Duane Olson, Ph.D.
Professor of Religious Studies
Office: Carnegie Hall 216
Phone: (618) 537-6961
Ph.D., “Theology, Ethics, and Culture”, University of Iowa (1997)
Dissertation: Paul Tillich’s Early Philosophy of Religion from within the “System of the Sciences”
M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary (1988)
B.A., Humanities, Trinity College, (1981)
While my teaching involves a broad spectrum of courses in religion, including courses in world religion, my more specific focus is on biblical studies, the history of Christianity, and contemporary issues in Christianity. Most particularly, I am interested in the way in which Christianity, both in the past and at present, adapts itself and understands itself anew in the light of changes in the cultural and intellectual environment.
My research is primarily on the thought of the German/American philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich. I am convinced that his theology continues to be a fruitful resource for addressing the pressing issues of our time, such as pluralism and the encounter of the world religions, religion and history, religion and science, and religion and the environment.
“Felix Culpa, Film,” Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, DeGruyter, 2012.
Issues in Contemporary Christian Thought, Fortress Press, 2011. This is a textbook intended for use in undergraduate courses on Christianity or adult education classes in Christian churches.
“Hick and Tillich: Pluralism and Inclusivism, Critique and Construction,” Bulletin of the North American Paul Tillich Society, 34.4, Fall 2008.
“Paul Tillich and the Ontological Argument,” reprinted in International Yearbook for Tillich Research, Band 1/2006
“Tillich’s ‘Self-Interpretation of Man in Western Thought,’” Bulletin of the North American Paul Tillich Society, Spring 2005.
“Fall, Creation, and Redemption in Neil LaBute’s ‘The Shape of Things,’” Journal of Religion and Film, Volume 8, Number 1, April 2004.
Review of Religion in the New Millennium: Theology in the Spirit of Paul Tillich, ed’s Bulman and Parrella, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, March, 2003.
“Greening McKendree,” Presentation at Teaching for Excellence Workshop. McKendree University, August 2013, and January 2010.
“Feminism and the Christian Church,” Presentation at noon forum for faculty, staff, and students, McKendree University, November 18 2009.
“Hick and Tillich: Pluralism and Inclusivism, Critique and Construction,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Diego, November 20, 2007.
“Why you should care about Recycling.” Presentation at noon forum for faculty, staff, and students, McKendree College, October 11, 2006.
“Social Problems and Theological Implications.” Led a four week seminar with Dr. Lyn Huxford at Lebanon United Methodist Church, September 20-October 11, 2006.
“Understanding Islam,” Elderhostel, Todd Hall, Columbia, IL, April 11-12, 2005.
“Tillich’s ‘Self-Interpretation of Man in Western Thought,’” Annual Meeting of the North American Paul Tillich Society, November 19, 2004.
“Contemporizing the Parables,” Effingham United Methodist Church Speakers Series, July, 2004.
“The Irenaean versus the Augustinian Interpretation of the Fall of Humanity in ‘Pleasantville’ and ‘The Shape of Things,’” Midwest Regional American Academy of Religion Conference, April 3, 2004.
“Feminism and Christianity.” Member of a panel that addressed the topic, “Faces of Feminism,” McKendree College, March 3, 2004.
“Christianity and War.” Presentations for the Lebanon Community at the Lebanon United Methodist Church, March 17 and 24, 2003.
“The Religious Implications of September 11.” Member of a panel that addressed the topic: “Assessing September 11: One Year Later,” McKendree College, September 11, 2002.
“Paul Tillich’s Theory of Religion: Resource for Critical Pluralism.” Annual Meeting of the North American Paul Tillich Society, Denver, Colorado, November 23, 2001.
I think of teaching as a kind of service to others. It involves going out of oneself to meet another where they are in order to draw them forward to new ways of seeing themselves, their commitments and their world. It also involves continual personal transformation in the process, as the teacher’s own way of seeing him/herself is transformed in the encounter with each individual group of students and with the course material.
Teaching religion is a special joy and challenge as it allows me to ask the big questions of life in engagement with some of the most profound thinkers of human history.
I am a member of the American Academy of Religion. I am President of the North American Paul Tillich Society.