Virginia Seminar Member Jennifer McBride Releases New Book: Radical Discipleship

Radical Discipleship: A Liturgical Politics of the Gospel, Jennifer McBride, Virginia SeminarA Liturgical Politics of the Gospel

PLT Contributor Jennifer McBride released her newest publication, Radical Discipleship, on January 1, 2017. Engaging the social evils of mass incarceration, capitol punishment, and homelessness, she connects liturgy, activism, and theological reflection with Christian discipleship that stands in solidarity with those whom society despises and rejects.

The book arises out of McBride’s extensive experience teaching theology in a women’s prison while participating in a residential Christian activist and worshiping community. Arguing that disciples must take responsibility for the social evils that bar “beloved community,” Martin Luther King’s term for a just social order, the promised kingdom of God, McBride calls for a dual commitment to the works of mercy and the struggle for justice.

PLT Contributor Ted Smith of Candler School of Theology, Emory University writes:

“Jennifer McBride writes lived theology in the fullest sense of those words.  She has lived into the discipleship to which she calls us. And she has listened deeply to disciples she has walked with along the way: imprisoned women, homeless people, long-time activists, and more.  The genius of McBride’s work is to respect the theological insights in these lives and to place them in conversation with thinkers like Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The result is a book that is both deeply learned and eminently practical. In its method as much as its content, it is one of this generation’s most thoughtful and powerful calls to radical discipleship.”

For more information on the book, click here.

Jennifer M. McBride is Associate Dean for Doctor of Ministry Programs and Continuing Education and Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. She is also the President of the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section. Her other publications include The Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness (2014).

For more of featured writings of our PLT Contributors, click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter,@LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyWrites. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Charles Marsh’s Spring 2017 Seminar Open for Enrollment

Charles Marsh - Martin Luther King Jr. DayThe Kingdom of God in America

The course explores the influence of theological ideas on social movements in America and such questions as: How do our ideas about God shape the way we engage the social order? What role do nineteenth century European and American Protestant theologies play in informing the American search for “beloved community”, which was the term Martin Luther King Jr. sometimes used interchangeably with the Kingdom of God? What are the social consequences of theological commitments?

Although its main historical focus is the American Civil Rights Movement from 1954-1968, the course will also revel in counter-cultural movements of the late 1960’s, and attend to the faith-based community-development movement and recent community organizing initiatives, asking about their origins and limitations.

Listed as RELC 2850 with course number 20486, lectures take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 – 3:15pm with a separate discussion section on Fridays. All interested undergraduate U.Va. students are invited to enroll.

Read the course syllabus here.

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. His publications include Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2014) and God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights (1997), which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

Engage in the Lived Theology conversation on Facebook and Twitter via @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Practicing Discipleship

Practicing Discipleship: Lived Theologies of Nonviolence in Conversation with the Doctrine of the United Methodist Church, Nicole JohnsonLived Theologies of Nonviolence in Conversation with the Doctrine of the United Methodist Church

Conversations surrounding difficult moral issues like war and peace still occur in many faith communities. The United Methodist Church is no exception, as some followers remain devoted to nonviolence in spite of the many traditional doctrines already accepted by the community at large.

In Practicing Discipleship, author Nicole Johnson interviews twelve of these United Methodists committed to a nonviolent theology to understand how they defend and practice their convictions. Her analysis reveals a lived theology rooted in Scripture; nonviolence is seen as central to the life and teachings of Christ. While the traditional Methodist teachings are affirmed by the interviewees, they aim to garner more support and education on nonviolence as a faithful option for Christians. Penned for the church committed to serious discipleship, the publication continues the dialogue on nonviolent ethics amidst today’s violent landscape.

Reviews and endorsements of the book include:

“Through an exploration into the lived theology of United Methodist Christians committed to nonviolence, Johnson draws us in a winsome way into the lives, beliefs, and practices that undergird such commitment and challenge all churches to take seriously their moral authority–a good read toward constructive dialogue around a difficult issue.” —Rodney Petersen, Executive Director, The Boston Theological Institute

“This study brings reflections and experiences of United Methodists committed to non-violence into conversation with the rather complex, ambiguous teachings of the United Methodist church . . . I believe that the actual stories and reflections of those who have come to this commitment, sometimes struggling with their church in the process, will be challenging and inspiring to a readership interested in peace and justice issues, church and society, and spiritual formation. While the research clearly focuses on United Methodists, the topic will resonate with and be interesting to a broader readership.”  —Claire Wolfteich, Associate Professor, Boston University School of Theology

For more information on Practicing Discipleship, 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.

Book Launch Celebrates Lived Theology at the 2016 American Academy of Religion

Lived Theology Book LaunchWe celebrated the publication of our new book Lived Theology: New Perspectives on Method, Style, and Pedagogy (October 2016, Oxford University Press) on November 19th at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) held this year in San Antonio, Texas.

Lived Theology contains the work of an emerging generation of theologians and scholars who pursue research, teaching, and writing as a form of public responsibility motivated by the conviction that theological ideas aspire in their inner logic toward social expression. Written as a two-year collaboration of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia, this volume offers a series of illustrations and styles that distinguish Lived Theology in the broader conversation with other major approaches to the religious interpretation of embodied life. The book begins with a modest query: How might theological writing, research, and teaching be expanded to engage lived experience with the same care and precision given by scholars to books and articles? This innovative work offers a fresh and exciting model for scholars, teachers, practitioners, and students seeking to reconnect the lived experience of faith communities with academic study and reflection.

There was a great turn out as Peter Slade, editor of the volume along with Charles Marsh and Sarah Azaransky, welcomed alumni and students involved in the Project on Lived Theology as well as other scholars interested in learning more about PLT and the new book. Contributors to the volume who attended the gathering included Ted Smith, Jenny McBride, Susan R. Holman, and John Kiess. It was a great celebration of work that is a culmination of over 15 years of inquiry, research, collaboration, and writing to develop and shape the discipline of Lived Theology within the academy. Here’s a short video documenting the launch festivities:

Charles Marsh’s 1993 Interview with Civil Rights Hero John Lewis

As a teenager in south Alabama, Lewis had heard a radio broadcast of Martin Luther King’s sermon, “St. Paul’s Address to American Christians,” and was struck by the contrast between the Pike County preachers of his childhood, who spoke of the pearly gates of heaven and the streets paved with gold, and Dr. King, who spoke of Jesus alive and active on the highways and byways of America. John Lewis was drawn to Dr. King’s theme of “redemptive suffering” to describe his willingness to sacrifice life and well-being for the sake of justice, a deliberated suffering that “opens us and those around us to a force beyond ourselves, a force that is right and moral, the force of righteous truth that is at the basis of human conscience.”

In November 1993, Charles Marsh, director of the Project on Lived Theology, interviewed Lewis. During the conversation, Lewis touched on many topics, including his religious upbringing; the first time he heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak; and Freedom Summer of 1964. You can read Part One of the interview here.

Part Two of the interview is coming soon.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The New Abolition

The New Abolition: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Black Social Gospel, by Gary DorrienW. E. B. Du Bois and the Black Social Gospel

The end of the Civil War spurred many important beginnings, most notably the freedom of enslaved individuals and the founding of the black social gospel. The tradition would become an important sphere of religious and intellectual thought, later acting as the foundation of the civil rights movement. In The New Abolition, author Gary Dorrien traces the black social gospel from its emergence in the nineteenth century to its champion in the twentieth century, W. E. B. Du Bois. Winner of the 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the book offers a fresh take on both modern Christianity and the civil rights era by following one tradition through history that would influence the thought and activism of many civil rights pioneers to come.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“A magisterial treatment of a neglected stream of American religious history presented by one of this generation’s premier interpreters of modern religious thought performing at the top of his game.” —William Stacy Johnson, Princeton Theological Seminary

“This is classic Dorrien—beautifully written, cogent, and moving.  Ever the careful historian, ethicist, and astute cultural critic, Dorrien has penned another must read book for general readers and scholars alike.”—Emilie M. Townes, Vanderbilt Divinity School

“Gracefully written and carefully researched, Dorrien’s The New Abolition is an impressive recovery of W. E. B. Du Bois’s relationship to the black social gospel. Anyone seeking to understand the historic contours of race, religion, and social activism in the twentieth century absolutely must read this book.”—Juan M. Floyd-Thomas, Vanderbilt University

“Definitive . . . a capacious intellectual history . . . No reader will doubt the consummate professionalism of the scholarship, or the passion that Dorrien clearly has about the subject . . . with crisp narrative prose . . . gems of analysis and great personal stories from the often astonishing lives and deeply disturbing experiences of the protagonists.”—Paul Harvey, Christian Century

Find more information on this book 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? Gifts for Epiphany

The Project kicks off our Can I Get a Witness interview series with this special Epiphany edition.

If you’ve been following our news here at the Project, you may know that we are working on a very exciting book project entitled, Can I Get a Witness? The Forgotten Tradition of Radical Christianity in America. One of the many reasons this project delights us is that we get to work with two casts of fascinating characters: the figures whose stories the book will tell, and the line-up of authors who will do the storytelling.

Today we are kicking off our spring semester news series: Can I Get a Witness? The Interviews. Over the course of the next few months, you’ll get to read interviews with the Witness authors about the people whose lives they are working to illumine. We will find out how each author is being changed and challenged by their historical figure. How are these figures witnesses to their biographers? How are the writers learning to be witnesses to these lives for their readers?

Today is also Epiphany on the Christian calendar. It marks the day after the twelfth day of Christmas, the day the Christian church commemorates the magi finding the Christ child and presenting him with gifts. It is called “epiphany” because, in this finding and gift-giving, the magi recognize and proclaim the baby as God incarnate.

At the Project this year, we want to celebrate Epiphany by imagining some gift-giving of our own. We asked our authors to consider what gift they’d most like to give to their historical figure, if they could. Reading their responses, we are moved by these gifts, simple and profound, and the ways they each witness to epiphanies of greater grace.

Mahalia JacksonRalph Eubanks on Mahalia Jackson: “I think I would like to prepare a meal for her. Her kitchen at her home on the South Side of Chicago was a gathering place, and she was always there cooking for guests and hosting. I’d like to give her a dinner where she did not have to prepare anything, except maybe sweet potato pie. I hear her sweet potato pie was as divine as her singing.”

Sr. Mary Stella SimpsonTherese Lysaught on St. Mary Stella Simpson: “I would take her shopping for some outfits that were more user-friendly for a woman slogging through the muddy fields of the Bayou to visit people in their homes. In her letters, she speaks frequently of the mud (the mud! the mud!) that she has to deal with on her home-visits. At the time, she was wearing what looks to be at least a calf-length wool habit—hot and hard to wash. Or perhaps I would compile a photo album of all the babies she delivered, with “where are they now” stories. One of the amazing things about her story is that none of the babies under her care died, in an area that had seen really high infant mortality rates.  But then the question is, where did they go from there?”

Yuri KochiyamaGrace Kao on Yuri Kochiyama: “A teddy bear. There is a whole chapter in her memoir where Yuri discusses how and why folks have given her teddy bears and what they represent to her. In her words – ‘they are representative of the many people who came into my life….[T]he bears with their different looks, colors, and sizes remind me of the world’s people—of every race and background, and the preciousness of their being.’”

Dan Rhodes on Cesar Chavez: “What do you give a saint that doesn’t automatically betray your own idolatry of Western consumerism? I think I’d give him some slippers because I can only image how much his feet hurt at the end of his 16-20-hour workdays.”

Carlene Bauer on Dorothy Day: “Perhaps a first edition of a novel or a book she loved.”

Lucy Randolph MasonSusan Glisson on Lucy Randolph Mason: “Miss Mason never married. Some believe that she was gay and in a long-time but well-hidden relationship, dictated by the bigotry about homosexuality of the day. I wish I could give her the gift of being able to be completely who she is, loving who she might love, without fear or exclusion.”

Becca Stevens on William Stringfellow: “A new, handmade cap.”

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 and #Witness. 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.

Call for applications: Summer Internship in Lived Theology 2017

Feet on pilgimageNow accepting applications for summer 2017

The Project on Lived Theology is now accepting applications for the 2017 Summer Internship in Lived Theology, 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. To download an application, click here.

The internship is open to U.Va. undergraduate students in any field of study. Selected participants spend the summer interning with the partnering institution of their choice. Each intern works directly with a U.Va. faculty member who acts as a theological mentor, offering guidance in reading, discussing, and writing about selected texts. Each intern also has a site mentor who shapes his/her work experience and may act as a conversation partner in the intern’s academic and theological exploration. Throughout the summer, interns blog for the Project on Lived Theology website; at the end of the internship, interns complete a final project and present their work at a public event.

The deadline for application submission is February 13, 2017.

For more information on the internship and to read blog posts and biographies from past interns, click here.

For online updates about the PLT Summer Internship, please use #PLTinterns, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @LivedTheology.