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Public Intellectuals, the Public Square and the Pursuit of the Common Good

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We are at a crossroads in the US on many fronts, including the intersection of sound logic with pressing concerns. Throughout our history we have had men and women with tremendous influence speak into contemporary issues through their thought, whether manifest in writing or speaking. We are navigating an era in which many have tried to discard the law of noncontradiction. The very humanities basis for life’s important questions is considered suspect as educational institutions are under pressure. We indeed can learn from the steps of public intellectuals with transferable lessons for such a time as this.

Dr. Jerry Pattengale’s recent book, Public Intellectuals and the Common Good, is one glimpse of these lessons, accenting his decade long project and book in progress, Borrowed Intelligence: Learning in the Shadows of Geniuses.

Jerry Pattengale, the founding scholar of Museum of the Bible (DC), has authored dozens of books, including The State of the Evangelical Mind and Public Intellectuals and the Common Good (2021), with others coming out within the next year: Cultivating Mentors, The World’s Greatest Book, and The New Book of Christian Martyrs. He has published in various other venues like WSJ, RNS, WaPo, CT, Chicago Tribune, etc., and was co-author of the six-hour TV series, Inexplicable: The Spread of Christianity to the Ends of the Earth (Telly Award, 2021), and the corresponding book. He is the inaugural University Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, and has received several educational and writing awards, media requests, substantial funding for projects, and holds distinguished posts at Sagamore Institute, Gordon- Conwell Theological Seminary, Excelsia College (Australia), Waverley Abbey (UK) & Tyndale House–Cambridge. On February 14, 2020, he spoke at the United Nations on protecting religious spaces, and served as interim president of Religion News Service (2019-20). He serves on boards at Yale (JEC), Christianity Today, Christian Scholar’s Review (assoc. pub.), Africa New Life (Rwanda), Changing Destiny (Asia), and the membership committee of The National Press Club (DC)—receiving its “Vivian Award” in 2021. Via his current role at the museum, Senior Advisor to the President, in 2021 he secured a 180-book deal and established a new ten-year partnership with Tyndale House Publishing. His MA degrees are in Interpersonal Development (Wheaton, IL) and History (Miami, OH), and his PhD is in Ancient History (Miami, OH, under Edwin Yamauchi). In recent years he also helped bring to light key events in the antiquities world, from well-circulated stories at RNS, the “Jesus Wife Hoax” via WSJ, and the NT papyri thefts via Christianity Today. He graduated from high school at 16 and was homeless, a story featured in “Leading the Way out of Poverty” (PBS/WIPB, 2006), and background of his 20-year humorous award-winning news column. The mantra in his pioneering McGraw-Hill books on Purpose-Guided education is “The dream needs to be stronger than the struggle.”