News

The Future of Civil Rights Activism: Ruby Sales Engages in Charlottesville Public Forum

In Conversation with Charles Marsh on Social Justice and Spirituality

Ruby Sales VFH, Charles MarshOn November 29, civil rights leader and public theologian Ruby Sales traveled to Charlottesville to participate in a public conversation on social justice and spirituality hosted by Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH).

The event, Every One of Us: A Conversation with Ruby Sales on Race, Spirituality, and Public Life, featured a dialogue between Sales and Charles Marsh, engaging Charlottesville community members on critical issues of race, spirituality, and public life. Extensive community interest brought 398 guests to the event, overwhelming the official capacity of the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center of 200. While there was standing room only, even those with a seat rose to close the program with a standing ovation.

In an opening discussion on fellow civil rights witness Victoria Gray Adams, Charles Marsh asked Sales, “What is the unfinished business of the civil rights movement today?” Sales answered:

“These are the questions that are still on the table today. Movements seek to raise up our consciousness from the low level of empire consciousness to the high level of mountaintop consciousness, where we begin to see the world and each other in very different, and larger, and more relational ways. Because it is in the process of moving up to a high level of consciousness that we come to know a full meaning of God and we come to know each other in community.

So I think the question is still on the table today as white supremacy is rampant in this country, as political speech is violating, dehumanizing, and degrading, as white anger threatens to shed the very curtains of democracy in this country that threatens the lives of not only people of color, but also women… I think we are facing a spiritual crisis in America today. It is a spiritual crisis of meaning that gets at the very heart of what kind of people we will be in the twenty-first century in a capitalist technocracy where very few lives matter and most of us are unessential. I think that peace is not an abstraction.”

Her visit to Charlottesville also included an intergenerational master class at UVA, a roundtable lunch discussion with local community leaders, and a private dinner hosted by New City Arts Initiative. At the conclusion of her trip, Sales shared her plans to develop a history-focused reading list for people interested in her work and ideas, to be compiled and shared by VFH with the public.

To watch this discussion in full and view photos of the event, click here. More information on Ruby Sales can be found 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.

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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Church in Ordinary Time

Church in Ordinary Time: A Wisdom Ecclesiology, Amy Plantinga PauwA Wisdom Ecclesiology

The liturgical season called “ordinary time” consists mostly of the weeks between Easter and the beginning of Advent. This season, generally ignored by theologians, aptly symbolizes the church’s existence as God’s creature in the gap between the resurrection of Christ and the consummation of all things. In Church in Ordinary Time, author Amy Plantinga Pauw draws on the seasons of the church year and the creation theology elaborated in the Wisdom books of Scripture to explore the contours of a Trinitarian ecclesiology that is properly attuned to the church’s life amid the realities of today’s world.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Beautifully framed and written, this is an ecclesiology that matters. Amy Plantinga Pauw is one of the leading American theologians of our generation; when you read Church in Ordinary Time, you can see why she is such a respected and important voice.”—Willie James Jennings, Yale Divinity School

“Wisdom traditions in Scripture and theology converge in this timely and provocative book on ecclesiology. Pauw offers a richly Trinitarian, ecumenically attuned, and profoundly relevant proposal for all who are serious about the church’s self-understanding today. Her writing is clearheaded and firmly rooted in Augustine, Calvin, Bonhoeffer, and biblical wisdom literature. It’s about time we had wisdom like this. Readers across all traditions will be challenged and grateful.”—Don E. Saliers, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

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.

Recapturing King’s Prophetic Witness in the Trump Era: Larycia Hawkins Delivers Guest Lecture

Larycia Hawkins, "The Mountaintop as the Valley of the Shadow", Bearing the Cross in the Age of Donald J. TrumpBearing the Cross as Creative Protest

On November 1, Larycia Hawkins delivered a guest lecture, entitled “Bearing the Cross in the Age of Donald J. Trump: The Example of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Civil Rights Movement.”

Utilizing the prophetic guidance of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to address the politics of Trump’s America, Hawkins breaks down the prerequisites of cross bearing to body work, soul work, and foot work, calling us all to embodied solidarity and the civil courage to pursue a committed activism. She moves on to discuss the nature of cross bearing through the witness of MLK in his quest to save the society he was calling to truth. Finishing with a discussion on the politics of cross bearing, Hawkins argues King is pointing us toward recapturing a prophetic vision of human dignity, where the perspective of the oppressed is heard and the moment for justice is always recognized as now.

In her closing reflection on King’s thoughts for these days, Hawkins compels us all to engage in ways that are prophetic and pragmatic and continue to have hope: 

So what would MLK say to Trump? I think he would say several things… I think he would say you shall know them by their fruits and ask the 81% of white evangelicals who voted for him, where is the fruit? I think he would warn us about false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing. I think he would say, you are your brother and sister’s keeper, and their blood cries out to you from the ground. Do you see it?…

I think he would say to the Congress of the United States, you call yourselves righteous, but the prophet Isaiah says righteousness and justice go hand in hand and that in fact, kingdoms and cities will be redeemed by justice. Nevertheless, your princes are rebels and companions of thieves.

I think he would say to most of us in this room, how are you complicit in the vast inequality that masquerades as the truth of the American dream?… He would ask us how open the eyes of our hearts are.

He would ask President Trump to get caught up in a vortex of love. Heather Heyer’s father said at her funeral, ‘It didn’t matter who you were or where you were from. If she loved you, you were stuck.’ He would ask President Trump, who do you love? What do you love? And he would ask us the same question.”

Listen to the entire lecture through its resource page here.

Larycia A. Hawkins is the Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. She is the recipient of many honors, such as the Bridge Builder Award from The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (MI) and the Dr. Betty Shabazz Award from Women in Islam Inc. (NY). Dr. Hawkins’ recent publications include “Prophetic and Priestly: The Politics of a Black Catholic Parish” (2015) and “Jesus and Justice: The Moral Framing of the Black Agenda” (2015). Her research engages the intersections of race/ethnicity, religion, and politics. Her writing, speaking, teaching, and scholarship are squarely animated by a conviction that political science should be relevant to the real world.

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: The Market as God

The Market as GodA theological look at the economy

In The Market as God, author Harvey Cox captures how our world has fallen in thrall to the business theology of supply and demand. According to its acolytes, the Market is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. It knows the value of everything, and determines the outcome of every transaction; it can raise nations and ruin households, and nothing escapes its reductionist commodification. The Market comes complete with its own doctrines, prophets, and evangelical zeal to convert the world to its way of life. Cox brings that theology out of the shadows, demonstrating that the way the world economy operates is neither natural nor inevitable but shaped by a global system of values and symbols that can be best understood as a religion.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

The Market as God attempts to begin…challenging how political liberalism constrains moral and religious critiques from entering the public sphere, and how economic liberalism—by insisting the market holds primacy above all—constrains us from building a more just and equal society… By highlighting the limits of our economic and religious lives, and by reminding us of our powers to renovate our current world, Cox clears the space for a new generation of Christians to begin to develop a more public and egalitarian politics. And that alone is more than enough to be grateful for.”—Elizabeth Bruening, The Nation

Through an astonishingly productive lifetime, Harvey Cox has always been alive to the most important movements of the spirit in our culture. His observations on the deification of the market and his ingenious sense of how market theology has developed a scripture, a liturgy, and sophisticated apologetics allow us to see old challenges in a remarkably fresh light. Like so many of the market’s critics, he’s also trying to redeem it so that it might serve its proper ends. An essential and thoroughly engaging book.”—E.J. Dionne, Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong

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: Bloody Lowndes

Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama's Black Belt by Hasan Kwame JeffriesCivil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt

In Bloody Lowndes, author Hasan Kwame Jeffries tells the story of the independent political party called the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) and it’s protest of black enfranchisement. The LCFO inspired black people throughout the country, and was used as an inspiration for both Black Power and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Bridging the gaping hole in the literature between civil rights organizing and Black Power politics, Bloody Lowndes offers a new paradigm for understanding the civil rights movement.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Jeffries has written the book historians of the black freedom movement have been waiting for. His beautifully written account rescues Lowndes County from its role as merely a backdrop to ‘Black Power,’ to being one of the key battlegrounds for democracy in the United States. Here are local people whose local struggles have contributed mightily to the kind of politics we desperately need in the Obama age—the politics of ‘freedom democracy,’ a politics born in Reconstruction, rooted in social justice and human rights, and honed in the Alabama cotton belt.”—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

“Jeffries is at the top of a very short list of ‘young lions’ paving the way for a new interpretation of the history of the Civil Rights-Black Power movement. His work on the legendary Lowndes County Freedom Organization is outstanding in terms of the breadth and carefulness of research, depth and clarity of conceptualization, organization and presentation of material, and the originality and the wealth of the results.”—Komozi Woodard, author of A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics

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.

Civil Rights Leader Ruby Sales to Speak in Charlottesville

In Conversation with Charles Marsh on Race, Spirituality, and Public Life

On Wednesday, November 29, civil rights and spiritual leader Ruby Sales will visit Charlottesville to participate in “Every One of Us,” a public conversation on social justice and spirituality hosted by Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH). This dialogue between Sales and Charles Marsh will engage Charlottesville community members on critical issues of race, spirituality, and public life. Justin Reid, director of African American Programs at VFH, will serve as moderator. The event will take place from 6 – 7:30pm at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. Admission is free, and seating is general admission on a first-come, first-served basis.

"Every One of Us": A Conversation with Ruby Sales on Race, Spirituality, and Public Life, Charles Marsh

Ruby Sales is a nationally-recognized civil rights leader working at the intersection of race, religion, language, and politics since she was a student freedom fighter in the 1960s. She brings the wealth of African-American traditions to this generative conversation on the most pressing social and political questions in the 21st century. How do we make sense of a domestic and global narrative that reinforces a social hierarchy based on race, gender, class, and sexuality? How can we create a more complete and honest narrative that reflects a world that is majority youth, people of color, and women? What movements or countercultures are needed to accomplish this in modern society? What resources do we have to redress historic oppression, confront white supremacy, and imagine a world where every one of us is embraced in our human community?

As a leading thinker on the relationship between politics and religious life, PLT Director Charles Marsh will speak from direct experience as a Christian raised in the heart of the segregated South. Moderator Justin Reiddirects African American Programs at VFH, where he advances a complex and nuanced telling of African American history through the development of educational resources, including a database of historic sites.

This free, community event has been made possible by the Office of the Executive Vice President & Provost at the University of Virginia. Additional support has been provided by the Black Student Alliance at UVA, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at UVA, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, the Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity at UVA, and the Project on Lived Theology at UVA.

If you are unfamiliar with Ms. Sales’ powerful perspectives on racial and gender equity, among other topics, listen to her recent interview on On Being. Registration for this free event is encouraged but not required and is available 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.

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.

Diversifying the Digital Historical Record: Kelly Figueroa-Ray Presents PLT Archive at New York Conference

On Community Archives Integration in a National Digital Platform

This past October PLT Contributor Kelly Figueroa-Ray represented the Project on Lived Theology at Forum Four of the Diversifying The Digital Historical Record initiative in New York City to speak about PLT’s Civil Rights as Theological Drama digital and paper archive. This conference brought together community and academic archivists, librarians, and other professionals who archive. The overwhelming majority of the presenters were women and more than half of the presenters and attendees were people of color. This is notable in that many academic conferences continue to struggle with diversity in their panels and presentations, even when discussing the topic of diversity.

Diversifying the Digital Historical Record, Kelly Figueroa-Ray, Civil Rights as Theological Drama

The Digital Historical Record initiative hosted a total of four forums that were held in different cities around the country. The topic of each form focused “on community archives integration in a National Digital Platform and the potential impact for representation of diverse communities in our digital cultural heritage.” The four forums were:

The Civil Rights as Theological Drama was featured in the first panel of Forum Four, entitled “Lest We Forget”: Community Archives, Civil Rights and Social Justice.” Other community archives featured in this panel included the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, Joseph A. Labadie Collection, Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, and the Interference Archive. Each presenter shared the content and purpose of their project along with the struggles faced with sustainability and the challenges of moving into digital formats. One of the main issues brought up in Figueroa-Ray’s presentation was the difficulty posed by copyright issues when posting digital content and the challenges of reaching audiences who are interested in the digital content that is offered. This last issue promoted discussion with other conference participants from the library community and other national digital collection projects about how to connect community archives to wider audiences through their systems. This possibility offers some hope for reaching wider audiences, but also brought up fears on the part of community archivists of giving up aspects of control over the archives themselves. Other issues of sustainability of community archives include lack of funding and resources need to gather documents, preserve them, and digitize them.

Other topics at the forum dealt with the relationship of the Academy with Community Archives and whether or not adding a digital component to community archives was a good investment or not. Overall, the forum brought together a number of people passionate about ensuring that the information available in the digital age is representative of the wider, diverse community that makes up our society. In tension with this desire was a caution from members of the community who were present that were against having their local knowledge exploited by outside organizations with little or no local relationships.

The website for Diversifying The Digital Historical Record includes resources from Forums 1-3, here. The videos from Forum Four along with a white paper “summarizing the conversations and proposing future directions for community archives continued development and collaboration with national digital initiatives” should be available soon.

Kelly Figueroa-Ray is a doctoral candidate in the program of comparative scripture, interpretation and practice in the department of religious studies at the University of Virginia. Her focus is the relationship between scripture and theology as it is lived out in particular communities with a particular interest in multicultural Christian ministries.

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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Hospitality and Islam

Hospitality and Islam: Welcoming in God's NameWelcoming in God’s Name

In Hospitality and Islam, author Mona Siddiqui makes the first major contribution to the understanding of hospitality both within Islam and beyond. She explores and compares teachings within the various Muslim traditions over the centuries, while also drawing on materials as diverse as Islamic belles lettres, Christian reflections on almsgiving and charity, and Islamic and Western feminist writings on gender issues. Applying a more theological approach to the idea of mercy as a fundamental basis for human relationships, this book will appeal to a wide audience, particularly readers interested in Islam, ethics, and religious studies.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“This study pioneers a critical conversation between religious traditions on a fundamental human concept – hospitality – in an age where the world community is confronting so many problems, from displaced peoples and refugees to victims of human trafficking and dispossession. In this important book, Siddiqui rightfully recognises the significant contributions of the Islamic tradition and Muslim cultures to this field. This is an important book, not just for students of comparative religions but for anyone interested in human rights and the future of humanity.” —Khaled Abou El Fadl, author of Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari Ah in the Modern Age

“A lucidly written work that straddles academic analysis and normative activism, and offers an excellent overview of the how the idea of hospitality nourishes and inspires different facets of Islamic thought and Muslim practice.”—Tehseen Thaver, THES

“Siddiqui’s work on hospitality will remain a central and definitive starting point on the subject for years to come.”—Martin Nguyen, Reading Religion

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.

Final Presentations Conclude Summer Internships in Lived Theology

Reflections on Summers of Service

On Tuesday, September 26, the 2017 summer interns in Lived Theology gave final presentations on their partnerships with the community, wrapping up this year’s summer internships in lived theology. This year’s cohort included Megan Helbling (Col ’18), Sarah Katherine Doyle (Col ’18), and Joseph Kreiter (Col ’17).

Megan HelblingMegan Helbling

“Intentionally incorporating others’ stories into our lives is the best way to make our theologies as comprehensive as possible of the entire Kingdom of God.”

Megan is a University of Virginia student majoring in English and religious studies. As a summer intern, she worked at The Haven, a multi-service day shelter for people experiencing homelessness in downtown Charlottesville. Read her final project here.

Sarah Katherine DoyleSarah Katherine Doyle

“Community living can be messy. But using our senses and our breath to re-engage in the present, particularly at Magdalene, means re-engaging with a community of survivors at a vast range of phases in their recovery processes. It means re-engaging with glory.” 

Sarah Katherine is a University of Virginia student majoring in English and religious studies. As a PLT summer intern, SK served women who are survivors of trafficking, addiction and prostitution at Magdalene, a residential program connected with Thistle Farms Social Enterprises in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her final project here.

Joseph KreiterJoe Kreiter

“It is my hope that I can help to improve the material stakes of underprivileged residents of the Bay Area, if even only in a small way, to lighten their load a little bit so that they, too, can find some time for rest.”

A recent University of Virginia graduate, Joe double majored in East Asian studies and English. For his PLT summer internship, he worked 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. Read his final project here.

To read the intern blog comprised of each student’s reflections over the summer, click here.

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 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.

Kierkegaard and the Academy: Stanley Hauerwas Delivers the 2017 Capps Lecture

Securing Kierkegaard’s Witness for Us Today

On Thursday, October 12, Stanley Hauerwas visited the University of Virginia to deliver the 2017 Capps Lecture in Christian Theology, entitled “Christianity is Madness: Kierkegaard and the Academy.”

Attending to Kierkegaard’s attack on Christendom, Hauerwas aimed to recover why his theology should continue to challenge us today. However, since we are no longer in the robust Christendom that was Kierkegaard’s Denmark, he argues that we may have to rethink what it means to do theology grounded in true discipleship.

Discussing Kierkegaard’s disapproval of the Christendom of his day, Hauerwas says:

“What must be acknowledged, Kierkegaard argues, is from any human point of view, Christianity is and must be a form of madness. It is so because only through a consciousness of sin can one come to the one who can save. Accordingly, Christianity must display itself as madness in order that the qualitative infinite emphasis may fall upon the fact that only consciousness of sin is the way of entrance. Indeed, this is the kind of consciousness that is the exact opposite of the kind of awareness that Christendom sponsors, namely the attitude which expresses admiration for Jesus. Such a form of consciousness is a fraud and self-defeats, but is one common to Christendom. It is so because in Christendom Christ is exalted to confirm our self deceptions, the deepest deception being that we do not have to lose our lives to be a disciple of Jesus.”

This lecture was co-sponsored by Theological Horizons and 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. Watch Hauerwas’s lecture here.

Stanley Hauerwas is a longtime professor at Duke University, serving as the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School with a joint appointment at the Duke University School of Law. Involved in the areas of systematic theology, philosophical theology and ethics, political theory, as well as the philosophy of social science and medical ethics, his work and research interests intersect across many disciplinary lines. His recent publications include The Work of Theology (Eerdmans, 2015) and Hannah’s Child: A Theological Memoir, 2nd Ed. (Eerdmans, 2012).