Can I Get a Witness? The Interviews with Susan Glisson

Susan Glisson - Organizing 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 Susan Glisson, whose figure is labor and civil rights activist Lucy Randolph Mason.

In your research, what has surprised you about Mason?

“What was surprising was that in talking about her with thoughtful people who are passionate about faith and social justice, I felt a new energy and enthusiasm for thinking about her life. I began to feel as if I was seeing her in a new, more meaningful way.”

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

“As an organizer for the CIO in the 1930s in the South, Mason visited a newspaper editor who was publicly and vociferously opposed to labor unions. She got a meeting with him in his office and noticed that he had a portrait of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee on his wall.  She began the meeting by sharing that Lee was a cousin of hers and it disarmed and charmed the editor. She left the meeting with his assurance that he would stop attacking the organizing efforts in his newspaper. She was able to find a connection that turned an ‘enemy’ into an ‘unusual ally.'”

How is spending time with Mason affecting you?

“In the vitriol and uncertainty of the 2016 campaign and election, she has brought me comfort as someone who lived through equally chaotic times but who never wavered from her goal of creating humane working conditions and shared prosperity for all.”

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

“I think she would both remind us of our founding principles, especially the separation of church and state and the Bill of Rights (her ancestor George Mason was one of three founders who helped write the Constitution but who refused to sign it because it didn’t outlaw slavery or include the Bill of Rights), as well as caution us about remaining stagnate in our growth as a country, to ask anew every generation who we are leaving out of the promise of the American idea.”

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. Susan’s first publication, “Peanut Butter Crisscrosses” appeared in the Warren Baptist Church cookbook when she was 20 years old.

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.

Charles Marsh to Deliver the Charles Franklin Finch Lecture at High Point University

Charles MarshOn Faith and Doubt in the Modern World

Is belief in God a product of wishful thinking? Is religious belief a symptom of neurotic behavior? If there is no God, is everything permissible? Is atheism (new and old) parasitic on the moral convictions inspired by religion? Is religion a primitive stage in human intellectual development in need of an education to reality? Does religion promote violent tendencies among individuals and groups? Is it inherently immoral? On what basis do some intelligent people argue that belief in God is rational and others that belief in God violates reason?

On March 27th, Charles Marsh will consider such questions in the Charles Franklin Finch Lecture at High Point University by observing modern critiques of religion and the implications of such critiques for people of faith. The lecture will aim to convey the variety of interpretations given to the idea of God in modernity and to clarify the conditions of responsible religious belief in a pluralistic and possibly post-modern world.

Entitled “Faith and Doubt in the Modern World: Christian Witness in the 21st Century and Engagements with its Cultured Despisers,” the presentation will begin at 5:30 pm in the Francis Auditorium of High Point University’s Phillips Hall. No tickets are required to attend, and the event is open to the public.

Find more event information on High Point University’s website here. For a full listing of our spring speaking engagements with Charles Marsh and others, visit our events calendar 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.

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: Dream with Me

Dream with Me Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win, John M. PerkinsRace, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win

John M. Perkins has spent his life dismantling systems of injustice through advocating for desegregation, voter registration, and equality for all people in and since the civil rights movement. Chronicling his life’s work of racial reconciliation, Dream with Me is a celebration of justice and a call to readers to join him in fighting present issues by living out God’s redemptive love in all of our relationships. Many victories have already been won, but a continued and renewed commitment to justice is imperative. In the words of John M. Perkins, “love will always be our final fight.”

Reviews and endorsements of the book include:

“When historians look back at the story of the evangelical church in the United States, one of the shining lights will be the life and impact of Dr. John Perkins. Dr. Perkins’s role in how American Christians returned to the biblical value of justice in the twentieth century cannot be overstated. This book reveals a critical narrative that must be engaged by those who seek the very best that American evangelicalism can be. To read the inside story and discover the profound move of God in Dr. Perkins’s life and ministry is a gift you do not want to miss.” –PLT Contributor Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson professor of church growth and evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary; author, The Next Evangelicalism and Return to Justice

“John Perkins is the father of the Christian reconciliation movement. He paved the way for those of us who have become leaders of reconciliation from a Christian perspective. His mantle of leadership is being passed on to those who follow him. Few people have demonstrated longevity and integrity in this work. John Perkins is one of those people, and I am honored to call him my father in the work of reconciliation. I highly recommend this book.” –Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, author, Roadmap to Reconciliation

“For over a half-century, John Perkins has led the call for people of faith to recognize that God requires justice for the poor and oppressed. Dr. Perkins is one of this nation’s most powerful, persistent, and persuasive voices on how faith dies when it is blind to injustice, poverty, and suffering. This beautiful book is a great gift from a legendary, national treasure. I first heard John Perkins preach when I was a teenager in college over thirty years ago. His words stirred me in ways I can still recall. Dream with Me makes it clear that Dr. Perkins still has much to say to stir the soul.” –Attorney Bryan Stevenson, executive director, Equal Justice Initiative

For more information on the book, click here.

John M. Perkins was a civil rights leader in Mississippi in the 1960s, and founded Voice of Calvary Ministries, a Christian community development ministry, with his wife Vera Mae. In 1983, Perkins established the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development, Inc., to advance the principles of Christian community development and racial reconciliation throughout the world. His publications include Let Justice Roll Down (2012) and Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community (2010).

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.

Featured Fellow Traveler: ON Scripture – The Bible

ON Scripture logoEvaluating Current Events Through Scripture

ON Scripture – The Bible is a weekly multimedia resource that provides insight into key issues of the day through a unique combination of Scripture, video and biblical commentary.

Tailored to address areas of social justice issues, the initiative is utilized by various faith bodies including seminaries, churches, and small groups to explore ways to work for the common good. ON Scripture – The Bible focuses specifically on six areas of social justice: economic justice, environmental justice, civil rights, immigration, violence, and health care. Online platform partners include The Huffington Post, Day1, Sojourners, Patheos, The Text this Week, The Christian Post, and Insights into Religion.

From the website:

“On Scripture has rapidly become a highly valued resource for pastors as well as students and lay leaders who are seeking to make connections between sacred scripture and contemporary events,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment…

“We are storytellers and we believe in the power of video to relate the human experience and faith’s contribution to it,” said CarolAnne Dolan, Head of Programming for Odyssey Networks. “The Odyssey production team sources the people, the organizations, the change makers with compelling stories of scripture being lived out in communities around the world.”

To find this recommended resource on our website, click here. For a more in-depth view of the initiative, visit their 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 resources from our Fellow Travelers, click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

Can I Get a Witness? The Interviews with Therese Lysaught

Therese Lysaught, SILT 16/17, 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 Therese Lysaught, who is writing on Sister Mary Stella Simpson, a midwife who revolutionized the field of maternal-infant health and family-centered care throughout the twentieth century.

In your research, what has surprised you about Simpson?

“I think the thing that surprised me most was that she was a convert from the Baptist tradition! I do think there were a number of ‘radical’ Christian witnesses from the mid-part of the 20th century (Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, maybe Rose Hawthorne from the previous century) who were also converts, but I never expected a Sister working in Catholic health care to not have been raised Catholic. I was also surprised to learn that she was really the one who pioneered the now common practice of allowing fathers (and family members) to be in the delivery room with birthing mothers.”

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

“There’s a story she tells in her letters… she was doing a home visit in the Bayou and the family was without food. And she discovered that the mother was unable to receive a check that she had coming to her (some form of public assistance, I think) because the postmistress wouldn’t give it to her. This was apparently a common Jim Crow sort of practice. So she went down to the post office and in her older nun sort of way threatened the post mistress—and then that practice apparently came to an end. There are a series of stories of her confronting Jim Crow practices in her community. She had no fear!”

How is spending time with Simpson affecting you?

“One of the many great things about her story was that she kept opening herself up to new ministries and new opportunities for discipleship. She goes to the Bayou when she’s 57 and embarks on a completely different kind of work with the poorest of the poor. She’s had me thinking about what sort of chapters may lie ahead for me.”

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

“If we want to transform the world, the first step is to make sure we see every person as a person—which requires going to them, going to where they live, listening to their story, hearing from them what their needs are, and then working really hard to help them address those needs.  It really only is this sort of radical accompaniment (aka, solidarity) that can make a real difference. And, it’s how we concretely bring God’s grace to the world, person by person.”

Therese Lysaught is a professor and associate director at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Lysaught specializes in Catholic moral theology and health care ethics and consults with health care systems on issues surrounding mission, theology, and ethics. Her publications include Caritas in Communion: Theological Foundations of Catholic Health Care (2014), On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives on Medical Ethics (2007), and Gathered for the Journey: Moral Theology in Catholic Perspective (2007), which received third place honors in ‘Theology’ from the Catholic Press Association.

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.

Lutheran Writers Project to Feature Charles Marsh

Charles Marsh, Strange Glory, book launch, BonhoefferA Roanoke College Symposium

Dietrich Bonhoeffer composed poems and works of fiction while imprisoned under the Nazis, but little scholarly interest has heretofore been devoted to these works. Charles Marsh opens up the inquiry in a lecture on February 28, 2017, as part of the Lutheran Writers Project at Roanoke College. Entitled “Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Literary Endeavors,” the presentation will begin at 7:00 pm in the Pickle Lounge of the Colket Center with respondents Dr. Robert Schultz and Dr. Sarah Wilson to follow.

A two-fold series, the Lutheran Writers Project will also hold a panel on “Contemporary Literature and Faith” with the celebrated novelist Darcey Steinke, prize winning poet Dr. Thomas Gardner, and noted poet Dr. Robert Cording with visiting theologian Sarah Wilson and Roanoke College’s Robert Schultz. The events are sponsored by the Lutheran Writers Project at Roanoke College, Department of English, the Blakely Endowment, Benne Center for Religion & Society and the Jordan Endowment.

Visit Roanoke College’s event listing for more information, or contact Dr. Paul Hinlicky at hinlicky@roanoke.edu with any inquiries. For a listing of Charles Marsh’s other spring lectures, click 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.

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 Rev. Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens 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 Rev. Becca Stevens, whose figure is American social activist, human rights lawyer, and theologian William Stringfellow.

In your research, what has surprised you about Stringfellow?

“I think his prolificness… There was so much to read because he had documented his life’s work for justice thoroughly. I was surprised by some of his encounters, how he remained so consistent in his paradigm.”

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

“What I love best about Stringfellow is all the stories he told as illustrations of the universal issues of justice he was encountering. I love the story of how he moved into a tenement apartment and despite the roaches and filth, he was able to make a home for more than a year there. It reminds me of how fearless he was and how he lived the talk so gracefully.”

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

“I would take him to the Thistle Stop Cafe, where women who are survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution run a beautiful restaurant and support the community of Thistle Farms. We would sip justice tea, eat whatever they served and I would ask him questions about grief, justice, and love.”

How is spending time with Stringfellow affecting you?

“I started dreaming of Stringfellow. In my dream I wiped tears from his eyes with the old lamb’s wool priests use to anoint those suffering. I have been affected by Stringfellow in my subconscious and been inspired to continue to the work I have been given all the days of my life.”

Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest and founder of Magdalene, a residential community of women who have survived institutional and drug abuse. She is a prolific writer and her works include The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage from It’s Violent History (Hachette, 2014) and Letters from the Farm: A Simple Path for a Deeper Spiritual Life (Church Publishing, 2015). She has been inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame and she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of the South.

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 Trinity among the Nations

The Trinity among the Nations: The Doctrine of God in the Majority World, Fellow Travelers, Gene L. Green, Stephen T. Pardue, K. K. YeoThe Doctrine of God in the Majority World

In an increasingly globalized world, the heart of Christian thought has stretched further than ever, specifically into the south and east. However, few theological resources have catalogued this momentous shift in recent global theology. The second volume in the Majority World Theology series, this publication seeks to fill the gap through a compilation of works from Christian thinkers across the globe documenting the tradition in their respective contexts. Highlighting global trends in trinitarian theology, The Trinity among the Nations draws on the character and work of God in various frameworks to inspire Christian living today.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Imagine a book in which theologians from various continents and cultural-linguistic contexts share testimonies and compare notes about the Trinity. Imagine further that these theologians dare to consider the meaning of Trinity from such diverse perspectives as Native American, Chinese Confucian, Latin American liberationist, African traditional, and feminist-maternal. Congratulations – you have found such a book! Highly recommended.” —Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Fuller Theological Seminary

“Scholarly, informed, and grounded in Majority World realities, these stimulating essays on the doctrine of the Trinity will surely expand readers’ horizons and deepen appreciation for other voices.”—PLT Contributor M. Daniel Carroll R., Denver Seminary

“Courageously decenters a narrow Western approach to the crucially important Christian concept of the triune God — Green, Pardue, and Yeo offer bold explorations at the intersection of Trinity and various Majority World cultures. . . . This book and the Majority World Theology series that it represents are welcome contributions to our understanding of world Christianity today.”—Charles Farhadian, Westmont College

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.

Charles Marsh to Speak at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Charles Marsh, Charles Marsh to Deliver 25th Annual Harry Vaughan Smith LecturesOn Reconciling in Community

On Sunday, February 12, Charles Marsh will speak at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. He will contribute to the church’s year-long series, Be Reconciled, in which an arc of reconciliation is traced through three movements: reconciling relationships, reconciling to God, and reconciling communities. In a presentation entitled “Resistance, Reconciliation, and Costly Grace: The Witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” Marsh will introduce to the “reconciling in community” portion of the series. The forum will begin at 10:00 am, and the public is invited to attend.

For more information, visit St. Paul’s website here. The event can also be found on the calendar of the Diocese of Virginia 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.

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 Ralph Eubanks

Ralph Eubanks 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 Ralph Eubanks, writing on gospel singer and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson.

When you were first invited to write about Jackson, what was your reaction?

“The first thing I thought about was how much I listened to Jackson growing up. Many Sunday mornings, my father would play her album… When he listened to ‘In the Upper Room,’ he was always dressed in a dark suit with a dark skinny tie and he would stand over the record listening to it with his head bowed. As I studied Jackson’s singing style and learned what she tried to evoke for an audience when she performed, I realized my father used Jackson’s music to center himself in prayer before church. It’s something I had never thought of before.”

In your research, what has surprised you about Jackson?

“As I began my writing about Jackson, I studied her performing style—I see her performances as the major primary source on Jackson as a figure of radical Christian witness—and noticed how she became another person on the stage in the course of a performance.  There was something happening, but I was not sure what it was. In shots of the audience, you can see people absorbed by the power of her performance, both from her voice and the emotion she communicates to her audience. Over the summer I went to the Chicago Historical Society to listen to a 1953 interview Jackson did with Studs Terkel, who many consider the father of modern oral history. In that interview, the first question Terkel asks is, ‘what goes on inside you when you sing?’ Jackson responded by saying ‘I truly have a divine feeling inside me. I don’t seem to be myself, I am transformed from Mahalia Jackson into something divine.’ Then it hit me: Jackson’s performances were transformative moments for her, the moments when she felt a connection with the divine and was at one with God.”

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

“Five years after her public announcement of support for civil rights in the Berkshires, the Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy asked Jackson to perform in Montgomery, Alabama, at a symposium on the politics of social change. The event also honored those who had kept the bus boycott going. When Abernathy asked Jackson what her fee would be, her response was ‘I aint comin’ to Montgomery to make no money off them walkin’ folks!’ Jackson performed in Montgomery for free and for the benefit of the ‘walkin’ folks’ rather than charging them.”

How is spending time with Jackson affecting you?

“Writing about Jackson is reconnecting me with part of my past and my childhood and in a good way. I even find myself driving around listening to Jackson… When I listen to ‘Move on Up a Little Higher,’ I know I am doing what Jackson wanted, since she said, ‘I really feel it is wonderful for people of the world to stop and listen to a sacred record. The Lord commanded us to go in the highways and hedges and compel men to come to God.’ And I have listened to Jackson on the highways and hedges.”

Ralph Eubanks is the Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College. Eubanks has contributed articles to the Washington Post Outlook and Style sections, the Chicago Tribune, Preservation, and National Public Radio. His publications include The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South (2009) and Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past (2003), which Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley named as one of the best nonfiction books of 2003. Eubanks is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship and has been a fellow at the New America Foundation.

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.