Christian Reflections on Human Flourishing (Spring 2015)

Table Talks during the Spring 2015 semester addressed Christian visions of human flourishing. Human flourishing is a broad concept with a rich history, and finds varied expression in a remarkably diverse set of academic disciplines. Known roots in ancient philosophy have produced substantial blossoms in contemporary philosophy—first in the rediscovery of virtue ethics, then in wide-ranging discussions about virtue, and now in virtue epistemology. Human flourishing is also the focus of positive psychology; one of the most thriving research projects among the psychological disciplines. It is also intimately related to vocation and calling, a subject with stands at the intersection of several different academic disciplines. Human flourishing is also a helpful framing device for integrative conversations between theology and almost every academic discipline.

Sanctification and Human Flourishihng

Our first Table Talk was hosted by Rick Langer and John Coe, and it considered the relationship between Sanctification and Human Flourishing. This is a central question for Christians. Some see the pursuit of human flourishing as a pagan replacement for Christian notions of sanctification and spiritual maturity. For some, human flourishing is a self-improvement project that is futile and useless apart from the gracious work of the Spirit. Rick offers a brief overview of human flourishing, but from the perspective of ancient Greeks and from a Christian perspective. John connects notions of human flourishing with sanctification and spiritual development.

Educating for Shalom: Strategies for Cultivating Students’ Callings

The second in our series of Christian Reflections on Human Flourishing is presented a special guest speaker, Bryan Dik (see bio below).

Christian colleges have many opportunities to teach students about how they may use their gifts to advance the kingdom throughout their careers. What strategies should faculty and staff use to help students discern and live out their callings? How can cutting-edge research on career development in general and a sense of calling in particular inform these efforts? This session will explore the meanings of calling and vocation, explore the intersection of psychological science and Biblical teaching related to these topics, and offer some strategies for helping students overcome obstacles that can disrupt their pursuit of God’s plan for their careers.

Bryan Dik: Bryan is associate professor of psychology at Colorado State University and cofounder of jobZology, a company that uses psychological assessment to bring job-seekers and organizations together in ways that help both thrive. His research is primarily in the area of career development, especially perceptions of work as a calling, and meaning, purpose, religion and spirituality in career decision-making and planning. He has published or presented more than 140 papers and has served on editorial boards for six research journals. He is co-author of Make Your Job a Calling: How the Psychology of Vocation Can Change Your Life at Work, and is co-editor of two other books: Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace and Psychology of Religion and Workplace Spirituality.

Suffering and Human Flourishing

Liz Hall, from Rosemead School of Psychology, concludes our series of Christian Reflections on Human Flourishing with a discussion of Suffering and Human Flourishing. Suffering is often subsumed into philosophical discussions of the problem of evil. There is an equally relevant psychological question: How can we experience suffering in such a way that it contributes to human flourishing rather than diminishes it? Liz has published on this topic but will also draw on her own personal experience with suffering as she had a bout with cancer in the past year. She will help us consider how we can grow, mature, and even thrive in the midst of our suffering!

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