Posts in: reading

Willie James Jennings, with a really lovely description of theological education at the end of his After Whiteness:

To be involved in theological education is to long for eternity and the end of death. It is to seek the blessed state where our words start to do new work by first joining the chorus of the words of those who live forever in the Lord and who sound the healing and redeeming voice of the living God. Then our words will heal. Then our words will build up. Then our words will help form life together. Then our words will give witness to a destiny only visible through love. Talking together then is a practice aimed at eternity, and it matters more than we often realize for bringing our hope into focus. This finally is the goal of this book and the task I want to leave you with—to bring hope into focus.

Willie James Jennings, After Whiteness:

Theological education could mark a new path for Western education, one that builds a vision of education that cultivates the new belonging that this world longs to inhabit. But we cannot give witness to that newness if we imagine that our fundamental struggle is one of institutional survival, or the challenge of educational delivery systems, or the alignment of financial modeling with our desired outcomes, or the expansion of pedagogical models. All these matters are important, but they are not where the struggle meets us or from where the vision of our futures will come.

Willie James Jennings, After Whiteness:

Theological education is also about resistance. It is the seed from which may grow beautiful habitation or from which may grow mind-bending captivity. Yet how do you design for intellectual resistance? This may be the most pressing question in theological education today, because we theological educators are failing miserably at precisely this—at imagining a form of resistance that builds community.

Yesterday I saw a tweet floating around asking for your “personal canon,” that is, which are the books that you have used to understand the world? Limiting myself only to written works (and not, say, music or film), here’s what I would say, roughly ordered according to when I encountered these books:

I don’t have much reading from my childhood represented; I’m not sure that much reading from before college has stuck with me in this world-shaping way. My list also skews decidedly modern (only three premodern texts), which is a little embarassing for me as a medieval theologian.

I might develop this into a fuller blog post, detailing why each of these books belong to my canon and how they inform my understanding of the world. I’m sure I’ll think of other books to add, too (and maybe, upon further refletion, remove some of these).

Elizabeth Bruenig:

Violence begets injury begets death, and any culture debased to vacillating between violent struggle and idle nihilism is shuddering toward its end as a culture of death. And a culture of death is like a prophecy, or a sickness: It bespeaks itself in worsening phases. Right now, we find ourselves foreclosing upon our own shared future both recklessly and deliberately—and perhaps, gradually, beginning to behave as if there is no future for us at all; soon, I sometimes worry, we may find ourselves faced with a darkening present, no faith in our future, and a doomed tendency to chase violence with violence.

My first conference with the St. Bonaventure University affiliation.