We Need Each Other – More Than Ever Before

German Observations on the Current American Situation

In these days of considerable turbulence and uncertainty in the United States, we at the Project on Lived Theology have found ourselves hungering for the voices of our sisters and brothers around the globe. We invited Bishop Wolfgang Huber, a prominent German theologian and ethicist, to write a theological response to the current American political situation. In his piece, he reflects on Donald Trump as “a new focal point for the well-known phenomenon of ‘German Angst’” and finds hope in the lived witnesses of American citizens. Read his essay here, and watch this space in the coming months for more reflections from our fellow travelers around the world.

Excerpt: “Therefore it is a central task of Christians to speak frankly about our doubts, our anxieties, our xenophobia. Only in addressing those feelings do we have the chance to develop a realistic picture of our situation. Only if we learn to express our fears can we develop hope. Only if we address the reasons for mutual distrust can we develop trust. To develop the strength for such an approach we need each other. We need each other even more than ever before. Our understanding of the human person created into the image of God is at stake.”

To browse our PLT resource collection, click here. Updates on our resources can be found online using #PLTresources. To get these updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology.

 

PLT Alum Nathan Walton Defends Dissertation on Prosperity Gospel

Nathan WaltonDissertation Entitled Blessed and Highly Favored

On May 16th, PLT alum Nathan Walton, successfully defended his dissertation: “Blessed and Highly Favored”: The Theological Anthropology of the Prosperity Gospel.  This project examines Prosperity Gospel Pentecostalism, also known as the Word of Faith movement, which is the fastest growing Christian movement in the world.  Addressing the relationship between health and wealth within the Prosperity Gospel is at the heart of this dissertation’s central thesis.  It argues that the Prosperity Gospel presents a form of Christian individualism that is harmful for those who experience ongoing poverty or continue to lack robust health.  Promises of personal financial gain are preferred without adequate attention to the various systemic barriers to socioeconomic equality, and approaches to healing quite often lack a framework for affirming the integrity of those with ongoing sicknesses or disabilities.  This dissertation identifies the implications that this form of individualism has for those who remain financially and physically dependent.  In response, this dissertation affirms interdependence as a more ethically responsible value than independence.

The methodology of this dissertation draws from both qualitative research approaches and theological frameworks.  Through in-depth interviews, content analyses of sermons, and participant-observation research in two megachurch communities, it grounds its description of the Prosperity Gospel within ethnographic fieldwork.  Subsequently, it brings this research into conversation with the theological writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr.  This dissertation then offers a more theologically robust and ethically responsible vision of Christian identity and practice that has implications for both academic discourse and the church.

While this project offers several important interventions into broader theological discourse, most importantly, it directly engages a movement largely ignored by academic theology.  By focusing on the Prosperity Gospel, as well as drawing from qualitative research methods, this dissertation contributes to the growing corpus of theological works which take the religious and quotidian lives of faith communities seriously.

PLT Director Charles Marsh posed a series of questions for Walton on his research:

1.      What is the prosperity gospel?

The Prosperity Gospel, the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world, claims that God desires for all believers to live in financial abundance and robust physical health.  Its proponents teach that poverty and sickness are both spiritual curses that have been defeated by Christ’s sacrificial death.  Together, health and wealth are understood as spiritual realities that Christians can bring into concrete manifestation through faith and verbal affirmations.  Today the Prosperity Gospel flourishes in Protestant (and increasingly in Roman Catholic) churches, especially among the poor in the United States and the Global South, promoting a vision of the good life that valorizes wealth and health.

2.      What drew you to the project?

I initially became interested in studying the Prosperity Gospel because a family member became involved in the movement.  Their embrace of Prosperity Gospel teachings raised a lot of theological questions for me, particularly as it coincided with my own academic work in religious studies.  As an undergraduate at UVA, I wrote a thesis on the Prosperity Gospel, focusing primarily on its use of scripture.  After completing a master of divinity degree, my academic questions about the Prosperity Gospel eventually grew beyond hermeneutical questions about scripture to then encompass broader sociological questions about why the Prosperity Gospel remained such a widespread phenomenon as well as questions about the broader impact of its teachings on adherents.  At the same time, I became fascinated with the interplay between these sociological realities and their theological roots.

3.      Kate Bowler has written a definitive history of the movement. Your paths may have crossed at Duke. What distinguishes your study from her account?

Kate Bowler’s Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, offers a compelling and illuminative account of the Prosperity Gospel.  She effectively traces this movement’s inception and history, while drawing out several of the dominant themes that have shaped its development.  As a historian, Bowler’s approach is largely descriptive.  While my dissertation provides a brief historical description of the movement, it is primarily informed by a theological analysis with specifically normative aims.  My work not only assesses the Prosperity Gospel, but offers a constructive theological response that draws from the theological and ethical reflections of 20th century theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr.  This theological lens and response is the fundamental difference in my account.

4.      Your dissertation is engaging, carefully argued and accessible to non-scholars. What do you hope this contributes to academic theology? What do you hope this contributes to the life of the church?

This project addresses a current gap in scholarship by directly engaging a movement largely ignored by academic theology.  By focusing on the Prosperity Gospel, as well as drawing from qualitative research methods such as ethnography, this dissertation contributes to the growing corpus of theological works which take the religious and quotidian lives of faith communities seriously.  In addition, this project has implications for the church because it illumines the ethical issues at stake in some of Christianity’s most dominant theological claims.  Perhaps most importantly, it provides next steps for Christians both within and beyond the Prosperity Gospel movement, liturgically and socially.

5.      Why is attention to the Prosperity Gospel important at this time in our nation’s history?

Attention to the Prosperity Gospel is important because it is a significant case study in the relationship between American religion and culture.  As the Prosperity Gospel has appropriated and interacted with social realities such as capitalism, consumerism, globalization, and American individualism, its ability to impact the economic and even political sensibilities of Americans has become increasingly apparent.  In addition, attention to the Prosperity Gospel is crucial for our historical moment because it also functions as a globally significant American cultural export.  As adherents from South Korea to Nigeria to Brazil embrace this movement, there is an argument to be made that they are also embracing many aspects of what it means to be an American.

6.      You’ve decided to pursue a theological vocation, at least for now-in a non-academic setting. Can you talk about the challenges and joys that you’ve discovered so far in doing theology in community development?

I derive great joy from witnessing how theological assumptions provide many of the parameters for how we do community development work, even as theological claims find expression in that work.  Some examples that I’ve witnessed include our incarnational emphasis that manifests in programs that are neighborhood-based, a commitment to discipleship that fundamentally shapes our youth programs, or a commitment to reconciliation that informs the type of witness we seek to provide for our city.  One of the challenges in doing theology in community development is that the collaborative nature of community development inevitably involves navigating non-Christian perspectives and expectations.  Yet rather than being an obstacle, this is simply an opportunity to model what it means to pursue faith-informed social engagement in an ideologically pluralistic world.

Nathan graduated and is currently serving as executive director of Abundant Life Ministries in Charlottesville. His interests include community development, theology, and parish ministry. In addition to his role with Abundant Life, Nathan serves as Community Life Pastor at Charlottesville Vineyard Church.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more news from PLT fellow travelers, click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #PLTfellowTravelers. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Something Is Happening in Memphis: Greg Thompson to Deliver Guest Lecture

On Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last Campaign

On Tuesday, October 30, Greg Thompson will deliver a guest lecture entitled “Something Is Happening in Memphis: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last Campaign.” The lecture will begin at 3:30 pm at the Bonhoeffer House at 1841 University Circle, Charlottesville, VA. Admission to the event is free, and the public is invited to attend. Parking is available at UVA International Center, 21 University Circle, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

Greg Thompson serves as Director for Research and Creative Strategy for Clayborn Temple, a historic civil rights site in Memphis, Tennessee. In this capacity he is responsible for the creative storytelling at the heart of Clayborn’s programming and the creative strategy at the heart of Clayborn’s art-based community redevelopment. He is also the co-writer of a new musical production called “Union: A Musical” that tells the story of the Memphis Sanitation Worker’s strike of 1968, Martin Luther King Junior’s last campaign. He holds an MA and PhD from the University of Virginia.

For more event details and up-to-date event listings please click here to visit the PLT Events page. We also post updates online using #PLTevents. To get these and other news updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Charles Marsh to Deliver Nusbaum Lecture at Virginia Wesleyan

The American Civil Rights Movement and the Women Who Started It

On October 25 at 7:00 p.m. Charles Marsh will deliver the Justine L. Nusbaum lecture at Virginia Wesleyan University. The lecture will take place at Boyd Dining Center.

Marsh will discuss the religious beliefs behind the American civil rights movement, and highlight women who enacted these convictions. He will reflect on the witness of social reformers Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Gray Adams, and Jane Stembridge, Marsh will show how their determined leadership and organizing gives us insight in addressing challenges of today.

Find more event information on Virginia Wesleyan’s website here. For a full listing of our spring speaking engagements with Charles Marsh and others, visit our events calendar here.

Charles Marsh is the Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and the director of the Project on Lived Theology. His research interests include modern Christian thought, religion and civil rights, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and lived theology. His publications include Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2014) and God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights (1997), which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

For more event details and up-to-date event listings please click here to visit the PLT Events page. We also post updates online using #PLTevents. To get these and other news updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Jonathan Merritt to Deliver 2018 CAPPS Lecture

2018 CAPPS Lecture

On Thursday, October 18, Jonathan Merritt will deliver the 2018 CAPPS Lecture in Christian Theology, entitled “Speaking God: The Death and Rebirth of Sacred Speech.” Beginning at 6:00 pm in 101 Nau Hall, the event is free and open to the public, with seating available on a first come, first served basis. For those unable to attend, the event will be livestreamed on Theological Horizons’s Facebook page here.

Merritt will also offer an informal workshop “5 Trends Changing Everything in the Church Today” from 10:30-12:00 on October 18, the morning of the lecture. This workshop is open to the public. More information is available here.

Many of us struggle to talk about faith, discovering that old religious words like “sin”, “gospel” and “grace” fail to connect in today’s swiftly changing culture.  Award-winning religion, politics and culture writer Jonathan Merritt will address this dilemma in a lecture, Speaking God: The Death and Rebirth of Sacred Speech,” on October 18 at 6 p.m. in the University of Virginia’s 101 Nau Hall.

This annual series brings eminent Christian thinkers to the heart of the University of Virginia with public lectures that explore the relationship between faith and responsibility. These events are hosted by Theological Horizons and co-sponsored by the Project on Lived Theology. For more information, visit the Theological Horizons website here. Browse and listen to previous CAPPS Lectures in our resource collection here.

Jonathan Merritt is an award-winning writer on religion, culture and politics. Named one of 30 Young Influencers reshaping Christian leadership, Merritt is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and has published more than 3,000 articles in outlets ranging from USA Today, Buzzfeed and The Daily Beast, to The Washington Post and Christianity Today.   Jonathan’s newest book is Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words Are Vanishing–and How We Can Revive Them.

For more event details and up-to-date event listings please click here to visit the PLT Events page. We also post updates online using #PLTevents. To get these and other news updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Charles Marsh to Deliver DuBose Lectures at Sewanee University

Can I Get a Witness? Explorations in an Amen

On September 26 and 27 Charles Marsh will deliver three lectures at the School of Theology at Sewanee University as the 2018 DuBose Lecturer.

Marsh will build upon the theme of witness by presenting three different lectures. All lectures will take place in Guerry Auditorium. The first lecture “Aristocrats of Responsiblity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Quest for a New Nobility” will begin at 9:00 am on September 26.  The second lecture “‘Better than Church’: The Civil Rights Movement and Religionless Christianity” will begin at 2:00 pm on September 26. The final lecture “Visions of Amen: On the Judgment of God and the Splendor of the World” will begin at 9:00 am on September 27. There will also be a book signing with Dr. Marsh in the Convocation Hall on September 26 from 3:45 – 4:15 pm.

Find more event information on Sewanee University’s website here. For a full listing of our spring speaking engagements with Charles Marsh and others, visit our events calendar here.

Charles Marsh is the Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and the director of the Project on Lived Theology. His research interests include modern Christian thought, religion and civil rights, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and lived theology. His publications include Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2014) and God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights (1997), which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

For more event details and up-to-date event listings please click here to visit the PLT Events page. We also post updates online using #PLTevents. To get these and other news updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Lived Theology a Year After Charlottesville

Like many of our friends and neighbors, near and far, we at the Project on Lived Theology experienced the events of August 11 and 12, 2017, with horror, grief, anger, and determination. In the days, weeks, and months following those awful days, we were heartened to hear so many voices invoking theology in their reckonings with our national demons of racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia. What follows is a collection of some of those voices. We offer them here not as a full representation of voices, nor as perspectives which we necessarily endorse, ouiut as a resource for those who, like us, are still wrestling with this painful, ongoing story, and who wish to do so in the light of larger stories and deeper truths.

 

Following the events of August 12th, the University of Virginia’s Religious Studies department put out an open letter condemning the ideology and violence of the white supremacists who were demonstrating.  It points out that their actions stand condemned in all the world’s religious and ethical systems.

The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University published a series of short responses to August 12th by a number of religious professionals in the Charlottesville Community, including several faculty members in the University of Virginia’s department of religious studies and local clergy. The following individuals wrote:

Faith leaders as well as faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students of the University of Virginia wrote reactions to events that appeared in a variety of outlets. These are below:

News outlets and magazines covered the religious and personal aspects of the events of August 12th. Some of the notable pieces are:

More recent and forthcoming books and articles reflecting on the events of August 12th and its impact over the past year:

 

To get these and other news updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Birmingham Woman Shares Some of her Final Memories with Lived Theology Group

Contributed by guest author Marie Sutton

Just a few weeks after meeting the Prophet with a Pencil scholars and theologians to share her story of being jailed and persecuted for freedom, civil rights foot soldier Betty “BJ Love” King passed away.

The 72-year-old Birmingham, Alabama woman sacrificed her childhood through countless non-violent protests and demonstrations to help break the back of segregation in what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the most segregated city in America.” She was with the Lived Theology group in early June at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and softly spoke of the path that led her to fight segregation. She died, surrounded by her family, on June 19.

BJ Love (center) at the Prophet With a Pencil meeting
Photo by H. Jay Dunmore.

“There is a scripture that says, ‘He who has ear let him hear.’ She was one of those who heard the cry to fight against segregation,” said King’s sister Dr. E. Dashanaba King, of Ghana. And, up until her passing, King never closed her ear or silenced her call for equality and social justice for the disenfranchised.

As a 16-year-old preacher’s kid in 1963, the young woman was sitting in class at Wenonah High School in Birmingham when the “freedom bus” pulled up to recruit students to volunteer to protest laws that prevented African Americans equal access to public accommodations. While others stalled, King popped up and walked out the door.

She and others were transported to the city fairgrounds where stiff-necked policemen treated them like chattel, putting them and other children as young as 8 in cages. The young people weren’t given food and watched as their desperate parents tried to push rations through the gate. Eventually, King and the others were taken to the downtown jail where convicted criminals and thugs called home.

“She didn’t know all the fearful situations she would be getting into,” King’s sister recalled, “but she wasn’t afraid.”

King was reared by a foot soldier. Her father, the late Rev. Floyd King Sr., was an active movement man who hosted the People’s Religious Broadcast radio show and also walked alongside Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Dr. Martin Luther King.

“He would always tell us we had to do the will of God. When you feel in your heart that you have to do it, you have to do it. ‘He who has ears let him hear.’”

After being released from jail, King shared her testimony at mass rallies and church services across the city in order to help recruit other young people. And, she continued her fight against segregation, feeling the sting of water hoses and knowing the threat of being bitten by police dogs. She participated in at least 40 Freedom Rides and engaged in sit-ins and kneel-ins at white churches. She also boycotted the local library as well as countless whites-only lunch counters at restaurants and retailers. And, she was among the thousands of young people who attended the historic March on Washington.

Eventually, King and her family moved to New York. There, she took her voice to the radio airwaves alongside her father. On Sunday mornings, they would co-host a show bringing on various local choirs and gospel artists. King also shined a particularly special spotlight on what would be a fusion of gospel music and Caribbean beats that she coined, “Gospelipso.” She even penned an award-winning play called “Hallelujah New Orleans,” which was performed at the historic Cotton Club in Harlem.

In addition, King worked professionally as a certified physical therapist technician at the Brooklyn Veterans Affairs Medical Center where she got the nickname, the “singing lady with healing hands.”

“She had the biggest heart,” her sister said. “That’s why her name is BJ Love.”

Years later, King made her way back to Birmingham where she was active with social justice organizations and well as being back on the airwaves with her show “From the Mountain 2 the Valley Civil Rights Broadcast” and then later co-hosted “Great Legends in Gospel.”

In 2011, she and five other women were granted pardons for their 1963 conviction of “parading without a permit” under a city law called the Rosa Parks Act. King initiated the request and got it granted along with the other women, including her sister, Carolyn, who in 1964 integrated the all-white Jones Valley High School.

“I want her to be remembered as a lady of love,” King’s sister remarked. “Also, I want her to be known as a woman who always encouraged you to never give up. No matter your lot, if you find yourself in the fiery furnace do not give up.”

For more event details and up-to-date event listings please click here to visit the PLT Events page. We also post updates online using #PLTevents. To get these and other news updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Prophet With a Pencil Gathers Scholars in Birmingham

Prophet With a Pencil 2018

On June 8 and 9, 2018, the Project on Lived Theology convened our Prophet with a Pencil workgroup in Birmingham, Alabama, for two days of presentations and conversation focusing on the theological significance of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. The assembly’s work will produce a single volume entitled Prophet with a Pencil: The Continuing Significance of Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ which will be released by Cascade Books in 2019.

The Prophet with a Pencil contributors shared and discussed their work during this two day research retreat. Day one was held at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) located in the historic Civil Rights District of Birmingham, just across the street from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park. Contributors’ chapters-in-progress focused on theological themes from King’s letter and its surrounding culture including judgment, rest, gender, and the power of images to affect change.

At lunch time, the workgroup welcomed participants in the historic Children’s March in Birmingham, 55 years after this historic event. Our guests shared stories from their time as “foot soldiers” and talked with the group about their continuing civil rights efforts.

Following the afternoon work session, the group toured the Civil Rights Institute.

On the second day of the workgroup, we met at Historic Bethel Church, a National Historic Landmark and Civil Rights National Monument. The church played a central role in the civil rights movement under the leadership of Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth. In this sacred place, Prophet with a Pencil contributors delved deeper into the theology of King, focusing on his non-violent approach and the sociology of racism.

At the close of our meetings, we heard a presentation by Dr. Martha Bouyer, executive director of the Historic Bethel Baptist Church Foundation, on the history of the church’s role in the civil rights movement. She shared a beautiful tapestry covered in affirmations and notes of thanksgiving from individuals and groups around the world who have visited the church.

Before returning to the hotel, participants visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail, which highlights the integral role the city played in the movement.

The mission of The Project on Lived Theology is to clarify the interconnection of theology and lived experience and promote academic resources in pursuit of social justice and human flourishing. The Project offers a variety of familiar and unconventional spaces where theologians, scholars, students, practitioners, and non-academics can demonstrate the importance of theological ideas in the public conversation about civic responsibility and social progress. The project was established in 2000 with a grant from the Lilly Endowment.

For more event details and up-to-date event listings please click here to visit the PLT Events page. We also post updates online using #PLTevents. To get these and other news updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Thoughts After Reading Mitch Landrieu’s, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History

Peter Slade

A Tale of Two Surprises

Thoughts after reading Mitch Landrieu’s, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, Viking, 2018.

by Peter Slade

Mitch Landrieu’s book, In the Shadow of Statues, is the backstory of the speech he gave as mayor of New Orleans on May 19, 2017, following his removal of three Confederate statues—Lee, Davis, and Beauregard—from the city. Pulling down statues symbolizes regime change. Statues of Lenin fell across Eastern Europe during the revolutions of 1989 and statues of Saddam Hussein tumbled in Iraq after the US invasion in 2003. It seems reasonable, then, to consider that the current struggle to remove Confederate monuments is symbolic of a struggle to change a regime here in the United States of America. But this outgoing regime—unlike the communists in East Berlin or the baathists in Baghdad—is one that is hidden in plain sight and may not be outgoing at all. Viewed from this perspective, Landrieu’s book is above all an account of the surprise of discovery: his surprise at discovering this hidden regime’s history and his surprise at its continuing political power.

Landrieu is surprised to see the history he did not know celebrated in a landscape he did not see. Challenged by his friend, none other than the jazz great Wynton Marsalis, to remove the Confederate statues from New Orleans’s streets, Landrieu details his awakening to the meaning of the statues he had driven past thousands of times. He presents his personal testimony of “learning to see what’s in front of me” in the hope that his readers will also see these symbols and their American history with the veil torn away. This is a book written in the easy voice of a man with the common touch: the voice of a successful politician who expects to bring you along with him. For those familiar with the development of the religion of the Lost Cause and the history of race in America, there is nothing new here. But there is something depressingly instructive for historians and activists in Landrieu’s naive story of personal awakening. How is it, we need to ask ourselves, that a well-educated, intelligent, and humane white man who had spent his professional political career studying the motivations of his constituents was so surprised by this at all? How did he miss it?

Landrieu’s second great surprise is at the power and persistence of white supremacy. He opens the book with his shock that, despite the support of the city’s government and all his office’s money and connections, he could not hire a crane to take down the statues. He returns to his quandary again near the end of the book: as the mayor of New Orleans, “[after] all the billions of dollars we’d spent on contractors,” “I still can’t get anyone to lease me a damned crane: This still eats at me.” Again, the surprise of a powerful white man at the political center of his world should be instructive. How did the intimidation of contractors with death threats and arson come as a surprise to Landrieu?

With his awakened hindsight, Landrieu gives an account of race and the regime of white supremacy running through his life from his earliest memories of his Catholic upbringing as the son of a mayor of New Orleans to his own assumption of that office. For Landrieu, “[race] is like a song that you cannot get out of your head.” With this song in heavy rotation by the summer of 2015 when he announced the removal of the statues, Landrieu was not surprised by the popular appeal of Donald Trump: he had seen it all before in Louisiana in the political success of the Klansman David Duke. “When I look back today,” Landrieu writes, “David Duke’s demagoguery stands like a dress rehearsal for the rise of Donald Trump.”

In the interviews Landrieu has given to promote the book, he has been asked repeatedly if he will throw his hat in the ring as a challenger to Trump. It’s clear that Landrieu constructs his narrative with the intention of introducing himself to a national electorate. He interlaces his stories with extraneous reflections on his current policy positions on race, gentrification, education, guns, police, mass incarceration, and urban crime, and makes a case for his skills and experience at running a political administration and in beating politicians like Trump. Whether or not he does run in 2020, Landrieu should bear in mind that he will be faced with a white America that, by-and-large, does not like surprises: certainly not the ones that force us to confront the power and persistence of white supremacy in America.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more news from PLT fellow travelers, click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.