Providence sees him as a man dressed in black with a South African accent and they know him as Dr. Gideon Strauss. He is the newest faculty addition to the college this semester, teaching the Philosophy and History of Beauty and the Imagination, which is a class that the college has long envisioned.
Strauss is a proponent for justice, a practiced writer, a professor, and a Reformed scholar who seeks to live out his faith in everyday life.
Strauss was born and raised in South Africa during the time when the country was under apartheid law. In his teen years, he was converted to Christ when his girlfriend, Angela, (now his wife) gave him a copy of the New Testament and he read it. Scripture opened up his eyes to see who Jesus is, and ever since, “belonging to God” has been his greatest comfort.
His conversion led to his involvement in a local Youth for Christ movement. In this group, he befriended some black teenagers and this is when he first “saw the insides of their homes and the conditions of their lives in their neighborhoods, racially segregated by apartheid law.” Apartheid is “a policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-Europeans in the Republic of South Africa.” (merrian-webster.com) After reading Isaiah 58, Strauss realized that it is not an option to choose whether or not to fight against injustice; he was called to work against the racism in South Africa.
From 1985-1995, he studied at the University of the Orange Free State and received his PhD in Philosophy and Ethics. At the time, this was an apartheid institution, but while there, he learned more about his responsibilities to fight against apartheid law. Here he was also introduced to aesthetics.
Since his late teens, Strauss has written for many opinion journals. Two of which were Comment, the publication of the World Research Foundation, now called Cardus, and Capital Commentary, the publication for the Center for Public Justice. He describes himself as an “opinion journal junkie” and his love for journals and skill at writing led him to become the editor of both magazines for a time.
In his fight for justice, he worked as an interpreter for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which allowed victims of the former apartheid South African government to share their experiences. For three years he worked in the Department of Labor as a conscientious objector of four year conscription in the South African military under the apartheid government. Later he was an advisor to the assembly which constructed the South African constitution in 1996. Strauss has also volunteered for the International Justice Mission of Canada which fights sexual trafficking, bonded labour, etc.
Strauss left South Africa in 1998 after finishing his work at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He moved with his family to Vancouver, BC, Canada to spend time at Regent College.While in Canada, he moonlighted as a professor at Redeemer College and a few other colleges.
Since October 2009, Strauss has worked as the CEO of the Center for Public Justice. He describes his responsibility with three words, “Mission, Morale and Money.” He leads the CPJ towards its mission and encourages other members to continue towards it as well. He also ensures that the center has the financial support that it needs to fulfill its mission, while continuing to write for Capital Commentary.
In the summer of 2010 Strauss and his family moved to Pasadena, California. They moved because his wife, Angela, is a graduate student at Fuller Seminary. He attends Grace Pasadena PCA and he enjoys the community of believers there.
Those who are acquainted with Strauss know that he adores his family very much. He says that he has loved his wife since their first date. They have two daughters, Tala and Hannah. Strauss said, “My two daughters are very different from each other, but I think I can unabashedly say that I am a total and complete fan of each of them.”
Although Strauss is teaching a class in Aesthetics, he does not consider himself an artist. However, he believes that everyone is an imaginative person. “I try to respond to God’s call to be imaginative in every area of my life. And so, for example, I try and bring imagination to my teaching, but also to some very ordinary parts of my life: how I dress, how I eat, how I contribute to the choice and arrangement of furniture and decorations in my home and workplaces.” He also claims that dressing almost exclusively in black is imaginative and inspired by Johnny Cash and 17th Century Dutch painters.
Junior Emily Van Dyke is thrilled to have Dr. Strauss as the new Aesthetics professor. She said, “He is teaching us that the philosophy of beauty is about God.”
President Halvorson is also excited to have Dr. Strauss as a part of the Providence faculty. He said, “Dr. Strauss brings to Providence an impressive knowledge of Reformed thought along with a demonstrated commitment to applying the whole counsel of Scripture to every aspect of life. His own life bears testimony to his desire to submit completely to Word of God, and his passion for bringing every thought captive to Christ is infectious… He’s also got a great South African accent.”