Theology Now!

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The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia is a research initiative, whose mission is to study the social consequences of theological ideas for the sake of a more just and compassionate world.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Words of Protest, Words of Freedom

Words of Protest, Words of Freedom: Poetry of the American Civil Rights Movement and Era, edited by Jeffrey Lamar ColemanPoetry of the American Civil Rights Movement and Era

There are many ways to address and record the flood of emotions that come during revolutionary times. One of the best of those ways is poetry, which can express fear, sorrow, and triumph all at once. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle, collected and edited by Jeffrey Lamar Coleman. This book features both famous and non-famous poets alike, mixing in works by Maya Angelou and Allen Ginsberg with those by activists and ordinary citizens.

Some of the poems are direct responses to events that happened during the civil rights movement, while others encapsulate the general feeling of anticipation and turmoil that gripped the nation at the time. No subject is too big or too small to be included, and poets highlighted events such as the integration of the Little Rock schools, as well as people like Malcolm X. Including more than 150 poems, this anthology highlights the tremendous symbolic reach of the civil rights movement within and beyond the United States.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

America’s ongoing civil rights movement reflects the triumphs and travails of struggles for citizenship, equality, and social justice. Jeffrey Lamar Coleman’s insightful and illuminating work redirects our gaze toward the power of poetry in transforming the nation’s postwar civil rights landscape. An essential book for students and scholars of the civil rights struggle.” — Peniel E. Joseph, author of Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama

Editor Jeffrey Lamar Coleman has combined scholarship with art. There are 14 sections to the book and each is preceded by an essay as educational scaffolding for the poems. Each essay, a small exegesis of history, describes how the poems relate. It’s a masterwork of organization and strategy. Not only African American poets are represented here, the editor points out, and the 82 poets make up a roster that could fill any poetry hall of fame. Some are dead, some venerable, some unknown, but the poems are each honored with context and framework.” — Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books

“This marvelous collection of poems written from 1955 to 1975 brings back the emotions and memories of those times as only poetry can.” — Karlan Sick, School Library Journal


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.

Isaac Barnes May to Publish Monograph on Quakers

Isaac Barnes May, a research fellow at the Project on Lived Theology, will publish a monograph, American Quakers and Resistance to War from World War I Through Vietnam, for the Brill Research Perspectives series.

“In the popular imagination, Quakers are perhaps best known for their opposition to war,” said May. “There has consequently been a robust body of scholarship on the topic of American Quakers and their interpretation of Quakerism’s peace testimony. However, much of this scholarship has focused on the colonial period and the nineteenth century; considerably less historical work has been dedicated to Quakers in relation to twentieth-century conflicts.”

As a result of this hole in scholarship, May’s volume will be a historical survey of Quakers in the United States and their responses to war from World War I to Vietnam, covering social, political, legal, and theological aspects of Quaker pacifism. May will specifically document how Quakers squared conscientious objection with notions of patriotism and American citizenship.

“I expect readers will come away with an understanding that Quaker resistance to war is not only a part of remote history but also was an issue that had to constantly be navigated by Quakers in the course of the twentieth century,” said May. “My account will show that Quakers constantly had to compromise and negotiate with federal authorities and allay a hostile public. I hope that this will be a useful resource that fills a gap in twentieth-century historical scholarship on Quakerism.”

According to May, although his work will be of primary interest to scholars, he would also like for the volume’s prose and style to be accessible to undergraduate students as well as to Quakers with an interest in their denomination’s history.

Isaac Barnes May is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Virginia. He completed a PhD in Religious Studies at UVA and is a graduate of Earlham College and Harvard Divinity School. May specializes in American religious history, focusing on religion and modernity, liberal religion, and the religious left. He is particularly interested in the study of pacifism, religion and law, and how religious groups respond to the pressures of secularization. His dissertation focuses on changing notions of God and the emergence of nontheistic perspectives within twentieth-century Unitarianism, Quakerism, and Reconstructionist Judaism. May was a contributor to The Cambridge Companion to Quakerism, and his research has been published in journals including Peace & Change and Religions.

Brill, a scholarly publishing house, launched the series Brill Research Perspectives (BRP) in 2017. BRP reference books combine the verification of peer review, the high usage of reference works, and the pedagogy of textbooks. Designed for research communities in the humanities, international law, and social sciences, the BRP book series aims to distill the vast body of literature in a field into a more digestible format while still using primary sources.

 

The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia is a research initiative, whose mission is to study the social consequences of theological ideas for the sake of a more just and compassionate world.

PLT’s Kim Curtis Appointed to State Board by Virginia Governor

Kim Curtis, communications and event coordinator at the Project on Lived Theology, has been appointed to the State Historical Records Advisory Board by Virginia governor Ralph Northam. She will serve a three-year term.

The State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) serves as the central advisory body for historical records planning and related projects developed and carried out by the state of Virginia. The board publishes and sponsors surveys of conditions and needs of historical records; reviews records and proposals by institutions; and makes recommendations to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which is affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration.

Prior to coming to the Project on Lived Theology, Kim Curtis co-edited the print and digital editions of the Martha Washington Papers Project. She worked closely with both U.S. and international archives and libraries to locate correspondence written by and to Martha Washington as well as other significant documents pertaining to her life. As a graduate student, Curtis interned in the film archive department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

“I am deeply honored to have been appointed to SHRAB,” said Curtis. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members, to serving the Commonwealth, and to representing the Project on Lived Theology and the University of Virginia.”

 

The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia is a research initiative, whose mission is to study the social consequences of theological ideas for the sake of a more just and compassionate world.

 

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Heart’s Work

Heart's Work: Civil War Heroine and Champion of the Mentally Ill, Dorothea Lynde Dix, by Charles Schlaifer and Lucy FreemanCivil War Heroine and Champion of the Mentally Ill, Dorothea Lynde Dix

Dorothea Dix was born in 1802, and managed to fight through illness and a traumatic childhood in order to become one of the most well-respected nurses of the civil war and an early proponent of social reform. In Heart’s Work, authors Charles Schlaifer and Lucy Freeman track Dorothea’s remarkable journey from her birthplace in Maine to her eventual death in New Jersey where she finally succumbed to the illnesses that had plagued her throughout life.

At a time when the mentally ill were cast aside and forgotten, Dorothea Dix made it her mission to visit mental hospitals across the US and report her findings to the government, pushing for more care and humane treatment. She took this caring but intelligent attitude with her when the Civil War started and she was named the Superintendent of Army Nurses for the Union Army, enforcing strict standards of care for her patients and pushing for nurses to have more opportunities. Although she has received little notice today for her groundbreaking work, Schlaifer and Freeman are able to rectify that in this long overdue work.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“In an era when woman’s work centered primarily on hearth and home. Dorothea Lynde Dix won the respect of men and women alike through her quiet determination and selfless dedication to help those imprisoned in troubled minds. Freud was just a boy during the years Dix traveled across the United States, later to Europe and Japan, to found scores of hospitals for the indigent insane. Weakened by chronic tuberculosis, Dix doggedly pursued her cause. During the Civil War, she put her work for the mentally ill on hold to supervise nurses who treated wounded soldiers. Despite her ill health, Dix lived to be 85, dying in 1887 in the first hospital she had founded, in Trenton, N.J. Schlaifer (coauthor of Action for Mental Health ) and Freeman ( Fight Against Fears ) tell Dix’s story in a matter-of-fact… manner, using letters to illustrate the profound effect she had on her friends and fellow citizens.” — Publisher’s Weekly

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.

Ansley L. Quiros Speaks on Koinonia Farm Co-Founder Clarence Jordan

“A prophet in overalls, although an unlikely one” and “something of a contrarian” is how Ansley L. Quiros, a history professor at the University of North Alabama, described activist and Koinonia Farm co-founder Clarence Jordan during a Zoom presentation on March 25 with University of Virginia students. Video and audio of Quiros’ talk, “God with Us: Lived Theology and the Freedom Struggle in Americus, Georgia,” are now available on the Project on Lived Theology’s website.

During her talk, Quiros explored various aspects of Jordan’s early life, including his Southern Baptist upbringing, his agricultural and seminary training, and his work as a New Testament Greek translation scholar.

According to Quiros, Jordan began to question white supremacy and to advocate for racial justice while at seminary, which led him to clash with segregationist students and faculty. In 1942, he co-founded (with his wife Florence) Koinonia Farm, an agricultural Christian community in the small town of Americus, Georgia.

Quiros described how Jordan’s vision of the Kingdom of God, or what he called “the God movement,” forced confrontations in Americus. By interacting with the town’s Black rural residents and practicing theologically based integration, Koinonia Farm community members challenged the theological rationalizations held by many white Protestants about maintaining segregation.

“Twenty years before the Civil Rights Movement had arrived in Americus, Koinonia Farm had engaged in the same theological freedom struggle,” said Quiros. “And that’s another significant effect of Koinonia’s presence in Suffolk County, the undeniable theological challenge it presented to Americus’ sanctioned racism. In a familiar voice, its members spoke slowly, gently to white Christians of love, peace, of Christianity’s racial demands…Koinonia Farm was a voice crying in the wilderness that offered Americus and the American South a foretaste of what was to follow: a bitter theological struggle over race and religion.”

Quiros’ talk was part of “The Kingdom of God in America,” a UVA undergraduate seminar taught by Charles Marsh, director of the Project on Lived Theology and a professor of religious studies at UVA.

A history professor at the University of North Alabama, Quiros specializes in twentieth-century U.S. history, with a focus on race, politics, and religion. She is also contributing a chapter on Florence Jordan to the upcoming PLT book People Get Ready! Thirteen Jesus-Haunted Misfits, Malcontents and Dreamers for Troubled Times.

 

The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia is a research initiative, whose mission is to study the social consequences of theological ideas for the sake of a more just and compassionate world.

Stephen J. Patterson Wins 2021 Grawemeyer Religion Award

Patterson Will Speak on Zoom, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. EST

Louisville Seminary and the University of Louisville proudly present the 2021 Grawemeyer Religion Award Lecture on Tuesday, April 13, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. EST. The event is free on Zoom, but registration is required here.

This year’s Grawemeyer Religion Award recipient, Stephen J. Patterson, will present “You are the Children of God: Christianity’s First Creed.” His lecture is based on his 2021 Grawemeyer Award-winning book The Forgotten Creed: Christianity’s Original Struggle against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism (Oxford University Press, 2018).

In his book, Patterson explains that early Christianity’s first creed, which was quoted in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (3:26-28), claims that we are all God’s children. The original baptismal creed, which Paul did not write, but quoted and adapted, is:

For you are all children of God in the Spirit.
There is no Jew or Greek;
There is no slave or free;
There is no male or female.
For you are all one in the Spirit.

In The Forgotten Creed, Patterson unpacks this creed in the context of the Greco-Roman world when Jesus was still fresh in the memory of those who knew him. Patterson, the George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University, claims that the first followers of Jesus were taking on race, class, and gender in the midst of conflicts between Greeks and Jews, the slave economy, and the gender dynamics of the time.

Charles Marsh, director of the Project on Lived Theology, won the Grawemeyer Award in 1998 for his book, God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights, which is being adapted into a film, to be produced by Oscar-winning performer and activist Common.

The Grawemeyer Award in Religion is made possible by the creative generosity of the late H. Charles Grawemeyer. Louisville Seminary, jointly with the University of Louisville, awards the $100,000 prize to honor and publicize creative and significant insights into the relationship between human beings and the divine. The award also recognizes ways in which this relationship may inspire or empower human beings to attain wholeness, integrity, or meaning, either individually or in community.

 

The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia is a research initiative, whose mission is to study the social consequences of theological ideas for the sake of a more just and compassionate world.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Failure and the Hope

The Failure and The Hope: Essays of Southern Churchmen, edited by Will D. Campbell and James Y. HollowayEssays of Southern Churchmen

During the 1960s, the Committee of Southern Churchmen began publishing a journal entitled Katallagete: Be Reconciled. Will Campbell and James Holloway, who helped edit the journal as well as publish this book, were convinced that the church and Christianity had failed to stay grounded in scripture and fight injustices through Christian means. Katallagete featured a number of essays from prominent people of the time, including some civil rights leaders, and ran for 8 years before this anthology of selected essays was published in 1972. Recently republished in 2004, The Failure and the Hope showcases some of the essays from Katallagete that Campbell and Holloway hope will be applicable to all people, whether they are southern or not.

In the foreword, Campbell and Holloway say that this is not “the best of Katallagete,” and in regards to the essays “there is no theological line common to them all.” They are all simply meditations on the failures and hopes of Christians at the end of the twentieth century, both personal and in regards to the church itself. Some of the essays include:

Events and pseudo-events : letter to a Southern churchman — Thomas Merton

An open letter to Billy Graham — Will D. Campbell and James Y. Holloway

Sick and tired of being sick and tired — Fannie Lou Hamer

The plutocrats and the po’ folks — William Paul Randall

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“This volume brings the reader face to face with just where we are in the struggle for racial justice. It consists of penetrating and provocative essays by persons who write out of their own struggles with racism. These people not only ‘tell it like it is,’ but also ‘tell it like it ought to be.'” — Henlee Barnette, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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.