPDATE ON THE FLAME OF LOVE PROJECT
September 7, 2008
Our project start date was December 31, 2007 and we have accomplished a great deal over the subsequent eight months. We have now completed 43 qualitative interviews with exemplars of Godly Love and their collaborators and we will begin the beneficiary phase of our research in the coming weeks. We have interviewed exemplars from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, California, and North Carolina. We are beginning to make arrangements for several other data collection trips to such destinations as New York, Los Angeles, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. We plan to conduct 100 interviews before we move to the national survey phase of the project.
We plan to begin promoting the project in the media with a series of press releases in September and October. We will highlight the publication of Stephen Post’s Godly Love: A Rose Planted in the Desert of Our Hearts (Templeton Foundation Press) and Margaret’s Blood and Fire: Godly Love in a Pentecostal Emerging Church (New York University Press, scheduled for release in October of 2008). In the meantime, the project has already been covered by three newspapers (The Akron Beacon Journal, The Columbus Dispatch, and The Erie Times) as well as one web-based news source (AkronNewsNow.com). One member of our Institute Core Research Group (John Green) was featured in an interview on a PBS program (Jim Lehrer News Hour) on Monday, June 23rd. Margaret Poloma was interviewed on National Public Radio (All Things Considered) on Friday, September 23rd.
In addition, Margaret and Matthew Lee were invited to discuss Godly Love as a “guest voice” on the website On Faith. Other guest contributors have included Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, and the Dalai Lama. On Faith is a joint venture of the Washington Post and Newsweek and reaches a large segment of the reading public and opinion leaders. Their article “Postmodernity's Spiritual Renaissance” was posted on July 21, 2008.
In other news, Margaret and Matt attended the joint meetings of the Society for Pentecostal Studies and the Wesleyan Theological Society at Duke University Divinity School in March 2008. The purpose of this trip was to promote the project and generate interest in our Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP was also advertised on listservs and websites and this effort produced a large volume of high quality Letters of Intent. We received letters from researchers at major universities such as Harvard, Princeton, USC, Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison, Texas-Austin, Emory, and Indiana, as well as outstanding liberal arts colleges and seminaries such as Calvin, Morehouse, Vanguard, Regent, Evangel, Church of God Seminary, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. We have invited a small number of full applications (due October 13, 2008) and we expect to fund six projects at up to $150,000 each. We were impressed by the quality of the Letters of Intent and we fully expect that our RFP process will produce six studies with great potential to advance our understanding of Godly Love.
We held our first meeting of the Institute Core Research Group (ICRG) at the Cuyahoga Falls Sheraton Hotel near Akron, Ohio over the weekend of April 25-27 (view pictures). This three-day meeting established an interdisciplinary framework for the integration of social science and theology as we work to develop a new science of Godly Love. The ICRG discussed the data generated from interviews and the members provided helpful guidance as we continue to refine our data collection process. The ICRG also assisted with the selection of exemplars and provided feedback on drafts of written products that we plan to publish as books and articles. The second meeting of the ICRG is scheduled for September 19-21 at the Cuyahoga Falls Sheraton.
We also have been active at several professional conferences. Margaret delivered a Plenary Address titled, "Toward a Sociology of Godly Love: Reflections on a Research Journey" at the annual meetings of the Association for Christians Teaching Sociology. This meeting was held at St. Olaf's College in Northfield, MN from June 5-8. The Flame of Love Project was also featured in a research panel session at the meetings of the Association for the Sociology of Religion in Boston on August 2nd. The session was well-attended and the presenters received constructive feedback on their papers, which are currently being revised for publication. The project will also be featured in a research panel session at the upcoming meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (which will convene in Louisville in October 2008).
In addition, our proposal for a two-week Summer Institute in 2009 has been accepted by the Summer Seminars in Christian Scholarship Program at Calvin College. This event will increase the profile of the Flame of Love Project among opinion leaders and provide important opportunities for mentoring of scholars at the mid-career or earlier stage.
These are just some of the activities of the project so far. We will provide more updates as our three-year study continues to unfold.