Theology

update on seminary

Today is a really high pain day (thanks fibromyalgia) and I have a migraine I’m having trouble kicking on top of it … so no Redeeming Love review today. I have a big week and I need to try to put myself back together a little bit. Instead I’d give you all a peek into what it’s like for me in seminary at the moment.

I’m taking two classes this semester– What is Religion and Social Analysis and Community Engagement. I’m excited about both so far, but it’s only a few weeks in so we’ll see if that feeling lasts beyond mid-terms.

For SACE, the big class project involves something called participatory action research— the description of it had so many buzz words I couldn’t help laughing because I had no idea what it really was. Then we read some work by Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, a latina theologian who is now one of my favorite people. I’m now in love with PAR, as it’s called, and I’ll be working with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice for my project. Depending on what happens with that, I might ask you to be involved with my class project– wouldn’t that be exciting? We’ve also talked a lot about #BlackLivesMatter (!!) and we’re reading a book called Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed— which is, so far, a truly enjoyable book to read as well as being inspiring.

What is Religion is one of the foundational seminary classes, and we got thrown into the deep end with Schubert Ogden’s “Theology and Religious Studies: Their Difference and the Difference It Makes.” That was … I think it was from that era in academia where if you didn’t obfuscate your writing you weren’t being scholarly enough or something. It was a little painful. But, after reading it three times I think the point he was making is an important one (theology isn’t just a massive case of special pleading, essentially).

We also turned in our first paper yesterday– a thesis proposal. It’s a little far out for me to be nailing down a thesis topic, but it’s going to be about something to do with Christian feminist ethics, so I went with it. We were required to put together a research bibliography, and I’m rather proud of it. I think it might also make an interesting reading list for anyone interested in Christian ethics, liberation theology ethics, sexual ethics, or feminist ethics. Since you’re here, reading my blog … chances are one of those is a topic of interest for you.

The bibliography is based on the paper’s requirement to demonstrate my awareness of and ability to interact with the “cultural and theological heritage” of my faith, so that’s why there’s Kant and Barth and Thomas Aquinas in there. It’s an attempt to incorporate the significant Christian ethicists in my tradition as well as pointing to all the significant and most relevant, formative texts in this particular sub-field. If anyone is noticing a huge gaping hole in this, feel free to point it out to me.

Barth, Karl. Ethics.

Cannon, Katie. Black Womanist Ethics.

Cone, James H. A Black Theology of Liberation.

Daly, Mary. Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation.

Davis, Angela. The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues.

De La Torre, Miguel. Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins.

Farley, Margaret. Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.

Fiorenza, Elisabeth. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins.

Gutierrez, Gustavo. A Theology of Liberation.

Harrison, Beverly. Our Right to Choose: Toward a New Ethic of Abortion.

McInerny, Ralph. Ethica Thomistica: The Moral Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas.

Neibuhr, Reinhold. Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics.

Nelson, James B. Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology.

Parsons, Susan Frank. Feminism and Christian Ethics.

Simmons, Frederick and Brian Sorrells. Love and Christian Ethics: Tradition, Theory, and Society.

Sullivan, Roger J. An Introduction to Kant’s Ethics.

Welch, Sharon D. A Feminist Ethic of Risk, Communities of Resistance and Solidarity: A Feminist Theology of Liberation.

West, Traci C. Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter.

Bonus point for me: Embodiment was written by a professor at my seminary back in the day, and his work is one of the reasons why United is known for being one of the earliest LGBT-affirming seminaries in the country. United is also in the process of becoming a sanctuary school, and they released a statement opposing Trumperdink’s Muslim ban– just some of the many reasons why I’m happy I’m at this particular seminary right now.

I’m also taking on more work politically– I’m getting very involved with the local Democratic organization, as well as the organization that sprang out of Pantsuit Nation when the original founder decided to keep PN “story-based” (grr). It’s called Together We Will, now, and there’s local and state-level chapters of it, as well. It might be a group worth looking into if you want to be more active in your resistance to the regimeadministration.

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  • Great bibliography! I’ve come across many of these in my 2 1/2 years at seminary. Have you looked into any of Sallie McFague’s books (e.g. Models of God: Theology for an Ecological Nuclear Age or The Body of God: An Ecological Theology)? Her work lies at the intersection of feminist theology, eco-theology, and trinitarian theology.

  • Paige

    Thanks for sharing your bibliography! I’ve only read ‘Just Love’ (and I’m currently reading her books ‘Changing the Questions’ and ‘Personal Commitments’ – she is amazing). I’m definitely putting ‘Embodiment’ on my list. I’ve been noticing that conservative/non-affirming writers talk about LGBT people as ‘ignoring their body,’ which I’ve realized is a trope, but it’s good to have some references on hand.

    • I liked “Just Love” a lot, and I recommend it as a very solid text on sexual ethics. It’s a patient, methodical, and comprehensive work. And I love her phrase ‘the shared concrete reality of human persons’ – p. 210. Her work reminds me that sexual ethics, like any ethical system, can’t every be purely abstract, but has to speak to the way we interact with the real, concrete, embodied, physical, complex, unique individuals in our lives.

  • Ysolde

    I always wonder if I had been introduced to faith like this would I still be religious?
    I don’t really know and can’t easily know I suppose. I have no faith in things I can’t interact with or understand with test and verification.

  • I read ‘Getting to Maybe’ a few years ago, and really liked it. Although I think I must have lent my copy to someone, because it’s not on my shelf anymore.

    • I’m really really getting a lot out of it. I’m not sure I agree with everything in the “Powerful Stranger” chapter, though. I’m more interested in power destabilization than trying to harness oppressive systems to do good things … although that could be because the way I’m trying to change the world is by eradicating complementarian theology and no complementarian theologian is going to feel that my goals help him at all. There’s probably not going to be a way for me to say “I’m trying to do this thing, here’s how it benefits you, maybe we could help each other.”

      I think that’s true for men oppressed by the patriarchy, but everyone else is getting a lot more out of the way the system works now, especially in complementarian circles, than my solution offers them.