priest of Oskaloosa continues his work in the Middle East | Local News

A local priest uses the support of a prestigious scholarship to conduct scholarly work in the Middle East.

Reverend Terence J. Kleven is the priest of St. James’s Episcopal Church in Oskaloosa, a professor of religion and philosophy at Central College, and a recipient of the prestigious U.S. Department of State Fulbright Fellowship, a program that offers opportunities of research to undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs in various fields.

Kleven is currently completing the first year of a two-year research trip to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his work in the field of Arabic philosophy. However, he took time out of his studies to speak to The Herald about the often confusing task of understanding humanity and its importance in today’s world.

“I think in some ways modern natural science is kind of in crisis. And because it has such a huge influence on everything we do, how we understand ourselves as people, as human beings, how we understand health, how we understand the origins and purposes of life – there must be constant reflection on the things that are most important to us as human beings. of peace, friendship and love,” Kleven said.

“There must be studies devoted to those areas of life which contribute primarily to our understanding of ourselves as human beings – as rational and reasonable human beings, and especially as human beings apart whole, not just as, you know, technicians or specialists or IT people.

Kleven has long been a champion of teaching the humanities, applying both his academic work in the fields of religion and philosophy, as well as his experience as a priest, to his work as a professor at Central College. However, he advocates exposure to matters of spirituality and philosophy not only in an academic setting, but also in everyday life.

“I would add, in the midst of this, that there must be a proper place for traditions that represent the importance of spirituality to us, and in particular, the importance of Christianity and Christian teaching to us. as a people, as a nation,” Kleven advised. “And so I hope to establish a richer account of science, a more comprehensive account of science, that would be more respectful or would be more supportive of the importance of Christian teaching and Christian understandings of life, politics and life, justice and so on.

Her current scholarship in Jordan is not Kleven’s first experience with the Fulbright program. He previously received a Fulbright to study in Beirut, Lebanon and also worked in Berlin, Germany. Now in Amman, Jordan, Kleven is taking the opportunity to continue her education in Arabic Philosophy and Biblical Studies.

“I work in Arabic philosophy, and so being in a setting where I can use my Arabic and improve my Arabic is good for my research, so that’s a big reason,” Kleven said. “Second, to meet people who are interested in politics and religion in the Middle East. It’s a good place for that.

The country is a perfect fit in more ways than one for Central College’s resident Old Testament scholar.

“Jordan is part of the biblical lands that we learn about, so all the areas that the Israelites passed through during the Exodus, as they ascended from the Sinai Peninsula into the land, they passed through the land of Jordan here .”

One of the highlights of Kleven’s time in Jordan was visiting places of biblical significance with his wife.

“We went up the east side of the Dead Sea, or the Salt Sea. There’s a place in the north that I hadn’t visited the last time we were here. It is called Umm Qais, and it is one of the ten cities of the Decapolis.

Although he enjoys his free time and makes the most of the academic opportunity, Kleven is always very aware of what is happening at home and abroad. As a researcher in the field of political philosophy, he observed world events with an eye for history.

“It is important to know what happens when tyranny and tyrannical regimes take hold – what are the dynamics that allow them to flourish, what could have been done to try to stop them more early ? When you get to the point of waging wars with tyrants, you’ve obviously let things go on too long,” Kleven explained. “And so we pay those prices again, or the Ukrainians do. We are paying for it financially, but Ukrainians are paying for it with their lives, just to stop a tyrant who has been given too much leniency for too many years.

This, he argues, is just one reason why the humanities – the study of the very essence of what it means to be human – remain vitally important to this day.

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