On the Lived Theology Reading List: If Your Back’s Not Bent

If Your Back's Not Bent: The Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement, By Dorothy F. CottonThe Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement

In If Your Back’s Not Bent, Dorothy F. Cotton, the only woman in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle, gives her account of the hugely important Citizenship Education Program. The CEP was an adult grassroots training program for disenfranchised citizens created by  the Tennessee Highlander Folk School, expanded by King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and directed by activist Dorothy Cotton. Although this program was critical in preparing citizens to protest peacefully in the face of violence and hatred from others, it is often called the best-kept secret of the civil rights movement due to the media silence at the time and the lack of coverage in history courses today. Cotton aims to change that, detailing CEP training and how the program changed its participants for the better, inspiring them to go and change the country. A timely account of fighting inequality, If Your Back’s Not Bent shows how the CEP was key to the civil rights movement’s success and how the lessons of the program can serve our troubled democracy now.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Dorothy Cotton has given us the story of the heart and lungs of the Freedom Struggle.”– Otis Moss, Jr.

“Dorothy Cotton is an inspiration to so many. We should all pay close attention to her story.”– Ben Jealous, former NAACP President and CEO

“Dorothy Cotton was as crucial to the Movement as was King, Abernathy and Shuttlesworth in her dogged preparation of the ‘troops.’”– Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Pastor Emeritus of Harlem’s Canaan Baptist Church of Christ

“Cotton’s Citizenship Education Program taught ordinary people, most importantly, that they could change both themselves and America.”– Betty DeRamus, author of Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad and Freedom by Any Means

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.

Something Is Happening in Memphis: Greg Thompson to Deliver Guest Lecture

On Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last Campaign

On Tuesday, October 30, Greg Thompson will deliver a guest lecture entitled “Something Is Happening in Memphis: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last Campaign.” The lecture will begin at 3:30 pm at the Bonhoeffer House at 1841 University Circle, Charlottesville, VA. Admission to the event is free, and the public is invited to attend. Parking is available at UVA International Center, 21 University Circle, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

Greg Thompson serves as Director for Research and Creative Strategy for Clayborn Temple, a historic civil rights site in Memphis, Tennessee. In this capacity he is responsible for the creative storytelling at the heart of Clayborn’s programming and the creative strategy at the heart of Clayborn’s art-based community redevelopment. He is also the co-writer of a new musical production called “Union: A Musical” that tells the story of the Memphis Sanitation Worker’s strike of 1968, Martin Luther King Junior’s last campaign. He holds an MA and PhD from the University of Virginia.

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: Identifying the Image of God

Identifying the Image of God: Radical Christians and Nonviolent Power in the Antebellum United States, by Dan MckananRadical Christians and Nonviolent Power in the Antebellum United States

Identifying the Image of God, by Dan McKanan, traces the development of a theology of nonviolence in the popular literature of antebellum social reform movements. Between 1820 and 1860, American social reformers pioneered a “politics of identification” that was deeply rooted in liberal Christian theology. Activists like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, along with sentimental authors like Catharine Sedgwick and Harriet Beecher Stowe, drew on the doctrine of the imago dei, or image of God, to argue that God is present both in the victims of violence and in those who use nonviolent means to overcome oppression. Proponents of the new theology can be characterized as “radical Christian liberals.” McKanan explores these roots through the literature of social reform, focusing on sentimental novels, temperance tales, and slave narratives, and invites contemporary activists to revive the “politics of identification.”

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

Identifying the Image of God is extraordinarily persuasive in arguing that the imago dei was crucial to the sentimental structure of feeling.”—American Literature

“McKanan excavates a radical liberal Christian theology beneath antebellum reform…presents a convincing case that such antebellum reformers as William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Clarke Wright, and Adin Ballou embraced a radical liberal Christian theology.”—American Historical Review

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.

Charles Marsh to Deliver Nusbaum Lecture at Virginia Wesleyan

The American Civil Rights Movement and the Women Who Started It

On October 25 at 7:00 p.m. Charles Marsh will deliver the Justine L. Nusbaum lecture at Virginia Wesleyan University. The lecture will take place at Boyd Dining Center.

Marsh will discuss the religious beliefs behind the American civil rights movement, and highlight women who enacted these convictions. He will reflect on the witness of social reformers Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Gray Adams, and Jane Stembridge, Marsh will show how their determined leadership and organizing gives us insight in addressing challenges of today.

Find more event information on Virginia Wesleyan’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: The Battle For Bonhoeffer

The Battle for Bonhoeffer: Debating Discipleship in the Age of Trump, by Stephen R. HaynesDebating Discipleship in the Age of Trump

Many people have attempted to use Bonhoeffer to advance or justify their own views in American politics, with secular, radical, liberal, and evangelical interpreters variously shaping the martyr’s legacy to suit their own pet agendas. In The Battle for Bonhoeffer, Stephen Haynes, a recognized Bonhoeffer expert, sets out to offer a clarifying perspective. Haynes examines and analyzes “populist” readings of Bonhoeffer, including the election of Donald Trump and the “Bonhoeffer moment” announced by evangelicals in response to the US Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage. In addition to the analyses, Haynes includes an open letter addressed to Christians who still support Trump, showing that Bonhoeffer’s legacy matters.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Stephen R. Haynes is a professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, where his research interests include Jewish-Christian relations, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and religion and higher education.

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: Welcoming Justice

Welcoming Justice: God's Movement Toward Beloved Community, Expanded Edition, By Charles Marsh and John M. PerkinsGod’s Movement Toward Beloved Community, Expanded Edition

In Welcoming Justice, authors Charles Marsh and John M. Perkins attempt to chronicle God’s vision for a more equitable and just world by reflecting on their own pasts as well as America’s past as a whole. Perkins looks back on his long ministry and identifies key themes and lessons he has learned, while Marsh highlights the legacy of Perkins’s work in our society. Together they show how abandoned places are being restored, divisions are being reconciled, and what individuals and communities are doing now to welcome peace and justice. Now updated to reflect on current social realities, this book reveals ongoing lessons for the continuing struggle for a just society by taking a look at lessons from the past.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“For years, John Perkins and Charles Marsh have been two of our most important figures in the discussion—and pursuit—of reconciliation. Now, from their passion for justice, their love of the gospel, and their friendship with one another, comes this gem, which may be the most important book either of them has written yet.”—Lauren F. Winner, author of Wearing God

“Growing up in a Korean American immigrant church context, I did not hear the name John Perkins all that often. Since those early years, I have made a concerted effort to learn as much as possible about the work of one of the most important American Christian voices of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This book provides important insights into the life, testimony, theology and ministry of John Perkins. It is both a work of inspiration and a work of history (reflecting the leanings of the dual authors) that must be read by any student or practitioner of social justice ministry. The book provides novices, faithful servants and even the weary laborers the inspiration to persevere in God’s kingdom work. John Perkins and Charles Marsh provide for us a view of compassion, mercy, and justice ministry that needs to be heeded in the context of a new evangelicalism in North America.”—Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary, author of Prophetic Lament

For more information on the publication, click here.

John M. Perkins is a leader and major figure of the civil rights movement of the 1960s who founded Voice of Calvary Ministries, a Christian community development ministry, with his wife, Vera Mae. 

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.

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.

Jonathan Merritt to Deliver 2018 CAPPS Lecture

2018 CAPPS Lecture

On Thursday, October 18, Jonathan Merritt will deliver the 2018 CAPPS Lecture in Christian Theology, entitled “Speaking God: The Death and Rebirth of Sacred Speech.” Beginning at 6:00 pm in 101 Nau Hall, the event is free and open to the public, with seating available on a first come, first served basis. For those unable to attend, the event will be livestreamed on Theological Horizons’s Facebook page here.

Merritt will also offer an informal workshop “5 Trends Changing Everything in the Church Today” from 10:30-12:00 on October 18, the morning of the lecture. This workshop is open to the public. More information is available here.

Many of us struggle to talk about faith, discovering that old religious words like “sin”, “gospel” and “grace” fail to connect in today’s swiftly changing culture.  Award-winning religion, politics and culture writer Jonathan Merritt will address this dilemma in a lecture, Speaking God: The Death and Rebirth of Sacred Speech,” on October 18 at 6 p.m. in the University of Virginia’s 101 Nau Hall.

This annual series brings eminent Christian thinkers to the heart of the University of Virginia with public lectures that explore the relationship between faith and responsibility. These events are hosted by Theological Horizons and co-sponsored by 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.

Jonathan Merritt is an award-winning writer on religion, culture and politics. Named one of 30 Young Influencers reshaping Christian leadership, Merritt is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and has published more than 3,000 articles in outlets ranging from USA Today, Buzzfeed and The Daily Beast, to The Washington Post and Christianity Today.   Jonathan’s newest book is Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words Are Vanishing–and How We Can Revive Them.

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: In Defense of Charisma

A Discussion of Moral Charisma

In Defense of Charisma, by Vincent W. Lloyd, attempts to discuss moral charisma by bringing together insights from politics, ethics, and religion with reflections on contemporary culture. Although charisma is viewed as an unstable source of authority, and not often used in contemporary politics, Lloyd argues that charisma is still flourishing today in multiple aspects of society. Lloyd also distinguishes between authoritarian charisma, which furthers the interests of the powerful, and democratic charisma, which prompts observers to ask new questions and discover new possibilities. Drawing from classical texts as well as recent tweets from the Black Lives Matter movement, In Defense of Charisma challenges readers to turn away from the blinding charisma of celebrities toward the humbler moral charisma of the neighbor, colleague, or relative.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“In this wonderfully provocative book, Vincent Lloyd explores the theory and practice of charisma in their kaleidoscopically varied forms. Ranging through literary and philosophical and theological texts, through movies and TV and Twitter, through proclamations and arguments and performances, he shows us a big world of ideas. After reading this book I find myself seeing the effects of charisma everywhere. A truly remarkable work of humanistic scholarship, In Defense of Charisma is also a great deal of fun.”—Alan Jacobs, author of The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography

“What is charisma and can it be used well? In this book, Vincent Lloyd offers creative and important reflections for our networked age.”—Cathleen Kaveny, Libby Professor of Law and Theology, Boston College

“In In Defense of Charisma, Vincent Lloyd elucidates a compelling and unique definition of democratic charisma as something overlooked and valuable. It is overlooked partly because it is fleeting, partly because it is overshadowed by the more widely understood and unappealing concept of authoritarian charisma. Democratic charisma gives us an innovative angle on a central concept and could enter the mainstream of discussion in multiple disciplines, perhaps even broader consciousness.”—Mark Roche, University of Notre Dame

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.