How should C·A·N be responding to these challenges?

Robert Rowe's cogent argument for a new organisation, echoed by Clifford Hill for Clapham Connections, comes 3 years after the first Conference of the C·A·N where Alistair McGrath's papers also sounded this call to evangelicals in scholarship, research, enterprise, training, teaching and administration in HE and FE outside the Departments of Theology and Religious Studies. The Sponsors and the Leadership of C·A·N have been surprisingly slow in providing the biblically informed ('Christian') trailblazers of high culture ('Academic') with the channels lacked for communicating ('Net') God's Word in Jesus Christ within current advances of human understanding ('Work'). Solely spoken interaction face·to·face is so favoured that there has been an unscholarly and unscriptural neglect of working community in written record.

Nevertheless, supporters of C·A·N now have the basic facility for such work ·· an email discussion group with an archive of messages and attachments. Also, for a year now, thanks to the C·A·Morg.UK Webirnaster, enquirers have access to a wide array of evangelically oriented writing, with opportunities also to report local work, to publish material of general interest and to offer perspectives across the academic disciplines and graduate professions. Still missing though is what Robert Rowe calls for, and the Agape/LICCF vision · complementation of the work done by specialist graduate groups inside and adjacent to their own professions/disciplines. For example, Christians in Science for the first 50 years (as RSCF) spent their annual conferences discussing pre·circulated papers from small groups who had worked on different aspects of that year's major issue. This written matter provided the basis for briefings to the media, church groups, schoolteachers and so on, and for magazine articles, talks at academic meetings, peer·reviewed papers in journals, and scholarly monographs, as well as the conference attendees' conversations with their colleagues and friends.

 

Therefore, if Robert Rowe's challenge is accepted, contacts from the C·A·N Conferences and specialised groups (in Britain or overseas) should all be asked immediately to suggest topics and members for timelimited writing groups. A facilitator for each (set of) topic(s) would survey relevant specialists and then ensure that, where the proposed work is not being done, appropriate academics sort out the authors, contents, outlet(s) and timetable of the writing. Ideally a working group will have at least one author or reviewer who is theologically trained with a background also in one of the other relevant disciplines, but clergy will not run any group. C·A·N should provide any internet or other support needed for writing, reviewing or editing, at least if the group is chaired by a signed·up member, but our role may just be to initiate, although a supportive monitoring regime might be called for, and the work's incorporation as a

C·A·N activity should be negotiable if the writers wished.

Sadly, this didn't happen in January 2002, or '3 or A. So it will have start now. Supporters attending the Conference can decide the principle. The LT can carry the action through promptly by email. Academic or Christian authors and editors will know that nothing can be published now until 2006; a scholarly book or journal issue started in early 2005 is unlikely to appear online or in print before 2007. When these writings appear, C·A·N will begin to be seen to be networking as the Sponsors have stated and hence as the Members have signed and paid up for. I hope that then Robert Rowe too will think that C·A·N is a suitable replacement for UCCF's Association of Christians in HE and maybe near enough to the Institution X that his paper envisages.

DAVID BOOTH,
Birmingham University

David Booth’s university personal page is at http://psychology-people.bham.ac.uk/people/david.booth which includes an email contact address