Christians for the Common Good ‘Important for History’s Sake’
By Kyra Krzywicki – Staff Writer
What began as a back-and-forth discussion about social and political issues between two neighboring professors has turned into an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to reflect on what the Christian response to a suffering world might look like.
Will Cohen and Christian Krokus, both professors in the theology department, found themselves knocking on each other’s office doors in late 2016 to discuss rising tensions in America, which then led to them founding Christians for the Common Good, or CCG, a reading and discussion group that also features a semester newsletter.
“It seemed to Dr. Krokus and me that the country was going through, sort of, convulsions. We were talking a lot about that, just the two of us. How CCG arose is that we felt it would be important to get more people in the conversation that we kept having sort of relentlessly that spring and summer and fall, and we wanted to make it something that other people could enter into,” Cohen said.
Krokus said that the group also provides a unique perspective of communication between University of Scranton community members.
“It’s good to have a space in which sensitive issues of faith and public life can be talked about in a critical and constructive way. Also, and a number of people have commented on this, it’s a space where faculty, staff, students and residents can speak with each other as peers,” Krokus said.
How do they tackle such difficult topics?
They gather about five times per semester on Fridays at noon to eat pizza, reflect on pre-read texts and sometimes even gather ideas for their next newsletter publication.
The group also opens with a prayer that Cohen said invites the Holy Spirit to be with, cleanse and save them.
He has recently spent some time thinking about what this prayer means for the group.
“It could mean a lot of things, but I think for purposes of our CCG life it means, you know, cleanse us from self-centeredness. Open us to be able to respond to the invitation of the Gospel to be giving, to be compassionate and to be self-sacrificing as needed for the good of others,” Cohen said.
Krokus said the newsletter, first published in 2018 and now known as CCG News, is a means of sharing these discussions and ideas in a more permanent way, beyond the realm of in-person discussion.
“We think that, partly, we’re documenting that these conversations were happening on our campus in these moments, and that seems important for history’s sake as well,” Krokus said.
Senior biology and philosophy major Julia Turnak has participated in the group since her first year on campus and said CCG gives her an outlet to reflect on social concerns through the lens of Christianity and her peers’ reflections.
“I enjoy attending CCG meetings because it gives me the opportunity to read about and reflect on current issues and to learn from the perspectives of other Scranton students, faculty and staff,” Turnak said.
Cohen hopes the group starts conversations about social issues and allows students to think about how faith plays a role in these topics.
“I hope that it encourages students to see that a life of faith and an ethical life of any kind requires paying attention to policies and circumstances where people might be unjustly, you know, treated or might be suffering — that we have to be paying attention out there so that politics is not irrelevant to our faith, but it really is a piece of love of neighbor,” Cohen said.
If you’re interested in attending one of CCG’s meetings, your next opportunity is Dec. 2 at 12 p.m. in LSC 127.
If you’d like to read the six previous editions of CCG News, go to https://digitalservices.scranton.edu/digital/, and type “CCG News” into the “Search Digital Items” tab.
Turnak shared some advice for students who are curious about CCG and considering becoming regular attendees.
“I would say to a student interested in CCG that it is a wonderfully welcoming and kind community that values the perspectives of students,” Turnak said.