When we understand that the Nixon campaign combined a call to law and order with the so-called Southern Strategy, it becomes clear that white sympathies were cultivated and that blacks were made to play the part of the enemy. Nixon’s presidency was a take-no-prisoners form of democracy mixed with demagoguery.
This course was conceived as a way to introduce undergraduates to the conversation about religion and politics in Western tradition. I wanted to give them a broad historical overview, with in-depth selections or snapshots to get at ways the relation between religious and political spheres has been conceived in different historical moments.
. . . In the book I think about what it would mean to see Brown as a “Great Criminal” who did wrong but can still be read as a sign of a divine violence that breaks the hold of the slave system on social imaginations and so makes possible not just new ways of seeing the world, but new ways of acting, new ways of connecting with others, and new ways of deliberating together.
I think that a politics of penitence and repair can disrupt old divisive racial patterns, potentially enabling the emergence of new racial communities not marked by old forms of racial hatred and violence. Smith’s argument for penitence and repair is compelling and I do think that a Christian political theology calls upon us to consider these two important practices. Smith presents a theological discussion of pardon that eventually takes us to repentance and repair when addressing racial wounds.
In conjunction with the Marginalia (part of the LA Review of Books), Political Theology Today has organized a symposium on Ted Smith’s extraordinary new book Weird John Brown: Divine Violence and the Limits of Ethics. Over the coming two and a half weeks, we will host responses to the book from E. Brooks Holifield, William Cavanaugh, Peter Ochs, Keri Day, and Andrew Murphy, concluding with a response to the responses by author Ted Smith. Here is the first response, from E. Brooks Holifield of Emory University.
I recently finished reading Willie James Jennings’s earth-shattering book, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race. While Jennings’s primary aim is to drastically reorient our theological approaches to race and racism, his project poses much broader challenges to conventional theological methodology. He insists that traditional western theologians who have rightly been concerned with questions of orthodoxy and intellectual edification have nevertheless failed to recognize how land, language, bodies, and “literary space” informs theological construction and evaluation.
Three years before, Eleanor Bumpurs had been shot. A sixty-six year old black woman shot by a white police officer. Shot twice. With a shotgun. In her home. A case against the police officer wound through the courts in fits and starts. In 1987 the officer was acquitted. It was then, on the streets in front of the courthouse, that the press recorded for the first time the chant, “no justice, no peace.”
The phrase “political theology” is used in many ways, across many disciplines. Over the past few years, an increasing number of courses have been offered calling themselves Political Theology, or describing their topics as political theology. We have invited faculty from political science, religious studies, theology, and history who teach courses on political theology to share their syllabi on this blog over the coming weeks, and to reflect on political theology pedagogy