St. Olaf News


St. Olaf students launch ecumenical journal of Christian thought


Avodah staff members include (standing, from left) Kyle Gibbs ’14, Chance Bonar ’15, Robert Lehmann ’15, Amy Mihelich ’16, Anna Priore ’16, (sitting, from left) Andrew Fuglestad ’14, Ellie Anderson ’16, Maddie Osgood ’16, and Nicole Newell ’15.

Nicole Newell ’15 knew that she wasn’t the only St. Olaf College student interested in examining the intersections between faith and academic work.

She also knew that a number of other schools around the country — including Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Swarthmore, and Princeton — have student-run Christian journals dedicated to doing just that.

So she followed suit and launched Avodah, a new ecumenical journal of Christian thought written and edited by St. Olaf students.

The recently released inaugural issue includes a collection of articles, essays, poems, and artwork that Newell and other staff members hope inspire constructive conversation about meaning and truth.

“A published journal provides students with the opportunity to think more deeply about these intersections through the process of researching, writing, and editing,” Newell says. “The larger student body is able to engage with the mature ideas of other students, chew on them, and discuss them with peers and professors.”

The cover of the inaugural issue of Avodah.

The cover of the inaugural issue of Avodah.

“Avodah” is a Hebrew word that means both work and worship, which Newell says represents the desire of the journal’s staff to integrate their work as students — learning to be critical thinkers — with honoring God.

And in the first issue, they do that in a variety of ways. Drew Voigt ’14 relates the incarnation to mathematical concepts of infinity. Alli Livingston ’16 shares prints that encourage readers to ponder the phrase “intimate immensity.” And Darrell Jodock ’62, the Martin E. Marty Regents Chair in Religion and the Academy, analyzes how the college’s Lutheran identity supports interreligious diversity and dialogue.

“We think that faith and reason can complement one another and want to promote that kind of understanding here,” Newell says.

The Avodah staff plans to publish the journal once each semester, and subscriptions are free. It is one of several student-run journals on campus, including The Quarry, the literary and visual arts magazine, and The Reed, an interdisciplinary journal of existentialism.