“Liberation Theology in Reactionary Times”: Reading List and Lecture Topics

Resist photo

I know that there are those who would like to take the new Chicago Theological Seminary  summer school intensive (June 5-9) but who cannot. I am teaching it with Dr. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes with lectures by Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas and I am certain it will be an astonishing teaching and learning experience.

But if you cannot be with us in person, here is the class description, the required reading so you can read along if you wish, and the lecture titles.

I truly believe global reactionary regimes are a threat to all life on the planet, as witnessed today by the Trump regime pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord. Political, social, religious and theological resistance is an imperative.

This class is an effort to help construct a theological resistance that will resource the political, social and religious ones, and also learn from them in a praxis approach.

Let me be frank (what a surprise). White, middle class, self-congratulatory theologies that just make people feel good without engaging them in justice action will not get this done.

Here’s the class description:

This class examines the method of liberation theologies, the sociology of current crises such as globalization that have given rise to reactionary regimes, the state of the United States in terms of the rise of reactionary movements, liberation critiques from multiple faith perspectives, and the social movements to return to democracy.

So, if you’d like to follow along with the reading, first read my textbook in Liberation Theology edited with Mary Potter Engel, Lift Every Voice: Constructing Christian Theologies from the Underside.

In addition, these classic texts in Liberation Theology are a must:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (all editions acceptable)

Gutiérrez, Gustavo 1971 A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation (revised edition, 1988). Orbis.

Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and Godtalk: Toward a Feminist Theology (all editions acceptable)

James Cone, God of the Oppressed (revised edition 1997) Orbis.

Dolores Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness 1995, Orbis (all editions acceptable)

We are using these below as required books:

J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (New York: HarperCollins, 2016).

Ronald W. Walters, White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community (Wayne State University Press, 2003).

Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (Orbis, 2015)

The Hope of Liberation in World Religions, ed, Miguel A. De La Torre (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2008)

William Barber with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement (Beacon Press, 2016)

And these are the required articles and book chapters:

Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, “Jesus Must Needs Go Through Samaria,” in Christology and Whiteness: What Would Jesus Do? George Yancy, ed. (Routledge, 2012).

Thistlethwaite, “Feminism in a Reactionary Time,” in Miguel De La Torre, ed., Faith and Resistance in the Age of Trump (Orbis Press, September 2017). (This is forthcoming and I cannot publish it separately)

Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, “Still the Most ‘Segregated Hour’: Religion, Race and the American Experience,” in The Sage Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies, eds. Patricia Hill Collins and John Solomos (Los Angeles: Sage, 2010)

Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, “With My Face to the Rising Sun: Islam and the Construction of Afro-Christian Tradition in the United States” in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, volume 16, issue 1-2.

Rita Nakashima Brock and Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States, especially Part II. (Fortress Press, 1996).

Our lectures will follow this schema:

First day: Introduction to Liberation Theologies, “Stay Woke!” and Critical Consciousness.

Second day: Religious and Political Reactionary Systems Part I (Global and US)

Third day: Religious and Political Reactionary Systems Part II (White Nationalism and Theological Resistance.)

Fourth day: Liberation Theologies in Multi-Faith Perspectives

Fifth day: Movement Building

Final Project: Write a constructive theology of liberation from the context in which you are engaged.

Remember this: Liberation Theology is not an academic subject. It is a process of engagement in justice and peacemaking, critical analysis of the engaged structures using the social sciences and then the whole subjected to rigorous theological reflection. That is why Gustavo Gutierrez has frequently said, “Theology is the second act.”

This circle of engagement, social analysis and critical theological reflection never ends.

Today, however, we need to speed it up.

Post your questions or comments here and I will reply.




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