|by Patrick Smith '08 • April 29, 2005|
Professor of Religion and Philosophy Stephen Webb is working on another book this summer. Providence and Promiscuity is in late stages of writing and revision. The book, dealing with religion, sex, and marriage, is an outgrowth of the Theology of Sex and Marriage class which he taught spring semester. He is also contemplating books on Bob Dylan and Church history. He is also contributing articles to a book on philosophy and basketball.
"Much of my writing lately has emerged from the courses I teach or from other interactions with students," Webb explained.
His two books of 2004, American Providence and The Divine Voice, have garnered positive reviews. In fact, The Divine Voice has made it onto several top-ten lists for Christian books in 2004. American Providence deals with many of the recent political developments in the United States and the world within a religious context. They are among eight books that he has published, including titles such as Good Eating and On God and Dogs.
"American Providence was really my attempt to explain to myself, and anyone who would read it, why I became a conservative," Webb said. "I really wrote that book for the students who had goaded me and helped me to discover my conservative voice. That book emerged from conversations and interactions with students, too."
His forthcoming book Providence and Promiscuity is an exploration of sexual ethics in a modern Christian context. His perennially popular "sex and marriage" class was an inspiration. That class explores many aspects of modern sexuality and marriage through a theological lens. His projects on Bob Dylan and Church history are both in the rough draft phase, but they hit on topics that interest him. His work on Bob Dylan continues his explorations of 1960s countercultural figures in the context of religion and philosophy. His recent article, "What Lenny Bruce Really Died For," was another such exploration.
Church history is a topic that interests Webb greatly. He will be teaching the church history cycle during the 2005-06 school year. His book will be a defense of a study of church history by Christians, which Webb feels might be lacking today.
His projects on basketball and philosophy are on Bob Knight, the former Indiana University basketball coach, and on high school gymnasia. In those works, Webb will paint a larger picture of those institutions, beyond flung seating and Saturday night basketball games. In fact, his analysis of gymnasia will appeal to a lost communitarian instinct, such as that discussed by sociologist Robert Nisbet.
Webb, a 1983 summa cum laude graduate of Wabash College, received his Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Chicago in June 1989. He had been at Wabash off-and-on since 1987, but joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1989. He served as an associate professor from 1994-2002, receiving his professorship in May 2002. He serves as the faculty representative to the National Association of Wabash Men board of directors. Among his other associations, Webb is a member of the Dulles Forum, founded by Jesuit scholar Avery Cardinal Dulles, and a co-chair of the Christian Vegetarian Association.
Webb is the most prolific author currently on the faculty, and his books always garner national attention. He has been called to give lectures and participate in discussions on his books at places like Kalamazoo College, Creighton University, and Purdue University. His newest projects continue his work of exploring everyday situations through the lens of astute theology. While students hard at work or play during the summer, Professor Webb will be working on more books for theologians and laymen alike.
Smith '08 writes for Wabash College's student newspaper The Bachelor and for The Commentary. This story first appeared in the April 38 issue of The Bachelor.