PLT Provides UVA Graduate Students with Grants

In response to the challenges facing many young scholars during the pandemic, the Project on Lived Theology is pleased to provide funding to thirty current graduate students in the University of Virginia’s Department of Religious Studies. Each funding recipient has been awarded a $500 stipend in support of his or her research, writing, and professional needs. We are excited to see how their varied and groundbreaking work will contribute to the flourishing of just and compassionate communities, and to a better understanding of lived religious experiences and practices, past and present.

Here are some representatives of this group of graduate students:

 

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.

Nathan Walton Speaks on MLK and the Black Freedom Church

Nathan Walton MLK seminar

Nathan Walton of Abundant Life Ministries Talks with UVA Students About MLK’s Formation and Relevance

How did Martin Luther King, Jr. become Martin Luther King, Jr.? How should we understand him in terms of history and today’s conversations around social justice?

Nathan Walton, executive director of Abundant Life Ministries, explored these questions and more during a Zoom discussion, on Sept. 16, with University of Virginia students.

Video and audio of Walton’s talk, “Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Witness of the Black Freedom Church,” are now available on The Project on Lived Theology’s website.

During his talk, Walton placed King within the history of the black church and showed how the church shaped King’s theological outlook and social engagement. Walton then examined how King was a byproduct of the black church and other social traditions. According to Walton, “King was often asking the big-picture question, ‘What do the specific claims and events from the Bible mean for the world? And what do they mean specifically for us?’”

The talk was followed by a question-and-answer session, during which Walton and the students exchanged ideas about King, the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements, ownership of narratives, the concept of American exceptionalism and the importance of self-awareness and intellectual rigor.

Walton’s discussion was part of “The Civil Rights Movement in Theological and Religious Perspective,” a UVA undergraduate seminar taught by Charles Marsh, director of The Project on Lived Theology and a professor of religious studies at UVA.

Nathan Walton has served as executive director of Abundant Life Ministries since April 2018. He holds an MDiv from Duke Divinity School, and both a BA and a PhD in religious studies from UVA. His interests include community development, theology and parish ministry. In addition to his role with Abundant Life, Nathan serves as Community Life Pastor at Charlottesville Vineyard Church.

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.

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.

CANCELLED: Faith and Doubt in the Modern World

Due to the emergence of COVID-19, based on the guidance and recommendation from UVA Health, the Virginia Department of Health, the CDC and other partners, we have decided to cancel our event with David Bentley Hart. Our top priority is the safety of the members of the University community, and we are taking all necessary precautions to mitigate the risk of infection.

Our mission at the Project on Lived Theology will continue during this time of uncertainty. We will continue to post resources and move forward to support our community in new and creative ways.

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 updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Mississippi Praying

Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975, by Carolyn Renée DupontSouthern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975

In Mississippi Praying, historian Carolyn Renee Dupont challenges the prevalent notion that southern white evangelicals simply failed to support civil rights because they were carried along by the influence of the wider culture. Instead, she documents a link between their theological views and their hostility towards desegregation. These evangelicals rejected a notion of a corporate responsibility for dealing with racism, seeing such social causes as a distraction from pursuing individual salvation. Dupont’s work shows how such a religious worldview could easily end up sanctioning white supremacy.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“This is an inspired and sparkling religious history of the three major white denominations—South Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists—in the state of Mississippi for the three decades of the Civil Rights movement…This is not simply a tale about what happened in the struggle for black equality in Mississippi from 1945 to 1975.  It is a mirror, reflecting what is still happening in segregated churches all over America, not just in Mississippi, not just in the South, but all over this great republic.”-Baptist History & Heritage

“Dupont’s book is an essential companion to any study of the civil rights movement, not only for its treatment of how religion impacted the movement’s history but also for the way it exposes how easily oppression can be wrapped in a cloak of religiosity that blinds its adherents to injustice occurring all around them.” –The Historian

“Carolyn Renee Dupont’s examination of Mississippi white evangelicals’ fervent support of segregation during the 1950s and 1960s offers historians a fresh interpretation of the confounding paradox of God-fearing whites condoning and even participating in massive resistance. […] This book successfully challenges the reader to think beyond a variety of biases inherent in discussion of literature’s relationship with ethnic, regional, and national identities.”-The Journal of Southern History

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 Award: Can I Get a Witness?

Can I Get a Witness? Thirteen Peacemakers, Community Builders, and Agitators for Faith & Justice has been selected for the 2019 Spirituality & Practice website’s 50 “Best Spiritual Books”. Discover the compelling stories of thirteen pioneers for social justice who engaged in peaceful protest and gave voice to the marginalized, working courageously out of their religious convictions to transform American culture.

These books are titles that have most impressed and inspired Spirituality & Practice during the year. Since they only review books that they want to recommend to their visitors for their spiritual journeys, this selection actually represents the best of the best. Through diverse approaches, drawing upon the wisdom and practices of the world’s religions, these titles explore the quest for meaning and purpose, wholeness and healing, commitment and community, contemplation and social activism.

Podcast

Can I Get a Witness? The Podcast is an audio companion to the book. In each episode of this podcast, we talk with one of our authors about the person they profiled for the book and about their writing process. The podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

For more on Can I Get a Witness?,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

PLT Seeks Communication and Event Coordinator

Project on Lived Theology Logo

The Project on Lived Theology is a research community that convenes religion scholars and writers, students and practitioners, across diverse academic fields and confessional traditions to understand the social consequences of theological ideas and religious commitments. This position includes both administrative and outreach duties, including in-office tasks, events coordination, local and community outreach, social media and general correspondence, overseeing website content, and related duties as they arise.

Required Experience & Qualifications:

  • High school diploma, as well as one year of relevant experience is required. A degree or combination of education and training may substitute for experience.    
  • Strong organizational skills.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to multi-task and attention to detail.
  • Website experience.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Experience with social media content creation and management.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to interact with Project participants and staff.
  • Experience working in academic institutions.

Preferred Experience & Qualifications:

  • A Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Religious Studies, English or Communications
  • Some formal training in contemporary Christian Thought is a plus.

$22 – $25/hour commensurate with experience with an excellent state benefits package.

For more information on the job, please contact Jessica Seibert, Operations Manager: jrs6dd@virginia.edu.

To apply, please use the official UVA job posting found here.

 

A Weekend of Conversation and Inspiration with John M. Perkins

February 22-23, 2020

How do we make justice and love a reality in our lives and in our communities? With wisdom born of 60 years in activism and Christian ministry, visionary leader and civil rights pioneer Dr. John M. Perkins guides the way.

A long time friend of Theological Horizons and The Project on Lived Theology nationally revered leader from Jackson, MS, Dr. John M. Perkins returns to Charlottesville for three free events over the weekend of Feb 22-23, 2020.

 

Saturday, February 22: A Morning Workshop on Community Activism & Engagement with Dr. Perkins

9:30 am coffee

10-12 am Workshop

at First Baptist Church, 632 West Main Street, Charlottesville

Questions or to RSVP? Email Anne Brown or DeTeasa Gathers.

Saturday, February 22: “Parting Words on Race and Love”: An Evening in the Rotunda with Dr. Perkins

7:30pm

in The Dome Room at the University of Virginia

Dr. Perkins will be joined onstage by Dr. Nathan Walton, a UVa PhD and Executive Director of Charlottesville’s Abundant Life Ministries, who will moderate the discussion.

This event will be live streamed and archived on Theological Horizon’s websitefacebook page.

Seating in the Dome Room will by ticket only. Seating in the Lower West Oval Room will be free, first come and first served.

Sunday, February 23: “Dream with Me”: An Afternoon of Storytelling, Music and Worship with Dr. John M. Perkins & the Charlottesville Worship Collective.

3:00pm

at The Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center at Charlottesville High School

Free and open to the community.  No tickets required All are welcome.

Sponsored by the Project on Lived Theology at UVA, the Department of Religious Studies, and Theological Horizons.

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 updates, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LivedTheology.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Black Freethinkers

Black Freethinkers: A History of African American Secularism, by Christopher CameronA History of African American Secularism

There are many histories of African-American religion, but in this new book, historian Christopher Cameron charts the largely overlooked impact of irreligion on two centuries of black intellectual life. Cameron’s work challenges the idea that atheism, agnosticism, and religious skepticism were exclusively the concerns of whites. He documents how a tradition of black freethought shaped the careers of well known figures, including Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, and James Forman. Cameron makes a compelling case that to understand the effects of religion, scholars also need to be attentive to those who rejected it.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

Cameron offers a compelling survey of African American freethought across two centuries. Rather than treating secularism as a regulatory discourse of modern statecraft, Cameron unpacks the alienations, arguments, and aspirations of black secularists themselves. He brings depth and clarity to an aspect of African American religious history rarely given the sustained attention it deserves.” —Leigh Eric Schmidt, author of Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment 

“In African American intellectual history, religious skepticism, agnosticism, atheism, and secular humanism have long been lost in the shadow of the black church. Taking a closer look at the evidence, Cameron shows that the experience of slavery and the degradations of proslavery Christianity also led some enslaved and free blacks in the nineteenth century to varieties of unbelief. This tradition laid a foundation for the next century, from the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Power movement and beyond. With deft readings of a host of fascinating figures, Cameron shows how black freethinkers made important interventions in American culture.” —Christopher Grasso, author of Skepticism and American Faith: From the Revolution to the Civil War

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.

Theology after Colonization

Bediako, Barth, and the Future of Theological Reflection

Tim Hartman’s Theology after Colonization (Notre Dame Press, 2019) uses a comparative approach to examine two theologians, one from Europe and one from Africa, to gain insight into our contemporary theological situation. Hartman examines how the loss of cultural hegemony through rising pluralism and secularization has undermined the interconnection of the Christian faith with political power and how globalization undermined the expansive mindset of colonialization. Hartman engages Swiss-German theologian Karl Barth, whose work responded to the challenges of Christendom and the increasing secularization of Europe by articulating an early post-Christendom theology based on God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, not on official institutional structures or societal consensus. In a similar way, Ghanaian theologian Kwame Bediako offered a post-colonial theology. He wrote from the perspective of the global South while the Christian faith was growing exponentially following the departure of Western missionaries from Africa. For Bediako, the infinite translatability of the gospel of Jesus Christ leads to the renewal of Christianity as a non-Western religion, not a product of colonialization.

Many Western theologies find themselves unable to respond to increasing secularization and intensifying globalization because they are based on the very assumptions of uniformity and parochialism that are being challenged. Hartman claims Bediako and Barth can serve as helpful guides for contemporary theological reflection as the consensus surrounding this theological complex disintegrates further. Collectively, their work points the way toward contemporary theological reflection that is Christological, contextual, cultural, constructive, and collaborative.

“Tim Hartman presents one of the strongest texts, from the perspective of Western theology, that argues for the wider world appeal of contextual African theology; one of the best and perhaps the only courageous proposition I have ever read that presents Karl Barth as a contextual Western (Swiss) theologian without diminishing Barth’s influence.”

—Elochukwu Uzukwu, Duquesne University

“This is the first significant comparison of Kwame Bediako and Karl Barth and one of the few treatments of Bediako. Tim Hartman’s volume is very rare in the fields of theology and mission studies”

—Willie Jennings, Yale Divinity School

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. For more news from PLT, click here. Engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology. To sign up for the Lived Theology newsletter, click here.

Call for Applications: Summer Internship in Lived Theology 2020

2020 InternshipNow Accepting Applications for Summer 2020

The Project on Lived Theology is now accepting applications for the 2020 Summer Internship in Lived Theology, a service learning immersion that offers undergraduates an opportunity to think and to write theologically about social justice and human rights in the context of community service in North America. To download an application, click here.

The internship is open to UVA 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 UVA 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 21, 2020.

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.