Baldwin Wallace Chair in Faith & Life

BW Chair in Faith & Life
Marting Hall, Rm 317
(440) 826-2172
(440) 826-3264 (fax)
Today's Inspirational Message

Click here for the 2013 Gethsemani Trip Photo Slideshow

Read today's Inspirational Message


Dr. Alan Kolp, Chairholder

Upcoming Events:

Merton Retreat- May 23-26, 2014

Alan Kolp will be attending a Retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani entitled:  "Living Together with Wisdom: Merton’s Call to Transform Our Hearts and Lives".  Attendees will have an opportunity for prayer and reflection and to broaden insights and experiences on Merton. The conference theme was drawn from a letter to Abdul Aziz in which Merton spoke of "the hour of dawn when the world is silent and the new light is most pure," as "symbolizing the dawning of divine light in the stillness of our hearts." At that virgin point of the new day, Merton writes in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, the dawn deacon cries “wisdom” but “we do not attend.” 

Benedictine Experience in Dallas, TX- June 25-28, 2014

Alan Kolp will once again co-lead a monastic experience at the 17th Annual Benedictine Experience.  The event will be held at the Catholic Conference and Formation Center in Dallas, Texas.  This monastic experience is presented by Friends of St. Benedict, Washington, DC and is open to men and women, laity and clergy of all denominations.  Participants will live on the campus of the center for four days, forming a temporary monastic community to experience the balanced way of life of The Rule of St. Benedict as it divides each day into private and group prayer, study, work, and leisure.  Four Benedictine Offices (Lauds, Sext, Vespers, and Compline) will be chanted each day in English in Gregorian Chant.
Click here for more details:

Recent Events:

Alan Kolp's article featured in The Merton Seasonal- A Quarterly Review

The Merton Seasonal recently published an article that Alan Kolp wrote based on his presentation at The Thirteenth General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society.  The article entitled:  "From Cloister to Classroom:  Thomas Merton and Today's College Student" can be found in the Spring 2014 edition of the Quarterly Review.

The Merton Seasonal: A Quarterly Review is a joint publication of the International Thomas Merton Society and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. The Seasonal is published quarterly in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  The Merton Seasonal contains articles, book reviews and other information of interest to members of the Society.  

Ursuline College - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Alan Kolp presented "Merton's Spirituality: Walking Around Shining Like the Sun" at Ursuline College.  He was joined by BW Students Matthew Gesicki and Johanna Hoffman who also participated in the presentation.

This event was held at the Ursuline Educational Center (Sisters' Motherhouse), 2600 Lander Rd. in Pepper Pike, Ohio 44124. 

Sister Donna Kristoff shared her experience: 
"The students I have met from Professor Dr. Alan Kolp's course, "The Spirituality of Thomas Merton" demonstrate, not only a keen grasp of Thomas Merton's life and message, but a high level of scholarly insight evidenced by in-depth research papers. Forming close bonds of understanding through class interaction, students are prepared for their culminating trip to Merton's Abbey in Kentucky.  This immersion into Merton's milieu allows them to go deeper and to personally experience the heart of Merton's message: contemplation, community and compassion. Each student is enthusiastic in articulating the unique and enduring impact this class has had on their academic studies and on their lives."
Sister Donna Kristoff, O.S.U.
International Thomas Merton Society (ITMS), Board Member Cleveland
Chapter of ITMS, Co-ordinator

Johanna Hoffman reflected on the evening:
It was truly a blessing to have the opportunity to visit with the International Thomas Merton Society at their meeting at Ursuline College. It was outstanding to share in the words and spirit of Thomas Merton and to have the opportunity to experience a group of people who are truly "walking around and shining like the sun." How very encouraging to be completely overwhelmed with love!
Johanna Hoffman '14

2014 Faith & Life Lectures

The 2014 Faith & Life Lectures have concluded.  Featuring Dr. Paul Knitter, attendees enjoyed listening to his discussions about being Faithful in a Religiously Complex World.  In addition, the following Religion Majors/Minors participated in a panel discussion with Paul Knitter, Alan Kolp and Ellen Posman to discuss "The Promise and Perils of Religious Pluralism." 

Matthew Gesicki
Johnathon Jackson
Sophia Viglione

For your viewing pleasure, the complete series is available online:

“Being Faithful in a Religiously Complex World”

Dr. Paul F. Knitter, Ph.D.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
"Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian"

Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.
"The Necessity and Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue"

Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 2:00 p.m
"The Promise and Perils of Religious Pluralism" Panel Discussion

Merton Book Review

Alan Kolp was asked to write an extended book review of a new book on Thomas Merton & Taoism (Chinese religion/philosophy). The review was published in the Winter 2013 edition of The Merton Seasonal: A Quarterly Review.  The Merton Seasonal is a joint publication of the International Thomas Merton Society and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. The publication contains articles, book reviews and other information of interest to members of the Society.  Click here for further information.

The Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies - January 22- February 26, 2014

Alan Kolp recently completed teaching a four part series entitled:  "The Spirit of Thomas Merton: From Seeker to Sanctity".   The class ran from 7-9 pm every Wednesday starting on January 22, and ended on February 26, 2014 at Lakewood United Methodist Church.  The series focused on Thomas Merton and his life's journey which serves as a challenge and offers courage. His journey from being a spiritual seeker through his spiritual quest to becoming a saint, reveals multiple themes, particular problems, and surprising serendipities. The spirit of Merton provides a template for an examination of our own journey to sanctity. 


Oberlin College- Thursday, December 5, 2013

Alan Kolp presented a talk titled "Merton's Spirituality: Walking Around Shining Like the Sun" in the auditorium at Kendal at Oberlin College. 

Alan was joined in this presentation by several BW students in the course he is teaching this semester on Thomas Merton.

Feedback from event organizers was overwhelmingly positive.  Audience members described the event as "exciting, interesting, and fun to hear students' ideas."  The Baldwin Wallace students were "well-prepared and well-spoken."  Overall it was a great experience for students, and audience members as well.  

Matt Gesicki reflects on his experience:

“Every opportunity to speak publicly about Merton’s impact on my life is a privilege, especially when presenting with my fellow students. Merton is like a prism struck by light—each of us recognizes and experiences a different soul.”
Matt Gesicki '14 

Religion Students Experienced Life in Monastery- October 18-20, 2013

Students in Professor Kolp's Religion Seminar spent a weekend at the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville and Merton's monastery (Gethsemani) in Kentucky near New Haven. Merton (1915-1968) was a Trappist monk, poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. Students experienced firsthand what the monastic life is like.  Click here for a photo slideshow of the eye opening trip. 

BW Students recall the experience:

"Visiting Gethsemani inspires a beautiful combination of rejuvenation and exhaustion.  It is spiritually invigorating, but the schedule that the monks follow is somewhat draining.  I think following the liturgy of the hours with the monks helped many of us appreciate Merton, monasticism, and Catholicism in a new light.  This hands-on, experiential learning is absolutely invaluable. For that, as well as the quality time spent with our group, I am very grateful." 
Sophia Viglione '14

"Gethsemani is like a separate world, and in the axis of prayer upon which that world turns, I experienced a sense of fully inhabited faith. To be in the presence of men of such a magnitude of faith, if only for a single luminous day, was profoundly humbling. In Gethsemani, the laws of both silence and psalmody speak to the presence of God."
Matt Gesicki '14

"I really enjoyed this trip! I swear Merton was with us in spirit and it really woke me up and forced me to smell the fresh air and awake from the struggles of everyday life and appreciate friends and the Lord!  I feel almost reborn. Thank you for creating this memory for us."
Aileen M. Zietlow '15


Starting Point EventStarting Point's 6th Annual Leadership Conference- October 11, 2013

Alan Kolp was a special guest at Starting Point’s 6th Annual Leadership Conference at Corporate College East.  His spoke about his article, "Leading with Integrity" as it provided value to participants at the event.  Michelle Jones, a BW alumni who works for Starting Point initiated the presentation after reading Alan's article in an Alumni Publication.  Starting Point is a non-profit organization serving Lake, Geauga, Cuyahoga and Ashtabula counties.  The regional conference is designed for directors, administrators and owners of childcare programs as well as leaders in the public school system.  The conference has established itself as a vital forum for leaders in the field of early care and education. 

Community of St. Peter- October 7, 2013 at 7pm

Alan Kolp recently spoke at the Community of St. Peter in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Presentation and Dialogue focused on "The Discerning Community; God’s Desire for Us."  Dr. Alan Kolp presented as well as facilitated a discussion about factors important in community decision making.  Attendees felt the evening was very positive for the community.  One guest exclaimed:  "Alan Kolp was wonderful--brilliantly insightful, and irresistibly humble."  For more information about the Community of St. Peter, click here

Mount St. Benedictine Monastery - September 18, 2013

Alan Kolp presented at the Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, PA on "A Quaker in the Cloister:  Shared Views of Contemplation."  He discussed the Quaker understanding of what being "centered" means and correlate it with Christian understanding of being contemplative.  

Dr. Kolp explained how the process of contemplation can be summed up very simply in four words: DISCOVER, ENGAGE, EMBODY and PRACTICE the Presence. By “centering down” we can get in touch with the “Light,” the God within, and be enlightened. Of course, as Dr. Kolp pointed out, “To be a contemplative is to be intentional about being in touch with one’s center.” Everyone can be a contemplative if they really want to be.

In expressing her gratitude to Dr. Kolp, Sister Stephanie Schmidt, Director of Ongoing Formation, had this to say, “I quote Meister Eckhart, ‘What one takes in by contemplation, one pours out in love.’ Thank you, Alan, for pouring out so simply and for calling us to center down so we, too, can go forth pouring out love and making a difference.”  For more photos from the event, click here

Friendly Marketing:  Message, Motive, Means - August 16-18, 2013

Alan Kolp lead a workshop on Integrity + Interest = Income at the 2013 Earlham School of Religion Leadership Conference.

Dallas Benedictine Experience- June 19-22, 2013

Alan Kolp co-lead a monastic experience at the 16th Annual Benedictine Experience.  The event was held at the Catholic Conference and Formation Center in Dallas, Texas.  Topics included: 

*  Benedictine Practices for the Laity: Stability (Centered and Being Centered)
*  Benedictine Practices for the Laity: Obedience (Hearing, Being, and Doing) and
*  Benedictine Practices for the Laity: Conversion of Life (The Process is the Goal)

The Thirteenth General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society- June 13-16, 2013 

Alan Kolp lead a Session entitled:  "Merton: From Cloister to Classroom" at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Deshpande Consortium for Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Higher Education- June 12-13, 2013

Alan Kolp participated on a panel with Deborah Hoover, President of Burton D. Morgan Foundation.  The panel focused on entrepreneurship on liberal arts campuses.  The event, held in Boston, was an intimate gathering of higher education practitioners, academics and faculty.  The two-day event symposium included presentations, panel discussions and keynote talks examining critical areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies- April 2013

Alan Kolp recently taught a course entitled:  "A Quaker Looks at Thomas Merton" that ended on May 8th.   The discussion focused on:  "Everyone has a particular framework when reading Thomas Merton. A Quaker looks at Merton’s spirituality and sees his experiential foundation that lead Merton to Catholicism and the monastic life. A Quaker appreciates Merton’s spiritual growth, his spiritual depth and double quest; namely, to find God and one’s true self, for these are every human’s goals.."  


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