Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Spring 2011 Course Load

Just as I did for the fall semester, I thought I'd share what classes I'm taking this spring -- my final semester in the MDiv program -- and what books I will be reading, and therefore what I will be thinking about for the next few months, and so probably what I will be writing about and exploring here on the blog.

Introduction to Public Worship (James Abbington)

I'm currently in the midst of this eight day course, and we have read the first three books already. Smith's book, which I had begun in December before I learned it was assigned for this course, isn't due to be read until April, but I am eager to finish it. (I assume the title of the course is self-explanatory.)
  • Foundations of Christian Worship, by Susan J. White
  • The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources, by John Witvliet
  • Encounters With the Holy: A Conversational Model for Worship Planning, by Barbara Day Miller
  • Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, by James K. A. Smith
Theological Proposals for Criminal Punishment Reform (Steffen Lösel)

This course is the capstone for MDiv students with a concentration in Theology & Ethics. It is a theological engagement of societal punishment, prison reform, and the death penalty, particularly in the context of America and the American churches. Lösel is a German systematic theologian who studied under Moltmann, and taught a wonderful short course last January on theology in relation to art and architecture. He is also (to my great benefit) the second reader on my thesis. Out of my spring course load, I am most looking forward to this class.
  • God's Just Vengeance: Crime, Violence and the Rhetoric of Salvation, by Timothy Gorringe
  • Good Punishment?: Christian Moral Practice and U.S. Imprisonment, by James Samuel Logan
  • The Fall of the Prison: Biblical Perspectives on Prison Abolition, by Lee Griffith
  • Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life, by Martha Nussbaum
  • Punishment and Inequality in America, by Bruce Western
  • Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Michel Foucault
  • Harsh Justice: Criminal Punishment and the Widening Divide between America and Europe, by James Q. Whitman
  • Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Justice, Crime, and Punishment, by Christopher Marshall
  • Political Writings, by Augustine
Morality in American Life (Steven Tipton)

I know little about this class, but the book list and the pedigree of the professor -- who, by the way, is one of those elusive alii in Bellah's standard retinue of suffixed co-authors -- are enough to assuage the sociological trepidation (and ineptitude) of this would-be theologian.
  • Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, by Robert Bellah, et al
  • The Good Society, by Robert Bellah, et al
  • Between Sundays: Black Women and Everyday Struggles of Faith, by Marla Frederick
  • Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth, by Claude Fischer, et al
  • Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class, by Mary Pattillo-McCoy
  • Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years, by Claude Fischer and Michael Hout
  • Family Transformed: Religion, Values, and Society in American Life, edited by Steven Tipton and John Witte, Jr.
  • The Company of Strangers: Christians and the Renewal of America's Public Life, by Parker Palmer
  • Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
The Gospel of Matthew (Luke Timothy Johnson)

Happily, my first semester with LTJ in the fall was not my last. It was a joy of a class, and his teaching lives up to the billing, so I am delighted to be able to focus on a single Gospel for 12 weeks with a living (and jolly) master of the subject.
  • The Gospel of Matthew (Sacra Pagina), by Daniel Harrington
  • Church and Community in Crisis: The Gospel According to Matthew, by J. Andrew Overman
Thesis Research: Yoder and Jenson

It has been relatively quiet of late regarding my thesis, primarily because my research and writing peaked in late September, after which the time I was dedicating to it was snatched by the slog of PhD applications. But the actual writing begins in earnest next month, and I hope to finish the remaining books, at least by Yoder and Jenson themselves -- most of which I am about halfway through, having burnt out a bit by Thanksgiving -- by the end of January.

Yoder: He Came Preaching Peace; The War of the Lamb; Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution

Jenson: Lutheranism; The Knowledge of Things Hoped For; Visible Words; Alpha and Omega; God After God; Ezekiel

Other: Doctrine: Systematic Theology Volume 2 by James McClendon; Witness: Systematic Theology Volume 3 by James McClendon; A Grammar of Christian Faith: Volumes I and II by Joe R. Jones; The Politics of the Cross: The Theology and Social Ethics of John Howard Yoder by Craig A. Carter; The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder edited by Stanley Hauerwas, et al


  1. Brad,

    Emphasize "Load" in work-load. Brother, you have a lot of good stuff on your plate. All this, and your blog reading group! It is impressive to say the least. Where are you applying for PhD work?

  2. The Lee Griffith book (The Fall of the Prison) is the one I was wondering if you might read. He's contributing to the W. Campbell collection as well. Good stuff. Looking forward to debriefing again after all here is said and done.


  3. Marla Frederick's book is wonderful - she is an anthropoligist/sociologist who has presented the lived faith of the women she studied in a serious and beautiful way.