On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Dream is Lost

The Dream is Lost: Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia, by Julian Maxwell HayterVoting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia

Historian Julian Maxwell Hayter starts out The Dream is Lost by observing that Richmond, Virginia is “seldom central to the narrative of the American civil rights movement”, but his study of race and politics in that city from the 1950s to the 1980s proceeds to make a persuasive case for why it should be. His account follows the political struggles of African-Americans who formed groups like the Richmond Crusade for Voters to avoid being disenfranchised. Hayter’s work shows that local activism and legal measures like the Voting Rights Act led to African-Americans gaining political power in the city, but it also chronicles how economic woes caused by the legacy of white supremacy made that an almost pyrrhic victory.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“This detailed narrative explores the quest for African American political power but also chronicles the limitations of this achievement. Hayter’s description of voter mobilization efforts, coalition building, and litigation offer an important level of detail to our understanding of black politics during and after the civil rights era.”—Pippa Holloway, author of Living in Infamy: Felon Disenfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship

“This illuminating book offers a sobering account of the limits of politics as a vehicle to transform African American communities.”—Timothy N. Thurber, author of Republicans and Race: The GOP’s Frayed Relationship with African Americans, 1945–1974

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: Clarence Jordan

Clarence Jordan: A Radical Pilgrimage in Scorn of the Consequences, by Frederick L. DowningA Radical Pilgrimage in Scorn of the Consequences

Starting in the 1940s, Clarence Jordan tried to put Christianity into practice in the South, which was flouting segregation and inequality. Despite having a PhD, he made an impact not by being a lofty intellectual but by founding Koinonia- an interracial Christian farming community- and serving as a formative influence on Habit for Humanity. As the writer of the Cotton Patch Gospel, Jordan adapted the stories of the New Testament to fit the South and to address racism. In this new biography by Frederick L. Downing, who previously authored religious biographies of Elie Wiesel and Martin Luther King, puts Jordan in historical context and looks at the influences that shaped him. Jordan’s life has rarely been studied and Downing’s work is an important effort to document his prophetic witness.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Downing has rendered us a great and judicious service by his compelling research. It is crucial that Jordan in all his daring courage should be remembered. Downing assures us that this singular saint of gospel obedience will not be forgotten.” —Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

For more information on the publication, click here. To read more about Clarence Jordan on our Civil Rights Digital Archive, 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.

Patricia Hampl’s The Art of the Wasted Day offers “literary sabbatical” in her visit to UVA

On April 24, the Project on Lived Theology welcomed Patricia Hampl to UVA Grounds to speak on her new book, The Art of the Wasted Day (Viking, 2018).

Hampl spoke in Project director Charles Marsh’s afternoon class about nonfiction personal narrative writing, and in the early evening, she read from her book at the Bonhoeffer House. Both events were open to the public.

Students in Marsh’s class, God and the Mystery of the World, read Hampl’s book and wrote reflections on it in preparation for her visit. Students called the book “a literary sabbatical” and “an inner rebellion against the notion of daydreaming as a sin.”

Hampl spoke of the origins of personal narrative writing, referencing Michel de Montaigne, often considered the father of the essay genre. But she clarified that when Montaigne spoke of the essay, he wasn’t thinking of a rigidly structured, five-paragraph composition by a high school freshman. “By ‘essay,’ Montagne meant, ‘my thingamajig.’ ‘My whatever.'” An essay, to Montaigne, was a “portrayal of consciousness.”

In our own time and place, Hampl reflected, Americans love the personal voice. We trust it against all the evidence that it is unreliable: people lie, plain and simple. Still, we sense an authority in the first person voice because it connects to our experience of the world.

Hampl reminded us that nonfiction personal narrative writing is treacherous. You can get in trouble on all sides. Readers inevitably raise questions of veracity–“Are you telling the truth?”–and of decency–“Does your mom know that?” And of course, as Hampl has written in her book, I Could Tell You Stories, you can hurt those whose stories you tell along the way. But there is an upside to the treachery: nonfiction can have an particular electricity that fiction often does not have.

You can listen to or watch Patricia’s talk here. Her reading is available here. Hungry for more? Read more about her visit in this Cavalier Daily article. And of course, enjoy your own “literary sabbatical” by purchasing her book.

Watch the entire lecture through its resource page here.

Patricia Hampl is a Regents Professor and the McKnight Distinguished Professor in the English department at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches creative writing.

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.

Students Reflect on Clarence Jordan Symposium

SeedlingsCelebrating Koinonia Farm’s 75th Birthday

Two UVA students recently attended the Clarence Jordan Symposium at Koinonia Farm, an event focused on honoring Jordan by increasing peace, community, and racial justice in the world today. Megan Helbling and Isabella Hall traveled down together with the support of the Project on Lived Theology.

Isabella was curious about sustainable agriculture and the methodology, struggles, and successes of different intentional communities. Interested in exploring the role of the church in social reform and conciliatory communication, Megan learned about the legacy of housing and economic justice created by Koinonia affiliates. Both women were able to meet notable activists from mainstream Protestantism and heard notable Christian activists and thinkers, including Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, Shane Claiborne, William Barber, and Ruby Sales.

Reflecting on the stories of Koinonia workers, Megan stated:

“While inspired by the life of Clarence Jordan, I am reticent to idolize him because the narrative of Koinonia often prioritizes Jordan’s biography over the women and African Americans who labored alongside him. Since the voices of those marginalized actors often go unheard, this conference unexpectedly was an opportunity to celebrate the folks who often aren’t honored in the usual telling of this history…The speaking style that most of the highlighted speakers adopted the form of storytelling, whether about their own intentional communities, their experiences in peace movements, or formative interactions with Jordan or Koinonia. Coming from the environment of UVA, this
gave us an opportunity to consider new ways of learning that are different from the academic lectures to which we’ve grown accustomed. Storytelling, we realized, is a much more relational and distinctly communal form of learning and sharing knowledge. It represents a more peaceful, less assertive style of instruction, as it doesn’t assume that all knowledge manifests itself into different lives, communities, or cultures the same way. Rather, it offers one isolated example of the ways that one person encountered different lessons or themes, and invites the listener to extrapolate their own meaning or application for the story into their own lives.”

Isabella was interested in comparing her experience living in the Perkins House at UVA to the experience of living at Koinonia Farms, as well as being able to reflect on the Civil Rights Movement through the people she met:

“Without a doubt, the people we encountered were my favorite piece about the Clarence Jordan Symposium. From Mennonite Pastors Sarah Thompson and Joanna Shenk, to our new friend Gabriel, a current Koinonia resident, and finally, founding Koinonia members themselves. Physically inhabiting the same spaces which served as battleground for ethnic and economic justice during the Freedom Movement was impactful. I couldn’t help but be reminded on Charles Marsh’s notion of the American South as Theological Drama and indeed, we had entered into enfleshed theological drama. For instance, the symposium was hosted at the very Methodist and Baptist Churches which excommunicated Jordan and his Koinonia flock years ago. The church doors which were once unconditionally closed to Black Americans now hosted a symposium committed to racial reconciliation and strategizing for combat against systemic racism. Attending the conference was important for both Megan and I in order to understand how our own justice- work and theological experiences are situated within a broader narrative, that is, the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Movement.”

For more information on Koinonia Farm, 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 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: On Second Thought

On Second Thought: Essays Out of My Life, by Donald ShriverEssays Out of My Life

Donald Shriver, Jr. has had a distinguished career. Trained as a minister and a Christian ethicist, he won the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his 2005 book Honest Patriots and served for 16 years as president of Union Theological Seminary in New York. In his memoir, On Second Thought, Shriver offers his insights on a variety of topics and his hopes for the future. Subjects range from a chapter on ecology based around his own experiences at his family property and his reflections on the life of his eldest son, to his appreciation for Beethoven. In the introduction Shriver say he aimed to follow the advice of a friend, to avoid making this book a scholarly tome replete with footnotes and instead to “write it from the heart.” The result is a religious and deeply personal book of essays.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“In Chapter 5, Shriver puts this wise question: “Whoever grew up without a lot of help?” (p. 68) However we grow in life, and whatever we accomplish in life, we do so on the shoulders of others. I have been inspired also by Shriver’s reverent practice of reaching out and offering “thank you” messages to several persons who have shaped his life. Shriver’s chapter on friends and friendship describes friends as “gifts arriving in one’s life without notice or asking.”  In his final chapter, Shriver offers an intriguing letter about his hopes for his great-grandchildren that he will never see: That they will be alive and well in 2060. That they will be daily grateful. That they will be honored to belong to a worldwide human family. That they will be deeply in love in a permanent marriage of companionship and fidelity. That they will be faithfully aware that they are greatly loved and empowered to love by a “love divine, all loves excelling.”  I chose this book as the basis for our retreat discussions because Shriver winsomely articulates what has been ultimately important to him and his life pilgrimage. I believe his reflections provide a remarkable instrument for exploring what is ultimately important for each reader.”—Dean K. Thompson Former president, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

For more information on the publication, click here.

Donald W. Shriver Jr. is an ethicist and an ordained Presbyterian minister who has belonged to the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations since 1988 and was president of Union Theological Seminary from 1975 to 1991.

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.

PLT Alum Tim Hartman Celebrates Lived Theology Course and Sabbatical Plans

Tim HartmanReflecting on Class Takeaways and Future Studies

PLT alum Tim Hartman of Columbia Theological Seminary recently taught a class entitled “Theology and Community: A Lived Theology Approach,” which studied the social consequences of religious belief by examining famous historical figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bonhoeffer. The class delved into past movements as well as more current ones in order to get a more nuanced perspective of lived theology.

Reflecting on his course, Professor Hartman stated:

“My students are hungry to see how theology makes a difference in the world. In Theology & Community: A Lived Theology approach, students explore the social consequences of religious belief through four case-studies: the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., Nazi Germany, the Rwandan genocide, and contemporary ‘stand your ground’ culture in the U.S. to learn some ways that the Christian faith has been used for both oppression and liberation.”

Since having taught this course, Professor Hartman was awarded a grant from the Louisville Institute which will allow him to study Christianity from a non-western perspective. His main project will be writing a book that is a theological introduction to Ghanaian theologian Kwame Bediako. He plans to spend the first six months of his sabbatical in Cape Town, South Africa, as a visiting scholar in the Department of Religion and Theology at the University of the Western Cape prior to visiting other African countries.

To read the full announcement detailing Professor Hartman’s sabbatical grant, 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 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Radical King

The Radical King, Cornel West and Martin Luther King Jr.A revealing collection that restores Dr. King as being every bit as radical as Malcolm X

In the introduction to The Radical King, Cornell West declares that this new collection of King’s writings presents “a radical King that we can no longer sanitize.” West argues that King was a revolutionary figure, one who called for “a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life, and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and average citizens.” Containing twenty-three selections of King’s writing and oratory, the collection shows how King’s message of radical love was simultaneously political and religious. The collection makes clear that King’s prophetic nonviolent witness was not just intended to advance civil rights, but also aimed to address poverty, inequality, war, antisemitism and colonialism.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“King’s skills as a preacher and rhetorician are amply in evidence, as is his profound empathy with others.”—Publishers Weekly

“This useful collection takes King from the front lines of Southern segregation to a national movement for economic equality to an international condemnation of imperialism and armed intervention.”—Kirkus Reviews

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.

Charles Marsh and John Perkins Speak at Pepperdine University

Keynote speaker Rev. John PerkinsOn the Question of God and Justice

On Tuesday, March 27th, Charles Marsh and PLT contributor John M. Perkins presented a feature entitled “Does God Care About Justice?” at the Veritas Forum at Pepperdine University. The Veritas Forum is an organization that facilitates conversations between students and faculty on a range of beliefs and life’s hardest questions in pursuit of truth.

Marsh spoke of Bonhoeffer’s reflections on the church while in prison, comparing the Nazi’s appropriation of the Christian church to the way white southern churches of his youth distorted the word of God in their own prejudice. In his talk, he noted:

“My own culture and my own taste had constructed a God that had very little to do with the gospel… the church… exists fundamentally beyond national boundaries, political boundaries, social boundaries, racial boundaries… Those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord are quite necessarily… members of the global fellowship.”

Perkins reflected on the great societal changes he had seen in his life, particularly in the church, and how those related to the historical changes in the church started by Martin Luther and Bonhoeffer. In his discussion of of the current state of society, he expressed his conviction that the church, and indeed society as a whole, could become more equal and accepting, explaining:

We might be at a sacred moment in history… I believe that we can form multicultural churches. I believe that we can be intentional in our love.”

To watch the talk in its entirety, along with the following Q&A, click here. For more information on the Veritas Forum, visit their website here.

John M. Perkins is a leader and major figure of the civil rights movement of the 1960s who founded Voice of Calvary Ministries, a Christian community development ministry, with his wife, Vera Mae. 

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.

PLT event updates can be found online using #PLTevents. 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.

In Commemoration of MLK: Clayborn Temple to Present “Union”

Historic Memphis Temple Plans Theater Tribute to King

In 1968, Clayborn Temple was home to the Memphis Sanitation Workers during their strike for economic justice. Within its sanctuary they organized their efforts, and from its steps they marched daily into the streets of Memphis. As they went, they carried the iconic “I AM A MAN” signs that bore witness to the very meaning of the movement: the pursuit of human dignity.

Today, fifty years later, Clayborn Temple is developing “Union,” a musical play that inspires audiences with the powerful story of the Sanitation Workers and continues their journey toward social justice.

Set to debut in 2019, this production will tour cities across the United States and invite audiences into active conversations about the ongoing need for equity, the enduring power of community, and the future possibilities of democracy.

On April 4th, 2018, the eyes of the world turned to Memphis as thousands gathered to remember, embrace, and advance the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

As part of this commemoration, Clayborn Temple presents three preview performances of “Union: A Musical” and a community conversation that that brings together community members, activists, artists, influencers, and civic leaders to discuss the ongoing work of democracy in our city and in our nation.

Friday, April 6th, 2018

On opening night, we feature narration of local pastor. Friday night will be a VIP night and will be a fundraiser for “Union”.

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

On Saturday night, we feature narration of actress, Jurnee Smollett and performance by singer/songwriter Josiah Bell.

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

On Sunday afternoon, we will turn our attention toward the young people of Memphis.The show will feature narration of Erica Perry and Patrick Ghant and a youth led post-show conversation featuring young people (middle school – college) from communities and organizations all over Memphis. (we are working on a special appearance by members of The Invaders). Before the show we will be conducting a community organization workshop for members of the community that want to be more involved in the work for racial and economic justice.

For event information and ticket purchase, visit Clayborn Temple’s website 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 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.

PLT Contributor Patricia Hampl to speak at UVA

Patricia Hampl posterThe Art of the Wasted Day

On April 24th, 2018, Professor Patricia Hampl will be giving a lecture at 2:00 pm in Nau Hall 211, with a Q&A to follow. Afterwards, at 5:00 pm, she will be discussing her book, The Art of the Wasted Day, at the Bonhoeffer House at 1841 University Circle. There will also be a book signing following the talk. Admission is free for both events, and the public is invited to attend. Parking for the Bonhoeffer House event is available at the International Center. Additional parking is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage.

For more information on additional resources and occasional lectures, click here.

Patricia Hampl is a Regents Professor and the McKnight Distinguished Professor in the English department at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches creative writing.

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.