News

Kim Curtis to Manage Communications and Events at UVA’s Project on Lived Theology

The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia welcomes Kim Curtis as its new communications and event coordinator. Kim brings more than fifteen years of experience publicizing events and initiatives at UVA’s Washington Papers, UVA’s Miller Center, and Monticello.

“Having grown up in the United Methodist Church, I have always valued social justice,” said Kim. “My academic career path has coincided with my interest in history, my fascination with religion, and my appreciation for free inquiry and the inclusion of different perspectives. I believe my background and values align perfectly with The Project on Lived Theology’s mission, and I’m so honored to have joined this well-regarded and worthwhile endeavor.”

One of Kim’s first goals at The Project on Lived Theology will be to create a comprehensive communications strategy, including (but not limited to) web content, social media, and outreach. Kim built a similar communications plan for the Washington Papers, a project that is publishing the correspondence of George Washington and his family. In addition to managing the Papers’ communications efforts, Kim co-edited the upcoming print and digital editions of correspondence written by and to Martha Washington as well as other significant documents pertaining to her life. The collection will include around 400 documents, eighty of which have never been published before.

Prior to working at the Washington Papers, Kim promoted events and programs at the Miller Center, a nonpartisan organization that specializes in presidential scholarship and public policy. She also served as managing editor for the Center’s print and digital content. While at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Kim worked with visiting film and television crews, including the BBC, the History Channel, and HBO’s John Adams miniseries.

Kim earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Classics (double major) from UVA, and a master’s degree in Cinema Studies from New York University.

“In addition to her impressive communications and organizational skills, Kim brings with her a deep familiarity with the UVA and Charlottesville communities,” said Charles Marsh, director of The Project on Lived Theology. “I’m thrilled she’s joined the Lilly Endowment project and look forward to working together on issues related to faith and social justice in these uncertain 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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Faith in Black Power

Faith in Black Power: Religion, Race, and Resistance in Cairo, Illinois, by Kerry PimblottReligion, Race, and Resistance in Cairo, Illinois

In Faith in Black Power, Kerry Pimblott discusses the impact of religion on the black power movement through the story of Cairo, Illinois. In 1969, nineteen-year-old Robert Hunt was found dead in the Cairo police station, and while authorities ruled it a suicide, many members of the African American community believed that Hunt had been murdered. This event triggered a wave of protests across the city, and Cairo suddenly emerged as an important battleground for black survival in America and became a focus for many civil rights groups, including the NAACP.

Other groups began mobilizing in Cairo as well, including the United Front, a black power organization founded and led by Reverend Charles Koen. Pimblott challenges conventional narratives of the de-Christianization of the movement by discussing the ways in which black churches supported and shaped the United Front, thereby revealing that Cairoites embraced both old-time religion and revolutionary thought. She also investigates the impact of female leaders on the organization and their influence on young activists, offering new perspectives on the hypermasculine image of black power.

This groundbreaking book contributes to and complicates the history of the black freedom struggle in America by not only adding a new element to the study of African American religion, but also by illuminating the relationship between black churches and black politics during this tumultuous era.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

By attending so carefully to the social history of Cairo, the author forces a reconsideration of older arguments about the relationship of religion, civil rights, and black power, that have grown stale and usually depend on the statements of national figures such as King, Stokely Carmichael, and so forth. What we get here is an intensive on-the-ground examination of how religion and the rhetoric and practice of black power actually operated in a local community that had a very particular history, and one that did not look like the Deep South familiar from the civil rights movement.”―Paul Harvey, Professor of History, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

“Pimblott’s Faith in Black Power offers a new and unique interpretation of the relationship between the Black church and the Black power years of the Civil Rights Movement. Rooted in an enormous amount of newly discovered primary sources, this path-breaking book contributes greatly to our understanding of the second phase of the African American led Freedom struggle.”―Journal of Pan African Studies

“Among the greatest strengths of Faith in Black Power is the depth of its detail. By diving into the intricacies of movement making in Cairo, Pimblott is able to offer more nuanced and historically specific analyses of two categories of particular interest to scholars of religion: ‘black theology’ and ‘the black church.’ Discussions of black theology can sometimes read as though they are essentially intellectual debates set in seminaries. Faith in Black Power takes those discussions into the streets, as it were, and emphasizes the ‘United Front leaders [who] constructed a grassroots black power theology and movement culture capable of bridging intraracial divisions and sustaining the movement over the long haul.'”―The Journal of Religion

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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Empty Room with Light

Empty Room with Light, by Ann HostetlerA Collection of Artistic Poetry

In Empty Room with Light, Ann Hostetler’s first collection of poems, she draws on her training as a visual artist to articulate moments of illumination in everyday life. She pulls from a rich collection of memories to create poems that all have a distinctive voice and image, showcasing things like the beauty of her Amish Aunt’s flower garden and the psychedelic swirls on her own painted toes.

Hostetler organizes her poems in a series of frames named after different forms of visual display, such as “Family Album,” “Exhibitions,” and “En Plein Air.” Each section of the book illuminates a different facet of her journey through life, and offers a sense of connection to the reader through a beautification of the mundane.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

Hostetler turns family and its daily routines into poetry high mass, with all the garments, incense, and sensuality that often accompany ritual. Here a daughter traces the surface of her mother’s bathwater with her fingertips; a son in blue nylon shorts and high tops helps iron napkins that turn to prayer flags. With precise imagery and language Hostetler’s poems reach into the rush and plenty of family, making luminaries out of all.”—Susan Firer

“These poems beautifully enact the passing of family history and ritual from generation to generation, recording for us the recurrent journeys we often take between joy and sorrow, and affirming what can stand when all else falls–the love that ties us to our lives and to each other. Ann Hostetler has written a strong and moving first book.”—Gregory Djanikian

”Hostetler combines her painter’s eye with a sensitivity to language informed by her work as a literary scholar. Her poems are filled with images of the world and populated with delightfully willful beings caught in the act of making lives with whatever is at hand. I appreciate the honest way this work traces the impatient negotiations of a Baby Boomer’s life–admitting its fast food and undone laundry, celebrating family’s small but significant joys, all the while, never relenting her utterance. In one poem, she says, ‘I want you to know I was there,/ a soul on a journey.’ And we do. “Julia Kasdorf

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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Dangers of Christian Practice

The Dangers of Christian Practice: On Wayward Gifts, Characteristic Damage, and Sin, by Lauren F. WinnerOn Wayward Gifts, Characteristic Damage, and Sin

In The Dangers of Christian Practice, Lauren Winner challenges the central place that “practices” have recently held in Christian theology. She argues that sometimes, beloved Christian practices go horrifyingly wrong, extending violence rather than promoting its healing. Winner discusses concrete instances of when these practices can go bad, such as a slave-owning woman praying for her slaves’ obedience, or the connection between the Eucharist and the sacrament’s central role in medieval Christian murder of Jews.

Arguing that practices are deformed in ways that are characteristic of and intrinsic to the practices themselves, Winner proposes that the way in which Christians might best think about these practices is that of “damaged gift.” In this bracing book, Winner provocatively challenges the assumption that the church possesses a set of immaculate practices that will definitionally train Christians in virtue and that can’t be answerable to their histories.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Elegantly weaving together history and theology, Winner provides a needed constructive intervention that makes the turn to ‘practice’ in Christian thought more honest without leaving the reader in despair.”—Eric Gregory, Princeton University

“Does the church ever hurt those it means to help? This book is for those who worry that it does—those who may cause, feel, see, or seek to mend the harm that even baptism and communion can inflict.”—Eugene F. Rogers, Jr., University of North Carolina at Greensboro

“A fascinating analysis of how Christian practices can, and characteristically do, go bad ‘under the pressure’ of sin in this world. I highly recommend this to anyone who thinks that becoming a Christian is any kind of straightforward ‘solution’ to your problems, or to the problem that is you.”—Charles Mathewes, University of Virginia

“Lauren Winner, one of our most insightful Christian intellectuals, understands the ways Christian practice has been deeply involved in white supremacy, capitalism, and oppression. For everyone concerned about the future of theological education and the survival of the theological academy, this ground-breaking book is required reading.”—Willie James Jennings, Yale Divinity School

For more information on the publication, click here.

Lauren F. Winner is an associate professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School. Her interests include Christian practice, the history of Christianity in America and Jewish-Christian relations.

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 contributors, click here, #PLTcontributors. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Outlaw Christian

Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith by Breaking the Rules, by Jacqueline BussieFinding Authentic Faith by Breaking the Rules

In Outlaw Christian, Jacqueline Bussie discusses the unspoken “laws” that govern modern Christian life: #1: Never get angry at God; #2: Never doubt; #3: Never question; #4: Never tell your real story; #5: Always speak in clichés about evil and suffering; and #6: Always believe hope comes easy for those who truly love God. Bussie knows that many Christians feel burnt out trying to follow these laws, and she believes that living according to these rules is killing real Christian life. In Outlaw Christian, Bussie proposes a rebellious, life-giving, authentic alternative.

Bussie uses captivating stories that are often brutally honest in order to give concrete, practical strategies to help readers cultivate hope, seek joy, confront grief, and more. She tackles difficult questions head on, speaking to progressive and conservative Christians alike in order to provide a new way to handle the difficult and troubling questions of life.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“There’s nothing fluffy about this book.  It is raw, sassy, and from the heart…This is a fresh invitation to the faith for skeptics, doubters, seekers, and even folks who like that old-time-religion.  Become an outlaw Christian. God likes holy rebels.” —Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible RevolutionJesus for President, and the new book Executing Grace

“While this is a Christian book, its gifts are available to anyone who has ever wrestled with the seemingly impossible task of making sense of suffering, loss, evil, inequity, and loneliness—including atheists like me. Reading Dr. Bussie’s call to reject clichés and sit with uncertainty, I found myself hoping this book makes its way into the hands of every Christian who has ever had their questions or pain shut down by a platitude or an easy answer.” —Chris Stedman, author of Faitheist and Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community

“I served as a parish pastor for twenty five years.Walking with my people in times of crisis and deep pain I came to realize that some of their deepest struggles were not about loss nor about making sense out of what had happened, but finding the space within themselves and within their faith communities to speak honestly and openly about their doubt and anger toward God. Now Jacqueline Bussie, a theologian of the church, shares her experience and gives voice to all who have been caught in the belief that doubt is faithlessness and anger toward God is blasphemy. Quite the opposite, Dr. Bussie argues, doubt and anger are real expressions of a living faith. Outlaw Christian might break the rules but it opens up the possibility of deeper faith.” —The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Dr. Jacqueline Bussie is an award-winning author, professor, and theologian. An active servant-leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Jacqueline teaches religion, theology and interfaith studies classes at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she also serves as the Director of the Forum on Faith and Life.

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 contributors, click here, #PLTcontributors. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Safehold

Safehold: Poems (Dreamseeker Poetry), by Ann HostetlerDreamseeker Poetry

In Safehold, Ann Hostetler has collected and published her poems that communicate what it means to endure a crisis of security. The topics are varied, ranging from 9/11, to the death of both her parents, to the election of the 45th president, but all the poems speak to existential dilemmas Hostetler has dealt with in her life, and ways she has learned to cope with outcomes out of her control. Her poems respond to such  questions as, “How do you live your everyday life, treasuring what you love while embracing painful things that you wish hadn’t happened?”

While Hostetler does not consider herself a Christian poet or a Mennonite poet, which is the faith she was raised in, her poems are undeniably influenced by her upbringing, causing this book to be acclaimed as a “true work of Christian poetry.” This book, and Hostetler’s poems as a whole, invite a thought-provoking, spiritual outlook on dealing with a loss of assurance.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Hostetler, who has done so much for Mennonite literature as teacher and editor, now gives us a second collection of her own plainspoken poems. Their message? Refuse to be shunned. Breathe. Build an ark. Seek forgiveness not perfection. Write what you love. Again and again, she calls us to everyday mindfulness in the midst of our grief: failing parents, worrisome children, the world’s uncertain course. Honest and wise, this book is a tonic for our times.” —Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Author, Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields

“Hostetler gathers her living and dead into these poems, generations of seekers and travelers, and seats them at the table, telling stories that serve as a safehold against the confusion and violence of the world, while also using ‘the bellows of the breath’ to praise beauty, to comfort with a failing yet steadfast love. The poet confesses, ‘All my life I’ve tried to live as though / the body were the soul, ‘ and to that end Hostetler’s rich poems are incarnational meditations so very necessary for survival. —Todd Davis, Author, Native Species and Winterkill

“Safehold teaches what I never want to forget: that all people are my neighbors, that my mother is my original love, that any child shunned, slaughtered, shamed is my child. Hostetler has written a true work of Christian poetry: these poems incarnate Christ’s elegant, dark hand, unknowable and open, ready to carry us all.” —Rebecca Gayle Howell, Author, American Purgatory

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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death, by Lillian FadermanHis Lives and Death

In Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death, author Lillian Faderman documents the life, and the untimely death, of the first openly gay man elected to public office in California. Harvey Milk created quite a stir when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, but he was not able to serve even a full year in office before he was shot by a homophobic fellow supervisor at the age of 48.

Although Harvey Milk was eloquent, charismatic, and a smart-aleck, he only became a politician late in his life. Prior to that, he was a schoolteacher, a securities analyst on Wall Street, a supporter of Barry Goldwater, a Broadway theater assistant, a bead-wearing hippie, the operator of a camera store and organizer of the local business community in San Francisco. Harvey was raised Jewish, and he was deeply influenced by the cultural values of his Jewish upbringing, although he rejected Judaism as a religion. In his last five years, he focused all of his tremendous energy on becoming a successful public figure with a distinct political voice, one who championed the rights of gays, racial minorities, women, working people, the disabled, and senior citizens.

Milk’s assassination made him the most famous gay man in modern history; twenty years later Time magazine included him on its list of the hundred most influential individuals of the twentieth century, and in 2009 he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Metal of Freedom.

The Jewish Lives series, which this book is a part of, is a prizewinning series of interpretative biography designed to explore the many facets of Jewish identity. Individual volumes illuminate the imprint of Jewish figures upon literature, religion, philosophy, politics, cultural and economic life, and the arts and sciences.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“This elegantly written and well-researched book recovers the Jewishness that has too often been erased or glossed over in the mythologizing of a gay icon.”—Helene Meyers, Tablet

“The theme that comes through most prominently is Milk’s unflinching courage and forward thinking resolution. I found myself frequently writing in the margin of my copy: ‘So ahead of his time.'”—Peter Marino, Gay and Lesbian Review

“Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Lillian Faderman’s Harvey Milk is a revelation. This insightful work provides context to Milk’s life as a gay icon and illuminates how his experience was deeply informed by his own Jewish identity.”—Cleve Jones, author of When We Rise: My Life in the Movement

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.

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: On the Freedom Side

On the Freedom Side: How Five Decades of Youth Activists Have Remixed American History, by Wesley C. HoganHow Five Decades of Youth Activists Have Remixed American History

In On the Freedom Side, author Wesley C. Hogan argues that the future of democracy belongs to young people. In order to back up this claim, he cites multiple youth-led organizations throughout American history, starting with Ella Baker and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. He also includes more recent groups, such as the Dreamers who are fighting for immigration reform; the Movement for Black Lives that is demanding a reinvestment in youth of color and an end to police violence against people of color; and the International Indigenous Youth Council, water protectors at Standing Rock who fought to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect sovereign control of Indigenous lands.

Hogan reveals how the legacy of the civil rights movement has influenced young people, especially those who are often left at the margins of US society, to take a stand for the causes they believe in. This book centers their stories in an “activist mix tape” that provides lively, fresh perspectives on the promise of twenty-first-century U.S. democracy.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“At a time when too many of us are simply cursing the darkness, Hogan has shone the light of history on the often-invisible youth movements that fueled positive change in the past . . . and that continue to energize us today.”—Judy Richardson, SNCC veteran and coeditor of Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC

“Hogan provides a way for us to explore the evolution of social justice movements, revealing how activists take what they learn from the ‘Movement Decade’ of the 1960s and build upon it.”—Tracy E. K’Meyer, author of From Brown to Meredith: The Long Struggle for School Desegregation in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954–2007

“An informed, passionate, and hopeful book that considers the cutting-edge movements of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Hogan introduces us to the multiracial, intergenerational, and intersectional activists at the heart of contemporary freedom movements, noting their own acknowledged debts to the egalitarian spirit of the Black Freedom struggle and its most egalitarian practitioner, Ella Baker.”—Dan Berger, author of Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

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.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Religion as We Know It

Religion as We Know It: An Origin Story, by Jack MilesAn Origin Story

In this slender volume, scholar of religion Jack Miles explains the origins of the comparative study of religion, and how the concept of religion came to be thought of as being distinct from other human spheres of activity. In his essay, which was originally the introduction to the Norton Anthology of World Religions, Miles makes an eloquent case for the necessity of considering the worldviews of others with compassion and understanding. At the end of the volume, Miles explores his own faith, explaining how he understands religion’s place in the modern world.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Any student of theology will be enlightened by this deeply satisfying work.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This is an exceptional work that challenges and rewards careful reading and thought. It belongs in every library.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Jack Miles has written the perfect first book for religious studies beginners. He starts with the widely held American understanding of religion but ends arguing brilliantly that inescapable human ignorance creates the possibility of welcoming the new, the unexpected, even the religious. Our self-absorbed age needs this book.”—Mark C. Taylor, Columbia University
“The question of the origin of religion has rarely been addressed with the erudition and eloquence of Jack Miles. Drawing on a remarkable wealth of sources across time and place, he offers much for us to ponder in an essay that is at once highly learned and deeply personal.”—Donald S. Lopez Jr., University of Michigan

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.