In the News - Press Release
UPDATE ON THE FLAME OF LOVE PROJECT
In the News - Press Release
UPDATE ON THE FLAME OF LOVE PROJECT
January 25, 2011
Researchers associated with the Flame of Love Project continue their work towards establishing an interdisciplinary science of Godly Love (the dynamic interaction between divine and human love that enlivens and expands benevolence). One significant example of this work was the public seminar that the Flame of Love Project co-hosted with Vanguard University of Southern California. Our 6th and final Institute Core Research Group (ICRG) meeting was held in conjunction with this seminar. Titled “The Great Commandment: Theology & Social Science in Dialogue,” this seminar took place on Vanguard’s campus in Costa Mesa, CA on October 22-23, 2010. Vanguard’s Roger Heuser took care of local arrangements and we are most grateful for his help.
Sixteen members of our ICRG, along with theologian Frank Macchia, gave a total of 14 presentations at this seminar. Roughly 100 members of the public as well as students at Vanguard University, including some who receive continuing education credits, attended this conference. Professionally edited videos of the individual sessions are available for free downloading or viewing through Blip TV or iTunes. We plan to post these videos on a number of high-traffic websites devoted to religion, religious studies, and the dialogue between science and theology. This is part of our strategy of mainstreaming the concept of Godly Love.
On December 19, 2010, we held a reunion meeting in Costa Mesa, CA, for attendees of our 2009 two-week Summer Reading Seminar at Calvin College. Alumni of this seminar have been quite active in applying what they learned in subsequent work. The next day, we had an incredible, day-long conversation with Heidi Baker—a missionary to Mozambique and one of the most impressive exemplars from the first phase of the Flame of Love Project. In addition to alumni from our summer seminar, we were joined by several other members of our ICRG. This session was professionally video-taped and is currently being edited for public dissemination.
We have several updates on books that have been published or in progress. NYU Press published a book by Margaret Poloma and John Green titled, Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism: Reexamining the Assemblies of God at the Crossroads, in November of 2010. This book, and the Flame of Love Project more generally, was featured in the Research on Religion Podcast on December 6th, 2010. This podcast is moderated by Anthony Gill, professor of political science at the University of Washington and non-resident scholar at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.
On December 14, 2010, Matthew Lee and Amos Yong delivered their co-edited book Godly Love: Theological, Interdisciplinary, and Methodological Essays to Northern Illinois University Press. It is currently under review. Twelve members of the ICRG contributed 12 chapters, which represent both theological and social scientific perspectives on the study of Godly Love. It will serve as a model for dialogue among theologians and social scientists, while also helping to establish a new field of study around the concept of Godly Love. Amos and Matthew have a second co-edited book (titled Godly Love: Impediments and Possibilities) under contract with Lexington Books, a division of Rowman and Littlefield. Once again, 12 members of the ICRG will be contributing chapters.
Candy Gunther Brown’s edited book, also funded by the Flame of Love Project and titled Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, will be published by Oxford University Press in February 2011. All of the other Principal Investigators from our five funded subprojects are also working on books and articles. For example, Paul Alexander and Robert Welsh have a book under contract with Wipf and Stock titled, Narratives of Godly Love and Just Peace and another book in progress titled, Palestinian Christians and Godly Love: Risking Death, Seeking Justice. Robert and Paul have traveled the world collecting data for these and other writing projects and their data collection efforts are ongoing. Paul is also writing Spirit Empowered Peace with Justice: Toward a Christomorphic Theological Ethics. Peter Althouse and Michael Wilkinson are writing a book titled, River of Love: Prayer and Social Engagement in the Charismatic Renewal. Their project has also involved international data collection and is also continuing.
Other members of the ICRG not affiliated with RFP projects are also actively working on books and articles. For example, Amos Yong finished a draft of God is Spirit, God is Love: Love as the Gift of the Spirit. Work on Dancing with the Divine: God as a Partner in Benevolent Service (including an analysis of the Flame of Love Project’s national survey by Matthew Lee, Margaret Poloma, and Stephen Post, is ongoing.
Candy Gunther Brown and Michael McClymond have received substantial media attention for their article in the Southern Medical Journal titled, “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique” (August 2010). This ground-breaking work finds a significant healing effect of proximal intercessory prayer (PIP) and will impact the medical field by shifting emphasis away from distant prayer studies to studies of PIP. According to Google, as of today this paper has been covered in over 100 online and print news articles, including features in the LA Times, Business Week, and international venues like The Times of India; see also http://www.upi.com.
The sub-project co-directed by Kimberly Ervin Alexander, Mark J. Cartledge and James P. Bowers on the topic of Godly Love and socialization in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) has launched a new website. Their survey covers approximately 125 Church of God congregations representing up to 16,000 COG congregants. Data analysis is under way and they have already made several presentations at professional conferences, including one in April by Cartledge in Rome at the International Society for Empirical Research in Theology and another by Alexander and Bowers in Indianapolis, Indiana at a meeting of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Project.
The study of the Los Angeles-based Dream Center social ministry co-directed by Donald E. Miller and Richard Flory is wrapping up data collection at multiple sites within the expansive Dream Center campus and the larger community. They are currently testing an inductively generated measure of Godly Love, which will guide a number of writing projects. Face-to-face interviews have been conducted with Dream Center leaders, volunteers, and beneficiaries and extensive fieldwork is ongoing. This labor-intensive research will generate a unique data set on one of the largest social ministries in the U.S. today.