Author, theologian, mentor: Professor helps students ‘change the world’

Dr. Gregg Garrett has been a professor at Baylor for 34 years and has taught a multitude of courses in film, creative writing and even theology. Kassidy Tsikitas | Photo Editor

By Bella Whitmore | Intern

From teaching at Baylor and authoring almost 30 books to preaching at churches around the world, there are not many fields where Dr. Greg Garrett does not have his foot in the door.

Garrett has been a professor at Baylor for 34 years and has taught a multitude of courses in film, creative writing and even theology. Beyond Baylor, Garrett has an impressive resume, which includes serving as an honorary canon theologian at the American Cathedral in Paris and writing various articles and essays for prominent outlets such as FOX News and The Washington Post.

“It makes it hard to answer the standard question, ‘What do you do?’” Garrett said. “I’m most effective in the classroom when I write and do research, so they do tend to fit together, varied as the various expressions may be. I tend to get bored really easily, so it’s good for me to work on multiple things, be interested in a variety of topics and teach different classes.”

Despite succeeding in a variety of fields, the foundation for a lot of Garrett’s passions is biblical.

“During those years as a full-time divinity student, I grew to love theology, broadly expressed,” Garrett said. “It deals with so many vital questions: Who or what is God? Who are we? Why are we here? How are we supposed to treat each other?”

Garrett’s seminary background shines through in all his professions, Dallas sophomore Emelie Wong said.

“There are many films that we discuss in class that inevitably carry messages very applicable to the church, such as ‘Magnolia,’ that delves into themes of forgiveness and grace,” Wong said. “He also talks a lot about how he shows and watches many of these films in churches and cathedrals in order to help change people’s minds about certain things.”

For Garrett, all these interests and career paths converge into one idea: the power of storytelling. At the crux of Garrett’s teaching, writing and preaching seems to be an essential empathy to all human experiences and the question of how we can learn from one another’s stories.

“We are made of stories — the ones people tell about us, the ones we tell about ourselves,” Garrett said. “Stories are how we make sense of our lives and order our experience. Stories make us laugh and make us cry and make us think. As a novelist, a theologian, a preacher and a teacher — not to mention husband, dad and friend — stories are central to who I am and what I do.”

This commitment to understanding and openness to a variety of stories and experiences, whether it be about race, gender or other factors, has established Garrett as a beloved and welcoming professor to those who take his classes.

“When we come into class, he calls us by our names and asks each of us individually how we are doing, and he’s very clearly invested in all of our lives,” Wong said. “It is just very evident that he truly cares a lot, which makes him pretty special.”

Garrett not only serves Baylor students with open arms but also challenges and critiques many preconceived notions they may bring when coming into class, showing his dedication to shaping a more understanding and well-rounded generation.

“If we don’t talk about big questions, nothing will change,” Garrett said. “James Baldwin used to say that not every problem can be solved by facing it, but no problem can be solved if we don’t. I believe that, and I hope my classes help Baylor students wrestle with big issues and understand their faith a little better. Baylor students can change the world.”