VA Seminar Featured Member: David Dark

David DarkVirginia Seminar Project: Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious

David Dark is an assistant professor at Belmont University and the author of The Sacredness of Questioning Everything; Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons and Other Pop Culture Icons and The Gospel According To America: A Meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea, which was included in Publishers’ Weekly’s top religious books of 2005. He also contributed a chapter to the book Radiohead and Philosophy: Fitter Happier More Deductive (Chicago: Open Court, 2009). Following years of teaching high school English, Dark recently received a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. He also currently teaches at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

Some fun facts about David…

Q: What is your favorite book (or two or few)?
DD: Ursula K. Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness; James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games; Lewis Hyde, The Gift; Wendell Berry, What Are People For?

Q: What is your favorite book to require for classes you teach?
DD: Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Q: What are some of your favorite classes to teach? Why?
DD: Religion and Science Fiction. They’re the book ends of just about everything I can think of.

Q: Who are the authors you most admire?
DD: Will Campbell, Octavia Butler, Mary Ruefle, Czeslaw Milosz, Gregory Orr, Thomas Merton, Guy Davenport, Robert Bellah, Flannery O’Connor, Albert Camus, Eugene Peterson, Dorothee Soelle, W.E.B. Dubois, Thomas Pynchon, and Wendell Berry.

Q: Who are your teaching/writing influences?
DD: Doris Dark, Henri Nouwen, and Parker Palmer.

Q: Have any writing quirks?
DD: Writing a letter, an essay, a chapter, or a book serves well to assure me that all my notes and underlinings (or most of them) don’t go completely to waste. I try to be a good steward of my obsessive compulsions.

A resident of Nashville, Tennessee, David attempts to raise children and live a life of mindfulness with singer/songwriter Sarah Masen. Follow David on Twitter @DavidDark and his tumblr page “Dark Matter” here.

To learn more about David, visit his author’s page here.

Charles Marsh takes “Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer” on tour

Author photo cropped - web versionProject director Charles Marsh began his book tour for Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on April 28, at City Seminary in New York City and continued the following two weeks in stops at southern independent book stores and congregations.  After a brief pause for UVa graduation and some time with his family in Charlottesville, Charles resumes his book tour this week with an appearance on Wednesday, 28, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a reading and signing at Quail Rights Books in Raleigh, a video interview with his old Baltimore friend, Michael Curry, the Bishop of the Western North Carolina Diocese, of Episcopal Church of the United States, and a Sunday lecture at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He’s also stopping by to see another good friend, the writer and professor Lauren Winner, in Durham, and colleagues at Duke Divinity School. For the remaining stops on the book tour schedule, click here.

Visit often, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for updates on book events around the country. Join the conversation about the book with #StrangeGlory.

From the publisher: “Charles Marsh brings Bonhoeffer to life in his full complexity for the first time. With a keen understanding of the multifaceted writings, often misunderstood, as well as the imperfect man behind the saintly image, here is a nuanced, exhilarating, and often heartrending portrait that lays bare Bonhoeffer’s flaws and inner torment, as well as the friendships and the faith that sustained and finally redeemed him. Strange Glory is a momentous achievement.” For more information about Strange Glory, click here.

VA Seminar Featured Member: Peter Slade

Peter_Slade_0.previewVirginia Seminar Project: Singing Church

Peter Slade currently researches justice, reconciliation and the practices of congregational singing: the ways that singing shapes–and is shaped by–the lived ecclesiologies of different congregations and communities. To read his blog, “Singing Church,” click here.

Pete teaches courses in the History of Christianity and Christian Thought at Ashland University, Ohio. He received a doctorate degree in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. Prior to studying at UVa, Slade earned an M.A. in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and a B.D. with Honours in Christian Ethics and Practical Theology from St. Andrews University, Scotland. He also studied community work at Ruskin College, Oxford.

Learn more about Pete by visiting his author’s page.

VA Seminar Member Shannon Gayk Appointed as a National Humanities Center Fellow

Shannon GaykVirginia Seminar member Shannon Gayk, associate professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, has been appointed as a fellow at the National Humanities Center for 2014-2015.

As one of 41 fellows from 16 states, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom, Shannon will work on an individual research project and will have the opportunity to share ideas in seminars, lectures, and conferences at the center. For more information on the fellowship, click here.

Learn more about Shannon by visiting her author’s page here.

Virginia Seminar Featured Member: Jennifer M. McBride

Jennifer M. McBrideCentral to Jennifer McBride’s teaching and research is the interaction of scholars and practitioners, a methodology that will continue to be implemented in her Virginia Seminar project: Reducing Distance: Radical Discipleship through an Open Door. This project was inspired by her time as a writing fellow during the 2010/2011 academic year. She spent that year as a full time participant-observer at the Open Door Community, an intentionally interracial, residential Christian activist and worshipping community in Atlanta, Georgia, that has been engaged in mercy and justice work on behalf of the homeless and prison populations for thirty years. Please read Open Door Community’s Newspaper Hospitality to find numerous contributions by Jenny that will be used in her forthcoming book based on this research.

Jenny’s previous work, The Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness, draws on the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In April, David Gushee, professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University, offered a reflection “on becoming a church of confession rather than judgment.” Gushee lauds Jenny’s work, The Church for the World, as “essential reading.” Gushee goes on to offer his thoughts on the church and Bonhoeffer, arguing for a humble, repentant church centering on humility, service, repentance, solidarity, and love. Read Gushee’s full article here.  Read the Project’s interview with Jenny here.

Jenny is the Board of Regents Chair of Ethics, assistant professor of religion, and Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Wartburg College, a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Waverly, Iowa. Jenny serves on the board of directors of the International Bonhoeffer Society, English Language Section. She is also the co-editor of Bonhoeffer and King: Their Legacies and Import for Christian Social Thought.

To visit Jenny’s PLT author page where you can find out more about her past and current projects, along with some fun facts, click here.