A book launch to celebrate Professor Ted Turnau’s latest work, Oasis of Imagination, shows the lively academic community of AAU. 

The launch was planned and moderated by Professor Seth Rogoff. Rogoff believes the school needs to highlight and spotlight the creative works of students and faculty, and Turnau’s work is an excellent example. 

“I think the institution [AAU] needs to do more to spotlight work like Teds; other than the teaching, there’s a lot of exciting things being done creatively at this school, and I don’t think a lot of people know about it. Part of why I wanted to do this event was to spotlight it; it’s good for the whole AAU community,” said Professor Rogoff.

Photo by: Gabriella Burgess

It is beneficial to AAU students to see academics engaging in creative work alongside academia. Students can see in Ted and other similar works examples of work that can be done outside the university environment, according to Rogoff. 

“There’s a sort of myth that when academics engage in public discourse, it’s less valid than strict academic work, and I find that argument very deficient,” said Rogoff. “It’s important for students to see faculty doing work that’s even beyond academia because students aren’t usually heading into academia; they are heading into society,” he continued. 

The book is aimed primarily at people in the Christian Church, especially in America and the UK. It discusses how popular culture and creativity are not being fully understood or accepted in the Church—how Christians are at a ‘culture war’ with non-Christians and how that is problematic.

Photo by: Gabriella Burgess

“What you are doing is valid, and desperately needed, and failing in its aesthetic calling,” said Turnau to the Christian creatives. 

A 19-year-old boy featured in the book told Turnau that he became a DJ and asked if he should quit, as the people in his church thought it was wrong. “If Jesus was alive, I think he’d be in the clubs,” said Turnau. 

His aim for AAU students is to recognize through this book more tolerance: “I see a lot of students, especially Americans, who were hurt by the church and think the whole thing is bad, and that’s just not true. It might be convenient to say that, but it’s not true, so maybe it would make it harder for students to generalize.” 

Turnau hopes that the students of AAU can read the book and learn that you can have a more nuanced approach to looking at and talking about Christianity in the mainstream media.

This event was open to the public as well as the school. Rogoff and Turnau said they were pleased with the turnout and had heard faculty and students beam about the event. AAU book launches shed light on the work of professors outside of class and show students the possibilities after university.