Stephen Wallace - My life has been a scenic journey. I have lived coast to coast and for more than eight years in Germany. Somewhere along the way, I turned into a lifelong learner and have earned four graduate degrees: two in religious and theological studies (Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry) and two in higher and adult education administration (Master of Education and Ph.D.). I think this is the result of my high school sweetheart, who is now my wife, many years ago looking me in the eye and saying, "I don't date dummies." We now have three grown children and are the proud "Omah" and "Opah" to three grandchildren.
My broad professional experiences have included serving as a college instructor, academic advisor, program coordinator and administrator, and as a military chaplain and church pastor. The exciting opportunity to teach religious studies at University of Central Missouri was added to my life's journey in 2003. I have also taught religious studies courses for Drury University, The University of Maryland University College-Europe, and Oklahoma Baptist University.
Why Religious Studies?
To me, the study of religion, for the religious person as well as the non-religious, is one of the most important subjects for exploration. Associate Justice Tom Clark wrote: "It might well be said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization." Religion is more than just a set of beliefs or rituals. Religion can be a worldview and a way of life. It can define who you are, how you view the world around you, and how you interact within it. Religion has shaped nations, started wars, and has motivated some of the most charitable and most inhumane acts in human history. Religion influences almost everything in our culture from the Constitution to music to the latest hairdo. Because religion plays a significant role in history and society, study about religion is central to a better understanding of self and others that is essential to democracy and world peace.
In the courses I teach, I take an academic rather than devotional approach to religion. The courses explore a diversity of religious views but do NOT promote or put down any religion or anyone's religion. I aim to inform about various beliefs and NOT attempt to convert to any particular way of religious thinking. The purpose is to educate about religions and NOT indoctrinate. Students are asked simply to enter with an open mind and explore. They often discover that people have more in common than you'd think. The result is an increased understanding of one's own religious views and respect for the belief systems of others.
What do I do for fun? I walk our dog, Mr. Pete--a schnauzer--and I am an "in the closet" country and western lyrics writer, who has never published anything. The late, great Lewis Grizzard is my favorite author. He wrote such classics as Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself and an unpublished song, "She Ripped My Heart Out and Stomped That Sucker Flat." No, he is not required reading for the courses I teach.
My life is a work in progress. I believe as Tennyson said that "I have become a part of all I have met." The journey continues.
Contact Dr. Wallace: firstname.lastname@example.org