News

Next Week: PLT Contributor Sarah Azaransky Visits UVA

This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement, Sarah Azaransky book eventOn the Civil Rights Movement in its Global Context

On Tuesday, May 2, PLT Contributor Sarah Azaransky will deliver a guest lecture at UVA on her forthcoming book, This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Azaransky’s research reveals fertile intersections of worldwide resistance movements, American racial politics, and interreligious exchanges that crossed literal borders and disciplinary boundaries, and underscores the role of religion in justice movements. Shedding new light on how international and interreligious encounters were integral to the greatest American social movement of the last century, This Worldwide Struggle confirms the relationship between moral reflection and democratic practice, and it contains vital lessons for movement building today.

Reviews and endorsements of the book include:

“The long civil rights movement has needed an expansive religious history. This is it and so much more. Inventively following this set of Christian thinkers and activists across the globe and toward various religions, Sarah Azaransky has shed new light on the most pivotal innovation of the twentieth-century: genuine democracy. This Worldwide Struggle is not just great history; it’s religious, moral, and ethical reflection for all lovers of democracy and justice.” –Edward J. Blum, co-author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America

“Azaransky offers a savvy, cogently written understanding of the internationalism of early twentieth-century black Christian intellectuals and activists. She comprehensively details previously neglected history of African American religious contributions to global moral commitments challenging white supremacy and socioeconomic inequalities. This book is an inspiring primer in deliberately crafted frontiers of justice-oriented black Christianity, so timely for anyone seeking hopeful roadmaps for similar contemporary forms of religious solidarity supporting human dignity across borders.” –Traci C. West, Professor of Christian Ethics and African American Studies, Drew University

“More than any other, this book reveals the many extensive international relationships that African American religious scholars and civil rights activists established between the 1930s and 1950s. This much needed book, rich in historical data, will be welcomed by all its readers for its compelling evidence concerning the world-wide significance of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States through its connection with anti-colonial movements in Asia and Africa.” –Peter J. Paris, Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor Christian Social Ethics, Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

The presentation will begin at 2:00pm in Wilson Hall 301. Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend. For details and release information on the new book, click here.

Sarah Azaransky is an assistant professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Her publications include The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith (Oxford University Press, 2011) and an edited volume, Religion and Politics in America’s Borderlands (Lexington Books, 2013).

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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: We Shall Not Be Moved

We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth's Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired, M. J. O'BrienThe Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired

The 1963 Jackson Woolworth’s sit-in has come to be largely recognized by a set of photographs capturing the violent tension between the raw virulence of racism and the defiance of visionaries. While the event’s importance has been recognized as sparking to life the civil rights movement in Jackson, it has failed to be studied in its historical context. Filling this gap by incorporating both biography and history, author M.J. O’Brien crafts a gripping narrative through the eyes of those participating in this harrowing sit-in experience.

Rev. Ed King, who became the chaplain at Tougaloo College during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, remembers the day clearly:

“Store officials soon roped off the whole lunch counter except where the three students sat. The Colored Lunch Counter (with only 30 seats) was also soon closed. For the next 45 minutes, the demonstrators sat quietly at the deserted, darkened counter… The Jackson Daily News managed to define the events of this first 45 minutes as ‘trouble.’ In the next two hours there would be more ‘trouble’ here than in any sit-in in the history of the Movement.”

Continue reading King’s account in our digital civil rights archive here. For more information on the book, 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: Embracing the Other

Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love, by Grace Ji-Sun KimThe Transformative Spirit of Love

In a time of widespread conflict, achieving reconciliation and justice among all people is a difficult task. In Embracing the Other, Grace Ji-Sun Kim incorporates concepts from Asian and indigenous cultures to construct a border-crossing theology on the power of the Holy Spirit. Contributing a Asian feminist perspective, Kim pens a unique solution to global justice and healing through a reliance on “Spirit God.”

Reviews of the publication include:

“Grace Ji-Sun Kim’s book Embracing the Other represents a bold, original, and insightful challenge to prophetically confront the sins of racism and sexism through the life-giving power of the Spirit. This book is an important Korean-American contribution to the spiritual revitalization of North American churches and the struggles against everyday racism and sexism. I highly recommend it.”—Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Harvard Divinity School

“Grace Ji-Sun Kim continues to offer us insightful and original work that makes a difference in both the church and the academy, a rare accomplishment in the scholarly world. This book shows the growing impact of her fresh voice — prophetic, priestly, and practical.”—Dwight N. Hopkins, University of Chicago

“In Embracing the Other Kim constructs a theology of Spirit-Chi of love to liberate, empower, and transform the Other, envisioning the postcolonial reality of human liberation, justice, and equality regardless of one’s skin color, culture, religion, and power. The `Spirit God’ she adopts here is a radical affirmation of all colonized, marginalized others. This significant, must-read book offers a revitalizing Christian theology of the Spirit in and for our highly racialized and genderized world.”—Namsoon Kang, Brite Divinity School

For more information on the book, 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.

Do Guns Make Us Free? Firmin DeBrabander Answers in Guest Lecture

Firmin DeBrabander, do guns make us freeA Critique of the Gun Rights Movement

On March 14, Firmin DeBrabander delivered a guest lecture entitled, “Do Guns Make Us Free? A Christian Critique of the Gun Movement.” In response to the gun rights movement that has driven the United States into achieving the highest rate of private gun ownership in the world today, DeBrabander argued that our freedom is greatly hindered by this armed society.

Discussing its threat to the very basis of civil society, he noted how the recent legislative efforts of campus carry, permitless carry, and Stand Your Ground laws are a dangerous invasion of the public sphere that undermines member discourse and democracy at large. Transitioning into the Catholic church’s teaching of the social good, DeBrabander closed with a call for faith believers to turn back the radical agenda of the NRA that impairs us as individuals, as human beings, and as God’s creation.

Throughout the lecture DeBrabander offers key insights, stating:

“Among the industrialized nations, the United States has by far the highest gun fatality rate. No industrialized nation has close to the number of mass shootings that we do. This gun violence epidemic is a uniquely American problem for a society not officially at war.

What is going on here? Why does the U.S. defy the trend seen in other industrialized democracies and expand gun rights with each mass shooting? Why do we tolerate this obscene death toll and widespread misery? Why is the NRA’s radical agenda ascendant?

Taken together, this radical agenda is nothing less than an experiment in radical gun rights that we the American people are subjected to. It’s an experiment in gun rights such as the nation has never experienced or undergone… I think we are at a point where faith-based communities, and Christian communities in particular, can provide a powerful push for gun control.”

To listen to the full lecture, visit its resource page here.

Firmin DeBrabander is professor of philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. He completed his graduate studies at the Katholieke Universities Leuven in Belgium, and at Emory University in Atlanta. His publications include Spinoza and the Stoics (Continuum Press, 2007) and Do Guns Make us Free? (Yale University Press, 2015). He has written articles on social and political commentary (notably on the gun debate) in a variety of national publications, including The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the New Republic and Salon.

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.

Project on Lived Theology Names 2017 Summer Interns

University of Virginia students will serve in Charlottesville, Nashville, and Berkeley.

The Project on Lived Theology has selected three students for the Summer Internship in Lived Theology 2017:

Megan HelblingMegan Helbling

Megan (Col ’18) is majoring in English and religious studies. As a summer intern, Megan will be working at The Haven, a multi-service day shelter for people experiencing homelessness in downtown Charlottesville. Megan is interested in studying the practical ethics of interactions with those on the margins of society, a biblical and moral approach to poverty, and the influences and failures of the Christian social gospel in American cities.

Sarah Katherine DoyleSarah Katherine Doyle

Sarah (Col ’18) is majoring in English and religious studies. This summer, SK will be serving women who are survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution at Magdalene, a residential program connected with Thistle Farms Social Enterprises in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

Joseph KreiterJoseph Kreiter

Joseph (Col ’17) is a double major in East Asian studies and English–program in literary prose. For his PLT summer internship, Joe will work with Urban Adamah, a Jewish community farm in downtown Berkeley, California, which seeks to integrate Judaism, organic farming, mindfulness, and social action to foster love, justice, and sustainability. While working toward these goals with Urban Adamah, Joe will also explore the relationship between individual spirituality and broader religious tradition.

Stay tuned to learn more about our interns and their partner organizations over the next few months, and check back here this summer to read their blogs from the field.

The Summer Internship in Lived Theology is an immersion program designed to complement the numerous existing urban and rural service immersion programs flourishing nationally and globally by offering a unique opportunity to think and write theologically about service. For more information on this initiative, please click here.

For updates about the PLT Summer Internship, click here. We also post updates online using #PLTinterns. To get these updates please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times

The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times, by Jeffrey C. PughTheology After You’ve Been Left Behind

Many have long held fast to the promise of Jesus’s return, with believers increasingly convinced their generation is living among the last days. In The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times, Jeffrey C. Pugh uses his own stint in an apocalyptic cult to examine how Christianity and society at large have become preoccupied with the theology of dispensationalism. Through a bold reading of biblical texts and church history, Pugh sheds light on the harm this belief has on Christian engagement with the world, revealing a darkness unrestricted to the last days.

In an excerpt provided by Fortress Press, Pugh writes:

“Apocalypse. Armageddon. The Eschaton. Springing from our fascination with The End, a storehouse of images permeates our art, literature, and religion. The End is a belief so ingrained within us that the apocalypse is part of the air we breathe, the atmosphere that envelops us…

The word apocalypse doesn’t denote the end of all things, rather it means to uncover or unveil something that is hidden. In apocalyptic literature the curtain is pulled back from the façade of existence so that we can see the reality behind the scenes. It’s like the moment in the Wizard of Oz when the curtain is pulled back to reveal the truth about the great and powerful Oz—he’s just a guy who uses technology to create an illusion of power. Ancient apocalypses from Babylon to Israel worked to show that behind the scenes of everyday life, with its oppressions and violence, God’s reality was far different. These writings revealed that the forces behind the scrim, evil or divine, were a reflection of another, heavenly, reality. This revelation was often ambiguous because when the apocalyptic truth was revealed, confusion entered the picture. An unveiling of evil spiritual forces for some was for others the very system that keeps the world orderly. Revelation of what God thought about society—and God was seldom pleased—called one’s very existence into question.”

For more information on the publication, click here. Continue reading the excerpt with Fortress Press 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.

Can I Get a Witness? The Interviews with Donyelle McCray

Donyelle Charlotte McCray SILT 2016-2017 Can I get a witness?Spring Institute for Lived Theology 2016/2017 Author Series

The 2016-2017 SILT celebrates scholars, activists, laypeople, and religious leaders whose lived theologies produced and inspired social justice in the United States, and will produce a single volume entitled Can I Get a Witness? The Forgotten Tradition of Radical Christianity in America.

This news series, Can I Get a Witness? The Interviews, features conversations with the Witness participants to highlight how each author is being changed and challenged by the historical figure they are working to illumine. This week’s headliner is Donyelle McCray, whose figure is the prominent theologian Howard Thurman.

In your research, what has surprised you about Thurman?

“How overwhelmed he was. His schedule was grueling and he paid for it with his health—especially when he entered his 50s and 60s. Finding serenity is one of the anchors of his teachings yet it seems to have been a rather elusive thing in his own life.”

Can you tell me a story from Thurman’s life that illustrates something crucial about who he is?

“When he was in Colombo during a tour of India, Burma and Ceylon, he had dinner with a British government official. (This was 1936 so this was a colonist.) While at dinner he noticed a fan overhead that was swatting flies away and providing a gentle breeze. As he gazed at the fan, he noticed that it was tied to a pole and the pole to a pulley and the pulley to a rope that extended into another room. Upon rising from dinner, he discovered that the rope was tied to a man’s foot! This man had been operating the fan all along and Howard was disgusted by it. There’s something about invisible, disrespected labor that outraged him. The fact that he was curious enough to follow this benefit of a small breeze to its source says something about how unentitled he was. He was a deeply humble person. Very tender.”

How is spending time with Thurman affecting you?

“He’s made me want to be a different kind of teacher and preacher. In his sermons (and other writings) he gets to such a deep, universal place. As I spend time with his work, I want to spend more time listening to him. I’ve been reading his work for years but I had heard fewer recordings of address. Now, after spending hours and hours listening to him I have a better sense of his voice on the page and otherwise. And I just enjoy the experience and feel nurtured by it.”

What piece of advice can you imagine Thurman offering to the United States or the world today?

“Learn to be tender to one another and to the earth. No soul flourishes in an environment that is constantly harsh and running at too quick of a pace.”

Donyelle McCray is Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Director of Multicultural Ministries, and Associate Director of the preaching program “Deep Calls to Deep” at Virginia Theological Seminary and will join Yale Divinity School this fall as the Assistant Professor of Homiletics. Her primary research interests include homiletics, spirituality, Christian mysticism, and ecclesiology. She is the recipient of the Bell-Woolfall and the James H. Costen North American Doctoral Fellowships.

For more details about the Spring Institute for Lived Theology 2016/2017: Can I Get A Witness? initiative, click here. We also post updates online using #SILT. 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.

PLT Contributor Sarah Azaransky to Lecture at UVA

This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement, Sarah Azaransky book eventOn the Civil Rights Movement in its Global Context

On Tuesday, May 2, PLT Contributor Sarah Azaransky will deliver a guest lecture at UVA on her forthcoming book, This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford University Press, 2017). The publication identifies a network of black Christian intellectuals and activists who looked abroad, even in other religious traditions, for ideas and practices that could transform American democracy. From the 1930s to the 1950s, they drew lessons from independence movements around the world for an American racial justice campaign.

Their religious perspectives and methods of moral reasoning developed theological blueprints for the classical phase of the Civil Rights Movement. Revealing fertile intersections of worldwide resistance movements, American racial politics, and interreligious exchanges that crossed literal borders and disciplinary boundaries, the book underscores important lessons on the role of religion in justice movements.

The presentation will begin at 2:00pm in Wilson Hall 301. Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend.

For details and release information on the new book, click here.

Sarah Azaransky is an assistant professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Her publications include The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith (Oxford University Press, 2011) and an edited volume, Religion and Politics in America’s Borderlands (Lexington Books, 2013).

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.

Can I Get a Witness? The Interviews with Carlene Bauer

Carlene BauerSpring Institute for Lived Theology 2016/2017 Author Series

The 2016-2017 SILT celebrates scholars, activists, laypeople, and religious leaders whose lived theologies produced and inspired social justice in the United States, and will produce a single volume entitled Can I Get a Witness? The Forgotten Tradition of Radical Christianity in America.

This news series, Can I Get a Witness? The Interviews, features conversations with the Witness participants to highlight how each author is being changed and challenged by the historical figure they are working to illumine. This week’s headliner is Carlene Bauer, who is writing on social justice champion Dorothy Day.

In your research, what has surprised you about Day?

“What’s been surprising is to overhear her, through her diaries, in her later years, muse on the possibility of writing about what she did not write about in The Long Loneliness and elsewhere.”

If you could call up Day this weekend and invite her out, where would you go and what would you do?

“This sounds very strange, but I think she would like it. There’s a retrospective of the painter Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim in New York City—she was an abstract painter who worked in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Martin, like Day, led one life and then quite another—Martin lived in Manhattan among art stars of the 50s, and then took off for the desert of New Mexico. Martin, like Day, found beauty in the very simplest elements of nature, and painted to communicate hope and joy to others through lines and colors that, working together, create a radiance that could be read as spiritual if one chose. I feel that Day would understand and be intrigued by the biography and the impulse, even if she might not fully embrace the art that resulted.”

How is spending time with Day affecting you?

“As a person, and then an erstwhile person of faith, spending time with Day is making me—and especially, especially now given our president—reconsider how I might work to realize the changes I would like to see in both the city and the country I live in. As a writer, it’s been instructive to read The Long Loneliness again and see how much dramatic tension she creates without admitting to all the facts. In this way the book–which she preferred to call a conversion story and not an autobiography because it did not tell the whole story behind her conversion–is not unlike Thomas Merton’s The Seven Story Mountain, which does not tell all and yet still makes us turn pages. Also, I keep thinking about what a friend of Day’s said about her—that secretly Dorothy was a poet.”

What piece of advice can you imagine Day offering to the United States or the world today?

“I wouldn’t presume to answer this, but I will say that her writings, whether it’s the journalism from her girl reporter days in 1916 New York City, or her writings from, say 1966, continue to show us a way to look at and combat injustice.”

Carlene Bauer is a writer whose publications include Not That Kind of Girl (2009) and Frances and Bernard (2014). Her work has been published in The Village Voice, Salon, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine. Bauer currently works in and around New York publishing.

For more details about the Spring Institute for Lived Theology 2016/2017: Can I Get A Witness? initiative, click here. We also post updates online using #SILT. 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement

The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement, Susan GlissonRevisiting a Remarkable Social Revolution

The civil rights movement is popularly remembered through the initiative of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the tumultuous era of 1954-1965. In The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement, seventeen writers breakaway from this traditional approach to commemorate the lesser-known, though equally important, change-makers that propelled efforts at the grassroots level.

Featuring leaders such as Ida B. Wells, James K. Vardaman, and Sylvia Rivera, the publication emphasizes the role individual agency would play in directing this movement and in influencing countless others to follow. The result, edited by PLT Contributor Susan Glisson, is a collection of narratives that captures the long, arduous struggle for national social change and civic renewal through the eyes of everyday revolutionaries.

Reviews of the book include:

“Glisson’s volume convincingly argues that the civil rights movement was not always top-down and that local grassroots organizers deserve recognition from scholars and the general public alike.” —The Journal Of Mississippi History

“Susan Glisson has assembled a stellar cast of scholars to tell the stories of individual Americans engaged in the struggle for human rights. This remarkable collection of essays is at once inspiring and sobering. It demonstrates that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. But it also reminds us of the distance still to be traveled before this country lives up to its democratic promise.” —John Dittmer, DePauw University

For publication details, click here.

Susan M. Glisson has served as executive director of the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation since 2002. A native of Evans, Georgia, she earned bachelor’s degrees in religion and history from Mercer University, a master’s degree in Southern studies from the University of Mississippi and a doctorate in American studies from the College of William and Mary. Glisson specializes in the history of race and religion in the United States, especially in the black struggle for freedom. She has numerous publications, has been quoted widely in the media and has supported community projects throughout the state for the Institute since its inception. 

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.