On the Lived Theology Reading List: Myths America Lives By

Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning, by Richard T. HughesWhite Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning

In this revised second edition of Myths America Lives By, Richard T. Hughes delves anew into the thought of black critics dissatisfied with America’s betrayal of its foundational beliefs. Hughes posits that six myths lie at the heart of the American experience. Taken as aspirational, four of those myths remind us of our noblest ideals, challenging us to realize our nation’s promise while galvanizing the sense of hope and unity we need to reach our goals. But when these myths are misused, they allow for illusions of innocence that fly in the face of white supremacy, the primal American myth that stands at the heart of all the others.

Speaking for people often marginalized in American life, prominent thinkers such as  Malcolm X, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Martin Luther King Jr. offer important perspectives on African American experiences, the pervasiveness of white supremacy, and the ways America can embrace, and deliver on, its egalitarian promise.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Richard Hughes’ Myths America Lives By was already required reading when it was released back in the pre-Trump era. With this update of his lacerating critique of the sordidness of American civil religion and other destructive myths, Hughes now indicts white supremacy as the foundational myth providing the most accelerant to those other myths that have burned through our history. Richard Hughes thinks hard and listens even harder to the historians, the scholars and, most of all, the prophets who understood the malignancy of white supremacy long before he did. The result is Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories that Gives Us Meaning. Once again, Hughes’ willingness to tell the truth about the myths we live by has put us all in his debt.”—Tony Norman, columnist, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A fearless, well-researched, searing critique that shatters the underpinnings of white racial superiority in America and abroad.”—Joseph Robinson Jr., president, Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute

“Myths America Lives By is prophetic–not merely in the predictive sense, so evident in the first edition, but in the far more consequential sense of prophecy as calling us to repentance and to our better selves. This is a very fine book, offering both a searing critique and a summons to embrace our common humanity.”—Randall Balmer, author of Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter

For more information on the publication, click here.

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 of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: I Must Resist

I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters, by Bayard RustinBayard Rustin’s Life in Letters

I Must Resist is a collection of letters written by Rustin himself, giving a glimpse into the mind of one of the most important civil rights organizers of the era. Rustin, a master strategist and tireless activist, is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement and played a deeply influential role in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to mold him into an international symbol of nonviolence. Despite these achievements, Rustin often remained in the background. He was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era.

Although Rustin was often not in the spotlight, this book aims to rectify that by showing how his contributions were integral to the development of a movement. I Must Resist includes 150 of Rustin’s eloquent, impassioned letters; his correspondents include the major progressives of his day — including Eleanor Holmes Norton, A Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Ella Baker, and of course, Martin Luther King Jr.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Rustin was a life-long agitator for justice. He changed America—and the world—for the better. This collection of his letters makes his life and his passions come vividly alive, and helps restore him to history, a century after this birth. I Must Resist makes for inspiring reading.”—John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

“These letters–poetic, incisive, passionate, and above all political in the broadest meaning of the word–span almost four decades not only of Bayard Rustin’s life but of the emotional and spiritual life of America. There is hardly a social justice movement during this time in which Rustin was not involved from pacifism to ending poverty to battles for sexual freedom. Michael Long’s brilliant editing has created a compelling historical narrative and reading these letters is to be witness to the ever-evolving conscience that guides our country’s endangered, but surviving, commitment to freedom.”—Michael Bronksi, author of A Queer History of the United States

“A vital addition to the history of the civil rights movement by an exceptionally determined, vital and creative force who was invaluable to Martin Luther King Jr and A. Philip Randolph among many others.”—Nat Hentoff

For more information on the publication, click here.

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 of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Laughing at the Devil

Laughing at the Devil: Seeing the World with Julian of Norwich, by Amy Laura HallSeeing the World with Julian of Norwich

In Laughing at the Devil, Amy Laura Hall invites people to see the world through the eyes of a medieval visionary now known as Julian of Norwich, believed to be the first woman to have written a book in English. Although we don’t know much about Julian personally (we don’t even know her given name, because she became known by the name of the church she lived in), she left behind a wealth of writings to study.

Julian “saw our Lord scorn [the Devil’s] wickedness” and noted that “he wants us to do the same.” In this impassioned, analytic, and irreverent book, Amy Laura Hall emphasizes Julian’s call to scorn the Devil. Julian of Norwich envisioned courage during a time of fear, and Laughing at the Devil describes how she transformed a setting of dread into one of hope, solidarity, and resistance.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Laughing at the Devil with these two exceedingly clear-eyed women—Julian of Norwich and Amy Laura Hall—is compelling, enlightening, and joyous, all in one. The two have created texts, each for their own time, that together bear witness, at points defiant, at points mischievous, to a profoundly God-sustained world. What a wonderful, grace-filled vision.” — Teresa Berger, author of @ Worship: Liturgical Practices in Digital Worlds

“Amy Laura Hall’s masterful Laughing at the Devil is a rewarding joy to read, at once a profound dialogue with the great mystic Julian of Norwich, and a beautiful, raw, funny, audacious, and insightful invitation to the contemporary audience. We laugh with Hall and Julian, and we too yearn to pull closer to God not through fear and trembling, but through an aching heart bursting open with joy. This is the kind of raw, gritty, grounded, and real spiritual exploration that calls to all Christians, and to all people of faith. Strongly recommended!” — Omid Safi, author of Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition

“You might not expect to find references to Game of Thrones, West Texas, barfing bears, divorce, and Machiavelli in a book on Julian of Norwich, but you will find all these and much more in this volume. Julian of Norwich is a most unusual theologian, and Amy Laura Hall has given us a most unusual book: it is engaging and illuminating, a personal, passionate, and political reflection on and with Julian.” — Karen Kilby, coeditor of The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology

For more information on the publication, click here.

Amy Laura Hall is an associate professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Love Without Limits

Love Without Limits: Jesus' Radical Vision for Love with No Exceptions, by Jacqueline BussieJesus’ Radical Vision for Love with No Exceptions

In Love Without Limits, Jacqueline Bussie imparts practical solutions for people of faith who yearn to love across division and difference in these troubled times. Every day, millions of people lament the loss of civility, respect, and hope, and they wonder if it’s possible to cultivate a love big enough to overthrow hate and heal our hurts. Bussie says yes, it is possible, and shows how to do it in this engaging book about life and love. Through poignant personal memoir, engaging theological reflection, inspiring true stories of boundary-busting friendships, creative readings of scripture, and surprising shout-outs to some of love’s unsung heroes, Bussie challenges readers to answer God’s call to practice a love so deep, it subverts the social order; so radical, it scandalizes the powerful; so vast, it excludes no one. She urges readers to widen love’s wingspan and to love as God loves–without limits or exceptions.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“If you believe, as I do, that love is the heart of Jesus’ message and should be the point of the Christian life, then you’ll be surprised to see how few books there are that aim specifically to help you become a better practitioner of love. And you’ll be thrilled when a book like this comes along—super well-written, really inspiring and practical, deeply engaged with scripture, and joyfully celebrating the primacy of love.”—Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration

“This is a book about love, but not just any love. It’s about cosmic love, deep-faith love, break-down-walls love. Every page pulses with that same radical love. Read it and let the contents pour into you and make you better.”—Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith

Love Without Limits is more than a book; it is a profound and witty guide to a way of life—no, not just a way of life, but the way of life Jesus outlined for us in his life and teachings, if we would only pay attention. Over and over again this gracious book reminds us that “love without limits” is not only our goal, but is possible if we have the courage to attempt it and to pay, if necessary, the price. I love this book. It has become part of me.”—Anthony S. Abbot, author of The Angel Dialogues and winner of the North Carolina Award for Literature

For more information on the publication, click here.

Jacqueline Bussie is a professor of religion at Concordia College and is the director of the Forum on Faith and Life.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.

Summer Internship in Lived Theology celebrates 2018 season

The Project’s ninth class of interns partnered with organizations in Charlottesville, DC, and Southern California

On October 3, the 2018 class of summer interns in Lived Theology gave their final presentations at a celebration of the program’s 2018 season.

Jon Deters, a government major, worked with Wesley Theological Seminary’s Center for Public Theology in Washington, DC. He spent time working with organizations such as Bread for the World, New Baptist Covenant, and the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, and he visited important sites such as the Newseum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Jon also observed and participated in protests, lobbying, and letter-writing. You can read about his summer work on the internship blog, and view his final project, a photo collection with written reflections, here.

Isabella Hall picking strawberries

Isabella Hall, a Perkins House resident studying social ethics, community development, and religious studies at UVA, spent the summer interning with The Abundant Table, a grassroots, nonprofit organization that seeks to change lives and systems by creating sustainable relationships to the land and local community. Isabella’s summer work included farm labor, community development, and participation in the Abundant Table’s liturgical community. Read her reflections on our blog, and view her final project, a liturgy for the winter solstice, here.

Kate Badgett, who is studying religious studies and bioethics, worked this summer at The Haven, a multi-resource day shelter in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. She joined volunteers for kitchen work and led a writing group for guests.

The application for the 2019 season of the Summer Internship in Lived Theology will be available in December. Please visit the internship page to learn more, or contact us.

 

On the Lived Theology Reading List: One in Christ

One in Christ: Chicago Catholics and the Quest for Interracial Justice, by Karen J. JohnsonChicago Catholics and the Quest for Interracial Justice

In One in Christ, Karen J. Johnson tells the story of Catholic interracial activism through the lives of a group of women and men in Chicago who struggled with one another, their Church, and their city to try to live their Catholic faith in a new way. It started when black activists joined with a handful of white laypeople who believed in their vision of a universal church in the segregated city, and began to fight to make that vision a reality. In the end, not only had Catholic activists lived out their faith as active participants in the long civil rights movement and learned how to cooperate across racial lines, but they had changed the practice of Catholicism. They broke down the hierarchy that placed priests above the laity and crossed the parish boundaries that defined urban Catholicism. In this book, Johnson shows the ways religion and race combined both to enforce racial hierarchies and to tear them down, and demonstrates that we cannot understand race and civil rights in the North without accounting for religion.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Karen J. Johnson’s One in Christ has it all: white versus black and white with black; Catholic versus Protestant and Catholic with Protestant; Catholic versus Catholic and Catholic with Catholic. Widely researched, analyzed with precision, and focused on the magical messiness of everyday life, this book is necessary reading for anyone interested in race, religion, and justice in the past and present.”—Edward J. Blum, co-author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America

“Karen J. Johnson has made a remarkable contribution to scholarship on interracial civil rights activism in the Northern United States. One in Christ is balanced in its attention to clergy and laity, and innovative in its intersectional placement of religion, race, gender, sexuality, class, and place at the heart of its analysis. Rigorous and passionate in its research and presentation, One in Christ will be appreciated as a cornerstone achievement in the history of the Catholic interracial justice movement.”—Omar M. McRoberts, author of Streets of Glory: Church and Community in a Black Urban Neighborhood

“A tour de force. One in Christ takes us into the streets and parishes of Catholic Chicago, richly exploring the much understudied work of the laity-particularly women-in shaping, defining, and acting for interracial unity and justice. In a delightfully engaging text, Johnson draws us into the messiness of human interaction for change and resistance during the long civil rights movement of the 1930s to the 1960s. Her findings and interpretations have deep meaning for our current times. A must read for anyone wanting to understand civil rights and racial change.”—Michael O. Emerson, author of Divided by Faith, United by Faith, and Transcending Racial Barriers

For more information on the publication, click here.

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 of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Year of Our Lord 1943

The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis, by Alan JacobsChristian Humanism in an Age of Crisis

In The Year of Our Lord 1943, Alan Jacobs explores the poems, novels, essays, reviews, and lectures of five Christian intellectuals who wrote about what the world would look like after World War 2. It had become a common thought among Christian intellectuals that the Allies were not culturally or morally prepared for their success, and a war won by technological superiority merely laid the groundwork for a post-war society governed by technocrats. Jacques Maritain, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, and Simone Weil, sought both to articulate a sober and reflective critique of their own culture and to outline a plan for the moral and spiritual regeneration of their countries in the post-war world. Jacobs has now brought all of these writings into one coherent narrative, as each person presents their views of the very different paths now set before the Western democracies.

Although all five thinkers worked separately, they developed a strikingly consistent argument that the only means by which democratic societies could be prepared for their world-wide economic and political dominance was through a renewal of education that was grounded in a Christian understanding of the power and limitations of human beings. In this book, Jacobs masterfully shows why they all thought it vital to restore Christianity to a leading role in the renewal of the Western democracies.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Alan Jacob’s prose wears immense learning lightly, with great grace and to great effect. To think alongside these writers, under Jacobs’s stage direction, to hear them across a gap of three-quarters of a century think with gravity and sincerity, pondering the nature of the human soul, palpably straining toward the ideal of the common good, feeling the pull of their religion’s perennial pitfalls, in a situation and language different from and yet not wholly unlike our own, is riveting, challenging, and life-giving.”—Lori Branch, author of Rituals of Spontaneity

“Alan Jacobs has written an elegant and deeply learned book on Christian humanism in the critical years of the Second World War. He opens a window into some of the most luminous and profound thinking about the nature and possibilities of civilization during those troubled years. By doing so, has opened a window for thinking about our own troubled times.”—James D. Hunter, author of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World

“Jacobs seems to have written this with an eye to the time between the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the events of 9/11, when it seemed that democracy had finally achieved peace, only to find it widely rejected. His look at how these five figures struggled with similar turns of events is worth pondering.” —Library Journal

For more information on the publication, click here.

Alan Jacobs is a distinguished professor of the humanities in the honors program at Baylor University. His work revolves around multiple interests, primarily literature, theology and technology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: If Your Back’s Not Bent

If Your Back's Not Bent: The Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement, By Dorothy F. CottonThe Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement

In If Your Back’s Not Bent, Dorothy F. Cotton, the only woman in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle, gives her account of the hugely important Citizenship Education Program. The CEP was an adult grassroots training program for disenfranchised citizens created by  the Tennessee Highlander Folk School, expanded by King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and directed by activist Dorothy Cotton. Although this program was critical in preparing citizens to protest peacefully in the face of violence and hatred from others, it is often called the best-kept secret of the civil rights movement due to the media silence at the time and the lack of coverage in history courses today. Cotton aims to change that, detailing CEP training and how the program changed its participants for the better, inspiring them to go and change the country. A timely account of fighting inequality, If Your Back’s Not Bent shows how the CEP was key to the civil rights movement’s success and how the lessons of the program can serve our troubled democracy now.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Dorothy Cotton has given us the story of the heart and lungs of the Freedom Struggle.”– Otis Moss, Jr.

“Dorothy Cotton is an inspiration to so many. We should all pay close attention to her story.”– Ben Jealous, former NAACP President and CEO

“Dorothy Cotton was as crucial to the Movement as was King, Abernathy and Shuttlesworth in her dogged preparation of the ‘troops.’”– Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Pastor Emeritus of Harlem’s Canaan Baptist Church of Christ

“Cotton’s Citizenship Education Program taught ordinary people, most importantly, that they could change both themselves and America.”– Betty DeRamus, author of Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad and Freedom by Any Means

For more information on the publication, click here.

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 of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Identifying the Image of God

Identifying the Image of God: Radical Christians and Nonviolent Power in the Antebellum United States, by Dan MckananRadical Christians and Nonviolent Power in the Antebellum United States

Identifying the Image of God, by Dan McKanan, traces the development of a theology of nonviolence in the popular literature of antebellum social reform movements. Between 1820 and 1860, American social reformers pioneered a “politics of identification” that was deeply rooted in liberal Christian theology. Activists like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, along with sentimental authors like Catharine Sedgwick and Harriet Beecher Stowe, drew on the doctrine of the imago dei, or image of God, to argue that God is present both in the victims of violence and in those who use nonviolent means to overcome oppression. Proponents of the new theology can be characterized as “radical Christian liberals.” McKanan explores these roots through the literature of social reform, focusing on sentimental novels, temperance tales, and slave narratives, and invites contemporary activists to revive the “politics of identification.”

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

Identifying the Image of God is extraordinarily persuasive in arguing that the imago dei was crucial to the sentimental structure of feeling.”—American Literature

“McKanan excavates a radical liberal Christian theology beneath antebellum reform…presents a convincing case that such antebellum reformers as William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Clarke Wright, and Adin Ballou embraced a radical liberal Christian theology.”—American Historical Review

For more information on the publication, click here.

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 of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Battle For Bonhoeffer

The Battle for Bonhoeffer: Debating Discipleship in the Age of Trump, by Stephen R. HaynesDebating Discipleship in the Age of Trump

Many people have attempted to use Bonhoeffer to advance or justify their own views in American politics, with secular, radical, liberal, and evangelical interpreters variously shaping the martyr’s legacy to suit their own pet agendas. In The Battle for Bonhoeffer, Stephen Haynes, a recognized Bonhoeffer expert, sets out to offer a clarifying perspective. Haynes examines and analyzes “populist” readings of Bonhoeffer, including the election of Donald Trump and the “Bonhoeffer moment” announced by evangelicals in response to the US Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage. In addition to the analyses, Haynes includes an open letter addressed to Christians who still support Trump, showing that Bonhoeffer’s legacy matters.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Stephen R. Haynes is a professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, where his research interests include Jewish-Christian relations, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and religion and higher education.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” 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.