“Theology’s Crippled Imagination” is just one of several subjects to be discussed at a three-day conference next week and hosted by the University of Virginia’s Project on Lived Theology. The project’s goal is to understand the social consequences of religious beliefs, said project director Charles Marsh, a U.Va. professor Religious Studies and founding director of Theological Horizons.
Charles says that the heart of the project’s mission is encouraging younger theologians and scholars of religion to embrace theological life as a form of public responsibility. “Among an emerging generation of teachers, writers and researchers, we are discovering a hunger for the opportunity to reconnect the theological enterprise with lived experience, and it is our privilege to provide a public space in which that task can be pursued.”
This year's conference, “Lived Theology in Method, Style and Pedagogy,” features public lectures by three keynote speakers: Rev. Willie James Jennings, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke Divinity School; Rev. Traci C. West, professor of ethics and African-American studies at Drew University Theological School; and Ted A. Smith, assistant professor of preaching and ethics at Candler School of Theology.
All three speakers are accomplished authors. Each will give a free public talk at the Solarium in the UVa Colonnade Club.
An active Baptist minister with research interests including liberation theologies, cultural identities, and anthropology, Willie James Jennings will speak on “Theology’s Crippled Imagination” May 22 at 4 p.m.
Traci West has written extensively on violence against women, racism, clergy ethics, sexuality and other issues of justice in church and society. She will speak May 23 at 9:45 a.m. on “Waging Ethics through Community.”
Ted Smith works at the intersections of practical and political theology, with special attention to the forms preaching and worship take in modern societies. He will speak May 23 at 2 p.m. on “Eschatological Memories of Everyday Life.”
Housed in U.Va.’s Department of Religious Studies, the Project on Lived Theology hosts meetings at U.Va. and in community centers across the country as well as in congregations across the ecumenical spectrum.