Beginning his undergrad experience at Albion College (MI) as a pre-med student, football player, and trumpet performer, finding himself teaching theology at Walsh University today is surprisingly no surprise. Upon graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Trumpet Performance, Wallenfang entered into full time youth / music ministry in the Roman Catholic Church. He served in parish youth ministry for 10 years before entering the field of academia. It was also at Albion College where he met his wife, Megan (who too is a musician), and from their marriage have sprung five amazing children: Ellen, Aubin, Tobias, Callum and Simeon. For Wallenfang, it is a great privilege and responsibility to teach theology at Walsh – a theology which emerges from the saturating experiences of life. That is to say, a theology which emerges from all life experiences which each saturate to certain degrees.
Wallenfang's philosophy of teaching is rooted in the model of servant leadership. He seeks first and foremost to serve his students passionately and creatively through diverse teaching methods. Utilizing the latest classroom technologies, he can be found incorporating small group work, student presentation, Prezi, YouTube videos and clickers all in the same class period. His vision of servant leadership begins in the classroom but does not end there. Service learning is also an integral part of his courses, inviting students to enter into meaningful and life-giving relationships with their neighbors in community. In summary, his approach is one that integrates the complementary components of teaching, learning and service, altogether at the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Wallenfang does not shy away from tough questions emerging from postmodern human experience. His research attempts to bridge the relevance gap between religious faith and 'the real world.' He also seeks to bring together critical theological reflection with relevant pastoral experience. In order to form such a viable bridge, he utilizes the latest developments in philosophical theology—in particular, phenomenology and hermeneutics. His research focuses on the relationship between material and spiritual being, evolutionary theory, and the phenomenology of the sacrament. Further, his scholarship focuses on the work of Edith Stein, Emmanuel Levinas, Paul Ricoeur and Jean-Luc Marion. He is a member of the Edith Stein Circle and the North American Levinas Society.
Recent and Forthcoming Publications:
- [under review]—Trilectic of Testimony: Toward a Dialectical Phenomenology of the Sacrament. Indiana: Indiana University Press.
- [forthcoming]—"Geisteswissenschaft: Edith Stein's Phenomenological Sketch of the Essence of Spirit" in H. R. Sepp (ed). Edith Stein: Intersubjectivity, Humanity and Being. Nordhausen: Traugott Bautz.
- [forthcoming]—"Aperture of Absence: Jean-Luc Marion on the God Who 'Is Not'" in J. Diller and A. Kasher (eds). Models of God and Other Ultimate Realities. New York: Springer.
- [forthcoming]—"Awaken, O Spirit: The Vocation of Becoming in the Work of Edith Stein," Logos.
- 2011—"Figures and Forms of Ultimacy: Manifestation and Proclamation as Paradigms of the Sacred," The International Journal of Religion in Spirituality and Society, Vol. 1, No. 3: 109-114.
- 2011— "Sacramental Givenness: The Notion of Givenness and its Import for Interpreting the Phenomenality of the Eucharist," Philosophy and Theology, Vol. 22, Nos. 1-2: 131-154.
- 2010— "Private Parts and Personalism: Questions on Human Sexual Union," DePaul University Humanities Center: "Gender and Sexuality: A One-Day Interdisciplinary Symposium," proceedings, January 28, 2010, pp. 35-52.
In addition to teaching at Walsh, Wallenfang is a member of the General Education Committee and highly involved in his home parish, St. Anthony in Canton. There he assists with the Junior High ministry and children's music ministry. Further, he is to be found making popular presentations in theology, such as on the life and work of Edith Stein and Emmanuel Levinas, and on the Eucharist.