Faith and religion
Ruth completed her BA in Soviet and East European Studies magna cum laude with the presentation of a senior honors thesis on the Russian Orthodox Church under Soviet Communist rule. During her time as a student, the USSR and its satellite countries in Eastern Europe experienced tremendous upheaval and disruptive shifts in their relationships to each other and to the US and its allies in the West. She enjoyed the challenges presented to her program by these continuous changes. During her studies, she also participated in a Holocaust Education program that first made her aware of ongoing discrimination against minorities of all descriptions.
The course of study for the Master of Divinity degree required Ruth to take courses in Old and New Testament interpretation, worship preparation and leadership, congregational administration and leadership including a 9-month internship at a parish, Christian education, pastoral care and counseling, sermon preparation and delivery, world religions, philosophy, and Christian social ethics. Spiritual guidance and pastoral identity development work was also required but not credited for academic progress. Ruth graduated magna cum laude.
The precis for Ruth's dissertation states:
Deepening faith in God and growing scientific understanding of the world around us both begin with the statement, “I wonder…” Using this phrase as the common foundation, learners of all ages who participate in “I Wonder…Gaining Wisdom and Growing Faith Through Scientific Exploration” will develop an appreciation for the role of science in our modern world and how being scientifically curious and literate can deepen the practice of one’s Christian faith, particularly as we are called to be caretakers of creation. Wisdom in the person of Sophia will guide learners through Bible study and experiments as they gain knowledge as people of faith and of science. This experience prepares people of faith to counter the prevailing perception of Christianity as “anti-science” when they speak knowledgeably and confidently about principles of science, including the age of the universe and the theory of evolution. They can also be informed and respected voices in ethical and moral debates about the use of science and technology in the twenty-first century, giving authority to Christian perspectives about climate change and all the threats it brings; habitat destruction in the pursuit of profit; questions of medical ethics and morality such as those raised by genetic manipulation, the artificial extension of human life, and the distribution of medical resources; and even the cost of scientific exploration of space in relation to its benefits.
Ruth publishes newsletter articles in church publications as part of regular employment (170) plus many more articles written as a volunteer writer. Topics of these articles include Bible stories and characters, community events, worship themes, reports on experiences as a congregational leader, and reflections on Christian vocation. She also writes retreat curricula for Christian groups, lectures for faith formation groups, and blog posts on current events that evoke a spiritual or faith-based response. In addition, she writes sermons for delivery to Christian and occasionally to interfaith congregations.
Ruth writes curriculum as part of her primary vocation. Her specialty is in-person courses for adult learners in casual course such as Bible study groups. She also writes for and teaches in an online Competency Based Education program and has seven years of experience teaching academically oriented Introduction to Old Testament and Introduction to New Testament courses for a ministry preparation program. Her curriculum writing experience extends to children and youth, as well. Her doctoral dissertation included an intergeneration curriculum focused on hands-on scientific experimentation in churches.
Ruth's previous work in science has primarily been for academic credit. She is currently writing a book for non-scientists that has substantial science content, specifically in physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and astronomy/cosmology. This book is adapted from her doctoral dissertation about the experience of wonder as the common root of faith inquiry and scientific inquiry about the world. Her paid project in this field was a worship service resource for Evolution/Science and Technology Weekend.
Ruth has prepared speeches in the form of weekly sermons for over ten years as well as lectures for courses she has taught for seven years. She has been sermon manuscript preparation coach in the course of her work as an instructor in clergy training programs.
Ruth writes articles for monthly newsletters of regular employers, covering faith and many other subjects. Newsletter articles may be third-person or first-person, depending on content and parameters of each assignment. Newsletter content may also resemble marketing copy or promotional material for upcoming events.
Based on her experience working in the marketing department of a software company, Ruth has become the point person in many paid and volunteer positions when press releases are required for news and events. Her experience as a public speaker is a valuable asset in this specialty.