Some people define their calling in terms of a career or a place. Sue and I have always sensed that our calling is to a generation. The one constant in our professional life has been teaching and mentoring young men and women in educational settings. At times that means ministering to students and those who lead them. Other times it means teaching students how to minister and lead. Normally it is both. From high schoolers to undergraduates to seasoned professionals, our calling is first and foremost about a deep love for students.
My current day job is Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and University Professor of Cultural and Spiritual Formation at Johnson University in Knoxville, TN. For the past eight years, my night job has been helping young Hollywood filmmakers learn to live soul-nourishing lives in a soul-deadening environment. The two are not as disparate as you might suspect. A deep grasp of story, worldview, and character development are as central to spiritual formation and leadership development as they are to filmmaking.
My dream is to help my students become true “Two Handed Warriors,” capable of integrating the life of the Spirit with the life of the Mind in everything they do. To me that process begins in a philosophy of leadership development rooted in a deep understanding of story (God’s, ours, and our culture’s) made possible only through the spiritual disciplines of study, prayer and contemplation, fleshed out through a deep commitment to solitude, community, and service.
We’ve devoted this Two Handed Warriors website to educators, filmmakers, artists, philanthropists, business and spiritual formation professionals who have found themselves on a similar journey. If you’re tired of settling for the false dichotomies of contemporary life (sacred vs. secular, faith vs. culture, etc.) then you’ve found the website for you.
Peruse the original and curated posts to see if they strike a nerve. Then, if you’d like to join our private conversation (we no longer invite public comments), contribute an original article, or point out someone else’s work we should curate, email me through the contact link. We’re glad you found us.
Read more at About Two Handed Warriors.
Gary David Stratton is Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and University Professor of Spiritual Formation and Cultural Engagement at Johnson University in Knoxville, TN. His unique commitment to integrate the life of the mind, the life of the Spirit, and the life of the arts has propelled him to an unusual career of developing cultural leaders from Hollywood, to the Ivy League, to the local church.
In higher education, Gary holds a PhD on the impact of Jonathan Edwards’ theology/spirituality in American higher education, and has served as VP, Dean, Director, and Professor at eight colleges and universities in the U.S. and China. In 2007 he was named Senior Fellow by the Association of Biblical Higher Education.
In Hollywood, Gary served as Executive Director of Act One Training for Hollywood, and founder of the Hollywood Bezalel Initiative. He currently serves on the board of Compass College of Cinematic Arts.
In ministry, Gary has served as a church planter, youth pastor, and campus minister, as well as a member of the steering committees for the Los Angeles Concerts of Prayer and the Boston Ministers Prayer Summit. He currently serves as chairman of the Knoxville “Future of Hope” Lilly Endowment Youth Theology Institute and vice-chair of Bethany Global University and School of Missions (MN).
Recent speaking engagements include: Princeton Theological Seminary, the Columbia University Film Festival, the Institute for Campus Renewal sponsored by Yale Divinity School’s Jonathan Edwards Center, Regent University, Messiah, Geneva, and Tabor Colleges. Gary and his wife, Sue, have four children. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
Recent Press Releases and Interviews
Raising David’s Army: The Arts and Sciences at Johnson University (Johnson University Magazine), 2017
Bezalel Rising: Gary David Stratton Speaks at Princeton on Hollywood Storytelling and Culture-Making Communities of Faith (Bethel University Magazine), 2013