Last semester (Spring 2015) I had a lot of fun blogging about my semester abroad with students from Abilene Christian University (you can read about our adventures here). Near the end of the semester a few friends inquired about whether I intended to continue blogging back in the States. I’ve gathered from these queries that some of my friends enjoyed reading my blog almost as much as I enjoyed writing it. Fair enough. But what sort of blog should I create? I’ve been pondering this since my return. I suppose I could simply continue my Word of the Day-themed blog, exploring with readers the strangeness of all things Texan–Friday night football, slow-smoked beef brisket, Tex-Mex cuisine, George Straight, the incessant suburban war against fire ants, open carry laws, and the like. That might be fun, but on the other hand I’m ready to create something a bit closer to what I actually spend a fair bit of time thinking about. So welcome to Christian Ethics Bites.
What is Christian Ethics Bites? The answer to that question remains to be seen, but here is my idea: Christian Ethics Bites is an online forum where I intend to reflect on the intersection of Christian faith and morality. My hope is that this blog will offer space for me to write about important moral questions and contemporary issues–the kinds of things I’m thinking about in my academic work. Generally speaking, I want this blog to serve as a sort of analogue to the Philosophy Bites podcast that I’ve enjoyed for several years. Philosophy Bites takes big questions in the field of philosophy and introduces them to non-professionals in “bite-sized” fashion via a weekly 15-minute conversation between the podcast host and a professional philosopher. In Christian Ethics Bites I strive to present questions in the field of Christian ethics for everyday people, both Christian and non-Christian. After almost eight years as a full-time faculty member I’m discovering how essential it is to carve out regular time to write. It’s all too easy for one’s academic life to get absorbed by the minutiae of faculty meetings, syllabus editing, and quiz grading. Thus, my more pragmatic aim of starting this blog is that its very existence will force me to write more regularly.
But why should you care what I have to say? Well, maybe you shouldn’t. If you’ve happened onto this blog I’ll leave it to you to decide if it is worth reading. For those of you who don’t already know me, here’s my brief introduction: My name is Vic McCracken. I’m Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at Abilene Christian University, where I have served on faculty since 2008. I finished my PhD in the Ethics and Society Program of the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University in 2008. My principle field of study is ethics, more specifically Christian ethics. Within the field of Christian ethics I focus a lot of my attention on social ethics (i.e. how communities embody morality), political liberalism, and theories of justice. More recently, my attention has turned to the morality of peace and war in the Christian tradition. Last year, my edited volume Christian Faith and Social Justice: Five Views was published by Bloomsbury Press. I am an active member of the Society of Christian Ethics and co-convener of the Society’s pedagogy interest group. While my academic life revolves around the field of Christian ethics, my interest in this topic is more than merely academic. Prior to entering academia I served as an ordained minister, and today I remain active as a member of the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, TX.
A final word about my blog: this is my blog, and the main posts will reflect my own thinking on the topics that I choose to explore. I make no apologies for this, and I fully expect that some readers will disagree with conclusions I reach. That said, my personal aim in this blog is to enlighten, not enrage. Even if you disagree with conclusions I reach, I want you to feel like you’ve learned something from the time you’ve spent here. With respect to my actual writing, I have three goals:
- I want readers to feel that I respect them as capable thinkers. I will not talk down to you.
- I want those with whom I disagree to feel that their views have been fairly represented on my blog. I will not create straw man caricatures.
- I want my prose to be active and engaging, creating a “window to the world” (to borrow a phrase from Steven Pinker). I will not bore you with academic jargon, zombie nouns, and needless abstraction.
Those are my goals. Now let’s see if I can live up to them…